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Forty Years Ago, West Ham Stunned Arsenal


West Ham came ever so close to snatching a point from Arsenal on Saturday at the Emirates Stadium but it was not to be. Eddie Nketiah netted the match winner five minutes from time, rendering Michail Antonio’s 45th-minute equalizer irrelevant as Arsenal escaped with a 2-1 victory.

Coupled with a season-opening 2-0 loss to Newcastle United, the defeat dropped the Hammers to 0-2 on the English Premier League season and left them as the co-third choice in the betting line of which sides will be relegated at season’s end.

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West Ham and Aston Villa are both listed at odds of 2/1, giving each club an equal 33 percent chance of going down at season’s end. Newly-promoted West Bromwich Albion and Fulham are each pegged as 8/11 favorites to find themselves right back in the Championship when things are all said and done.

Enough of this sad talk, though. With a third-round EFL Cup tie against Hull City set for Tuesday, let’s instead focus on another West Ham cup success story, one that came 40 years ago and at the expense of the heavily-favored Gunners.

We’re talking about the Hammers’ 1980 FC Cup final verdict over Arsenal and really, who doesn’t want to talk about that happy memory?

Two For Five

The 1980 FA Cup final was just five years removed from West Ham’s 1975 FA Cup success against Fulham and former Hammers legend and England captain Bobby Moore.

West Ham won that Cup final 2-0 on a pair of Alan Taylor goals and there were stark similarities to the 1980 final. Fulham was a Second Division side that had battled its way into the final, much like Sunderland, which had stunned the mighty Leeds United to win the 1973 Cup final.

Second Division Southampton shocked Mancester United 1-0 in the 1976 Cup final but there wouldn’t be another club from outside the top flight to reach the Cup final again until 1980. And in this case, that club was West Ham.

The Hammers were relegated following a 20th-place finish in 1977-78. During the 1979-80 season they were a middling seventh in the Second Division.

They were stellar in the FA Cup, though. West Ham edged WBA 2-1 in the third round and survived a 3-2 thriller with Leyton Orient in the fourth round.

Back-to-back clean sheets got the Hammers past Swansea 1-0 (fifth round) and Villa 2-0 (sixth round).

Everton provided semi-final opposition. The first match ended 1-1, requiring a replay. That match was goalless following 90 minutes. In extra time, Alan Devonshire put West Ham in front in the 94th minute. Bob Latchford drew Everton even at 116 minutes but just two minutes later, Frank Lampard hit for the goal that sent the Hammers to Wembley.

Hammers Were Supposed To Get Hammered

Arsenal were playing in their third straight FA Cup final. The Gunners lost 1-0 to Ipswich Town in 1978 but outscored Manchester United 3-2 in the 1979 Cup final. They were expected to easily dispatch West Ham.

Three players in the Hammers’ side that day were also in the 1975 Cup-winning 11. Billy Bonds captained both clubs. Lampard, the father of current Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and Trevor Brooking were the other returnees. John Lyall was the manager on both occasions.

“We didn’t really go into the game thinking we were underdogs because, although we were a Second Division side, we had a lot of very good players in that team,” Bonds told the Guardian. “If you look through that team a lot of them became legends at the club.’

The match was barely underway when the speedy Devonshire got loose down the left wing. He crossed the ball to David Cross, whose shot was blocked. Stuart Pearson sent the ball across the goalmouth and Brooking nodded it past Arsenal goalkeeper Pat Jennings at 13 minutes for what would be the only goal of the match.

‘I know I wasn’t noted for my heading,’ Brooking told the Guardian. ‘Some think that Stuart Pearson’s cross simply hit me on the head and bounced in.

“It wasn’t quite like that … I leaned back to put myself in line with the ball … made contact with my head and tried to steer it into the net … It was one of the great moments of my career.”

Phil Parkes kept a clean sheet and West Ham became the latest – and to date the most recent – club from outside the top flight to win the FA Cup.

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