England’s 1966 World Cup triumph over Germany at Wembley was one of the nation’s finest sporting moments and ever since then we have all had to endure constant reminders that it has been now nearly fifty years since England defeated Germany 4-2 at Wembley Stadium enabling Bobby Moore to proudly hold aloft the Jules Rimet trophy on home soil.
Whilst this famous victory will live long in the memory for everyone old enough to remember it, the rest of us have had to make do with watching footage from the time and collecting memorabilia – the nearest thing I have come to actually been there at a World Cup tournament itself.
One of my favourite items from 1966 is a signed photo cover by unlikely hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst, which perfectly encapsulates the manner of the victory over Germany. Indeed it’s amazing to recall that in the lead up to the 1966 World Cup England’s goal machine was Jimmy Greaves, but due to injury he lost his place to Sir Geoff and the rest as they say, is history.
Whilst every World Cup has never hit the same height from an England fan perspective, each tournament has nevertheless been compulsive viewing for anyone who loves the beautiful game and I’ve added to my collection of memorabilia accordingly from some of them.
The 1970 World Cup held in Mexico is fondly remembered for the flamboyance of the eventual winners, Brazil who’s team featured the legendary Pele, as well as the immensely talented Gerson, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tostao to name just a few. So for me it has been apt to get my hands on a framed Pele signed 1970 shirt.
Four years later the 1974 World Cup hosted by West Germany marked the first time that the current trophy was awarded to the winners – the host nation who defeated Holland 2-1 in the final. Although England had failed to qualify for the tournament, I recall being captivated by Johan Cruyff who was aptly named the player of the tournament so I made it my goal to track down a Johan Cruyff Panini sticker for my 1974 World Cup album.
Argentina hosted the World Cup four years later but again England were inconspicuous by their absence leaving armchair fans instead to admire the goal scoring prowess of World Cup Golden Boot winner Mario Kempes. His six goals helped Argentina reach the final where they beat Holland 3-1 after extra time – with Mario grabbing two of the goals. However Scotland’s Archie Gemmill’s wonder goal against Holland was one of the abiding memories of the tournament, which is why I made it my mission to secure an Archie Gemmill signed photo.
Thankfully England DID qualify for the 1982 World Cup in Spain, which was the first time the tournament was expanded from 16 to 24 teams. However after failing to progress through their mini group against the host nation and West Germany in the second round, it wasn’t a tournament that lived long in the memory.
However when Mexico hosted the 1986 World Cup, I recall fondly the appearance of the Mexican wave which soon caught on at all sorts of sporting and non-sporting occasions. The infamous ‘Hand of God’ that saw Diego Maradona use illegal means to beat Peter Shilton in England’s quarter-final clash with Argentina still haunts England supporters to this day but I prefer to remember the goal scoring feats of Gary Lineker. He was the Golden Boot winner even though England failed to progress further in the tournament. So my framed signed England photo of the Match of the Day presenter takes pride of place at home.
Four years later and it all ended in tears, literally, as Paul Gascoigne was booked in England’s semi-final against West Germany, but things got even worse when Bobby Robson’s men were beaten in the penalty-shootout by the eventual winners. So moving swiftly on and when the USA hosted the World Cup in 1994, England were absent after a poor qualifying campaign. Brazil were the eventual winners but only after the first ever World Cup final to be decided on penalties.
England qualified four years later when host nation France convincingly beat Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 World Cup Final. Zinedine Zidane was the star of the show hence my French replica jersey with the number 10 on the back part of my collection. But it was more penalty heartache for England in their second round clash with Argentina unfortunately.
Brazil were victorious at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea/Japan as Ronaldo’s impressive eight goal haul helped Brazil claim their fifth title by beating Germany in the final. England succumbed to Brazil in their quarter-final clash and suffered the same fate four years later in Germany, this time at the hands of Portugal. I recall the moment Fabio Cannavaro lifted the World Cup trophy for Italy in 2006 as they beat France on penalties so I decided to get my hands on a signed canvas capturing the Italian skipper’s finest moment.
So with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just round the corner, the question is, will Spain be able to defend their title after claiming their first World Cup in South Africa four years ago?
Robert Stebbings writes for the Post Office Shop Blog. As a lifelong Barnet supporter and avid England football fan he has collected memorabilia from many of the previous World Cup tournaments. He will soon be heading over to Brazil to witness first hand the fortunes of Roy Hodgson’s team as they aim to repeat England’s World Cup triumph of 1966.