WEST HAM 1965: We were there on the road to glory
PUBLISHED: 14:01 21 May 2015
West Ham journalist and the club historian talk us through those heady days of 1965
Journalist and West Ham fan Colin Benson recalls that Cup run of 1965.
The early 1960s was a magical time for Hammers fans. The team under master tactician Ron Greenwood had grown up together from kids and came to fruition in the campaign of 1963-64 with the glorious 3-2 victory over Preston in the FA Cup Final.
Little did we realise at the time that the glory of that triumph would be magnified 10 times over 12 months later. For Europe beckoned and for us it was the start of an adventure.
You have to realise that it was an era in which football did not saturate the TV screens and most of us knew little of Belgian side La Gantoise – our first opponents.
For the price of £5, I joined the Supporters’ Club trip to Ghent; by coach from East London to Southend airport where we embarked on the most basic aeroplane since the Wright Brothers.
It was a bull-nosed Bristol Freighter designed to transport cars to the continent, but in this guise guaranteed to shake the living daylights out of you, particularly on the return night flight with flames spouting out of the engines.
When we got there it seemed to be party time for the locals with parading bands and banners and a personal appearance of cycling ace Tommy Simpson.
Greenwood made a surprise switch moving Martin Peters to left back and bringing in Ken Brown at the expense of Jack Burkett.
The Buffaloes seemed intent on preventing us getting an away goal and after Johnny Sissons and ‘Budgie’ Byrne had gone close it seemed they might just do that until Alan Sealey sent over a corner and Ronnie Boyce, so often the hero, beat goalkeeper Seghers to the ball.
It seemed like time stood still as it came off Ronnie’s head and in.
I think one of the most exciting yet agonising ties was the second leg against Lausanne. I had a full head of hair when we kicked off, but not by the end!
We were all over the Swiss who stole the lead. Two goals in a minute put us ahead then it was 2-2 and 3-3 with 10 minutes to play. Well done Brian Dear who turned in Geoff Hurst’s cross for a 6-4 aggregate win.
Wednesday May 19, 1965 was my proudest day as a Hammers fan, for on the hallowed green baize of Wembley, West Ham outplayed TSV Munich 1860, at a time when English football was in the grip of dull defensive negativity.
The team showed the world a brand of football that was sheer imaginative, enthralling entertainment. Two Sealey goals in two minutes, the first a stunning sizzler from his trusty right foot that arrowed into the top corner, cracked the German resolve.
Another Greenwood master-plan in pulling Sissons off the line was again critical, but the goals are not the only treasured memories of an inspiring evening of poetry in motion.
The memory of watching the first English team to outclass a top European side playing the continental brand of football was epic…Ee-aye-addio we won the Cup!
West Ham club historian John Helliar was also at the cup final and knows the significance it had on the Hammers as well as on English football on the European stage as a whole
The Cup Winners’ Cup was at the time, and remains even today, one of the highlights in the history of West Ham United and in the memories of it’s fans.
For a second year – after winning the FA Cup 12 months earlier – the Hammers returned to Wembley and triumphed over their German opponents TSV Munich 1860 on a balmy May night in 1965.
Many consider it to be the greatest moment in club history and the match itself, in front of a 100,000 crowd and a wide European TV audience, is considered by many to be one of the greatest European finals.
Those of us who were there cherish with fond memories the spectacle which two great teams, both at the peak of their powers, produced.
Manager Ron Greenwood, the master tactician, planned and formulated the tactics so faithfully implemented, and captain Bobby Moore and the team summed up the feelings of all when he said so succinctly: “This was West Ham’s greatest win.”
The superb performance in which tactics, teamwork and collective skills all proved why the Hammers were later voted “Team of the Year” in the BBC’s Sportsview awards the following December.