World Cup Hammers - 80s

The 1980s saw the FIFA World Cup finals head to Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986 and mixed fortunes for the West Ham United contingent. Club legend Ron Greenwood had the honour of guiding England to the 1982 tournament, where he was reunited with Trevor Brooking. Alvin Martin and Frank McAvennie, two of the stars of the 1985/86 third-place finish, were on the plane to Mexico at the end of that season.

Ron Greenwood was the man who took England back to the World Cup after the failures of 1974 and 1978 with qualification for the 1982 finals.

After transforming West Ham United into a club with a global reputation, Greenwood was tasked with leading England's charge to Spain 1982. They made a strong start with future Hammers goalkeeper Peter Shilton conceding just one goal in Group Four as France (3-1), Czechoslovakia (2-0) and Kuwait (1-0) all fell by the wayside.

As England prepared to face West Germany and Spain in the second stage, Group B, Greenwood was desperately hoping that Kevin Keegan (back) and club legend Trevor Brooking (groin) would finally overcome the injuries that had prevented them from kicking a ball in any of their country's first four matches.

Following a goalless draw with the Germans, though, it was now win or bust against the hosts. Greenwood needed a two-goal victory to qualify for the semi-finals. And with the match deadlocked at 0-0, he knew he had to gamble with his telepathic duo.

"I decided to play my two trump cards," wrote the England boss in his autobiography Yours Sincerely, recounting the moment when he called for Keegan and Brooking.

"I signalled to both Brooking and Keegan that I wanted them on and, with 27 minutes left, they stepped into football's biggest event for the first time in their long careers. It was a marvellous moment for them - and for me too.

"Neither was perfectly fit but, at this point, risks were worth taking. And both could have scored. Keegan headed wide and Brooking, who immediately injected new skill into the game, made his own opening but somehow the Spanish keeper Luis Arconada managed to get in the way. Spain nil, England nil. It was all over.

"We hadn't been able to use Brooking or Keegan who were the engine of our side and that was a tragedy because we would've gone all the way with those two."

Instead, the dejected Three Lions headed for home still unbeaten in five matches, while the Germans progressed all the way to the final where they lost 3-1 to Italy.

"The 1982 World Cup was probably one of the biggest disappointments of my career," admitted Sir Trevor, who won the last of 47 England caps with that late outing in Madrid. "Having got to Spain, it was my last opportunity to play in the tournament and it was so frustrating to have been kept out with a groin injury until half-hour from the end of the final game."

Four years later and, after finishing a record-breaking 1985/86 season with that best-ever third-place finish, several members of the West Ham United squad had justifiable claims to be on the plane to the World Cup finals in Mexico later that summer.

As it happened, only England's Alvin Martin and Scotland's Frank McAvennie eventually made it to Mexico, alongside future Hammers Jimmy Quinn (Northern Ireland), Paulo Futre (Portugal) and 1996 loan signing Shilton. Sadly, neither the Scot nor the Scouser was destined to see too much action.

In Group E, McAvennie twice stepped from the bench in Scotland's defeats against Denmark (1-0) and West Germany (2-1) before being totally overlooked by manager Alex Ferguson in the 0-0 draw with Uruguay that ended his country's challenge.

"I don't know why Fergie didn't give me more of a chance" said the blond bombshell after exploding on to the scene with 28 league and cup goals in his first season south of the border. "I didn't have a bust-up with him or anything like that.

"But he knew that I had the hump after only being substitute for the first two matches, so he left me out of the third one completely. Charlie Nicholas and myself should've been the main strikers but he picked the likes of Paul Sturrock and Steve Archibald instead.

"It didn't make sense to most people and, after the season I'd had with West Ham, I was very disappointed.

"Even though he later called me a 'maniac' in his book, I'm privileged that Fergie took me to a World Cup. It's an experience that the likes of George Best and Ryan Giggs never had."

England did, however, scrape into the second round thanks to Gary Lineker's hat-trick against Poland (3-0), following lacklustre Group F openers against both Portugal (1-0) and Morocco (0-0). In the last 16, the 17-times capped central defender was finally called into action.

"I thoroughly enjoyed playing against Paraguay," revealed Martin after seeing two-goal Lineker and room-mate Peter Beardsley seal a 3-0 victory and a quarter-final meeting with Argentina.

"Terry Butcher and myself knew that we had completed a good job. There was camaraderie between us and we felt the partnership was right. We had beaten Paraguay 3-0 and looked good doing it, too.

"Bobby Robson was pleased with us all and in the next few days I was convinced that I'd be in the team for the quarter-final. The manager had praised the back-four, in particular, and I was absolutely sure I was going to keep my place. All my interviews with the press were about how I hoped to deal with Maradona.

"The team meeting was on the night before the game and Robson opened by saying: 'The team is going to be the same.' I relaxed in my seat - but the next few words delivered from the manager's mouth shattered me. He continued: '...except for one change. I'm going to bring Terry Fenwick back for Alvin Martin.' I felt totally stunned."

Indeed, the midnight horror he had experienced when mistakenly drinking Beardsley's denture water a few days earlier was nothing compared to the shock just delivered by the England boss.

"Speechless, I glanced around the room and a couple of the lads just looked at me and shrugged. The fact that my fellow professionals couldn't believe it made me feel worse.

"Looking back, I think Bobby Robson made a mistake dropping me, although we'll never know," insisted Alvin, who sat helplessly on the sidelines as two-goal Maradona undone England with that infamous 'hand of God' effort before settling it with a sensational solo run in a 2-1 win for eventual tournament victors, Argentina.

"The handball tended to overshadow everything else about the game but deep down we knew the South Americans were better on the day and they were worthy winners of the tournament, too."