At last, Wayne Rooney has started scoring on the field again after a dry spell, and the headlines are now on the back as well as the front pages. The first goal against Switzerland was a great relief.
The very first time I watched England play was in the same St. Jakob Stadium in Basle, Switzerland half a century ago. It was a post season tour and me and my mate Derek, who was a Liverpool fan, hitched hiked down to Dover, then the overnight ferry to Ostend. We hitched through Belgium: Brussels, Liege, and then to Aachen and down the German autobahn to the Swiss border city.
After checking into the local youth hostel we went to a 5 star hotel and met the England team. Captain Jim Armfield, who I had been at school with, invited us to drink pink chocolate in the restaurant with Tony Kay, playing his first match for his country,and other players and gave us two VIP tickets. The stadium had a glass front which would have seemed out of place at the decrepid English football grounds of the time. The Three Lions won handily 8-1 with a hat-trick from Bobby Charlton, plus two from Johnny Byrne, and one each from Brian Douglas, Tony Kay and Jimmie Melia..
It wasn't quite that big a score on Tuesday, 3-1, but after the dreadful performance in South Africa, its a good start for qualification for EURO 2012 in Poland/Ukraine. Six points after the 4-0 win at Wembley over Bulgaria 3 days earlier.
England have been wearing their new 'strip, white jerseys and royal blue shorts, designed by for UMBRO, who are now owned by NIKE, by Peter Saville. Of course now it's big business and parents are expected to fork out £40 or more for a kid's shirt and then we have away kits and more. Back then, prior to the 1966 World Cup it was a lot different. Read www.ronsblog.com 9/4/2006 THREE STRIPES AND YOU WIN for all the fascinating history. www.umbro.com
The F.A. paid for the uniforms, made by Bukta, with only a 20% discount, AND the F.A. staff hadto sew on the Three Lions badge themselves. That changed when Umbro launched a deal with the F.A. and 14 of the other sixteen finalists at the 1966 World Cup to offer free kits, AND pay a royalty later for replica kits. Umbro was founded in 1924 in Cheshire by the Humphrey Brothers hUMphreys BRO. Charles Humphreys spend 6 weeks going around the world signing up finalists and ADI DASSLER of Adidas, along with London sports retailer Ron Gordon, supplied the shoes which became part of the free package.
Now you know how soccer kits became big business.