Ask any West Ham United fan of a certain age about their game against Wimbledon back in 1998 and they will grimace.

More than two decades have passed since.

West Ham went on to claim fifth spot that season, their highest ever Premier League finish.

But the 1998/99 campaign is also remembered for a game that left the 26,000 Hammers fans in attendance – and thousands more checking the scores on Teletext – scarred for life.

West Ham have been down, up, down and back up again since.

Wimbledon have been completely reformed from scratch.

Photo by Jamie McDonald Allsport

The game that left West Ham fans scarred for life

But the reverberations of that day at Upton Park are still felt now.

West Ham fans will always tell you they do not feel comfortable in a match, sometimes even at 3-0 up.

And the 4-3 defeat to Wimbledon is the reason why.

Footage from the game is hard to come by.

But West Ham fans never want to see it again because the memories will already last a lifetime.

Everything had started so well as Harry Redknapp’s side burst into a 3-0 lead with just 27 minutes on the clock at the Boleyn Ground. This was Upton Park when it was the famously tight stadium before the West Stand renovation.

Photo by Jamie McDonald Allsport

Harry’s happy Hammers raced into 3-0 lead

John Hartson scored after seven minutes before his strike partner that day, Ian Wright, added a brace with goals in the 14th and 27th minute.

Poalo Di Canio did not arrive until the January of that season.

 

But West Ham’s team that day was plenty strong enough to see out a win from 3-0 up.

Shaka Hislop, Ian Pearce, Neil Ruddock, Javier Margas, Stan Lazaridis, Trevor Sinclair, Eyal Berkovic, John Moncur and Frank Lampard sat behind Wright and Hartson.

But it all went horribly wrong.

Marcus Gayle brought it back to 3-1 on the half hour. What seemed like a mere consolation had actually planted a seed of doubt in the minds of the players.

When West Ham got to the 64 minute still two goals ahead they looked home and hosed.

They weren’t.

Photo by Graham Chadwick Allsport

Are you Efan kidding me?

Jason Euell scored in the 64th minute to make it 3-2 and Gayle levelled things up at 3-3 in the 77th minute.

It was the rangy, awkward, 6ft 2in striker Efan Ekoku who completed the misery when he netted the winner of a seven-goal thriller on 81 minutes.

It left a full 10 minutes for the Hammers to try and salvage something.

But it was not to be. How could West Ham recover from such a devastating defeat?

Well in true West Ham style Redknapp’s side went on to beat Liverpool 2-1 at Upton Park just three days later.

Oh West Ham we love you.

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