West Ham’s Upton Park battles with United will live on forever

Four great times the Hammers hurt Man United at the Boleyn Ground

The start of this month saw us renew acquaintances with an old foe who we’ve had our fair share of humdingers with over the years. It’s fair to say our 0-0 draw with Manchester United wasn’t the most exciting game there has ever been between the two clubs, but the point was nonetheless welcome. Th ere’s been plenty of memorable moments between the teams at the Boleyn Ground in the Premier League era — here’s four of the best.

West Ham United 1 Manchester United 0 22 April 1992

It’s amazing how relegation can lift pressure off football players. By the time this match rolled around, we were already bottom of the league and down, but that didn’t stop us from sticking a great big pin in Manchester United’s title-ambition balloon. Kenny Brown’s 66th minute-volley gave us the win, with the Red Devils subsequently unable to match Leeds’ results and conceding the title to them — a rare highlight in a season full of struggle. Th e smile was only partially wiped off of our faces by our appearance in the second tier the following season.

West Ham United 1 Manchester United 1 14 May 1995

Three years later, it was time to repeat the trick. A win for Manchester United here would win them the title, with Blackburn losing. No problem, surely — except they were playing us. Having only very recently secured our safety in the league, we didn’t really have much to play for. You’d never have guessed it though, as Michael Hughes volleyed us into the lead.

The second half was a different story. After Brian McClair’s equaliser, the match was played mostly in the West Ham penalty area as United desperately looked for the winner. Goalkeeper Ludek Miklosko had other ideas, though, producing save after save to ensure the match finished level, and the title headed to Blackburn thanks to an effort described as “obscene” by Sir Alex. Praise indeed.

West Ham United 2 Manchester United 2 8 December 1996

The following season, victories were once again proving hard to come by, with just four wins from the first 16 matches and no wins in five. With only two goals scored in those games and a home defeat from Aston Villa last time out, it’s fair to say that there wasn’t much optimism ahead of this one. And it seemed as if that lack of optimism was correct because despite being level at half-time, United romped into a two-goal lead in the second half through strikes from Solskjaer and Beckham. With less than a quarter of an hour to go, things looked bleak.

But then, Florin Raducioiu (remember him?) out-muscled Ronnie Johnson and curled past Peter Schmeichel for his finest moment in a Hammers shirt. Suddenly the comeback was on, and was completed when Michael Hughes won a penalty and Julian Dicks hit the ball into the net with such force, Schmeichel didn’t have time to move. Ultimately, it was a season of struggle, but the impetus of goals through the signing of John Hartson and Paul Kitson ensured that we eventually stayed up by two points.

West Ham United 1 Manchester United 0 17 December 2006

An early Christmas present from new manager Alan Curbishley with Nigel Reo-Coker scoring the winner after 75 minutes. In truth, West Ham played with a tenacity which had been missing during the final days of Alan Pardew’s reign, and while Manchester United had their chances, West Ham held on, and deservedly so. The season continued as a battle against relegation following the Tevez/ Mascherano affair, but it was won after a final day victory against — you guessed it — Manchester United.

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