West Ham supporters may not see eye to eye with one another about everything right now, but we can all agree that Dimitri Payet’s wonder goal against Middlesbrough was one of the best things to happen at the new stadium so far. Th is got me thinking about the contenders for the club’s greatest ever goals.
Of course, we all have our own favourites and I am not claiming this is the definitive list. But here is my personal top 10 – in reverse order, naturally. Oh, and I’ve only allowed myself one goal per player – don’t ask me why.
10: Paul Ince v Liverpool (1988) A controversial choice, I accept. It was a League Cup game against Liverpool in 1988. They were reigning champions while we were destined for relegation. I was bang in line with Ince when he soared into the air on the edge of the box to hit one of the sweetest volleys ever seen at Upton Park to put us one up. We went on to win 4-1 with a performance that made a mockery of how appalling we were in the league that year. Oh, West Ham, why do you do things like that to us loyal supporters?
9: Anton Ferdinand v Fulham (2006) Fulham were arguably having the better of things before we were awarded a corner, which was cleared to the edge of the area – from where Ferdinand unleashed an astonishing volley that was a goal from the moment it left his boot. Th is one is for defenders everywhere, but only got in aft er careful consideration was given to marginally less spectacular volleys by Colin Foster against Everton in the FA Cup (1991) and Winston Reid v Millwall in the Championship (2012).
8: Bobby Zamora v Ipswich (2005) Mention the words “play off ” to Zamora and it’s as if someone has pressed the on-button in his brain. Before scoring the winning goal for us in the play-off final against Preston, he got two in the second leg of the semis at Portman Road. His second was a blinder – Marlon Harewood won the ball in our half, went on a blistering run that involved a onetwo with Reo-Coker, and then put in a snorter of a cross, which Zamora put away with a superb cushioned volley. I still say Bobby never got the recognition he deserved from many West Ham supporters.
7: Mark Noble v Spurs (2007) The goal came after Carlos Tevez brilliantly chested the ball into Noble’s path, allowing him to volley home from the edge of the area. In truth, I have seen more memorable goals, but I’ve included it to remind Mark Noble that we all love him despite the fact sections of the stadium get on his back from time to time.
6: Martin Peters v Leicester (1968) Despite being overlooked by the numpties in the club’s marketing department in a sticker book of West Ham legends that they produced at the beginning of the season, Peters really was one of the greats – and this goal proves it. John Sissons had controlled the ball on left, made ground and put in a decent cross. Peters, meanwhile, had stormed into the box from midfield and, without breaking stride, smashed a volley past Peter Shilton that the England keeper barely saw. This was two weeks after Booby Moore’s wonder goal against QPR that was repeatedly shown on the big screens at Upton Park last season. Those were the days!
5. Trevor Brooking v Arsenal (1980) Okay, this wasn’t exactly a contender for goal of the season – and Sir Trev could easily point to any number of games in which he scored with breath-taking efforts, Eintracht Frankfurt for starters. But any goal that wins you the Cup when you go into the final as such massive underdogs as we did against the Gooners has to be on anyone’s list of favourites.
4. Ronnie Boyce v Preston North End (1964) Another goal to win an FA Cup final. I had taken the life-changing decision to support West Ham in the run-up to the game. Ticker had scored twice in the semi-final to get us to Wembley, and his last-minute winner against Preston cemented that decision. However, this was three weeks before my eighth birthday and boys that age have been known to change their minds. Who knows if I would be a Hammer today if he hadn’t put away Peter Brabrook’s cross and West Ham had lost in extra time? Sorry. Did someone just call me a glory-hunter?
3: Dean Ashton v Man City (2006) This was in the sixth round of the FA Cup at Eastlands. With four minutes to go to the interval Ashton won the ball with a deft header which he then brought under control without letting it bounce. There was a one-two with Matty Etherington and a flick from Nigel Reo-Coker before he turned Sylvain Distin inside out and smashed the ball past Calamity James. Not only was this a brilliant goal, I’ve included it in lieu of all the others Deano would have scored for us if his career hadn’t been cut short by injury. To be honest, I never thought he’d score a better one – and then he proved me wrong with that fabulous overhead effort in Mark Noble’s testimonial. I still wince every time I think of him crashing back to earth!
2: Carlton Cole v Wigan (2009) One of the best onetouch passing moves you could hope to see, rounded off by a delightful finish. Scott Parker, Mark Noble and David Di Michele were all involved before Cole swept the ball past Chris Kirkland. Carlton did rather spoil it slightly by getting sent off three minutes later but, hey, we’ll always believe in Cole! Right, that’s nine out of the 10, and we are missing some big names on this particular scoresheet. No Geoff Hurst, Billy Bonds, Tony Cottee or Frank McAvennie? What about unsung heroes such as Geoff Pike, whose headed goal from the edge of the area against Man U in 1986 would be on many people’s list. Then there’s Paul Goddard, Graham Pad – don and Patsy Holland, whose equaliser in the dying minutes against Hereford in a 1974 Cup tie could well be my number 11. Pop Robson and Clyde Best both came close, but didn’t make the final list. Even Jimmy Quinn and David Cross nearly got a lookin (Ted MacDougall didn’t). But we all know if you haven’t made the cut by now you are never going to, because there really can only ever be one winner in the competition.
1: Paolo Di Canio v Wimbledon (2000) I don’t really need to describe this, do I? Just close the old mince pies for a moment and picture that cross from Trevor Sinclair. Now envisage Di Canio: the run, the leap, the volley, the sublime ecstasy as the ball hits the net. I know you’ve all seen it a thousand times before, but to misquote Samuel Johnson: ‘If you’re tired of reliving it, you are tired of life.’ Can it be bettered? Come on Dimi, see what you can do.