1966 World Cup 50th anniversary: Dagenham remembers Sir Alf Ramsey
PUBLISHED: 13:00 29 July 2016 | UPDATED: 13:18 29 July 2016
People across the country will celebrate the 50th anniversary of England’s historic World Cup win tomorrow.
But how are those legendary individuals remembered by the people that knew them?
He didn’t score any goals, he didn’t make any saves – he didn’t even play.
For many though, he remains the one individual who made the greatest contribution to that team of ’66.
And now, 50 years after he guided England to their only major tournament win, Barking and Dagenham Council could be about to name a street after him.
Retired engineer Len Smith, 84, often saw Sir Alf Ramsey returning to his family home at Parrish’s Cottages, Halbutt Street, Dagenham.
“I never understood why Dagenham never made an Alf Ramsey Way or Alf Ramsey Boulevard or something,” he said.
“There doesn’t seem to be any lasting memorial to him – someone like that, who did so much good.
“They knocked down the cottages after his mum died and they’ve built plenty more streets round here since – it would have been easy enough to do.”
"You would expect someone like that to have a flash sports car or something, but he used to walk across Five Elms, get a bus to Romford and then get a train to Ipswich"
And the council agrees.
A spokesman said: “This is a great idea, in fact we would look to see if we can not only honour Sir Alf Ramsey by naming a street after England’s only winning football manager but also other borough greats who have played for our country.”
Ramsey, a former Ipswich Town boss, was born in the Dagenham cottage, went to Becontree Heath School and played for Dagenham Schoolboys and Essex Schools team.
Between the ages of 14 and 20 he worked at the Co-op store in Wood Lane and played part-time football for Five Elms United.
After serving in the Army during the Second World War, Alf began his professional playing career with Southampton, before moving to Tottenham in 1949.
A talented right-back, he was capped 32 times for England before moving into management.
Despite being an icon in English football, Len insists Sir Alf steered well clear of the trappings of fame and fortune.
“Their family were into greyhound racing so they were always about walking the dogs,” he added.
“The only time I really saw Alf was when he used to come and visit his mother.
“You would expect someone like that to have a flash sports car or something, but he used to walk across Five Elms, get a bus to Romford and then get a train to Ipswich where he lived then.
“I’d see him walking up the street or waiting for a bus – you’d never see an England manager these days waiting for a bus would you?”
For Len’s next-door neighbours Dave and Margaret Vincent, 1966 was a special year for a great many reasons.
Not only did England’s football team reach heights that have never since been scaled, but they also got married – tying the knot in Stepney on December 31.
Now living in Halbutt Street, their home for the past 47 years, Dave remembers the former England gaffer well.
“Mrs Ramsey used to wait at the side of the street for Alf to come back,” he said.
“There was another old lady who used to sit at the window watching the kids play in the street and you’d hear Alf walk by and go ‘Evening ma’am’.”
As a teenager, Dave worked at a butchers in Barking Road, Upton Park, just round the corner from West Ham’s former Boleyn Ground home. A regular at nearby Café Cassettari – synonymous with the club’s history – he would often see the likes of Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.
“I was only 15 so I’d be the one to go and get the sandwiches,” he recalls.“Quite often all the players would be sat in there at the back.
“In those days they would all be either wearing suits or sports jackets.
“I remember seeing Bobby, with his blond hair, but he was just an ordinary person.
“They were all people of note but they certainly didn’t come across like that – they were just genuine blokes.”
Click back here tomorrow for our feature on Barking-born World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore, featuring interviews with his friends and neighbours.