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1966: A 'magic moment' for English football

Football fan Mike Crisp was in the stands for England's World Cup victory. He also kept a personal archive of the 1966 competition which he showed to On This Day.

"I should explain I used to be a civil servant," Mike Crisp says apologetically as we look through his box of World Cup memorabilia at his house in Hornchurch, Essex.

Mr Crisp was 25 when the Jules Rimet tournament came to England. He combined a passion for football with a librarian's grasp of detail to produce a unique snapshot of the 1966 World Cup.


" It's pretty much grot, but history has given it a kind of glamour "

Mike Crisp

He kept fixture lists, programmes, tickets, recordings of the matches and World Cup-branded beer bottles, handkerchiefs, shaving foam, razors, tie and soap - mostly in its original packing.

Even the commemorative sweet wrappers, decorated with the "World Cup Willie" mascot, have the date of the match when he ate them written neatly on the inside.

"I collected it because it was being held in England and I thought it probably wouldn't be held here again in my lifetime, so I might as well keep as many memories of it as I can. And I did".

"It's pretty much grot, but history has given it a kind of glamour," he adds.

The now retired civil servant did not just collect World Cup memorabilia, but also went to all the matches held in London during the tournament, including the final at Wembley.

Nerves

Needless to say, he has the tickets for each match, all in pristine condition.

"I was doubtful about England's chances at the start. I thought Brazil would do it, but they failed miserably - they didn't even qualify for the quarter-finals.

"I fancied Argentina, but fortunately England beat them in the quarters. And as England progressed after the quarters I began to believe it was possible."

The Bedford City and Tottenham Hotspur fan said the overriding emotion in London on the actual day of the final was one of nerves rather than raucous behaviour.

But some aspects of the build-up to any match involving England and Germany clearly have not changed for decades.

'Knife in the stomach'

"There was a picture in Coventry Street, which was a bit chauvinistic. It showed a British Bulldog with its foot on a German sausage dog saying, 'Roll on Saturday'."

Mr Crisp stood in the north-east corner of Wembley Stadium, close to a Brazilian who had hoped to see his team in the final, but who turned up anyhow with a drum to offer noisy support to the English.

"It was him who provided the now famous beat: Bang bang! Bang bang bang! Bang bang bang bang! To which everyone responded: 'England!'"

The 62-year-old recalls the actual match as a stressful experience: "Every time West Germany attacked it was like a knife in the stomach".

"I did enjoy it, but I was like a piece of limp rag at the end."

Along with many fans, Mr Crisp thought it was all over when England were 2-1 up with just seconds to play, but a late equaliser from Wolfgang Weber changed all that.

And buried at the bottom of his World Cup trove, there is a piece of memorabilia which has an intimate connection with this moment: a half-crushed packet of cigarettes.


" It was the first time in my life I embraced a complete stranger "

Mike Crisp

Mr Crisp explains: "I didn't actually smoke in those days, but I bought a packet of Players No 6. I was going to 10 matches, so 20 was two per match - one in each half.

"At the final I was so engrossed, it was about five minutes from time when I lit the last one up. I was about half way through it when West Germany equalised with the second goal.

"That's when I crushed the packet. And I really could have done with the cigarette in extra-time."

But half an hour later, it really was all over.

"It was the first time in my life I embraced a complete stranger."

"It was a magic moment that I hope will be repeated, but so far, except perhaps 1990, it's never looked like happening again."

And Bobby Moore's boys versus the present England team?

"I think a '66 England team would beat the current one in a match... If they were to play today with all the players as young as they were then I think they'd have the edge."


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