TO this day it remains one of the most unlikely Premier League hat-tricks scored by a striker.

Prior to West Ham's visit to St James' Park in January, 2011, Leon Best's only top flight start had come seven years earlier for Southampton.

The striker had joined Newcastle from Coventry midway through the previous campaign - when the Magpies won promotion from the Championship - but had failed to score in 12 appearances. He didn't play a single minute in the first half of the following season when Chris Hughton was in charge and his only taste of action was a 13-minute run-out from the bench in a 1-0 win at Wigan three days prior to the West Ham game.

New boss Alan Pardew had issues up-front, however, and with Andy Carroll and Shola Ameobi both out injured, Best was handed his opportunity. How he grasped it. The Republic of Ireland international scored a hat-trick in an hour in a 5-0 dismantling of the Hammers, who left Tyneside rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table.

Best's first Newcastle goal came after just 18 minutes and he added a second six minutes before the break. Kevin Nolan then put Newcastle three ahead on the stroke of half-time and it was the midfielder who teed up Best to blast home his third and secure the match ball on the hour mark.

Just three minutes later, Newcastle wrapped up the rout through Peter Lovenkrands, which was the cue for Pardew to withdraw Best to a standing ovation from the 42,387 fans in attendance.

“That feeling will never leave me until I die," said the hat-trick hero afterwards.

"That’s what it’s about. It’s what I needed. That’s what I’ve dreamt about.

“I’d love that feeling every week, as everyone would – it’s about experiencing those sensations. It was unbelievable. My head is all over the place after that, but it’s a great feeling.”

Avram Grant's head must have been all over the place as well. His West Ham side were dreadful and didn't get any better. They finished bottom and Grant was sacked after relegation was confirmed on the penultimate weekend of the season.

Best understandably hogged the headlines after the victory but the star of the show was Joey Barton.

"Barton, who joined the Magpies in 2007, is enjoying his finest season in a Newcastle shirt and produced a brilliant all-round midfield display against the Hammers," reported the BBC at the time.

"The 28-year-old not only hassled the visitors' midfield but also delivered pinpoint balls with alarming accuracy as far as the east Londoners were concerned."

The report continued: "Woeful is an inadequate word to describe West Ham's performance.

"Newcastle boss Alan Pardew's side deserved their clean sheet but it will probably the easiest they have earned all season."

This was early days in Pardew's tenure. He'd been appointed a month earlier and had won three of his first five games in charge.

"It's one of the top five clubs in England. It's a daunting prospect but something I couldn't turn down," said Pardew after his appointment.

The West Ham win lifted Newcastle to eighth in the table and they climbed one spot higher but only won two of their last 11 games and slipped to a 12th-placed finish.

As for Best, he would score three more goals that season and four the following campaign before leaving for Blackburn, where he suffered a serious knee injury.

He went on to play for seven clubs in six years, scoring only 10 league goals in that time.

His finest hour at Newcastle - and perhaps in his entire career - was undoubtedly his West Ham hat-trick.