Clashes betweeen the United’s of Manchester and West Ham have a reputation for being feisty – whether it was ill blood from the Ince sale or the fact that the East Londoners have more than once thrown spanners in the works of various trophy pushes. Stretford-End.com looks back at 5 of the most memorable (in our opinion) Premier League encounters at Upton Park.
The fixture provides somewhat of a feistier occasion having settled down with a West Ham supporting missus and family, with my first “family occasion” being back in the winter of 2006 when a Christmas meal with them clashed with our Upton Park trip. They won, and were gracious enough to not rub it in my face – bar the obvious banter – and despite the often reported friction between the two sets of supporters (not helped by the Beckham effigy in 1998) I have always found them to be knowledgable and reasonable supporters. That’s by the by; here’s a squizz back at some good and not so good days down at the Boleyn.
1. West Ham 2-2 Manchester United 26/2/94
Where to start but the very beginning? Heightened security was called on for the protection of former Hammer Paul Ince, who, if my “Champions 93/94” season review book is to be believed, had to contend with rumours of a contract out on him. Having sensationally played Wimbledon off the park the week before West Ham delivered an even greater physical threat inspired by their raucous crowd but were caught cold when Mark Hughes stabbed in a sixth minute goal.
United’s complacency was countered by the enthusiasm of West Ham and in a 4 minute spell midway through the second half goals from Lee Chapman and Trevor Morley turned the game on its head. All that remained was the inevitable conclusion, goalmouth scramble in the dying minutes, Paul Ince smashing home the late equaliser after United had brought big guns Dion Dublin and Ben Thornley from the bench to extend the clubs unbeaten domestic run to a staggering 32 games. It was this kind of resilience and determination that helped United through a difficult spring period to complete their first ever double, while West Ham consolidated their return to the top flight with a mid table finish.
2. West Ham 1-1 Manchester United 14/5/95
For any United supporting adolescent going through puberty this was the first test we faced in supporting the club. From being accused of “glory seeking” by our classmates for the previous years glory we were baited by the waiting 29 on Monday morning who were frothing at the mouth to laugh at our misfortune.
As it was fate that Ince struck the previous year, so it was that West Ham would deny United the title, just as they had 3 years previous. No Giggs or Kanchelskis – injured, no Cantona – suspended, and Mark Hughes only on the bench, United were shorn of their trademark pace and invention, and placed the huge weight of responsibility on the likes of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane and Nicky Butt.
While Blackburn wilted under the pressure of last minute nerves themselves, Michael Hughes volleyed West Ham into the lead. Brian McClair’s header early in the second half inspired a bombardment on the West Ham goal. Ludek Miklosko famously denied Andy Cole three times and other chances went begging as United could not break through, failing to win the title for the first time in three years to the delight of the baying home crowd.
3. West Ham 0-1 Manchester United 22/01/96
On the back of a difficult winter which produced just 2 wins out of 9 league games and saw the Red Devils head into the game with 3 defeats out of their last 6, it was painfully clear to any United supporter that some kind of divine intervention was required if they were to claw back into a title race that seemed to have only one candidate, Newcastle.
Thankfully that divine intervention came in a familiar source – seemingly going nowhere, Ryan Giggs pulled off an extravagant flick around hardman Julian Dicks and left him for dead. With the angle against him and on his weaker side, Giggs flashed an undefendable slide rule pass across the goal, and then himself from the tightest of angles, Eric Cantona converted at the far post. The result was the first of six consecutive wins (10 out of their next 11) to haul back the Magpies, 3 of those were 1-0 wins with Cantona the scorer.
4. West Ham 2-1 Manchester United 29/12/07
Lightning couldn’t strike thrice, could it? West Ham had claimed consecutive 1-0 wins against a Manchester United side that had gone on to claim the Premier League in the previous season, with one of their goalscorers in those games Carlos Tevez, who had in the meantime signed for United (the Manchester branch).
The Argentinian was given a warm reception but it was a less popular teammate, Cristiano Ronaldo, who gave the Champions the lead with a header from a fine Giggs cross. Ronaldo then missed a penalty awarded for a handball by ex United trainee Spector.
Not for the first – or last – time complacency became as formidable an opponent for Manchester United as the 11 players representing the other club and defensive duo Anton Ferdinand and Matthew Upson both scored in the dying stages to complete an unlikely comeback. Thankfully this was but a minor hiccup in a season that ended with penalties, Moscow and a European Cup to add to the Premier League trophy that was all but won in the return fixture between the sides at Old Trafford.
5. West Ham 0-1 Manchester United 08/02/09
Defensively the Red Devils were on an unprecedented run – on the back of 12 consecutive clean sheets in the league, all the pre-match predictions were that it would be unlucky thirteen and it did need the impressive van der Sar to keep the record intact.
At the other end, despite having the World Player of the Year in their team, the Champions needed inspiration from an old head – club legend Ryan Giggs scored the type of goal that only he can, outfoxing two defenders before coolly slotting home from 16 yards. In scoring the winger set a new record of being the only player to score in every single Premier League season.
**I know there are two glaring absentees on the list, the 4-2 win in 1999 and the 5-3 win in 2002, but honestly? I couldn’t remember the West Ham scorers no could I find anything online that helped my memory out! I didn’t want to offend any West Ham readers, so, there’s the next best five.