In this week’s edition of our weekly throwback segment we speak to Bill, 62 and a lifelong Hammers fan about European success in Claret and Blue.
“All of my family are from the East End and are West Ham fans so naturally I followed suit and at a very young age and became a Hammer. However, my very first experience of watching my heroes was not to be at The Boleyn Ground. At the tender age of ten on the 19th May 1965, I was on my way to Wembley with my family to see us in the final of The European Cup Winners Cup. Only in its fifth season it was the youngest of the three European club competitions, the cup for cup winners had rapidly grown in status to become second only in prestige to The European Cup (now The Champions League). British clubs had fared well to date in the tournament with Rangers appearing in the first final and Spurs wining it in 1963. West Ham were now striving to win and make England the first country with multiple different winners of the trophy.
The West German cup winners TSV Munchen 1860 were our opponents, they had seen off the likes of Legia Warsaw, Torino and Porto in previous rounds of the competition. Our own path to the final saw us put paid to Real Zaragoza, Gentoise, Lausanne and Sparta Prague. After parking the car, we made our way towards the famed Stadium and I was absolutely amazed by the sea of fans when we turned onto Wembley Way. It was at that point that I really felt the sense of occasion. Walking towards the prestigious twin towers was the most exciting experience of my life in that moment. My family was already in high spirits after lifting The F.A Cup just 12 months earlier, there was great anticipation with the prospect of more silverware to come.
At the young age of 10 years old I felt very honoured and special to be a part of this event and one of the 100,000 fans crammed into the old Wembley Stadium that night. The roar was deafening when Bobby Moore led the team out wearing the traditional Claret and Blue shirt with White shorts and White socks, Munchen were in an all White strip. The game started and flowed with great quality with The Hammers pressing and dominating the early exchanges. I was mesmerised by the whole spectacle and after what seemed like a very quick first 45 minutes, the referee blew his whistle for half-time.
The German outfit found their touch early in the second half, but it wasn’t to last with Jim Standen proving very difficult to beat between the sticks. With full-backs Joe Kirkup and Jack Burkett and the ever dependable Ken Brown at centre-back, it was no surprise that in the end we managed to keep a clean sheet. Finally in the 69th minute, Alan Sealey blasted the ball into the roof of the net and Wembley erupted. To this very day I can still see the image of Sealey enacting a forward roll and punching the air in delight. Just two minutes later Bobby Moore planted the ball into the box and Alan Sealey was there again to slot the ball home and seal our first ever European title. Bobby Moore lifted The European Cup Winners Cup aloft to another deafening cheer and made it two trophies in two years. However, little did we know what was to come the following year in 1966?”