As the decade draws to a close, the 2010s have proven to be a roller coaster for The Hammers. From relegation to promotion, from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium, with the club being overseen by six different permanent managers at the helm, this decade has proven to be one of the most varied and challenging periods in the club’s history. Despite the difficulties and largely transitional period the club has endured, this decade has provided many West Ham United with some of their all time favourite memories. This is my West Ham United – Top Ten moments of the 2010s.
10: The Flag Bearer
This is a strange pick to even make the list. By all accounts, on this day we lost at home by three goals to Burnley without a strike in response on what was simply an awful day to be a West Ham United fan. However, the importance of this protest and sadly the maintaining relevance it still has is the reason why this moment had to make my list.
Going into the match, tensions were already high amongst the West Ham faithful as the club found itself amidst a relegation dog fight for the second season running. Having left Upton Park less than two years earlier on the promises of Karen Brady, David Sullivan and Gold that our new home bring a world class team to a world class stadium, David Moyes’ men looked a far cry from Sunday League, let a lone world class. To make matters worse, a protest march organised by fan group “The Real West Ham Fans” due to take place before the match after receiving support and funding from thousands of Hammers fans had been cancelled after the leaders of the group had met with the board.
The match resulted in carnage as Burnley took a second half lead following yet another drab performance by the Irons. With that, following their frustrations at the cancelled protest, fans took to the pitch and the outskirts of the directors box to hurl their thoughts, among other things, towards the owners. Despite the abuse the owners deservedly took, the standout moment had to be the fan that walked the corner flag to the centre of the pitch in protest. The gesture was a nod to the protest against the Bond Scheme in 1992 in which a fan planted the corner flag on the centre spot in a match against Everton.
Despite the pain of that day, which left West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking in tears. I see the flag bearer as a reminder that the current board are sadly still both unfit and unwilling to take the club any further and our current problems going into this Christmas period only prove that. I can only dream that Christmas brings a new manager along with owners in a similar mould to that of Wolves or Leicester City.
9: Andy Carroll’s Overhead Kick – West Ham United 3 – 0 Crystal Palace
This has to be one of if not the best goal I’ve seen West Ham United score whilst being at the stadium to witness it. Having been at the stadium when Steven Gerrard thumped in Liverpool’s FA Cup final equaliser and Rooney beat Adrian on the half volley from the half way line, as a West Ham fan, I feel like I deserved to witness a goal of this magnitude from Andy Carroll.
Our debut season at the London Stadium had been very poor. The whole season had been spent facing relegation as West Ham United struggled to adapt to life in their Stratford home as they welcomed Crystal Palace to their new stadium for the first time.
To make matters worse, the Hammers went into the game without their star man, Dimitri Payet, with the French international refusing to play for the Irons despite signing a new £125,000 per week contract extension only 11 months earlier. If the time ever comes that I discover a new species of snake, one need not wonder what I would name it.
With the first half ending 0-0. The Hammers produced an incredible second half display which saw the men in claret and blue net three times whilst recording a clean sheet. Sofiane Feghouli gave West Ham the lead before Carroll thundered in the second via an unbelievable overhead kick that I believe is only bettered by Wayne Rooney’s effort against Manchester City in terms of the Premier League’s greatest overhead kicks.
A delightful chip from Manuel Lanzini killed the game as Michail Antonio became the first player since Paolo Di Canio in 2000 to record three assists in one match for the Hammers. Easily one of, if not the best moment at the London Stadium for West Ham United.
8: West Ham United 2 – 1 Millwall
We simply could not lose this game. That was how I felt as I approached Upton Park as the butterflies danced around my stomach. Having been relegated the season before, West Ham would face their fiercest rivals in Millwall in what would turn out to be their final match against each other at the Boleyn Ground.
Going into the February game, the hosts found themselves top of the Championship in their pursuit of an instant return to the Premier League. A win would have seriously boosted the Hammers chances of automatic promotion, however, the scale of the match appeared to get the better of club captain Kevin Nolan who was sent off after only nine minutes.
After a noble first half display, incredibly, West Ham took the lead through Hammers legend, Carlton Cole, gave the hosts the lead two minutes into stoppage time. After 65 minutes, things took a turn for the worst as Millwall equalised. Thankfully, the equaliser was cancelled out only three minutes later as Winston Reid smashed the winning goal into the roof of the net with a finish that any striker would be proud of.
The game would go onto finish 2-1 as the ten man of West Ham United would earn a hard fought victory over their South London rivals in their last ever meeting at Upton Park.
7: West Ham Untied 4 – 0 Manchester United
A magical evening. That’s the best way to describe this quarter-final League Cup tie in the snow under the lights at Upton Park. Everything that happened in this game simply shouldn’t have, and that includes even the kick-off.
On the drive to the game, the radio reported that referee was late to the stadium due to the difficult of travelling in the snow. As well as the worry of defeat, this game brought with it the fear of potentially being abandoned, such were the snowy conditions.
With United looking to regain the title that Chelsea having lifted in May of 2010, the Hammers were aiming to merely survive that season in the Premier League, under Avram Grant, as they sat bottom of the table. Despite a few changes to both sides, on paper only one team should have won this game 4-0. It should have never been the hosts.
After a disallowed goal from loanee signing Victor Obinna, it was the former United fullback, deployed in midfield due to the illness of talisman Scott Parker, Jonathan Spector, who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and fired two goals past his previous team. At this point in his career, the US international had hardly been reliable in his natural position of right back for the Hammers. To this day I have no idea how Jonathan Spector ripped apart the Red Devils from central midfield. His performance helped make it one the greatest nights under the lights at Upton Park.
In the second half, Carlton Cole would seal the game for the Hammers in the second half as the number nine would notch his first brace for the club. Despite suffering relegation that season, as United would go on to the lift the title, the magic of this game will linger long in the memory for many West Ham fans.
6: Liverpool 0 – 3 West Ham United
What a result! What a day! This moment takes the number six spot almost purely due to the wait. Until August 2015, West Ham United had not won at Anfield since in 1963. To put that length of time into context, England had not yet won the World Cup, and The Beatles were four years away from releasing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
It was Slaven Billic’s first season in charge of the Hammers and this away victory at Anfield was sandwiched between to other fantastic away victories which came from the Emirates and the Etihad.
Manuel Lanzini made himself an instant fan favourite as the then loan signing proved what a little gem he could be for the Hammers, notching the first goal three minutes into the game. The Argentinian international would be involved again for the second goal as his pressing forced the Reds defence to surrender possession before the ball broke to the captain, Mark Noble,who stroked it into the corner. After a red card for Coutinho and rather controversially, Mark Noble, West Ham would put the icing on the cake in stoppage time as Diafra Sakho killed the game, giving most Hammers fans something they had received before: a win at Anfield.
That win was the first of a hatrick of victories over the Reds during the 2015/16 season. West Ham would comfortably beat Liverpool 2-0 in the reverse Premier League fixture at Upton Park, while a stalemate at Anfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup saw the Hammers record a huge 2-1 win from the replay at the Boleyn Ground as Angelo Ogbonna scored his first goal for the club in the last minute of extra time.
5: Tottenham Hotspur 0 – 3 West Ham United
There are a fair few moments over the last decade against Spurs that are more than worthy enough to make this list. The consecutive 1-0 home victories in 2016 and 2017 which halted the North London’s side title charge were particularly satisfying, as was becoming the first away team to win at their new stadium earlier in the year, courtesy of a Michail Antonio winner. Our fantastic Wembley comeback in the League Cup almost made the list too.
However, I’ve gone with the victory at White Hart Lane in October 2013 as my favourite for three reasons. First of all, this victory was the first of three victories against Spurs that season. Secondly, this game turned out to be the peak of Ravel Morrison’s career, as he scored a goal that Lionel Messi would have been proud of. Finally, it was my eighteenth birthday. Having a normal weekend ruined by a West Ham score is nothing new to the Hammers faithful, but my eighteenth birthday? I don’t think I could have stomached that.
Going into the game, Sam Allardyce’s men were in a relegation battle following a comfortable mid-table finish the season before. Spurs, on the other hand, were chasing Champions League football under manager Andre Villas Boas, having signed a host of players, such as Christian Eriksen and Roberto Soldado following the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
Despite it being my birthday, I simply could not be at ease until the game was over. Thankfully, second half goals from Winston Reid, Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison ensured that West Ham United gave me the perfect birthday present as I turned 18. An unbelievable day and result.
4: West Ham 3 – 2 Wigan Athletic – Scott Parker Saves West Ham
Every time I reflect on this match, I still get the urge to jump up and down as Parker smashed a dipping strike into the bottom corner from outside of the penalty area. Gianfranco Zola’s second season in charge had been a tough one for the Hammers. The season had been yet another relegation scrap, West Ham’s survival boiled down to the home match against fellow relegation candidates Wigan, with a win effectively securing the Irons status as a Premier League club for another season.
Things got off to a poor start, courtesy of a Jonathan Spector own goal, however, the hosts replied through the efforts of Ilan and Radoslav Kovac, sending the Hammers into half time a goal up. However, the drama was far from over as Rodallega equalised for the Latics 10 minutes into the second half.
It had been a poor season for the Hammers, however if one player could save them, it would undoubtedly be the only shining light for West Ham that campaign. Step up, Scott Parker.
It had to be him. The outrageous effort of Parker sent Upton Park into delirium. Scotty’s efforts that season would ultimately earn him his second of three consecutive Hammer of the Year Awards (2009-11) a feat matched only by the legendary Sir Trevor Brooking (1977-79).
Parker would continue his heroics for another season at West Ham, as he won the Writer’s Player of the Year, yet sadly, during the 2010-11 campaign, the Hammer of The Year could not keep the East London side in the Premier League as Avram Grant’s men finished bottom of the table. With England manager Fabio Capello insisting that he would not select a player from the second tier of English football, Parker traded East London for North London, joining Harry Redknapp’s Tottenham as they qualified for the Champions League. Though it was sad to see such a player leave for Spurs, Scott Parker optimised everything about West Ham during his time at the club.
3: Mark Noble’s Testimonial
On this day, West Ham United football club came together to celebrate the service and dedication of a Hammers legend and current captain, Mark Noble. Normally, testimonial matches can be slow, dull affairs. Though a celebration of a player’s service to their club, too often testimonial matches have the zip and tempo of an international friendly. Dull and slow.
Mark Noble wanted to do his testimonial a different way. The West Ham way.
Going into the Easter Monday fixture, it felt fitting Noble was getting his match during the final season at Upton Park. The club captain had already insisted on a penalty shoot-out regardless of the final score which just added a feeling of fun and relaxation to a day when West Ham’s all time great players came together to celebrate the service of an all time legend.
For myself, it was the only time I’ve ever been in the directors box at West Ham United. Following a tasty lunch of pie and mash, after I had found my seat and the game kicked off, I heard a voice in my ear. Sat a row behind me and a seat to my right was Sir Trevor Brooking. For the next 40 minutes I proceeded to bombard the FA Cup final goal scorer with just about every question under the sun. Like a true genlelmen he answered every question respectfully and truthfully, though I was not surprised to see that in the second half he had decided to sit in his actual seat.
With goals from Paolo Di Canio, Adrian, an overhead kick from Dean Ashton and Mark Noble, it was a fantastic day for a deserving legend and an extra farewell to the home of West Ham United.
2: West Ham United 2 – 1 Blackpool – Play-off Final
What a day this was. After a year in the wilderness that is the Championship, West Ham United had finished in third place. The bid for automatic promotion had failed. Reading had enjoyed such an impressive second half of the campaign that they usurped both the Hammers and Southampton to claim the Championship title. The Saints on the other hand did enough to ensure that they finish in second place, guaranteeing their spot in the Premier League for the 2012/13 season.
Thankfully, goals from academy graduate Jack Collison against Cardiff had secured West Ham’s position at Wembley relatively comfortably over a two-legged play-off semi-final. Like the Irons, Ian Holloway’s Blackpool came into the Wembley fixture looking to gain promotion at the first attempt, having been relegated with West Ham the season before.
The nerves going into the game were somewhat rested as Carlton Cole put the Hammers ahead inside the first half. Throughout the game, the West Hams fans produced the best noise I’ve ever heard at Wembley stadium. Their voices carried their team into half time a goal up.
Thomas Ince would level for Blackpool but still the Hammers fans continued to make Wembley their own. With ten minutes from time, the ball broke to star January signing, Ricardo Vaz Te who slammed the ball into the roof of the net, sending the players and fans alike into an absolute frenzy. It had been a tough season, but from the misery of a year ago, West Ham United had bounced back at first time of asking. Thankfully, the Hammers have been in the Premier League ever since.
1: West Ham United 3 – 2 Manchester United – Farewell Boleyn
This had to take top spot. In any other decade of the club’s history, the number one spot would have probably been either a cup win or a promotion. From 1904 – 2016, the Boleyn Ground served as the home of West Ham United Football Club.
For thousands of West Ham United fans, Upton Park had been their home, their church, a place they could call their own. Win, lose or draw. You don’t choose to be a West Ham United fan, the club chooses you.
On the 10th of May 2016 I arrived at the stadium around midday. Despite the fact that the match was an evening fixture, I had to be get as much out of the day as I could. Seeing the likes of Dean Ashton, Tony Cottee, Tony Gale and so many others at the Ground was unbelievable.
I was completely unaware that the game had been delayed until I got into the stadium. What nobody could be unaware of on that night was the noise. Simply the best atmosphere I’ve ever heard at a football match. The energy of the crowd translated onto the pitch as Diafra Sakho’s deflected strike found the bottom corner. Though Andy Carroll could have doubled the hosts lead before half time, the stadium went into halftime happy with their goal lead.
Anthony Martial turned the game on it’s head after the break. Twice the Frenchmen struck to give United the lead and potentially ruin the fairy tale ending at Upton Park. Still, the fans never gave and neither did the players. The Hammers fought their way back into the match as a clipped in free kick found the powerful head of Antonio. The goal caused the stadium to roar. West Ham were far from done.
The momentum was with the home team. After another free kick had been blocked, the second ball was floated back into the penalty box. Winston Reid rose high and threw his head onto the ball. Though at De Gea, the sheer power of the effort beat the Spanish number one goalkeeper. The Boleyn Ground erupted. On this night, the bubbles flew so high, however, along with Hammers dreams, they did not fade and die.