After flying all over Mother Russia the team and their faithful fans are back in Moscow for this intriguing semi-final versus Croatia.
This time the Three Lions will be playing at Luzhniki Stadium with the winners staying around to meet France on Sunday. I was at the smaller Spartak Stadium a week ago for the penalty shoot out victory over Colombia, even though we were outnumbered 20 to 1 by the South American fans. The team and fans had to fly to Samara and back to take care of the TRE KRONOR..
WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT WAS BACK IN THE SUMMER OF '66 !! I had tickets for all England's six matches at Wembley Stadium, including the final v West Germany on 30th July 1966, plus paid at the turnstiles..50 pence a time to stand on the terraces to watch West Germany v Switzerland at Hillsborough, Portugal v Hungary at Old Trafford and North Korea v Italy at Middesborough's Ayresome Park. The TOTAL COST for the nine matches came to £10.00 !!!
As for the England team. They stayed at the Hendon Hall Hotel 5.6 miles from Wembley, so going back and forth six times was only about 70 MILES TOTAL !! What a contrast to this 2018 FIFA World Cup. On the morning of the final I walked from my bed&breakfast..cost 25 shillings a night to the hotel unannounced. No security even on Cup Final morning. The team were out for a walk. The night before they had gone out again together to watch 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines'. I left a poster in a tube with return postage and a noet to my former school mate and school prefect Jimmy Armfield to get the poster signed and sent to my home address.
When the team won the World Cup the Football Association gave them £20,000 to be divided, depending on how much playing time, BUT they decided to give £1,000.00 to each squad member, whether they played or not. Adidas also gave £1,000 to each player in the final who wore their shoes. Only Gordon Banks, who had a contract with Puma, declined.. West Germany had to wear adidas shoes without payment. For the very first time all the squads were offered FREE home and away kits by UMBRO. Up until that time The FA had to buy England Bukta uniforms from a local shop, with a 20% discount !!!. Believe it or Not !!!
The referee and linesmen at the tournament did not get paid..only £4.50 a day to find their own accommodation and meals. For the final they could choose £10.00 or a medal, and a commemorative whistle.
Last week was my first visit to Russia, then the Soviet Union, for 54 years on my way via the Trans Siberian Railway to the Pacific through 11 time zones and then a three day ship which also carried the Polish Olympic team to Yokahama.and the Tokyo Olympics, I had bought a £6.00 student flight from London Gatwick to Copenhagen,spent the night, hitch hiked via Halsingor and the ferry to Helsingborg for the night than a 2 day hike with two lads from Long Beach CA to Stockholm, and then an overnight ferry to Turku, Finalnd and hitch hike to Helsinki, an overnight train to The Finalnd station in Leningrad and transfer to another train to Moscow.
Very few foreigners as I walked around Red Square and into The Kremlin and a visit to GUM the glum department store with nothing worth buying. A BIG CONTRAST NOW. Red Square was packed withj international fans. GUM is now a four storey private expensive label shopping mall. Outside is NIKOLSKAYA STREET.. Chrismas Street.. with clubs, street entertainers, restaurants, pubs and rocking with fans sending much more on booze than food.
Security everywhere and helpful volunteers at every corner. In the Metros stations volunteers desks with maps and helpful tips and on the platforms young police, all understanding basic English and with I phones with maps, direction and translating ability. RUSSIA and Moscow is awesome for the visitors. and the Metro trains covering many lines are almost every minute.
Lets see what happens in the Luzhniki tonight.