On the 10th of May, 1980 West Ham competed in their fourth First Division versus Second Division FA Cup Final at Wembley. In contrast to the two trophy wins in 1964 and 1975, this time it was the Hammers who were the underdogs from the lower league. West Ham had experienced an indifferent season in the second tier finishing in 7th place and earning criticism from Brain Clough for prioritising the FA Cup over promotion back to the First Division. Opponents Arsenal were the current cup holders, were 4th in the First Division and had reached the final of the European Cup Winner’s Cup as well as the FA Cup.
The match was not the most entertaining spectacle although the day remains totally memorable. Arsenal were a very defensively minded outfit at the time and West Ham manager John pulled off a tactical masterstroke by withdrawing Stuart Pearson into midfield and leaving David Cross to play as a lone striker; a ploy which stifled what creativity Arsenal had to offer in Brady and Rix. The only goal of the game came on 12 minutes when Alan Devonshire got around the back of the Arsenal defence and put in a cross that pin-balled between Cross, Pearson and Arsenal’s Willie Young before coming to Trevor Brooking who stooped to head home. Chances after that were few and far between and the second most memorable action of the game was when Young ‘perfected’ the professional foul by hacking down Paul Allen when the 17-year-old was clean through on goal with two minutes remaining. West Ham stood firm to lift the trophy for third time and remain the last team from outside the top flight to do so.
Parkes, Stewart, Lampard, Bonds, Martin, Devonshire, Allen, Pearson, Cross, Brooking, Pike
in 2006, the FA Cup final was still being played in Cardiff while a behind schedule Wembley was being re-developed. West Ham’s part in one of the most exciting finals in living memory has become largely overlooked after the largely Liverpool leaning media re-branded the affair as the ‘Gerrard Final’. Despite the game being an all Premier League contest, newly promoted West Ham were once again underdogs. However, they got off to a flying start and within 30 minutes were two goals to the good; the first an own goal when Carragher planted a Lionel Scaloni cross into his own net; and the second from Dean Ashton after Reina had fumbled a Matthew Etherington shot. A lack of concentration followed and within minutes Liverpool had had a goal disallowed and then pulled one back through Cisse to make it 2-1 at the break.
Liverpool dominated possession at the start of the second period and equalised when Gerrard drilled home a Crouch knock down but surprisingly West Ham regained the lead when Paul Konchesky’s cross sailed straight into the top of the net passed a confused Raina. The game stayed that way as the game entered added time when Liverpool equalised once more in controversial circumstances. West Ham had put the ball into touch to allow treatment to an injured Liverpool player and from the resulting unsporting throw-in Liverpool immediately put Scaloni under pressure and his poor clearance led directly to Gerrard’s long range leveller. There were to be no further goals in normal and extra time and with many players suffering from cramp and the game ended 3-3. There then followed a penalty shoot-out which Liverpool won 3-1.
Hislop, Scaloni, Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Benayoun, Fletcher (Dailly), Reo-Coker, Etherington (Sheringham), Ashton (Zamora), Harewood
Back to league action and at the end of the 1994/95 Premier League season West Ham faced successive home games against Liverpool and Manchester United. In a midweek fixture, two Don Hutchison goals helped the Hammers beat Liverpool 3-0 to confirm their top flight survival for another year and then at the weekend found themselves at the centre of a final day drama for the title between Manchester United and Blackburn. A first half strike from Michael Hughes and an inspired display from keeper Ludek Miklosko denied the Red Devils the win they needed to snatch the title which found its way to Ewood Park instead.
It was the reds of Manchester again on the final day of the 2006/7 great escape season. Manchester United had already been crowned champions as West Ham went in search of the point that would ensure safety. In the event the Hammers took all three courtesy of a Carlos Tevez goal on the stroke of half time. It had been a close shave for the Hammers but ultimately their cutting edge was better than eleven blades.
Finally, this week marks the first anniversary of the final game at Upton Park where goals from Sakho, Antonio and Reid fired West Ham to a famous end of an era victory, once again over Manchester United.