It's just over 55 years ago that I made my way from Wembley Park stadium down Olympic way to the twin towers of Wembley Stadium for the F A Cup Final between Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers and easy 3-0 victory for Wolves. My 7 shilling ticket, (about 35p in new money) was a bargain.
I went to all of England's six 1966 World Cup matches at the same venue including the boring 0-0 opener with Uruguay and the other two group matches with France (won2-0) with a brace from Roger Hunt and 2-0 over Mexico, (Hunt and Bobby Charlton). In those days they had greyhound racing twice a week and the stadium would not budge and so the Uruguay v France match was moved to White City stadium, a mainly athletics venue. I was also at the quarter final when The Three Lions beat Argentina and the semi final win over Eusebio's Portugal. I had been in some really great seats in the main stand at a cost of £1.00 per ticket (it was only 50 pence to stand on the terraces). In fact I and some mates had gone to Old Trafford for Hungary v Portugal, (1-3, )Hillsborough for West Germany v Switzerland ( 5-0), and to Ayresome Park Middlesborough to watch North Korea knock out Italy 1-0 with a goal from Pak -Doo Ik. Each match only 50d. I had an official World Cup blazer badge and walked into the North Korean dressing room after the final whistle to celebrate with rice wine.
SO to Wembley for the final and the ticket cost £2.50. The extra time victory 4-2, the presentation of the Jules Rimet trophy to captain Bobby Moore and time for me to climb into The Royal Box and take the carboard sign still lying on Queen Elizabeth's velvet seat H M QUEEN.
It was a marvellous and moving occasion last night at the NEW Wembley, with the Twin Towere replaced by the arch that is lit up and can be seen from miles away. It was lit up in the blue, white and red colours of the French tricolour and LIBERTE, EGALITE, FRATERNITE spelled out. Inside 71,000 fans, including 1,700 French supporters, behaved in was a triumph for friendship and The Beautiful Game. Notmally the visiting national anthem is played first but on this occasion God Save the Queen was followed by LA MARSEILLAISE sung by all fans with the words displayed on the giant screens. Outside, Bobby Moore's statue had a simple wreath of white flowers laid at his feet. Inside the F.A, President The Duke of Cambridge laid a red,white and blue wreath on the touchline alongside those of managers Roy Hodgson and Didier Deschamps.
Both teams hugged and intermingled for a group photograph and were arranged around the centre circle for a minutes silence. As the future King of England listened to his subjects sing the words of the national anthem of the Republic of France, who beheaded their royals many years ago, he might also of thought about the recent 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, won by the long bowmen of England and Wales. !! At least the trains from Paris Gard du Nord no longer arrive at Waterloo station but at the less politically meaningful St. Pancras International.
The fact that the youngest England starting Xl since 1959 played very well and won 2-0 was not so important as the spirit of what was going to be a rather meaningless exercise turned out to be a CELEBRATION OF OUR VALUES.