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Always finish on a positive note, and despite the agony of losing the 2006 FA Cup in a twelve-yard dual, we can.  


The Hammers have won their last two penalty deciders, both of which were in 2015: January’s FA Cup replay win over Everton, and then six months later the Europa League 2nd Qualifier - 2nd leg game against the Maltese club, Birkirkara.


Statistics can prove anything, and looking at the club’s record in the last five shoot-outs the future is looking rosy. Since the FA Cup final defeat, the Hammers have won four of their last five.


Perhaps the demons of the May 2006 defeat at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff have been buried in the back of the net.

Penalty Shoot-outs ...

by Roger Hillier

Love them or hate them, penalty kick shoot-outs to determine the winners of a cup tie have become an integral part of today’s game. And a shoot-out to settle a cup game is not a recent development. 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of West Ham United’s first such event.


Cup replays are rapidly disappearing, to be replaced by shoot-outs. In the past, FA and League Cup matches ending in a draw went to as many replays as necessary to gain a result. This has all changed and now FA Cup ties can only stretch to a single replay with penalties after extra-time if required. While League Cup ties are settled in the single encounter. All in the interests of obtaining a result sooner and to avoid replays congesting the fixture list. Great for clubs competing regularly in European tournaments but perhaps not for the smaller clubs who would welcome the extra revenue a reply would generate.

Knocked-Out on Toss of a Coin

Whatever your view on shoot-outs, they are less cruel than settling a cup-tie on the flip of a coin. In season 1952-53 on the evening of April 23 the Hammers would probably have welcomed a penalty shoot-out. Playing at home to Leyton Orient in the semi-final of the Essex Professional Cup it was all-square, 1-1, at the end of the match. In a time before matches would be settled on spot-kicks, Leyton Orient won through to the final on the toss of a coin!  

23 Caret & Blue Shoot-outs

Up to October 2017 West Ham United have been involved in 23 shoot-outs in friendly and competitive competitions. The Hammers have experienced the euphoria of a win on ten occasions, and the disappointment of failure on thirteen. One of these failures was the most crucial shoot-out in the club’s history, to settle 2006’s FA Cup final. Eleven of the 23 sudden-deaths have been in domestic cups and the Europa League. The rest in smaller competitions typically part of pre-season preparations.


The table below summarises all 23 of The Irons’ penalty deciders:

Five Decades of Spot Kicks

Most Hammers’ fans can probably recall at least one cup-tie that was decided from the twelve yard penalty spot, but when was the first held?  In West Ham’s case, the answer is 50 years ago this year. The Hammers’ first penalty shoot-out was on Wednesday March 3, 1967 to settle the destination of the Sir Winston Churchill Remembrance Trophy. Shortly after Sir Winston Churchill’s death in 1965, Coventry City introduced an invitational cup and named it in honour of the great statesman. Fulham won the trophy in 1966 and in the following season West Ham were the invited opposition.

1967 Coventry v West Ham United

Sir Winston Churchill Trophy

West Ham fielded a strong XI including World Cup heroes Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst. After 90 minutes and in front of a 18,524 crowd the two teams shared six goals. With no provision for extra time, manager Ron Greenwood and Coventry manager, Jimmy Hill, agreed to a penalty shoot-out: a dual of the best of eleven penalties by both sides.  


Described in the Coventry match report as a “novel climax”, the Hammers won 9-7 after being “two up with one to play”. So out of the 10 kicks taken by the West Ham players, only one failed to find the target. A full record of who scored and missed is no longer available, but it was reported that goalkeeper Alan Dickie netted his penalty and saved two of Coventry's efforts. West Ham's solitary miss was by right winger Peter Brabrook. Had Brabrook converted his spot-kick it would have contributed to an unofficial hat-trick as he had contributed two of the Hammers’ three match goals.

1973 Watney Cup

The second “penalties” was six years later in the 1973-74 pre-season tournament, the Watney Cup. Full coverage of West Ham United’s involvement in this pre-season competition was covered in an earlier 'theyflysohigh' feature.


The Watney Mann Invitation Cup, to give the cup its full title, but better known as the Watney Cup, was introduced as a pre-season knockout competition for the highest scoring football league clubs in the previous season. The top two goal scoring teams from each of the football league’s four divisions, excluding any who had qualified for European competition, were invited to participate. The competition was a straight knockout format, each match was a one-off with no extra time or replays. The Hammers qualified for the 1973 competition where they faced Third Division opponents Bristol Rovers at Eastville.  


The Hammers’ track record against lower division sides away from the Boleyn Ground has never been impressive and on August 11, 1973 they did not do anything to change that perception. In short they were eliminated on penalties.  


After 90 minutes the sides were drawing with a goal apiece. With no extra-time, the game went straight to a penalty shoot-out. In a best of five, Bristol Rovers triumphed 5-4. West Ham’s culprit was the usually reliable regular penalty taker, Bryan 'Pop' Robson. Pop even missed his two opportunities!  His first effort was saved and had to be retaken as the Bristol Rovers’ goalkeeper was judged to have moved before the ball was kicked. But Pop’s re-take was again saved. Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Tommy Taylor and Ted McDougall all successfully tucked away their kicks, but to no avail.

Watney Cup 73_08_11 Bristol Rovers v. WHU Watney Cup Watney Robson 02 Watney Robson 01

'Pop' Robson missed both attempts for the Hammers’

Link to Watney Cup


1988 Simod Cup

In the Simod Cup’s second season, on November 22, 1988 West Ham faced Watford in a 2nd round tie at Vicarage Road. With the score 1-1 after 120 minutes the game moved on to a twelve-yard dual in a best of five penalties.


With 75 conversions out of 85 to his name, West Ham's 'penalty king', Ray Stewart was not in the side to lead by example. On a chilly night in Hertfordshire the Hammers only managed one conversion out of their four kicks.


With only one previous conversion to his name, rookie pen-kicker, Kevin Keen, set the tone by missing the first kick. Tony Gale successfully converted his spot kick, while Julian Dicks the heir apparent to Stewart's penalty crown blasted his 12-yard shot against the post. Mark Ward's effort was saved by Coton in the Hornet's goal and the Hammers limped out of the competition 3-1.  

FA Cup Shoot-Outs

Since penalty shoot-outs were first generally introduced for FA Cup matches in 1991-92*, the Hammers have participated in five FA Cup deciders. Their track record is won two and lost three. As mentioned earlier the most heart-breaking decider was in the 2006 FA Cup final.


* FA Cup penalty kicks were first used in the 1972 edition of the short-lived third place play-off.

Watford - Kevin Keen Crossed Hammer outline Crossed Hammer outline

Tony Coton saves Kevin Keen's opening penalty

Crossed Hammer outline

2006 FA Cup Final Penalty Shoot-Out Defeat

With no provisions for a replay, just a shoot-out from twelve-yards. An unforgettable day for Hammers supporters was spoilt by the Merseyside club winning the resultant shoot-out by three goals to one.


Hammers boss Alan Pardew was restricted by the injury to one of his regular spot kick takers Marlon Harewood and the fact that Dean Ashton had already been substituted. However, there was still plenty of volunteers out on the pitch after extra time but those who did come forward, disappointed. Liverpool’s penalty takers on the other hand did not buckle under the pressure and netted three of their first four.


The Irons other regular penalty taker at that time Teddy Sheringham converted his spot-kick whereas Bobby Zamora, Paul Konchesky and Anton Ferdinand were not up to the job. Manager Pardew confessed afterwards that his Hammers players had actually practiced penalty kicks in the days leading up to the final.


There have been many classic FA Cup finals over the years and the 2006 final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff against Liverpool was widely regarded as one of the best. After a pulsating 90 minutes of football and a further 30 minutes of extra time between the current holders of the Champions League trophy and the underdogs from east London the two sides were tied at 3 goals apiece.

First FA Cup Shoot-Out in 1998

To date the club’s first and most recent FA Cup twelve-yard kicks have been spot on. The first in 1998 saw the Hammers fend off Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park as all five claret and blue players scored: David Unsworth, John Hartson, Frank Lampard Jnr, Ian Pearce and Steve Lomas.

Inform Hammers' hero Craig Forrest was unavailable for the 6th round tie against Arsenal due to a neck injury. Taking his place between the sticks was 34-year-old French international goalkeeper Bernard Lama who had been signed on a season-long loan from Paris St Germain three months earlier.


Incidentally, Craig Forrest's understudy made his long awaited Hammers’ debut by keeping a clean sheet in the Upton Park league fixture against the Gunners just six days before their quarter-final clash.


However, the pony-tailed Frenchman's luck was to run out in the replay shoot-out contest as the men from Highbury netted four to West Ham’s three under the Upton Park floodlights.


The bright lights may have dazzled for David Unsworth, Frank Lampard Jnr. and Steve Lomas as they repeated their earlier successes against Blackburn Rovers. But it was a dim outcome for Hammers' pair John Hartson and Samassi Abou who both failed to find the back of the net under the lights.


Spot on Hammers

Above: The replay was decided on the last two spot-kicks. Blackburn stalwart Colin Hendry placed his shot straight at ‘keeper Craig Forrest who saved with an outstretched leg.


Below: Advantage West Ham, skipper Steve Lomas found himself kicking for the match.

Crossed Hammer outline Steve Lomas

Their 5-4 shoot-out win in Lancashire swept West Ham into the 6th round to face Arsenal at Highbury. With the north London tie ending in a 1-1 draw it was back to Upton Park for the replay. Once again the tie ended all-square at one apiece and the Hammers were now facing a second nerve jangling shoot-out in less than a month.

Lomas does a runner after putting away the deciding spot-kick

Samassi Abou

John Hartson and Samassi Abou, head in hands after their penalty misses against the Gunners

John Hartson 88_11_22 Watford v. WHU Simod Cup 15_01_13 WHU v. Everton FAC3 Rep

Nine years after the 2006 FA Cup final, West Ham faced another Merseyside club. This time Everton in a 3rd round replay at Upton Park on January 13, 2015 after the two sides fought out a 1-1 draw with Hammers nemesis Romelu Lukaku equalising in the 91st minute at Goodison Park.


In the replay West Ham went ahead through Enner Valencia after 51 minutes, six minutes later Everton's Aiden McGeady was sent-off for two bookable offences. The Toffees equalised through Kevin Mirallas in the 82nd minute and the score remained at one apiece after 90 minutes play.


What followed would live long in the memory for those who were there and the millions who watched on TV, the shoot-out turned into the longest in the club’s history.


Seven minutes into extra time Everton's Belgium striker Lukaku once again tormented the Hammers as he found the back of the net to put the away side in front.


With time running out Sam Allardyce took off defender James Collins and replaced him with striker Carlton Cole in the 111th minute. Two minutes later the Boleyn Ground was shaking as Cole netted to make the final count 2-2.


Extra time could not settle the tie, it was now down to a spot-kick contest between the Hammers and the Toffees. Everton won the coin toss and took the first penalty. The shoot-out would stretch to a total 20 kicks and ultimately was decided by a duel between two Spaniards.

League Cup Shoot-Outs

West Ham’s record in League Cup penalty shoot-outs is similar to the club’s FA Cup experience. Not brilliant. Out of three official shoots they have won one and lost the rest. Though before the first official shoot-out the Hammers experienced the infamous Omoyinmi Gate affair, in December 1999.


1981’s Famous Five

The first time penalty kicks were going to be applied in a Football League Cup final was in 1981. Had the West Ham United v. Liverpool final remained all square after extra-time in the Villa Park replay, the tie would have moved on to penalty kicks. As it happened the match was settled in 90 minutes with Liverpool winning a close final, 2-1.


Had it resorted to kicks, the Hammers were well prepared and had their five penalty specialists lined up: Ray Stewart, Geoff Pike, Trevor Brooking, David Cross and Alan Devonshire.

1999 Omoyinmi Gate

On Wednesday December 15, 1999 Aston Villa visited Upton Park for a League Cup quarter-final tie. By now League Cup ties had to be decided on the night either in extra-time or as a last resort, penalties.


No more League Cup replays or a repeat of the 1971-72 League Cup two-legged semi-final between the Hammers and Stoke City which went to two replays. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the quarter-final tie finished all-square after 90 minutes and  extra-time at 2-2, which meant penalties.  


West Ham won the resultant shoot-out 5-4 and were through to the semi-final to face Leicester City. Or so they thought. Headlines in the following day's newspapers focused on Shaka Hislop saving Gareth Southgate’s penalty to send the Hammers through.


But then it transpired that West Ham had fielded an ineligible substitute: Emanuel Omoyinmi. It was revealed that earlier in the competition Omoyinmi had appeared for Gillingham. The Football League decided to expunge the December 15 tie from the record books, and declared that the two teams should replay the match.


In the replayed match on January 11, 2000 the Hammers’ dream of another League Cup semi-final died as The Villains won 3-1.  


More on how Omoyinmi Gate unravelled will be covered in a future 'theyflysohigh' feature.  

Pre-Season Tournaments

Before shoot-outs were introduced to resolve FA and League Cup affairs West Ham had participated in eight shootouts to settle smaller competitions, several of these in pre-season tournaments. Up to their first FA Cup shootout, the 5th round tie against Blackburn Rovers in February 1998, the Hammers’ shooting from twelve-yards was not impressive as they had won only two out of these eight duals.  

London 5-A-Side Championships

From the 1950s all the way through to the 1980s the London 5-A-Side Football Championships used to be a popular event and figured in all of the London club’s fixture list.


But as Premier League and European football placed increasing demands on the capital’s top clubs, the popularity of this Evening Standard sponsored event petered away and it eventually closed with the last tournament held in 1995. The knock-out games were typically five or six minutes each way and if drawn, a couple of minutes extra-time before resorting to penalties.


West Ham United won the championship on three occasions (1967, 1971 & 1984) and participated in six penalty shoot-outs. The Hammers’ penalty record was average: won three and lost three.


The most heart breaking penalty shoot-out loss was in the 1981 final. The Hammers reached the final to face Arsenal in a match which ended 2-2 after extra-time. By now the penalty shoot-out was sudden death rather than the best of five. Billy Bonds stepped up for West Ham’s first and scored. Arsenal matched this. Then West Ham’s Jimmy Neighbour’s kick was saved and Arsenal converted their second to become 1981’s London 5-A-Side Football Champions.


The table below has details of West Ham United’s six 5-A-Side shoot-outs.

FA Youth Cup

The penalty shoot-out has permutated down to youth level cup ties. The claret and blue under 18s have participated in three such duals to decide FA Youth Cup games.


The table below summarises the one win and two defeats.


Hammers on International Penalty Shoot-out Duty

No doubt many West Ham United players have participated in shoot-outs playing for their respective countries. One of the longest was 2007’s European Under-21 Championship semi-final between Holland and England.


With the match score after extra-time finishing 1-1, penalties started. The dual stretched to 32 kicks with the Dutch triumphing 13-12.


West Ham United’s interest covered three players in the England U21 side: Mark Noble, Nigel Reo-Coker and Anton Ferdinand. Noble scored two, Ferdinand netted one and missed one, and Reo-Coker’s shot was saved. So the young Hammers between them scored three and failed on two.

Won Last Two Shoot-outs

Spanish Duel from Twelve-yards

Everton Pens

Noble             Nolan            Carroll        Cresswell      Downing          Cole            Valencia      Amalfitano    Jenkinson       Adrian

Mirallas        Naismith        Lukaku          Baines           Oviedo           Barry            Stones         Jagielka       Coleman           Joel

Club Badge



After each side had taken their first five penalties it was still tied at 4-4, only Naismith for Everton and Downing for the Hammers had missed. It was now down to sudden death with each player required in turn to take a kick until someone missed.


With McGeady's dismissal in normal time the Hammers were required to leave out one player to even up the numbers. The obvious choice would be the goalkeeper, however, defender James Tomkins made way for Adrian. The Spaniard insisting to Allardyce he wanted to take a penalty if it came to it.


With the shoot-out score now perched at 8-8, and all of the Everton outfield players having taken a penalty it was now the turn of Toffee's Spanish goalkeeper Joel to step up to the twelve-yard spot. Perhaps the occasion and the nerves got the better of him, as his thumped his spot-kick against the crossbar.


On a memorable and joyous evening Adrian placed the ball on the penalty spot, took a few steps back, discarded his gloves and drilled the ball into the back of the net to give the Hammers a 9-8 win and the reward of a fourth round tie against Bristol City. A game to treasure in West Ham's penultimate season at the Boleyn Ground.

Adrian Everton

How The Penalty Kicks Unfolded - Everton Took the  First

Everton Crest Adrian mobbed

Adrian is mobbed by his teammates and no one is more delighted than Stewart Downing after his penalty miss


Relive the penalty Shoot-out

Crossed Hammer outline

* Match expunged from records

net blue

4 - 5

1 - 3

net blue

1 - 3

5 - 4

net blue

3 - 4

net blue

5 - 4

net blue

12 - 13

5 - 3

Five from 1981

The date of the club’s first official League Cup shootout was also memorable for a wrong reason. It was a defeat to Reading on the evening of September 11, 2001 the date of the New York 9/11 Twin Towers tragedy.


A year later the Hammers’ spot-kickers improved as all five netted to ensure a 5-4 shoot-out win away to Chesterfield. The victorious quintet in order of their kicks were: Paolo Di Canio, Trevor Sinclair, Scott Minto, Steve Lomas and Michael Carrick.

Arguably, the Irons’ first shoot-out in serious competition was in 1988’s Simod Cup. With English clubs banned from European competition following the Heysel Stadium tragedy in 1985, the Simod Cup was introduced to help replace the void left by the withdrawal of European competition. The Simod Cup and its later replacement the Zenith Data Systems Cup ran for five seasons.

West Ham       Bristol Rovers

West Ham           Watford

West Ham          Liverpool

West Ham             Arsenal

West Ham        Blackburn Rovers

Tony Gale makes no mistake with the Hammers only strike

Paolo Chesterfield

Paolo Di Canio spot on against Chesterfield

Crossed Hammer outline

Opponents                                                                  Competition                                                                      H / A          Date              





99_12_15 WHU v. Aston Villa WC QF

West Ham           Aston Villa

The rules for settling a drawn 5-A-Side game evolved over the tournament’s life. It started with the “best of five” and if still drawn, “sudden death”. Then if still drawn after 10 penalties, it stayed as “sudden death” with the penalty spot moved back two yards. In the 1977 tournament West Ham lead by Billy Bonds beat Millwall under these rules.


By the 1990s the 5-A-Side penalties was replaced by “The shoot-out”. Designed to create additional excitement, in the ”shoot-out” the player was given five seconds to carry the ball from the half way line to shoot past the goalkeeper.

Shootout 5 a side

Clyde Best missed

Penalty spot moved back, Bonds scored & Millwall missed

Bonds scored,

Neighbour missed

Opponent                                                                                          Date                          Round  





Source: Evening Standard's tournament reports

Crossed Hammer outline Shootout FA Youth Cup

West Ham v. Nottingham Forest

Opponent                                                                            Date                                  Round  





England                     Holland

West Ham       Birkirkara (Malta)

Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller

Articles Den Haag Matchday Friday

Mark Noble scores the first penalty at the Ta'Qali Stadium against Birkirkara

No ball for Peter