#FlashbackFriday - West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur: Part Two - 1956-77

(Part One covering 1920 to 1950 can be found here)

After Tottenham Hotspur’s promotion back to the top flight in 1950, it took another eight years before West Ham United would be back in the same decision as their London rivals.  The only competitive meeting between the two sides during this period however came in March 1956, who were drawn together in the FA Cup Quarter Finals at the Boleyn Ground.  At the time, Spurs were languishing in nineteenth place and just three points off of the relegation zone.  West Ham however were also struggling in seventeenth place in the second tier and four points off of the relegation zone.  A crowd of 69,118 turned out at White Hart Lane for the tie.  A hat-trick for John Dick earned West Ham a replay back at the Boleyn Ground after a 3-3 draw.

The replay took place five days later at Upton Park.  The match took place on a Thursday afternoon at 3PM and was also an early example of an early live game shown on the fledgling ITV network.  During the 1955/56 FA Cup, there had been two other afternoon replays shown on ITV, which had been Bedford Town v Arsenal in January and Chelsea v Burnley a month later.  Commentary of the game came from Kent Walton (who was at the time a Radio Luxembourg presenter and later became the voice of ITV’s professional wrestling coverage).  Only the second half of the game had been shown, as a stipulation not to effect attendances, as well as fitting in within the ITV schedules much easier.  36,000 people turned out for the game, as Tottenham ran out 2-1 winners.  Spurs went on to the Semi Final, however were defeated by that year’s eventual Cup winners Man City.   


West Ham earned Promotion back to the top flight after winning the Second tier title in 1957/58.  The first fixtures between the two sides occurred on successive days over Christmas Day and Boxing Day of 1958.  The first game occurred on Christmas Day at the Boleyn Ground.  West Ham stood in twelfth place, while Spurs were twentieth and only kept out of the relegation zone by goal average, though had appointed Bill Nicholson as boss just a couple of months earlier.  A crowd of 26,178 turned out at the Boleyn Ground for the match, to witness a 2-1 victory for West Ham.  At White Hart Lane the following day, 43,817 people came out for the return fixture.  Future Norwich City and Man City boss John Bond had been among the scorers as West Ham romped home by a 4-1 score line.


In the New Year, the two sides faced each other again in the third round of the FA Cup at White Hart Lane.  Goals for Cliff Jones and Bobby Smith gave Spurs a 2-0 win in front of 56,252 fans.  Tottenham reached as far as the fifth round, before suffering a giant-killing at the hands of third tier Norwich City, whose famed run to the Semi Finals that year is covered in this article on the Canaries for Online Gooner.  West Ham finished their first season back in the top flight during the post-war era in sixth.  Spurs on the other hand came a lowly eighteenth.  In 1959/60, the two meetings between West Ham and Spurs came within five days of each other in September, with the first at White Hart Lane six games into the season.


In front of a crowd of 58,909, the two sides played out a 2-2 draw with Cliff Jones and Bobby Smith on target for Spurs, while Vic Keeble and Malcolm Musgrove were on target for the Hammers.  The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground five days later attracted a crowd of 37,500.  Goals for Tony Marchi and Bobby Smith earned Spurs a 2-1 victory, with John Bond on target for the Hammers.  Spurs ended the 1959/60 season by coming within two points of the title, finishing third behind Champions Burnley.  West Ham meanwhile finished fourteenth.  Once again, in 1960/61 the two league meetings occurred within days of each other.

The first fixture had occurred on Christmas Eve at White Hart Lane.  Spurs were runaway leaders of the top tier with a ten point margin over second place Wolves, having lost just one game all season.  West Ham meanwhile were seventh in the table. 


Last minute Christmas shopping couldn’t keep away 54,930 spectators who witnessed a 2-0 victory for Spurs, with goals for Terry Dyson and John White.  The return fixture occurred two days later on Boxing Day at the Boleyn Ground.  Les Allen (father of Clive Allen and uncle of Paul Allen, both of whom would later turn out for both Spurs and West Ham) and John White, as well as an own goal from West Ham’s Ken Brown, gave Spurs a 3-0 victory in front of 34,481 spectators.  1960/61 had been Tottenham’s halcyon period, after becoming the first side of the twentieth century to win the elusive League and FA Cup Double. 


Over the summer of 1961, West Ham appointed future England boss Ron Greenwood as boss.  For 1961/62, for the third time in three seasons, the two league fixtures would occur within a week of each other.  The first took place two games into the season at White Hart Lane, where a crowd of 50,214 saw the two sides play out a 2-2 draw with two goals for Terry Dyson for Spurs, while on target for the Hammers had been Malcolm Musgrove and Phil Woosnam – the latter a cousin of golfer Ian Woosnam, as well as later playing in the USA and becoming a commissioner of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and overseeing much of the league glory years between 1969-83, when the like of Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and his Hammers team mate Bobby Moore headed to play stateside.


Five days later, the Hammers ran out 2-1 winners with goals from Tony Scott and Alan Sealey (uncle of future Hammers goalkeeper Les), while on target for Spurs was Les Allen.  Spurs failed to retain their title and finished four points behind League Champions Ipswich Town.  West Ham meanwhile finished eighth.  In 1962/63, Spurs came to the Boleyn Ground two games into the season.  A crowd of 30,000 saw an emphatic 6-1 victory for Spurs.  Goals for John White, Terry Medwin, Cliff Jones, two for Jimmy Greaves and an own goal from future Hammers’ boss John Lyall gave Spurs their win, while Phil Woosnam was on target for the Hammers.  According to one newspaper report, Spurs could have had twelve if the West Ham goalkeeper, Laurie Lesley, hadn’t had ‘one of his inspired days in the West Ham goal’.


The return fixture at White Hart Lane three days before Christmas 1962 would also bring goals galore.  At the time Spurs were just three points behind league leaders Everton in second place, while West Ham stood fourteenth.  The 44,106 spectators who turned out at the lane saw a 4-4 draw with goals for John Smith and a hat-trick for Dave Mackay for Spurs, while Joe Kirkup, Ronnie Boyce, Martin Peters and Tony Scott were on target for the Hammers.  Spurs finished the season as runners up, though six points behind Champions Everton.  West Ham meanwhile finished the season in twelfth place.


In 1963/64, the two sides met in late September.  Spurs had won six of their first eight games and stood sixth, while West Ham had only won just three from nine and stood thirteenth.  A crowd of 50,886 saw goals for Dave Mackay, Cliff Jones and an own goals from Ken Brown as Spurs won 3-0.  The return fixture took place in early February.  Spurs topped the table with a three point gap over second place Liverpool, though the Merseysiders had two games in hand.  A crowd of 36,934 saw a thumping 4-0 win for the Hammers, with goals from Johnny Byrne, Ronnie Boyce, Geoff Hurst and John Sissons.


By the close of the season, Spurs finished in fourth place and six points behind champions Liverpool.  West Ham meanwhile finished fourteenth but won their first major trophy in the form of the FA Cup, by defeating Preston at Wembley 3-2.  By the start of the 1964/65 came the introduction of the regular BBC highlights show ‘Match of the Day’.  Over the previous four meetings between the two sides, there had been as many as nineteen goals scored (on average as many as 4.75 goals per game!). 


Undoubtedly, the BBC jumped at the chance to air this fixture in the expectation of further goals and action and the meeting seven games into the season didn’t disappoint.  Ahead of the fixture, both sides had won three of their six games played to date.

A crowd of 36,730 saw Johnny Byrne give the Hammers a first half lead, however two goals for Jimmy Greaves (one from the penalty spot) put Spurs in the lead.  Johnny Byrne levelled for the Hammers and then three minutes from time bagged his hat-trick to give the Hammers’ season a boost with a 3-2 victory. 

The return fixture at White Hart Lane occurred in mid-January, by which point Spurs stood fourth and were nine points behind league leaders Leeds United.  West Ham meanwhile were two points behind Spurs in seventh place.  50,054 fans saw the goal fest continue in the conditions of torrential rain.  Jimmy Greaves gave Spurs a seventh minute header after an Alan Mullery's free-kick had been headed on by Alan Gilzean.  Within ten minutes, the Hammers levelled when Johnny Byrne hit a free-kick past the Spurs wall. Byrne had assisted John Sissons in giving West Ham the lead early in the second half.  Within one minute, Alan Mullery’s long range drive was deflected in off Greaves' knee to give Spurs an equaliser and Greavsie’s second.  Spurs took the points as Terry Dyson’s left foot turn and shot past Jim Standen in the West Ham goal meant a 3-2 victory for Tottenham.

Spurs finished 1964/65 in sixth place and sixteen points behind league Champions Man United.  West Ham meanwhile were three points behind Spurs in ninth place, but won the European Cup Winners Cup at Wembley against 1860 Munich.  In 1965/66, both league fixtures occurred in the month of April.  In early April, Spurs stood sixth with eight gave left to play, while West Ham were thirteenth.  The first fixture came at White Hart Lane and making his debut that day would be future Wimbledon and Newcastle United boss Joe Kinnear.  A crowd of 50,635 saw yet another goal fest, as goals for Johnny Byrne, Ronnie Boyce, future Hammers and Spurs boss Harry Redknapp and Geoff Hurst gave West Ham a 4-1 victory, while Alan Gilzean would be on target for Spurs.


The return fixture occurred seventeen days later at the Boleyn Ground, by which point Spurs had dropped to eighth while West Ham were still standing in thirteenth.  After thirty seven goals had been scored over the previous seven games (an average of 5.3 goals per game), it must have seemed something of a disappointment to the 32,232 which turned out for the game that only the two goals were scored.  Two goals for Johnny Byrne gave the Hammers a 2-0 victory.  Spurs finished the season in eighth place, while West Ham climbed up to twelfth.  Over the summer of 1966, England won the World Cup with a very prominent West Ham contingent among the squad and notably, Geoff Hurst picked over Jimmy Greaves for the final, scoring a hat-trick to secure victory over West Germany in the final.


The two would go head to head in the League Cup just six weeks later when the two sides were drawn together in the second round at the Boleyn Ground.  This would be the first time that these two sides would meet in the League Cup.  In front of a crowd of 34,000, a goal for Geoff Hurst within seven minutes gave the Hammers a 1-0 win.  Spurs had Alan Gilzean had been sent off for foul and abusing language on sixty five minutes.  Two months on came the first league meeting between the two sides for the 1966/67 season at White Hart Lane.  After fifteen games, Spurs stood seventh, but only three points behind leaders Chelsea.  West Ham meanwhile, with only five wins from fifteen stood thirteenth.


A crowd of 57,157 saw the high scoring return, as West Ham pulled off a 4-3 away win with goals from Johnny Byrne, Peter Brabrook, Geoff Hurst and John Sissons, while on target for Spurs had been Alan Gilzean, Jimmy Greaves and Terry Venables.  The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground came on the final Saturday of the season.  The following weekend, Spurs were scheduled to meet Chelsea for Wembley’s first ever all-London FA Cup Final.  Goals for Alan Gilzean and Jimmy Greaves gave Spurs a 2-0 victory. In front of a crowd of 35,758.  As well as winning the FA Cup, Spurs also finished third and just four points behind League Champions Man United.  West Ham however finished sixteenth.


The Hammers came to White Hart Lane three games into the 1967/68 season in late August.  A crowd of 55,831 saw Spurs secure the points with a 5-1 victory courtesy of goals from Cliff Jones, Frank Saul, Alan Mullery and two for Jimmy Greaves.  The return fixture came just two days before Christmas 1967.  At the time, West Ham stood nineteenth but one point off of the bottom of the table.  Spurs meanwhile stood seventh and seven points behind league leaders Man United.  A crowd of 32,122 saw West Ham secure a 2-1 victory with goals for Billy Bonds and Brian Dear, while Jimmy Robertson would be on target for Spurs.  Tottenham finished the 1967/68 season in seventh place, eleven points behind League Champions Man City, while West Ham finished twelfth.


Over the summer of 1968, London Weekend Television (LWT) took over the weekend ITV franchise for London and introduced a new highlights show called ‘The Big Match’ hosted by Jimmy Hill and Brian Moore.  This fixture was undoubtedly a natural choice for coverage for any London Football Highlights show.  The Big Match cameras turned up at the Boleyn Ground when the two sides met nine games into the 1967/68 season in mid-September.  At the time, West Ham stood third and two points behind league leaders Arsenal.  Spurs meanwhile were thirteenth.

Martin Peters gave West Ham a first half lead, followed by a second from Geoff Hurst who put the Hammers two up by the hour mark.  Alan Gilzean pulled one back for Spurs within one minute, however with five minutes left to play Jimmy Greaves equalised for Spurs to secure a point with a 2-2 draw.  

The return fixture came the following April with three games of the 1968/69 season left to play. West Ham stood sixth, three points ahead of Spurs in eighth.  A goal for Jimmy Greaves gave Spurs a 1-0 victory in front of 50,970 spectators. The result helped Spurs to overhaul the Hammers to finish sixth, one point ahead of West Ham in eighth.  The first meeting between the two sides during the 1969/70 season came eight games in at the Boleyn Ground.  Highlights of the game were captured by LWT’s ‘The Big Match’.  A goal for Jimmy Pearce gave Spurs a 1-0 away win

The final meeting between the two sides during the 1960s came five days ahead of Christmas 1969 at White Hart Lane.  Tottenham stood twelfth, while West Ham were seventeenth.  Highlights of the game were captured by LWT’s ‘The Big Match’.  Goals for Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst earned West Ham a 2-0 away victory.  Spurs finished 1969/70 in eleventh place, while West Ham languished in seventeenth.

During the summer of 1970, both Spurs and West Ham reached a part-exchange agreement to swap Jimmy Greaves for Martin Peters.  Greavsie’s debut for the Hammers took place against Spurs on the opening day of the 1970/71 season at White Hart Lane.  Once again highlights of which were showed on LWT’s ‘The Big Match’.  In front of a crowd of 53,640, a goal for Jimmy Greaves helped the Hammers to a 2-2 draw.  Also on target for the Hammers had been Peter Bennett, while Alan Gilzean scored two for Spurs.

The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground occurred just over two months later. By this point, Spurs stood third and just three points behind league leaders Leeds United.  West Ham meanwhile were languishing in nineteenth place with just one win in twelve games.  A crowd of 42,322 the two sides play out a 2-2 draw, Peter Eustace and Geoff Hurst on target for the Hammers, while Mike England and Alan Mullery were on target for Spurs.  By the close of 1970/71, Spurs finished third and thirteen points behind League and FA Cup Double winners Arsenal.  Meanwhile West Ham finished twentieth, though avoided a drop to the relegation zone by a seven point margin.

In 1971/72, the first meeting between the two sides came two days after Christmas.  Spurs were seventh and seven points behind leaders Man United.  West Ham meanwhile were thirteenth.  A Clyde Best goal earned West Ham a 1-0 away victory with a goal from Clyde Best in front of a crowd of 53,888.  The return fixture came on April Fool’s Day.  Spurs were fifth and seven points behind Man City at the top of the table.  West Ham meanwhile were twelfth.  Highlights of the game were covered by LWT’s ‘The Big Match’ and as Brian Moore would explain, the game would make history as for the first time three ‘coloured’ (sic) players turned out for the same club, with Clyde Best, Ade Coker and Clive Charles all turning out for West Ham.  Goals for Trevor Brooking and Ade Coker meant a 2-0 victory for the Hammers in front of 30,763 specators.

Spurs finished 1971/72 in sixth place, while West Ham finished fourteenth.  Ten games into the 1972/73 season, West Ham came to White Hart Lane ten games into the season, standing in ninth place.  Spurs on the other hand with two points more stood in sixth.  A crowd of 51,700 saw a 1-0 win for Spurs.  The winning goal came in the last minute. From a Jimmy Pearce corner, Mike England flicked it on and Frank Lampard Senior in trying to clear the ball, could only steer it into his own net.  The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground came in Boxing Day.  By this point, only one point separated the two sides, with Spurs and West Ham in seventh and eighth place respectively.

Martin Peters opened by the scoring by headed in the first goal from ten yards out against his old club.  The two sides however played out a 2-2 draw, with Jimmy Pearce also on target for the Hammers and Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson bagging two for the Hammers.  West Ham finished 1972/73 in sixth place, while Spurs were one point behind in eighth.  Spurs came to the Boleyn Ground five games into the 1973/74 in September.  After four games, only one game had been won between the two sides.  In fact all five London sides in the top flight were anchored in the bottom half of the table.  A crowd of 30,888 witnessed a 1-0 victory for Spurs courtesy of a goal from a Martin Chivers mis-hit shot.

By the time of the return fixture at White Hart Lane in the interim between Christmas and New Year, West Ham stood just one point from the bottom of the table in twenty first place.  Spurs were just five points above them in seventeenth place (the highest placed London side were QPR, some way off of the pace in seventh).  In front of a crowd of 33,172, second half goals for Martin Chivers and John Pratt secured a 2-0 victory for Spurs.  Spurs however lost Ralph Coates with a bad injury to his leg in the 65th minute that kept him out for the remainder of the season.  That game had been the final Spurs v West Ham encounter between Ron Greenwood and Bill Nicholson as both stepped down from their respective roles in the summer of 1974.  Spurs ended 1973/74 in eleventh place, while West Ham avoided relegation by one point, coming eighteenth.

Over the summer of 1974, Spurs appointed former Arsenal captain Terry Neill as Bill Nicholson’s replacement.  The Hammers meanwhile appointed John Lyall to replace Ron Greenwood who had been moved upstairs to the West Ham board.  The first meeting between Greenwood and Neill came seven games into the season at White Hart Lane.  Both Spurs and West Ham had a poor start to the season winning just one game each.  Spurs were anchored to the foot of the table, while West Ham were just one point above them in twenty first place.  A crowd of 27,959 turned out at White Hart Lane for the event.


Mike England headed Spurs ahead from a Cyril Knowles corner.  Martin Chivers added a second for Tottenham.  Frank Lampard Senior pulled a goal back for West Ham, but it was not enough for the Hammers to prevent a 2-1 win for Spurs which allowed them to leapfrog their London rivals and move off of the foot of the table.  The return fixture at the Boleyn Ground came on Boxing Day, by which point the Hammers had risen up to fifth in the table.  Spurs meanwhile were just three points from the relegation zone in eighteenth place.  A crowd of 37,682 witnessed a 1-1 draw with Martin Peters on target for Spurs and Keith Robson scoring for West Ham.

Terry Neill’s first season in charge of Spurs ended by avoiding relegation by just one point, with London rivals Chelsea’s drop down to the second tier aided by defeat at White Hart Lane on the penultimate Saturday of the season.  John Lyall’s first season ended much better with West Ham finishing thirteenth, but winning the FA Cup with a 2-0 win over Fulham.  In 1975/76, Spurs came to the Boleyn Ground just four games into the season.  A Keith Robson goal a few seconds before the half-time secured a 1-0 win for the Hammers.  The two sides met again in mid-November in the fourth round of the League Cup. 


At the time, West Ham actually topped the table with nine wins out of fifteen.  Spurs in contrast were languishing in fourteenth with just three wins out of fifteen. A crowd of 49,125 saw a 0-0 draw.  Two weeks later, the replay occurred at the Boleyn Ground in front of 38,443 people.  The game was interrupted by floodlight failure midway through the first half.  Two extra time goals from John Duncan and future Arsenal defender Willie Young gave Spurs a 2-0 victory.  Spurs progressed all the way to the Semi Finals of the League Cup before facing elimination to Newcastle United.  The return fixture at White Hart Lane came in early February.

At the time, West Ham had dropped to sixth, while Spurs had climbed to fourteenth.  A John Duncan header on sixty eight minutes gave Spurs the lead.  Nine minutes later however Alan Taylor drove in a shot which Pat Jennings could only palm aside, from which Trevor Brooking scored on the rebound.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw.  Spurs finished 1975/76 in ninth place.  West Ham however had sunk to eighteenth place and avoiding relegation by just six points.  Over the summer of 1976, Terry Neill had defected across the Seven Sisters Road to manage Arsenal after Bertie Mee’s retirement.  Taking over from Neill would be Keith Burkinshaw.

Burkinshaw’s first meeting with West Ham came in early November 1976 at the Boleyn Ground.  At the time, West Ham were anchored to the foot of the table with just one win from twelve.  Spurs meanwhile were nineteenth with just two wins from twelve.  The game turned out to be something of a goal fest for the 28,997 in attendance.  Goals for Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson and Billy Bonds gave the Hammers a two goal lead.   A twelve yard header from John Duncan brought Spurs back into the game five minutes before half time, but after the restart goals from Trevor Brooking, Billy Jennings and Alan Curbishley gave the Hammers a commanding four goal lead.  Further goals from a young Glenn Hoddle and a Keith Osgood penalty.  The Spurs comeback however was thwarted by the form of West Ham keeper Mervyn Day, as the Hammers secured a 5-3 victory.

The return league fixture came on New Year’s Day at White Hart Lane, highlights of which would be captured by LWT’s ‘The Big Match’.  One point separated the two sides, as West Ham were second bottom of the table and Spurs in twentieth place.  In front of a crowd of 44,972, Trevor Brooking gave West Ham the lead on three minutes.  In the second half, Billy Bonds impeded Alfie Conn in the penalty area to conced a penalty, from which Keith Osgood equalised.  Spurs were then to bag the winner after a long kick from Pat Jennings was headed on by John Duncan, with Conn touching the ball back into Duncan’s path to bend home a left foot shot from 20 yards into the bottom corner of the net to give Spurs a 2-1 victory.

Despite that victory, Spurs finished the season rock bottom of the table and relegated to the second tier.  The Hammers meanwhile avoided relegation by two points to finish 1976/77 in seventeenth place.  Spurs came back up by goal difference in 1977/78, finishing third in the second tier.  Passing them on the way down however would be West Ham who finished in twentieth place.  As will be seen in Part Three (which will follow when the two sides meet in December), there would be no quick return to the top flight for the Hammers, who spent three season in the second tier, before returning to top flight action in the early 1980s, by which point Keith Burkinshaw’s Spurs were becoming a prominent Cup side.

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*Published 22nd September 2017