Hopes will be high for West Ham Utd in the upcoming season after coming close to finishing in the top-4 spots of the Premier League in the past couple of seasons.
The club hails from the former maritime district of West Ham in East London and ranks among the 8 English football clubs that have never dropped below the 2nd tier.
Despite its rich history, West Ham has not registered a single top-division league-title but the club has managed to win the FA Cup on 3 occasions. It has also recorded a couple of triumphs at the continental level having won the European Cup Winners’ Cup as well as the Intertoto Cup, although both these competitions are now defunct.
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West Ham have used claret and sky-blue as the club’s colours since 1903. The current crest features a crossed pair of rivet hammers which symbolise the shipbuilding heritage of the local district. They are contained within a shield which matches the cross-section on the hull of HMS Warrior, the most war-ship built by Thames Ironworks.
The team and the supporters of West Ham Utd are generally known as the Hammers. Among its popular nicknames generally used outside London is Cockney Boys. However, its own fans usually refer to the team as The Irons. Another name they like to use is The Academy of Football, referring to its highly rated youth-development system.
Since 1904, West Ham Utd was based for more than 100 years at Boleyn Ground, more commonly known as Upton Park. At the start of the 2016/17 season, it moved into the nearly 60,000 capacity London Stadium, the main arena of the 2012 London Olympics, giving the club one of the highest average attendances in the country.
West Ham has big rivalries with many London clubs but the primal one is shared with Millwall with both being founded employees of local companies belonging to the same neighbourhood. Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Chelsea are its other major rivals that it encounters regularly in the Premier League.
The earliest incarnation of West Ham was known as Thames Ironworks FC, the works team of the largest and last surviving shipbuilding company on the Thames that was founded in 1895. It began on a strictly amateur basis featuring a number of the work employees on the team.
In 1898, the club turned professional. However, growing disputes over running and financing led to the disbandment of Thames Ironworks FC in June 1900. It was almost immediately followed by its rebirth as West Ham United reflecting the London district where it was based.
The Early Decades
In 1901, West Ham United joined the Western League while also continuing to play in the Southern League Division 1 where the club featured in its previous guise. The club played in both the leagues without becoming part of Football until World War I when football activities were suspended for 4 years.
West Ham gained entry to the Football League Second Division for the 1919/20 season as part of its expansion and ended its debut campaign in 7th position. The club made slow but steady progress over the next couple of seasons even though it was not able to move up to the top-flight.
At the end of 1922/23, West Ham secured its maiden promotion to the top-tier after finishing as runners-up of the Second Division. The club also went to its first FA Cup final where it was beaten 2-0 by Bolton Wanderers in the first ever match played at Wembley which has gone down in history as the White Horse Final.
After taking 13th place on its maiden season in the First Division, West Ham remained in the top-flight until the end of the 1920’s despite getting involved in the relegation-battle on a few occasions. It hardly finished above mid-table with its best display being a 6th place finish in 1926/27.
The Hammers managed to survive the drop but finished down in 18th position at the end of the 1930/31 campaign. In the following 1931/32 season, the club ended at the very bottom of the First Division table to get relegated from the top-tier of English football for the first time.
On its return to the Second Division in 1932/33, West Ham nearly dropped down to the 3rd tier after finishing just a point above the drop-zone in 20th spot. The club improved in the next few years but could not secure a promotion until the end of the 1930’s when the sport was suspended once again due to World War II.
The Post War Era
After 7 years, the Football League resumed for the 1946/47 campaign which West Ham ended in 12th position of the Second Division standings. It moved into the top-half of the table in the next couple of seasons but still remained a fair distance away from earning promotion to the top-flight.
In 1948/49, the Hammers had to battle hard to avoid falling down to the 3rd tier and eventually ended down in 19th position. The club would remain in the bottom-half of the Second Division table for much of the 1950’s although it faced no serious threat of suffering relegation.
In 1956/57, West Ham finished in 8th spot which was its joint-best performance in the previous 5 years. Nevertheless, the Hammers went on to clinch the Second Division by a single point after a wide open title-race in 1957/58 to secure its return to the top-flight after 25 years.
Upon its comeback to the First Division in 1958/59, West Ham gave a pretty impressive account by finishing in 6th position. After establishing itself in the mid-table during the early 1960’s, West Ham collected its first major honour by taking home the FA Cup in 1963/64 with a 3-2 victory over Preston North End in the final.
Therefore, West Ham gained its maiden entry to a European competition in the Cup Winners’ Cup for 1964/65. The Hammers reached the final and beat German club TSV 1860 München to claim the trophy. In 1965/66, it ended as runners-up in the League Cup and was knocked out in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
But despite its successes in the cup tournaments, West Ham could not break into the top-end of the First Division and dropped down to the bottom-half in the early 1970’s. Still, the Irons were able to add another trophy by defeating London rivals Fulham 2-0 in the FA Cup final of 1974/75.
Up & Down
West Ham had to fight for its survival as it narrowly avoided relegation after finishing just a couple of points above the bottom-3 at the end of the 1976/77 campaign. But its efforts proved futile in the subsequent 1977/78 season after finishing in 20th spot to get relegated on the final day.
The Hammers missed out on an immediate promotion after taking 5th place in the Second Division in 1978/79. It dropped down to 7th in the following 1979/80 campaign yet managed to reach the final of the FA Cup where it went on to defeat Arsenal 1-0 and lifted the trophy for the 3rd time.
In 1980/81, West Ham entered the League Cup final but was beaten 2-1 by Liverpool following a replay. It also progressed to the European Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-finals before losing to eventual winners Dinamo Tbilisi. Finally, it cruised home to the Second Division title to seal its return to the top-flight.
Having secured a thoroughly respectable 9th position on its return to the First Division in 1981/82, West Ham was able to settle into the mid-table over the next few years. In 1985/86, the Irons ended just 4 points behind champions Liverpool in 3rd spot which remains its best-ever performance in the top-tier of English football.
But just like its meteoric rise, West Ham rapidly dropped down to the bottom-half in the next couple of seasons and only escaped the drop by virtue of a superior goal-difference in 1987/88. And at the end of 1988/89, the club was relegated from the First Division for the 3rd time after ending in 19th position.
The Contemporary Period
West Ham United gained promotion back to the top-tier after finishing as runners-up of the Second Division in 1990/91. But the Hammers went straight down once again as it finished in 22nd position at the conclusion of the 1991/92 campaign which turned out to be the last season of the First Division as the top-flight of England.
The Premier League Era
Despite its relegation, West Ham remained in the First Division which had now become the 2nd tier of English football. It completed the 1992/93 campaign as the runners-up behind Newcastle United to secure a direct promotion to the Premier League, which had now become the highest league in the country.
At the end of its maiden Premier League season in 1993/94, West Ham finished the campaign in 13th position. In spite of facing a couple of scrapes with the relegation-battle, the Hammers managed to remain relatively safe from any real danger in and around the mid-table over the next few years.
In 1998/99, West Ham went on to end the campaign in 5th spot which is still its highest finish during the Premier League era. The Hammers won an Intertoto Cup at the start of 1999/2000 to secure its maiden qualification for the UEFA Cup before completing the season in 9th spot of the league-table.
But the club dropped down to 15th spot in 2000/01 before recovering to a 7th place finish at the end of 2001/02. Despite having a strong squad of England internationals, West Ham made a dreadful start to 2002/03 which saw the club getting relegated on the final day of the season.
The Hammers returned to the Second Division in 2003/04 and finished the campaign in 4th spot to bag a playoff berth but fell to Crystal Palace at the final hurdle. In 2004/05, the division was renamed the Championship which the club finished in 6th position yet managed to snatch promotion through the playoffs.
West Ham made an impressive return to the Premier League in 2005/06 by finishing in 9th position. The club also went to the FA Cup final but was beaten by Liverpool after a penalty-shootout. It survived a few relegation-battles over the next few seasons but was dropped back to the 2nd tier after ending the 2010/11 season in 20th spot.
After returning to the Championship for 2011/12, West Ham finished the campaign in 3rd position before securing a swift return to the top-flight via the promotion-playoffs. It came back to the Premier League in better shape and finished the 2012/13 campaign on the edge of the top-half.
The Hammers was able to secure its place in the Premier League over the next couple of seasons before taking 7th place at the end of the 2015/16 campaign. It continued to occupy a top-half spot for a few more years until the Covid-19 marred 2019/20 season when it ended down in 16th position.
Since then, West Ham has shown plenty of improvement under current manager David Moyes by taking 6th position at the end of 2020/21. In the recently concluded 2021/22 campaign, the Hammers finished in 7th spot of the Premier League after progressing up to the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
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