‘The FA Cup winners should get a Champions League spot’

West Ham’s Wembley hero tells David Blackmore why medals count

West Ham legend Alan Taylor has called on Slaven Bilic and his team to put a FA Cup run at the top of their priority list. After four years with Sam Allardyce showing very little respect for the famous trophy, Taylor believes it’s time for the club to give the fans what they crave – a day out at Wembley. The 62-year-old, who scored two goals in the 1975 FA Cup final against Fulham, also feels the club now has a manager who has the club at heart and knows what’s best for the supporters.

‘Slaven seems to have given everyone at the club a new lease of life,’ said Taylor, who also scored two goals in the 1975 FA Cup quarter final against Arsenal at Highbury and bagged another brace in the semi final against Ipswich Town. ‘I’m sure, working with David Gold and David Sullivan, they will take the club to the highest position we’ve had for a long time and hopefully enjoy a good run in the FA Cup.

‘With the move to the new stadium getting closer, if we do well this season, then I think we will be able to attract bigger and better players, which will undoubtedly led to a brighter future at the club and hopefully regular visits to Wembley!’ As for Sam Allardyce’s attitude towards the FA Cup and his ultimate departure, Taylor, who scored 25 goals in 98 appearances for the Hammers between 1974 and 1979, continued: ‘I think Sam brought on it himself more than anything because he wasn’t prepared to work and change to how David Sullivan and David Gold wanted to run the club.

‘I think that was the biggest problem with Sam. I was behind him this time in December 2014 and I thought they would’ve stuck with him going into the new stadium. I’m glad to say I changed my mind and I’m glad the club did as well.’ And Taylor, who played in West Ham’s 1975-76 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup campaign, scoring three goals as the Hammers made the final but lost 4-2 to Anderlecht, also believes one of England’s Champions League places should be given to the FA Cup winners.

‘As a schoolboy, the FA Cup was big. The coverage would start at 8am on cup final day and go right through the day,’ he explained. ‘It was such a big occasion and to have been involved in something like that was huge for me and I do believe everything that happened that day kept me in good stead for the rest of my career. ‘Today, unfortunately, I think money talks and everybody knows that the European scene is far bigger and greater than the FA Cup. Having said this, I think a few teams have really started to take the FA Cup seriously and I hope we will, one day, go back to how the competition was originally.

‘I’d also like to see the situation where instead of having the top four play in the Champions League, the fourth place goes to the winners of the FA Cup.’ It goes without saying, Taylor continued, that his goals in the 1975 FA Cup quarter final – his first for West Ham – were amongst the standout strikes from his career. ‘The goals in the semi final and final are also goals that come to my mind straight away when I look back,’ he said. ‘But I also scored goals against Birmingham City and Manchester City that gave me great pleasure at the time because we had worked hard on certain situations in training and they’d come off on the pitch – it was always great when that happened.’

As for the West Ham players that he respected more than everyone else, Taylor quickly replied: ‘Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds. Trevor was the big name when I first went to West Ham and he was the key to a lot of success we had and he was a huge asset to my game. ‘Billy was a great leader, a great competitor and for him to play behind me and be my captain, I think he was more inspirational than anyone else.’

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