Saturday 30 Jul
Updated Saturday 30 Jul 20:41

West Ham United Colts 5-2 Liverpool Colts

The Hammers celebrate 1963 FA Youth Cup success
The Hammers celebrate 1963 FA Youth Cup success
West Ham United Colts 5    Liverpool Colts 2
Britt 4, Dawkins                     Tinney, Graham
(West Ham United win 6-5 on aggregate)
Saturday 25 May 1963, FA Youth Cup final second leg
West Ham United Colts: Colin Mackleworth, Dennis Burnett, Bill Kitchener, Trevor Dawkins, John Charles, Bobby Howe, Harry Redknapp, Peter Bennett, Martin Britt, John Sissons, John Dryden
Liverpool Colts: Rodney Swindlehurst, Tommy Lowry, Alan Hignett, Tommy Smith, John Turner, John Bennett, Grant McCulloch, George Scott, Bob Graham, Phil Tinney, Brian Halliday

Established in 1953, the FA Youth Cup quickly became one of the most-coveted prizes in English football, showcasing clubs’ ability to scout and develop their own outstanding young players.

Coinciding with the advent of the Academy of Football, it comes as no surprise that West Ham United were among those to show the most enthusiasm for the new competition.

Twice in the 1950s, the Hammers came within a whisker of lifting the trophy. In 1957 Manchester United, who had won the opening four tournaments, proved too strong in the final, winning 8-2 on aggregate.

Two years later, in 1959, a West Ham side captained by Bobby Moore and containing the likes of Jack Burkett, Eddie Bovington, Tony Scott and Geoff Hurst was edged out 2-1 by Blackburn Rovers over two legs.

The east Londoners reached a third final in seven years in 1963, with a side featuring skipper John Charles, future FA Cup winner John Sissons and Harry Redknapp.

There, the Hammers faced Liverpool, who were appearing in their first-ever FA Youth Cup final. The Reds, whose first team had been promoted from the Second Division the previous year under manager Bill Shankly, took control of the tie in the first leg at Anfield on Thursday 23 May 1963, winning 3-1.

The two-legged final had been delayed until the end of May by a series of replays in the earlier rounds, meaning a relatively low crowd of 13,000 turned out for the return game at the Boleyn Ground 48 hours later.

West Ham had played their semi-final and replay with Wolverhampton Wanderers the previous Saturday and Monday, meaning they had to contest four games in eight days to lift the trophy.

Trailing by two goals at kick-off, that eventuality appeared unlikely, but a Claret and Blue hero was about to emerge.
West ham United - Official programme
Charles, Sissons and a teenage striker named Martin Britt all suffered injuries in the semi-final replay that would normally have ruled them out for at least a week, but a combination of their own bravery and the hard work of physiotherapist Bill Jenkins ensured they were fit to take part in the two-part showpiece.

However, it appeared their dreams of making history had been dashed on Merseyside, and again during the early stages in east London.

“Liverpool bounded out onto the Upton Park pitch exuding confidence,” went one report. “Right from the start the visitors played fast, direct football with few inhibitions about handing out some pretty hefty stick with it.”

West Ham, in contrast, were ‘tentative, nervous and hestitant’, only for a speculative long-range shot from Trevor Dawkins to cut their deficit in half on seven minutes.

The Hammers were back in the tie, but the Reds appeared to have put them back out of it again with two goals in three minutes midway through the first half.

Inside-left Phil Tinney made it 4-2 on aggregate, finishing after Colin Mackleworth had saved his initial shot, then centre forward Bob Graham was given the time and space to head in and give the visitors a three-goal cushion.

“This, it seemed, was the end for yet another West Ham bid for the Youth Cup – and not a very glorious end, either,” said the same match report.

Unless something miraculous occurred, the Hammers would lose the final for the third time in three attempts.
Martin Britt kisses the matchball
Martin Britt kisses the matchball
After being denied a clear penalty for handball by referee Taylor, West Ham levelled on the night ten minutes before half-time.

Left-back Bill Kitchener flew down his flank before crossing into the penalty area for Britt, who beat Swindlehurst to the ball and finished into the net.

Into the second half and the final quarter of the final and West Ham still had to find three goals to steal the trophy from Liverpool’s grasp.

Goal scorer Graham went close to making the game safe again, only to see his curling effort come back off the crossbar.

That let-off appeared to inspire the home side, who went ahead on the night and made it 4-5 on aggregate on 59 minutes when left-half Bobby Howe rounded two defenders and crossed for Britt, who nodded in his second goal of the night.

Man, or should that be boy of the moment Britt then headed Redknapp’s centre wide before levelling a thrilling tie on aggregate with 18 minutes of the 90 remaining.

The equaliser was a goal that would never be awarded today, but on that Saturday evening back in 1963 it was awarded, much to the delight of the Boleyn Ground crowd.

Redknapp lifted another cross into the Liverpool box, where goalkeeper Swindlehurst rose and claimed the high ball, only to be bundled into the net by Britt. Goal given. Five-all!
Hammers climb off the floor to win Youth Cup
Into the closing stages and an inspired West Ham piled forward in search of the goal that would secure them the FA Youth Cup.

Extra-time was looming large when the winner came with just four minutes left on the clock.

Right-half Dawkins started the move with an accurate ball that sent Redknapp away down the wing. The future West Ham manager sent over yet another teasing cross and, yet again, Britt was there to get his head to the ball and divert it into the net.

At the final whistle, many of the fans who had turned out more in hope than expectation invaded the pitch in delirious celebration.

Captain Charles beamed from ear to ear as he led his team up to the Directors Box to be presented with the trophy, but it was Britt, grabbing the matchball, who was the hero of the hour.

The Leigh-on-Sea born striker had been spotted playing schoolboy football for Essex and London by chief scout Wally St Pier, joining West Ham in 1961.

The young Britt had made his first-team debut three weeks before his dramatic Youth Cup final intervention in a Division One defeat by Blackburn Rovers at the Boleyn Ground.

A second appearance, and maiden goal, would arrive in a League Cup win at Aston Villa in October 1963, but the presence of Hurst and John Dick, and a serious knee injury suffered in training, restricted his opportunities.

After seven goals in 26 appearances, Britt joined Blackburn in 1966, but after just eight league games, he was forced to retire through injury at the age of 21. He later established his own successful textile business.