Such a treat to sit back and enjoy full rerun of ‘greatest moment in history of English football’
- Credit: PA
A chance to watch the full 120 minutes of England’s 1966 World Cup final success over West Germany was too good to miss on Sunday.
With Channel 4 broadcasting a total rerun of the action, with running commentary from Sir Geoff Hurst, I settled down to get the full picture of how ‘West Ham won the World Cup’.
England had played five games in the space of just 16 days to reach the final, with 2-0 wins over Mexico and France following an opening 0-0 draw with Uruguay in their group.
And an ill-tempered 1-0 win over Argentina – after Hurst’s header – and 2-1 semi-final victory over Portugal set up the July 30 Wembley showdown.
Hurst explained how it had rained heavily before the game, which saw the pitch cut up quite badly on a warm afternoon, and admitted an aerial challenge on keeper Hans Tilkowski in the opening exchanges ‘did soften him up for my first goal’.
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A poor header by Ray Wilson was seized upon by Helmut Haller on 12 minutes and his shot on the turn found the far corner to open the scoring.
George Cohen came on screen to claim ‘we got over it very quickly’ as former Barking schoolboy Bobby Moore picked himself up after being fouled and took a quick free-kick to find Hurst for a downward header past a flat-footed Tilkowski.
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“A brilliant piece of football by Bobby Moore – a typical West Ham goal,” said commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme, with Hurst noting how England were a ‘hard-nosed professional team’.
Hurst had another header saved, but George Banks had to produce a double save to deny Wolfgang Overath and Lothar Emmerich at the other end.
“England’s defence are showing signs of weariness and indecision,” claimed Hugh Johns, before Moore’s excellent covering tackle thwarted Emmerich.
Roger Hunt saw a full-bloodied shot parried from Hurst’s header, but Banks then tipped over Uwe Seeler’s shot before half-time.
Prompted to describe Moore during the interval, Hurst said: “He was the best I played with, a great leader a captain. Very calm, no big speeches. Alan Ball always said if he raised an eyebrow at you, you knew you were in trouble.”
Guest Glenn Hoddle added: “He looks like a player for any era, absolutely imperious. You could see him playing the modern game now with any team. His use of the ball is wonderful.”
The second half began with Martin Peters heading wide from Ball’s cross, then dragging a shot off target.
“His enthusiasm can’t be faulted, but he must try to straighten those shots out,” noted the commentator.
Another quick free-kick from Moore was headed wide at the far post by central defensive partner Jack Charlton, then a cross from the left was nodded down by Hurst for Bobby Charlton, leading to a collision between Tilkowski and one of his defenders.
After receiving more treatment, Tilkowski saw Charlton angle a drive just past the far post from a deep Peters’ cross, but England took the lead with 12 minutes remaining.
Ball’s corner from the right fell to Hurst just outside the box and when his shot was blocked the ball looped up invitingly for West Ham clubmate Peters to volley home from no more than eight yards.
There was no question of England sitting on their lead in the final stages, though, as Bobby Charlton sliced wide on a counter-attack and Hurst blazed wide after a strong run by livewire Ball.
The home fans made their feelings clear too, chanting “We want three” and Peters fired over, with Hurst dragging a left-footed shot well wide.
Jack Charlton was then penalised for an innocuous challenge and Wolstenholme asked “Will the Germans snatch a dramatic equaliser?”
The answer, of course, was yes as Cohen blocked the initial effort and the ball broke via another deflection for Wolfgang Weber to score from close range.
There was just enough time for England to kick-off again before the final whistle was blown by Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst and Hurst recalled the famous message given to the frustrated players by their Dagenham-born manager Alf Ramsey – “You’ve beaten them once, beat them again”.
Ball and Bobby Charlton forced saves from Tilkowski as extra time began, with Hurst fizzing a shot wide as Moore began to push up into attack with more frequency.
Then came the controversial moment as Nobby Stiles played a great ball over the head of the German left-back for Ball to run on to and centre into the box, where Hurst took a touch, turned and fired off the underside of the crossbar and in – according to the reaction of fellow striker Hunt.
Dienst, famously, consulted ‘Russian’ linesman Tofiq Bahramov – who was from Azerbaijan, then part of the Sovient Union – and the goal was given to the delight of the English and chagrin of the Germans.
Comedian Jo Brand then revealed how two older brothers ‘made me become a West Ham fan’ and how she had a lot of interest in the match as a nine-year-old at the time, being ‘fairly in love with Bobby Moore as was every girl under the age of 12’.
All that was left by this stage was the coup de grace, as Moore nonchalantly chested the ball down in his own box, received a return pass from a teammate as the referee checked his watch and launched a long ball downfield for Hurst.
Wolstenholme’s legendary refrain of there being people on the pitch, thinking it was all over was, after Hurst had thumped a left-footed shot into the roof of the net to seal the 4-2 win, followed by the “It is now!” and then a revelation from the hat-trick hero.
“I said to myself, ‘I’m going to whack the ball with everything I’ve got’. I mishit it and it went in,” said Hurst, now almost 54 years on from England’s sole success....