It’s a quirk of the fixture computer that Manchester City have had so many significant fixtures to start or end a season against West Ham.

Sunday’s Premier League decider will be the eighth time we’ve ended a campaign against the Hammers - more than against any other club.

But unlike opening day encounters, it’s rarely gone to plan.

On the four times we’ve kicked off a season against West Ham, we’ve always secured three points and they’ve made for some memorable starts for the team and some players that went on to become City legends or simply cult heroes.

Only last season Erling Haaland made his Premier League debut at the London Stadium scoring twice in a 2-0 win and in 2019, Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing at the same venue.


At Upton Park 12 years earlier, Sven-Goran Eriksson’s reign began with a 2-0 win with Rolando Bianchi and Geovanni scoring on their debuts. And in 1974, Rodney Marsh scored twice at Maine Road in a 4-0 win where Asa Hartford made his debut.

But while we’ve always been happy to start against West Ham, rounding off the season has been much tougher.

Our first ever home game against the Hammers was on the final day of the 1923/24 season at our new Maine Road home and we won 2-1 with goals from Jack Warner and Tommy Johnson to finish the season in 11th.

However, it would be another 90 years before we ended the season with a win against the London side, with many of those matches turning into difficult occasions.

Here’s a look back at some of them.

West Ham 2-1 City | Upton Park | 6 May 1939

There may have been nothing seemingly remarkable from a footballing perspective from the defeat at Upton Park.

In front of a crowd of 21,547, goals from Len Goulden and Clifford Hubbard meant that City finished fifth rather than fourth but our promotion hopes had been dashed by draws against Bury, Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday at the end of the April.

However, it would be our last official match before the breakout of the Second World War with no more games until 31 August 1946.

Just six weeks earlier, Germany had annexed parts of Czechoslovakia and then invaded Poland in September as war broke out.

The following season was abandoned three games in and the results were expunged while the Wartime Leagues were classed as friendlies.

Many of the City players would serve their country, including legendary goalkeeper Frank Swift, who joined the Army Physical Training Corps along with former City player Matt Busby and future boss Joe Mercer.

The game would be the last for our goalscorer Jimmy Heale and left-half Jackie Bray, who had won the FA Cup and league title with City. At the age of 30, he joined the Royal Air Force and, after the war, became the manager of Watford.

West Ham 6-1 City | Upton Park | 18 May 1963

Les McDowall’s side began the day in the bottom two relegation spots, but we still headed to London with hope of remaining in Division One.

With Leyton Orient already bottom, the final place would be taken by either City or Birmingham who were level on 31 points.

Birmingham had a better goal average and were at home to FA Cup finalists Leicester, but if we could better their result, we would remain in the top-flight.

It wouldn’t be easy.

The Hammers had not made a great start to the season, but that changed in September with a 6-1 victory at Maine Road, in a game that saw Bert Trautmann sent off for the kicking the ball at referee Ken Stokes after a goal that the City goalkeeper thought was offside.

Harry Dowd was in goal for the return match but he was not to fair much better against a side that included future World Cup winners Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst.

City were 4-0 down at half-time while Birmingham were leading. They went on to win 3-2 to confirm their survival, while a dismal afternoon ended 6-1 with Alan Oakes scoring a consolation goal.

Defeat was McDowall’s last game in charge and he was replaced by George Poyser before Mercer arrived in 1965 and took us back to the top-flight and trophies.

West Ham 2-0 City | Upton Park | 9 May 1987

Almost a quarter of a century on, another relegation from the First Division was sealed in East London.

City spent the 1980s yo-yo-ing between the top two divisions. After going down on the final day of 1983, we were promoted two seasons later and finished 15th in 1986.

But the following year was to be a tough campaign with manager Billy McNeill leaving for Aston Villa early in the season to be replaced by Jimmy Frizzell.

An Imre Varadi goal in our final game at Maine Road meant we weren’t mathematically down but Charlton’s 3-0 away win to Newcastle meant the Addicks had to lose at home to QPR and City win at West Ham to take a place in the relegation/promotion play-offs.

However, City hadn’t won away from home all season and while fans travelled the capital with hope, it was to be another day of disappointment.

Tony Cottee turned in Mark Ward’s low shot for a first-half opener before Liam Brady added a second after the break and with Charlton winning 2-1 our fate was sealed.

Hammers’ fans poured on the pitch at full-time and there was a remarkable atmosphere of bonhomie between the two sets of supporters, unusual for the times.

City would return again in 1989 but the defeat would be the last appearances of Clive Wilson, Andy May and Mick McCarthy, while Mel Machin would take over as boss in the summer.

West Ham 1-1 City | Upton Park | 9 May 2010

Has a team ever looked so unhappy at securing their highest ever Premier League finish?

City were guaranteed fifth place, but the end of season fixture was a drab draw rather than a wild celebration that it could have been.

Roberto Mancini’s side had qualification for the Champions League for the first time in our own hands with two matches of the season remaining.

All we had to do was win at home to Tottenham to set up the last-day trip to Upton Park and a chance to join Europe’s top competition.

Even a draw against Spurs would keep us in contention but a late victory at the Etihad snatched away any hope.

After Shay Given dislocated his shoulder, City brought in keeper Marton Fulop on emergency loan with Joe Hart on loan at Birmingham, Kasper Schmeichel leaving for Notts County and rookie Faroe Islander Gunnar Nielsen as our only other option.

Fulop was unfortunate to parry a deflected cross straight to Peter Crouch for the only goal in the 82nd minute.

What could have been an end of season party at Upton Park became a dour anti-climax with Shaun Wright-Phillips equalising shortly after Luis Boa Morte’s opener as the game petered out.

City 2-0 West Ham | Etihad Stadium | 11 May 2014

Our previous record on the final day against the Hammers was enough to go into our title-clincher with trepidation.

Add in the memories of our incredible 93:20 minute win against QPR two years earlier, and there was never going to be any signs of complacency.

And there had been plenty of drama in the weeks leading up to the last day with Liverpool slipping up at home to Chelsea and throwing away a three-goal lead at Crystal Palace.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side, meanwhile, had won four games in a row including tough trips to Selhurst Park and Everton.

Needing a point to seal the title, many typically pessimistic City fans arrived in hope more than expectation.

But City remained patience and kept control, restricting the Hammers from getting many sights of our goal.

Anxiety was eased six minutes before half-time when Samir Nasri swept in the opener and the party started early in the second half when Vincent Kompany added a second.

The skipper lifted the trophy after the full-time whistle and let’s hope, ahead of Sunday, that it was not a one-off way to finish the campaign against the Hammers!