In my fifty-six years as a West Ham supporter, I have seen some great occasions and some great goals. Apart from the 1923 cup final, I am old but not quite that old, I have seen all of West Ham’s greatest games and with these games, came some of the most memorable goals I have seen. Some of these goals are not the most technically executed but, by virtue of the end result and what they meant for the club and to the fans, they are all legendary – certainly in my estimation anyway.
This journey starts back in May 1964 when I was a young lad working in Legg the butcher’s shop in High Street, Plaistow, just down from the station. Unable to get time off work, I had to content myself with watching the game on an old black and white television that had been specially set-up for me at the back of the shop. This was our first FA Cup Final since the famous White Horse final of 1923, which we lost to Bolton Wanderers. Our opponents on the day were Preston North End who fielded a young player of 17 years and 345 days called Howard Kendal who at the time became the youngest player ever to play in an FA Cup Final. Paul Allen, one of our own, later took over this mantle some 16 years later.
If my memory serves me right, it was a scrappy game with plenty of goals. The score was 2-2 with the final whistle fast approaching and heading for a replay. There was no extra time back in those days. Peter Brabrook picked up the ball and made one of his dashes down the wing. He clipped a curving cross into the box where up popped Ron Ticker Boyce, to put the ball in the net. As a result, we won our first major trophy. When the final whistle blew, I can remember running down Plaistow High Street wearing a top hat decorated in claret and blue, which had a silver cup stuck on top, banging a meat cleaver with a butcher’s hook and shouting “Come on You Irons.”
Who would have thought that a year later, May 1965, I would be in a crowd of ninety-seven thousand supporters watching West Ham win a European Trophy. We had battled our way through the rounds of the European Cup Winners Cup to face TSV Munich 1860 in the final. The atmosphere inside Wembley that night was electric. We played some great football and so we should as in our ranks was the World Cup trio, Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters. Surprisingly, none of the fab three took the accolades that night it was Canning Town born, Alan Sealey. He scored two goals in a two-minute spell to clinch our first European trophy. Of the two goals, the second was the most memorable as this sealed the win. Just as he would do a year later in the World Cup final of 1966, the legendary Bobby Moore would set-up the winning goal. Our Bobby picked up a poor clearance and sprayed one of his inch perfect passes into the box for Sealey to side foot home from close range. Bubbles rang out in Wembley that night.
I am not going in to detail about our next FA Cup Final against Fulham because although we beat Fulham 2 goals to nil, with Alan Taylor scoring a brace, it was not so significant as our first FA Cup win. Therefore, Alan Taylor’s goals do not go down in the annals of being memorable. This match, however, had a sad memory for all West Ham fans, as it pitched our hero, Bobby Moore, against us. Sadly, this match was Bobby’s last Wembley appearance.