Posted: 12/5/2017


      Its a first for Panama at World Cup 2018 Russia. How many Panama hats will be see in the Fischt Stadium in Sochi on Monday June 18th as they take on much favoured Belgium in the Group G opener and later on June 24th v England in Nizhny Novgorod and finally v Tunisia in  Mordovia Arena Saransk ?

        As you may be aware , Panama hats are made in Ecuador, but sold well to Panama Canal construction workers who liked the light weight, roll in a ball shelter that they offered in that hot and humid area. I bought mine in a market in Guatemala City, but it eventually blew away not long after.

    It is estimated that England's Three Lions and their entourage will fly over 4,000 miles in their chartered jet from St. Petersburg Airport to Volgograd, 1950 round trip,  Nizhny Novgorod 1,090 round trip and 1,020 round trip to Kaliningrad...and thats WITHOUT factoring in the hour or so each way from airports to hotels and stadiums and from their base for the duration in Repino, their home base about 15 miles outside St. Petersburg.

       My very first World Cup was England 1966 and England played their three group matches at Wembey stadium v Uruguay, Mexico and France. They also played the quarter final v Argentina, semi-final v Portugal and final v West Germany at Wembley Stadium. I did a little bit of research and found that they distance from their hotel the Hend<on Hall hotel was ONLY 6.5 miles away ,so the total distance round trip for six matches was about 74 miles IN TOTAL, and NO flights. 

       On the morning of the match I took the bus from my bed & breakfast ( actually a local resident offering a room for two nights for £1.5 shillings a night). I arrived at the Hendon Hall hotel with a cardboard team poster in a stamped and self addressed tube and handed it to a former schoolmate of mine Jim Armfield and asked for all the lads to sign it for me. Jim a one club man with Backpool had played in the 1962 World Cup in Chile, and then become captain of England until an injure sidelined him. He was replaced by Bobby Moore.

     There was absolutely NO security. The same a month ago when me and a couple of mates had driven over to their training base in Lilleshall, Shropshire to look at their accommodation and to meet the squad. Again NO security. The night before the final the squad had walked down the road to a local cinema in Hendon to watch "Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines ".  The players had radios in their rooms and one black & white TV in the lobby. 

        Today I can find a double room for £80.00 a night. Not sure what the rates where back in 1966. However the referees and linesmen who were selected for the tournament were not paid and were given a per diem of $4.50  for a room and meals. HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED !!

        Standing tickets in the group stages was 50 pence to stand up and £.1.00 for a seat. I had a season ticket for all six Wembley matches watching England, plus standing at West Germany v Switzerland at Hillsborough, Sheffield,(5-0);  Portugal v Hungary at Old Trafford, Manchester (3-1); and Italy v North Korea at Ayresome Park. Middlesborough (0-1; . Even with increased prices for later rounds MY TOTAL FOR NINE MATCHES was less than £10.00