West Ham United rightly have a proud tradition in English football for playing entertaining, attacking football. It is an approach that has thrilled millions since the east London club was formed in 1900, five years after the inception of our forerunners, Thames Ironworks. It is enshrined in Hammers’ history that regardless of their status at any given time, whether challenging for silverware or fighting relegation, the club has never sacrificed its long-held football principles. Our knowledgeable fans have come to expect nothing less and they are proud of it.
Manager Slaven Bilic
- Current Team
- West Ham United
- September 11, 1968
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West Ham United rightly have a proud tradition in English football for playing entertaining, attacking football. It is an approach that has thrilled millions since the east London club was formed in 1900, five years after the inception of our forerunners, Thames Ironworks.
It is enshrined in Hammers’ history that regardless of their status at any given time, whether challenging for silverware or fighting relegation, the club has never sacrificed its long-held football principles. Our knowledgeable fans have come to expect nothing less and they are proud of it.
The 1938/39 season kicked-off with three defeats which did not bode well for the rest of the campaign.
A mid-week engagement with Manchester City at Maine Road was hardly a pleasant prospect, but the happy Hammers came away with a welcome 4-2 victory, sparking a run of 15 goals scored in the next three home games.
The highlight of the season was undoubtedly the FA Cup tussle with Tottenham Hotspur. The Hammers had been drawn against their north London neighbours for the fifth time since World War One and this fourth round tie took three games to settle.
At the Boleyn Ground, Spurs took a 3-1 lead with 30 minutes remaining before Stan Foxall scored twice to take it to a replay at White Hart Lane, where 50,798 witnessed a 1-1 draw.
Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium was the stage for the second replay which saw the Hammers edge through 2-1 thanks to goals from Foxall and Archie Macaulay.
Eventual FA Cup winners Portsmouth dashed West Ham’s aspirations in the fifth round at Fratton Park.
Despite their improved away form, which saw them score 13 more goals and two more points from the previous season, they ended a largely forgettable season two places lower in eleventh place.
The Prince of inside-forwards
England international Len Goulden (pictured, right) signed amateur forms for West Ham in 1931.
With no youth teams in existence in those days, Goulden was loaned out to Chelmsford City and Leyton to gain experience.
The Hackney-born player with a magical left foot was known as the ‘Prince of inside-forwards’ and made his professional League debut in April 1933 at Charlton Athletic.
His impressive displays drew the attention of the England selectors and in May 1937, Goulden scored on his Three Lions debut against Norway in Oslo in a 6-0 win.
Highbury Stadium was the setting for his tenth cap, and his 73rd-minute goal helped England to a 3-0 success over the ‘Rest of Europe’ in October 1938.
A month later he was on the score-sheet again in a representative match for the Football League, who ran out 8-2 winners against the Irish League at Windsor Park, Belfast.
Goulden’s competitive West Ham career was curtailed by World War II, although regional football followed and he occasionally gusted for Chelsea during the conflict, later signing for the Pensioners in 1945 for £5,000.
Len Goulden passed away in February 1995, aged 82.
If the Academy of Football was born in the 1950s, then the 1960s was the decade during which it came of age.
The most-successful period in West Ham United’s history saw the Club win the FA Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and, so say many, the FIFA World Cup.
While West Ham never came close to winning the Football League title, the team and its visionary managers, Ted Fenton and then Ron Greenwood, earned rave reviews at home and abroad for their innovative approach to the beautiful game.
On their day, West Ham were capable of beating anyone, as was evidenced by the series of eye-catching victories they achieved over England’s top sides. From front to back, back to front, the Hammers were blessed with elegant ball-players who could tear any opponent apart.
The majority of those players honed their skills on the green fields of Little Heath and Chadwell Heath, home-grown heroes such as Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce, Ken Brown, John Sissons, Jack Burkett, Eddie Bovington and Brian Dear.
When those Academy combined with the likes of goalkeeper Jim Standen and forwards Johnny Byrne and Alan Sealey, the Hammers could play football of a style rarely seen and rarely matched, on these shores, at least.
West Ham’s first major trophy arrived in 1964, when Greenwood guided his side through a tricky FA Cup run to a Wembley showdown with Second Division Preston North End. As was the nature of The West Ham Way, it came as no surprise that the final itself was a rollercoaster affair settled 3-2 in the Hammers’ favour by Boyce’s late header.
The following season, 1964/65, West Ham swept aside all before them in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, scoring a notable semi-final victory over Spanish Cup winners Real Zaragoza before defeating West Germans TSV 1860 Munich 2-0 in a thrilling final at Wembley.
That game, described by many commentators as one of the finest football matches of all-time, was settled by two second-half goals from Sealey.
To cap a memorable hat-trick, Moore, Hurst and Peters returned to the national stadium for a third summer in succession in 1966, with each playing an influential role in England’s 1966 FIFA World Cup success. Moore captained the side, while centre forward Hurst bagged a hat-trick and young midfielder Peters scored in the 4-2 win over West Germany in the final on 30 July 1966.
That same year, the Hammers reached the League Cup final for the first time, only to be edged out 5-3 on aggregate by West Bromwich Albion.
West Ham may not have added to their trophy haul during the closing years of the 1960s, but the Club continued to set trends with their evolutionary approach to the sport – on and off the pitch.
Hurst scored an outstanding 41 goals in 1966/67 as West Ham reached the League Cup semi-finals, only for West Brom to again foil them.
The late 1960s saw Greenwood set about developing a new group of players who would come into their pomp during the following decade. This group included the likes of Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Frank Lampard and Clyde Best.
Off the pitch, 1969 saw the redevelopment of the East Stand at the Boleyn Ground – previously known as ‘The Chicken Run’, the old wooden terrace surrounded in part by chicken wire which was knocked down to make way for the new stand.
When West Ham United kicked-off the 1980s, they sat eighth in Division Two and a return to the highest echelons of English football appeared a long way off.
John Lyall’s side had been relegated in 1978 and, following a fifth-place finish in 1978/79, were no closer to gaining promotion back to Division One.
The opening months of the new decade were not without excitement, however, as the Hammers launched a bid to win the FA Cup for a third time. West Bromwich Albion, Leyton Orient, Swansea City, Aston Villa and Everton – three of them top-flight clubs – were swept aside to set up a final meeting with high-flying Arsenal.
The Gunners were considered hot favourites on a warm and sunny afternoon at Wembley on 10 May 1980, but West Ham rose to the big occasion and lifted the trophy courtesy of Trevor Brooking’s first-half header.
After losing out 1-0 to Liverpool in the Charity Shield, West Ham set about tearing the Second Division apart in 1980/81, losing just four of their 42 league matches to win the title by a staggering 13 points – and this in a day when clubs received just two points for a win!
With David Cross and Paul Goddard combining to score 56 goals, and young Scottish full-back Ray Stewart bagging nine from the penalty spot, Lyall’s men also reached the League Cup final. There, they were handed a re-match with the all-conquering Reds, who could only edge out their lower-division opponents after a replay.
Back in the big time, West Ham consolidated their position with three consecutive top-half finishes. A 16th-place finish in 1984/85, despite 17 goals from young home-grown striker Tony Cottee, gave little sign of what was to follow during one of the most memorable seasons in the Club’s history.
Responding to the previous season’s disappointment Lyall brought in two new players – winger Mark Ward from Oldham Athletic and Scottish attacking midfielder Frank McAvennie from St Mirren.
When Goddard broke a leg on the opening day of the 1985/86 campaign at Birmingham City, McAvennie was pushed into attack alongside Cottee. The pair hit it off and scored 46 league goals between them to push West Ham to the brink of their maiden title.
An FA Cup run that featured seven ties, including three replays, and inclement winter weather left the Hammers with no league games between 2 February and 15 March 1986 and a fixture backlog in the final weeks of the season.
Between 19 April and 5 May, West Ham played their final seven Division One fixtures, winning six of them, but Liverpool had already clinched the title when they lost 3-1 at Everton to fall to a third – still a record-high finish by three places.
Unfortunately, circumstances conspired against the Hammers, who were unable to compete in European competition the next season due to the ban on English clubs following the Heysel Stadium tragedy.
West Ham finished 15th, 16th and then a disastrous 19th in each of the next three seasons, sliding into Division Two at the end of the 1988/89 season.
That relegation spelled the end of Lyall’s 15-year reign. He was replaced by former Swindon Town boss Lou Macari – the first man to take on the role who had not been appointed from within the Club.
January 2010 marked a big moment in West Ham United’s history as lifelong Hammers and businessmen David Sullivan and David Gold took a 50% stake in the Club.
West Ham stumbled to 17th in the Premier League in 2009/10 and, shortly after the end of the campaign, manager Gianfranco Zola departed.
Into his seat came the former Israel and Chelsea boss Avram Grant, who brought a number of high-profile signings to the Club, including Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, Mexico winger Pablo Barrera, Nigeria forward Victor Obinna and a young New Zealand defender named Winston Reid.
Despite the outlay, and the arrival of more big names in January 2011 – including Republic of Ireland forward Robbie Keane, Senegal striker Demba Ba and England left-back Wayne Bridge – West Ham ended a disastrous season bottom and were relegated.
Grant departed after just one season in charge, to be replaced in June 2011 by former Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce.
Big Sam immediately set about turning the Club’s fortunes around, signing former Bolton captain Kevin Nolan and a host of experienced professionals. His reward was a trip to the Championship Play-Off final, where West Ham edged Blackpool 2-1 through Ricardo Vaz Te’s late winner.
Back in the Premier League for a third stint, the owners and manager set about re-establishing the Hammers in the top division for the long haul
Back in the Premier League for a third stint, the owners and manager set about re-establishing the Hammers in the top division for the long haul.
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Mohamed Diame, former Hammer James Collins and club-record signing Matt Jarvis were all brought in on permanent deals, while deadline day saw the Club announce the season-long loan capture of England centre forward Andy Carroll from Liverpool.
The new-look squad started well and never looked in danger of being relegated, picking up 23 points in each half of the 2012/13 season to finish in tenth position, with the highlight being a 3-1 home win over European champions Chelsea and the highest average home attendance in the Club’s history.
Off the pitch, West Ham were named preferred tenants for the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, only for the process to be re-opened the following year. In March 2013, the Club was confirmed as anchor concessionaire, with the 54,000-capacity UEFA Category 4 stadium set to be open for the start of the 2016/17 season.
The 2013/14 campaign was less certain, with the Hammers floundering at the bottom end of the table amid a maelstrom of injuries and suspensions. However, four straight wins in February 2014 paved the way to survival and an eventual 13th-place finish.
The Club also reached the League Cup semi-finals for the second time in four seasons – Birmingham City had edged through in extra-time in 2011 – but Manchester City proved far too strong over the two legs.
Source: West Ham United