A Pictorial History



Steve Marsh & Stuart Allen

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1986-87 Today League : Division One

Manager: John Lyall


West Ham United are to compete this season in the  Full  Members' Cup competition, after declining to participate in the inaugural season last year.

The uncertainty of whether the Super Screen Cup, started last season for clubs qualifying for European competition, will actually take place has prompted this move.

Club Secretary Keith Godbee explains: "The British Cup was part of a ten-point plan culminating with the reduction of the number of clubs in the top division and we see The Full Members Cup as a start towards a British Cup competition.


We made our best start to the season since 1983-84 by defeating Coventry City at Upton Park. For by far the greater part of the match there was a feeling that despite the Hammers' general superiority the result was not going to be entirely in our favour, and that we might have to settle for a goalless draw. That would probably have suited the visitors, who only escaped relegation by a couple of points last May.

The Midlanders were obviously keen to make a better showing in this their 20th successive season in the First Division, and they put up a good fight before succumbing to the only goal just six minutes prior to the final whistle. It was a blow to them when Tony Gale scored his first League goal for the Hammers, but they could hardly complain in the long run.

Tony had already come near to scoring early in the game, and his decisive counter rounded off the splendid performance which earned him after-match commendation. It was a goal that brought us three points instead of the solitary one that would have been derived from a draw.

.It was interesting to see the tactics employed by the City; the "yellow brick wall" was the term given to their defence by one commentator. An apt description, with the Sky Blues sporting their change colours. They concentrated on stifling our strike-force up front, but we countered that with alternatives and achieved the desired end-result. It is apparent that English managers watching tactics in the recent World Cup games (whether live or on TV! have picked up some new ideas, and on this opening day it was interesting to read and hear the observations of many commentators.

COVENTRY CITY : The Today League Division One

Four of the five First Division fixtures on August Bank Holiday Monday were drawn. Ours at Old Trafford ended 3-2 in favour of the Hammers, so with a 100 per cent record from the first two engagements we went to the top of the standings — although there were half-a-dozen games to come on the following day.

The result was an obvious surprise to the statistically-minded, as the records showed that it was our first League victory on Manchester United's ground since 1976-77 {when we won 2-0); prior to which we had to look back as far as 1963-64 for a similar win (but then by the only goal}.

However, it did not escape the notice of regular Hammers' fans that we won an FA Cup replay there last March. It was two-nil in our favour that day, and when we went two up before half-time last Monday week there were thoughts that we might well run up a bigger margin.

Alas, such hopes were quickly damped down, as within the space of a few minutes United were back on level terms with a further 44 minutes left to play. It began to look like a hard struggle to maintain status quo; we not only did so, but then stunned the home fans into silence by notching the winner. Indeed a famous victory, notwithstanding that Ron Atkinson's side had lost at Highbury two days earlier. Frank McAvennie's two goals were a speedy answer to the suggestion that our leading scorer of last season would find it difficult to resume his successes. His first-minute counter set us on our way, and it was fitting that Frank should net the winner during the closing minutes by heading home Mark Ward's centre. Tactically, we also out-thought the Reds when Alan Devonshire scored his first League goal since March. Overall, a great performance that rounded off a happy week-end. . . with Paul Hilton doing a good job when taking the injured Tony Gale's place.