The culmination of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has left many football lovers in the lurch. But for fans of West Ham United, the wait for elite-level football won’t be a long one. They will return to Premier League action on Boxing Day. Then, in the new year, they will face a trip across London to face Brentford in the FA Cup third round. The tie is undoubtedly a difficult one, and that is reflected in the betting odds. Oddschecker, which compares football odds and offers, has the tie down as a genuine 50/50, and it will be interesting to see who progresses.

Should it be the Hammers that prevail, then they may well embark on a heroic cup run similar to the one they enjoyed last season. This term, the East London club has already progressed to the last 16 of the UEFA Europa Conference League. Last term, they defeated Sevilla and Lyon en route to the UEFA Europa League semifinal. Had they reached the final, it would have been their first since the 2006 FA Cup. With the world’s oldest cup competition getting back underway in the new year, we thought it would be the perfect time to look back at that heroic run from 17 years ago.

A tough route 

As mentioned, the Hammers have a tricky start to life in the FA Cup this season, and the same can be said for their incredible run back in 2006. West Ham’s journey began with a difficult-looking trip to Championship side Norwich City. The Canaries were flying high in the second tier that season, however, the hosts were no match for the visitors. Goals from Hayden Mullins and Bobby Zamora secured a 2-1 victory at Carrow Road, and the campaign was off and running.

Norwich were the only non-Premier League side the Hammers would face throughout their entire run. In the fourth round, United were given a home tie against a Blackburn Rovers side that featured the likes of Morten Gamst Pedersen, Craig Bellamy, and David Bentley. Rovers would go on to finish sixth in the league that season, securing a place in the UEFA Cup the following term. And they would snatch an early lead at Upton Park courtesy of the aforementioned Bentley.

The hosts would come roaring back. An own goal, as well as goals from Teddy Sheringham and Matthew Etherington, gave Alan Pardew’s side a 3-1 lead. The visitors went on to pull one back, but Zamora settled the tie with just over 15 minutes remaining, securing a 4-2 victory and safe passage through to the fifth round.

Next up came another North-West club that had European connections. Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers had picked up a win over Zenit Saint Petersburg before Christmas, as well as impressive draws against Sevilla and Besiktas. They couldn’t stop West Ham’s FA Cup run though. The first tie between the pair ended in a draw before the Hammers defeated the Trotters in the replay at Upton Park thanks to Marlon Harewood’s extra-time winner.

The latter stages 

Next up was a trip to the formerly named City of Manchester Stadium, home of Manchester City. This was a Blues side before their mega-money takeover, and the tie was most definitely winnable. And win was exactly what the Hammers did. A Dean Ashton double gave the visitors a 2-0 lead in Manchester and, despite Kiki Musampa’s late consolation, United would comfortably win to setup a semifinal tie with Middlesbrough.

Boro were also a team that was flying in Europe that season. They would go on to defeat Roma, Basel, and Steaua București to reach the final of that competition, but they couldn’t get the better of the Hammers at Villa Park in the FA Cup semi-finals. A late winner from Harewood 12 minutes before time would book West Ham’s place in the Millenium Stadium showpiece and leave their opponents empty-handed after a season of such promise.

Unfortunately for the Hammers, the final would end in heartbreak. They raced into a 2-0 lead against Liverpool in Cardiff before goals from Djibril Cisse and Steven Gerrard levelled the game up. Paul Konchesky’s cross would fly into the top corner to give the London club the lead once again, only for captain Gerrard to fire home a last-gasp 35-yard rocket to take the tie into extra time and eventually penalties. In the end, goalkeeper Pepe Reina would be the difference. He saved three West Ham penalties to give the Reds the win in one of the greatest FA Cup finals of all time.

Photo by Unsplash