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One of only 200 travelling supporters the last time West Ham tasted victory over Liverpool at Anfield back in September 1963.
During the intervening years Richard has travelled more in hope than expectation but this time it was different. Having made the latest journey north from his home in Christchurch, Dorset, with his 15-year-old grandson Kieran, they were part of Slaven Bilic's 3,000 claret-and-blue-army to descend on the red-half of Merseyside and witnessed the Hammers first Anfield win in 52 years.
Not many can lay claim to have seen both victories, in fact Richard might be the only one?
A Truly Unforgettable Day at Anfield
I have supported West Ham United for more than 60 years during which time I have seen more than 1700 of their first team games and regard myself as being very fortunate to have seen so many marvellous matches.
One of my cherished memories has always been that I was at Anfield on September 14, 1963 amongst the crowd of more than 45,000 when goals from Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters secured a famous victory for the Hammers, although we didn’t know it at the time it was on a ground where they would not be victorious for over half a century.
I had just celebrated my 17th birthday on 11th September 1963 and despite the passage of nearly 52 years I still have vivid memories from that day. It was the second time my father, also an ardent supporter and myself had visited Anfield. Our very first visit had been a few months earlier in March 1963 when the Hammers were very unfortunate to lose a 6th Round FA Cup tie to a solitary goal from Roger Hunt nine minutes from time.
Football League Division I
Liverpool 1 - 2 West Ham United
WEST HAM UNITED:
On 14th September 1963 I travelled with my father from our home in Ilford on the "Football Excursion" from London St. Pancras at 8 o'clock via Manchester Central to Liverpool Lime Street, arriving at 1.15pm. From Lime Street Station, all the arriving Hammers supporters caught a bus to Anfield.
British Railways were only prepared to allow 75 "Football Excursion" tickets. The return fare was 40 shillings (£2). However there were about 200 West Ham supporters who travelled to the game as the Supporters Club organised two coaches from Upton Park to Liverpool.
Arriving at the ground I purchased a match programme (4d). Admission to the ground was 3 shillings (standing) with seats costing from 7 shillings and six pence to nine shillings. Prior to the kick off at all away games my father and myself always stood outside the players entrance with a small group of fellow West Ham supporters.
In those days, captain Bobby Moore would often come outside and talk to the West Ham supporters albeit for a few minutes. He would always enquire about their journey from London and then talking generally about the forthcoming game. Sometimes he was able to offer complimentary tickets. I can still vividly recall the conversation that afternoon when Bobby said he was very keen indeed to win as he had been extremely disappointed to lose the FA Cup game a few months earlier.
Away Day Special
As to the game itself, I have three very distinct memories. Firstly a young Dave Bickles was making his League debut in place of the injured Ken Brown. He played exceptionally well and was magnificently supported and encouraged by Bobby Moore who himself was absolutely brilliant on the day.
Secondly, with the Hammers leading 2-0, Liverpool were awarded a very dubious penalty against Bobby Moore for an alleged handball, although to all the West Ham supporters it was clear that the ball had hit Bobby's chest.
Liverpool penalty expert Ron Moran prepared to take the spot kick at the Kop End, with Jim Standen in the West Ham goal. Standen himself was having a great game and had already made several excellent saves.
As Moran ran up to take the penalty kick, Bobby Moore indicated to Jim Standen that he should dive to his right hand side. Moran's penalty was struck hard and low, but Jim Standen produced a truly magnificent save, diving to his right and diverting the ball for a corner.
Liverpool did score shortly afterwards but were unable to force an equaliser. Jim Standen's penalty save proved to be crucial in securing a victory for the Hammers and for me was the outstanding moment to savour in a great victory.
At the end of the game, I recall a delighted Johnny Byrne running half the length of the field to congratulate Jim Standen on his performance.
Match action from West Ham's famous victory was the feaured cover shot for the Charles Buchan's Soccer Gift Book Annual 1964-65.
Anfield has always been my favourite away ground. There is such a fantastic atmosphere there, especially with the Liverpool supporters in full voice singing
Standen saves Moran penalty
I have visited Anfield several times since that historic West Ham victory back in September 1963. My last visit was as recently as January 2015 when I went with my 15-year-old grandson Kieran, who has been a Season Ticket holder for 7 years, and was attending his first game at the famous stadium.
Despite a disappointing 2-0 defeat that day, we headed north to Merseyside on August 29, 2015, both hoping Slaven Bilic and the team could secure that long awaited victory on the Anfield soil.
We now live in Christchurch, Dorset and travelled by car to Liverpool. We left home early at 7.15am bearing in mind it was August Bank Holiday weekend and therefore concerned at the prospect of heavy traffic. After a journey of 260 miles we arrived at 11.45am and parked very easily in Oakfield Road, which is only a very short walking distance of a few hundred yards from the ground.
History in the Making
Barclays Premier League
Liverpool 0 - 3 West Ham United
WEST HAM UNITED:
Diafra Sakho (Cullen)
Dimitri Payet (Jarvis)
Manuel Lanzini (Oxford)
Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Milner, Benteke, Coutinho, Firmino (Ings), Gomez (Ibe), Lucas, Can (Moreno), Skrtel
Furnell, Byrne, Moran, Milne, Yeats, Ferns, Callaghan, Hunt, St. John, Melia, Thompson
"You'll Never Walk Alone"
With more than 3 hours to wait until kick off we spent the majority of our time in the Liverpool Football Club Family Park on the opposite side of the road to the Anfield Road Stand.
This is where tickets for the away supporters are allocated. However, the time passed very quickly with several activities taking place, including a football competition, with the winner achieving a total of 185 touches before the ball hit the ground and a local group singing Beatles songs.
Kieran and I entered the turnstiles at 2 o'clock just as the atmosphere inside the ground was beginning to build to a crescendo of noise.
I remember thinking that in 1963 there were just a few hundred West Ham supporters in attendance, compared with todays fixture where of the 43,680 inside Anfield there were 3,000 travelling Hammers supporters
As is the custom at away games the West Ham players were warmly greeted as they went through their pre-match ritual, pitch-side from around 2.30pm.
With both the teams on the pitch shortly before 3 o'clock the Liverpool anthem of "You'll Never Walk Alone" was played. As usual the Kop was in full voice.
However, not to be outdone the 3,000 east London supporters were soon in full voice with their own version of,
The noise from the West Ham contingent was deafening especially after Manuel Lanzini opened the scoring inside 3 minutes. The singing was virtually constant throughout the entire 90 minutes and heightened after 30 minutes when Mark Noble doubled the advantage, 2-0. We were in Heaven!
Sign On, Sign On ...
"sign on, sign on with a pen in your hand"
West Ham were playing exceptionally well. Indeed in the 90 minutes Liverpool managed only two shots on target - one hitting an upright and going behind for a corner and Darren Randolph making a comfortable save from the second shot.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic was constantly waving his arms from the touchline coaxing, cajoling and encouraging the team. With 10 minutes remaining and both teams having been reduced to 10 men - in Mark Noble's case an extremely harsh decision - Liverpool had still not created any real goal scoring opportunities. However there remained the fear that Liverpool might snatch a goal from somewhere, especially as they were attacking their favourite Kop End.
There were seven minutes of injury time. Diafra Sakho had been lying injured for several minutes, with a stretcher being brought on the pitch following a clash with Liverpool goalkeeper Mignolet. The Liverpool keeper was perhaps rather fortunate in that neither the referee or linesman noticed an apparent deliberate knee in Sakho's stomach from the Liverpool keeper.
However, two minutes into injury time and sheer ecstasy for all the Hammers supporters. Having recovered from the injury Diafra Sakho scored a third goal for West Ham. Utopia - the 52 year wait for a victory at Anfield was finally over.
Not Long Now
Manuel Lanzini celebrates his early goal
Captain Mark Noble slots home the second
It had been a stunning start to the afternoon and a fabulous finish. The West Ham supporters were in total jubilation, hugging each other in sheer delight and singing on the tops of their voices. The atmosphere created by the West Ham supporters was unbelievable.
Ringing around the stadium - "to the Cockney boys 3-0" : "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" : "Hey big boy what's your name?" : "We all follow the West Ham" : "Super, Super Slav, Super Slaven Bilic" : "Where's your famous atmosphere?" : "Is this a library?" : "We pay your benefits, you pay our stadium".
Ten minutes after the final whistle Anfield was virtually deserted with the exception of the 3,000 West Ham supporters who were all intent on enjoying every moment of this momentous occasion. The players came to acknowledge the jubilant supporters. Slaven Bilic waved as he headed down the tunnel. Julian Dicks followed Slaven to a huge chant of "Julian" which Julian acknowledged with a wave.
For every West Ham supporter who was privileged to be at Anfield on Saturday to witness this magnificent victory, this was a truly unforgettable day that will live in the memory forever and will doubtless become part of West Ham folklore.
Wishing that the celebrations could go on forever, we reluctantly left Anfield just after 5 o'clock. As we walked back to our car Kieran pointed out that whilst I had now seen West Ham win on two occasions, I had been 17 on the first occasion in 1963 whereas he was only 15. His 16th birthday was two days later on 31 August and this was a perfect birthday present.
We arrived back in Christchurch at 10 o'clock - just in time to revel once again in a great triumph by watching the highlights on Match of the Day. A truly unforgettable day at Anfield.
To all my fellow Hammers fans, let us hope that we do not have to wait another 52 years to celebrate another victory and such a wonderful day at Anfield.
"to the Cockney boys 3-0"
Shoosh! This is a Library
Support material courtesy of West Ham United Football Club