Since the FA Cup began life way back in the 1871/72 season, only 44 clubs have won the famous tournament. Of those, only 17 sides have won the cup three times or more. One of those clubs is West Ham United, who have gone all the way in this competition on three occasions, although it’s been a fair while since they’ve made it to an FA Cup final, let alone lifted the trophy.
Still, from a historical perspective, West Ham are more successful in the FA Cup than most teams in the land. In this article, we’ll explain when they’ve won it, the times they just missed out and the occasions on which they made a right hash of their cup runs.
When Did West Ham United Last Win the FA Cup?
We have to look all the way back to 1980 for the last time West Ham won the FA Cup. Despite having some big-name players at the time, the Hammers were playing in the second tier of English football back then, having been relegated at the end of the 1977/78 campaign. That didn’t stop John Lyall’s men from getting the better of Aston Villa in the quarters and Everton in the semis.
West Ham met Arsenal in the final and a Hammers side that included the likes of Trevor Brooking, Frank Lampard (Sr) and Billy Bonds edged a 1-0 victory thanks to an early goal from Brooking. It was their third and – to date – last FA Cup triumph.
FA Cup Finals
West Ham are largely seen as a relatively big club and are often compared with the likes of Everton, Aston Villa and Newcastle: not quite one of the most successful teams in the land, but perhaps in the next tier down. But such an assessment is arguably being rather generous to the Hammers, at least where the FA Cup is concerned. West Ham have appeared in only five FA Cup finals over the years, which is significantly fewer than the likes of Everton (13), Newcastle (13) or Aston Villa (11).
Even Bolton Wanderers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End have appeared in more cup finals. Still, five is five more than most football clubs manage, and here are the details of West Ham’s finals.
|2006||Liverpool||Lost||3-3 (AET and 3-1 on penalties)|
|1964||Preston North End||Won||3-2|
Stage of Elimination
As with many of England’s bigger clubs, it should be remembered that West Ham have only entered the competition at the third-round stage for most of their history. As such, the fact that more than half of the Hammers’ cup runs have ended at the third or fourth round doesn’t make brilliant reading for their fans.
Having said that, making it to the quarters or beyond in almost 20% of your FA Cups is no mean feat. Given that West Ham have not really been on the same level as the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool or the Manchester Clubs for many decades, their FA Cup record is satisfactory at least.
|Stage||Number of Times||Percentage|
As the percentages are rounded to the nearest whole percentage point, the total percentage is not exactly 100%. Note that the FA Cup format has changed subtly over the years, specifically in terms of when the higher-echelon sides enter the tournament.
Times West Ham United Won the FA Cup
We’ve touched on West Ham’s most recent cup win above, but we’ll go into a little more detail here and we’ll also look back at the other couple of times they managed to lift the cup.
Last Significant Silverware – 1980
West Ham were crowned champions of the Second Division at the end of the 1980/81 season and they even landed the Intertoto Cup in 1991 (albeit, rather strangely, being one of three winners alongside Montpellier and Juventus). But by most measures, the 1980 FA Cup was the last real piece of silverware West Ham have won.
As mentioned above, West Ham’s side at the time contained a few household names, most notably club legend Trevor Brooking who played more than 500 times for the Hammers. As they’d done many times before, West Ham almost stumbled at the first hurdle as they needed a replay to get past West Brom in the third round. They only edged past local underdogs Orient 3-2 in the fourth round, but made easier work of things in the fifth, beating Swansea 2-0.
After a 1-0 victory over Villa in the quarters, West Ham once again had to rely on a replay when they initially drew 1-1 with Everton. The replay went to extra-time too and eventually Frank Lampard’s late, late goal was all that separated the sides and sent the Hammers to Wembley. As said, they got the better of Arsenal that day, Brooking scoring the only goal of the game in the 13th minute.
Lyall Makes Early Mark… As Does Taylor – 1975
It was John Lyall’s first season in charge of West Ham after he took over from future England boss Ron Greenwood. After a playing career that had been cut short when aged just 23, Lyall was determined to make his mark in coaching and he certainly did that at West Ham when he led his side to their first trophy for a decade at the first time of asking.
The core of the team that won the cup five years after this was already present in the side, namely Billy Bonds, Frank Lampard Sr and Trevor Brooking. And though the Hammers hadn’t been performing brilliantly in the league, they seemed to be able to raise their game in the cup this season. They overcame Southampton 2-1 away in the third round but then needed a replay to get the better of Swindon in round four.
Never seeming to make things too easy for themselves, West Ham edged it against fellow London side QPR in the fifth round before a more assured display in the quarters, two goals from Alan Taylor earning his side a 2-0 victory over Arsenal. It was only Taylor’s fifth game for the club after Lyall signed him for a mammoth fee of £40,000 from Rochdale a month earlier.
In the semis, West Ham faced Ipswich Town at Villa Park. The game ended 0-0 and went to a replay. After a Billy Jennings own goal in the opening minute, the Hammers had to dig deep to come back. But come back they did, thanks to that man Taylor who bagged another brace to send his side into the final.
If there had been online betting firms around in 1975, it’s fair to presume there would have been plenty of money going on Taylor bagging a brace in the final too. Surely he couldn’t… but he did! West Ham faced Fulham and, lo and behold, Taylor scored in the 60th and 64th minute to earn his side the 2-0 victory. Given that Taylor was only eligible to play because he was injured when Rochdale played in the earlier rounds before his transfer (otherwise he would have been cup-tied) and that he’d been playing in the fourth tier of English football just a few months earlier, this has to go down as one of the greatest FA Cup scoring exploits of all time nd a brilliant transfer by the Hammers.
Future World Cup Heroes Rewarded – 1964
Geoff Hurst will always have had fond memories of Wembley from his 1966 exploits, but he got his first significant goal at the famous stadium in the 1964 FA Cup final. Ron Greenwood was the man in charge at West Ham and as well as Hurst, a certain Bobby Moore was proving his worth for the Hammers at the time.
On the road to Wembley, West Ham beat Charlton 3-0 in the third round, got past Leyton Orient after a replay in the fourth round and cruised past Swindon 3-1 in the fifth. Things were closer in the quarters when the Hammers beat Burnley 3-2. Then in the semis, they faced a Manchester United side managed by Matt Busby and which featured Bobby Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Denis Law and George Best. The Hammers got the 3-1 victory though thanks to a brace from Ronnie Boyce and one from Hurst.
In the final, West Ham faced Preston North End, who had future Everton boss Howard Kendall playing for them. For the second time in the competition, West Ham beat a Lancastrian side 3-2, Boyce, John Sissons and Hurst scoring the goals. This was West Ham’s first FA Cup, having lost in the final back in 1923, and their first significant silverware. They followed up well though when they beat 1860 Munich the following season to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
West Ham United’s Worst Upsets
Like any club of West Ham’s stature, there have been more bad days than good in the FA Cup over the years. But the following couple of occasions stand out as the worst they’ve experienced. So let’s take a look at when lower league Davids conquered the (relative) Goliath of West Ham United.
Wrexham 1-0 West Ham United (In Second Replay) – FA Cup Third Round 1981
As detailed above, West Ham won the FA Cup in 1980 and they got their defence of the famous trophy underway with a third-round tie against Welsh side Wrexham. The Dragons were plying their trade in the second tier at the time and by the 1983/84 season they’d be in the Fourth Division after consecutive relegations, so they were clearly a side on the decline when they faced the Hammers.
That didn’t stop them from giving as good as they got against the top flight side. They drew the first game 1-1 and the replay ended 0-0. In the second replay (ah, those were the days), there was still little to split the sides and the game once more ended 0-0 after 90 minutes. It went to extra time and eventually the tie was settled by a Dixie McNeil strike in the 104th minute. The holders were out in one of the biggest FA Cup upsets ever!
Mansfield Town 3-0 West Ham United – FA Cup Fifth Round 1969
Just five years after winning their first FA Cup, West Ham suffered what is arguably their most shocking FA Cup defeat. The team was very good at the time, featuring World Cup winners Hurst and Moore, among others, and they were an established mid-table top-flight side. So when they drew Third Division side Mansfield Town in the fifth round of the cup in the 1968/69 season, few people imagined there’d be an upset on the cards.
As it turned out, it wasn’t just an upset, it was a comprehensive victory for the relative minnows as the home side won 3-0. Goals from Dudley Roberts, Ray Keeley and Nick Sharke sent the 21,000 fans (or most of them at least) into raptures and put the Stags into the sixth round of the cup the first (and so far only) time. The Hammers weren’t at the races and were well and truly, and deservedly, beaten.