Press Centre

1966 - A Nation Remembers

  • Episode: 

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Sat 30 Jul 2016
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 31 2016 : Sat 30 Jul - Fri 05 Aug
  • Channel: 

  • Status: 

The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 26 July 2016.
“We were going to be going out and getting sandwiches and jelly and ice cream and it sounds mad, but there was something magical going to be happening, and there wasn’t an awful lot of magic in ‘66 really for a 14-year-old girl.” - Patricia Burke, street party attendee
This new documentary for ITV marks the 50th anniversary of English football’s greatest triumph, the 1966 World Cup victory, seen through the eyes of the people who were at Wembley and celebrating around the country.
Half a century ago, England hosted the World Cup for the first and only time - and the whole nation was involved. This programme provides a colourful insight into a magical sporting summer, described in vivid detail by those at the final itself, and those caught up in World Cup fever further afield, as well as using some previously unseen archive footage.
They include a pair of Irish students on a summer break who operated the Wembley scoreboard, a young copper told to swap the Jules Rimet trophy for a replica in the victorious team’s changing room, an England player ordered not to exchange shirts with an Argentinian opponent and fans who celebrated the win by dancing in Trafalgar Square’s fountains.
Narrated by actor Terence Stamp, who attended all of England’s games in the tournament, the programme also features testimony from a 14 year old girl who attended a street party in the shadow of Everton’s Goodison Park stadium, a Derbyshire mum who watched West Germany train, and a schoolboy who clambered onto a car taking the Charlton brothers to their homecoming celebrations in Ashington, Northumberland.
The programme starts with the build-up to the first game, England against Uruguay at Wembley - a disappointing 0-0 draw. It wasn’t a let-down for everyone - Eddie Murray was a 15-year-old boy who carried out the England flag at the opening ceremony.
He says: “The PE teacher took me aside and said, ‘Have you ever carried a flag?’ I said no. He said, ‘Well, in this instance you’re going to be carrying a flag for England.’  Well puffed up, pride, delighted.”
England’s eventual opponents in the final, West Germany, prepared for their group stage matches in the Derbyshire market town of Ashbourne. Trilby Shaw watched them train with her young twins, and says the town took them to their heart - just 21 years after the end of the Second World War. She says: “The day they left Ashbourne, Ashbourne turned out for them. We were one big family, there were tears, there were, oh it was terrible when they went it was like part of the town had suddenly departed.”
Goodison Park hosted more games than any other stadium apart from Wembley, and Patricia Burke was a 14-year-old living just yards from the ground.  She remembers the excitement of the time, including a street party marking the first game. She says: “This just added this magic of colour and this burst of energy to the street, it was just fabulous… And I think that’s why so many people came – to get into the spirit of the World Cup.”
England right back, George Cohen, recalls how England progressed through their matches to win the semi-final as team-mate Nobby Stiles contained the threat of the tournament’s top player at that stage – Portugal’s Eusebio. He says: “Nobby was about three or four inches shorter than Eusebio, two stone lighter and four yards slower but Nobby made sure that he never turned anywhere. It was the most wonderful piece of marking I have ever seen.”
Two Irish teenagers, Eddie O’Keeffe and Michael Sullivan managed to get jobs operating the scoreboard for the World Cup games at Wembley, which provided a unique viewpoint for the matches.
Michael says: “Certainly wouldn’t have done today what we did then under health and safety because this was literally hanging out of the roof, and when the crowd used to shout the whole thing used to start rocking.”
On the day of the final, Bruno Urtone headed down from Bedfordshire to be a ballboy. Once inside the stadium, he faced a deafening wall of noise. But the temptation to watch the game proved a little too much.
He says: “We were given instructions to keep moving, but when the games going on you’re watching the game and enjoying it like everyone else… A few people behind me weren’t enjoying my backside - I had few choice comments there.”
In Cheshire, rugby union fans Roger and Joan Young were getting married. All went well until the kick-off, says Roger, when everybody turned to watch the TV.
He says: “Our moment of being the principal actors on this day didn’t last very long.”
Back in the stadium, England had gone 2-1 up but a last-minute German equaliser was a body blow to players and fans alike, but England manager Alf Ramsey had a plan.
George Cohen says: “We were stunned there was no doubt about it, and Alf knew this. As soon as the whistle went he was on the pitch straight away brought us round and said, ‘Everybody stand up, nobody sit down - look at the Germans, they’re out on their feet, they’re pulling their socks down their finished, they’re finished.’”
In extra time, Geoff Hurst scored perhaps the most controversial goal in football history to put England ahead – before adding a fourth to make certain the result. The players headed off for a victory banquet, while fans Jim Prowse and Richard Mesney headed for the pub.
Jim says: “Everybody chanting and singing the song of, ‘When the reds go marching in.’
I remember talking to people who had experienced VE day and they were saying that the atmosphere was very, very similar to that.”
Richard says they ended up sleeping on the platforms at Waterloo station after missing their last train: “I woke up in the morning, I looked Jim and I thought, ‘Oh, no.’ I looked at myself, ‘Oh, no!’ We were pebble-dashed by the pigeons.”
Peter Weston was a young police constable charged with swapping the Jules Rimet trophy for a replica in the dressing room at the end of the game with Nobby Stiles, after the original had been stolen, then found by Pickles the dog.
Fifty years after the final he visits the National Football Museum in Manchester to lift the replica cup again for the first time since that day.
He says: “I just said to him, ‘You have this I’ll have that, Nobby, good boy.’ And walked out. I went to the car, opened the boot, put it back in its wooden box, shut the boot and carried on as if nothing had happened.”
Nowhere had World Cup fever hit harder than on the terraced streets of Ashington in Northumberland – the home town of brothers Jackie and Bobby Charlton. Steve Wilkinson, then 12, was one of a handful of kids who managed to clamber on to the Rolls Royce carrying the brothers to a glorious homecoming. He says: “After we’d been running after the car for about a quarter of a mile, six of us jumped up on the running boards on the side.  This was encouraged by Jack, but discouraged by the driver who owned the car.”
Half a century on, Richard Mesney and Jim Prowse return to Wembley for the first time since the final and reflect on the changes that have taken place since then.
Admiring Bobby Moore’s statue, Richard says: “We could do with somebody like that now, couldn’t we, in the team. We definitely could - I bet Bobby Moore would never have thought that it would be 50 years and we still haven’t got anything again. He wouldn’t have believed it.”