World Cup had come home at last! England, the pioneers of organised
football were the new World Champions after an afternoon of high excitement,
emotion, tension and drama that Wembley Stadium had never seen the like of
From early in the
morning, the atmosphere was electric. The crowd flocked to Wembley from
all corners of the world and at kick-off time on a day of squally showers and
bright sunshine, the stadium was a sea of waving flags. As the teams
marched into the arena, the emotion of the occasion made even the most hardened
spectator clear the lump from his throat. It was a magical moment in the
history of English football.
The noise was deafening and from high
in the stand there came a beating of a drum, a deep pulsating throb that lasted
throughout the game. Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were
introduced to the teams and after all the preliminaries were over, Gottfried
Dienst, the referee from Switzerland, blew the opening whistle.
Both sides tentatively felt each other
out in the early stages and they found the pitch treacherous after two heavy
showers had fallen just before the start. It was ripe for error.
That statement proved fatally correct in the 13th minute when Ray Wilson
misjudged a headed clearance from Seeler's deep cross. The ball dropped
straight at Haller's feet and the German forward wasted no time in hitting a
shot into the far corner of Gordon Bank's goal. One could feel the wave of
disappointment that swept from the terraces, at least from the English
contingent. But thankfully, the home supporters did not have to wait long
for a reply.
Only six minutes after the goal,
England equalised. Overath unfairly tackled Bobby Moore and the captain
quickly spotted a gap in the German rearguard. His instant free-kick
floated beautifully 35 yards to the middle and there was Geoff Hurst leaping
unchallenged to direct a downwards header to the right of the flat-footed
Tilkowski. It was a vital goal.
So, all-square and plenty to play for.
Near-misses came at both ends. Banks made two saves in as many seconds
from Overath and Emmerich, whilst at the other end Tilkowski parried a left-foot
rocket from Roger Hunt after a good pass by Martin Peters. The goalkeeper
then needed treatment after a 20-yard fizzer by Bobby Charlton beat his dive but
struck the post and bounced back into Tilkowski's face before being cleared.
The half ended at one goal each and
both sets of players walked off to get fresh inspiration from their respective
managers. When the teams reappeared, more slanting rain fell, glinting
through the watery sunshine. The half opened with some cagey play from
both sides. Each sought a chink in the armour of the other's defence and
the game went into a relatively quiet spell. The referee annoyed the crowd
with some irritating decisions and goal chances were few and far between.
A deep cross by Peters out on the left
was met by Bobby Charlton and another fierce shot went only just wide. As
the game wore on, both teams tensed up not daring to make the mistake that might
settle the issue. But with 13 minutes to go, the stadium erupted.
Alan Ball, who showed boundless energy
throughout and covered every blade of the Wembley turf, now forced a corner on
the right. He took the kick himself and the ball eventually reached Hurst.
Hurst aimed a rather speculative shot goalwards but Höttges deflected it into
the path of Peters and Jack Charlton. Peters was there first and his
bundled shot billowed the West German net to roars of delight from the crowd.
thought that was it, but these Germans were not beaten until the very last
whistle sounded. Reinforced by Schnellinger and with the tireless efforts
of Haller, Overath, Held and Beckenbauer, they kept pushing forward. Moore
and Nobby Stiles were masterly in defence, but with the last minute unwinding,
and with Moore's hands all but on the trophy, the Germans found a sensational
A somewhat harsh decision gave the
Germans a free-kick against Jack Charlton. With everyone back behind the
ball, Emmerich blasted the kick against the English wall. The ball rebounded to
Held, who blazed wildly sending it across goal. There was a suspicion of
handball against Schnellinger but eventually it ran wide and in came Weber to
stun the whole of England by crashing the ball past Banks' despairing dive.
England just had time to kick-off again
before the referee blew his whistle for the end of 90 minutes. Alf Ramsey
came on, as did most of the England World Cup party, and his first task was to
get the players on their feet ready for the extra-time period. Many sides
would have folded after having had victory snatched from their grasp in such
dramatic fashion, but not England. They rolled up their sleeves and rolled
down their socks and prepared for battle all over again.
The energy-sapping pitch was having
dire consequences and many players were suffering from cramp. England
stuck to the pattern which had served them so well. Stiles and Moore
mopped up the Germans' central thrusts, Bobby Charlton and Peters provided from
midfield, Ball scurried here, there and everywhere and up front Hurst and Hunt
battered away at the German defences.
Extra-time approached its half-way
stage as Stiles sent Ball on another lung-bursting run to a through-ball.
The fiery red-haired number-seven collected and put in an instant centre.
Hurst trapped the ball with his back to goal, swivelled, and crashed a
tremendous shot which thudded against the bar, bounced down and was then headed
clear by Weber.
"Goal," shouted Hunt, who turned
immediately to salute Hurst's shot. The Germans disagreed, convinced the
ball had not crossed the line. The England fans bayed as the referee
trotted over to the Russian linesman, Tofik Bakhramov. There was an
agonising wait as the two engaged in a tense conversation. But at the end
of it all, Mr Dienst pointed to the middle and the English celebrations began in
earnest. The Germans argued but the record book had been written and at
half-time in extra-time, the score was 3-2 to England.
How the two sides managed to see out
the last stage of this two-hour epic was beyond praise and marvellous testament
to the wonderful level of fitness, the two squads had reached. The minutes
ticked away, England feared another German comeback, but then, finally, with
seconds left, the greatest day in the history of English football was sealed by
a fourth goal.
Moore, in majestic form even at this
late stage, put another superb defence-splitting pass through the wide open
spaces of the German defence, exposed by their desperate attacking commitment.
On to it ran Hurst and the West Ham combination reached a remarkable climax at a
rasping shot from Hurst's left foot flew into the top corner of Tilkowski's net.
A hat-trick for Hurst and the first time that a player had achieved that feat in
a World Cup Final.
Seconds later, the whistle blew to end
a passionate afternoon. Ball leapt on Hurst, Jack Charlton sank to the
floor in sheer fatigue and unashamed joy, whilst brother Bobby's face just
crumpled into a flood of tears. The scenes were marvellously
The walk up the steps for the team to
receive the trophy was a proud moment and when Moore lifted the World Cup to the
heavens, the roar could be heard for miles around. And who will ever forget
Nobby Stiles, doing his victory jig on the lap of honour, his toothless smile an
image that would be on the front pages of every newspaper the following day.
England were World Champions and worthy