From Dave Mackay to Sergei Rebrov, David Cross to Freddie Kanouté, half a dozen memorable clashes between north and east Lahn-dan
Having beaten Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in the fourth round, Paolo Di Canio scoring the winner and Fabien Barthez's ego claiming the assist, West Ham thought their name was on the FA Cup in 2001, even more so after they went to Sunderland in the fifth round and won 1-0 thanks to Freddie Kanouté's late goal.
Optimism grew when West Ham were given a home draw against Tottenham in their quarter-final. With Tranmere and Wycombe having reached the last eight, it could have been better, but they had also avoided Arsenal and Liverpool, and Tottenham were a deeply average side whose hated manager, George Graham, was not long for the job. Although West Ham's league form had been slowly deteriorating since the new year, they were widely expected to reach their first semi-final since 1991.
For three successive years, West Ham had easily finished above Tottenham, whose occasional heavy spending could not lift them from mediocrity. While Harry Redknapp's West Ham, built on the cheap but packed with brilliant youngsters and instinctive improvisers, challenged for Europe, Tottenham fell a good distance below their fans' expectations and, indeed, their own. Despite Christian Gross's strong understanding of the inner workings of the London Underground, Tottenham even flirted with relegation in the 1997-98 season.
But for all their inconsistencies in the league, Tottenham were still a strong cup team. In the 1998-99 season, they finished 11th to West Ham's fifth (goal-difference: a healthy minus seven) but beat Leicester in the final of the Worthington Cup and lost to Newcastle in the semi-final of the FA Cup. Graham was loathed because of his Arsenal connections, watching his football was a chore and he managed to fall out with David Ginola but, at the very least, he could still bore opposition teams rigid as well. There were also signs that the balance of power was shifting back to north London. In December 2000, Alan Sugar sold the club to Joe Lewis's ENIC, and Tottenham had already reminded West Ham of their superior wealth by signing Sergei Rebrov from Dynamo Kiev for £11m at the start of the season. West Ham, meanwhile, received £18m from Leeds for Rio Ferdinand in November and Redknapp spunked it on a collection of misfits and clowns.
Signing Rebrov was a coup, a reminder of Tottenham's stature. For Dynamo, he had formed one of Europe's most fearsome strike partnerships with Andriy Shevchenko. Without his mate, he was a pale imitation of the striker who twice terrorised Arsenal in the Champions League in 1998 but he was good enough to shatter West Ham's dreams.
West Ham, out of form and struggling with injuries, were there for the taking and Tottenham's focused on stifling Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Frank Lampard before taking advantage of the home side's lack of width and their creaky defence. Rebrov and Luke Young, whose header hit the post, both went close to giving Spurs the lead. Then Rebrov struck after 30 minutes, peeling away from Cole to meet a hefty throw from Steffen Freund and crash a volley high past Shaka Hislop. Redknapp criticised Cole's defending, although asking him to mark Tottenham's biggest threat was probably the bigger error.
Twelve minutes later, the game was level when Stuart Pearce rasped a free-kick past Neil Sullivan and West Ham should have led shortly after the break when Kanouté went through, only for the Malian to slice horribly wide. It was a costly miss. After 56 minutes, Kanouté was given a lesson in ruthlessness by Rebrov, who ran on to Les Ferdinand's header to drive a low finish under Hislop and restore Tottenham's lead. Five minutes later Gary Doherty won a header from a corner and the luckless Cole, thinking that Hislop had the effort covered, stepped away from his station on the left post. Hislop didn't. Almost in slow motion, the ball crept inside the post and Tottenham led 3-1.
Out of desperation, Redknapp introduced the young Bulgarian striker, Svetoslav Todorov, and he gave West Ham hope with 18 minutes left when Cole's deflected pass reached him and he finished coolly. But in the driving rain, Tottenham stood firm, with Sullivan somehow denying Kanouté and Todorov.
West Ham had nothing left. They finished 15th, only securing their safety in the penultimate match, and Redknapp was sacked and replaced by Glenn Roeder. In the summer, Lampard did one to Chelsea.
Much good the win did Graham, though. Two weeks later, he was booted out of the door, which at least meant he could enjoy Arsenal's 2-1 win over Glenn Hoddle's Tottenham in the semi-final. JS
If Tottenham have been a near-permanent fixture in the top-flight for more than six decades, it is thanks largely to the transformation masterminded by Arthur Rowe. When he became the club's manager in 1949, they had been a ragged Second Division outfit for seven seasons. Rowe gave them a snazzy make-over, his dazzling 'push-and-move' style wowing spectators and cowing opponents and, by the time they met West Ham at the end of March, Spurs were nine points clear at the top of the table. But there were suspicions that they were coming undone – they had lost 2-0 to Barnsley in their previous game – and ninth-place West Ham fancied their chances of winning at White Hart Lane to further their own late push for promotion.
That delusion was quickly exposed. Les Medley shot Spurs in front after only three minutes before Sonny Walters doubled the lead in the 13th minute. Bill Robinson pulled one back for the visitors before half-time but Les Bennett soon made it 3-1 to Spurs before Walters completed the scoring to inspire another melodious rendition of the terrace chant "We are the Spurs Supporters and We Love to See them Play", with particular emphasis on the refrain: "The ref his whistle proudly blows the linesmen wave their flags, The Duke is ready to kick off as he hitches up his bags, We cheer Sonny Walters as he toddles down the line, And the ball like magic is in the net and makes us all feel fine."
Spiffing revelry and nary a Y-word in sight. And that ditty got plenty more airing over the coming year, as Walters and Friends toddled on up to the First Division and won it straight away. For West Ham, alas, the match proved a more baleful turning point, as they didn't win a game for the rest of the season and plummeted down the table, finishing just two spots off relegation to the third tier. PD
It is said, with some justification, that goalkeepers are crazy but strikers are rarely described in similar terms. Listening to David Cross, though, might make you reconsider. "Goalscoring's a very personal thing", the West Ham striker said, calm, thoughtful and in possession of a magnificent beard. "Each goalscorer in any side is probably a very different character to the rest of the team."
Well they did nickname him Psycho because of his fearlessness and he did know a thing or two about goalscoring. Cross, after all, was offering his thoughts on the art of finishing having just scored four goals in West Ham's shock 4-0 win at White Hart Lane at the start of the 1981-82 season. It was the second time he had scored four that year, having also destroyed Grimsby Town in a Second Division match in the previous season. Four goals, though.
It was a result that few people saw coming. Tottenham were the FA Cup winners, victory sealed by Ricky Villa's improbable slalom through the Manchester City defence in the replay of their final, and West Ham were back in the top division after a three-year absence. But they had also come close to glory at Wembley that year, losing the League Cup final to Liverpool after a replay, and they had won the FA Cup in 1980, Cross playing up front in the 1-0 win over Arsenal.
After drawing their first game 1-1 with Brighton & Hove Albion at Upton Park, West Ham's next assignment was an evening visit to Tottenham, 3-1 victors at Middlesbrough on the opening day but hit by injuries to four key players.
Cross gave the Hammers the lead after 10 minutes when he converted a cross from the right at the far post and hapless defending from Tottenham, who had been pressing with increasing persistence, allowed him to score his second after the break. In front of the watching England manager, Ron Greenwood, Tottenham's England goalkeeper, Ray Clemence, was having a horrible time of it.
Cross's third goal came from a freewheeling move that saw Paul Goddard lob a pass out to Geoff Pike on the left, Pike lob a first-time cross towards Cross, and Cross blooter a first-time volley high into Clemence's left corner. "Technically it was probably the best," said Cross, happily ignoring the fact that the ball had appeared to fly in off his shin. "With it being the hat-trick goal, it was very satisfying."
His fourth soon arrived after a scramble in the Tottenham area. "You've got to be very selfish and very greedy and also very confident," Cross said. But not so selfish that he didn't give the match ball to West Ham's goalkeeper, Phil Parkes, who had previously complained that he could never hope to be given that prize, no matter how clean his sheets were. JS
Football and food have seldom mixed well in England, even if Chelsea fans retain an unorthodox belief in the special benefits of celery. Manchester United and Arsenal famously went to war with pizza missiles; undigestible performance by the national team have variously been attributed to a Turnip and a Swede and, in 2006, Tottenham's bid to reach the Champions League for the first time floundered amid rumours of dodgy lasagne, although it has since emerged that the pasta may have been a patsy.
Spurs went to West Ham on the last day of the season needing a win to be sure of taking England's fourth Champions League spot ahead of Arsenal, who were hosting Wigan at the same time. Martin Jol's men were feeling confident and on the night before the all-important match, they tucked into a buffet at the team hotel. Overnight, however, most of the squad fell ill, afflicted by projectile vomiting and diarroeha. Michael Carrick was so sick he could barely stand.
Spurs began to fear they would not be able to field 11 players. They requested a postponement. West Ham were sympathetic, the Premier League non-committal, warning that if they did not fulfil their fixture they may be docked points. Given that fans were already tanking up in pubs around the ground, the police were keen for the match to go ahead at 3pm as planned, Spurs, feeling they had little choice, agreed to play. After 10 minutes they were wishing they hadn't as Carl Fletcher fired West Ham in front from 30 yards, moments after Arsenal had taken the lead against Wigan. Jermain Defoe equalised for Spurs before half-time but the visitors energy soon waned; Carrick was drained and had to be replaced after an hour. As merciless West Ham fans cheered news of more goals for Arsenal, the home players piled on the misery too, Yossi Benayoun turning Spurs' stomach with a winning goal in the 80th minute. PD
West Ham's travails in front of goal at the start of this season are not unprecedented. After managing 20 goals in the first 25 games of the 1996-97 campaign they sat in 18th place, the lowest scorers in the Premier League and seemingly on their way down. The nadir had arrived before a League Cup match at Stockport County in December 1996 when Florin Raducioui, their Romanian striker, failed to board the team coach – shopping at Harvey Nichols with his wife, said Redknapp – and Iain Dowie, without a goal since October, blootered a brilliant header into his own net.
West Ham were in a state and when Gerry Francis's Tottenham arrived at Upton Park at the end of February, Redknapp's side had won one of their past 14 league matches. They had also gone out of the FA Cup in style, losing 1-0 at home to Wrexham in the third round.
But Redknapp had found a solution to their attacking woes, the chairman, Terry Brown, finding £7m down the back of the sofa and throwing it at Arsenal and Newcastle for John Hartson and Paul Kitson respectively. Steve Lomas was also signed from Manchester City to instill some grit into the midfield.
So, on a charged Monday evening under the Upton Park lights, they took on Tottenham, who were experiencing a mid-table lull. After eight minutes, though, West Ham were fearing the worst when Teddy Sheringham scored with an unorthodox long-range header, only for goals within the space of a minute from Julian Dicks and Kitson gave West Ham the lead after 22 minutes. Darren Anderton then levelled seven minutes later, before Hartson's header gave West Ham a 3-2 lead at half-time.
Eight minutes into the second half David Howells, playing despite the death of his father earlier in the day, equalised for Tottenham. Yet West Ham were undeterred and in need of all three points. Howells then brought down Hartson in the area with 18 minutes left and Dicks, who had nearly taken Peter Schmeichel's head off with a penalty two months earlier, crashed the ball past Ian Walker from 12 yards.
"We rolled our sleeves up and this win will give us heart," roared Redknapp. He doesn't like being called a wheeler-dealer but this canny business saved West Ham. Inspired by Hartson and Kitson, they picked up 20 points in their final 13 matches and were eventually safe with a game to spare. JS
As we contemplate André Villas-Boas' remodelling of Spurs' midfield, where players must now be built like bounty-hunters from dystopian post-apocalyptic badlands, we can only wonder how 5ft 8in Dave Mackay would have got a game. But our wondering shouldn't last long: he would have got a game by saying "I'm playing", and your Paulinhos, Sandros, Dembélés, Capoues and, um, Holtbys would whimper "Yes, sir, of course you are, sir." Because Mackay was boss, tougher than a PhD in thermonuclear astrophysics, yet blessed with a stellar touch and skill.
It was a testament to his warrior qualities that he recovered from two broken legs to memorably frighten the bejaysis out of Billy Bremner, the Leeds hardman whom he reduced to a trembling child in 1966, and guide Spurs to victory in the 1967 FA Cup, but he played a deeper role then; his most devastating attacking displays came before his injuries.
During the Double year of 1961 he was superb, but the only hat-trick of his Tottenham career came the following year and prevented West Ham from ruining Spurs fans' Christmas. John Smith and Mackay had put Spurs 2-0 up before Martin Peters and Joe Kirkup pulled the sides level. Mackay, raiding again from left-half, shot Spurs back in front in the second half, only for Ronnie Boyce and Tony Scott to turn the tables. Spurs had beaten West Ham 6-1 at the Boleyn Ground earlier in the season (and battered Manchester United 6-2 and Nottingham Forest 9-2 at White Hart Lane), yet seemed on course for a shock win. If they felt hard done by when Mackay plundered an equaliser in the 93rd minute, no one was arguing. PD