The new Premier League season starts with a bang this month as West Ham United travel to Arsenal for a mouth watering opening day. The London derby is always one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures on the calendar for any Hammers fan — and the away supporters will be desperate for Slaven Bilic to begin his reign with a positive result.
With new signings Dimitri Payet and Angelo Ogbonna set to feature it will be interesting to see how the Irons line up. Here Blowing Bubbles flicks through the archives and picks out five of West Ham’s most memorable opening days in the Premier League era.
Barnsley 1-2 West Ham (August 9, 1997)
A Frank Lampard goal 14 minutes from time gave West Ham the win in their first match of the 1997/98 season. Newly-promoted Barnsley had enjoyed the better start and took an early lead through Neil Redfearn after just nine minutes. But John Hartson, who would go on to score more than 20 times in his best ever season for the Hammers, equalised early in the second half before substitute Lampard, who had just came on for Eyal Berkovic, smashed in the winner. It was a good start for West Ham who finished eighth, just one place short of UEFA Cup qualification. West Ham: Miklosko; Breacker (Lazaridis 46), Ferdinand, Potts, Rieper, Hughes; Berkovic (Lampard 76), Lomas, Moncur; Hartson, Kitson (Terrier 89).
West Ham 1-0 Spurs (August 7, 1999)
The last time West Ham played Tottenham on the opening day they came out victorious, and once again the Hammers had a young Lampard to thank for the winning goal. The youth team graduate struck home Paolo Di Canio’s cross on the stroke of half-time to give West Ham all three points in a game they dominated for large periods. It would prove to be a good omen as West Ham would enjoy another fine season, finishing ninth in the Premier League and playing European football after lifting the Intertoto Cup with a two-legged victory over Metz. West Ham: Hislop; S Pearce, Potts, I Pearce (Keller 35), Ferdinand, Minto; Sinclair, Lampard, Foe; Di Canio (Cole 85), Wanchope.
Preston 1-2 West Ham (August 9 2003)
West Ham won their first match outside of the Premier League in a decade with a comeback win at Preston. It was a poor start for Glenn Roeder’s team as American Eddie Lewis gave North End the lead. But Jermain Defoe pulled the visitors level with a great finish after good work by Matthew Etherington and Don Hutchison. Midway through the second half substitute David Connolly, who had controversially been left out of the starting line-up for Neil Mellor, made a point by bagging the winner late on. The season ended in heartache for West Ham as they lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace in the Play-Off Final at Cardiff ‘s Millenium Stadium. West Ham: James; Brevett, Ferdinand, Dailly, Repka; Garcia (Sofiane 63), Lee, Hutchison, Etherington; Mellor (Connolly 60), Defoe.
West Ham 3-1 Blackburn (August 13, 2005)
After two seasons in the Championship, Alan Pardew’s side got their Premier League return off to the perfect start as they beat Blackburn at Upton Park. The home side were trailing at the break after Andy Todd scored from a Morten Gamst Pedersen corner. But Teddy Sheringham equalised after half-time before a Nigel ReoCoker screamer gave the Hammers the lead. Matthew Etherington tapped in to make certain of the points before Rovers had Paul Dickov sent off for a wild challenge on Paul Konchesky. It was a memorable first season back in the top-flight for West Ham who finished ninth and were runners-up in the epic 2006 FA Cup final against Liverpool. West Ham: Carroll; Ferdinand, Gabbidon, Dailly, Konchesky; Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Mullins (Noble 84), Etherington; Sheringham (Newton 72), Harewood.
Wolves 0-2 West Ham (August 15, 2009)
Gianfranco Zola’s West Ham United easily beat newly-promoted Wolves at Molineux. Mark Noble curled in a fine effort from outside the penalty area before Matthew Upson sealed victory with a header 20 minutes from time. This was a great start for West Ham on the road but this was to be their only away win away in a very poor season which was marred by financial problems and instability off the field. The Hammers finished 17th, just five points above the relegation zone, and Zola was sacked by new owners David Gold and David Sullivan at the end of the season. West Ham: Green; Ilunga (Spector 65), Upson, Collins, Dyer (Stanislas 73); Faubert, Collison, Parker, Noble, Jimenez; Cole (Nouble 90).