Thursday, 17 June 2010

Icon #57 England v's West Germany 1966

The most iconic match at a World Cup.

Before I start this weeks Icon Post a heads up.  Interest was poor today, which is really rare, so next week we're going back to normal, although I shall return to football for the final week of the World Cup.

So 1966 and all that then.  One match to rule them all etc.  I'll be honest it was a close call today because I think the World Cup has had better games and one in particular forced a country to change the way it tried to play the game (Brazil v's Italy 1982).  But with England playing tomorrow I couldn't ignore the call to do the '66 Final.  So here goes...

For all the other Nations that have ever competed in the World Cup each will have its moment, no matter how small, that the fans can savour.  England have the Final of 1966 when we went and won the bloody thing.

I constantly have to remind myself that it only happened 7 years before I was born.  SEVEN?!!!! Mental!  The images, even when the colour has been added back in, look like they are from long long ago.  Which I guess they now are now, but I have this image in my head of car free streets (because there weren't any) and all the neighbours gathered round a flickering black and white TV of the only person in the road who owned one.  Actually some of that might not be far off, but I think tin baths and horse and carts might have been largely done away with.  But it just feels like it all happened in a purer time, when the country was still at the centre of things, with a vibrancy all of its own.

Looking back at it now, that match, which I've been fortunate to watch a few times, football hasn't, thankfully changed that much.  It's all a bit more polite, but that's about it.  The emotion is all there, particularly from the Charlton brothers and although the crowd look strange, the atmosphere sounds amazing.  I miss old Wembley, despite the dodgy views and terrible toilet facilities.

The game itself was a great one, truly one of the great finals.  Controversy, one truly great goal, a last minute equaliser and the lead changing hands.  What more could you want?

12 minutes in and the Germans are in front.  Balls.  Haller's low shot beating Banks outstretched right hand but within 6 minutes we were level.  Poor marking at a freekick gave Hurst the room to head in from Moore's delivery and suddenly it was game on.  Actually that was it until the 78th minute.  It's tight and cagey in the 2nd half but suddenly Peters pounces on Hurst's deflected effort and we're in front.  Can you imagine that feeling?  (I'm guessing most of you reading this didn't experience it.)  12 minutes to go.  2-1 up in a World Cup Final?  I'd be a wreck.  Of course England being England (some things never change) we couldn't see it out.  In the final seconds of that nerve jangling ending we succumb to the relentless German pressure and concede a scrappy goal to Weber.  Disaster.  2-2 and extra time.  Wow.  I'd have probably said some very bad words at that point, moaned a lot about Jimmy Greaves not being in the starting line up and then smoked several fags.  In the garden.  While kicking a bin.

11 minutes into extra time Hurst pivots on Ball's cross and shoots.  The ball strikes the underside of the bar and bounces almost straight down onto the line.  Hunt, who's about six yards away turns and celebrates rather than trying to attack the bouncing ball, apparently because he sees it cross the line and in no way because the German defender is gonna get to it first and head it to safety.  The ref gives the goal and the players celebrate but then he spots the Russian linesman is flagging.  He goes over to speak to him but the linesman just confirms that he thinks it's crossed the line, it's a goal.  3-2 to England!  Exciting.  The German's are far from impressed though, surely that's not gone in?  I like to think I'd probably have felt like I did about Garcia's goal for Liverpool against Chelsea in 2005.  I simply would not care about the scientific evidence, the ref gives it, therefore it is.  This is why we love football, why goal line technology would suck.  You take out the 'what ifs' from football and you take away the debate and arguments.  Which would make it just another sport.

There was more last minute drama to come though except we only went and got another.  Hurst bursts onto Moore's through ball and the German's are nowhere, pressing for another equaliser, tired legs way beyond chasing back.  And he lashes it.  BOSH!! Top corner, fricking screamer.  That footage has been over watched and over used, but seeing it with fresh eyes as the moment the whole of England knew that we were Champions of the World it can't be anything other than timeless.  4-2, game over.

It's iconic for England fans only I imagine.  We won the whole thing and I would have (had I been born and been at an age to appreciate it) cried with joy.  

Maybe one day we'll get to have that again and see another England team win the World Cup.  But for now we still have that match in 1966 to look back at.  Don't dismiss it, even in 1966 it was a hell of an achievement.
"We will win the World Cup" - Alf Ramsey 1963
Tonight's post is dedicated to (from twitter) @maverick99sback, @3Stars_left, @lmlc, @Sisterledge (via facebook), (and from facebook) Nicky and Judge.