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The Watney Cup 1973 ...

Watney’s Red Barrel and Watney’s Party Seven!  Watney’s was perhaps the most well known beer brewer in the 1960s and 1970s. But the brand name, Watney, is also a reminder of when Watney Mann sponsored a football cup competition that ran for a few seasons in the early 1970s and one in which West Ham played.

by Roger Hillier

1970 Derby County          


1971 Colchester United  


1972 Bristol Rovers        


1973 Stoke City          

1973’s Watney Cup

West Ham qualified for 1973’s competition by virtue of their 67 league goals scored in 1972-73. Only Liverpool (72) and Leeds United (71) scored more but they were ineligible for the Watney Cup due to their qualification for European football.


Participants in the Watney Cup that year.

Stoke City, West Ham United (First Division);

Bristol City, Hull City (Second Division);

Bristol Rovers, Plymouth Argyle (Third Division);

Mansfield Town, Peterborough United (Fourth Division



For the 1st round the Hammers were drawn to play the holders, third division Bristol Rovers, at their Eastville Stadium. Going into the tournament West Ham would probably have been the bookies favourite but the Hammers stay in the competition turned out to be very short.


Rovers and Hammers 1-1 after 90 minutes

The BBC had their Match of the Day cameras in situ to record a disappointing afternoon for the Hammers. In a game in which Bristol Rovers created more chances than the Hammers, a 31st minute Bruce Bannister header gave the Rovers the lead. Ted MacDougall’s 38th minute equaliser was described as an “opportunist one” following sloppy play by the Rovers. After 90 minutes the score remained 1-1 and with no extra time, it was straight into a penalty shoot out. Five spot kicks apiece.

Unfortunately, the official match programme did not notify this fact, and many of the near 20,000 attendance were expecting extra time to be played.


The programme for the game was compiled by the sponsors, Watneys, and cost 10 pence. Today this programme is readily available on eBay for around £2.

Roll out

Red Barrel

73_08_11 Bristol Rovers v. WHU Watney Cup 73_08_11 Bristol Rovers v. WHU Ticket Opener2

Bobby Ferguson

John McDowell (Kevin Lock 70.)

Frank Lampard

Billy Bonds

Tommy Taylor

Bobby Moore

Ted MacDougall

Trevor Brooking

Bryan Robson

Pat Holland

Johnny Ayris (Dudley Tyler 60.)


Eastville : August 11, 1973

Bristol Rovers 1 - 1 West Ham United

Penalty Shoot Out – Bristol Rovers 5-4 West Ham

Opener2 Watney Draw

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 final took place at the home ground of one of the finalists, rather than a neutral venue.


The competition was held for four consecutive years before being discontinued. The four winners were:

Watney chief executive and West Ham secretary

Reg Pratt (right) at the draw

Watney Robson 01

"Pop" Robson missed both attempts for the Hammers’

Bryan "Pop" Robson successfully converted both penalties awarded to West Ham in the previous 1972-73 season. However on this occasion the Hammers striker was not so fortunate. The first penalty in the shoot-out was saved by the Bristol Rovers keeper, Jim Eadie, who was judged to have moved before the ball was kicked so the referee ordered it to be retaken. Despite another chance, "Pop" missed his second attempt. Needless to say, it gave the Bristolians a margin they never relinquished and went on to successfully convert all five of their kicks.


West Ham’s other four spot-kicks were all successfully dispatched past Rovers Jim Eadie. The Hammers’ four successfully penalty takers that afternoon were: Billy Bonds, Trevor Brooking, Tommy Taylor and Ted MacDougall.


This penalty shoot out was the first in West Ham’s history.

Geoff Hurst in Stoke City’s Winning Watney Cup Final Team


After beating the Hammers, Bristol Rovers succumbed to Hull City in the semi-final. Hull City progressed to the final at the Victoria Ground where Stoke City clinched a 2-0 victory. Despite a poor performance in this short lived competition, West Ham had a link to the 1973 Watney Cup final.  Ex-Hammer Geoff Hurst was a member of the winning Stoke City team. Hurst played in all three of Stoke’s Watney Cup games and scored single goals in their early round wins over Plymouth Argyle and Bristol City.

Watney Derby Watney Colchester Watney Bristol Rovers

1970 Derby County

1971 Colchester United

1972 Bristol Rovers

Watney Invitation Cup Winners

4-1  Manchester United


4-4  West Bromwich Albion (Colchester Utd 4-3 pens)


0-0  Sheffield United (Bristol Rovers 7-6 pens)


2-0  Hull City

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