West Ham face Tottenham on Monday having only beaten their London rivals twice in 12 league meetings.
But one of those victories came on May 7, 2006, when West Ham won 2-1 at Upton Park, which cost Spurs a place in the UEFA Champions League. However, this match was known for the infamous “Lasagne-gate” which happened at Tottenham’s hotel the night before. Spurs stayed at the Marriott Hotel at Canary Wharf and gathered for their meal at 7pm. A buffet dinner, which included lasagne, was laid out in a booked room and Martin Jol was feeling particularly happy.
Many of the players who had been carrying knocks were now fit, including Robbie Keane and Michael Carrick. But at 1am, 10 firstteam Tottenham players were violently sick with food poisoning, including Keane, Carrick, Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon.
For hours it seemed that Tottenham, who had a squad of 17, were not even sure they could field 11 players at West Ham. Carrick, the most ill, was hardly able to walk. Early in the morning chairman Daniel Levy was informed that the Premier League would have to be asked for a postponement. But the match wasn’t postponed and kicked-off at the normal time of 3pm. I was very relaxed ahead of Tottenham’s visit to Upton Park, knowing that the Hammers had secured their survival in the Premier League a long time ago.
West Ham flew out of the traps and after only ten minutes took the lead. Carl Fletcher won the ball in midfield and hit a fantastic 30-yard shot which gave Paul Robinson no chance. Spurs fans were then cheering when former Hammer Jermain Defoe scored the equaliser 10 minutes before half-time with a stunning effort from just inside the penalty area.
But the away supporters wouldn’t be cheering for much longer as Yossi Benayoun jinked his way past a few defenders in the box before firing past Robinson 10 minutes from time to condemn Spurs to the UEFA Cup for the following season. It was a great game to be it and better knowing that our victory denied a rival a place in Europe’s elite competition for the following season.
Like in 2006, Spurs are aiming to qualify for the Champions League and look well set to achieve this. Hopefully the match will be remembered for the action on the pitch rather than the food on the plate before it.