During the famous 1985/86 season West Ham only played one league matches between the middle of January and mid-March due to inclement weather and frozen pitches leading to severe fixture congestion during the final weeks of the season. Strangely, FA cup games were not affected and this week saw the culmination of a long running 4th round battle with Ipswich as the Hammers triumphed in a second replay at Portman Road by a solitary Tony Cottee goal.
If you can cast your mind back to 1989 you will remember it as a disappointing season that ended in relegation and the dismissal of John Lyall after 34 years with club. The season was briefly brightened by an enjoyable League Cup campaign which included stirring home victories against Liverpool and Aston Villa. The semi-final opponents this week for the first leg at Upton Park were fellow first division strugglers Luton Town. The game was to prove just as disappointing as the rest of the season as Luton took a 3-0 lead into the second leg with goals from Mick Harford, Ray Wegerle and Danny Wilson (a penalty conceded by a young Julian Dicks). Luton went on to win the tie 5-0 on aggregate before losing in the final to Nottingham Forest.
There was also League cup semi-final exit in 1967 when once again West Bromwich Albion proved to be our nemesis. Having lost to Albion in the final the previous year a 2-2 draw in the second leg at Upton Park was academic as the Baggies booked their place at Wembley with a 6-2 aggregate win.
It was a much happier Upton Park in 1981, however, when second division West Ham faced first division Coventry City in a second leg semi-final encounter with the task of turning round a 3-2 first leg deficit. In what was one of those special nights under the Boleyn floodlights West Ham played some exceptional football (John Lyall described it as ‘some of the best football I’ve ever seen from a West Ham team’). Second half goals by Paul Goddard and an 87th minute strike from Jimmy Neighbour rounded off a great night on what was Billy Bonds 600th appearance for West Ham; setting up a final against Liverpool.
Parkes, Stewart, Lampard, Bonds, Martin, Devonshire, Neighbour, Goddard, Cross, Brooking, Pike
There may have been a 9 goal thriller at Goodison Park on Saturday but in 2000 West Ham featured in an unforgettable clash with Bradford City that not only had 9 goals but all-sorts of added drama. With the score goalless West Ham keeper suffered a broken leg after just 5 minutes played to be replaced by 18 year old Stephen Bywater making his first team debut. Bradford opened the scoring after 30 minutes through Dean Windass but the Hammers were soon level when Trevor Sinclair swept home and then led when John Moncur fired in from long range. However, it was back to all square at the interval as Peter Beagrie converted from the penalty spot following a push in the box by Moncur. After the break Bradford took the advantage with two goals from a red-haired Jamie Lawrence, the first a fumble by Bywater, gave the Bantams a 2-0 lead. As West Ham pushed forward Paolo Di Canio was denied several penalty appeals prompting him to demand that manager Harry Redknapp take him off. Redknapp managed to calm the Italian down and moments later West Ham were finally awarded a penalty, for a foul on Paul Kitson. This led to a penalty area tug-of-war between Di Canio and Frank Lampard Jnr as to who should take the resulting kick; in the end Di Canio prevailed and, fortunately for him, scored from the spot to make it 3-4. A goal from Joe Cole brought the scores level again after 65 minutes before Lampard struck from the edge of the area with seven minutes remaining to complete the scoring at 5-4 to West Ham. Possibly one of the most bizarre matches ever to take place at the Boleyn.
Hislop (Bywater), Charles (Kitson), Minto, Lomas, Stimac, Ferdinand, Sinclair, Cole, Di Canio, Lampard, Moncur