30 July 1966
It was fifty years ago today that England won the World Cup.
And a day that the English amongst us are still celebrating (simply because we haven’t had much since to equal that win!).
I was coming up for being nine years old and in truth was more interested in the party my Mum was arranging for me than in football on a black and white telly in the corner of the room. But, when my Mum got a tray of tea things and we sat in the front room during the day I thought it was probably something I should sit and watch too!
I remember the teams out on the pitch before the game in the rain and I remember the National Anthems but who kicked-off I had to check on the internet and it was England after captain Bobby Moore had won the toss.
The game hadn’t been going long when the ball was in the net with my Dad groaning and saying something uncomplimentary about Jackie Charlton (good job he didn’t hear or he’d have been in his little black book for sure!) and the Germans had scored. Six minutes or so later Moore went down under a German challenge and England got a free-kick which Moore took quickly finding the head of Geoff Hurst and the cheers from the sofa in our house started before the ball hit the back of the net and when our celebrations were ending we looked to the box and Hurst was jumping up and down on the spot!
The Germans weren’t coping well in the minutes after the equaliser and an early pass from Alan Ball to Martin Peters could probably have seen Peters score but the cross was too late. Minutes later Peters was booked for shoving one of the Germans probably still frustrated. The German goalkeeper, Hans Tilkowski made a good save from a Hurst header and when the ball fell to Ball us, in the Rotherham house, were convinced it would be two-one – it wasn’t – and after a mix-up some minutes later when a German defender practically gave the ball to Peters again we were up off out settee only to see Tilkowski easily get the ball. Not long afterwards Alan Ball got a mouthful from the settee and probably from Jackie Charlton who had to help clear up a mess from him by putting the ball, and German player Siggi Held into the photographers behind the net. From the corner Gordon Banks came into his own firstly parrying a shot and then falling on the ball smothering it. And just before half-time we saw Banks on the floor again this time smothering a shot from Uwe Seeler.
The teams came out in pouring rain for the second half and really the weather reflected much of the second half with the crowd turning on Swiss Referee Gottfried Dienst, mostly due to boredom than anything else. On seventy minutes the crowd turned on the ref again when Roger Hunt went down in the area and the Swiss Ref didn’t give a penalty (seeing it back many years later I’m not surprised he didn’t give the pen!) although when Bobby Charlton ended up in the back of the net from a Franz Beckenbauer shove that probably could have been a spot-kick. But a few minutes later it didn’t matter. An Alan Ball corner is only cleared as far as Hurst whose weak shot would have bothered nobody if a German defender hadn’t got in the way and the ball fell to Martin Peters who slammed the ball into the back of the net sending our settee of people up on their feet arms in the air celebrating with him.
England had to hold on for just twelve minutes and if ‘taking it into the corner’ had been ‘invented’ then they’d probably have spent all twelve minutes there! Roger Hunt should have put the game to bed in the final five minutes but he seemed slightly dazed when the ball came to him and shot when perhaps a ball to Bobby Charlton might have been a better option. But it didn’t matter because England were winning, although after a couple of chances from the Germans the crowd began to whistle to let the ref know it was time for him to do the same. But wouldn’t you just know it, he didn’t blow and Germany equalised. Jackie Charlton had a panic (though I’d never say that to his face!) and from his challenge the Germans got a free-kick which hits an England defender and fell to Held and when his shot deflects off one of his fellow players Wolfgang Weber slides across the wet turf and stops Banks gathering the ball and makes it two-two. Our house is groaning. I’m thinking well at least England didn’t lose and asked who gets the trophy to discover there’s extra time to sit through (and tea would definitely be late!)
To be honest this extra time was a bit of a nuisance to me as I was hungry and it was rather boring until there’s a shout from the settee when Bobby Charlton hits the post. That is until the one hundred and first minute and even my rumbling tum was forgotten when Geoff Hurst appeared to swivel and turn and get his foot round the ball and put it over the ‘keepers head where it came off he underside of the bar and went over the line and then out again (according to my Dad!). According to the Germans it never went near the line and should have been a corner with Weber heading it behind. Hurst had started to celebrate but looked dejected when it seemed it would be a corner with the crowd having jumped up and down now as quiet as mice. All in our front room were stood watching as the referee walked over to the Russian linesman, spoke to him (I never found out in what language), gave a nod of his head and pointed to the centre circle for the re-start. The crowd went wild, our front room went wild, the Germans moved quicker than they had throughout the extra time period and surrounded the referee.
The second half of extra time saw the Germans very dejected and slow but they did get a chance which Gordon Banks wouldn’t have saved that went just wide and had our front room once again standing up but this time in horror before the ‘phews’. After that England had to withhold some German pressure and when Horst-Dieter Hottges curled in a cross Bobby Moore chested it down and he sends Geoff Hurst clear. He was tired, the pitch was appalling, the only German who had anything left was Wolfgang Overath but it was half-hearted and Hurst sent an unstoppable shot into the top left hand corner of the net.
We were up celebrating and, no I didn’t hear the ‘The fans are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now’ until afterwards! And I don’t remember seeing Bobby Moore do his famous hand wiping before going to shake hands with the Queen.
What I remember – and when the 1966 World Cup Final is ever mentioned comes straight to my head – is Nobby Stiles literally dancing on the sodden Wembley pitch with the World Cup held aloft.
But I can’t believe it’s actually fifty years ago today.
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RUFC – It Was Fifty Years Ago Today . . . .
30 July 1966