Galey's View - Mar 23

Former Hammers defender Tony Gale provides his expert view every week, exclusively on

SO here we are, 90 minutes from the FA Cup final, thanks to a memorable win at Manchester City that gave the perfect example of how moods and emotions in football can change so quickly.
On Saturday, the fans were booing after an inept home display against relegation strugglers Portsmouth, yet just 48 hours later it was party time and the best thing in the world to be a Hammers fan!
I wouldn't say Alan Pardew felt vindicated in any way following the criticism he took after the Portsmouth game - it was a performance that clearly hurt him and, when you consider that his first-choice back-four was in place and Teddy and Bobby were up front, he will have known that it was a line-up that should never have lost 4-2 to Portsmouth.
Still, the whole squad responded in the right way on Monday night and, although it wasn't a vintage performance by any means, we were certainly the better side and, in Dean Ashton, possessed the one thing City didn't have - a match-winner.
I thought Deano's all-round display was superb, capped off by two goals - the first of which was straight out of the top drawer. David James may have been thinking about his goal against Everton recently when he went for the far post, and there was a fair old gap at the near post, but that can't take anything away from what was a fantastic strike.
For me, Deano is what I would call an old-fashioned footballer. He does the simple things well and, in front of goal, is clinical. It's rare to see a player strike the ball so cleanly nowadays - it really is a dying art, simply because the ball is so light and moves so quickly.
Like Teddy, he is good with his back to goal, but he does it right up top at the sharp end, and I would also say that he is perhaps quicker than he looks. I'm sure Alan Pardew will believe he can improve the pace and fitness side of his game even more in the summer, but you can't teach the vision and awareness that he possesses.

OF course, the victory at City put us into an FA Cup semi-final for the first time since 1991 and, yes, that brings back all the memories of my worst moment in a West Ham shirt - not that I needed any reminding!
When I look back on that day at Villa Park almost 15 years ago, I've got to be honest, it still hurts. Over time, you learn to accept it but, when you think that it's now 26 years since we won the FA Cup - a trophy that I never got to lift in my entire career - it still leaves a bitter taste.
Up until my sending-off, we had been the better side and, with the atmosphere that our supporters were generating, I just had that feeling that we were going to win the game.
We switched to 4-5-1 after I went off, and were still playing really well. George Parris hit the post, but we couldn't build a lead to hold on to and, in the second half, their advantage began to show. Although we lost 4-0, the Hammers fans ensured that the day was remembered for their support throughout the second half.
The only time I ever bumped into Keith Hackett again was a few years later, when West Ham played up at Blackburn. He hadn't been allowed to referee at Upton Park, because the North Bank would have lynched him, but on this particular day he came up to me and said: 'No, hard feelings eh big fella?' Unfortunately, I can't print my exact response on a family website, but suffice to say it consisted of something along the lines of: 'Yes, very hard feelings, you ruined the day for 30,000 people!'