World Cup Memories: 1966 and all that!

In the second instalment of our World Cup Memories series, we celebrate the football fever that’s sweeping the world (and our Theatre as England triumph nightly inWorld Cup Final 1966!). Friend of Bristol Old Vic, Gordon Brand blogs about stealing his dorm masters radio and the special game that changed the course of a lifetime…

Gordon Banks and the 1966 team lift the trophy!

Gordon Banks and the 1966 team lift the trophy!

Far away in a boarding school in south India, I really knew very little about football – other than playing in the school team. I certainly knew nothing about English teams or divisions. The World Cup changed all that.

I remember one evening, word got around that one of the dorm masters had a radio in his room and several of my friends were there listening to the World Cup final. It meant very little to me, but I had the feeling that it was special, so I joined in.
I had no idea then just how historic or iconic that game would turn out to be, or the impact it would have on my young life.

My family returned to the UK a few months later and, being a 12 year old boy, I soon realised that I was ‘supposed’ to be interested in football. At the time we were living in Scotland, but my mind was looking in a very different direction. For me, it had to be the very best team and there was no doubt in my mind which that must be. England’s World Cup captain must be the greatest player, I thought; the goal scorers must be brilliant; and the goal keeper shared my name and my initials! And they all belonged to the same club – West Ham United.

Before long I was getting the Shoot comic every week, I knew all the names of the team, I was following their results (even if they were over 400 miles away from where I was living) and, when I was first allowed to choose, my room was painted claret and blue and the name of the club was plastered across my wall in large, painted, polystyrene letters. For my birthday, I had the full kit (I still have the socks!) and spent many hours on the local recreation ground pretending and dreaming.

It’s all in the long and distant past now but, at the time, it was one of the biggest things in my life – and all because of one unforgettable game.


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