Harewood - I couldn’t wait to get my shirt off!

Marlon Harewood


  • West Ham United defeated Middlesbrough on Saturday - as they did in 2006 FA Cup semi-final
  • Marlon Harewood was the Hammers' match-winner at Villa Park eleven seasons ago
  • The former striker reminisced over that unforgettable campaign on a recent visit to London Stadium


If you ask any West Ham United supporter to list their cult heroes, the name Marlon Harewood will appear high on many of them.

The whole-hearted centre forward enjoyed three-and-a-half eventful seasons with the Hammers, reaching two Play-Off finals and one FA Cup final and causing a touchline scuffle between then-manager Alan Pardew and Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger.

The Hampstead-born striker moved to east London in November 2003 after five seasons scoring regularly for his first club Nottingham Forest, with the £500,000 fee paid by Pardew turning out to be one of the many bargains of his successful reign.

In 2004/05, Harewood banged in 23 goals in all competitions to help the Hammers to promotion back to the Premier League. The following season, his extra-time strike against Middlesbrough took Pardew’s side through to the Club’s first FA Cup final in 26 years.

In November of the same year, 2006, the forward’s last-gasp goal scored a much-needed 1-0 win for the struggling Hammers over Arsenal at the Boleyn Ground. With the mounting pressure on him momentarily lifted, Pardew celebrated wildly along the touchline, angering Wenger to such an extent that the pair engaged in some unsavoury handbags.

In spring 2007, Harewood lost his starting place as Pardew’s replacement Alan Curbishley opted for a front pairing of Carlos Tevez and Bobby Zamora, and in July the likeable frontman was sold to Aston Villa for a £4m fee.

A decade on, the 37-year-old has recently hung up his boots after completing a career spanning 12 clubs, including Chinese outfit Guangzhou R&F and non-league Nuneaton Town, and is concentrating on his successful luxury car business AC13 Premier, providing eye-catching wheels to footballers up and down the country.

Earlier this month, Harewood was back in east London as a guest of the Hammers for the Emirates FA Cup tie with Manchester City, where he and former strike partner Dean Ashton caught up with West Ham TV presenter Chris Scull.

“The FA Cup semi-final back in 2006 was an amazing day, wasn’t it?” Harewood recalled. “It was an amazing day for me and for the team as well. Helping the lads to get to the final by getting that goal was a great achievement for me and for the team that year.

“I couldn’t wait to get my shirt off to celebrate!”

Unfortunately for Harewood, his memories of the final as less positive, particularly when Scull reminded him of the late chance that went begging at the Millennium Stadium.

Pepe Reina had tipped Nigel Reo-Coker’s header onto the post and when the ball fell to a cramp-stricken Harewood, he could only slice his shot wide.

It was an amazing day for me and for the team as well. Helping the lads to get to the final by getting that goal was a great achievement for me and for the team that year

Marlon Harewood

Marlon Harewood

A few minutes later, Liverpool were celebrating a penalty shootout victory and the Hammers were left wondering what might have been.

“It’s scary how so many people all remember that moment from a 120-minute plus game!” he recalled with a wry smile. “I couldn’t even walk and it’s funny how people don’t think about me walking, but of me missing the chance!

“At that time I was just walking around the pitch because I couldn’t get anywhere and we were holding out, then we had a free-kick in the last minute and everyone was in the box, the ball came over and I just tried to swing my leg, and everyone remembers that moment in my life now – especially West Ham fans, obviously!

“I was usually penalty-taker and I couldn’t take one because I couldn’t walk! I would have loved to have taken one and hopefully I’d have scored, but you can’t really tell until you’ve taken one to find out what would have really happened. I’d definitely have been up there.”

Fast forward to the present day and Harewood was introduced to the Claret and Blue Army to a rousing reception at London Stadium.

“It’s definitely an upgrade and it’s nice to come here and watch the lads play,” he concluded.