West Ham in Europe 1975-76: So close to glory

PUBLISHED: 10:30 01 April 2020

Trevor Brooking celebrates after the Frankfurtt wu

Trevor Brooking celebrates after the Frankfurtt wu

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West Ham hero Alan Taylor talks us through the battle to the final

Alan Taylor scores against Den HaagAlan Taylor scores against Den Haag

After the glory of the FA Cup victory in 1975, West Ham returned to Europe the following season with a superb run in the Cup-Winners’ Cup.

And it proved to be a tough campaign according to Hammers striker Alan Taylor.

Cup winners cup final programmeCup winners cup final programme

“We had some good experiences in Europe in 1975-76 and I remember that we played every first leg away from home and in every one we either drew or even lost,” he revealed.

Having drawn away at Reipas Lahti from Finland and Ararat from Israel, West Ham turned things round in the second legs with 3-0and 3-1 wins.

That took them into the quarter-finals where they travelled to Holland to take on Den Haag which looked like the end of the road.

“We went to Den Haag and were 4-0 down at half time, before Billy Jennings got a couple to make it 4-2 in the second half and keep us in the tie,” said Taylor, who was to be the star man in the second leg.

“In the return I managed to score one and win a penalty as we won 3-1 to go through,” he recalled.

But then disaster struck for the FA Cup hero.

“I was injured in the Ian Britton testimonial match and that meant I couldn’t play in either semi-final matches,” he revealed.

That game agaist West German side Eintracht Frankfurt saw the home side take a 2-1 lead back to Upton Park.

What followed was one of the great nights at Upton Park with a pulsating match.

“To me there was no better atmosphere than a night match at Upton Park. The fans were so close to the pitch and it was so intimidating.

“When you got on the pitch you could feel the vibrations from the crowd under your feet and it was worth a goal in every game.”

It certainly was that night as a superb goal by Keith Robson and a brilliant brace from Trevor Brooking made it 3-0, before a late goal for Frankfurt made for a nervous last few minutes.

The final pitted the Hammers against a powerful Anderlecht side who were able to play on their own ground at the Heysel in Brussels.

Taylor said: “I was sub for the final, but came on just before half time when Frank Lampard was injured in giving away a goal.

“We played well that night, and got it back to 2-2, but didn’t quite work for us against a very good side on their own ground.”

Anderlecht had the likes of Dutchmen Robbie Rensenbrink and Aarie Haan in their ranks as well as two-goal Frankie Van Der Elst who was later to join the Hammers.

It was a heartbreaking end to the campaign, but a superb run in the competition for the Hammers flying the England flag.

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