If Ron Greenwood hadn’t been such a honourable man, England legend Gordon Banks may have been keeping goal for the Hammers in the early 70s. The story goes that Ron shakes hands with the Kilmarnock manager to sign Bobby Ferguson, at the same time England World Cup winning keeper was available on transfer from Leicester City and was offered to West Ham.
Greenwood though has shaken hands on the deal and as such would not go back on it. As a result Banks would join Stoke City and in 1972 faced the Hammers with both teams one step from Wembley Final in the League Cup.
The tie was possibly the most drawn out in that competition, played out over the 2 original legs and then 2 replays. West Ham won the first leg at Stoke’s Victoria Ground 2-1 and a week later the return at the Boleyn was played, just 10 days before Christmas Day.
Stoke had taken the lead on the night, levelling the tie at 2-2, when the Hammers won a penalty. Geoff Hurst, Banks’ England team mate, stepped up to smash West Ham into the final.
The Hurst trademark penalty action was to blast the ball as hard as he could and tonight would be no different, except, as if to further prove his status as the world’s best keeper Banks dived to his right to push the ball over the bar onto the roof of the goal in front of a stunned North Bank.
The first replay took place at Hillsborough and ended equal at 0-0 and so onto Old Trafford for the second go and in a dramatic night, Bobby Ferguson takes a blow to the head and leaves the field.
Bobby Moore not only took over in goal but managed to save a penalty, only for the rebound to be netted as The Potters secured a 3-2 victory.
Stoke would go on to beat Chelsea in the final while it would take the Hammers nine more years to reach their first and only Wembley League Cup Final.
Words and pictures from CandH historian Nigel Kahn
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