Belfast Telegraph

England's World Cup heroes had a warm welcome at Windsor

By Steven Beacom

It was 50 years ago today. On July 30, 1966, England defeated West Germany 4-2 at Wembley to win the World Cup.

Five decades on it remains far and away the greatest moment and match in England's football history.

Sir Geoff Hurst is still the only man to have scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final and debate still rages about whether his second goal was over the line.

Images of captain Sir Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft, as he was carried around Wembley by his jubilant team-mates, will forever cause a tingle among England supporters, so often left discouraged and disillusioned by the modern day teams with Three Lions on their shirts.

The 1966 final is also renowned for the most famous line of sporting commentary ever.

"Some people are on the pitch... they think it's all over... it is now, it's four," roared Kenneth Wolstenholme, describing the seconds before and after Hurst's third and final strike.

As England celebrated, the people of Northern Ireland looked on and largely wished them well.

There was national rivalry back then of course, but not the distaste for the English football team that there is now due to the perceived arrogance of the players and pundits, not to mention the poor behaviour at tournaments of some of their fans.

Three months after Moore lifted the World Cup, he brought it over to Windsor Park where he led out the England team, with trophy in hand, ahead of a Euro qualifier against Northern Ireland.

Sir Alf Ramsey's players were given a guard of honour and applauded on to the pitch by the Northern Ireland fans and the home team, who had a young Pat Jennings and George Best in their line-up.

Best was only 20 when England played in Belfast yet was already more well known than most of the World Cup winners.

Ramsey played the same 11 at Windsor that defeated West Germany: Gordon Banks, Ray Wilson, George Cohen, Jack Charlton, Moore, Alan Ball, Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles, Bobby Charlton, Roger Hunt and Hurst.

And like at Wembley on that iconic day, England ran out winners beating Bertie Peacock's men 2-0 with goals from Hunt and Peters.

The match was not without its controversy with Linfield's Willie Ferguson red carded for a rash challenge on Ball.

England left Belfast that night believing more glory in big tournaments would come their way in the years that followed. It never quite worked out that way. The boys of 1966 still stand alone.

Belfast Telegraph


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