By this time of year the season is more often than not all over and in the week 15 to 21 May, West Ham have only played 17 games between the years 1958 to 2016. However, the week does include a match that is arguably the Hammers greatest moment and finest ever achievement; victory in the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup Final.
In their first ever experience of European competition, West Ham had battled through to a final that was conveniently scheduled to be played at Wembley; the same venue where they had won the first major trophy in their history just twelve months previously. The opponents were TSV Munich 1860 from West Germany who had recently made it into the newly formed Bundesliga at the expense of local rivals Bayern; the rules initially excluding two clubs from the same city competing in the new competition. In fact TSV went on to be crowned Bundesliga champions in 1966 and runners-up in 1967.
The match, played on Wednesday 19 May 1965, was an exciting and open affair in front of a capacity Wembley crowd. The first half saw chances at both ends but with Brian Dear and John Sissons unable to convert good chances and Jim Standen in fine form in the West Ham goal the match remained scoreless at the break. The second half started in much the same vein until the breakthrough on 69 minutes when Ron Boyce’s precision pass played in Alan Sealey who fired home from inside the area. There were wild scenes around the famous stadium but the dust had barely settled before Sealey scored again two minutes later, this time from close range as the ball ran loose following a Bobby Moore cross. That is how it ended and for the second successive year Moore lifted a trophy at the top of the 39 steps as the Hammers became only the second English club to triumph in Europe.
Standen, Kirkup, Burkett, Peters, Brown, Moore, Sealey, Boyce, Hurst, Dear, Sissons
Championship Play-Off games are something that have started to feature prominently this week in more recent years . In both 2004 and 2005 there were semi-finals against Ipswich Town to contend with and on both occasions the Hammers emerged victorious to book a place in the Play Off Final. The home game in 2004 is particularly memorable for the electric atmosphere generated at Upton Park and capped off by Christian Dailly playing through the pain of a ball in the genitals to stroke home the winning aggregate goal.
The most recent Play Off Final appearance took place this week in 2012 when Sam Allardyce’s West Ham faced Blackpool at Wembley. Both teams had been relegated the previous season and West Ham had easily beaten the Tangerines both home and away during the regular league season; as well as finishing eleven points ahead of them in the final standings. The Final though was a different kettle of seaside fish altogether and it was Blackpool who edged the early exchanges and fashioned the better chances until West Ham took the lead through an accomplished Carlton Cole strike. After the goal the Hammers took control and comfortably took their advantage into the break. Within two minutes of the re-start, though, Blackpool were back on level terms courtesy of a Tom Ince goal. The remainder of the game became scrappy and stretched, as both sides sought the multi-million pound winner, and with the match heading towards extra time it was Ricardo Vaz Te who settled it for West Ham when he drilled in from 12 yards out.
Green, Demel (Faubert), Reid, Tomkins, Taylor, Collison, Nolan, Noble, O’Brien (McCartney), Vaz Te, Cole
An oversight from last week’s review of history was the failure to acknowledge the final appearance in a West Ham shirt by Sir Trevor Brooking; this taking place in a match on 14 May 1984 against Everton. This was the last of 643 appearances during which Trevor scored 102 goals; West Ham’s tenth all-time top scorer.
On a final note of trivia this week also saw the Upton Park crowd break the world mass bubble blowing record prior to the end of season game against Middlesbrough in 1999.