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West Ham v Manchester United in 1960: Was it more fun then?

At the time of the US War of Independence in the 1770s the British soldiers wore redcoats. That was so the blood wouldn’t show on their scarlet uniforms if they got wounded. For similar reasons the American rebels wore brown trousers.

As we enter the decisive final weeks of the season, with injury-weakened Manchester United fighting for trophies on three fronts, I fear it’s already gone beyond Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous ‘squeaky-bum time’. We may now all need brown trousers, given that United have to face West Ham on Saturday at Upton Park, scene of all too many gut-churning disappointments in the past.

Is there an Upton Park bogey?

For most of the last half-century West Ham away from home has been a bit of a bogey fixture for United, including this season in the league cup when a hitherto hopeless West Ham suddenly rose up in November to batter the cup-holders 4-0. Many Reds will also recall with a shudder the way the already-relegated Hammers somehow shook off their dismal form in April 1992 to beat United 1-0, helping gift the league title to the hated ‘scum’ of Leeds United. Then, three years later, in the last league match of the season, they somehow held United to an improbable 1-1 draw, enabling Blackburn Rovers to win the 1995-96 Premiership by a single point. Both results were greeted with extraordinary outpourings of orgasmic joy in London’s East End, out of all proportion to how their own team had performed. There seems to be something about United which inflames West Ham fans at home, giving them some sort of resentment-fuelled adrenaline rush which transmits itself to their team.

The funny thing is that the bitter hatred wasn’t present when I first started going to West Ham v United matches, over fifty years ago. It was not that they didn’t want to beat United, who were clearly pegged as big name glamour boys, but there was just none of the visceral ,knuckle-clenching hostility of more recent times. There were some brilliant matches, full of good football on both sides in those distant days, although that doesn’t mean results were any better for the Red Devils.

To read this story in full, purchase Red Matters from Amazon.



  1. berba is magic says:

    hope we beat them tomorrow and going in the next fixture with a very good moral! Come on Man Utd

  2. RedFilip says:

    Top class article, Sir Giles, as always. You are a legend among us, the boring mortals.
    Always looking forward towards your articles.
    When I woke up today and saw your article on top of the page, I instantly knew this will be a great and beautiful day.
    The intro (about the American Independence War) is the funniest and greatest thing I’ve read in a very long period.
    I consider you, Sir Oakley, to be the writers’ equivalent of our Sir Alex Ferguson, and we are kind of like the players of our beloved Manchester United, soldiers dressed in red, bleeding for the club on these blogs.
    Best Regards,
    Truly Yours

  3. suhail says:

    @ RedFilip lol at your comment

  4. suhail says:

    beating west ham will bring us in good stead for the title but looking at out away form im a bit nervy…
    Anyway hope we win with Roo Chich and nani getting the goals 3 – 1

  5. Always Be Closing says:

    Odd and interesting all at once! Thanks again Giles.

  6. HAMMER FAN 57 says:

    I hope that you don’t mind a hammer fan having a short say on this article.
    Interesting article (for the older generation, of which I am one) but I think that you have missed the mark on one point entirely. You say that there is “a resentment fuelled adrenaline rush” attitude with West Ham fans.
    I would not call it resentment but I strongly believe that West Ham have one of the most passionate and vociferous sets of fans in the country. Indeed, even Fergie has said so on several occasions, which is one of the few compliments that he has shown ANY team. We do not resent Man United (or anyone else, with the exception of S*urs). If the truth be told, we probably admire what you have achieved.
    No, because you are a big scalp to take, we do take a lot of pride in beating you. Therefore, you should take it as a back handed compliment when we do start to crow following a victory.
    West Ham fans are long-suffering, having been a bit of a yo-yo team in recent years. But we do try to play footbal the “proper” way, much the same as yourselves. I believe that we will get a result this weekend, and if we do, please don’t deny us our celebrations. Just console yourself with the thought that the vociferous support will soon die away when we move to the Olympic Park!

  7. newtown_red says:

    That’s some article there sir.Well written.Must win games now.No pissing about.Like Gary said when asked why United have the ability to score so late.He replied that because when the lads get a chance around the 65th minute, they know another will soon follow.but when it is the 90th minute, the lads put it away knowing full well that another chance won’t come. Playing till the final whistle is drilled into the team.Hopefully the same logic applies here during the final run in.No matter which team steps out, the fans have to be 100% behind them.Bread and Butter baby.Fuck the champagne of arsenal.Don’t care how we win.

  8. hammons says:

    I definitely believe that its a bogey fixture. we have not done well there in the last few years… hopefully it will be a different story tomorrow.

    West Ham Preview: Don’t Get Hammered Again

  9. newtown_red says:,19528,11667_6845608,00.html
    hmmm…..looks like my prediction for Adler may be wrong after all.This will make some of you happy though.If he does come, hopefully his potential will make up for his lack of experience.Strange though.Always thought Sergio Asenjo would be the one making it big out of Athletico.Where did De Gea come from.Credit to him though for being noticed.But I think he will be Valdes replacement in all honesty.

  10. vidic is titanium says:

    Love these articles. Have you got a book Giles? I want more…

  11. smartalex says:

    Good day newton_red. well I trust? That article really is leading us on. All that has been said there is that many clubs (including United) have expressed interest to his agent, however, the agent admits that United would first clear the matter with his club.

    In other words, his agent is saying that the interest shown is irrelevant, as United do not show interest until they have agreed with the contracted club. This has not happened yet.

  12. newtown_red says:

    Morning smartalex.Yeah i know the article is basically as ambiguous as it gets.Just thought i would share it.At the moment at least we know that De Gea is a possibility, as well as Adler and Stekenleberg(although he has recently been making noise about Arsenal).Neaur is basically out, and Buffon has the lowest chance of all the keepers to join us i would say.While i lloris and Afinkeev don’t seem to be in the running.Although i would have a better chance of winning the lottery than predicting what Sir Alex is going to do.

  13. Jeet says:

    Interesting article, made me remember my own version of “the Westham man” incident – I was lucky to be in a position wher I could twist the bastard’s hand to almost breaking hand, but at that age it can psyche you up…

    All, right Reds, let’s go and hammer them tomorrow! Come on!!

  14. Red Devil says:

    Sir Giles

    Its been a long time speaking with you….I hope you’re doing fine
    Thats a tremendous tale you’ve got there….

    It can raise a chuckle now, but I guess it must have been quite a miserable experience at that point of time…

    As you say, lets keep our focus on the ‘footballs’ and do them proper for the 4-0 last time round…
    Come on you REDS!

  15. Staffred says:

    I’d say pretty much every Set of fans in the country hate utd!
    Or should I say are jealous of utd!

  16. willierednut says:

    Nice article Giles. The hammers do take great pleasure, in beating United. Not tomorrow.

  17. jespermoses says:

    fantastic Giles………everyones met a ‘west ham man’ before……………lot of oddballs out there!

  18. Giles Oakley says:

    Many thanks for the comments, folks.

    I was very pleased to see the contribution from Hammer Fan 57, which struck me as a reasonable and thoughtful response to what I’d said about West Ham fans. In fact I don’t think we’re far apart, except perhaps that I feel, as a total outsider, that West Ham fans have changed over the fifty-plus years I’ve been (intermittently ) going to Upton Park. I’ve been to non-United matches too over the years, so I have some points of comparison. Yes, Hammers fans have always been passionate, as I said in my piece, but the whole atmosphere and mood is different these days, and not just at Upton Park. Where I agree is on United being a ‘big scalp’, and I certainly don’t blame West Ham fans exulting in victory. I’d do the same, it’s what supporting your team is all about.

    Nevertheless, I do think there have been real changes over the years.

    I was able to travel miles to Upton Park on my own as a 14 year-old and stand anywhere in the crowd with no need for segregation, and with no fear about cheering for United. Slowly over the years everywhere in football it’s been felt necessary to keep rival supporters apart, and in many grounds insist on the away fans leaving separately when the home fans have gone. I think that’s very sad, and not how football should be. There was just as much passion and partisanship in 1960, and some brilliant matches, as I hope I conveyed, but there really was no resentment then, which I feel exists now, or did ten or fifteen years ago. See my ‘Getting a Kick Out of Eric Cantona (Part 11.111): Memories of Chasing the Double Double in ’95′ and also ‘When Eric Cantona Turned Peacemaker…’ Both cover matches at Upton Park, the second one being about me taking my then 10-year old daughter to see United for the first time. She loved it!. You can find them in the RoM Archive under my name)

    Anyway, my friend, thanks again for commenting on a United site. Obviously I hope United win tomorrow, and I desperately hope there are no contentious decisions by the ref, given that both our teams have suffered from appalling refereeing this season.

    Finally, I hope West Ham stay up, so we can resume ‘hostilities’ next season!

  19. King Eric says:

    Another outrageously great piece Giles . Hope you are well.

  20. ididnotzeeit says:

    Great piece Giles!

    I think deep down we all know the “Diddler in the Shower” and the “West Ham Man” were actually Arsenal supporters.

  21. Zombie Cucumber says:

    “…the British soldiers wore redcoats. That was so the blood wouldn’t show on their scarlet uniforms if they got wounded. For similar reasons the American rebels wore brown trousers.”

    Yet, as I recall, we won that one.

  22. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Giles, great read.

    Off topic. Anyone know why Brown is a doubt?

  23. Mozza79 says:

    “For similar reasons the American rebels wore brown trousers.” – What a weird comment. You do realise that this rag tag group of American rebels running around shitting themselves actually won right?

  24. EricDantona says:

    Who directed the sulky yanks to this page?

    For all your pride, would a sense of humour kill you?

  25. Giles Oakley says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it , but I would point out that I was advocating donning brown trousers for the run-in. I kinda assumed people knew the Americans won their own War of Independence, and that perforce those wearing said garments were the winners in the end. Ah well, maybe all a bit subtle.

  26. King Eric says:

    It may be of absolutely no interest you and may even sound crude giles but seriously mate, you could write a book with all these tremoundous articles and sell bucketloads.

  27. Giles Oakley says:

    Actually King Eric, I do quite fancy the idea. I enjoy writing these tales and I’m very chuffed when people say they enjoy them.

  28. King Eric says:

    Giles. Go for it mate. They would sell like hot cakes. Absolutely enthralling, articulate, informative and riveting reads. I really mean that mate.

  29. Giles Oakley says:

    Thanks, mate, you really are a King, Eric. I really value support from genuine Reds like yourself.


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