From the Vaults: Observer, July 31, 1966

Many English schoolboys, bored by learning about the Kings and Queens of England in history lessons, perk up when they are told about England’s 4-2 victory over West-Germany in the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final. It may well be ancient history, but I would guess that England’s victory in that game is a historical fact that can be recalled by a substantial proportion of the male population of England over the age of ten. For those England supporters old enough to recall the match, I am sure that they will not easily forget the jubilation that followed. I copy below an extract from an article that appeared on the front page of the Observer one day after this historic event:

London goes wild for Cup victors

by a Staff Reporter

Observer, July 31, 1966, p. 1.

BRITAIN erupted with joy last night after England had won football’s World Cup final at Wembley.

Patriotic fervour, unequalled since VE Day, spread all over London in celebration of the 4-2 victory over West Germany.

As the team arrived at the Royal Gardens Hotel in Kensington for a banquet, arm-linked cordons of police popped open like seams when a crowd of more than 6,000 mobbed the players. Cries of “England,” “Ramsey,” “Moore,” “Stiles,” “Charlton,” greeted them when they came out on a balcony before the Union Jack-waving crowd.

Traffic in the West End was at a complete standstill. Thousands of cars and pedestrians jostled around Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus and Parliament and Trafalgar Squares.

Teenagers who had not been to the match clambered into the Trafalgar Square fountains singing: “we gave them a bloody good hiding and so say all of us.” The pubs were full – and cinemas and theatres empty. Groups of people sang and danced in the streets.

An AA spokesman said: “It’s like VE night, election night and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one.”….

The Prime Minister, back in time to see England’s triumph went to the banquet. He said: “It was a marvellous game. I was a bit shattered when it went into extra time. I said before the game that it would be 2  1 in England’s favour and I was only a minute out.”….

Team manager Alf Ramsey picked up the World Cup rather nervously but Mr Wilson, taking his arm and pushing him towards the balcony, said, “It’s only once in a lifetime you know.”

The crowd, still thousands strong, gave the team, their wives and girl friends a tremendous roar of applause. They sang “For he’s a jolly good fellow” for both Ramsey and Moore.

Mr George Brown, talking to the Captain Bobby Moore, said: “It was a blinder, it really was.”…..

I do not know how far the current England football squad will progress in this year’s World Cup, but I would think it is very optimistic to expect to see scenes in London in the next few weeks on a par with those from July 30, 1966.