Phew! A world cup triumph, but didn’t they put us through the wringer. It made me think about the only other one I’ve experienced, 1966 and all that.
So, let’s compare and contrast. In 1966 I had been lately started at Hyde Grammar School and the summer of ’66 was to be my first absence from home. But first I had the chance to watch a WC match at Old Trafford, Hungary versus Bulgaria, I think, the former winning 3-1 on 20 July.
But I was absent for the final on 30 July. A school trip for two weeks in Roteneuf in Brittany. (Schoolboy joke: “Rotten Egg”, not difficult to work out.) So we were on French soil, staying at the Hotel Terminus.
There was a cafe down the road, and there we sat at the appointed hour. (I think it was the Cafe Tabac, but I can’t be sure.) The picture was in black and white. And the commentary in French. But unforgettable nonetheless. My abiding memory is us lads dancing back up the street, singing “Angleterre! Angleterre! Angleterre!”
Almost 40 years later, I’m watching another World Cup, this time rugby union. The difference? I suppose this one meant more to me because I have played the game and have some understanding of its Byzantine rules, and also because my younger, greener-self assumed that winning was a God given right.
C’mon, my earliest sporting memory was Man U beating Leicester 3-1 in the 1963 cup final, dad chucking my baby sister in the air when we scored, and you start thinking this is the natural order of things. Compounded by Wembley in 1968 (I was there!) and you can understand my naivety, rubbed out, I promise, by relegation and successive failures.
But back to today, it was my turn to be “dad” with the kids turning up to watch the match (albeit B late in the second half). It was gut wrenching stuff that left me exhausted. I wonder if Max will look back on this as a defining moment?
Possibly. He’s thinking about rugby now. Perhaps through school, or possibly a local club. He’s big and bulky enough to be a good prop. Smart dad was a sensible quarter-back!