From Heysel to Hawaii, a peculiar travel in
DATE: 24.12.2017 - SOCCERVOICE - NEWS - SEASON 2017-18
West Ham reached
the final of the European Cup winners Cup in 1976, the game was
played against Anderlecht at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels
West Ham won the same cup in 1965. Ron Greenwood build a great team
with players such as Peters, Moore and Hurst. John Lyall had taken
over and winning the FA Cup final the year before.
Four players in the West Ham line-up for the 76 final,
Tommy Taylor, Keith Coleman, Keith Robson
and Pat Holland were probably not
thinking about a possible spell of professional football in the
middle of the Pacific, but that was what happened.
The final was one fantastic, despite ending as runners-up. Hammers
put on a great display and really made the 4-2 final becoming one of
the most iconic ever. Six goals, Hammers taking the lead.
The runners-up medal, was probably one bitter pill to swollow.
Hammers had a decline the next season, finishing 17th in the top
flight, and John Lyall decided to make a number of changes.
The four players mentioned above all were given the oppertunity to
leave and signed for Team Hawaii. The NASL flourished and players
such as George Best, Pele and Franz Beckenbauer and several other
big stars were allready introduced.
The San Antonio Thunder franchise had decided to move their team to
Hawaii, playing their homegames at the Aloha Stadium. The 50 000
seater arena was probably a bit overrated as a stadium for the new
team, not able to attract more than an avarage of 3000 people.
Team Hawaii lasted only one season, moving on to Tulsa and becoming
the more known Roughnecks. To date Team Hawaii is the first and
single team to ever perform professional soccer on the island, with
travelling becoming a problematic issue.
Pat Holland was the only one of the four players to return to West
Ham. Tommy Taylor who has up to this day been involved in management
at many teams and continents was in 2015 and 2016 in charge of
Norwegian team Frøy.
Francois Van der Elst who was in the Anderlecht team and scored two
of the goals in the final, later moved to New York Cosmos and West
Ham United, becoming a popular figure among Hammers fans.
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