This month marks the first time that Tottenham Hotspur visit the London Stadium. It’s a game that every West Ham fan looks forward to, especially this year with the chance to derail their title ambitions and claim the spoils in one of the most keenly contested London derbies.
It could certainly be a classic under the Friday night floodlights but here’s a look at five other classic derby encounters, not all of which had a happy ending
West Ham 4-3 Spurs (February, 1997)
West Ham’s run of form leading up to this one was poor to say the least – the past five matches had all ended in defeat, including an embarrassing 1-0 home FA Cup third-round defeat against Wrexham, and no wins in eight had left the side third from bottom. Th is match, however, was the birth of a new-look West Ham, featuring £7m pair John Hartson and Paul Kitson, and the debut of Rio Ferdinand. It was also one of the wildest nights at Upton Park that I can remember, with the match see-sawing one way and then the other!
Teddy Sheringham, later a West Ham player, headed home aft er just eight minutes but Julian Dicks – ever the man to stand up for the cause – thumped a header home just past the 20 minute mark. Within a couple of minutes, we were 2-1 up with Paul Kitson heading home his first goal for the club.
On the half-hour mark, it was 2-2 with Darren Anderton’s lob catching out Ludek Miklosko, but amazingly West Ham led again before half-time with John Hartson’s header. Frankly, at half-time it was all we could do to get our breath back. On 53 minutes David Howells, who was playing despite the death of his father earlier that day, gave Tottenham an equaliser again but then came one of the iconic moments of the 90s West Ham for me.
Howells gave away a penalty, and up stepped Julian Dicks. I clearly remember the commentator mentioning that ‘Julian Dicks rarely misses’ and I knew that the goalkeeper, if he didn’t get out of the way, could have his head taken off. He scored the penalty, we held on to win 4-3, and ultimately the signing of Hartson and Kitson helped us survive in the Premier League for another year.
West Ham 3- 4 Spurs (March, 2007)
You would have thought that West Ham would have learnt not to concede disastrous late goals to Tottenham by now. It happened in 2015 at White Hart Lane, and eight years earlier, it happened at Upton Park. 2-0 up and cruising through Mark Noble and – finally – Carlos Tevez with that famous free kick, we looked like getting our first win in nearly three months. But then, Jermain Defoe scored from the spot and Teemu Tainio (remember him?) equalised for the visitors.
At 2-2 with five minutes to play, Bobby Zamora headed home and once again, the win looked on. Time for that unravelling again, though, as Dimitar Berbatov equalised from a free kick, and I will never forget that impending sense of doom as Tottenham broke one more time, Defoe shot, Green saved and Stalteri scored – four minutes into injury time.
As heartbreaking as this defeat was, though, it also served as a catalyst for West Ham’s survival in the Premier League with an amazing run of form in the last 10 or so games following this, to stay up.
Spurs 0-3 West Ham (October, 2013)
This was the match of Sam Allardici – sorry, Allardyce – and his ‘classic’ 6-3-0 formation with no recognised strikers in his side. Ravel Morrison rotated with Mohamed Diame as the player furthest forward, but this proved a masterstroke as the Hammers won away for the first time in nine Premier League games.
Winston Reid and Ricardo Vaz Te had given West Ham a 2-0 lead and, for once, we weren’t about to throw it away. But the day arguably belonged to Morrison, who showed us an agonising glimpse of his talent as he collected Diame’s clever flick, ran the length of the Tottenham half and then sealed the game with a fantastically composed finish. Sadly, that was pretty much as good as it got for Morrison, despite predictions that he was ‘turning the corner’. He was loaned to QPR and Cardiff City, and then on the expiry of his contract in 2015, he joined Lazio. He returned to QPR on loan in January 2017, never fulfilling his potential.
West Ham 2-1 Spurs (March, 1986)
The “Boys of ‘86” were well and truly gunning for title glory by the time this match came around, off the back of two victories against Sheffield Wednesday and a memorable 4-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Tony Cottee ran clear and gave us the lead with his 20th goal of the season, before Ossie Ardiles equalised. Not to be outdone though, West Ham regained the lead before half-time as Frank McAvennie scored after Cottee and Tony Gale were denied by Ray Clemence, and that’s the way it stayed.
This match signified real hope of title glory for the Hammers. Although only fifth in the league, and 10 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, we had five games in hand, thanks to severe weather earlier in the year.