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4-2 (after extra time)

July 29, 2011

Tomorrow sees the 45th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup Final. Relying on the team which had seen them through the previous two rounds, Alf Ramsey’s England won a great match 4-2 after extra-time against West Germany. A winter sport played in the summer cheered everyone up no end: England 4 (Hurst 18, 101, 120; Peters 78) West Germany 2 (Haller 12, Weber 90). This is the day we’ve all been waiting for says Kenneth Wolstenholme at the start of the BBC match commentary.

Saturday 30th July 1966. Match day. The lads are there in a fidgeting line in the gloom of the tunnel, behind Sir Alf, waiting to come out. Four of them are bouncing balls whilst the others are staring ahead, getting into the space. England are in cherry red shirts, full sleeved with a simple round neck, plain – no daft logos or adverts. A simple football kit that today resonates with emotion. The English team comes out of the tunnel into the roaring light of English support. Rattles and klaxon horns. The weather forecast said ‘sunny period and showers, becoming dry later’. The Royal Marine band play a few tunes including the two National Anthems. Moore and Seeler, the captains, shake hands and exchange plaques and pennants. Bobby wins the toss with his customary elegance, and elects to defend the goal England has picked for the warm up. The spare balls are kicked away, and the two teams line up to go.

The Germans looked the more dangerous in the opening minutes, Haller and Held leading menacing sorties and Seeler, their captain, using his head to good advantage. It came as no surprise when Haller shot West Germany into a 12th minute lead following Wilson’s misdirected header. He thought scoring the opening goal entitled him to keep the match ball – that was the custom in German football – but there was someone else who wanted that ball too. England, behind for the first time in the tournament, equalised six minutes later. Hurst positioned himself perfectly to head home Moore’s quickly taken free-kick. The German defence gave little away in the second period and only 12 minutes remained when Peters scored after Hurst’s centre had struck a defender and looped invitingly into the air. From that range Peters could hardly miss. As England hung on for the final whistle, Jackie Charlton was adjudged, harshly, to have fouled on the edge of the box. The free-kick, blasted at the wall by Emmerich, appeared to strike Schnellinger’s hand before rolling on for Weber to shoot, almost in slow motion, past Banks’ desperate lunge. Gutted. 2-2.

England looked fitter and fresher in extra time, continuing to play with confidence and composure. Hurst scored with a drive on the turn, which hit the underside of the bar and bounced over the line with Tilkowski, the flamboyant German keeper, well beaten. The goal was disputed by the Germans – and still is. The Swiss referee, Gottfried Dienst, asked the nearer linesman Mr. Bakhramov from the USSR (what is now Azerbaijan), and between them they agreed that it was a goal. Of course it was. It wasn’t until Baddiel & Skinner undertook expert re-enactment in 1996 that with the aid of modern digital technology, it was 100% confirmed to be a goal. Well, sort of. German heads dropped as they lost their concentration, such that with the last kick of the match, Hurst completed a personal triumph by scoring with a firm left-footer, cheeks sucked in as he lashed the ball forward. Apparently some of the crowd were on the pitch. Geoff, now Sir Geoff, remains the only player to have notched a hat-trick in a World Cup Final as I’m sure you know. And he got to keep the match ball.

A day to remember – even if like for me, it’s from videos and news cuttings. England lined up Banks, Cohen, Wilson, Stiles, Charlton (J), Moore, Ball, Charlton (R), Hurst, Peters, Hunt.

I’ve watched the video of this match and had day-dreams. It’s come to my aid on sleepless nights. It’s also helped when I’ve been stuck in dreadful meetings! My daydream. We are ten minutes into the second half and England are 1-2 down. A worried looking Ramsey is on the touchline about to make a substitution (of course, this wasn’t in the rules in 1966). He is going to take Hurst off, strangely off his game, and bring on this tall, inelegant, somewhat clumsy, more suited to rugby, substitute player. Alf is telling this player what to do. And he is me. I go on and generate a 4-2 victory with the greatest thirty-five minutes of centre-forward play anyone has ever seen.

Alf Ramsey’s speech at full-time  – You’ve won the World Cup once, now, go and win it again– was akin to Henry V at Agincourt.

Of course, since 1966 we’ve not had much success, highlight for me was the 2002 World Cup. Recall England manager Phil Cope suffered a heart attack during qualification and had to be replaced  by Mike Bassett.  Needing to beat Slovenia in the final qualifier to make it to Brazil, we only managed a draw, but a shock win by Luxembourg over Holland meant we went through on goal difference. In the balmy summer, I recall a difficult group stage as ever and we were on the verge of heading home after a goalless draw with unfancied Egypt before losing to Mexico. Who remembers Basset’s press conference where he mixed flaming sambucas with anti-depressants? As the gathered press baited Basset, expecting him to resign, Basset recites If by Rudyard Kipling followed by: England will be playing 4-4-fucking-2 and storms out.   Of course we lost in the semi-finals to Brazil, but we had regained our pride.

We can all dream about playing for a winning team, getting the results and enjoying the success. But what qualities do you see in that 1966  England team that you can learn from?

  • Desire: The will to win. You’ve got to want it, to get yourself up to a new level of performance.
  • Commitment: Commit to yourself, and your goals, and make a commitment to stay focused.
  • Responsibility: You are responsible for your future. No-one else. You have the choices, you make the decisions. You alone are accountable to yourself.
  • Perspiration, not Inspiration: Don’t be shy of hard work – there is no alternative. Sacrifice and self-discipline are the norm for winners.
  • Belief in yourself: Not a platitude, what do you want to be famous for? Sir Alf used virtually these words,  who wants to be a winner?
  • Persistence: Concentrate and focus on what needs to be done. Without it, you won’t get very far. Dig in, make it happen.
  • Pride: Love what you do. Do it well, but don’t confuse pride with ego, it’s more about satisfaction and humility, quality and the individual go hand in hand.

So come 3 o’clock Saturday, just pause for a moment and reflect back on ’66. England, an outstanding team of individuals – not a team of outstanding individuals. Everyone played their part, and everyone was over the moon.

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