June 30, 2006

Horse 580 - Forty Years of Hurt

"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!"
Kenneth Wolstenholme

40 years ago today a nation that had never won a trophy in the sport which was its obsession finally broke the duck and took home the World Cup.

The game in England had suffered in post-war turmoil. England was a stuffy place with the memories of the war still hanging over them. The BBC although a great and powerful institution was heavily set in its ways and still ran a single national radio network split into "The Light Programme", "The Home Service" etc.

Even football had really only just turned professional. Tottenham Hotspur's double winning side of 1961 still only has a wage cap of £3 a week for its players. This was at a time when a shopkeeper could expect to take home £4/11/9 comfortably. So when this was finally dropped for the 1961/2 season, English football suddenly went through a resurgence.

England, managed by Alf Ramsey and captained by Bobby Moore, won the toss and elected to kick off. After twelve minutes, Siegfried Held sent a speculative cross into the English penalty area which Ray Wilson misheaded to Helmut Haller, who got his shot on target. Jackie Charlton and goalkeeper Gordon Banks failed to deal with the shot which went in making it 1-0 to West Germany.

In the 19th minute, Wolfgang Overath conceded a free kick, which Bobby Moore floated into the West German area, Geoff Hurst ran in and deflected the ball into the net for an equaliser.
The teams were level at half time, but after 77 minutes England won a corner. Alan Ball delivered it to Geoff Hurst on the edge of the area, who shot on the turn. The ball deflected high into the air and bounced down into the penalty area where Martin Peters found the back of the net with a half volley to give England the lead 2-1.

In the final ten minutes the Germans pressed for an equaliser. In the final minute, Jackie Charlton gave away a free kick whilst contesting a header with a German player. The free kick was taken by Lothar Emmerich, George Cohen managed to block it but the ball bounced across the England six-yard box - hitting the hand of Schnellinger in the process - and Wolfgang Weber struck home to level the scores at 2-2 and force the match into extra time.

With eleven minutes of extra time gone, Alan Ball put in a cross and Geoff Hurst's shot from close range hit the underside of the cross bar, bounced down - apparently on or just over the line - and was cleared. The referee was uncertain if it was a goal and consulted his linesman, Tofik Bakhramov from the USSR, who in a moment of drama indicated that it was. After non-verbal communication, as they had no common language, the Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst awarded the "de:Wembley-Tor" goal to the home team. The crowd and the audience of 400 million television viewers were left arguing whether the goal should have been given or not.

One minute before the end of play, the West Germans sent their defenders forward in a desperate attempt to score a last-minute equaliser. Winning the ball, Bobby Moore picked out the unmarked Geoff Hurst with a long pass, which Hurst carried forward to score while a few spectators began streaming onto the field, believing that the end of the game had already been signalled.

For 40 years now, the argument has stood over the 3rd goal and whether or not the 4th should have been allowed. A whole generation has grown up and not witnessed first hand an English win at the World Cup. As it stand in 2006 it is possible for England to again meet the old foe on the field.

Let's hope that Skinner & Baddiel's song Three Lions won't be amended to:
Three Lions on the shirt,
Jules Rimet still gleaming,
Forty years of hurt,
Never stopped me dreaming.

England 4
Hurst (18, 98, 120)
Peters (78)

West Germany 2
Haller (12)
Weber (90)

Addenda: One of the most famous images of the Cup Final is this. It does however look like the referee has a football for a head.

No comments: