Following on from their FA Cup victory against Preston North End, Greenwood’s West Ham United entered the European Cup Winners Cup. The competition was in its infancy having started in 1960/61, it was the perfect opportunity for Greenwood to pit his team against some fo the best teams in Europe. How would Greenwood’s team playing ‘the West Ham way’ do against European opposition?
In the first round the Hammers played La Gantoise of Belgium in Ghent and came up against a team who sat back to frustrate their more free flowing football style. But, Boyce secured a vital away victory with an early goal in the second half. La Gantoise continued their defensive tactics in the second leg and managed to take the lead after Martin Peters put the ball into his own net. Johnny Byrne scored the equaliser just before half time and the Hammers progressed after a 1-1 draw securing a 2-1 aggregate advantage.
The second round saw the Hammers drawn against Sparta Prague, without captain Bobby Moore who was recovering from a groin injury. Prague stifled the Hammers with their man marking but John Bonds 25 yard strike eased the team into playing a more natural game to see the first leg through 2-0 after Sealey got himself onto the score sheet.
In the second leg Sparta, who were league leaders, pushed forward forcing West Ham back in the early stages, but the Hammers caught their hosts on the break and Johnny Sissons put them ahead. Sparta did not give up and continued to push forward, managing to get a disputed penalty saved by Jim Standen and scoring 2 goals to leave a tense finish to the tie.
Moore returned for the knockout stages of the competition against Lausanne of Switzerland, brimming with international players and Greenwood relished the opportunity to pit his team against what was pretty much the Swiss national side. Injury to Eddie Bovington lead to the selection of Dears, who retained his place for the rest of the season. Dear put the Hammers 1-0 up on the 21st minute and a Byrne solo effort doubled their lead. Robert Hosp game the hosts some hope going into the second leg at Upton Park.
The second leg saw both teams come out of the blocks as West Ham tried to finish the game off and Sparta looking to get back into the tie. And indeed they did when Kerkoff headed in the equaliser to leave the game nervously poised. The Hammers lead was restored when Eli Tacchella scored an own goal. The Swiss were not going to give and on 49th minute when Hertig scored leaving the Hammers to soak up the pressure.
Peters made it 3-2 on the hour with a header to send the crowd roaring but the tie was still to play out. Eschmann’s over head kick put the Swiss back in the match until Dear finally settled the match a minute before the final whistle. The game was finally over and will live long in the memories of those who watched such an amazing and exhilarating match, even for the neutral observer.
West Ham played Real Zaragoza of Spain in the next round, already the holders of the Inter Cities Fair Cup and having found the net 15 times int he competition so far. The first leg was at Upton Park, with Dear and Byrne putting the Hammers 2-0 before the visitors grabbed an away goal through Brazilian Canario. Would this be enough for West Ham to secure a win on the away leg?
Sealey replaced Byrne, who picked up an injury playing in the England-Scotland match. Byrne had been a crucial player in the cup run so far. Zargoza’s pressure, despite West Ham defending well could not stop Lapetra scoring an important goal that left the tie level at 2-2. West Ham managed to come through the match and secure a 3-2 aggregate win when Johnny Sessions scored to equal the tie and meet 1860 Munich in the final at Wembley.
In a pulsating final, with both teams going close as play went from end to end, the first half ended 0-0, but did not lack any entertainment and produced an exciting match. There was still much to play for in the second half. But Sealey was to seal his name in the history books of West Ham with two goals that put the game beyond their opponents. Ronnie Boyce perfect pass set up Sealey for his first goal and two minutes later another from a Moore pass that hit Peters and fell to Sealey to win the Cup for the Hammers.
The photo shows Sealey slotting the ball home at close range. I love this photo, the composition is excellent and it has all the key elements to capture a moment that will live long in memory. The depth fo field really helps to focus on Sealey as your eye is led into the frame from the byline and then you notice the details – the tufts of grass around the players feet, the packed crowd behind in the stands and the concentration on Sealy’s face as the white blur of the ball heads towards the back of the net. Its a classic photographic composition that as a photographer you’d be ready to shot and would have set up and shot loads of times during the game hoping to catch a telling shot or save.
Sadly for Sealey, a broken leg suffered from an accident at the training grounds meant he was restricted to playing just five more times for West Ham before moving to Plymouth Argile in 1967. Sealy passed away in 1996 aged just 53.