In the third edition of our Classic Match series, we take a trip back into the past to relive an afternoon to remember at Upton Park against tomorrow’s visitors to East London in the form of Chelsea.
It was the cold winter of 2012, “Troublemaker” by Essex boy Olly Murs had just topped The United Kingdom Music Charts and Kensington Palace was about to announce that The Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant with her first child.
Meanwhile, in the world of The Premier League, Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United were enjoying a successful first season back in The Top-Flight after Promotion via The Play-Offs from The Championship the previous spring.
Heading into a League clash with Chelsea to be played at The Boleyn Ground, we had just suffered back-to-back away defeats at the hands of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, sitting tenth in the Standings.
Whereas, The Blues, under Rafa Benitez following the sacking of Andre-Villas Boas that very week, were in somewhat disarray having not won once in their last six games and most recently drawing at home with rivals Fulham, despite occupying third place in The Division.
The chilly early-December fixture had been selected for Live Television Coverage by Sky Sports and it wouldn’t disappoint viewers, as well as the 35,000 who had crammed into the East London arena, who were as vocal as ever.
As the two line-ups were announced, the danger men could be seen in either of the two sides, big striker Carlton Cole could prove a handful for the visitors to deal with, while they could attack to great effect with Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres threatening.
It would be a dream start in The Capital for this visiting Chelsea supporters as Victor Moses slipped in Torres to find midfielder Juan Mata, his delicately placed finish finding Jussi Jaaskelainen’s bottom right-hand corner on 13 minutes.
It would take the team in Claret & blue a full 50 minutes to respond after Benitez’s Blues had missed an abundance of first-half chances.
Cole was the man with the goal, using Branislav Ivanovic as leverage to get his head to a deflected Matt Taylor cross, guiding the ball past a perplexed Petr Cech against the backdrop of mass appeals from The West Londoners.
But, their misery would just be increased in the closing stages of the fiery affair as a certain impact substitute got on the scoresheet.
Mo Diame was able to make the most of a lay-off from The No9 up-front to drill a powerful low effort into near enough the same corner that Mata had found earlier and raise the roof on Upton Park.
Allardyce’s men weren’t done yet either, with The Pensioners trying to get forward to find an equaliser, the most unlikely of sources would cap things off in added-time.
Ashley Cole had gifted the ball to Modibo Maiga with a weak play and the Malian played Taylor in for a one-on-one, but Cech made the save.
However, the Czech Republic International pushed it perfectly to the feet of Maiga once more to smash home his fourth Hammers goal and one of the ones he will be remembered for the most.
The historic victory was our first over the reigning UEFA Champions League winners in 13 encounters and Allardyce’s 34th win of his long tenure in East London.
But, the question remains this afternoon, can today’s Hammers Boss David Moyes claim his first win in his role at The London Stadium at the fifth time of asking at home to Antonio Conte’s Blues tomorrow lunchtime? All will be revealed in a matter of hours.