Hammers snapper recalls Paolo Di Canio's 'incredible' goal

Saturday 12 Mar 2016
Paulo Di Canio applauds after scoring in West Ham's FA Cup victory at Manchester United in January 2001

If, when watching West Ham United’s Emirates FA Cup tie at Manchester United on Sunday, you are puzzled as to why the legions of travelling supporters are standing with an arm aloft chanting “let’s all do the Barthez” the answer dates back 15 years.

In January 2001 an injury-hit Hammers side took on a star-studded Manchester United team in what looked, on paper at least, to be a predictable FA Cup clash at Old Trafford.

We should know by now there is no such thing.

Shaka Hislop in the West Ham goal was struggling so badly with a knee injury that Stuart Pearce took goal kicks for him, yet the stopper kept David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and co at bay.

Then, on 76 minutes, came the iconic moment that the Hammers fans still sing gleefully about.

Paolo Di Canio latched onto a pass in behind the United defence from Freddie Kanoute and, as Barthez stood like a statue appealing for an offside flag that never came, the Italian drove in what proved to be the winning goal.

Manchester United v West Ham United

The Emirates FA Cup

Sixth round

4pm, Sunday 13th March

Old Trafford

Live on BT Sport

It was to be a quite brilliant moment that no-one was expecting, including legendary club photographer Steve Bacon and his peers snapping pitch-side.

“Everyone had the same thing in their mind that Paolo was going to be flagged for offside. I’ve not seen a picture of the goal anywhere,” said the 63-year-old.

“We all stopped and then just watched as he put the ball in the net and the goal stood. I got plenty of pictures of the celebrations and the atmosphere was just incredible. ‘Let’s all do the Barthez’, they were singing and still do.

“I was down at the West Ham end and I’m the biggest pessimist there is when it comes to West Ham, so I was expecting nothing. I should have known!”

Paolo Di Canio springs the offside trap to score against United in 2001 

Bacon’s association with the Hammers spans three decades.

His first photocall was of the Sir Trevor Brooking-inspired team that lifted the FA Cup in 1980 with a 1-0 defeat of Arsenal, gaining the job on the recommendation of manager John Lyall.

“I was doing games anyway for the local newspaper series and I used to go down on a Friday for some lunch and a chat with John Lyall,” he added.

“I was travelling with the team at that time too and West Ham had a commercial photographer. They had previously had a press day and a photographer wanted to get a few pictures of the players messing about.

“My first job with West Ham was taking a picture of the cup winning team and it’s all been downhill since!”

Steve Bacon 

 “One of the players actually fell and broke his leg, so Ron Greenwood said ‘no more of that’ and West Ham became a closed shop getting in a commercial photographer.

“In 1980 West Ham won the cup and John Lyall asked why there were no photographers and asked if they could get someone in. He asked me if it was something I could do and I said yes, so he approached the club and asked if they could take me on.

“So my first job with West Ham was taking a picture of the cup winning team and it’s all been downhill since!”

West Ham cruised past Blackburn Rovers in round five 

In recent times ill-health has forced Bacon to retire and hang his camera up for good. But he will be glued to BT Sport’s coverage on Sunday afternoon, hopeful of seeing the Hammers repeat their heroics against Manchester United.

“I am naturally a pessimist, but I believe we have a chance of at least bringing them back to the Boleyn for a replay,” said Bacon.

“We seem to have a great team spirit and some fantastic players. The West Ham fans are often maligned for saying they like to see stylish football played, but they are loving it at the moment.”

By Josh Richards Digital Producer