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2011-02-21T13:59:00 Updated 2015-02-18T22:04:02


Name: Colin Foster
Date of birth: 16 July 1964, Chislehurst, England
Position: Defender
Debut: Division Two, West Ham United 1-0 Watford, 23 September 1989
Final game: Premier League, Manchester United 3-0 West Ham United, 1 September 1993
Appearances: 110
Goals: 6

Monday evening FA Cup ties at Upton Park are nothing new.

Rewind to 11 March 1991 and arguably one of the best the Boleyn nights under the lights ever saw Colin Foster score a goal to remember as Everton were beaten in a thrilling quarter-final.

With the Hammers in the old Division Two, the Toffees arrived at Upton Park as the clear favourites and expecting to progress. However, a side led by Billy Bonds was never going to be overawed in front of a raucous crowd of 28,162 - the biggest of the season in the East End.

There was no thought from the Irons other than to attack and they did that from the first whistle. And, on 34 minutes, east London went crazy as Foster became the unlikely goal hero. Tim Breacker swung a ball in from right-back and the tall No5 was right on the penalty spot to strike a superb volley beyond Neville Southall.

"The goal amazed me," recalls Foster. "As soon as I saw it was on target, I knew it was in. I shouldn't really have scored a goal like that and my kids keep ribbing me about it to this day. They have watched it a few times on the internet and can't believe it was me.

"I was a young person then and it seems a long time ago. The most I really remember is that it was a really special night under the floodlights at Upton Park. Those games were always the best. Everton were one of the top teams but we played really well."

From that 2-1 cup triumph - sealed by Stuart Slater's solo strike - the Hammers went to Villa Park for the ill-fated 4-0 semi-final defeat by Nottingham Forest. Foster had left the City Ground in 1989 after 72 league matches under Brian Clough and was to experience the ultimate low against his old club after the absolute high of the previous round.

His central defensive partner Tony Gale was harshly sent off and Forest made the extra man count to run out 4-0 winners. "The day was totally ruined by the red card. It was a match we went into in full confidence, thinking we could beat anyone.

"Even now, to be honest, I have still never watched it again on DVD or whatever. It is too painful a memory when you think how close we were to Wembley. I still feel sorry for the fans who were unbelievable that day.

"I have never known a crowd situation to be so fantastic. Afterwards, it was them who were lifting us and telling us to bounce back. Only West Ham fans can do that. It shows you how special they are and they are still the same when you see what they did at West Brom last week to help the team come back from three-down to draw 3-3."

Speaking of supporters, Foster is hopeful that the new Olympic Stadium proposal will be a big step forward for the club. "It is all about the fans," he said. "They will have a lot to say about it. It seems it is a good thing for the club, especially financially, and will help to move the club forward. I am really interested to see how it all goes and what is planned.

"When you see Tottenham and Arsenal doing well in the Champions League this week and the money that all generates, West Ham have to move with the times. There is no doubt our fans deserve the bestas well."

Foster is an occasional visitor to the Boleyn but is kept busy by his gardening business in Kent, and the sporting pursuits of his two sons Sam, 14, and Harry, 12. He gets involved with Harry's team on a Sunday - although he keeps his professional career largely secret from the other mums and dads - while Saturdays are spent on the golf course trying to keep up with Sam and his handicap of 10.

"You'd think I could beat him," said Foster with a smile. "I am 6'4 and he is a little thin guy - but he can beat me easy. At least he gives me some good tips on my game."

Now 46, his thoughts are never too far away from the Boleyn - he was especially interested in the last round success against Forest, when he declares that he was "pleased West Ham won" despite the split allegiances.

"I keep a close eye on the club and I really want them to do well. Occasionally I do come across West Ham fans with my work. Even if I am wearing a hat, I am still tall of course and I tend to stand out. People want to chat about that Everton goal or what happened at Villa Park.

"Hopefully this season, the supporters will stick with the team as it is a dog-fight at the bottom and you need the fans with you. I always used to look forward to home matches as there is nothing like it when the fans get behind you.

"There are so many good players, they just need a bit of luck and a clean sheet or two. They also just need to keep believing in themselves."

Wise words from a strong defender, who looks back with nothing but fondness on his time in east London."I am just a normal person but it is nice to look back and say 'you know, I was a footballer'. I was lucky to play for some great clubs and not pick up any bad injuries.

"Football was a major part of my life, I have still got the memories and the shirts up on the wall. But now it is nice to focus on my family. Kids take over your life in a good way and I am really pleased with how everything has turned out."

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