From 1966 World Cup to Euro 2020 final: How life and football has changed in England over 55 years

Will Harry Kane follow in Bobby Moore's boot-steps and lift a major trophy for England? Credit: AP/PA

Anticipation for England's Euro 2020 final against Italy is reaching fever pitch - just as the nation was gathering itself 55 years ago ahead of the World Cup final.

Back then, few would have believed that it would be half a century before England's men's side would appear in another tournament final.

Over the next five decades, the UK would have 11 prime ministers (although Harold Wilson did it twice), we would have joined the European Union - having twice been knocked back - and left. Pounds, shillings and pence were replaced by decimalisation and we've celebrated nine Royal weddings.

England are on their 19th manager in Gareth Southgate, including a few caretakers along the way, and have used more than 300 players since 1966 to reach another final.

So, what was happening on that glorious July day 55 years ago...

1966 how the nation (and the world) watched it - and how it compares to today:

Some 32.3 million people in the UK watched the final - a record TV audience that still stands. England's semi-final win over Denmark drew a peak audience of just over 26 million.

The 1966 final and the tournament was a joint production between ITV and BBC - but it was shown in black and white.

Did Sir Geoff Hurst's 1966 World Cup goal cross the line? These scouts who were there give their verdict

Colour pictures - a development pushed by a young Sir David Attenborough as then controller of BBC2 - would not be introduced until a year later, to cover Wimbledon tennis.

The World Cup tournament featured ground-breaking technology - the replay. TV coverage today is awash with replays of key incidents from every angle but this was something new to viewers in the Sixties - so different that it confused many people who thought there was something wrong with the broadcasts.

The caption 'Action Replay' was added to pictures to try to clarify for viewers the action on screen was not 'live'.

Another innovation for the tournament was the introduction of a panel of experts to discuss the game. The likes of former England boss Walter Winterbottom and ex-captains Johnny Haynes and Billy Wright were asked for their thoughts on the game.

Now, of course, you can't move for former players in the studio, in the stands, at pitchside, joining from home, over social media, offering an opinion.

Twenty to 30 cameras now bring TV (and online) audiences the images from the pitch and from the air... in 1966, there were half a dozen. David Coleman hosted the World Cup Grandstand on BBC that afternoon. World of Sport, on ITV, was presented by Eamonn Andrews.

Money talks...

Football is new a huge money-making business. Rights to show the Premier League go for billions.

In the early days of a post-war World Cup tournament, the beautiful game was not so attractive.

FIFA sold the rights to the 1962 Chile tournament to the European Broadcasting Union for £55,000 (it paid nothing at all for the 1954 tournament) but had bumped up the rights to £580,000 for the World Cup in England.

Suits and ties, top hats and rosettes in the Wembley crowd. Credit: PA

It's been estimated the BBC and ITV alone paid Uefa £145 million to show Euro 2020 to the UK.

And speaking of money, a ticket for the 1966 final could be bought for as little as 10 shillings – that's 50p or, adjusting for inflation, about £6 in today's money.

Top-priced tickets for Sunday's final have a face value of 945 euro (£812)...

Life away from the football...

In 1966, the Beatles were already a worldwide phenomenon and set to release their seventh album, Revolver.

The war in Vietnam was raging, Barclaycard was poised to launch something called a credit card and the space race between the US and the Soviet Union was gathering pace.

The Beatles were already close to completing album No.7 in 1966 Credit: AP

In the UK, the manufacturing industry was growing, jobs were plentiful, unemployment was under two per cent, families were aspirational - by the end of the decade, for example, car ownership had risen from two in five families having a run around to almost two in three.

The weekly average income for a British household stood at £24 2s 11d (about £383 in today's money), according to statistics in the February Ministry of Labour Gazette.

The median household income today, according to the Office for National Statistics, is £29,000 (£558/week).

George Cohen, who started every England game in the 1966 World Cup including the final, was on a wage of around £80 a week at the time - Harry Kane, who is likely to play every England game at Euro 2020, is believed to be on a £10m a year contract with Spurs - about £192,000 a week.

How much did things cost in 1966 compared to 2021?

  • The average house price in 1966 was £3,840 - in 2021, the average house price is in the region of £260,000.

  • A gallon of petrol was 5 shillings (25p) in 1966 - it'll cost you £1.32 a litre now

  • A pint of milk cost 4p a pint (delivered) 55 years ago - a pint of semi-skimmed from the supermarket today is 50p

  • A pint of beer cost 2 schillings (10p) - today it's about £4 on average for a pint of bitter - more for a lager

  • An off-the-peg suit from Burton cost £15 in 1966 - today, it'll set you back £110

  • A loaf of white bread cost about 6p - a sliced white today costs around £1

And what would England fans give for a repeat of this famous commentary...

The 1966 final created its own history; from Pickles the dog finding the stolen Jules Rimet trophy, to Geoff Hurst's disputed goal and Nobby dancing on the pitch.

As famous as the action on the pitch is how BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme described the action in those final few moments: "And here comes Hurst, he's got... Some people are on the pitch! They think it's all over! It is now! It's four!"

'They think it's all over... it is now! It's four!' Credit: PA

Hugh Johns, on ITV, meanwhile, uttered: "Here's Hurst, he might make it three. He has! He has ... so that's it. That is IT!"

Now, what England fan wouldn't give for four goals flying into the Italian net on Sunday...

England v Italy kicks off at 8pm on Sunday, July 11. Coverage starts on ITV from 6.30pm - it will also be available to stream live on the ITV Hub.