For a club as big as West Ham is, our record of qualifying for European tournaments is actually pretty poor, possibly the worst of the clubs regularly situated in the top 25 of the football rich list.
In total we have only appeared in 8 UEFA major club competitions, ignoring the
Anglo Italian cup that was played in the 70s and revived in the early 1990s.
European Cup Winners Cup 1964/65
Our first four forays into Europe were in the now-defunct European Cup Winners Cup, played between the domestic cup winners of Europe.
Our first FA Cup win in 1964 led onto the following year's tournament, which itself resulted in possibly the greatest night in the clubs' history, the 1965 final at Wembley against the German TSV Munich 1860.
The first ever European tournament game was played on the 23rd September 1964 away in Belgium against La Gantoise who had won their domestic Cup for the first time in their history as well.
Ronnie Boyce scored the single goal of the game for the Hammers to take back for the 2nd leg at Upton Park. Considering the ground held up to 42,000 back then the attendance given of 24,000 seems on the low side but just three days later we were at home again in the league against Aston Villa and that game only drew 20,000.
Spartak Prague were the opponents in round two and in front of 27,500 a 2-0 victory set us up to go through despite losing 2-1 away in the 2nd leg.
British Pathe news followed the Hammers out to Czechoslovakia, no sound on the video but John Sissons is the scorer of the West Ham goal and you can see there were a few Hammers fans in the ground picked up on the cameras.
Lusanne was despatched in the Quater finals played 3 months after the previous round leaving Real Zaragoza standing in the way of us and the trip back to Wembley for the final, just 54 weeks after we had won our first ever major trophy in the same stadium.
It seems the fans dream of another trophy had taken hold as West Ham won the first leg at home 2-1 in front of 36,000 fans and with the team securing a 1-1 draw away 5 days after the domestic season finished our fans had the shortest trip of all to make for the final on the tube ride to Wembley.
The 2-0 victory that night was the crowning moment for Ron Greenwoods West Ham team, it also meant they would get the chance to defend the trophy in next seasons tournament, along with Liverpool who qualified by beating Leeds 2-1 in the 1965 FA Cup final to win it for the first time themselves.
Liverpool had in 64/65 had their first taste of European football in the European Cup, the forerunner of the champions league, where they lost out in the Semi-final to that year's champions, Inter Milan.
European Cup Winners Cup 1965/66
In the first round of the 65/66 tournament, West Ham was given a bye and so it wasn't until November our defence of the cup began against the mighty Greek team, Olympiacos.
Geoff Hurst scoring twice with goals also from Johnny Byrne and Peter Brabrook gave the hammers a 4-0 lead to take to Greece and two from Martin Peters, 1 in each half put the hammers 6 up on aggregate. The Greeks got 2 back in the 2nd half but it was the hammers who progressed.
The referee in Greece was Tofik Bahramov, an Azerbajaine by birth which was then part of the USSR. He 8 months later would play an important part in the World Cup final in 66 as he was the so-called "Russian linesman" who deemed Geoff Hurst's shot that cannoned off the bar had crossed the line fully when it bounced down.
Highlites of the away leg in Greece are below but with Greek commentary, the translation of which is as follows
"On 1st December 1965, West Ham travelled to Greece to play Olympiakos in the second round, second leg of the 1965-66 European Cup Winners Cup.
The London club arrived in Greece with a 4-0 lead after the first leg.
There were 40k spectators at the Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki to cheer their team on.
However, Olympiakos had it all to do with West Ham taking a two goal lead with both goals coming from Martin Peters
Minutes after the second goal, Eddie Bovington conceded an own goal. Then in the 81st minute Kostas Polychroniou pulled another back. But, it was not enough and the London club went into the next leg with an aggregate 6-2 win"
Thanks to Stelios from irons United for the translation
Three months later and West Ham faced East Germans FC Magdeburg in the Quarter Final, Johnny Byrne the goal scorer that gave us a slender lead to take behind the Iron Curtain in the reverse leg. In the 78th minute, the East Germans equalised but just one minute later, Johnny Sissons levelled on the night but more importantly put us 2-1 ahead on aggregate and through to a Semi-Final date with Borussia Dortmund this time in the West of Germany, the winners would face either Celtic or Liverpool in the final to be played at Hampden Park.
Dortmund had been League Champions in 1963 and like Liverpool won the domestic cup for the first time in 1965, They would be the toughest team the hammers had faced across the two seasons of European football the club had played.
Martin Peters put the Hammers 1-0 up in the 53rd minute but two goals in two minutes by Lothar Emmerich gave Dortmund a lead to take back to their home tie.
It would be Emmerich again who would be the toast of Dortmund as goals in the 1st minute and 28th along with a third by Gerhard Cyliax sent them onto Glasgow for the final. Johnny Byrne gave the Hammers that travelled something to cheer with our consolation goal.
Like West Ham, Three of the Dortmund team, Tilkowski in goal, Sigfried Held and Emmerich played in the World Cup Final in 66 but their trinity of players came up short that time.
Highlights from the 2nd leg in Germany below with possibly one of the quickest goals scored against West Ham
15 games played against 8 teams with 9 wins, 3 draws, 3 defeats and a Trophy was a great return from our first taste of European club football but it would be another 10 years with a young new coach and a complete overhaul of the team until we got to do it again.