IT was 50 years ago today that England’s footballers secured their famous World Cup Final victory over West Germany. We asked several well known figures for their memories of that historic day.
Poet, journalist and broadcaster
MY dad wasn’t a football fan, so I remember that on the day of the final we’d been off for the day, possibly to the seaside to wander round a deserted beach or possibly to a beauty spot to gaze at beauty unsullied by any people.
As we drove back I listened to the final on the radio in the car: not a car radio, note; that would have been too modern for my dad. No, it was a transistor radio that I took from the kitchen to the car for long journeys.
So my memory of the final is of a crackling and hissing and fading and returning commentary that arrived and departed as we drove through Goldthorpe, a village about two miles from our house.
The streets of Goldthorpe were quiet until, as far as I could tell from the radio’s whispers, England won, and then it seemed like the whole population of Yorkshire streamed out of the Goldthorpe hotel and started shouting. ‘Something’s going on!’ my dad said, fearing some sort of military coup.
A thickset man danced like a Pan’s People reject. A bloke glugged beer from a glass that caught the light of the sun. The radio tried to make itself heard, and failed.
IN 1966, David Brierley, a BBC cameraman, came into my gallery at Dodworth. He asked two things, first to look at my paintings and second to use my phone. Unbeknown to me he phoned Philip Radcliffe, a journalist who worked in Manchester.
He spoke to me regarding my forthcoming exhibition at Westminster Bridge opposite Old Scotland Yard. He asked if I had any sponsors and offered to help. He arranged for Keith Macklin, a rugby presenter at the time, to interview me on the Sunday in London.
We set off down to London on the Saturday with my friend Jack Brown in a second hand Morris Minor van (back then there was no M1). All the way down Jack kept shouting out of the window to people asking them “what’s the score?” Though I was none the wiser as I wasn’t a football fan.
Parking up in London, we found out that England had won the World Cup. The atmosphere that evening was unbelievable with people dancing in Trafalgar Square and hugging each other.
After finishing our last drinks of the evening Jack and I slept in the van with the paintings, ready to set up the exhibition, my first in London, the following morning on the wall and pavement.
Conservative MP for Batley & Spen from 1983 - 1997
I CAN remember very clearly what I was doing and what happened - I was attending my sister-in-law’s wedding. She had chosen that day long before England learnt to kick a football never mind winning the World Cup. England’s success in getting to the final certainly disrupted the arrangements.
The ceremony was great and the pre-lunch drinks went down well but there was excitement in the air. Things began to go wrong when we sat down to eat as the men folk were continually getting up to listen to the commentary on portable radios in the hall, thus leaving great gaps on the tables.
Soon the table service began to falter as the excitement rose with the waiters also trying to follow the commentary.
This all caused my mother-in-law, a country woman and stalwart of that marvellous organisation the Women’s Institute, and a stickler for good order, to get very perturbed. More so, when the best man’s speech was interrupted by cheering when a goal was scored.
Of course when England won, unscheduled celebrations broke out, to the consternation of the maiden aunts. Later we ended up at home in Gargrave with a house full of people watching the replay on TV until we ran out of beer, which required a high-jacking sortie to the Masons Arms for supplies. No wonder England haven’t won since!
Former test cricket umpire
I WATCHED the match on TV at home. It was very tense and I remember thinking the ball hadn’t dropped over the line for England’s third goal, though television in those days wasn’t as good as it is now. The performance of the whole England team was excellent and I thought Bobby Moore had an outstanding game, as did Alan Ball. These two players stood out for me on this particular day.
I knew Gordon Banks very well because he was at Leicester City when I was playing cricket for Leicestershire and I wanted England to win the World Cup like everyone else did, but I was especially pleased for him.
Everyone was very excited, of course, and the pubs in Barnsley were all buzzing. I think the fact that 50 years have gone by and we’ve not come close to winning it again shows what a great achievement it was.
I REALLY cannot remember whether the day was grey or bathed in sunshine, recollection plays tricks on all childhood memories so summers were always sunny and warm. It was a week after I left school.
I was almost 15, so I had a few weeks of summer in front of me before I started as an apprentice electrician with the National Coal Board and stepped on that inevitable path towards adulthood.
At school I had produced a copy drawing of a Vincent Van Gogh self portrait that had been selected for an art exhibition at the local gala. After lunch my dad put on his trilby, my mother her lipstick, we grabbed my sister Gail and trundled off to Cudworth Park.
It was unsurprisingly quiet. What an afternoon to have my artistic debut; the World Cup Final at Wembley, England v Germany. My Dad whipped us around the exhibition like ferrets up a drainpipe and we raced back through the quiet village streets to sit in front of the box.
Although my mother gave me encouragement, seeing my cross-eyed version of a brooding Van Gogh on a canvas wall didn’t exactly inspire me to become an artist. The drawing was rubbish.
England’s victory was another matter though; it inspired all kids of a certain age to kick a football and uplifted a nation. I never returned to the marquee for my masterpiece, but I know with absolute certainty the sun shone that afternoon.
Labour MP for Huddersfield
I WAS a student at the time and had just finished my Masters degree at the London School of Economics (LSE). I was still living in London and I’d arranged to meet a group of students to watch the game. We ended up in a pub next to Smithfield Market and the atmosphere was totally electric.
We went from having no hope when the competition started to being in the final and I remember the pub we were in was packed. There were Smithfield porters and medics from a nearby hospital and lots of students. There were people with bloodstained aprons watching the game and you didn’t know if they had just come from the operating theatre, or had been selling meet in the market.
It was one of those iconic moments in our shared folk history, a bit like the London Olympics in 2012. There was no negativity just this great feeling of goodwill.
Former Leeds United and Scotland winger
There was myself, Peter Lorimer and my mate Jimmy Lumsden and the three of us watched the game at a hotel in Leeds not far from the university. Us being Scottish we wanted to watch the game quietly on our own without bumping into any English fans.
There was no love lost between England and Scotland when it came to international matches and we knew that England fans would give us some stick if we went out to watch the final. We had quite a few English boys at the club and Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter were both in England’s World Cup squad, so there was always a bit of banter between us and them.
I was delighted for my teammates when they won. I just wished our country had been playing instead.
IF my memory serves me well I was either at Mavis’ Boarding House on Woodfield Road in Blackpool on holiday, or at home in our council house at 100 Rose Avenue, Upton, and I recall it being extremely hot; too hot for ball games, according to my Mam.
One thing was for sure though in those days; I was going to play football for Leeds United, either on the wing or at inside left; the fact that I had, as yet, not made Upton Robins under 11’s first team didn’t worry me one bit, since I was able to manage twenty two keepy ups on my right foot alone: my weaker foot! As I attempted to demonstrate to all concerned whilst we watched the final; my Mam not best pleased.
I clearly remember seeing a man who seemed older than even my grandad who was important to the team; I couldn’t understand how someone of that age would know anything about anything, let alone football.
It was Sir Alf Ramsey; his was the face I remember on the small black and white TV which we seemed to be huddled around; in my memory is has a nine inch screen, but it must have been bigger, but not much: and there was a ghosting on the picture so someone had to hold the aerial; not me, I was doing keepy ups to help the team.
Even my Dad seemed interested in the final, and he never struck me as particularly interested in football, unlike my Granddad who told me he had played for England at both football and rugby, and boxed in the Olympics; mind you he also told me he had been a lion tamer and drove a Harley Davidson as a kid. There’s no wonder I became a playwright!
Former Yorkshire and England batsman and cricket commentator
I WAS playing cricket for Yorkshire and England, that came first, but my abiding memory of the whole World Cup is Bobby Charlton’s wonder goal against Mexico in the group stage. What a goal.
People don’t realise they played with leather balls which became like cannon balls if they got a bit wet. He picked the ball up on the halfway line, and ran with it. He was looking for someone to pass to but he kept going and had a pop from 30 yards out. That was the magic of the man.
I remember the reaction afterwards. Players came up and shook him by the hand and patted him on the back and went back to the centre circle. There was none of this jumping around you get today like seven-year-old girls playing netball. These were real men.
You forget, these were truly great players. They didn’t earn great money and they lived amongst the community. Bobby Charlton, what would he be worth today? £100m.
That’s why he got his knight hood, he was brilliant, you had to see him to realise what a good player he was. He was a legend, a magical footballer.
Just look at the old black and white footage of his thighs. He was a fantastic footballer. Left or right foot, he could leather the ball. Strong, powerful, my memory of the World Cup is that goal against Mexico. The ball was only going one place – in the back of the net.
SIR IAN MCGEECHAN
Yorkshire Carnegie’s executive chairman
I was a student at Carnegie at the time and I watched a lot of the games on TV, either in the common room with the other students or at home with my parents. The final itself I watched at home in Leeds. It was a real family occasion, my parents were there as well as my brother and my girlfriend (and future wife) Judy.
I remember getting all the shopping done in the morning and getting some fish and chips for lunch. I made sure that everything was done so we could all sit down in time for the kick-off.
My dad was a big Leeds United fan and even though he was a Scot he was 100 per cent behind England, he had no truck with the idea that you shouldn’t support England if you were Scottish. The match itself was full of drama with the goal that was or wasn’t, and afterwards our neighbours stood outside in their gardens talking about the game. It was one of those days that stays with you.
Former Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday manager
THIS was the summer I moved down to Brighton and that weekend I drove back to Sheffield in a Vauxhall Viva. This entailed driving mostly on the A roads and I remember I had to drive around Mansfield and Nottingham. My wife hadn’t moved yet so it was a bit of an upheaval.
But the match itself is what I remember. I watched it on a tiny black and white TV set and it was like watching a film only it was happening in real life. It’s hard to imagine a better script in terms of drama. It was like sitting in a cinema watching a movie directed by Ken Loach.
There was also an innocence about it, though we didn’t realise it at the time. Footballers were still blokes on the street and if I ran an academy I’d show footage of that match to players on how to celebrate a goal.
Everything was in the moment, there was nothing preconceived. It was about pure joy.