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A late second half exchange between Eddie Bovington and Billy Bremner summed up the evening. Bremner was sternly lectured by the referee, E.T. Jennings, for vigorous use of his elbow, and again when he laid Bovington low. When Bremner was booked there was no retaliation. Just a typically laconic remark from the West Ham defender – “We’re leading seven nil, you know, Billy.”
Five days later and Leeds United got over their League Cup exit with a 3-1 victory over Leicester City. As for the Hammers their superlative form continued with a satisfying 4-3 victory at White Hart Lane. That’s 17 claret and blue goals scored and just four leaked in three games in the space of eight days.
There have been many special games played under the Upton Park floodlights but few as memorable and talked about as the one on November 7, 1966.
On this Monday evening the Hammers faced Leeds United in a 4th round League Cup tie under the Upton Park floodlights.
Bobby Moore and his team mates put in a superlative performance to not only win the game, but by the incredible score line of 7-0!
This was against the Leeds United team who were arguably the best side in the English League in the late 1960s.
The Hammers were up against "The Professionals", a Leeds side that were the most organised team in the league and pace-setters for the First Division title, they were also opposing a team that everyone - particularly in the South - loved to loathe. Don Revie, the Leeds' manager was frequently criticised for the highly physical and often negative approach of his teams.
They also boasted a formidable defence of Paul Reaney, Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter and Paul Madeley who were all on duty that autumn evening and were powerless to halt the West Ham goal train.
It should be pointed out that 48 hours earlier the same Leeds United side had beaten Arsenal 3-1 in the league at Highbury.
The first three goals were attributed to John Sissons and all three courtesy of his left foot.
First goal (Sissons) 2 mins:
Bremner, uncharacteristically, was slow to clear from inside the penalty area and Byrne took control to leave Sissons to place the ball carefully inside the far post.
Second goal (Sissons) 28 mins:
Byrne once more set up the move for a goal, his pass to Brabrook, under pressure, leading to a slithering ground pass into the penalty area which left all but Sissons gaping. And Sissons did the rest.
Third goal (Sissons) 34 mins:
This time Brabrook teased Charlton almost to the point of anger before squaring the ball for Sissons to shoot just inside the far post.
Fourth goal (Hurst) 41 mins:
Was this 4th goal an own goal for Reaney or Charlton or did it receive a final touch from Geoff Hurst? Officially it has been credited to Hurst but contemporary reporting was not so decisive.
Leeds United’s Consistency in Late 1960s
Leeds United’s pedigree was impressive. The evidence to support the claim Leeds United were the best side in the late 1960s includes:
European Fairs Cup finalists in 1966-67 (predecessor to UEFA Cup)
FA Cup finalists 1964-65, semi-finalists in 1966-67 and 1967-68
League Cup winners in the following 1967-68 season when they beat Arsenal 1-0 in the Wembley final
European Fairs Cup winners in 1967-68 beating Ferencvaros (Hungary) 1-0 on aggregate in the two legged final
League form took them to the Division One runners-up spot in 1964-65 and 1965-66
In the season of this League Cup tie Leeds finished 4th in Division One, well ahead of the Hammers in 16th place.
Fireworks Still Exploding
Forty eight hours earlier on Guy Fawkes night West Ham’s goal fuse had been lit as they warmed up by slotting half a dozen past Fulham in a 6-1 thrashing at Upton Park with Geoff Hurst sharpening up with a quartet.
against Leeds we looked like world-beaters. We annihilated them by seven goals to nil, with Sissons and Hurst each getting a hat-trick, on one of those nights when everything went right. I think we’d have kept finding the net even if the floodlights had gone out. Poor old Leeds had their full side out, too: Johnny Giles, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Billy Bremner and company were all present. Back at their hotel they stayed up all night asking themselves where they had gone wrong.
(Source: Ron Greenwood’s autobiography, Yours Sincerely).
The Daily Mail’s match report heaped more praise on the east Londoners:
Suddenly, a season of unrewarded adventure, has blossomed. Six goals against Fulham on Saturday, seven ,more last night, and all deliberately, bought by a team gambling on reversing the trend to defensive soccer. Against Leeds, West Ham held only two men back on a defensive level, Brown and Moore. The rest were ordered forward to mingle mid-field and scheme some almost perfect football.
The day after the game the Yorkshire Post reported:
Leeds were swept unceremoniously out of the League Cup, completely overwhelmed by the speed and accuracy of West Ham’s attack.
Leeds’ played the same side and using the same defensive formation as at Highbury were cracked open time and time again by a forward line whose appetite for goals was insatiable. David Harvey’s inexperience in goal at times was only too plain but it would be unfair to blame him. Every man in their (West Ham’s) attack hit top form. Their running was swift and their passing at times on the saturated turf wonderfully accurate.
West Ham United 7 - 0 Leeds United (HT 4-0)
Monday November 7, 1966
West Ham United:
Sissons 2, 28 & 34 mins, Hurst 41, 60 & 73 mins, Peters 70 mins.
West Ham United:
Jim Standen, Eddie Bovington, John Charles, Martin Peters, Ken Brown, Bobby Moore, Peter Brabrook, Ron Boyce, Johnny Byrne, Geoff Hurst, John Sissons. (Unused substitiute: Peter Bennett)
David Harvey, Paul Reaney, Willie Bell, Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Paul Madeley, Rod Belfitt, Jimmy Greenhoff (Mick Bates), Johnny Giles, Mike O’Grady
We’re leading seven nil, you know, Billy
West Ham had inflicted Leeds’ heaviest defeat since they lost 8-1 at Stoke City on August 27, 1934. The last time they had conceded seven goals was on March 3, 1937, when they lost 7-1 at Everton.
The first Football League Cup final to be held at Wembley was Third Division Queens Park Rangers' win over First Division West Bromwich Albion on 4 March 1967. Alas for Q.P.R. they were denied a place in European competition the following season, as they were not a First Division side at the time.
Wembley Booked for Final
In previous seasons the Football League Cup had been ignored by some top clubs like Manchester United and Everton. The final was always a two-legged affair, being played out on the home grounds of the two finalists.
Wembley Stadium had now been booked for the 1966-67 final. The bigger clubs began to sit-up and take notice as the competition was at last being accepted as worth winning, the victors were now promised a place in European competition which should have been sufficient incentive for the Leeds side to put in a good performance.
The Hammers seven goals as described in
The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Yorkshire Post match reports are as follows:
Fifth goal (Hurst) 60 mins:
two more from the mighty Hurst, the first of these after a beautifully controlled run on a nasty surface.
The Daily Mail attributed it to Hurst: A quick counter-attack and West Ham scored again, a shot by Byrne being deflected in by Hurst.
Though The Yorkshire Post attributed it as an own goal: Then to complete the discomfort Reaney sliced a shot from Byrne into his own net.
And to support the own goal theory the January 5, 1967 edition of the Newham Recorder ran a piece on this goal under the heading "The great goal mystery".
The article referred to Geoff Hurst’s account of the goal which stated that the shot from Byrne was going wide until it struck Jack Charlton and rebounded into the goal. Nevertheless the club officially attributed it as the first of Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick of the evening.
Hat-trick performances from John Sissons and Geoff Hurst placed them neck and neck in the race to the Man of the Match honour.
But they were pipped at the post by Johnny Byrne who was reported in The Daily Mail ... Byrne back suddenly to his pre-injury best.
The Hammers’ centre forward may not have scored but he contributed to five of the seven goals. Undoubtedly this was one of his finest performances in a claret and blue shirt.
Despite this resurgence his West Ham career ended three months later. Byrne was destined to only play another 16 league and cup games scoring eight goals before returning to Crystal Palace in February 1967.
Man of The Match – Johnny Byrne
Arriving for the match against The Peacocks, Johnny Byrne was asked for his forecast for the match. He winked at the journalist, "We'll knock 'em for six like we did Fulham on Saturday." Byrne was joking, of course. There wasn't a team in the world at that time who could confidently predict putting three goals past the Leeds defence, let alone six.
However, on this Monday evening the Hammers ignited the touch paper under the Elland Road outfit and the fireworks continued to burst with flare and colour.
In this second illuminating show Ron Greenwood summed up his side's performance:
17 Goals in Eight Days
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller
“Yorkshire Post” match report.
Sixth goal (Peters) 70 mins:
Hurst gave Peters the chance to evade several tackles before scoring the sixth goal.
Seventh goal (Hurst) 73 mins:
the seventh and completion of Hurst’s hat-trick - a left foot shot which for breathtaking power and direction left nobody in doubt who is the most dangerous forward in Britain at this moment.
Johnny Byrne goes to congratulate Geoff Hurst after scoring one of his three goals
Reaction to goal No.6 from Charlton and empty-handed Harvey