Five Boleyn Ground Legends

This evening's FA Cup sixth round replay between West Ham and Manchester United marks the final Cup tie to be hosted at the Hammers famous old Upton Park.

Also known as the Boleyn Ground due to it's proximity to the grounds of the so-called Boleyn Castle where Henry the 8th's doomed wife Anne Boleyn once apparently stayed, the end of this season will witness the closure of West Ham's storied home with the club moving into the renovated Olympic Stadium next season.

There will be a few moist eyes and resigned sighs from the West Ham faithful as they goodbye to their club's home for the past 112 years, and more than a few supporters will think back to some of the great players that have graced the Boleyn Ground's turf over the years.

The following are five West Ham legends:

5.) Paolo Di Canio

Although the temperamental Italian striker Paolo Di Canio's time at the club lasted only three and half seasons, he gave Hammers fans plenty to cheer about during his time in East London. Playing as a senior talisman with a talented young group that included Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Trevor Sinclair and Joe Cole, West Ham played some sparkling football during Di Canio's first few seasons at the club and finished as high as fifth in 1998-1999. The following season saw the former Juventus marksman score of the finest goals ever witnessed at Upton Park when he volleyed home a terrific marker against Wimbledon. Of course his time at the club wasn't without bust ups and controversy, but despite that and the fact that the Italian is the only one in this list that was not a West Ham youth graduate, he understood what made the club tick and was loved unconditionally by supporters.

4.) Tony Cottee

One of the most prolific goalscorers of the 1980's and early 1990's, Tony Cottee put away over 115 league goals for the Hammers across two stints at Upton Park. Debuting as a 17 year old, Cottee scored five goals in his first eight matches in 1983-1983, and by the following season he was a firmly established first team player, regularly terrorizing defences across the country. Alongside Scottish international Frank MacAvennie, Cottee provided the firepower for an exciting West Ham side that finished third in the league in 1985-1986, still the club's highest finish to date. Although he would leave for Everton in 1988, Cottee would return to the Hammers for another successful stint under Harry Redknapp in 1994.

3.) Trevor Brooking

The stylish midfielder Trevor Brooking amassed 647 appearances for West Ham between 1966 and 1984, and led the side to victory in the 1975 and 1980 FA Cup Finals. In the surprising victory over Arsenal the latter final, it was Brooking who scored a rare header to bring the cup back to Upton Park. Brooking played almost the entirety of his career for the club and despite numerous offers to go elsewhere he stayed loyal to the West Ham cause. Brooking was capped 47 times for England and twice held the position of caretaker manager with the club.

2.) Geoff Hurst

Making his debut for West Ham as an 18 year old in 1960, Sir Geoff Hurst would go on to plunder 242 goals in 500 appearances for the club. Hurst started out as a left half, but after struggling with the defensive side of his game to the point where he was considering quitting football to commit to cricket, manager Ron Greenwood moved him upfront and the goals started to flow. Hurst would score the equalizing goal in a 3-2 FA Cup Final victory in 1964 over Preston, and would go on to net many more important goals for the club. At international level he's still the only player to score a hat trick in a World Cup Final, as he fired English football to its finest moment in 1966.

1.) Bobby Moore 

English football's favourite son, Bobby Moore graced Upton Park from 1958 until 1974. A wonderful defender who had an impeccable reading of the game, Moore led West Ham to victory in the 1964 FA Cup Final over Preston North End and was back at Wembley the following year to help his side see off TSV 1860 Munchen in the European Cup Winners Cup Final. His greatest triumph would of course come the following year when he led England to victory in the World Cup Final over West Germany. Moore, who would have turned 75 yesterday, sadly passed away of cancer in 1993. West Ham have since retired his famous number six in recognition for what he did for club and country.


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