Euro 2020: England fans recall halcyon 1966 World Cup win at Wembley Stadium and believe the team could finally triumph again
THEY were there on that halcyon day in 1966 - and believe football can come home once again.
England take on Italy in the momentous final of Euro 2020 on Sunday July 11 as the Three Lions look to end 55 years of hurt and claim only their second major trophy.
They wouldn’t have fully appreciated the huge significance of it then, but John Young and Terry Salmon, both 23 at the time, were witnesses to the most iconic moment in English football history.
Both were fortunate enough to be among the 96,924 fans who watched the classic match at Wembley Stadium on July 30 when England defeated West Germany 4-2.
And as England prepares to take on Italy in the showpiece final of this summer’s European tournament, the memories have come flooding back for John and Terry as Gareth Southgate’s team attempt to stamp their own mark on history.
‘In ‘66 it was a great experience. All the fans felt so involved. After winning it felt like I was walking on air. Surreal,’ John, 78, said.
‘By the end of the game I had lost my voice and it was the same for the rest of the crowd. I remember everyone was so happy.
‘People were singing and jumping up and down. It felt like everyone was together. Everyone was very friendly.
‘There were so many people there and everyone was crammed in - there were close to 100,000 people inside the stadium.
‘I think the win meant as much as it would do today. The World Cup is the top prize after all.
‘But things are different today. The fans are different, there were a lot more older people who went to the final then. I’m not sure if there were many Germans there but in those days they didn’t segregate fans.
‘There wasn’t the same type of media coverage. It was just newspapers and some radio. You didn’t have the same TV coverage. It was a different world.’
John went to the game with his then partner. ‘I can’t remember how I got a ticket, it might have been through a work connection. But I’m glad I went,’ he said.
And the Portsea resident believes England can claim another famous victory in the final this weekend. ‘I think they can win but it will not be an easy game,’ he said.
‘They are all good teams these days and there are no easy games. I look forward to watching the match.
‘A win would give people hope – hope for life again, hope for a bit more normality. The last 18 months have been hard on everybody.’
Meanwhile Fareham resident Terry, who lived in Cosham in 1966, went to all the games with a group of friends during the tournament - with him singling out the 2-1 semi-final win over Portugal as the ‘best football’ England played.
But, of course, the final was by far the best experience. ‘It was absolutely unbelievable,’ he said. ‘I was behind where the players came out and I’ve never known anything like it.
‘It was fantastic - a classic game where Geoff Hurst scored that hat-trick. It was a great tournament too.
‘It was different back then...we had not suffered so many failures. But the final was exhilarating. We were dancing in the streets afterwards and looking for the nearest pub.
‘I’ve still got two tickets from the final, a programme and a World Cup winning mascot. Our tickets cost 10 shillings. Great memories.’
Speaking of Sunday’s final, the 77-year-old added: ‘I would be over the moon if we won it.
‘I’m so glad we got to the final and I think we can win it. Gareth Southgate and the squad have been brilliant.’