World Cup Hammers - 70s

After the golden glory of the previous decade, the 1970s promised to be a FIFA World Cup bonanza with three finals being held - Mexico 1970, West Germany 1974 and Argentina 1978. However, England would only experience action at the first - the swansong for Hammers duo Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst along with Martin Peters - now of Tottenham Hotspur - as the Three Lions failed to qualify for the next two editions.

West Ham United's three musketeers had played integral roles in securing England's swashbuckling 1966 World Cup victory. Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters again carried the hopes of the nation down Mexico way, four years later.

By now, Peters had joined Tottenham Hotspur in a British record £200,000 transfer that also saw Jimmy Greaves head to the Boleyn Ground. Indeed, the British public had become accustomed to seeing the iconic image of Moore holding aloft the golden Jules Rimet Trophy.

But horror engulfed the nation when the golden boy of English football was placed under house arrest in Colombia after being accused of stealing a bracelet from the Green Fire jewellery shop inside Bogota's Tequendama Hotel, a few days earlier.

As his team-mates flew on to Mexico, the marooned Moore was left sweating over the trumped-up charges that could scupper four years of preparation for the greatest show on earth.

But as he finally greeted his freed skipper on the tarmac at Guadalajara Airport after seeing him released on condition that he undertook to visit any Colombian consulate, if requested, a grateful Sir Alf Ramsey announced: "Welcome back Bobby, it's good to see you."

Reunited with his team-mates, Moore looked unflustered by his harrowing ordeal as he led them out for their opening Group C match against Romania, where Hurst's header got England off to a winning start in the rarefied atmosphere of the Jalisco Stadium.

Indeed, the second match saw Moore have one of the greatest games of his career, jousting with a brilliant Brazilian side containing the likes of Pele, Carlos Alberto, Tostao and Rivelino.

A crowd of 70,900 witnessed a classic as an England side also containing Hurst missed their chances, while Jairzinho forced goalkeeper Gordon Banks into a first-half wonder save before netting the second half winner that helped him on his way to scoring in every one of the South Americans' half-dozen matches.

"See you in the final," recalled Bobby in the book 'Moore on Mexico', looking back on the moment when he famously swapped shirts with Pele at the final whistle.

"I think you will," replied the Brazilian legend, wrongly as things turned out. Pele was destined to go on to help his country become the first nation to lift the trophy three times courtesy of a 4-1 win over Italy in the final.

With Hurst rested for the final group game, debutant Allan Clarke slammed home a crucial penalty in a 1-0 win over Czechoslovakia to set up a quarter-final meeting with their old 1966 adversaries, West Germany.

Despite the absence of the food-poisoned Banks, Alan Mullery and Peters sent England racing into a 2-0 lead as some of the England players taunted the wilting Germans with cries of 'Auf Wiedersehen'.

But as Franz Beckenbauer pulled one back and Ramsey withdrew Bobby Charlton and Peters in preparation for an impending semi-final, Uwe Seeler levelled before Gerd Muller nicked a vengeful 3-2 victory in extra time.

"People said that we had a better side in Mexico than we did in 1966 but good teams win things and the 1970 squad didn't," concluded Peters who, like both Moore and Hurst, would never step on to the World Cup stage again.

Hurst, who netted 24 goals in 49 England appearances, added without regret: "Despite Mexico, I had a good career and when you've scored three goals in a World Cup final you tend to be reasonably happy.

"I played at a great time for English football - we won the World Cup, Manchester United and Celtic won the European Cup, the crowds were at their height and we had George Best, Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves to name but a few."

The final word on Mexico goes to the 108-times capped Moore: "We had faced a tremendous task in defending our title thousands of miles from home in a strange country, under crippling conditions and, speaking as skipper, I do not see how Sir Alf can be blamed.

"I will always be frustrated by the events of Bogota and our defeats by Brazil and West Germany. Mexico could have been all so different."

It was to be 12 years before England returned to the global stage. Just eight years after lifting the World Cup, failure to finish at the top of a three-team qualifying group also containing Poland and Wales resulted in the shock absence of England at West Germany 1974, where the hosts won the trophy.

Hurst had already made the last of his 49 appearances in the quarter-finals of the 1972 UEFA European Championship qualifiers, and now it had been the turn of the 108-times capped Bobby Moore to find the curtain being drawn on his international career.

Unfortunately, it was the same old story four years later, too, when Italy pipped Trevor Brooking's England in qualifying Group 2 to head to Argentina 1978, where, again, the home nation emerged victorious.

Great Britain's sole representatives in South America were Scotland, for whom future Hammers' manager Lou Macari played in the 3-1 defeat against Peru and a 1-1 draw with Iran.