West Ham United’s upcoming fixture list brought a smile to the face of Hammers legend George Parris.
For it was 33 years ago that the full-back was part of the Irons team which scored vital victories over Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in the space of 72 unforgettable hours.
First, on Easter Saturday 1986, Parris and his teammates headed to Stamford Bridge and thrashed Chelsea 4-0. Then, on Easter Monday, John Lyall’s side welcomed Tottenham to the Boleyn Ground and beat them 2-1.
The victories took West Ham up to fifth in the First Division table, ten points behind Liverpool and Everton, but with five and four games in-hand on the Merseyside clubs respectively following an unseasonably harsh winter.
The weather meant the pitch was in a terrible state at Stamford Bridge, but Parris played his part in a classic performance capped by a starring role in the outstanding fourth goal by Frank McAvennie.
As a player, you just knew leading up to the day, and actually on the day, how important it was, not just for us as players, but for the fans as well
“Looking back, if that was today, that game mostly wouldn’t be played with the [state of the] pitch,” he recalled. “There was no grass on it full stop, but the actual performance was fantastic. We won by four but there actually could’ve been a few more.
“It was really pleasing, and being involved in one of the goals as well was a great opportunity to put one across Chelsea.
“Everything clicked on the day. It was a performance that was up there that season. We did remarkably well anyway but that performance typified the football that we played during that season.”
West Ham’s late challenge for the title was given a further boost on home turf, where McAvennie and Tony Cottee got the goals to overcome David Pleat’s Tottenham.
“The games were coming thick and fast anyway, so we'd obviously got the result on the Saturday against Chelsea, and then Spurs, another big game, but there was no difficulty in getting up for the game,” Parris, now 55, confirmed. “Obviously TC and Frank got the goals, but again we put in a really polished performance.”
Now working as a matchday Club London ambassador at London Stadium, Barking-born Parris will be in the crowd when the present-day Hammers take on Spurs on Saturday, and again when the Irons travel to Chelsea on 30 November.
And he says the players should need no extra motivation to get another one over the Lilywhites and the Blues.
“I think they’re two local derbies and everyone knows what’s on the line,” he said. “Hopefully there’ll be two good performances and hopefully two good results to go with them.
“As a player, you just knew leading up to the day, and actually on the day, how important it was, not just for us as players, but for the fans as well, so if ever you were going to play well, they were the games you wanted to play well in.”