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Stoke City v West Ham: Why 1972 semi-final can claim to be the best cup tie ever

12 Mar 2011 01:20:53

Stoke City v West Ham: Why 1972 semi-final can claim to be the best cup tie ever

Stoke City take on West Ham tomorrow in the FA Cup quarter final at the Britannia Stadium - but this clash will have to go some way to match the amazing League Cup semi-final between the two sides in the 1971-1972 season. The two-legged, last-four game went to two replays before Stoke won 3-2 at Old Trafford - 49 days after the tie had first kicked off. Here Sportsmail reproduces Jeff Powell's report of the match that separated the two sides. Stoke 3 West Ham 2 (Old Trafford, Wednesday, January 26, 1972) West Ham - brave, suffering, heartbroken West Ham - lost the longest and richest League Cup semi-final on one of the greatest football nights of all time. That they should have to leave Old Trafford with tears as well as rain running openly down their faces is a sad injustice to those magnificent Hammers. Hammer blow: keeper Bobby Ferguson dives in vain as Stoke's Peter Dobing scores his side's second goal in the final replay To Stoke goes the prize of playing Chelsea at Wembley on March 4. And few will begrudge them the chance they have craved, the chance to win a major trophy for the first time inmore than a century. The tragedy is that there was a loser of this mind-splitting fourth game climax to a marathon contest of the rarest footballing skills. This televised last act of a seven-hour semi-final was so full of flashpoint drama and raw courage that even the sight of Bobby Moore saving a spot kick seemed scarcely out of the ordinary. Moore, as befits the responsible captain of both his club and England, took over the green jersey during the 20 minutes in which injured goalkeeper Bobby Ferguson was being treated in the West Ham dressing room. Spot on: Gordon Banks saves Geoff Hurst's penalty in the second leg before savouring ultimate victory MARATHON BY NUMBERS 420 total minutes played by the two teams over the four semi-final matches. 170,614 total attendance figures for the four games. 35 cost in pence for the average ticket at the final game of the four-leg marathon. 10,000 amount by which the Old Trafford capacity was reduced for the final game due to the building of the cantilever stand. 1,010 minutes of League Cup football played by Stoke in order to reach the final (West Ham played 1,150 before being knocked out). 108 years Stoke City had been a football club before lifting their first trophy in 1972. The 13th minute collision which damaged one of the stars of the previous three clashes, was partly the fault of Stoke's Terry Conroy; but equally the product of a muddied pitch made more treacherous by windswept rain. Conroy's sliding leg hit Ferguson's head and shoulder as the goalkeeper dived. Jimmy Greenhoff had no sooner seen his goal from the rebound disallowed than West Ham officials were ministering to the fallen Ferguson. After seven minutes of attention, Ferguson was led shakily away. Minutes later Moore was facing a penalty by Mike Bernard, a fearful test that followed John McDowell's foul. Moore blocked the spot kick - only for Bernard to score from the rebound. But West Ham achieved the impossible, and the magnificent Billy Bonds deserved the deflection off Denis Smith's boot which lifted his equalising shot over Gordon Banks. Then, with Ferguson restored, Trevor Brooking spectacularly volleyed West Ham ahead from Bonds's cross. Yet in the fifth minute of the first half injury time a pass by George Eastham - that incredible veteran who will go to Wembley with all soccer's blessing - was swept in by Peter Dobing. Four minutes after the restart, the Hammers conceded the decisive goal. Full back John Marsh crossed from the right, Tommy Taylor could only clear to the edge of the penalty area, and Conroy's instant shot came skidding back beneath Ferguson's body. Painful: keeper Ferguson is injured, leaving Bobby Moore to go in goal Game over: Moore saved Bernard's penalty only for the Stoke star (left) to follow up and score, leading to a Stoke win celebrated by Conroy and Greenhoff in the bath (right) Stoke 1 West Ham 2December 8, 1971 Semi-final 1st leg Stoke goal: Dobing West Ham goals: Hurst (pen), Best Attendance: 36,400 West Ham fans can start rehearsing for a day out at Wembley on March 4. Stoke surely cannot burst their League Cup bubble now. COLIN WOOD STOKE: Banks; Marsh, Pejic, Bernard, Bloor, Jump, Conroy, Greenhoff, Ritchie, Dobing, Eastham. WEST HAM: Ferguson; McDowell, Lampard, Bonds, Taylor, Moore, Redknapp, Best, Hurst, Brooking, Robson. West Ham 0 Stoke 1 AET (agg: 2-2)December 15, 1971 Semi-final 2nd leg Stoke goal: Ritchie Attendance: 38,771 Gordon Banks last night made one of the greatest saves of his distinguished career at Upton Park to stop West Ham from going into the League Cup final at Wembley on March 4. BRIAN SCOVELL WEST HAM: Ferguson; McDowell, Lampard, Bonds, Taylor, Moore, Redknapp, Best, Hurst, Brooking, Robson. STOKE: Banks; Marsh, Pejic, Bernard, Bloor, Skeels, Conroy, Greenhoff, Ritchie, Dobing, Eastham (Mahoney). Stoke 0 West Ham 0 AETJanuary 5, 1972 Semi-final first replay (Hillsborough) Attendance: 46,196 Gordon Banks has done it again. The England goalkeeper made another of his great saves at Hillsborough last night to keep this 5 ? hour marathon League Cup semi-final going for at least another 90 minutes. BRIAN SCOVELL STOKE: Banks; Marsh, Pejic, Bernard, Smith, Bloor, Conroy, Dobing, Ritchie, Greenhoff (Skeels), Eastham. WEST HAM: Ferguson; McDowell, Lampard, Bonds, Taylor, Moore, Redknapp, Best, Hurst, Brooking, Robson. Stoke 3 West Ham 2January 26, 1972 Semi-final 2nd replay (Old Trafford) Stoke goals: Bernard, Dobing, Conroy. West Ham goals: Bonds, Brooking. Attendance: 49,247 This last act of a seven-hour semi-final was so full of flashpoint drama and raw courage that even Moore saving a spot kick seemed scarcely out of the ordinary. JEFF POWELL STOKE: Banks; Marsh, Pejic, Bernard, Smith, Bloor, Conroy, Greenhoff, Ritchie, Dobing, Eastham. WEST HAM: Ferguson, McDowell, Lampard, Bonds, Taylor, Moore, Redknapp (Eustace), Best, Hurst, Brooking, Robson, Eustace.  Sir Trevor Brooking wants to double number of English players in the Premier LeaguePulis expects his side to come under the Hammer but Stoke boss eyes WembleyAll the latest FA Cup quarter-final team news ahead of the weekend tiesAll the latest West Ham news, features and opinionAll the latest Stoke news, features and opinion  Explore more:People: Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Trevor Brooking, George Eastham Places: United Kingdom


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