So it is 50 years ago this week that England won the World Cup. On Saturday 30th July 1966 to be precise and I can just about remember it. It was a very sunny afternoon and me, my mum, dad and big brother were all sat in our living room watching the final on our little black and white TV. I can remember it being sunny because we had to draw the curtains to stop the sun from shining on the TV screen. I don't really remember the match as such and didn't realise at the time the enormity of it all as I was too young and not much into football at all. I think I just lay on the settee a bit bored with it all. My dad coming from Oldham supported Oldham Athletic and my brother a big Baggies fan (West Bromwich Albion) were of course on the edge of their seats. My mum as I recall did not follow any football team but no doubt kept everyone supplied with refreshments. And I do actually remember the winning goal just minutes before the final whistle because my dad and brother leapt into the air and cheered so loud they made me jump out of my skin and made me cry. I have been afraid of sudden loud noises ever since.
Life was so very different back then for footballers and fans alike. In a BBC article Did the 1966 World Cup change England? it's interesting to note that some club players travelled to games on the bus or Tube or took summer jobs during the close season. England captain Bobby Moore was at one stage, according to his wife Tina, paid just £8 a week by his club West Ham United. England players could walk down the street unchallenged and when the tournament had finished, some of the new world champions drove home from London with their wives in modest family cars.
|England team the night before the final|
How different the story is today. I don't know much about football and really not that interested these days even when England play. There! I have said it! It's out there. Is that not considered very unpatriotic of me? Reason being is because I feel very strongly that footballers today are vastly overpaid. According to football finance experts at Deloitte, the average wage for Premier League players rose to £1.6m during the 2012-13 season - the latest available data. That equates to £31,000 a week, which is more than the average UK worker earns in a year.
I hate the whole overpaid footballer culture where celebrity status seems to have taken precedence over any real talent (players such as Wayne Rooney are paid obscene amounts of money as high £300,000 a week). And that does not include earnings (if you can call it that) from sponsorship deals and exclusive photoshoots by Hello Magazine of newly renovated mansions, the boozy celebrity ridden million pound wedding receptions, the latest bikini shots of the happy couple on their honeymoon usually with said footballer rubbing the newly married WAG's swollen belly because she is with child, swiftly followed by the offspring from WAG's swollen belly now in the newly decorated nursery. And for what? I know from what people tell me that England played appallingly against Iceland in the Euro this year but then they went and sacked the manager. Like I say I don't know much about football but would it not just have made more sense to sack the overpaid players.
|Blythe Spartans Ladies team were never beaten|
Actually women footballers had the right idea. Did you know that women's football has a longer history than most people would expect. There were a number of women’s clubs in the 1890s and one in north London was reported to have attracted a 10,000 gate to a game at Crouch End. Womens' football became huge during World War I when men went to fight on the front so women took their places both on the football field as well as the factories. Preston was the stronghold of women’s football in its early days, the famous Dick Kerr’s Ladies being formed there in 1894 and earning a lot of money for charity. Their match with St Helen’s Ladies on Boxing Day 1920 had 53,000 inside Goodison Park and thousands locked outside the ground trying to get in.
|Dick Kerr's Ladies|
Lily Parr who played for Dick Kerr's Ladies had a shot so hard she once broke the arm of a professional male goalkeeper. She also earned the distinction of being the first woman to be sent off in an official football match for fighting. At 6ft tall she scored more than 1,000 goals during her 31-year-playing career, according to the National Football Museum. Of those, 34 were in her first season when she was aged just 14. Alas though their glory was not allowed to continue. With the war now over, the munitions factories closed and women found themselves being quietly shunted back into domestic life, returned to their "right and proper place" in society and in 1921 the powers that be, the FA (all men no doubt) stepped in and called on clubs belonging to the associations "to refuse the use of their grounds for such matches" and that "the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged". The ban changed the course of the women's game forever. It took till 1971 before the FA finally lifted the ban on women's football and 2011 saw the inaugural season of the Women's Super League. As of September 2014, there were 2.6 million women and girls playing football in England and last year saw the FIFA Women's World Cup.
|Dick Kerr's Ladies|
Were it not for that ban in 1921 women would very probably have gone on to conquer the world (football wise at any rate) as they were true pioneers achieving phenomonal success and recognition. Let's play tribute then to Dick Kerr's Ladies, the women footballers of yesteryear and Sir Alf's glorious winning team of 66, the likes of which we will most probably never see again:
Bobby Moore (c)