On This Day, 7th April: A Spanish Semi-Final & Making History At The Emirates

West Ham 2-1 Real Zaragoza, 7th April 1965

Today marks 55 years since the Hammers’ first European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-final first leg. Having knocked out Swiss side Lausanne in the quarter-final, the Hammers were paired with Spanish outfit Real Zaragoza in the last four. An official crowd of 34,864 supporters was recorded for, arguably, one of the Boleyn Ground’s highest-profile matches ever.

Unit 4 Plus 2 were number one with ‘Concrete And Clay’, The Sound of Music was in UK cinemas and Julie Andrews had just won an Oscar for her role in Mary Poppins. The Hammers raced into a 2-0 lead, Brian Dear opening the scoring on eight minutes before Johnny Byrne doubled the hosts’ advantage in the 28th minute. The Hammers’ two-goal cushion was halved though when Brazilian forward Canario, who had helped the great Real Madrid win the European Cup in 1960, struck in the 54th minute, ensuring that the Hammers would still face a tough task to make the final when they travelled to La Romareda for the second leg.

The other semi-final first leg result was Torino 2-0 1860 Munich.

West Ham United: Jim Standen, Joe Kirkup, Ken Brown, Bobby Moore, Jack Burkett, Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce, Johnny Sissons, Geoff Hurst, Johnny Byrne, Brian Dear.

Real Zaragoza: Yarza, Cortizo, Luis Violeta, Santamaria, Reija, Eduardo Enderiz, Canario, Santos, Isasi, Marcelino, Lapetra.

Arsenal 0-1 West Ham, 7th April 2007

7th April 2007 – The Proclaimers featuring Brian Potter and Andy Pipkin were number one with their Comic Relief version of ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’, Mr. Bean’s Holiday topped the UK box office and ITV’s Grease Is The Word made its debut, searching for two actors to play Danny and Sandy in a new stage production of Grease. Meanwhile, Alan Curbishley’s West Ham United were sealing a 1-0 victory over Arsenal in front of 60,098 at the Emirates.

Arsene Wenger’s side’s last defeat at their previous ground, Highbury, had been at the hands of the Hammers and this was to be their first loss at their new stadium. The Hammers were largely indebted to their goalkeeper, Robert Green, for the victory as he gave one of the finest individual performances in the club’s history to keep a clean sheet and claim the points. Green’s busy afternoon began after just two minutes when he came out to block Cesc Fabregas’ effort and continued when he raced out to block Freddie Ljungberg’s attempt – Ljungberg was to join the Hammers a few months later.

The Irons took the lead right on half-time. Mark Noble intercepted Emmanuel Eboue’s pass and Nigel Reo-Coker made a break for the relative solace of the halfway line. He found Carlos Tevez who, in turn, laid the ball back for right-back Lucas Neill. The Australian’s lofted ball deep into Arsenal territory evaded Kolo Toure and fell perfectly into the path of Bobby Zamora who stretched to send the ball looping over the stranded Jens Lehmann and into the Gunners’ goal.

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Arsenal laid siege to the Hammers’ goal in the second half. Green dived low to his right to divert Gilberto Silva’s shot wide before, arguably, the save of the lot when he sprung up his left arm to push away Emmanuel Adebayor’s point-blank header. When Green was beaten, Fabregas’ strike from distance hit the crossbar and Gilberto’s shot hit the outside of the post. The Brazilian midfielder also headed wide when well-placed. Luis Boa Morte had the chance to seal the points against his old club on a rare Hammers foray forward but his dinked effort went wide. My video below shows the action from the game, alongside interviews with goalkeeping hero Green and Irons centre-half James Collins.

The Gunners would finish fourth in 2006/07, while the Hammers would end the campaign safe in 15th following The Great Escape. Manchester United won the league and Chelsea won the FA Cup. Zamora would end the campaign as the Hammers’ top scorer with 11 goals from 37 matches. Carlos Tevez was voted Hammer of the Year, with Zamora runner-up.

Arsenal: Jens Lehmann, Emmanuel Eboue, Kolo Toure, William Gallas, Gael Clichy, Gilberto Silva (Abou Diaby), Cesc Fabregas, Freddie Ljungberg (Julio Baptista), Tomas Rosicky, Alexander Hleb (Jeremie Aliadiere), Emmanuel Adebayor.

West Ham United: Rob Green, Lucas Neill, Anton Ferdinand, James Collins, George McCartney (Jonathan Spector), Lee Bowyer, Nigel Reo-Coker, Mark Noble, Matthew Etherington, Carlos Tevez (Kepa Blanco), Bobby Zamora (Luis Boa Morte).

Guest Post

Bedsteads for Goalposts

Guest Post by Big Safe’s Buddy

Given where we are and with all of us largely confined to our own surroundings I’d imagine like me you’ve all had extra thinking time. Me and me brothers are constantly on the blower, harping back to when we were kids and as a consequence we usually end up in fits of laughter. I really could write a book about us as kids and young adults; but so as not to get banned by Iain I best stick to some of my fondest early memories of the long school summer holidays, if it makes one person smile I’ll consider it job done.

There’s only a year in age between me and me elder brother so we obviously have a lot of shared experiences, not least the start of our West Ham journeys. We’d both been indoctrinated by me dad and grandad from a really early age. The exact details of which games we first attended are all blurred into one marvellous collage of kid-like excitement, I really couldn’t tell you who we played on my first visit. My earliest vivid memories started a few years later when, aged 11 or 12, we were allowed to go on our own but I swear if I close me eyes I can remember walking in that place for the first time ….. the colour, the smell of the grass ….. embedded in me bonce for life.

We obviously fell in love with the ‘ammers but we liked all sport, in fact we were sport mad, our entire early lives revolved around it. We weren’t poor in the strictest sense but we lead basic lives; dad a Ford worker, mum a stay at home mum to us 4 kids. Our house wasn’t the first choice if you wanted the finer things in life, no good asking for an ice lolly as up until we were about ten I don’t remember having a fridge, let alone a freezer; but if you wanted fun it was a Mecca and all our mates were welcome.

We used to have brilliant improvised mini tournaments of all the top sports, everything from cricket to croquet, we couldn’t do show jumping but I swear if we could’ve found an ‘orse we would’ve had a go, which brings me to the title of me post. One of the benefits of the social media boom is all the funny videos that do the rounds, I love ‘em. I got one from me brother this morning of kids playing football in their garden, they were shooting into the same goal with their dad as the keeper, top of the range it was, proper posts and nets. Cutting to the chase, one of ‘em scores after tripping the other one up and then legs it, when the other one catches him up it leads to the inevitable punch up. Me brother sent it to me with a little sub heading, “1 nil to me, done yer.” It struck such a brilliant chord with me as it’s exactly the type of thing he would’ve done to me with the same end result. We were close in ability in all sports, but luckily for me he couldn’t fight. It was only nipper level violence and he obviously thought the Mickey take was worth the minimal pain, lol.

Our back garden was ahead of its time in so much as it was a multi-purpose stadium with an all-weather pitch; which basically means we had no grass but flattened mud that me dad turned over once a year with his garden fork to stop the weeds coming through. Our goals were 2 half buried metal bedsteads, the mesh still attached, which made for terrific nets. Hours of 2 or 3 a-side games would take place dependant on how many mates were around and when they’d all gone home me and me bro’ would switch to shooting to each end, taking it in turns to be Hurst and Peters. They were who we mimicked as we blasted a goal in …… “HURSSSST!”

Our basketball nets were the old style 4ft high metal ringed council-supplied paper bin bag holders; the lift up metal lid was a perfect back board and would close when the ball rebounded off it on its way through the ring to register your 2 points. At this point I would like to put on record my sincere apology to the house round the corner that we nicked the second basket from, we weren’t happy doing it at the time but each house only got one and the Harlem Globetrotters had just been on the box and needs must.

We had a painted set of stumps on the wall between the back door and the toilet window, the boundaries were our fences, which were worth 4 runs, providing the ball stayed in our garden; but unlike Lord’s, if you cleared ‘em, instead of getting 6 you were given out by the bowler, who doubled up as the umpire. On top of that it was your job to go and retrieve the ball; now this was fine if you hit one too long to the left of us, as all the gardens in reach were mates’ houses, as were the ones over the back fence, and most of ‘em would be playing anyway. However, it was prudent to show restraint if hitting to our right as next-door-but-one was where old Ted lived, his garden was out of bounds (in other words don’t get caught), if he got to the ball before we did we never got it back.

He had these posh wooden trellises which were his pride and joy and we only realised after a while that the miserable old so-and-so was decorating it by gluing our captured tennis balls on top of it. When we sussed him out I’m afraid we took the difficult decision to tell our old man, who promptly went round to talk to Ted. I don’t know exactly how the conversation went but given that 10 minutes after me dad got back about a dozen tennis balls mysteriously flew into our garden I’ve got a pretty good idea. From that moment on dear old Ted was like an extra fielder, me dad insisted we thanked him every time though.

The Olympics were great and as we were sticklers for tradition they only occurred every 4 days. All kids are competitive but in fairness us lot were pretty reasonable and would make sure the medals were shared around. Sometimes this happened naturally; in the javelin for example luck played a big part and all largely depended a lot on how well mum’s broom handle flew through the air at any given time.

The long and triple jumps were pretty much hit and miss as well, as the measuring mechanisms weren’t that great and tended to vary on the shoe size of the current measurer, not to the mention the fact that no 2 of us could ever agree on the exact landing site. The high jump was one of my favourites as I was one of the tallest. An old folded in half double mattress that had been fermenting behind dad’s shed was the perfect crash mat, with 2 of us standing in front holding a skipping rope and adjusting the height as the competition went on. We used to just take a run up and dive over it as I don’t recall any of us being familiar with the Fosbury Flop.

We couldn’t facilitate the track events in the garden and as this was the sixties we were allowed out the front to play. The running posed a bigger problem with sharing the medals around as, short of kicking him in the shins at the starting line, our mate Pete would win everything from the sprint to the marathon. Whichever relay team he was in the second runner would have half a lap start over the opposition, if he went last he could make up an half a lap deficit. The track was our immediate block of streets, which for convenience we estimated to be about 400 metres. The truth is it was more like 600 but what’s 200 metres when you’ve got an Olympics to organise? Good old Pete got in the spirit in the end and an accidental handicap system sort of self-developed. We had to let him win as often as the rest of us but when it weren’t his turn he developed a bit of a convenient cramp and invariably went out in the heats.

I’m extremely grateful for my early childhood and I really do mean it when I say I wouldn’t swap it. Given the current circumstances I’d imagine a few nicely manicured lawns are gonna take a bit of an ’ammering; but the grass will grow back and hopefully there’s a lot of kids that will build a lot of nice memories around all the gloom. Garden Olympics anyone?

Talking Point

Lets forget all this human suffering and just get the Premier League concluded shall we?

Guest Post by Phil Murphy

Ok, let’s have this shall we? Let’s stop beating about the bush and talk about the integrity of our national game shall we? A game that is so awash with money it could feed the starving of an African country or three for the next 10 years. A game that thinks nothing of paying its average players £80,000 a week, and its top earners £1.8M per month for what? Sticking on a pair of football boots for 90 minutes a week, sometimes a little more if the poor dears aren’t too exhausted, and doing what all of us would give our right arm to do.

A game that thinks nothing of paying an agent, aka a blood sucking parasite, £10M to “facilitate” a transfer. A game that thinks it’s ok to “own” a human being in this day and age and to hoover up all gifted and remotely gifted children across the world who show signs of being able to trap a ball, take them out of their family and their environment and, if they’re lucky enough not to get abused by a sexual predator, discard them at will if they don’t make the elite 1% deemed good enough to join their first team squad

A game that consists of owners, who have obtained their wealth dishonestly by many different means, including fraud, denying their people their basic human rights, murder and tax evasion and who think nothing of building up massive debts against the clubs they claim to love, without a second thought what becomes of those clubs when they walk away with with the millions they’ve accumulated.

Don’t even start me on the dishonest players that dive at every opportunity, will kiss the badge lovingly, until another badge comes along that will pay them more, and who will happily apply themselves at 80% capacity if it suits them on any given day. A game that has embraces cheats, rapists, bullies, racists, drunks, drug users, sexual predators and love cheats. But enough about, well,…. no sorry, I won’t say that…

Integrity left football a long time ago, probably sometime during Sepp Blatter’s 40 year reign cemented by monsieur Michel Platini and his cronies.

And now the Premier League are wondering how they might complete their precious competition so that they can put their “champions” all 4 of them, forward into EUFA’s money spinning tournament for the “elite” champions of Europe (and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed teams, and the mighty Abanian and Lithuania champions) Another competition that must be completed at all cost according to EUFA. Why do you think that is? To maintain the integrity of the game? Yeah right, it’s to satisfy the great God that is television. The broadcasters are rubbing their hands together dreaming how they might sell this football bonanza of crowning champions, relegation heartbreak and mid table mediocrity during a 6 week feast of pulsating football. Super Sunday’s, Monday Night Football, Clash of the Titans and Relegation Friday! Pull up your armchair and grab your popcorn.

Meanwhile on another planet nearly 40,000 people have died so far of a little known pandemic Convid-19 with another 100,000 likely to die in April alone and God knows, no not the tv God, the other one, how many more will die before a cure is found. People are locked in their homes unable to care for or see their loved ones, worried about what they will eat yet alone what they will wipe their arse with.

But don’t worry about all that folks because football will be back on tv soon and all that will be a distant memory, even though people will still be dying, you won’t have to watch the news bulletins you will have Sky Sports and BT Sports to distract you. Happy Days are here again!!

Authors Note: I apologise in advance if you disagree with me or if you think I am being flippant. I guess I’m just trying to generate debate, albeit I wont deny these are my views. Look, I want the football back as much as anyone else, I’m going stir crazy here, to the point I can find time to write an article, ok a rant, for you. There is nothing more I would like (well there is actually) than for the Premiership to conclude its matches beginning next Saturday, honestly I would, Liverpool deserve to be crowned champions, the 3 sides with the least number of points deserve to be relegated. Leeds, West Brom, Fleetwood and Coventry all deserve to be promoted. But there are more important things right now, football should acknowledge that by saying so and calling this season off, make it null and void, like my life has been in 2020, and begin planning the start of the new season. Yes the new season in August, when hopefully we will be out of this dark tunnel and we can all, those of us that are left, enjoy the things that we have taken for granted for so long.

Stay safe everyone.


On This Day, 5th April: Swansea Smashed, Burnley Beaten & Happy Birthday Der Hammer

Swansea 1-5 West Ham, 5th April 1983

Tuesday 5th April 1983 – David Bowie was number one with ‘Let’s Dance’, Gandhi topped the UK box office and West Ham United were enjoying their second of seven wins from their final ten fixtures of 1982/83. Two midfielders in claret and blue grabbed a double apiece in a 5-1 victory over Swansea City in front of 13,303 at the Vetch Field.

Ian Walsh gave John Toshack’s Swans a second-minute lead but the Hammers were 2-1 up at the break through goals from the inspirational Alan Devonshire and Geoff Pike. Pike notched his second in the second half, his only two-goal salvo for the Irons in his 372 appearances. Alan Dickens (pictured) also bagged a second half brace to make it five goals in his first nine appearances for the club.

John Lyall’s Hammers would finish eighth in the First Division in 1982/83, while Swansea would end the campaign in 22nd and were relegated.

Swansea City: Chris Sander, Nigel Stevenson, Gary Richards, Ante Rajkovic, Dudley Lewis, Gary Stanley, Chris Marustik, Robbie James, James Loveridge, Ian Walsh (Darren Gale), Bob Latchford.

West Ham United: Phil Parkes, Ray Stewart, Billy Bonds, Alvin Martin, Frank Lampard, Alan Dickens, Neil Orr, Geoff Pike, Alan Devonshire, Paul Goddard, Francois van der Elst.

Burnley 0-1 West Ham, 5th April 2005

5th April 2005: Prime Minister Tony Blair asked the Queen for a dissolution of Parliament for a general election on 5th May, Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay was at the top of the charts with ‘(Is This The Way To) Amarillo’ and The Ring Two topped the UK box office. Meanwhile, West Ham United completed their second away victory in three days following a 2-0 weekend win at Wigan.

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In front of 12,209 at Turf Moor in this midweek encounter, Ade Akinbiyi wasted Burnley’s best chance of the first half after heading wide of the target. Hammers forward Teddy Sheringham fired just wide before a mistake let the Irons in to seal the three points with the game’s only goal. With seven minutes to go, a loose pass allowed Marlon Harewood to round the goalkeeper and square for Sheringham to calmly stroke home the winner three days after his 39th birthday. The veteran would be voted Hammer of the Year a few weeks later, with a teenaged Mark Noble runner-up. The goal from this match can be viewed in my video below.

Burnley would close the season in 13th position, while the Hammers would finish in sixth place and be promoted via the Play-Offs; Sunderland won the Championship title, Chelsea won the Premier League and Arsenal won the FA Cup. Marlon Harewood was the Irons’ top scorer with 22 goals from 54 matches.

Burnley: Danny Coyne, Frank Sinclair (Tony Grant), John McGreal, Gary Cahill, Mo Camara, John Oster (Jean-Louis Valois), Micah Hyde, James O’Connor, Graham Branch (Michael Duff), Ade Akinbiyi, Dean Bowditch.

West Ham United: Jimmy Walker, Tomas Repka, Anton Ferdinand, Elliott Ward, Chris Powell, Shaun Newton, Hayden Mullins (Carl Fletcher), Nigel Reo-Coker, Mark Noble (Matthew Etherington), Marlon Harewood (Bobby Zamora), Teddy Sheringham.

Happy 38th Birthday Thomas Hitzlsperger

Thomas Hitzlsperger was born in Munich on 5th April 1982 but began his professional career in England with Aston Villa in the 2000/01 season, making his full international debut for Germany in a 2-0 friendly victory in Iran in September 2004. After 110 appearances for Villa, the central midfielder moved to VfB Stuttgart in 2005 on a Bosman free transfer.

Hitzlsperger netted his first international goals in a 13-0 European Championship qualifying win in San Marino in September 2006, just a few months after appearing for Germany at the World Cup in his home country. The fluent English speaker was a central figure in Joachim Low’s squad at the 2008 European Championships, starting all three knockout fixtures as Germany finished as runners-up to Spain. After four and a half years back in his native Germany, and one Bundesliga title in 2006/07, he joined Italian side Lazio on a six-month contract in January 2010.

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Hitzlsperger, nicknamed ‘Der Hammer’ due to his ferocious shooting ability with his left foot, became Avram Grant’s first signing at West Ham United in June 2010. He had to wait eight months for his first competitive start after being sidelined with a thigh injury in pre-season training but scored on his long-awaited debut, a trademark bullet of a strike from 25 yards in the 5-1 FA Cup fifth-round win over Eddie Howe’s Burnley at the Boleyn Ground on 21st February 2011. Hitzlsperger’s right-wing corner also created the fourth goal, the inswinging cross headed home by Winston Reid for his first Hammers goal. A similarly thunderous strike led to Hitzlsperger’s first league goal for the Hammers, smashing in a loose ball to round off the scoring in the 3-0 home win over Stoke on 5th March 2011. He also slammed in a 20-yard equaliser in the 1-1 home draw against Blackburn on 7th May 2011. After 13 appearances for West Ham United and three goals, Hitzlsperger’s contract was terminated following the Hammers’ relegation to the Championship and he signed for VfL Wolfsburg in the summer of 2011. My video below shows all three of Der Hammer’s goals for the Hammers.

After one season, he returned to England and joined Everton in mid-October 2012 on a short-term deal lasting until the end of the following January, which was extended until the end of the 2012/13 campaign. In September 2013, aged 31 and following his release from Everton during the summer, Hitzlsperger announced his retirement from football citing the strain of “many transfers and some injuries”. He had won 52 caps for Germany, scoring six goals. Hitzlsperger, who turns 38 today, became the most high-profile footballer to date to come out as gay in January 2014.


On This Day, 4th April: Hammers Trounce Tottenham At The Lane

Tottenham 1-4 West Ham, 4th April 1994

Today’s focus sees us travel back exactly 26 years, to the 4th April 1994 – Take That were number one with ‘Everything Changes’ and sequels ruled the roost in UK cinemas with Beethoven’s 2nd and Sister Act 2: Back In The Habit proving popular at the box office as West Ham United secured a supremely satisfying 4-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in front of an Easter Monday crowd of 31,502 at White Hart Lane.

West Ham took a 37th minute lead when Steve Jones, who had only been on the field for quarter of an hour after replacing the injured Peter Butler, collected Ian Bishop’s pass and drove a fine low shot in off Ian Walker’s post.

The Hammers doubled their lead on the hour when Kevin Scott climbed all over Trevor Morley (pictured above) in the penalty area and Morley himself converted with consummate ease. Five minutes later though, Morley upended Gary Mabbutt at the opposite end and it was Spurs’ turn for penalty practice – future Hammer Teddy Sheringham stepped up to give Tottenham a route back into the match with 25 minutes still to go.

The Irons, however, were not to be outdone. On 72 minutes, Mabbutt got himself into all sorts of trouble on the ball, Morley brushed the former England defender aside and drove a rising shot beyond Walker to bag his brace and restore the two-goal advantage. The scoring was rounded off when Mike Marsh provided a tidy finish to Matty Holmes’ cross for his only West Ham United league goal. All the goals from this game can be seen in my video below.

Billy Bonds’ Hammers would end the 1993/94 Premier League season in 13th position, two places and seven points ahead of Tottenham who finished 15th. Manchester United won a league and FA Cup double.

Tottenham Hotspur: Ian Walker, David Kerslake, Gary Mabbutt, Kevin Scott, Sol Campbell, Darren Anderton, Steve Sedgley, Jason Dozzell (David Howells), Vinny Samways, Nick Barmby, Ronny Rosenthal (Teddy Sheringham).

West Ham United: Ludek Miklosko, Tim Breacker, Steve Potts, Tony Gale, Keith Rowland, Matthew Rush, Mike Marsh, Peter Butler (Steve Jones), Ian Bishop, Matty Holmes, Trevor Morley.

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