It was a red-letter day for café owner Phil Cassetari when seven of the biggest names in football arrived at his restaurant for a reunion in November 1971.

Six of them – Noel Cantwell, Dave Sexton, Malcolm Allison, John Bond, Frank O’Farrell and Malcolm Musgrove – had huge Manchester connections.

But Cassetari knew them for a different reason. They all used to frequent his East End café when they played for London club West Ham. It was just round the corner from Upton Park.

Our photo shows the Manchester six, along with Luton coach Jimmy Adams on the far left, reminiscing about the old times enjoying a cuppa or two.

Next to Adams is the familiar figure of Dave Sexton, who managed Manchester United from the middle of 1977 to April 1981. He was managing Chelsea when the picture was taken.

Sexton made 74 league appearances as an inside forward for West Ham from 1952 to 1955, scoring 27 goals.

The highlight of his tenure as United manager was the dramatic 1979 FA Cup Final which United lost 3-2 to Arsenal in the final minute after being 2-0 down.

Noel Cantwell, centre, as a Manchester United player with the FA Cup, May 1963

Noel Cantwell, centre, as a Manchester United player with the FA Cup, May 1963

Sexton brought some key players to United, including striker Joe Jordan in 1978, midfielder Ray Wilkins in 1979 and former Forest forward Gary Birtles in 1980.

One along from Sexton in the café line-up is former Manchester United player Noel Cantwell – then manager of Coventry City. He made 248 league appearances for West Ham from 1952 to 1960, scoring 11 goals.

Cantwell joined Manchester United in 1960 for a transfer fee of £29,500 – a record for a full back. He captained the Reds to victory in the 1963 FA Cup Final, defeating Leicester City 3-1 at Wembley.

Cantwell won two league titles with United in 1965 and 1967, notching up 123 league appearances and six goals. He also played 36 times for the Republic of Ireland.

Manchester United assistant manager Malcolm Musgrove, August 1971

Manchester United assistant manager Malcolm Musgrove, August 1971

John Bond hugs ‘keeper John Standen after West Ham had beaten Manchester United in an FA Cup tie, March 1964

John Bond hugs ‘keeper John Standen after West Ham had beaten Manchester United in an FA Cup tie, March 1964

Sitting next to Cantwell is the instantly recognisable Malcolm Allison, then assistant manager of Manchester City. He played 238 matches at centre half for West Ham from 1951 to 1957, scoring 10 goals.

Allison was assistant manager to Joe Mercer from 1965 and then manager in his own right from the end of the 1972 season. But the team struggled and he resigned in March 1973.

He returned for a short spell in 1979, but left after a year to be replaced by another man at the café table – John Bond.

New Manchester United manager Frank O’Farrell in his office at Old Trafford, July 1971

New Manchester United manager Frank O’Farrell in his office at Old Trafford, July 1971

During the Mercer-Allison era, City were First Division champions in 1968, won the FA Cup in 1969, and the League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970.

But relations became strained when Mercer refused to stand down and a power struggle ensued. Allison won and Mercer was sidelined, eventually leaving to manage Coventry.

John Bond probably had no idea he’d be stepping into the managerial shoes of the man sitting next to him at the café table in 1971. He was manager of Bournemouth at the time, having just taken over from Freddie Cox.

A right back, Bond was a West Ham player for 16 years from 1950 to 1966, making 381 league appearances for the club. He also scored 32 goals.

Malcolm Allison heads the ball in training during his time as a Charlton player, August 1950

Malcolm Allison heads the ball in training during his time as a Charlton player, August 1950

City assistant manager Malcolm Allison relaxing at London’s Waldorf Hotel, December 1969

City assistant manager Malcolm Allison relaxing at London’s Waldorf Hotel, December 1969

He was City manager for three years from 1980, leading the club to a famous FA Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur in 1981. The Blues lost 3-2 to a brilliant individual goal by Ricky Villa, although Steve MacKenzie’s volleyed goal for City was also a stunner.

Sitting to Bond’s left in the café line-up is Frank O’Farrell, who was then manager of Manchester United. He’d taken over from Matt Busby a few months earlier in July 1971 – and had made a reasonable start to the new season.

Newly appointed Manchester City manager John Bond, April 1981

Newly appointed Manchester City manager John Bond, April 1981

Dave Sexton and his defeated Manchester United team leave the pitch at Wembley, May 1979

Dave Sexton and his defeated Manchester United team leave the pitch at Wembley, May 1979

He quickly appointed the man next to him, Malcolm Musgrove, as his assistant and was glad to see the likes of Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and even George Best playing well.

It didn’t last. Best failed to train throughout January and United’s form started to slide. A 5-0 thrashing by Crystal Palace in December 1972 signaled the end for O’Farrell, who was replaced by Tommy Docherty.

O’Farrell was a wing half for West Ham from 1948 to 1956, making 197 appearances. Left winger Musgrove played 283 matches for the Hammers from 1953 to 1962, scoring 84 goals.

Former West Ham players with a Manchester connection reunited at Phil Cassetari's café. They are, from left, Jimmy Adams, Dave Sexton, Noel Cantwell, Malcolm Allison, John Bond, Frank O’Farrell and Malcolm Musgrove, November 1971

Former West Ham players with a Manchester connection reunited at Phil Cassetari’s café. They are, from left, Jimmy Adams, Dave Sexton, Noel Cantwell, Malcolm Allison, John Bond, Frank O’Farrell and Malcolm Musgrove, November 1971