Enner Valencia’s goal against Hull City was a belter and will remain in the memory of many West Ham fans for a long time to come. After watching it a few times, it got me thinking about some other goals from recent history that were either great strikes or of vital importance to West Ham at the time.
Anton Ferdinand v Fulham
It’s hard to believe this strike was eight and a half years ago. I recall there was a rather muted atmosphere in the ground that night and a corner from West Ham had been cleared out to just outside the box. Borrowing a phrase oft used on Buzzfeed, absolutely nobody expected what happened next – a volley on the turn by centre half Anton Ferdinand which stunned the keeper, the players, the crowd and the commentator.
Yossi Benayoun went on to net an exquisite chip a little bit later on in the same half and I’ll never forget the commentator saying ‘Its classic goal night at Upton Park’ after that one went in.
Marlon Harewood v Middlesbrough
A few months later in the same season and West Ham would reach the FA Cup final if they could overcome the Teesiders in the semi-final. After a fairly poor performance in the first half the Hammers improved after the break and started looking the more likely to break the deadlock.
As the half wore on and the intensity increased it took a route one approach to finally snatch the goal. A 70 yarder was knocked down by Dean Ashton and Harewood powered the ball home to send one half of the crowd into raptures with 12 minutes of the match remaining. Not only did it set up one of the best finals in recent memory and a return to European football the next season for the Hammers, it also showed how a manager should never celebrate a goal.
Bobby Zamora v Ipswich Town
After losing out to Crystal Palace in the play-off final the season beforehand and surrendering a two goal lead in the first leg of the 2005 play-offs, it was imperative the Hammers got the win to ensure a second successive final appearance. Again the first half proved a nervy affair but 11 second half minutes changed the entire complexion of the match.
Zamora had given the Hammers the lead knocking in from Harewood’s centre but the second which sealed the match was an exquisite cushioned volley following great work from Harewood and Nigel Reo-Coker. It put the Hammers through to play Preston in the final where Zamora scored the vital strike again to propel us back into the top flight following a two-year absence.
Carlos Tevez v Tottenham Hotspur
This was a typical West Ham match if ever there was one. It was the first week of March in 2007, the Hammers had not won since December 11, were languishing in the relegation zone and well adrift from safety.
I remember this game for the rollercoaster that occurred and the outburst of emotion as Carlos Tevez scored his first goal for the club. West Ham were 1-0 up, due in the most part to a fantastic performance from Robert Green in goal. But with four minutes to go until half time, Tevez had the chance, with a free kick, to give us breathing space. Hi attempt was good, should possibly have been saved, but it was the celebration that followed that will remain in in the memory.
After a wretched few months there was a genuine moment of hope inside Upton Park, a moment of joy shared by 95 per cent of the people in that stadium as Tevez ripped off his shirt and jumped into the crowd. Heartbreak was to follow that day, as we lost 3-4, but was that the moment the Great Escape’s roots took hold?
Paolo Di Canio v Wimbledon
Obviously I would be shot if this was not included in the list as it is arguably the best single striker a West Ham player has ever produced. You only need to type ‘Paolo Di Canio goal’ in Google and it knows what you’re talking about. The Italian striker was off the ground when he volleyed in Trevor Sinclair’s cross with the outside of his right foot. As Andy Grey said on commentary: ‘take a bow son, take a bow!’