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Think of 1965’s European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph and Alan Sealey’s name springs to mind. His two final goals have guaranteed him a place in West Ham United’s history. As for many of that 1965 winning XI the May 1965 final was undoubtedly the pinnacle of Sealey’s career.
The Wembley final was a springboard for some of the victorious XI to progress to greater achievements but not in Alan’s case.
Just over two years later and after a further four competitive first team appearances he left West Ham for a Division Three club.
So what happened in those two intervening years to cause the downward spiral in his West Ham playing career?
And what about the rest of his time at Upton Park?
This tribute runs through the eight seasons his West Ham career touched. After transferring from east London neighbours, Leyton Orient, to West Ham in March 1961 Alan made 128 league and cup appearances for the Hammers netting 26 goals in his six year stay.
Born: Hampton, Middlesex April 22, 1942 Alan died February 4, 1996 aged 53.
Joins West Ham United on Transfer Deadline Day
Centre forward Sealey joined the Hammers as an eighteen year old and in slightly unusual circumstances. A local lad living in Canning Town, he was first discovered by Leyton Orient scouts playing in the Forest Sunday League as a member of the Memorial Sports F.C. who played their home matches at the Hammers' former home Memorial Grounds, West Ham.
Sealey impressed in the O's youth trial matches and he signed professional forms shortly afterwards aged 17. He made his league debut in the centre-forward birth and on a couple of occasions he also filled an inside-forward role.
After just four league appearances for the Brisbane Road club and scoring a single goal he left in a straight exchange deal on the transfer deadline date, March 16, 1961. The other half of the exchange deal saw Dave Dunmore move the opposite way. Another unusual aspect of the transfer was that he was signed by the West Ham board and not the manager. This was because the transfer happened in the short window between manager Ted Fenton leaving and Ron Greenwood joining the club.
Two weeks after signing, Sealey made a scoring claret and blue debut in a Football Combination game for the reserves against Cardiff City Reserves at Ninian Park on Saturday April 1st, 1961. Ron Boyce scored a brace with Alan taking the third in a 3-0 win.
It is worth noting the reserve team line-up that afternoon as it included four players who four years later would figure in the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup campaign:
The line-up at Ninian Park, Cardiff
Peter Reader, Harry Cripps, Jack Burkett, Eddie Bovington, Bill Lansdowne, Martin Peters , Derek Woodley, Ron Boyce, Alan Sealey, Andy Smillie, Tony Scott
Division One League Debut
Two days after the scoring reserve team bow Alan was drafted in for his first team debut against Leicester City at Filbert Street on Monday April 3, 1961.
The match report in the season’s last first team West Ham programme described his performance as “Our debutant centre forward did quite well but it was his opposite number who got the star rating on the afternoon’s play”.
Leicester’s Hugh McIlmoyle who was also making his initial appearance in City’s first team, grabbed the headlines by scoring in Leicester City’s 5-1 victory. West Ham’s solitary replay was Joe Kirkup’s first goal for the Hammers.
The team at Filbert Street included Ron Boyce and Tony Scott from Sealey’s reserve team debut:
Sealey played in the season’s remaining six Division One games scoring his first claret and blue league goal in his third appearance on April 15, 1961 in the home 1-1 draw with Manchester City.
Alan Sealey signed debut programme
1961-62 Eleven Division One Goals
The pre-season Upton Park friendly against Charlton Athletic gave an early glimpse of Alan’s goal scoring form when he scored the Hammers third in the 4-3 win.
The club’s and his season started well as after 14 league games the Hammers were lying in 2nd place in Division One.
The pairing of Sealey and John Dick worked well and after 18 league matches they had notched 10 and 12 goals respectively. Sealey’s 10 included his first brace in the 5-3 away win over Manchester City. However, in his other 14 league appearances this season the goals dried up as he only managed to add one more to take his season’s total to 11.
Reserve for FA XI
Sealey’s early goal scoring form earned him a representative honour when he was selected as reserve for the FA XI which opposed the RAF at Peterborough on Wednesday October 4, 1961.
Byrne’s Arrival in March
Only 14 starts in the season’s remaining 24 games was down to increasing completion for the centre forward spot.
In an attempt to maintain the season’s encouraging start, manager, Ron Greenwood tried to bolster the squad with a couple of centre forward signings.
First Ron Tindall joined from Chelsea in November and four months later Greenwood made what in subsequent seasons would proved to be an inspired piece of transfer activity when signing Johnny Byrne from third division side Crystal Palace.
Close Season Tour of Africa
1962-63 Two Doubles
The highlight of the season was reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals. After defeating Everton in the 5th round the Hammers fell at the next hurdle, away to Liverpool. Alan donned the centre forward’s shirt in each of the five ties but without adding to the team’s total of four FA Cup goals.
Recent signing Johnny Byrne was also struggling to find the net and top goal scoring responsibilities were picked up by Geoff Hurst in his successful switch from half-back to forward. By now Alan was playing a wider role which restricted him to just six goals in his 26 Division One appearances. On a couple of occasions he came close to a hat-trick in scoring doubles.
Both goal doubles were netted in home wins towards the end of season. The first on April 13, 1963 with both nets in the 2-0 victory over Leicester City, and the second on the last day of the season on May 18 in the 6-1 thrashing of Manchester City.
A Goal in Victory over First Vienna
In season 1962-63 a year after the Malmo friendly, West Ham again hosted a friendly against international club opposition, and again the Hammers scored four. On Tuesday October 30th 1962 First Vienna visited Upton Park. A crowd of 12,471 watched the Hammers cruise to victory. Despite the Austrians taking the lead, two goals from Hurst and single strikes from Sealey and Musgrove sealed a 4-1 victory.
Summer 1963 USA International Tournament Victory
Days after the end of the Football League season the Hammers embarked on a summer tour of the USA. Participation in the International Soccer League was a great success as it helped lay the foundations for the forthcoming cup campaign triumphs.
Alan participated in all of the USA championship games scoring a solitary goal in the tournament’s second match against Mantova of Italy.
1963-64 No FA Cup Glory for Sealey
In the season West Ham won the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history, Alan faced competition from Peter Brabrook and John Sissons for the wing places.
While Sealey played in 18 league matches and four of the League Cup ties he didn’t figure in the FA Cup campaign.
1964-65 European Cup Winners’ Cup Triumph
In this season Sealey played in 21 league (2 goals) and two FA Cup matches. In the European ties leading up to the Wembley final he had appeared in six of the eight matches scoring a single goal, nothing spectacular.
His previous goal for the first team was nearly four months earlier on February 6 in a league game at Bramall Lane against Sheffield United. In betting terms the odds for Sealey to score once let alone twice would have been long.
To defy the odds Alan plays in the Wembley final against TSV Munchen 1860 and takes his chances to score his fourth and fifth goals of the season. His brace in a second half two minute spell proved the wisdom of his signing four years earlier. A fairy tale story for a player who was no longer a cert for a first team place.
Missed Penalty but Another Goal beats the Germans
The team listed below for this second TSV Munchen 1860 game included three changes from the Wembley XI:
Jim Standen, John Bond (Alan Sealey), Jack Burkett, Eddie Bovington, Ken Brown, Bobby Moore, Peter Brabrook, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Ron Boyce, John Sissons
As winners of the ECWC West Ham were in great demand for prestigious friendlies and for a second short tour ahead of the 1965-66 campaign visited Germany.
In the tour’s third game against Eintracht Frankfurt the Hammers won 2-1 at the Wald Stadion in front of 25,000 thanks again to a winner from Sealey.
1965-66 From Hero to Broken Leg
In the space of three months Sealey’s career peaked with the ECWC triumph and then plummeted. He went from hero to sidelined with a broken leg in those three months. Alan’s pre-season preparations were going smoothly with him showing good form in the summer USA and Germany tours’ games. But less than a week before the 1965-66 season’s opening Division One fixture, disaster struck! Alan broke his leg.
1966-67 Last West Ham First Team Appearances
Sealey’s eventual return to first team colours was in the Division One game on Saturday December 3, 1966 in the 3-0 home win over West Bromwich Albion. In John Sisson’s absence Sealey took over the left wing place. He then had to wait seven weeks for his next Division One appearance in another 3-0 home win this time over Sheffield Wednesday.
February’s Friendly Win over Kilmarnock
Before Alan’s final two league appearances for the Hammers he played in another Upton Park friendly against “foreign” opposition.
As part of manager Ron Greenwood’s plan to give all of his squad first team opportunities, he fielded several fringe players in the Friday February 17, 1967 friendly against the Scottish Division One side, Kilmarnock.
Sealey along with Trevor Dawkins, George Andrew and Peter Bennett were given an all too infrequent first team opportunity. Two Geoff Hurst goals sealed a 2-0 win. As an aside the opposing goalkeeper that evening was Bobby Ferguson who would join the Hammers in five months time.
But the clock on Alan’s West Ham career was running down fast. New competition for the right wing place from the up and coming Harry Redknapp meant Alan’s first team chances were limited.
Did you know.........
while still a member of West Ham’s playing staff Alan Sealey guested for Crystal Palace in a friendly?
On Wednesday April 5, 1967 Crystal Palace visited the continent to play a friendly against the French side Metz. In front of an 8,000 crowd the Glaziers won 3-1 with recent re-signing and former Hammer Johnny Byrne grabbing a brace. Palace were looking for a new striker and Alan was on trial. He didn’t join and soon returned to West Ham to play in the season’s final two Division One fixtures against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City.
Final Claret & Blue Game
Just over two years after the European Cup Winners' Cup triumph Alan donned a claret and blue shirt for the last time on Saturday September 23, 1967 for the reserves.
His colleagues that afternoon for the Football Combination home defeat to Ipswich Town Reserves were: Colin Mackleworth, Jack Burkett, Bill Kitchener, Paul Heffer, Dave Bickles, Bobby Howe, Doug Eadie, Alan Sealey, Trevor Hartley, Peter Bennett, David Llewelyn
1967-68 September Transfer to Plymouth Argyle
After making three appearances for the Football Combination side and scoring a single goal in 1967-68, Alan was transferred to Division Three club Plymouth Argyle. On Saturday September 30, 1967 he signed for and on the same day played for The Pilgrims against Charlton Athletic.
Sealey’s spell in the west country turned out to be very short. After four league appearances he moved back to east London to continue his playing career with Romford.
After his playing days had finished he stayed in the game for a while with coaching roles including a spell at Cardiff City under manager and former Hammer, Jimmy Andrews.
Eight Seasons with West Ham
After signing for the Hammers in the exchange deal involving Dave Dunmore back in March 1961 his claret and blue career straddled eight seasons. On reflection the club can look back and consider the March 1961 transfer activity as a significant factor in the Hammers' successful period of the mid 1960s.
Many claret and blue forwards have scored more goals than Sealey, but none can claim to have scored goals more crucial than his brace on that emotional Wednesday evening at Wembley Stadium May 19, 1965.
Date of Birth:
April 22, 1942
8 FA Cup
6 League Cup
7 European Cup Winners' Cup
1 League Cup
3 European Cup Winners' Cup
Minutes of Board Meeting held Tuesday 3rd October 1961
Shortly after the season closed Sealey joined the West Ham party which undertook an adventurous six game tour of Africa. In this June tour of Nyasaland, Southern Rhodesia and Ghana Alan appeared in four matches netting three goals. He scored a single goal in the 4-0 win over Nyasaland on June 6 and a week later improved with a double in the 3-0 victory over Southern Rhodesia.
West Ham United's close-season tour to Africa will be the subject of a future article
28 November 1964
CHELSEA 0 - 3 WEST HAM UNITED (Sealey, Peters, Hurst)
Alan Sealey (top left) watches Bobby Moore sip champagne from the ISL Play-off trophy
A disappointing season for Sealey though he could claim to be one of a select band of Hammers to have scored in a FA Cup / League Cup semi-final. One of his three first team goals this season was in the League Cup semi-final 1st leg 4-3 home defeat to Leicester City.
ALAN SEALEY'S SCRAPBOOK
Walthamstow Cricket Club
Centenary Year 1962
Back row : Monty Wood (Umpire), Geoff Sherman, Alan Stephenson, Frank Rist, Del Steward, Fred Vincent, Don Lampitt.
Front row : Dennis Sayers, Alan Sealey, Johnny Welsh, Barry Gymer, Roy Fisher.
Mr. and Mrs. Alan Sealey with the European Cup Winners Cup
Prior to Wednesday May 19, 1965 the season had not been particularly special for the likeable striker. But as it turned out this is the season Alan Sealey will always be remembered for by West Ham fans.
Standing: Coach Alan Sealey back row left
Seated: Clive Charle 2nd left and Jimmy Andrews centre
Back in England he was in the first XI which played its last pre-season friendly a week before the league season commenced.
On Saturday August 14, 1965 he was a member of the team which beat Crystal Palace 2-1 in a friendly at the unusual venue of the Crystal Palace Recreational Centre. This would prove to be Alan’s last first team outing for 16 months.
In the week following the win over Crystal Palace, in an impromptu game of cricket during a lunch break at a Chadwell Heath training session, Alan ran into a bench breaking his leg in two places.
This freak accident put him out of action for the best part of five months until he resumed playing with several appearances for the thirds in the Metropolitan League, and later the Football Combination side.
His first game of the 1965-66 season was on Saturday January 29, 1966 in the Metropolitan League match at Chadwell Heath against Tottenham Hotspur “A”. Despite the “A” team including two members of the winning 1965 ECWC team, Sealey and Brian Dear, the “A” team lost 4-1:
Dickie, Presland, Kitchener, Deadman, Andrew, James, Clements P., Miller, Smith, Dear, Sealey.
Alan Sealey and Brian Dear duelling with their crutches
His final two first team appearances were in the 1966-67 season’s last two Division One matches. A home defeat at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur and a draw against Manchester City in the season’s last two fixtures were Alan’s final two first team games.
So in season 1966-67 Alan made his final four West Ham league appearances wearing four different shirt numbers. The one number he didn’t wear was the centre forward’s, the position he originally filled when he joined the club six years earlier.
The team against Manchester City at Upton Park, a game which also saw Dave Bickles’ and Doug Eadie’s final first team claret and blue appearance was:
Jim Standen, John Charles, Bill Kitchener, Martin Peters, Dave Bickles, Bobby Moore, Alan Sealey, Ron Boyce, Trevor Hartley, Geoff Hurst, Doug Eadie
Standing: Ron Boyce, Alan Sealey, Jack Burkett, Bobby Moore,
Ken Brown, Brian Dear, Geoff Hurst
Kneeling: Joe Kirkup and Martin Peters
Click the Link Below
to view the
European Cup Winners' Cup
50th Anniversary Article
Goal in Malmo FF Friendly
Back in the 1960s clubs typically played several friendlies throughout the season and West Ham were no exception. On October 30, 1961 the Swedish side Malmo FF visited Upton Park only to meet the full strike force of the Hammers. A clean sheet and goals from John Dick (2), Tony Scott and Alan ensured West Ham had a comfortable evening.
In the friendly against the Swedes Sealey wore the number seven shirt for the first time as a predecessor to a more permanent move to more of a right wing role.
West Ham players
Sealey, Moore, Boyce and Hurst parade the ECWC
West Ham accepted an invitation to return to the USA to participate in the American International League Championship. Though their results were disappointing compared with 1963’s. Less than a month after winning the ECWC West Ham faced TSV Munich 1860 in their second group game on Sunday June 20.
Again Alan turned out to be the hero as he came on as substitute to head home the winner in the 2-1 win. His winning header atoned for a penalty he missed soon after coming on as substitute.
Back row: Hurst, Standen, Peters, Brabrook, Sealey, Bovington
Front row: Dear, Sissons, Boyce and Brown
Images courtesy of West Ham United FC, Albert York, Newham Recorder, Walthamstow Cricket Club / Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller