Chigwell man's memories of 1966 World Cup final at Wembley
- Credit: PA
A Chigwell resident who was at Wembley for England's 1966 World Cup victory has recalled the historic event to the Recorder, but says he may not watch the Euro 2020 final this Sunday.
On Wednesday, England qualified for their first major tournament final since that victory with a 2-1 win over Denmark in extra time.
Morris Hickey, 85, was in the crowd not just for the final at Wembley, but for much of the tournament run before that.
Then 30-year-old Morris had bought tickets with a work colleague which admitted them to all ten of the tournament games to be played in London – nine at Wembley and one in White City.
He recalled the “excitement” which greeted the beginning of the competition and how it was quickly tempered by a false start for England with a goalless draw with Uruguay.
The team's form quickly improved, however, and Morris remembered watching the quarter-final against Argentina where he saw, for the first time in his life, a red card produced.
Having dispatched the Argentinians, a victory over Portugal took England to the final, for which Mr Hickey set out early from his home in Newbury Park.
He recalled the vendors hawking peanuts, popcorn, and memorabilia on Wembley Way, and the excitement of the 96,924-strong match-day crowd at the old Wembley stadium.
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West Germany took the lead early, before England turned the game around to lead with goals from Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.
The match went into extra-time after Wolfgang Weber’s leveller in the 90th minute.
“I think many hearts must have stopped when West Germany got their equaliser almost on full time,” said Morris.
“West Germany were a strong side, they could have come back at any time."
The infamous ‘ghost goal’ scored by Hurst in the 21st minute of extra time is controversial to this day, but Mr Hickey remembered it clearly.
He said: “From where I was standing, definitely over the line, and the Russian linesman had no hesitation.”
But even after England went ahead, the tie remained “nailbiting”.
That is until Hurst completed his hat-trick with a left-footed strike in the final minute of extra time.
Morris said: “The hat-trick, lots of people forget, was what was called a perfect hat-trick – one with the head and one with each foot.”
One of the things that stuck in his mind, however, was the respectfulness of football fans in that era.
“There was none of the sort of booing and hissing you get these days,” he recalled, “bearing in mind that we were relatively close to the end of the war.
“Fans from both sides, whoever was playing, they applauded good football.”
Morris said that the conduct of present-day fans had put him off watching and he has not seen a single game of Euro 2020 football.
“Not watching is good for my blood pressure,” he said.
While he admitted he may yet watch the final on Sunday, he added: “It’s not the top of my priorities.”
Nonetheless, Morris offered an equivocal prediction for the final – either 2-0 to England or 1-0 to Italy.
He said that he is not able to go out often these days, so has not had a sense of the excitement across the country.
But he added: “I wouldn’t be surprised on Sunday night, in the event that England do win, and obviously there is a lot going in their favour, I have no doubt that we shall be hearing fireworks into the wee small hours.”