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A mostly American attendance of 33,351 saw three goals in the opening nine minutes, Madrid’s Ruiz had a shot deflected off the outstretched leg of Bobby Moore which deceived Jim Standen for the first tally, within a minute the Hammers were on level terms through a magnificent headed goal by Geoff Hurst from twelve yards after an excellent cross from the wing by John Sissons. The Spaniards came back strongly, and Veloso, who dribbled past three defenders before hitting the net to give them a 2-1 lead which they held on to until the interval.
Real opened the second half strongly before Standen was beaten in the 52nd minute by Amancio; the referee held onto the ball after this goal because of a distinct suspicion of offside, but there was no response from his linesman so the Spaniards were 3-1 up. Hammers hit back after 68 minutes' play as John Sissons found the net to reduce the arrears with a typical left-foot shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Greenwood used his full quota of players during the second-half ensuring everyone who made the trip had some game time. A 3-2 defeat was no disgrace and the Hammers who travelled had the honour of taking part in a notable occasion.
Exhibition game at the Houston Astrodome
Real shoot for goal and Jim Standen blocks the shot. The other Hammers are Paul Heffer and Bobby Moore
Real Madrid 3-2 West Ham United (HT 2-1)
Wednesday April 19, 1967
West Ham United's first tentative steps across the 'big pond' to the United States of America was in 1963, a tour which cumulated when they lifted the International Soccer League. A year later the Hammers embarked on their first European Cup Winners Cup adventure, a journey that ended back on home soil with further success as they defeated a talented TSV Munchen 1860 side at Wembley. Both these Cup achievements had propelled the Hammers to new heights and helped to secure the club’s place on the world stage of football.
The stage was set, and what a stage it was, the Houston Astrodome in Harris County, Texas was described in the official match day brochure as “the Eighth Wonder of the World" and was the setting for an exhibition game between the mighty Spanish giants Real Madrid and West Ham United on April 19, 1967
After the game
Mark van Gelder (English linesman from Houston), Bobby Moore, Larry King (referee from St. Louis), Francisco Gento, Alberto Nasuti (Argentinian Linesman from Houston)
Deputy Mayor Manusco of Houston handing the “key of the city” to Bobby Moore when Hammers arrived in Houston on 16th April. On the right is Judge Roy Hofheinz, President of the Houston Astros and Houston Stars.
Deputy Mayor Manusco greets Hammers’ director Will Cearns: Also in the picture are: Ron Boyce, Jack Helliar, Harry Redknapp, Jim Standen, Bill Giles (Astrodome P.R.O.) Ron Greenwood and Judge Roy Hofheinz
Geoff Hurst (3), John Charles, Bobby Moore and Eddie Bovington have a ‘work out’ in the empty dome
Support material courtesy of Richard Miller, match images used in this article copyright of Gulf Photos of Sunset Boulevard, Houston and WHU.
Goal: The message flashes on the Astrodome scoreborad as Real Madrid net their first goal
Two to one. Hammers Bill Kitchener (3) and Peter Bennett close in on Pirri of Real Madrid
Inside the “Dome”
A wonderful shot of the Astrodome showing the Madrid team breaking from defence into attack
Paul Heffer watching Real Madrid players hitting the Astroturf
The club accepted an invitation to play this exhibition match as an opportunity of adding to their lengthy list of “foreign appearances”. The West Ham players and officials stayed at the plush Shamrock Hilton Hotel in Texas.
The official touring party included manager Ron Greenwood and 15 players, Peter Bennett, Peter Brabrook, Eddie Bovington, Ron Boyce, Jack Burkett, Dennis Burnett, John Charles, Paul Heffer, Geoff Hurst, Bill Kitchener, Colin Mackleworth, Bobby Moore, Harry Redknapp, John Sissons and Jim Standen along with first team trainer Albert Walker, club physio Rob Jenkins and club director Will Cearns.
Official Touring Party
The conception for the Astrodome came about when the Major League Baseball expanded to Houston in 1960, the National League agreed to add two teams. The New York Mets and The Colt .45s - renamed the Houston Astros in 1965.
The larger than life Texan Judge Roy Hofheinz, a former mayor of Houston, and his group were granted the franchise after they promised to build a covered stadium. It was thought a covered stadium was a must for a major league team to be viable in Houston due to the area's subtropical climate and hot summers. Temperatures in the State of Texas were usually above 97 °F (36 °C) in July and August, with high humidity and a likelihood of rain.
Situated seven miles outside the city, the world's first multi-purpose, domed sports stadium was reached by a special road system with car-parking spaces for 30,000 vehicles.
The entire complex, including an exhibition hall and parking area covered 260 acres. The first striking feature which visitors see is the huge domed structure, which stands 18 stories tall (218 ft.) The dome is a perfect circle 710 ft. in diameter with the ceiling 208 ft. (63 m) above the playing surface, which itself sits 25 feet (7.6 m) below ground level.
The dome was also the first sports venue to feature artificial turf, which is where the term ‘AstroTurf’ originates.
This photo published by the Houston Chronicle November 17, 1963, shows the steel structure “rising majestically on the plains of south Houston.”
Sadly today the Astrodome in Harris County, Texas has now been listed as one of the 11 most endangered historic places in the United States of America after it was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation list.
Over a decade has passed since the steel giant hosted any local sports team, and it's in worse shape than ever before. Each year, Harris County grapples with the choice of spending tens of millions to demolish the stadium, or hundreds of millions to save it.
Since the turn of this century, plans to turn the Astrodome into a park, a hotel, movie production studio, and even a space theme park have been proposed. But none have come close to fruition. For now, the dome’s fate remains uncertain. Any sort of preservation fight today is limited to local academics and journalists.
Click the Brochure below for a
CGI animated vision of how the future of 8th Wonder could one day be transformed
The Domes Future ?
Harris County Domed Stadium plaque
The Eighth Wonder
Betancort, Miera, De Felipe, Sanchis, Zoco, Pirri, Veloso, Amancio, Grosso, Velazquez, Gento
Plaque given to the Club by the United Soccer Association to commemorate this historic match
Ron Greenwoon and Bobby Moore discuss topics with Astrodome Public Relations Officier Bill Giles
With six levels of seating, the capacity is 45,000 for baseball, 52,000 for football, 60,000 for conventions and 66,000 for boxing matches. The dome is floodlit by a lighting system of 1,906 lamps, with a power consumption output that is equivalent to a small town.
He’d run with the ball for 100 yards, stop, backheel it, then run 100 yards with it in another direction. He was lightning quick and he must have been about 40 then. He was on the left and I was on the right wing so our full-back, John Charles, asked me to keep up with him and cover him. Some chance. What a great occasion that was. It was unique because of the roof and the astroturf. Real wore their all-white strip which had that magic about it and we had all been in awe of them since we had seen them beat Eintracht Frankfurt in the European Cup final at Hampden Park in 1960. They were holders at the time of that friendly too.
Harry Redknapp recalled what it was like to play against Gento in such a unique setting: