The afternoon West Ham United 'just blew Chelsea away'


Tony Gale was part of plenty of super West Ham United performances, but few were as memorable as the Hammers’ 4-0 demolition of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 29 March 1986.

It is 32 years since John Lyall’s Boys of ’86 tore the Blues apart to keep their First Division title hopes alive.

Alan Devonshire opened the scoring with an unstoppable 25-yarder before Tony Cottee scored twice  and Frank McAvennie were also on target in the second half to silence the vast majority of the 29,935-strong crowd in the District line derby.

Gale was also imperious form at the back alongside rookie Paul Hilton, stifling a Chelsea attack led by future Hammer David Speedie.

When you see how we played, at such a pace, on a pitch like that, it was a dream

Tony Gale

“We played Chelsea on a terrible pitch at Stamford Bridge in late March 1986,” the centre-back recalled. “Alvin was suspended and he missed our two games over the Easter period, Chelsea away and Tottenham at home, and we won both of them!

“We beat Chelsea 4-0 and Spurs 2-1 with Paul Hilton playing at centre-back and he did really, really well alongside me. It was a tough task to come in for someone like Alvin, but he did brilliantly.

“Focusing on the 4-0, we were both chasing the title and we were playing against a team I’d chosen not to join in 1984, despite being from west London and it being the club my family supported.

“I had loads of people telling me they’d do us, but we just blew them away with some wonderful counter-attacking football.

“Some of the movement was amazing, Alan Devonshire glided across the mud and didn’t get a speck of dirt on him, and I even got an assist for Dev in that game!

“When you see how we played, at such a pace, on a pitch like that, it was a dream.”