WEST HAM 1965: The greatest day in their history?
PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 May 2015
The mighty Hammers take the Cup with a superb 2-0 win over TSV Munich at Wembley
West Ham United manager Ron Greenwood was a man of few words, so when he did speak, you listened. His summing up of this match was simple – “This was West Ham’s greatest win!”
Liverpool had been beaten in the semi-final of the European Cup that year, by eventual winners Inter Milan, but Greenwood, with all his knowledge of football on the continent, had rallied his troops to this final.
His tactical acumen in playing the ‘false nine’ over in Zaragoza, to stop what many considered to be the best team in Europe, was a ploy developed on the Chadwell Heath training ground.
West Ham deserved their place in the final on that display and they were further boosted by the news that they would play the final on home soil at Wembley.
The game against TSV Munich 1860 turned into what many describe as one of the greatest European finals in history.
Munich, who had won their first ever trophy in the German Cup in 1964, would become Bundesliga champions the following year and were packed with internationals, so this was never going to be an easy night for the Hammers on a balmy May evening.
West Ham were also missing Johnny ‘Budgie’ Byrne, their international striker, who had scored three goals in the earlier rounds, only for injury to rob him of a place in the final.
The unlucky striker would miss out on the World Cup squad the following year.
It was 21-year-old Brian Dear who had been drafted into the team earlier in the competition and his four goals had been vital, especially his three in two legs against Swiss outfit Lausanne Sports in the last eight.
It takes two teams to make for an epic Cup Final and despite the final score of 2-0, Munich certainly played their part in a fascinating, end-to-end clash.
They played some superb stuff, illustrated by their industrious and mobile play, linked to sharp, penetrating raids and a hard, yet fair defensive attitude.
But this was to be West Ham’s day, although it didn’t look that way in the opening half hour as they were continually denied by the presence of Munich’s giant Yugoslav goalkeeper Peter Radenkovic.
It was a similar story in the second half, but with 20 minutes left they made the breakthrough.
Ronnie Boyce, one of the stars of the earlier rounds, who had been linked with an England call-up, threaded a ball to Alan Sealey on the right edge of the area.
And the outside right did the rest. He let fly with a shot from an acute angle which flew past the keeper to give West Ham the lead.
Two minutes later and it was 2-0. Bobby Moore played the ball into the box towards Martin Peters and when it rebounded off him, it fell invitingly for Sealey to bury his second from close range.
In truth, it could have been a much more emphatic win.
Munich saw one effort saved by Standen and had a number of shots blaze across the face of goal, but West Ham were full of attacking endeavour.
John Sissons, the youngest member of the team at 19, twice hit the woodwork, Dear also had a goal disallowed and missed a couple of other golden chances as West Ham’s game came together on the biggest stage they had ever played in.
A triumphant Moore walked up the Wembley steps to collect the cup to the deafening cheers of the West Ham fans in the 100,000 crowd.
Boyce named it as simply ‘the best match he had ever played in’, while Moore paid an even bigger tribute to this victory.
The legend of West Ham and England, who was to lift the World Cup 12 months later at the same venue, was once asked to name his favourite match of all time.
And he picked this European victory, saying: “We had all come through the ranks together. It was like winning the cup with your school team!”
West Ham came close to defending the trophy the following season when they lost to Borussia Dortmund in the semi-finals.
They also won FA Cups in 1975 and 1980 and reached the Cup Winners’ Cup final again in 1976 only to lose to Anderlecht.
But it was this night that was surely the greatest ever in their history, a perfect night, when the club came of age.
The names of Jim Standen, Joe Kirkup, Jack Burkett, Martin Peters, Ken Brown, Bobby Moore, Alan Sealey, Ronnie Boyce, Geoff Hurst, Brian Dear and John Sissons will remain in West Ham folklore for ever more.