The mid-Seventies were a turbulent period in the Irons' history. In 1975 the Hammers won the FA Cup for the second time. Two goals from Alan Taylor sealing a 2-0 win over Fulham.
The victory was a triumph for John Lyall, the young manager succeeded Ron Greenwood a year earlier. Lyall's Upton Park hallow slipped two years later as the Eastenders were relegated. That West Ham side included Sir Trevor Brooking, Billy Bonds and Frank Lampard senior. In contrast to today, relegated clubs were able to keep hold of their crown jewels.
West Ham regrouped and embarked on a terrific cup run. The second division side certainly earned their place at Wembley. Aston Villa were beaten in the quarter final - a year later Villa would be crowned league champions. In the semi-final the Hammers faced Everton. After a 1-1 draw at Villa Park the two sides met at Elland
A superb solo effort from Alan Devonshire gave the underdogs the lead. The extra time strike was cancelled out when Bob Latchford headed the Merseysiders level. With a second replay looming the Irons grabbed a dramatic winner. Devonshire's right wing cross was headed home by Lampard. The full back celebrated in memorable style as he danced round the corner flag. The victory jig has gone down in Hammers folklore.
Twenty seven years later Lampard's son netted against Leeds United. In tribute to his Dad, Frank junior pirouetted round the same corner flag. The famous win was a personal triumph for Devonshire, the cultured midfielder had been playing non-league football just four years ago.
Devonshire was one of several promising players at the Upton Park academy. Outstanding young defender Alvin Martin was on the fringes of the England squad and Paul Allen was the youngest of this talented crop of youngsters. Allen was a member of the famous London football family. Uncle Les had starred in Tottenham's legendary 1961 double winning side, while cousin Clive enjoyed a glittering career with QPR, Spurs, West Ham and England.
But Paul etched his own name in history when he was named in the Irons' cup final team. At 17 years and 256 days, Allen became the youngest player to appear in a FA Cup Final. West Ham were clear underdogs for the final. Arsenal were attempting to retain the cup - a year earlier the Gunners had beaten Manchester United in a classic final.
The Hammers upset the apple cart on 13 minutes. Stuart Pearson played in Devonshire, the midfielder got behind the Gunners' defence and delivered from the the byline. Pearson seized on the centre and hammered a shot goalwards. The striker miscued effort was glanced into the net by the stooping Brooking. West Ham almost capped a stunning victory in spectacular fashion. With two minutes remaining Allen was put clean through. As the Londoner bore down on goal Wembley held its breath. The teenager looked certain to score until he was hauled down by Arsenal's Willie Young. In the early Eighties the professional foul was not deemed a sending off offence, so the big centre half stayed on the pitch.
The Eastenders though hung on to claim a famous victory. West Ham remain the last club outside of the top flight to win the famous trophy. The careers of Devonshire and Martin blossomed - both men went on to become full England internationals.
WEST HAM 5 BRADFORD CITY 4
2000 FA PREMIER LEAGUE
All football clubs have their own identifies and this classic personifies West Ham United. The game was won by home grown products playing sparkling football. Stylish football is the cornerstone of Hammers' philosophy.
Harry Redknapp's claret and blue army were of vintage stock. London boys Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand were the new darlings of the East End. In most sides these players would hog the spotlight, but one star outshone this impressive supporting cast. Paolo Di Canio was the ace in Redknapp's pack, the Italian winger could win a match with a flash of brilliance.
Di Canio was a maverick who attracted the headlines. In 1998 he pushed referee Paul Alcock whilst playing for Sheffield Wednesday. The incident brought an instant end to his Hillsbrough career. The Italian was castigated for his actions and branded the bad boy of football, but this football genius has another side to complex character.
In 2000 the Irons made the tricky trip to Goodison Park. With the teams drawing 1-1 the wide man was presented with a golden chance to win the game. A right wing cross found Di Canio just inside the penalty area. With Everton goalkeeper Paul Gerrard lying injured, Di Canio had an open goal gaping. The former Juventus striker stunned the crowd when he opted to catch the ball so the Toffees keeper could receive treatment. This act of sportsmanship was recognised by the game's governing body. In 2001 Di Canio was awarded FIFA' Fair Play Award.
Di Canio and company were expected to beat relegation threatened Bradford City. West Ham suffered an early blow when goalkeeper Shaka Hislop was injured. Young keeper Stephen Bywater replaced the stricken Hislop. The Bantams capitalised and took the lead on 30 minutes. Five minutes later Trevor Sinclair equalised. The winger scored from close range after good work from Steve Lomas. John Moncur gave the hosts a half-time lead when his blistering drive gave Aiden Davison no chance.
The Bolelyn Ground was stunned when the Yorkshire side produced a three-goal salvo. A Jamie Lawrence double followed Peter Beagrire's well struck penalty. With the game slipping away from his side Di Canio became frustrated. After seeing two penalty appeals turned, the Italian staged a sit down protest.
Remarkably the bizarre incident galvanised the home side. West Ham grabbed a lifeline on 65 minutes. Substitute Paul Kitson was upended in the box and the Hammers were awarded a penalty. In the aftermath Di Canio had a heated exchange with Lampard. Both men wanted to take the vital spot kick. Di Canio was given the thumbs up and comfortably dispatched the penalty.
Redknapp's men made it 4-4 with 20 minutes remaining. A Joe Cole tap in had Upton Park bouncing. With Bradford on the ropes the Irons landed the knock out blow on 83 minutes. A Kitson flick on sent Di Canio free. The Italian seemed to had lost his chance when he was closed down, but with typical composure the winger checked back and passed to Lampard. The midfielder didn't have to break his stride as his first time shot fizzed into the back of the net.
It's 5-4 to West Ham United, I'm forever blowing Bubbles.
CHELSEA 0 WEST HAM 4
1986 FIRST DIVISION
Given the galaxy of stars who have worn the famous claret and blue shirt, it's a surprise that West Ham have never won the top division. The nearest they came was when John Lyall's side finished third in 1986.
The Hammers have never been found wanting in terms of attacking football, but the class of 85/86 had defensive steel to add to forward flair. Goalkeeper Phil Parks was a resolute last line of defence. The excellent keeper was unfortunate to be plying his trade in era where England were blessed with fine goalies.
The Irons' back line also boasted Tony Gale and Alvin Martin. The central defensive partnership excelled as the Irons pushed for the title. This strong backbone provided a base for the flair players. The Eastend engine room of Alan Devonshire and Mark Ward dovetailed wonderfully to create a host of goalscoring chances.
With the ammunition at hand, West Ham needed someone to fire the bullets. The strike partnership of Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie were the crown jewels in the Hammers' crown. The duo netted 46 league goals during the 1985/86 season. Like many successful double acts they were contrasting characters. Local boy Cottee had risen up through the ranks. The quietly spoken Londoner made a memorable debut. The 17-year-old scored against Tottenham in January 1983. Scotsman McAvennie was signed from St Mirren for £340,000. Fun time Frankie was a party animal. When he wasn't banging in the goals McAvennie could be found at various nightclubs.
In an outstanding campaign one match sticks out. In late March, Lyall's side made the short trip to Stamford Bridge. Fourth place Chelsea were also in the hunt for the title. West Ham had slipped to seventh and needed a win to revive their hopes. Devonshire gave the visitors a boost when his 30-yard screamer put the Irons one up (unfortunately I couldn't find any TV footage of Dev's stunner). Sadly for Chelsea fans Mr Youtube does pay homage to the other three. On 54 minutes Cottee made it two. The striker netted after George Parris's barnstorming run.
Moments later Cottee scored his second. McAvennie's deep run penetrated the Blues' offside trap. With the goal at his mercy the blond front runner squared the ball across the face of goal and Cottee applied the finishing touch. The favour was returned on 80 minutes. Cottee's miss-hit shot fell into the path of his partner in crime. McAvennie took aim and blasted the ball past Steve Francis.
This match was a fitting showcase for the dynamic duo. At the beginning of the season negotiations between the Football League and terrestrial televisions had broken down. As a result no football was shown on TV until January 1986. At last television viewers could see what they had been missing.
Tony Cottee scored 20 league goals during the 1985/86 season while McAvennie netted on 26 occasions. Cottee and McAvennie were the best Eastend combination since pie and mash.
WEST HAM 3 PRESTON NORTH END 2
1964 FA CUP FINAL
Hands up who hasn't heard the phrase "West Ham won the World Cup in 1966." Those of us with Hammers' friends have become familiar with the Irons'
On the surface it's hard to argue with the bubble blowers. All four goals were scored by Upton Park boys. Sir Geoff Hurst's hat-trick came either side of a Martin Peters effort. While the trophy was lifted by the legendary Bobby Moore.
But this wasn't the first time the celebrated trio tasted Wembley success. Two years earlier they had helped the London club win the FA Cup for the first time in their history. Having beaten Manchester United in the semi-final, Ron Greenwood's Hammers were firm favourites to win the '64 final. Opponents Preston North End were a second division (now Championship) outfit. Few pundits gave the Lancashire lads a chance of upsetting the odds.
The North End line up included a 17-year-old Howard Kendall. The midfielder was the youngest player to appear in a FA Cup Final. His record was broken 16 years late by the aforementioned Paul Allen. Kendall and company were undaunted by the Hammers' big names. The underdogs grabbed a ninth minute lead through a Doug Holden goal. Three minutes later West Ham's own teenage sensation took centre stage. 18 year-old John Sissions's low drive made it 1-1. Preston refused to buckle and Alex Dawson's header gave the Deepdale club a half time lead.
The first division side were in a real scrap and needed inspiration. Those clad in claret and blue were relieved when Hurst regained parity. The striker's header evaded Alan Kelly's despairing dive and dribbled over the line. In a thrilling encounter both sides pressed for a late winner. With seconds remaining the favourites finally got their noses in front. Hurst beat several defenders before feeding Peter Brabrook. The winger's right wing cross found Ronnie Boyce and the midfielder picked his spot to nod past Kelly.
Wembley is full of Happy Hammers.
WEST HAM 2 1860 MUNICH 0
1965 EUROPEAN CUP WINNERS' CUP FINAL
The Irons' cup win guaranteed them a place in Europe the following season. Having lifted the FA Cup the Londoners were eager for more success on the continental stage.
Ron Greenwood's men proved they could mix it with the best. On their way to the final they beat Belgian side Genk and Spain's Real Zaragoza in a tight semi-final. Now only German Cup holders 1860 Munich could deny the Hammers glory. In contrast to the earlier rounds, the West Ham fans wouldn't need their passports. The final was to be held at Wembley.
The choice of venue was a boost for the English club. The sight of the twin towers would revive memories of that famous win over Preston. The West Ham line-up included eight survivors of the side that beat North End. New faces Brian Dear and Alan Sealey brought a youthful element to the team. Both men were to pay pivotal roles in the European triumph.
Left winger Dear was a constant thorn in the Munich side. The Plaistow-born wide man twice flashed shots narrowly wide of the German goal. At the other end keeper Jim Standen was kept on his mettle. 1860's lively frontrunners always looked capable of opening the scoring. In an even contest the first goal was crucial. The majority of the 97,000 crowd were in rapture when West Ham broke the deadlock.
With 68 minutes on the clock, Ronne Boyce picked up possession. The cup final hero advanced and threaded a lovely through ball to Alan Sealey. Sealey entered the Munich penalty area and unleashed a rasping drive. The powerful shot arrowed into the top corner to put West Ham one up. Two minutes later Sealey scored again. Bobby Moore's flighted cross found Martin Peters. With the goal gaping, Peters failed to control Moore's centre. Fortunately the miss hit fell perfectly for Sealey who belted the ball into the net.
Unsurprisingly Sealey was hailed the hero. Sadly within 12 months, the midfielder's promising career was cut short. Sealey broke his leg while playing in a pre-season cricket match. In an interesting footnote, Alan wasn't the last Sealy to star in a Wembley cup final. Nephew Les was a member of Manchester United's 1990 FA Cup winning side.
So there you have it, the five greatest games in West Ham's history. But do you agree? What game sticks out in your memory? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.