1966 and All That!

England-1966-fifa-world-cup-logo_SEINNI_MYNDINThis weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the England football team’s World Cup final victory over West Germany at Wembley stadium on 30th July 1966.

A hard-fought contest over 90 minutes saw the match go into extra time with the score poised at 2-2, but two further goals by Geoff Hurst – making him the first and so far only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final – won the match for England 4-2. Not without some controversy – debate still rages over whether or not England’s third goal was actually legitimate, as certain camera angles appeared to show that the ball had not crossed the line.

England’s fortunes in subsequent finals have been mixed; a semi-final appearance at Italy 1990 under Bobby Robson has been their best achievement since 1966. Indeed, controversy seems to have followed England’s World Cup performances – on and off the field! Alf Ramsey’s ill-advised substitution of the talismanic Bobby Charlton during the quarter final against West Germany in 1970 has long since been deemed responsible not only for losing England the match 3-2 in extra time (after England led 2-1 with 8 minutes to go), but also subsequently – in a dour reflection of the black mood of the country – for then Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s surprise defeat in the 1970 General Election which took place four days after the match!

England fans would also choose to forget Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal in the 2-1 quarter final defeat to Argentina at Mexico 1986, while German fans may claim a degree of cosmic football karma during their second round 4-1 knock-out of England at South Africa 2010, when Frank Lampard’s would-have-been equalising goal for 2-2 was disallowed despite having crossed the goal line – a reverse echo of Hurst’s goal in 1966, perhaps!

We hold a large stock of books about football and football coaching among our sports section on Level 2, and if you care to revisit England’s World Cup adventures as reported by the press of the time, why not take a trawl through our online newspaper archives?