East end royalty who scored the goal when Hammers last won a trophy back in 1980 says the Hammers’ improvement since lockdown has been ‘jaw-dropping’
Contrary to popular wisdom, Brooking’s nod to history in bubble-blowing heartlands was not the only header among his 102 goals for West Ham.
But it was enough to beat Arsenal at Wembley in 1980, the last time a second-tier club lifted the old pot.
The Hammers’ triumph would have been even more handsome if Willie Young had not applied the law of lumberjacks with a cynical foul on 17-year-old Paul Allen which would have toppled the tallest pine in the forest.
It seems remarkable that the last time West Ham won a trophy, Alan Devonshire’s twinkling feet were at large, David Cross – whose daughter Kate is trying to regain the Ashes for England’s women in a distant penal colony – was centre forward and the rampaging Billy Bonds was captain.
Now David Moyes has built a side with the capacity to exercise the silver polish and, despite a pre-Christmas wobble, West Ham have taken to the Premier League’s upper slopes like eels to jelly again.
And Sir Trevor, in rude health at 73, says Moyes is delivering style and substance worthy of Hammers godfathers Ron Greenwood and John Lyall.
“For older fans who have been on the rollercoaster for the last 40 or 50 years, the quality of the football in the last 18 months must be rewarding,” said the former England midfield doyen.
“Personally, I won’t put any great expectations on what lies ahead over the next four months – but I can see the future is bright and, whatever happens, the next three or four seasons will be really good to watch.
“It has been great to see Declan Rice grow in stature as a player and leader, and for a lot of people the difference in the whole atmosphere around the place since lockdown has been jaw-dropping.
“I have to say David Moyes has got West Ham playing the sort of football Ron Greenwood and John Lyall would have approved of – and I don’t say that lightly.
“When fans were locked out for a year because of the pandemic, it was weird for people like me who were able to attend games.
“The football was enjoyable, and West Ham had a real go at making the top four, especially around that time when Jesse Lingard was with us on loan, but it was difficult to get too excited because there was hardly anyone else there to talk about it.
“When the fans were allowed back in, and maybe a lot of people were wondering if David could lift the team again, they have had some more terrific entertainment and the bad old days are gone like a bad dream.”
West Ham embarked on a new Cup crusade by seeing off Leeds – who return to the Taxpayers Stadium this weekend – and they are better-equipped than brittle predecessors in claret and blue to negotiate a fourth-round minefield at non-League Kidderminster.
Every year, Brooking hopes his header will be superseded in the East end pantheon.
“Winning the Cup was an amazing bonus because we had finished seventh in the old Second Division and John (Lyall) was determined to get the foundations right.
“He brought in Phil Parkes, a terrific keeper who deserved to get far more than a single England cap, Ray Stewart – who took a ferocious penalty but was also an accomplished right-back – and added them to Bonzo (Billy Bonds), Frank Lampard and Alvin Martin, who was breaking through.
That defensive unit gave us the base to compete with anyone, and also gave players like myself and Dev (Devonshire) a licence to play.
“Although it’s nice to get wheeled out to talk about a nice day out 42 years ago, maybe it will soon be somebody else’s turn to talk about West Ham winning the Cup.
“To be fair, I see similarities between the team of 1980 and the one David Moyes has built – he has sorted the defence out, and that solidarity has given the lads confidence.
“I guess you don’t clock up 1,000 games as a manager like David if you don’t know your way around a football pitch, and the big question is whether he can take us to the next level.
There are some big beasts in that top bracket who are going to be hard to take down, but we’ve beaten Liverpool and Chelsea at home, the lads have done well in Europe and the FA Cup is still there to be won.
“I just think it would be a fitting finale to Mark Noble’s playing career, as a one-club man who has put his heart and soul into West Ham for 550-odd games, if he could lift a trophy at the end of it.”