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‘There was a lot of swearing’: the night West Ham played behind closed doors | Jacob Steinberg

Two players and a photographer remember what it was like to face Castilla at an empty Upton Park in 1980

At half-time West Ham’s former chairman Len Cearns was sent on a futile mission by his fellow directors. They wanted him to go down to the home dressing room to ask John Lyall if there was any way his team could possibly remember that the foul language being used in the heat of battle was floating away from the pitch, rattling around the empty terraces and causing some discomfort for the people sitting in the posh seats.

“There was a lot of swearing going on in the game,” Alvin Martin says as he recalls West Ham hosting a European tie behind closed doors in the autumn of 1980. “You don’t realise it. You’re communicating in a factory way.”

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