Lifelong fan Pete May relives six classic finals when West Ham’s bubbles nearly reached the sky, covering the chants, banners, dodgy hairstyles, celebrations and press reaction. West Ham played in the first ever game at Wembley, the 1923 FA Cup Final against Bolton. It saw a pitch invasion by 200,000 fans and brought celebrity to Billie the white horse. In 1964 the Hammers beat Preston 3-2 through Ron Boyce’s late winner and Bobby Moore ran round the pitch with a giant hammer.
A year later I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles rang round Wembley as Ron Greenwood’s men conquered Europe, beating TSV Munich 1860 through Alan Sealey’s double in a tremendous display of attacking football. Alan Taylor, a former mechanic signed from Rochdale, was the star of 1975 FA Cup Final, scoring twice as West Ham defeated Fulham, captained by former Hammers’ legend Bobby Moore. In the 1980 FA Cup Final Johnny Lyall’s claret and blue army were in the second division, but beat Arsenal through a rare Trevor Brooking header as Billy Bonds lifted the trophy for a second time.
When West Ham visited the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the 2006 FA Cup Final, it produced the most memorable final in recent history and a heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat after a brilliant 3-3 draw. The Hammers returned to Wembley in 2012 after an absence of 31 years as Ricardo Vaz Te’s late winner against Blackpool secured promotion in the Championship Play-off Final and resulted in Bobby Moore’s statue being adorned with a claret and blue scarf. Six great finals that sum up what it means to be a West Ham supporter.
Pete May’s previous books on West Ham include Hammers in the Heart and West Ham: Irons in the Soul. His other books include There’s a Hippo in My Cistern, Rent Boy and Sunday Muddy Sunday. As a journalist he has contributed to the Guardian, Observer and Independent and numerous other publications. Raised in Essex, he now lives in north London with his wife and two daughters a dog named Vulcan and a large collection of football programmes. He is an associate lecturer in sports journalism at the London College of Communication.
PRAISE FOR WEST HAM: IRONS IN THE SOUL
'Without doubt West Ham: Irons In The Soul is a true fan’s view of the recent events at the club. I’d like to thank Pete May for writing this book because it’s given me an honest insight into West Ham and if results go extremely well I might even try a pre-match breakfast in Ken’s Cafe.' (Alan Pardew, former West Ham manager)
'If Ernest Hemingway had come from suburban Essex, dined in Ken's Cafe and been a season ticket holder at Upton Park he may well have come up with this book. Very funny, a real egg and chips romp.' (Phill Jupitus)
'A unique insight from the bestselling hammers author Pete May which allow irons fans like myself to relive some of the greatest moments ever witnessed in the Uptown Park era.' (Cass Pennant, author of Congratulations. You've Just Met the ICF)