England

Remembering 1966 World Cup glory

Bobby Moore and the England team with the 1966 World Cup trophy
Image caption The England team lifted the World Cup trophy after beating West Germany in the final

As the England 2018 bid team campaigns in Switzerland for the World Cup to be held in the country, BBC News looks back to 1966, the last time the tournament was held on English soil.

It was the first time England had hosted the World Cup, and the first (and only) time the team lifted the most coveted trophy in football.

In 1966, there were no multi-million pound player contracts and most people had never heard of a metatarsal injury.

The word "wag" had nothing to do with players' wives and girlfriends, who were more likely to be seen wearing Marks & Spencer than designer wear.

With only 16 teams competing, compared to 32 in 2010, it was smaller than the modern-day tournament.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was at fever pitch, and for many England fans it remains the most exciting World Cup ever held.

BBC Radio 5 live summariser Stuart Hall was a sports reporter for the BBC covering World Cup matches in the North West.

'Exceptional football'

He said there was huge excitement all over the country before every game.

"They had street parties, they had everything," said the broadcasting veteran. "The whole country was on fire.

"Some of these teams were at the peak of their powers.

"Every team had wonderful, wonderful artists playing for them. It was before the decline of certain countries.

"The standard of football was exceptional. The most boring team in the competition until we got to the final was England."

England, led by manager Alf Ramsey, were not the favourites to win the World Cup before the tournament began.

Holders Brazil, as well as Uruguay and Italy, were all knocked out unexpectedly early in the competition.

"Alf Ramsey was very clever," said Mr Hall. "He did not play exciting football but it was functional, pragmatic, safe. He wanted to win."

Mr Hall said hopes were extremely high after England's final victory and many people thought it was the "dawn of a new era" for English football.

It was not just Wembley that experienced World Cup fever. With matches played in Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, the excitement spread around the country.

One man who remembers it well is 81-year-old Bernard Gent, who was working as a Football Association press officer at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough. Russia, Italy, Chile and North Korea all played at the stadium.

Even though Italy were among the favourites, the attention of Middlesbrough quickly turned to North Korea after they drew with Chile and then beat the Italians 1-0.

They went on to play Portugal in the quarter-finals but lost 5-3.

Image caption Many people had street parties during the 1966 World Cup

About 3,000 Middlesbrough fans travelled to Liverpool for the game at Everton's Goodison Park ground to support North Korea against Portugal.

Mr Gent said: "They had a poor year following the local team but because North Korea played in the same colours, red and white, they took to the North Korea team.

"The crowd must have played some part in them winning against Italy in that game which was crucial. They really got behind them. There were no North Korean [fans] here because of the political situation."

He said Middlesbrough fans celebrated North Korea's success in the local pubs and nightclubs. "It was a great atmosphere," he said. "It would be fantastic to have it here again."

Mr Hall, who still files match reports for BBC 5 live, added: "I have never seen anything quite like it since then. There is nothing like a World Cup playing in England. Football is the greatest entertainment in the world."

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