Suffolk residents share memories of England's 1966 World Cup win at Wembley ahead of Euro 2020 final against Italy
Tickets for England's blockbuster game against Italy tonight are on the market for thousands but back in 1966 one former Suffolk journalist paid just £1 and five shillings to see the nation’s last international victory at Wembley.
John Claridge, who lives just outside Newmarket, was 24 when he bagged the golden ticket for the final after being offered one through his then local football club in Lincolnshire.
"We were behind the goal, opposite the tunnel and I remember the atmosphere in the ground was absolutely fantastic. The game was a real rollercoaster," said the now 79 year old.
"It was fairly laid back compared to today. There was not quite the hysteria surrounding the final, but it was boisterous and all good natured,” he said.
“It was a wonderful day, but you have to pinch yourself now and then to say ‘I was there’.”
The former sports editor of the Newmarket Journal and Bury Free Press said he was 'reasonably optimistic' for an England win later today, but warned Three Lions fans it could be close.
"There's only going to be an odd goal in it. I just don’t see a goal glut. We have great ability in Kane, Sterling, and the whole team and I think we could just edge it - but it could go to extra time,” he said.
If true, tonight’s final could echo that of the 1966 World Cup, which went to extra time before England beat West Germany 4-2.
Little would he have known at the time that his ticket - which would cost around £22 in today's money - would be one of the last sold for an England victory in an international tournament.
John still treasures his rosette, his programme and his ticket stubs some 55 years on - proof that he was one of 96,924 people to see team captain Bobby Moore lift the World Cup.
Some people were not lucky enough to be among the crowds at Wembley, but for those who watched on television or listened on the radio the memory of England being crowned football champions of the world is one they will never forget.
Suffolk county councillor David Nettleton, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, was 22 years old at the time and remembers watching the game all alone in the living room of his family home.
“Where my family was I don’t know but I just remember sitting in the big room watching it myself,” he said.
“My brother must have been playing cricket and I must somehow have got out of playing so I could watch the match.
“I remember West Germany scored first and when Geoff Hurst equalised I remember running around the room. It was a huge relief.”
Cllr Nettleton, who watched three World Cup games at Old Trafford in 1966, added that football was ‘a very different game back then’.
“It wasn’t the very competitive game that it is now. People just took it in their stride.
“Football was on a downward slope and it was only the World Cup win that boosted it and made a lot of people start going again.”
He added that he was looking forward to tonight’s game against Italy.
“It’s the best two teams in the final so it should be a cracking game of football,” he said.
Margaret Cliffe, from Lowestoft, also remembers the day England lifted the trophy.
“I was 16, still at school, and working in Woolworth’s as a Saturday girl,” she said.
“The floor manager’s office was at the back of the store, right behind the counter I was on.
“The shop was almost deserted, which was unheard of on a Saturday afternoon, and the manager and deputy manager were listening to the match on the radio.
“I could hear through the open door, but all afternoon staff from all other parts of the shop were running backwards and forwards to listen to the match and report back to other staff.
“By the time the match ended, there were more staff crowded round the office than in the rest of the shop.”
And Bury St Edmunds woman Linda Wade’s 10th birthday party had to be put on hold after she and her friends got caught up in the excitement of the game.
“Instead of the party, we were all squeezed on to the settee, some sitting on the arms much to my mum’s annoyance, watching the TV,” she said. “The party had to wait.”
Abbeygate Cinema legend Pat Church had just moved to Bury St Edmunds at the age of 19 to work as a projectionist at the Hatter Street picture house.
“I remember flashing up the final score on screen over the top of the film. It was all good fun,” he said.
Many also remembered watching the game on black and white TVs, with both Bill Skelton and Adrian Wilson having watched the game through shop windows in Exning Road, Newmarket, and Currys in Bury St Edmunds respectively.
And World Cup Willie - England’s lion mascot who wore a Union Jack jumper and sang a catchy song - also featured highly in people’s 1966 memories.