24 years on Hackett says: “I’m so sorry West Ham”


hackettKeith Hackett has given every West Ham an apology for the worst refereeing decision in our club’s history – the sending off of Tony Gale in the 1991 FA Cup semi final at Villa Park against Nottingham Forest!

Put the mere words “Tony Gale sent off” into Google 24 YEARS ON and that awful decision by ref Keith Hackett appears in all it’s ghastly ‘glory’ after what we know today as a professional foul on Gary Crosby

But last night Hackett – speaking exclusively to ClaretandHugh associate editor Sean Whetstone and blogger Nigel Kahn (pictured right with the former ref) spoke of “my worst decision in 34 years as a referee”saying: “There are many ( who were there on the day) who still support West Ham and I ruined their day. I apologise for that.”

However, Hackett insisted that he had no alternative as he and other refs had been instructed to introduce a new ruling which we know today as a ‘professional foul’ only days earlier and had no alternative after it had been accepted by the officials present.

But he added: “We were all sat in the room. We should have said: “Get lost.” We will do it next season – not in this one.

“Had this match been played on the previous Wednesday night this would not have happened – Tony Gale would have received a yellow card.”

Hackett declared: “I was made a sacrificial cow. All the West Ham fans came up to Birmingham for that day, paid good ,money and I cocked it up.”

“Players may only get one opportunity of going to Wembley in their careers and my decision affected that for Tony and if you look at it now Crosby was going away from goal.”

Hugh Southon writes: The game was played out in an astonishing atmosphere following the incident as  every successive goal in the 4-0 defeat was followed by louder and louder chants of “Billy Bonds Claret and Blue Army.” It was hairs standing up on the back of your neck stuff.

It was a momentous day for the utterly amazing Hammers fans who truly showed what supporting your team is all about. It was entirely unforgettable and will live forever in the memories of all those who were there.

It was one of the most amazing reminders then – and now – of why we support West Ham United Football Club.

It’s about the fans.

podTHE FULL INTERVIEW WILL BE BROADCAST ON  THE WEST HAM PODCAST MOORE THAN JUST A PODCAST next Monday evening March 2, 2015   http://moorethanjustapodcast.co.uk

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Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!"

Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon


  • sleepswithdafishes says:

    The laughable thing about that now is, today that is an obvious sending off, but then it wasn’t.
    The worse thing about football today is you only have to run past a striker to give away a penalty or get sent off, because thay just dive all the time. People tell me strikers have got more technique than before, but fact is you could tackle them before.
    Still it lead to the longest ever football chant, of Johnny Lyalls claret and blue army. ( about 90 minutes including the halftime break.

  • Dainon17 says:

    ‘I was there on that day can he give me a refund plus interest ? Or maybe I should call one of those ‘no win no fee’ firms to get onto him

    Sleepswithdofishes .. you were almost right about the song BUT it was “Billy Bonds claret & blue army” that was echoing around Villa park that afternoon.. That song made me proud of our club and fans and took away the pain of defeat, maybe in future when we are getting a thumping instead of getting up and leaving early we should roll back to the chant of ’91



  • eastendexile says:

    I was there with my daughter and nephew and never was there a day before or since, that I was prouder for us to be West Ham supporters.

    It was amazing how the chant got louder and louder and was virtually continous.

    The ref ruined the spectacle but could not ruin us. As we know, it is not always easy to be a Hammer, but we’re proud of our team and roots and no one could accuse us of being glory hunters!


  • sleepswithdafishes says:

    Im sure it got louder with each of the goals lol

    and yes lets get back to that sort of supporting

  • conkerpot says:

    See that’s when supporters were really supporters. Still getting behind the team when they are losing four nil.

  • conkerpot says:

    Wouldn’t happen now with some of the so called supporters. they would blame the manager for the four nil loss. Player would get slated for being sent off. Would be down to the manager to blame the ref and then he would get accused of making excuses.

  • bubs says:

    Found some friends then conker but sorry us BFS critics were there to and yes we cheer to the end and don’t run off afterwards but that would not have been a BFS team because Gale would have been to skilful and mobile for him,

  • New606 says:

    I was there that day, was a very special day for everyone there. I remember Hackett being pulled from reffing the Newcastle match a few Weeks after.

  • conkerpot says:

    Not sure what your point is blubs? Are you saying the players today such as Aaron cresswell are less skilful and mobile than they were in the past?

  • bubs says:

    You are not that stupid Cronker,BFS would never have wanted a player with Gales skill who could have played the ball out from the back and not tried to kill the birds punting up field for AC ( when not injured ) to flick on to cousin Kevin ( hanging around he goal area as usual) to try and score more than 1 goal in a season,
    No Cresswell would have played well with those players,just imagine quick fast flowing football, skilful exhilarating end to end football,I glad you picked him and not Nolan,
    Can’t quite fit him into that senario or that BFS could have watched that sort of football and enjoyed it probably like yourself?

  • bubs says:

    Sorry conker that was a typo did not mean to add the r to conker,my wife just told me not to revert to play ground tactics,
    Got to go now watch some boring Spanish football,all that tippy tappy stuff that you hate,
    Never mind BFS might get a job at another London Club you could go and watch OPR ?
    Won thing for sure he won’t get a job out here.

  • Born to be a Hammer says:

    HAckett was right to get pulled as it was a SHOCKING call and effectively ended the game in the first 15 mins or whatever it was, can’t quite remember but effectively the tie was lost from that point.

    Hackett shouldn’t have applied the ruling that was that new and experimental is such a big game and if he was going to apply it he should have informed the teams and managers first. My biggest problem is that ok, he applied the fair enough but by his own admission Crosby was running away from goal so it should have been a Yellow Card. That’s my opinion anyway.

  • conkerpot says:

    sorry did I have your name wrong? Eyes must be going in my old age.

  • bubs says:

    That’s the problem if your eyes are a bit dodgy you proberly don’t mind the big ball stuff,much easier looking up in the sky and watching AC trying to head it than all that tippy tappy stuff,
    Just playing conker.

  • TysonM says:

    Conker,you are like one of those irritating little flies that buzz round peoples heads.Everytime you swat at them they vanish but then comeback to irritate all over again 😉

  • bubs says:

    Tyson we have those in Spain there’s one coming to the ground on Saturday Pardew but conker probably liked him to the Newcastle fans did.

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