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The second leg of West Ham’s European Cup Winners Cup first round tie against the Spaniards, Castilla C. de F., has become part of West Ham’s folklore and is fondly referred to as the “Ghost Match”, so called because it was played behind locked doors. Apart from a handful of club officials and administrative staff, no one else was allowed to enter the Boleyn Ground to watch the game.
This ghost game is remembered for many reasons including
the 262 official attendance is the club’s lowest for a competitive first team home match
an entertaining game with West Ham recovering from a two goal deficit to win on aggregate after extra time
a hat-trick by David Cross for the Hammers only ever hat-trick in European competition, and
the main recollection of the Hammers playing in a virtually empty stadium devoid of the usual match atmosphere.
Events Leading up to the Ghost Match
It all started on Wednesday September 17, 1980 in the away leg in Madrid. Castilla was hosting the first leg in the Bernabéu Stadium in front of 40,000.
The first leg of the tie was a disappointment for the Hammers as they lost after dominating the early play. But crowd disturbances had far greater repercussions for the club. Spanish police removed about 50 West Ham supporters for crowd disturbances from the Bernabéu Stadium and another died when he was hit by a bus outside the stadium. Soon after these events, the consensus of opinion was that West Ham could expect severe punishment from UEFA, the competition’s governing body.
Rare team sheet courtesy of Nigel Turner
MediaTeam Sheet (No programmes issued)
West Ham’s Appeal Results in Closed Door Game
Bernabéu Stadium : September 17, 1980
First Round - 1st leg
Castilla C. de F. 3 - 1 West Ham United
Upton Park : October 1, 1980
First Round - 2nd leg
West Ham United 5 - 1 Castilla C. de F.
WEST HAM LEAD FOR 60 MINUTES, THEN DISASTER
UPTON PARK’S GHOST MATCH
SPECIAL SOUVENIR ISSUE
Although the general public could not be admitted to the match, a special OFFICIAL 20-page edition of "Hammer" was produced. The number of copies available were limited, and quickly became a "collector's item" because of the special circumstances surrounding the match
RARE Match Ticket: This one was issued to club secretary Eddie Chapman
Within five days of the game UEFA announced West Ham’s punishment. The time line below summarises the events between the first and the second legs of this first round tie against Castilla. This outlines how West Ham appealed UEFA’s original sentence and gained a revised punishment which the club considered more acceptable. The initial fine and order to play more than 300km from London was rescinded. Instead UEFA’s disciplinary committee ruled that the second leg, two weeks after the first, had to played behind Upton Park’s closed doors with no spectators.
Hammers' fans show the flag at the
UEFA Ruling September 1980
West Ham United v. Castilla C. de F.
European Cup Winners Cup 1st Round
Castilla C de F. 3-1 West Ham
removed from stadium
West Ham fined £7,750 & ordered to play next 2 European “home” matches 187 miles from London
West Ham United
accept Sunderland’s offer to play 2nd leg at
Planning for game
West Ham 5-1 Castilla C de F.
West Ham United
win 6-4 on aggregate
West Ham appeal
Fine & ban lifted.
West Ham allowed to play at home behind "Closed Doors"
Wednesday 17th September
Monday 22nd September
Tuesday 23rd September
Friday 26th September
Wednesday 1st October
Goals: 0-1, Cross (17'); 1-1, Paco (64'); 2-1, Balin (71'); 3-1, Cidón (76')
Castilla C. de F.
(Chendo, 64') Juanito
(Blanco, 81') Cidon
West Ham United
Devonshire (Brush, 86')
Morgan (Barnes, 73')
Billy Bonds and Castilla captain Bernal shake hands before the kick-off
Castilla C. de F.
Paco (Ramirez, 106')
Cidon (Blanco, 46')
West Ham United
(Brush, 106') Holland
(Morgan, 91') Goddard
Goals: 1-0, Pike (19'); 2-0, Cross (30'); 3-0, Goddard (40'); 3-1, Bernal (56'); 4-1, Cross (103'); 5-1, Cross (120')
The first leg’s match typified West Ham. The Hammers took the lead after 18 minutes through a Devonshire Brooking interchange and Brooking’s curling far post centre was nodded home by David Cross. Despite dominating the first half with a further four good chances, and holding onto their one goal advantage for over an hour, it all went horribly wrong in a second half 12 minute spell.
No goals conceded in previous 9 hours –
then three in 12 minutes
By the 75th minute West Ham were losing 3-1. Two of the goals were courtesy of poor back passes by Billy Bonds and Geoff Pike. In the space of 12 minutes the Hammers defence had leaked three goals when in their previous six Division Two and League Cup games they hadn’t conceded a single goal!
The game was not violent though Alan Devonshire and Nicky Morgan were booked.
Bobby Barnes’ Baptism of Fire
The Bernebéu game was the beginning of a memorable week for seventeen year old youth team player, Bobby Barnes. He came on as a second half substitute for Nicky Morgan to make his first team debut. On the following Saturday Bobby made his league debut in the Division Two game at home against Watford and marked it with a 67th minute goal in the 3-2 victory.
By the end of the evening, the team faced a two goal deficit and the uncertainty of an expected draconian UEFA punishment.
Competitive soccer at European level returned to Upton Park after an absence of over four years.
David Cross stoops to glide home his header
Cross signals his goal to give Hammers the lead
Before the arrangements for the second leg were finalised many, many column inches in the national media speculated on of the outcome of West Ham’s appeal. Even The Times gave the appeal outcome front page coverage. But playing at home behind closed doors was considered a better option than playing 300km (187 miles) away from London.
Proposals to broadcast the match ‘live’ to local cinemas or another ground were overruled as UEFA explained that the ‘behind closed doors’ meant no fans would be able to watch the game ‘live’. Though the BBC and London Broadcasting Company were permitted to broadcast the second half commentary ‘live’ on radio.
Images of the deserted Boleyn Ground captured the ghost like atmosphere for this second leg affair.
The official attendance for the behind closed doors fixture was 262. This included the players,
match officials, administrative staff, and media, and qualifies as the lowest-ever figure
for a First Team fixture at Upton Park.
For the 262 at the stadium they were either part of or witnessed a great turnaround by the Hammers. The two goal deficit was turned into a 5-1 victory on the night and a 6-4 aggregate win.
Silence is Golden
The game was so quiet that Phil Parkes was able to listen to some of the second half commentary on a radio someone had bought into the ground! The comment was made that with no crowd to play to, the players got on with playing the game without any acting or histrionics over injuries. After the scoring of goals there was little hugging or dramatic gestures. When David Cross scored the 3rd goal of his hat-trick it was so quiet he had to ask the referee if it was a goal! There was never any hint of trouble on the pitch and no players were booked.
The Ghost Match goals were as follows:
West Ham 5-1 Castilla
The tie was sealed with a fifth as David Cross completed his hat-trick with a minute to go.
In the following round of the European Cup Winners Cup West Ham faced the Romanian side, Politehnica Timisoara. A 4-0 home win in the tie’s first leg gave the Hammers a sufficient buffer to win the tie 4-1 on aggregate. But in the quarter final the Hammers met their match in the Russian side Dinamo Tbilisi. The Russians gave West Ham a football lesson with their 4-1 first leg victory at Upton Park. Though the Hammers salvaged some pride by winning the away leg 1-0 in front of an 80,000 crowd and the satisfaction that they were beaten by the best team in the competition. Dinamo Tbilisi progressed to eventually win the European Cup Winners Cup that season.
Youth on the Substitute’s Bench
For several of the season’s ECWC ties West Ham included young players waiting for their first team debuts. Gary Moseley, Bobby Barnes, George Cowie and Ray Houghton all warmed the bench in one or more of the season’s ECWC ties.
Bobby Barnes was the most fortunate when he came off the bench in Madrid to make his first team debut. Gary Moseley, a goalkeeper, was on the bench for the two Castilla games and the home leg against the Politehnica Timisoara. With Bobby Ferguson injured, Gary stepped up as the replacement goalkeeper. This turned out to be the closest Gary got to playing for the first team in a competitive match.
George Cowie was on the bench for the two ties against Politehnica Timisoara but did not get onto the pitch. He had to wait until the end of the following season in April 1982 before he made his competitive first team debut. Similarly, Ray Houghton was one of the unused subs for the away tie against Dynamo Tbilisi. Though later in Ray’s career he would enjoy European competition with Liverpool.
To view the footage of the
Ghost Match goals
click the Picture
Newspaper coverage courtesy of Richard Miller
This European Cup Winners Cup tie will always be firstly remembered for the 1st legs crowd disturbances and the subsequent “Ghost Match”. But both legs of the tie were two exciting games of football. A total of 10 goals were scored with West Ham the triumphant winners 6-4 on aggregate. A summary of how the two legs of the cup tie unravelled on the pitch are described below.
Castilla C. de F. whose full name is Real Madrid Castilla Club de Fútbol is primarily a feeder club to the Spanish giants, Real Madrid.
Progress in Romania but Exit in Russia
West Ham 2-0 Castilla
By the 30th minute West Ham were level on aggregate and leading on the away goal count. Brooking floated a free kick for David Cross to head home. A similar move to that in the Bernabéu two weeks earlier.
West Ham 1-0 Castilla
First goal after 19 minutes followed from Pat Holland beating three Castilla players to roll the ball back to Geoff Pike who thumped it from 25 yards into the net after 19mins
West Ham 3-0 Castilla
Five minutes prior to half time the Hammers took an aggregate lead when Cross knocked the ball back for Paul Goddard to score.
West Ham 3-1 Castilla
Similar to the first leg, West Ham lost concentration in the second half and allowed Castilla to get back into the tie with possibly the best goal of the evening. In the 56th minute Castilla’s captain, Bernal, fired a 35 yard corker into the net. This took the score on the night to 3-1 and 4-4 on aggregate. As away goals were identical the game went to 30 minutes of extra time.
West Ham 4-1 Castilla
The move that bought West Ham’s fourth of the evening was started by Nicky Morgan and ended with Cross heading his second of the game.
The "Ghost Match"
Photograph taken from the North Bank
Dinamo Tbilisi - 1981 European Cup Winners Cup