My Favourite Games: Number 9 – West Ham 4:3 Queens Park Rangers, November 2nd 1968.

A series of occasional articles recalling my favourite West Ham games, and songs that topped the charts when these games were played. Number 9 is a seven goal thriller against QPR.

I have witnessed so many great games in the last 58 years. They are remembered for different reasons, the importance of the game, the goals scored, and the spine-tingling atmosphere generated by our fans. I remember this one especially for seeing an excellent West Ham win, seven goals in the game (a fortnight earlier I had witnessed eight goals put past Sunderland!), some special goals, including one from Bobby Moore and a stunning volley from Harry Redknapp. And growing up in the 1960s I remember fondly the music in the charts at the time.

Favourite Games 9

With a group of friends from school I watched this massively entertaining game from the North Bank.  The game stands out in my memory for another reason, too. The Chicken Run had been demolished at the end of the previous season and the new “East Stand” was being constructed in its place. This game was the first time I remember seeing people standing on the East Stand lower terracing, somewhere we often stood later in the 1970s. The seats in the upper tier were not in place when the lower tier standing was first opened, although they were brought into use shortly afterwards. It was the featured game on the Big Match on the following day, on Sunday afternoon, so we had the opportunity to see the highlights again, which was not often the case in those days, as few games were televised, unlike today when all games can be seen.

QPR opened the scoring with an innocuous looking through ball turned home from a fairly wide angle by Barry Bridges I think. We then witnessed a great goal from Bobby Moore who collected the ball around half-way, strode forward unchallenged, and then unleashed a shot from outside the area into the roof of the net. There were no celebrations like there are today when a goal is scored. He just turned around and walked back towards the half way line, with a handshake or two from teammates. This is the goal often shown in black and white on the screens at home games. We went 2-1 ahead with a Martin Peters header from a flick on, and then added a third when Bobby Moore took a free-kick which was headed in at the near post by Geoff Hurst, a trademark West Ham goal of the late 1960s.

Being 3-1 up at half-time we remembered we were West Ham and let QPR back into the match with two headers levelling the score at 3-3. But there was a moment of magic to come, when a move started by Harry Redknapp was fed out to Geoff Hurst on the left, who then crossed the ball into the area. It was met by Redknapp with a stunning, unstoppable volley which almost burst the net. It was a great move with great technique for the finish.

The influence of the Beatles was a prominent feature of the November 1968 charts. The number one in the first week of the month was Those Were The Days by Mary Hopkin. Originally a Russian song, Hopkin’s 1968 recording was produced by Paul McCartney. Ironically the song had toppled Hey Jude by the Beatles from the top of the chart a week previously. In America it reached number 2, and was denied the top spot by Hey Jude. Number 2 was another Beatles song, With A Little Help From My Friends, sung by Joe Cocker. The original Beatles version was on the famous Sgt. Pepper album, and was written by Lennon and McCartney specially for Ringo Starr, which was a feature of some of their LPs, where the Ringo song was deliberately given a limited range to suit his singing voice. The first line of the song had the (ironical?) lyrics “What would you do if I sang out of tune?” The Joe Cocker arrangement was vastly different to the original Beatles recording.

Number 3 was the Hugo Montenegro instrumental The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. It was the theme song of the epic Italian Spaghetti Western film of the same name, starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. Little Arrows by Leapy Lee was at number 4, and just like the Mary Hopkin and Hugo Montenegro recordings, all three were among the top 10 selling single records of the whole of 1968. Other notable artists in this week’s chart were the Tremeloes, The Hollies, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich, and the Dave Clark Five. In the lower reaches of the chart heading upwards were All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix, and the future Christmas number one, Lily The Pink by the Scaffold.