The highlights have been few and far between for West Ham United's long-suffering fans over the years - three FA Cup wins, a European Cup-Winners' Cup victory, various other cup runs that failed on the verge of success and, of course, the enjoyment of watching great players such as Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Trevor Brooking. Throughout the 47 seasons the East London club has spent in the top flight of English football, the prospect of challenging for the League Championship title has been little more than a pipe dream. Except for one season: 1985-86.A 16th-place finish in 1984-85 had hardly filled the fans with optimism for the coming campaign, and the loss of young star Paul Allen to arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur had some supporters questioning the ambition of the club. They were in for a shock. Little did he know it at the time, but manager John Lyall's summer purchases of young unknown Scottish striker Frank McAvennie from St Mirren for 340,000 and diminutive winger Mark Ward from Oldham Athletic for 250,000, were the final pieces in a jigsaw that fell into place spectacularly to provide West Ham fans with a campaign they would never forget.
On the final Saturday of the season, the Hammers faced West Bromwich Albion still holding genuine hopes of finishing as League Champions. With Liverpool playing at Chelsea that day, Lyall's men knew that if they beat the Baggies and the Blues triumphed at Stamford Bridge, they only needed a victory against Everton two days later to secure their first-ever league title. Despite victory at the Hawthorns, though, news filtered through that Liverpool player-manager Kenny Dalglish had hit a winner against Chelsea to ensure that the Reds couldn't be caught. Eighteen years on, this book reflects in detail on the one and only season in which the claret-and-blue army were really able to chant 'We're gonna win the league'.
Buy Boys of '86 book by Danny Francis from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(199mm x 129mm x 13mm)
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing
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Author Biography - Danny Francis
Tony McDonald is a journalist and the author of West Ham United Who's Who and Claret and Blue: The Tony Cottee Autobiography. He is a lifelong West Ham fan and has written and edited numerous Hammers-related publications Danny Francis is a journalist and deputy editor of Hammers News, the club's official monthly magazine. He also contributes to the official match-day programme and is editor of the club's official website.