Interrupting TV and parking outside the ground: What it was like to be at Wembley in 1966

Alan Beckett will never forget where he was when England won the World Cup – because he was right there, at Wembley Stadium.

Alan Beckett was at the 1966 World Cup final
Alan Beckett was at the 1966 World Cup final

The retired construction manager, now 87, won two tickets to experience the making of football history, in a raffle held at his workplace.

But while it was certainly a special occasion, he says the celebrations were much more understated compared to what they are like today.

"There wasn't all the hype you have today," he says. "It was on television, but not for two hours before the start of the game like it is now.

"Now you have got all these sports bars packed with people, but there was nothing like that then.

"I just got in my Mini and drove down on the Saturday morning. We parked right outside the ground, and when it was over, we just went back to the car and drove home."

Alan recalls being seated right opposite the players' tunnel, but says despite some supporters running onto the pitch at the end, the fans were on the whole very well behaved.

"It was very exciting, but nothing like the hype there is now. When Kenneth Wolstenholme said 'They think it's all over', there was none of the horrible language that you get today, it was all polite," he says.

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Alan, who lives in Cannock, also remembers there being a more laissez-faire approach to security, as he found out when he almost disrupted television coverage of the event.

"We got out of the car and walked up the steps to the ground, and when we got to the top, Eamonn Andrews was there doing his pre-match broadcast," he says.

"We were nearly on TV. We quickly made our way back down the steps, we didn't want to disrupt anything. But it was so open then, it wasn't cordoned off, like it is today."

Alan was a construction manager at Staffordshire-based builder Linford at the time, and like many large employers, the company had a thriving football team. One of the league sponsors offered the company two tickets.

"We all wanted to go to the game at the time, so we put them in a raffle, and I was fortunate enough to have my name drawn out," he says.

It was decided that selecting a work colleague to go with him would be too difficult, so he took his wife Beryl with him for the occasion. He says she wasn't a huge football fan, but enjoyed the occasion.

Of course, the World Cup itself had a much lower profile in 1966 compared to today. England and the other home nations were relative latecomers to the party, not taking part until 1950, but there is no doubt that England's win was a great fillip to the wellbeing of the nation.

Alan reckons that an England victory in Sunday's final will bring a similar lift to the country, and says we could certainly do with a lift after recent events.

"I think it will be much bigger than it was 50-odd years ago," he says.

And he says if England do triumph, it will be in no small part down to the leadership of England manager Gareth Southgate.

"I think when you look at Gareth Southgate, he's like an old-fashioned gentleman," he says.

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