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Cally's cheeky backheel is a Hammer blow to Brooking and co

If there is one moment that sums up the brilliance of Nigel Callaghan it would have to be his goal against West Ham. It was a second of quick-thinking genius that sealed another cup upset.

Watford were already 1-0 up when they won a corner at the Vicarage Road end. Keith Pritchett prepared to take the corner from the right with his left foot. Callaghan took up his position on the far post.


Gerry Armstrong headed the ball down and it fell to Callaghan in the six-yard box, with his back to goal. Instinctively, he backheeled it past Hammers goalkeeper Phil Parkes.

It was cheeky, it was delightful and it was proof that for all the growing talk about Watford favouring a formulaic style, they had individuals who could conjure moments of inspiration.

Callaghan wasn’t lurking at the far post by accident. Taylor made sure that at set-pieces his players took up positions based on where the ball might end up if it was headed on or cleared. And it’s notable that West Ham didn’t have anyone on the post defending.

Watford had already knocked out Manchester United. Now they did for West Ham, who had won the FA Cup two years earlier, while still in the Second Division.

This was the Hammers side of Billy Bonds, Alvin Martin, Frank Lampard senior and Trevor Brooking. They were the self-styled academy of football and just the sort of team to prove to Watford that their so-called kick-and-rush game had no place among the elite.

But they had no answer to Watford, either in terms of industry or invention. This was one of the finest displays by Callaghan. He set up the first goal for Armstrong with a carefully-placed header back across goal. But Callaghan’s goal was the one we remember even if it didn’t get the credit it deserved. Imagine the hullabaloo if Brooking had scored one like it.

Watford Sherwood, Rice, Pritchett, Blissett, Terry, Bolton, Callaghan, Armstrong, Jenkins (Rostron 77), Lohman, Barnes
Manager Graham Taylor
Scorers Armstrong 47, Callaghan 74.
Attendance 27,004

Why was this match chosen? This was a second successive FA Cup victory over First Division opposition, having beaten Manchester United in round three, and it came at a time when the team was proving itself ready for the top flight.

How do I feel about it's inclusion now? As cup wins from the late 1970s and 1980s go, this was a fairly routine one and perhaps if the list was redone now this is a game that might miss out, particularly considering 2-0 home wins over the Hammers are becoming a regular thing.

Further reading: Transcript of the Nigel Callaghan interview for Enjoy the Game.