Bobby Moore and the England Team, July 30, 1966.
By the time you read this, the suspense will be over for American soccer fans who'll know the results of Team USA's attempt to take home the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Regardless of the outcome, the fact they've gotten so far is to be applauded. This is just their seventh consecutive World Cup. Unlike England who've been in every World Cup event since first qualifying in 1950.
Joe Gaetjens scores for USA v. England, 1950.
Surprisingly England's upset in their inaugural World Cup was at the hands - or should that be feet? - of the United States who beat them 1-0 in the first round. This was akin, as one journalist of the time put it, to "Oxford University sending over a baseball team and beating the Yankees". England, you see, practically invented soccer.
Along with Scotland, England's national football team is the joint-oldest in the world. Both teams faced off against each other in 1870; a representative match organized by the Football Association which resulted in a 1-1 draw. They had a rematch in 1872, in what is credited as being "the first official international football match". The result was a goalless draw.
Queen Elizabeth II presents Captain Bobby Moore
with the Jules Rimet Trophy after England won
the 1966 World Cup at Wembley.
England more than made up for their embarrassing 1950 defeat by the USA when they won the World Cup in 1966. The USA on the other hand took five decades to get back in the game. Only sixteen teams competed the year England won, one of whom was West Germany, who England defeated 4-2. I did mention England won the World Cup, didn't I?
Although it was almost fifty years ago, England's win at Wembley Stadium has been relived and celebrated so many times that the year of their triumph is as important a date in the nation's history as say, for instance, 1066 (the Battle of Hastings), or 1914-1918 (the duration of World War 1) or...or...I know I should have paid more attention in History Class.
A lot has changed since that day, July 30, in 1966 when Captain Bobby Moore led his team to victory. Salaries, for starters. Moore and his teammates received just £1,000 (about $1,500) each for their efforts, which after taxes amounted to £650, or less than a thousand dollars. In comparison, should Germany win this year all 23 players on their team will receive a bonus of $407,000. Unlike England's 1966 team, today's players should not have to resort to selling off their winner's medals to see them through retirement.
Nobby Styles' World Cup Medal, purchased
in 2010 by Manchester United.
To date only three of the original 11 players have managed to hold onto their 1966 winner's medals. The latest to auction his off was Nobby (short for Norbert) Stiles. Now 71 years old, the 1966 mid-fielder put his medal, along with other memorabilia, up for auction in 2010. It sold to his old club Manchester United for a record breaking £188,200 (about $300,000). A little ironic since Styles' starting salary at the club was £3.25 (about $5) a week.
Alan Ball and Nobby Stiles (right) swap shirts following England's World Cup final win, and Stiles in 2010.
In 2000 Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored the only hat-trick in World Cup history (or was it - to this day his second goal against West Germany is still being disputed) held a bumper auction of 129 items. The lot included his World Cup winning shirt which went for the equivalent of $150,000; his cap ($60,000) and his Man of the Match Trophy ($30,000). A donation from the sale of Hurst's belongings went to the Bobby Moore Imperial Cancer Research Fund, set up following Moore's death in 1993 at the age of 51. Moore's own prizes, which were given to his wife on their divorce in 1986, are now in the hands of his old team, West Ham, who purchased the collection in 2000 for £1.8 million.
England's World Cup win of 1966 reminds me of the dress I keep in my closet that I haven't been able to fit into for the last 25 years - it hangs there in tribute of my glory days. Pass me the gavel.
Bobby Moore appearing for West Ham.
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