Given the lack of football at present due to the Coronavirus, and the consequent lack of match previews, I’ll be occasionally delving into Hammers history with some ‘On This Day’ features and birthday celebrations for Hammers past. I hope all readers and their families are well. Keep safe – Dan.
West Ham 2-1 Wimbledon, 26th March 2000
In the first of two featured games today, we travel back exactly 20 years to 26th March 2000, a time when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, ‘Never Be The Same Again’ by Melanie C was number one and Toy Story 2 topped the UK box office. Jadon Sancho was born the day before and singer Ian Dury died the day after. West Ham United, meanwhile, met Wimbledon on a Sunday afternoon in a Premier League encounter.
The Hammers ran out 2-1 winners in front of 22,438 spectators at the Boleyn Ground that day, in a game that will forever be remembered for one of the greatest goals the old stadium ever saw. Only nine minutes had been played when Marc-Vivien Foe sprayed a pass out to Trevor Sinclair on the right flank; Sinclair’s driven crossfield, diagonal pass sailed over the head of Dons defender Kenny Cunningham and was inch-perfect for the lurking Paolo Di Canio. In an instant, the Italian maverick left the ground with both feet and, while in mid-air, volleyed the ball back across goalkeeper Neil Sullivan with the outside of his magic wand of a right boot. Martin Tyler’s commentary – “Oh I do not believe that – that is sensational… even by his standards” is synonymous with one of the greatest goals scored in the Premier League era.
Debutant Frederic Kanoute – signed on the March transfer deadline in an initial loan move from Lyon – scored the hosts’ second on the hour when he was left in acres of space to run on to a Sinclair pass and slot confidently past Sullivan. Former Hammer Michael Hughes scored his own stunner with a dipping left-foot volley from distance which beat Craig Forrest with 15 minutes remaining.
Harry Redknapp’s Irons would end the 1999/2000 season in ninth position while Egil Olsen’s Dons were relegated in 18th place. Di Canio was voted Hammer of the Year, with Sinclair runner-up, in a season which saw Manchester United win the league title and Chelsea beat Aston Villa to be crowned FA Cup winners in the last Final held at the old Wembley.
West Ham United: Craig Forrest, Steve Lomas, Rio Ferdinand, Igor Stimac, Scott Minto, Trevor Sinclair, Marc-Vivien Foe, Frank Lampard Junior, John Moncur (Marc Keller), Paolo Di Canio, Frederic Kanoute.
Wimbledon: Neil Sullivan, Kenny Cunningham, Trond Andersen, Chris Willmott (Dean Blackwell), Alan Kimble, Neal Ardley (Carl Leaburn), Robbie Earle (Damien Francis), Jason Euell, Michael Hughes, Marcus Gayle, Andreas Lund.
West Ham 2-1 Hull, 26th March 2014
In the second of our two featured matches, we travel back exactly six years to 26th March 2014, when David Cameron was Prime Minister, ‘I Got U’ by Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones was number one and The Grand Budapest Hotel was in UK cinemas.
The Hammers ran out 2-1 winners in front of 31,033 spectators at the Boleyn Ground that evening, taking the lead in the 26th minute through Mark Noble’s penalty after Hull ‘keeper Allan McGregor was sent off for bringing down Mohamed Diame. The Senegalese midfielder, who would sign for Hull the following summer, appeared to control the ball with his hand and referee Mike Dean did not initially penalise McGregor’s challenge but awarded a penalty and issued a red card on the advice of his assistant. To compound matters, McGregor suffered kidney damage in the collision.
Future Hammers striker Nikica Jelavic deflected in Tom Huddlestone’s free-kick to level three minutes into the second half, but James Chester diverted Guy Demel’s speculative cross in just six minutes later, swinging his left boot wildly and shinning the ball over substitute goalkeeper Steve Harper to restore the hosts’ advantage.
Despite the Irons claiming the three points, and ending a run of three consecutive league defeats in the process, a section of the home support greeted the final whistle with boos, prompting manager Sam Allardyce to cup his ear to the crowd in surprise at the criticism. The victory saw the Hammers leapfrog the Tigers into 11th in the table.
Allardyce’s Irons would end the 2013/14 season seven points clear of the dreaded drop in 13th position while the Tigers would finish four points clear in 16th place. Noble was voted Hammer of the Year for the second time, with Adrian runner-up, in a season which saw Manchester City win the league title and Arsenal beat Hull to be crowned FA Cup winners.
West Ham United: Adrian, Guy Demel, James Collins (Roger Johnson), James Tomkins, George McCartney, Mark Noble, Matt Taylor, Mohamed Diame (Joe Cole), Kevin Nolan, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll.
Hull City: Allan McGregor, Ahmed Elmohamady, James Chester, Curtis Davies, Maynor Figueroa (Liam Rosenior), Alex Bruce (Steve Harper), Jake Livermore, David Meyler, Tom Huddlestone, Nikica Jelavic (Yannick Sagbo), Shane Long.
You can see all the goals from both these games on the WHTID social media pages.