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History (page two)
           
           
 
West Ham United's most successful period came in the mid-60s, when we reached three consecutive cup finals. Although the club had never been able to sustain a serious challenge on the league championship, we have enjoyed a reputation as a more than useful cup side. Our first taste of the big occasion came in 1923, when Hammers met Bolton Wanderers in the first-ever FA Cup final to be played at Wembley Stadium. On a day remembered more for the extraordinary crowd scenes than the football itself, Syd King's 'Irons' lost 2-0.
 

The next Cup final appearance was at Wembley against Blackburn Rovers in the 1940 Football League War Cup, which West Ham won 1-0. The patient fans had to wait another 24 years before returning to Wembley. Greenwood's side, playing with typical style and swagger, inflicted a memorable 3-1 semi-final defeat over FA Cup holders Manchester United in the mud at Hillsborough before finally overcoming Preston North End, 3-2, on final day, with long-serving midfielder Ronnie Boyce heading the last minute winner.

If the Hammers were not near their best in beating Preston, they reached probably an all-time high on their return to the national stadium just over a year later to meet West Germany's TSV Munich 1860 in the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup.
On an evening that nobody who was present will ever forget, West Ham scaled new heights, playing the brand of entertaining, attacking football that had become synonymous with the club. Right winger Alan Sealey emerged as the unlikely hero, scoring both goals in a well-earned 2-0 triumph, yet within a year his top flight career had virtually ended after he broke his leg in a bizarre training ground accident. Sealey was playing cricket with team-mates during a break in pre-season training when he sustained the serious leg break while falling over a wooden bench.
   

The European Cup Winners' Cup win represents the pinnacle of Hammers' achievements as a club but for the trio of Moore, Hurst and Peters, there was an even more glorious day in prospect against the Germans just a little over a year later, when England hosted the 1966 World Cup finals for the first time. The final, against West Germany, was won 4-2 after extra time – and all three Hammers distinguished themselves. Moore, as captain, set up the opening goal for Hurst – a quick free- kick to the near post, where Hurst got free of his marker to head home. The move looked simple yet it was the product of Greenwood's training ground routine at Chadwell Heath and would yield many similar goals at club level, too. Peters, rated the most naturally talented of the famous trio, slotted England's second goal but the rest of the day belonged to Hurst, the former wing-half who Greenwood had converted into a forceful, hard-working centre-forward.

They still debate today whether Hurst's second goal actually crossed the goalline after his shot struck the underside of the crossbar but there was no doubt about his third – a thunderous left-foot shot that flew into the roof of the net in the final seconds of extra-time. Geoff Hurst became the first, and so far only, player to score a hat- trick in the World Cup final.

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