10. Spurs (h) 1-0 : 2016/17 Premier League
In truth this was a situation not unlike the corresponding fixture the season before. As then, Spurs desperately needed to win in order to keep their title challenge alive, but for the downwardly mobile Hammers this was a game we had to win to secure our mathematical safety.
Someone in the Metropolitan Police obviously likes a bit of an atmosphere and agreed to schedule this game on a Friday night, meaning that the general air around the ground was what you might have imagined at a pre Agincourt barbecue.
For a second consecutive season, Slaven Bilic hauled a terrific performance out of his players as their high intensity pressing caused Spurs an awful lot of trouble for a team who had built their success on such a tactic. While the visitors managed a couple of good efforts through Harry Kane and Heung Min-Son, the reality is that for a second season they simply faded a way at the point of their greatest need.
If you look closely enough, you can see Jan Vertonghen's heart breaking
Some of that can be attributed to us, of course, as Bilic deployed an aged back three of Jose Fonte, Winston Reid and James Collins and they performed heroically. Elsewhere Cheikhou Kouyate was thundering about in midfield and even the much maligned Andre Ayew and Jonathan Calleri were outstanding up front. And for the possibly the only time in living memory there was an actual, audible atmosphere in the chemical waste dump that we call a ground.
I refuse to accept that the London Stadium is a good place to watch football, but on this night, in these circumstances and against these visitors there was a hint of electricity in the air. Not the kind you get from the mains, but more the spark you get when you take off an acrylic jumper in the dark. I suppose that's a start.
9. Arsenal (h) 2-1 : 1999/00 Premier League
(Di Canio (29, 72) - Suker (77))
It's hard to believe now, I realise, but there was a time in the Nineties when Arsenal were the most feared team in the land. Manchester United were their great rivals but they tended to play a brand of football that either submerged you or gave you a chance. Arsenal, by contrast, didn't do chances. They either played you off the pitch with scintillating football or they kicked you off the pitch with a fearsome ruthlessness. I don't think teams ever really believed they could beat Arsenal, and Harry Redknapp especially appeared to hold a sort of reverence for them which often seemed to transmit to his teams.
On this day, we entered the Sunday afternoon fixture having not beaten them at home for thirteen years and not having won any of our previous eleven games against them. Most Hammers tended to arrive at Arsenal games knowing that the biggest mystery of the day was really how we would contrive to lose rather than if.
This one started slightly differently, however, as the good early season form generated by our UEFA Cup run carried over into the match. Paolo Di Canio was soon tormenting the visitors with his unconventional strike partner Paulo Wanchope, and we looked a bit more up for it than previously. Di Canio opened the scoring on the half hour after a long mazy dribble in which he was seemingly tackled about five times and eventually ended up with him tapping in from six yards while David Seaman went for a stroll around Newham.
His second was more memorable, as he sent Martin Keown on his own journey of discovery and left him stranded in the box to make it 2-0. Things all then went a little bit Upton Park as Davor Suker quickly pulled a goal back before mild mannered midfield philosopher Patrick Vieira upended Di Canio and got sent off. Not content with that, he returned to spit at Neil Ruddock and gave a pretty good impression of a man desperate to incite a riot. We clung on, somehow, as Arsenal kept knocking at the door, even as we lost Marc Vivien Foe to a second yellow card of his own.
We would beat them only once more at Upton Park, when Marlon Harewood scored a last minute winner in 2006 and Alan Pardew promptly started a fight with Arsene Wenger. Halcyon days.
8. Spurs (a) 3-2 : 2017/18 League Cup
(Ayew (55, 65) Ogbonna (70) - Sissoko (6), Alli (37))
Perhaps a League Cup 4th Round tie shouldn't be featuring quite so highly on this list, but to counter that argument I would ask how often you go to Wembley, are two down at half time and come back to win?
We came into this game on the back of a truly awful 3-0 defeat at home to Brighton, in which we allowed Glenn Murray to score twice and as a result should probably have been relegated there and then. Slaven Bilic was under huge pressure having spent all his summer transfer budget on the players who could easily have been cast in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and speculation was rife that he was about to be sacked.
Adrian auditions for A Hobbit's Tale
Those calls only got louder when we allowed alleged footballer Moussa Sissoke to run straight through our defence after just six minutes here to open the scoring. Spurs had a number of other chances before Delle Alli scored a second courtesy of a big deflection off Declan Rice, and at that point most of us in the away end were pondering at what point it was socially acceptable to leave.
At half time, my old school friend and OLAS contributor Dave Terris produced a Galaxy bar and we tacitly agreed that when it got to four we'd probably start tunnelling our way out.
But somewhere in the bowels of a half full Wembley, Bilic was casting some sort of magic spell. I don't think that it was much more meaningful than "Abracadabra, give it to Lanzini", but it worked a treat as the Argentine was suddenly everywhere and Spurs were all at sea. We pulled one back after fifty five minutes when an Edmilson Fernandes drive was only parried by Michel Vorm to Andre Ayew who made no mistake from eight inches out. Ten minutes later, Lanzini got in behind the Spurs defence and picked out the Ghanaian again with a beautiful flick and just like that we were level. I should add that the scenes in the away end when this one went in were pretty reminiscent of a rave I once went to in Majorca.
The comeback was complete just five minutes later when Angelo Ogbonna headed in a Lanzini corner and just like that we had turned it around. Spurs chucked back a few tame counterpunches but we held on to complete a remarkable, thrilling, life affirming win.
For Bilic, this was his last hurrah as we would next throw away a two goal lead at Crystal Palace and then attempt to play Liverpool without a defence and lose 4-1. He was sacked after that particular nightmare, but on this cold October evening at Wembley everything was just about perfect.
7. Everton (a) 3-2 : 2015/16 Premier League
(Antonio (78), Sakho (81), Payet (90) - Lukaku (13) Lennon (56))
A recurring theme of the Slaven Bilic era was the team coming back from two goals down to earn points. On the face of it, that's not a bad habit to have although it's also probably true that a tendency to concede two goals all the time probably isn't the hallmark of a good team. But in 2015/16, no rules seemed to apply; Leicester could win the league, Spurs could have an actual title run and West Ham could win on Merseyside.
We entered this game in 6th place but without a win against Everton in the Premier League in sixteen attempts. The reverse fixture had been highlighted by us going a goal ahead and Everton midfielder James McCarthy then kicking Dimitri Payet out of the game. That one foul probably ended up costing us a Champions League place as Payet would miss the next seven games, of which we would win only one.
But on a spring afternoon on Merseyside we - eventually - got some retribution. Before we got to that point, however, like with all epic tales things would have to get pretty bleak. Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring, as required by law, by rolling teenager Reece Oxford far too easily and slotting home after just thirteen minutes. Things then went a bit weird as Kevin Mirallas was sent off for a poor tackle on Aaron Cresswell. Instead of spurring us on, however, it seemed to inspire Everton who continued to be the better team and eventually got a neat second through Aaron Lennon. A dismal day was then compounded when they were granted an incorrect penalty. As Lukaku stepped up it seemed like our propensity to fall behind in games had finally caught us up.
Adrian, however, had other ideas as he saved both the penalty and later another breakaway effort from Lukaku. With just twelve minutes to go our right back - Michail Antonio, if you're still trying to solve the puzzle as to why we were so bad defensively - popped up to head a consolation. Rather enjoyably, Everton then collapsed like American democracy, and Diafra Sakho soon headed an equaliser. We piled forward, with Andy Carroll barrelling around like a possessed bowling ball, and with just seconds remaining Payet latched on to a Sakho flick to poke home a wonderful winner. A moment to savour in a season of them. We left Goodison in fifth place and would then watch our season dissolve in a flurry of poor refereeing decisions, bad luck and the stupidity of not buying an actual striker in January. Plus ca change.
6. Spurs (a) 3-0 : 2013/14 Premier League
(Reid (66), Vaz Te (72), Morrison (79))
Another trip to White Hart Lane and a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday in the early season sun. Having won against Cardiff on opening day, we had gone winless while Spurs were unbeaten at home and had only conceded two goals all season.
Big Sam Allardici, however, is not a man to worry about such niceties and decided to shake things up and employ the "False Nine" system popularised by Spain at the recent World Cup. This involved having Ravel Morrison and Mohamed Diame rotating in and out of the striking role, and leaving the notorious high defensive line of Andre Villas Boas without anybody to mark.
For an hour the system worked excellently, as our extra numbers in midfield crowded out the home team, and allowed us to break forward from time to time with purpose. We took the lead from a corner when Winston Reid headed goalwards, had the ball rebound back to him from Kevin Nolan and then poked home. Six minutes later, Ricardo Vaz Te broke on to a Mark Noble through ball, shot against Hugo Lloris, fell over and then scored as the ball bounced back and hit him mid fall. Lovely stuff all round as we rode our ricochets into a two goal lead.
The general shittiness of our opening two goals was cancelled out, however, by the brilliance of our third. Nomadic wunderkind Ravel Morrison picked up a pass inside our half and dribbled through the Spurs defence - it contained Michael Dawson but it was still impressive - and then lifted it over Lloris to seal our victory. A fabulous goal to seal a fabulous win.
Sadly, Allardyce was so pleased with his tactical innovation that he persisted with it for a further five winless games, until someone eventually told him that strikers were for life and not just for Christmas. We would beat Spurs twice more that season whilst losing 5-0 to Championship side Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, and 9-0 on aggregate to Manchester City in the League Cup semi finals. Say what you like about Allardyce but he didn't do anything to change our reputation as a side you should never, ever include in a bet.
5. Ipswich Town (h) 2-0 : 2003/04 Play Offs
(Etherington (50), Dailly (71))
If you know - you know.
I don't think I'll forget this night as long as I live.
Alan Pardew had taken over from Glenn Roeder with the club not so much in a state of flux as occupying the centre of a black hole with no laws of physics applying. The stars were mostly gone, and even those who had stayed such as David James and Jermain Defoe would leave by January. In their place was a transitional mix of the young and talented types like Michael Carrick, Matthew Etherington and Bobby Zamora alongside older heads such as Steve Lomas and Andy Melville - the slowest man I have ever seen play football.
The side was a bit of a patchwork, with no recognised left back meaning that Hayden Mullins was needing to be deployed there by the end of the season. We looked for a while like we might struggle to make the play offs but ended up in fourth, which gave us a trip to Ipswich Town who had finished a point behind us. They won a nervy and underwhelming first league 1-0, leaving everything riding on the return fixture.
But West Ham under the lights is a different kind of ask altogether. From the moment the first leg finished Pardew was stoking things up, telling Ipswich that they would be facing an altogether different challenge when they came to East London, and he wasn't wrong. Spurred on, the crowd had the old place shaking like it hadn't done for quite some time and when the players emerged there was a mild concern that the roof wasn't going to survive the aural assault.
We started like a lightning bolt and Ipswich soon looked like they had channelled their inner Spurs as they froze in the face of the onslaught. Kelvin Davis made a number of outstanding stops in a one way first half, but there was a sense of inevitability about the opening goal. Carrick took a short corner to Etherington, everybody groaned, and he duly smashed it in the top corner to take the pin out of the grenade.
Twenty minutes later the oft vilified, but never shirking Christian Dailly got hit in the nuts at a corner, stood up long enough to poke in the second goal and then collapsed in agony. It was a peculiar moment as the players couldn't celebrate while the crowd were blissfully unaware and re-enacted the fall of the Berlin Wall.
We held on, even as Ipswich hit the post late on, and a play off final was sealed. That ended dismally, but on this particular night, when the ground shook and the night was filled with song, West Ham was the only place to watch football.
4. Metz (a) 3-1 : 1999/00 Intertoto Cup
(Sinclair (23), Lampard (43), Wanchope (78) - Jestrovic (68))
If you're a West Ham fan of a certain age then you'll know what I mean when I say that Metz is a word you hear whispered on the wind. Fans talk about it all the time, and it resides somewhere within the fabric of the club simply because of how great this particular night was.
It's easy to mock the Intertoto Cup, and many do, but we finished in 5th place and should have gone straight in to the UEFA Cup but instead were made to play in this new, and curiously constructed, competition. So, in July we played FC Jokerit of Finland and SC Heerenveen of the Netherlands to qualify for this - bizarrely one of three finals taking place that night on August 24th 1999. The others were won by Montpelier and Juventus, but we went in to our game 1-0 down having disappointingly lost at home to a Louis Saha goal.
I think part of the allure of this game is that the conditions, in a foreign country, in glorious sunshine, in a totally different atmosphere against players and clubs we'd never see before - all of that felt like it belonged to other clubs. Certainly we had seen it on TV but it had always seemed so out of reach. The very notion that you could go to watch West Ham in a competitive match in France in a place called the Stade Saint Symphorien seemed like the kind of thing that belonged to a bygone era. And thus thousands of West Ham fans made that trip and turned the night into quite an event.
We started well, even though we had only two available defenders, and actually had two goals ruled out before Trevor Sinclair cut in and fired in a great low left footed shot to give us the lead. The excellent Frank Lampard then freed Paolo Di Canio down the right hand flank a minute before half time, surged into the box and finished off an elongated one-two by volleying home the Italian's cross.
As the night drew in and the sun went down, the atmosphere cranked up further and when Metz scored an excellent goal of their own through Nenad Jestrovic it seemed like we would be in for a nervous last twenty minutes. That feeling was only exacerbated when there were clashes in the crowd, but thankfully Paulo Wanchope skipped past the keeper in typically inelegant style to score our third and seal the tie.
As with so many things connected to West Ham, this was a missed opportunity. Rather than being the building block that we all hoped it would be, this game stands as a kind of high water mark - Di Canio in his pomp, Ferdinand and Lampard happy and outstanding, Cole and Carrick on their way and a selection of young, excellent professionals around them. It wouldn't last. It never does.
3. Manchester United (a) 1-0 : 2006/07 Premier League
Has any game ever been so memorable while being quite so unmemorable? This was a match that was solely about the result, and everything else was just ballast. Going into the game we were in 17th, but with an inferior goal difference courtesy of a first half of the season where we played with a rush goalie. With our two main rivals - Wigan and Sheffield United - facing each other, we knew that a point would definitely keep us up, but a defeat could easily send us down.
Not only that, we faced the daunting prospect of having to win at Old Trafford, where Manchester United had lost just once in yet another title winning season. In retrospect, it can't be denied that the hosts were focusing on their FA Cup final to be played the following week as they left Giggs, Ronaldo and Scholes on the bench. With that said, they were still fearsome and we relied on Robert Green to make a string of fine saves to keep us in the game.
We also lost quietly underrated left back George McCartney early in the game, but didn't miss a beat as Lucas Neill continue to marshall our back line superbly. And then, and then....
With half time imminent, Carlos Tevez played a one-two with Bobby Zamora, watched the ball skew up into the air from a defensive challenge, and calmly slid the dropping ball past Edwin van der Sar on the half volley. It was a wonderful goal, not least because it also helped to ratchet up the tension at Brammall Lane, where Sheffield United were losing to Wigan.
We held on, not without incident but also not without a sense of purpose and steel, and in the Manchester drizzle we celebrated a remarkable escape and a dismal season. Tevez would never play for us again and our Icelandic owners would soon go bankrupt, leading us on a journey that would end with David Sullivan and David Gold purchasing the club as a distressed asset a few years later. Whether you think Tevez should have been playing, or whether you believe Neil Warnock's relegation was really underserved, you can't deny that the miracle run-in of 2007 was an extraordinary sequence of performances for which Alan Curbishley probably deserves far greater credit.
2. Spurs (h) 4-3 : 1996/97 Premier League
(Dicks (20, 72 p), Kitson (22), Hartson (38) - Sheringham (8), Anderton (29), Howells (53))
By the end of February 1997, West Ham were going down. We hadn't won in eight games and prior to the arrival of Spurs had lost five in a row, including a cup defeat at home to Wrexham that was so bad the video is probably used by the CIA in torture sessions.
Harry Redknapp had begun to notice that his strike force of Iain Dowie and Mike Newell was a tad unthreatening, and in fact no striker had scored for us that year, forcing him to shell out £7m for Paul Kitson and John Hartson.
Both would start this game, and score, on a night when it felt like the wind and rain was moving horizontally across the pitch. Things started poorly, however, when Teddy Sheringham opened the scoring with a smart header. We were indebted to talismanic skipper Julian Dicks for our recovery as he thumped in a header from a Michael Hughes corner after twenty minutes to equalise. Just two minutes later, a second Hughes corner got held up on the wind and Kitson ducked underneath it to nod home.
The lead held for seven minutes before Darren Anderson lobbed Ludek Miklosko to equalise - a status quo which held for all of nine minutes before Hartson demolished Sol Campbell to crash home a Dicks free kick. We led at the end of a crazy first half, but David Howells would soon restore parity with the best goal of the night from outside the box. Amid the madness of this game I always think it's worth remembering that Howells played despite his father dying earlier that day.
As misfortune would have it, it was cruelly to be Howells who then fouled Hartson to give Dicks the chance to put us back into the lead from the spot. To say that he smashed it home would be to greatly understate the violence of his penalty. The appropriate term would probably be whatever one uses to describe the action of a bazooka.
We held on and stayed up, and that game remains indelibly inked in my mind. Those lights, that pitch, the rain, that performance. I doubt there have been many more entertaining games of football ever played in this country.
1. Manchester United (h) 3-2 : 2015/16 Premier League
(Sakho (10), Antonio (78), Reid (80) - Martial (51, 72))
Is there such a thing as destiny? Whenever we're about to play a team who haven't won in a while we all seem to think so. And so, maybe that's what this was. I don't know but it was a game unlike any other. There is nothing quite like saying goodbye, after all.
A confession - I didn't go to this game. I had no season ticket this year, but I did have a new phone, which proved terribly unhelpful when a mate messaged me on my old one to ask me if I wanted his spare ticket. He still sends me a screenshot of that from time to time, if he thinks my mental health seems too stable.
I had made my peace with leaving, and had made my last trip on a frigid February afternoon to watch a tepid 1-0 win over Sunderland. But on this night I felt the pull. I almost went down to the ground just to stand outside, which was an urge that several thousand others chose not to ignore. This had the knock on effect of delaying the kick off as the Manchester United team bus couldn't get through the throng outside having seemingly asked my wife how long they would need to get there, and duly left half an hour after they were supposed to have arrived.
When the game got going it was...perfect. A balmy night for shirt sleeves and raised hairs alike, and the lights beating down one final time. Diafra Sakho - a madman - opened the scoring after just ten minutes and to be honest, it felt like there was an inevitability to everything that followed. Of course we would dominate and miss lots of chances. Of course they would equalise just after halftime, and then accidentally score to take the lead with just twenty minutes of football left at our home.
You beautiful bastard
From there, of course we wouldn't buckle and of course Michail Antonio - a consistent scorer of important goals - would head our equaliser. And of course, with ten minutes to play, Dimitri Payet would conjure one last assist and Winston Reid would write one final line on the bottom of the script.
In some ways, I still feel emotional about that night and that season. Riven throughout this series of articles is a lament for what we gave up in leaving Upton Park. For all those dreadful home performances - and there were many, lest we romanticise it too greatly - there was also something buried under the surface that could be mined by the right players or managers. When the lights were on and the mood was with us, we could move mountains at that place. We could rise above the natural limitations of our station and become something better. The harsh truth is that the London Stadium has no such seam to mine, and indeed was supposed to be the thing that made us better. It has not. We must build something different so that when somebody writes this equivalent piece in fifty years time, when Brexit has started paying dividends, it can be filled with amazing nights from that stadium. Over to you Moyesy.