Thursday, 30 July 2020

Guest Review: 66 On ‘66 By Matt Eastley

66 on 66 provides a unique perspective on what, 50 years on, remains the greatest occasion in English sporting history. Countless words have been written and spoken about this extraordinary match which made national heroes of the team and its manager. Yet this book eschews those men who sported the Three Lions that day and, instead, talks to dozens of other people who were present. For the first time, one book collects together the fans, the journalists, the celebrities, the musicians, the police officers, the ball boys and the officials who all witnessed that famous, wonderful match. Their stories are accompanied by newly-taken, world-class photographs making 66 on 66 the definitive record of England's World Cup glory.




Review: On Saturday, 30th July 1966, England beat West Germany by 4 goals to 2 to win the Football World Cup for the first, and only, time. Much has been written of this occasion and of the players who became national heroes on that day, whilst countless debates have raged over whether or not Geoff Hurst’s shot was over the line after bouncing off the underside of the crossbar for England’s third goal. This book, published to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event, is a compilation of 66 interviews and photographs of people who were there.

None of the players who participated in the match are featured but, instead, the reminiscences are those of an eclectic mix of supporters, from both England and Germany, as well as persons essential for the staging of a major sporting event. Hence, there are Police Officers, members of the Royal Marines band that provided the half-time entertainment, ball boys, journalists, the FIFA president’s personal assistant and even one of the operators of the scoreboard (numbers were inserted by hand in those days). The interviews concentrate on how the individuals obtained their tickets, how they travelled to and from the venue, their impressions of the match and any celebrations that took place afterwards.

The result, following an introduction giving a brief outline of the group and knockout stages leading up to the final, is a collection of 66 highly individual accounts of one particular sporting occasion. I found this book to be a really interesting trip down memory lane, providing a snapshot of a bygone era. It also gave an insight into some of the different roles required to stage such an event. As expected, there were several opinions of the match itself and whether or not Geoff Hurst’s shot did cross the line. However, as in any sport, it is the referee’s decision, after consultation with the linesman, that is final.


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