HAMMERS supporters took their eyes off the ball at their peril at the start of the 1968-69 season. For free-scoring West Ham United hit 16 glorious goals in three games during 10 destructive days at Upton Park.

A fantastic 5-0 win over Burnley had already been followed up with a fabulous 4-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion when Bolton Wanderers arrived at the Boleyn Ground on 4 September, 1968 for a Football League Cup Second Round tie.

Ironically four-goal Geoff Hurst had single-handedly knocked the Trotters out of the competition the previous season and how they must have wished that they had stayed on the team coach this time around as Hammers effortlessly galloped to a sizzling 7-2 win.

Barely eight minutes were on the clock when Martin Peters followed up Hurst's earlier penalty to nod Hammers into a two-goal lead.

And as the half-hour mark arrived, Hurst made sure that he had secured the match-ball with an acrobatic screamer and a headed effort that made it 4-0.

Although Wanderers reduced the arrears just before the interval thanks to Terry Wharton's twice-taken spot-kick, Hammers were to prove just as merciless after the break, too.

Midway through the second-half, chief architect John Sissons made it 5-1, and although present Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor narrowed the deficit with a long-ranger, straight from the restart Trevor Brooking pounced on a rebound to restore Hammers four-goal advantage.

Then, with referee Rex Spittle checking his watch, Harry Redknapp unleashed an unstoppable shot from the right-wing to round off another emphatic victory and set up a Third Round tie against Coventry City.

"Mean and magnificent, the Hammers will take some beating on this form," cried one Fleet Street reporter. "Bolton's defence opened like a revolving door as West Ham went marching on to a fantastic victory. Taking their goals tally to 16 in 10 days they stirred dreams of Europe once more for their faithful followers."

Ironically, having seen it rain with goals at Upton Park, those supporters then had to settle for four successive home draws, including a Third Round, goalless stalemate with the Sky Blues who duly beat the Hammers 3-2 in the Highfield Road replay.

But just when it looked like the scoring monsoon had subsided, there was to be one more treat in store just a few weeks later, when West Ham United demolished Sunderland in a record-equalling 8-0 league victory.