Hammers celebrate 1965 ECWC anniversary

West Ham United welcomed back the Club’s European Cup Winners’ Cup heroes on Saturday, with the 50th anniversary of the Hammers’ 1965 Wembley triumph fast approaching. 

The Club’s maiden European campaign ended with a 2-0 win over TSV Munich on 19 May 1965 and the famous faces from that memorable day were back at the Boleyn Ground this weekend. 

Martin Peters, Ronnie Boyce and Ken Brown, all of whom started at Wembley, were joined by Eddie Bovington, Peter Brabrook and Alan Dickie, as well as the families of the dearly-departed manager Ron Greenwood and two-goal hero Alan Sealey. 

To mark the occasion, Joint-Chairman David Gold presented West Ham’s kings of Europe with commemorative shields to a rapturous Boleyn Ground reception. 

The larger-than-life Ken Brown certainly enjoyed his day back in east London, a rare opportunity to reminisce with his West Ham contemporaries.  

“It’s an absolute delight to see some of the boys back here,” he told West Ham TV. “They don’t improve with time, they’re still ugly. But seriously, it’s brilliant to come back. “ 

Now 81, Forest Gate-born Brown can scarcely believe that 50 years have passed but is thrilled, nonetheless, that the Club were intent on celebrating the anniversary. 

He continued: “I still can’t believe that it was that long ago, I can’t, honestly. To think that the Club wants to do something about it, surely they don’t, but they do, and I can’t speak highly enough of them. Brilliant.” 

As for the game itself, the occasion and nerves were such that Brown’s memories are somewhat hazy, but he will forever remember the feeling of walking out at Wembley. 

“A lot of it was a blur, because going out onto the pitch itself, to me it was like an electric current hitting you. You’re thinking, we’ve done the warm ups, and then you go out there, and think jeepers, the atmosphere, it’s hard to explain. It just hit me like a rocket.

“To have the good fortune to go back to Wembley like that, I regard myself, or people have told me of late that I must be a lucky charm to Wembley, because I played there three times and won every game!”

West Ham’s inaugural European adventure saw Greenwood’s Hammers visit France, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Spain before taking on TSV Munich 1860 in a thrilling final.

The Hammers scored in each of the eight ties they played on the way to the final, including all four away legs, but it was far from plain sailing all the way to Wembley.

The Londoners had to resist a late comeback from Spartak Prague, a rollercoaster battle with Lausanne and a determined effort from Real Zaragoza to set up a meeting with the German Cup winners on the night of 19 May 1965.

There and then, the brand of football first introduced by Greenwood’s predecessor Ted Fenton in the late 1950s reached its zenith on the wide open spaces of Wembley.

With no fewer than eight home-grown players in the starting XI, West Ham produced a fine performance to edge out through two second-half goals from outside right Alan Sealey.

Just seven years after winning promotion from the Second Division, the Hammers had become just the second English club to win a European trophy.