Football frenzy is building across the nation as the England team attempt to make history by winning their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup victory.
Street parties are being planned, thousands will gather in towns and cities to watch on giant screens and millions of pints are expected to be guzzled as fans pray for the end of a painful 55 year-wait when England take on Italy in the final of Euro 2020.
But one group find themselves among a small but exclusive club of England supporters who can proudly say they were at Wembley for the 1966 victory and are still around to tell the tale.
MailOnline spoke to the select few who will relive England’s 1966 glory when they watch Sunday’s match.
One group of loyal supporters find themselves among a small but exclusive club of England followers who can proudly say they were at Wembley for the 1966 victory (pictured) and are still around to tell the tale
Derek Cattani, 74
Age in 1966: 19
‘I was the Football Association’s official photographer and was a part of the England set up. My office used to be next to Sir Alf Ramsey’s and when the team trained, he would often get me to join in and kick balls to players.
‘He told me that I was not allowed to tackle them, just pump the ball to them or take shots at Gordon Banks, which I often did. It was incredible because photographers wouldn’t have that kind of relationship with the team now.
‘There was an amazing euphoria when the final whistle went in 1966 but I had to carry on with my job.
‘I was one of the photographers that was on the pitch and was right amongst the players, even when they were doing their lap of honour.
‘It was an historic occasion that I witnessed first-hand and I’ve never forgotten it over the past 55 years.
‘But now the time has come for Gareth Southgate’s men to give us new memories, they’re a wonderful team but it’s been one hell of a wait.
‘On Sunday I’ll be watching with my mates. I’ll put the bunting out, get the beers in and we’ll be singing away. I’m convinced England can win.’
THEN AND NOW: Mr Cattani (left and right) said he will be watching Sunday’s game with friends, adding: ‘I’m convinced England can win’
Mr Cattani said he was ‘right amongst the players, even when they were doing their lap of honour’ as he took pictures (one here)
Retried journalist John Claridge is pictured holding his 1966 World Cup tickets and programme
John Claridge, 79
Age in 1966: 24
‘I wasn’t at the 1966 final for work, as I was a reporter on a local newspaper in Suffolk at the time, but just as a fan.
‘I was a very keen amateur footballer with a local team and got tickets for the match in a draw.
‘They were given a whole batch of them for a number of matches in the tournament, but I was lucky enough to get one for the final.
‘My manager at the time also got a ticket and I travelled down to London with him in his car.
‘I remember we dressed up in a suit and tie and had a terrace ticket which cost us £1 and 5 shillings. I don’t think you’d get people going to the football dressed like that anymore.
‘It was a wonderful game and as delighted as we were, there was less hysteria than there is now. It was a very different era.
‘After England won, we got back in the car and drove home to Suffolk.
‘It’s been quite a privilege to be one of the few to have been there when England last won a big cup.
‘But I’m absolutely thrilled that after all this time, they are now in a final and get this 55-year monkey off their back.
‘I’ll be watching at home with my family and I’m sure that if England do win, there will be a lot more partying across the country than there was in 1966.’
Geoff Goldston, 80
Age in 1966: 25
Still working as a computer consultant
‘There was an announcement in 1964 that tickets were going on sale for the 1966 finals and you could apply for packages to go to as many games as you wanted.
‘I applied for every match at Wembley and got a package for all eight or nine games including the final, even though I had no idea how far England would go. Having been a Chelsea season ticket holder for 57 years, I was an avid footy fan and thought it was worth a punt, even if England got knocked out.
‘I was aged 25 and running two jobs at the time and it took all my money to get those tickets. I can’t remember how much I paid in total, but my ticket for the final was 10 shillings and it was another six pence for the programme.
‘It was at astonishing atmosphere. Everybody got there really early and was in incredibly high spirits. Everybody was standing, and chatting to one another. Most people surprisingly were on their own, just supporting the cause and hoping for the best. It was very convivial It is not like nowadays when everybody goes in groups.
‘I was standing right behind the goal when Geoff Hurst scored the final goal. It was just a brilliant occasion.
‘My abiding memory was when Germany equalised to make it 2-2 just before England were due to win at the end of full time, so the match had to go to extra time.
Geoff Goldston (left, on his wedding day, and right with his wife, today) was aged 25 in 1966. It cost him 10 shillings for tickets for the final – and he paid another six pence for the programme
‘This guy in front of me who was in his mid 50s started sobbing uncontrollably as he was convinced that England had blown it and Germany would go on to win. He just couldn’t control himself and he had to be calmed down by people in the crowd.
‘My second job at the time was as a supervisor at the Tote stand at the greyhound racing stadium at White City. I had a shift which was due to start at 7pm on the day of the final, so when it went into extra time, I began to panic.
‘I knew I couldn’t be late for work, so I watched the trophy being presented, and then I legged it from the stadium and hopped on the tube to White City. I was running all the way.
‘I had 18 people working for me on the Tote stand that night and I got there in the nick of time at 7pm to sort out the floats and get everything organised before opening up at 7.30pm. Everyone was talking about the game, and I said, ‘Actually, I was there’, and nobody believed me.
‘I don’t think anybody who was there dreamt of it as being a bit of history. At the time, I just thought it was something incredible to have been achieved. It was just like any final. If you win, it is euphoria, and if you don’t, it’s a let down.
‘Looking back, it was one of the best days of my life, and it has been with me ever since. To say, ‘I was there’ is just an amazing thing.
‘It is such a joyous memory and the number of us who were there is rapidly dwindling. I just think it is time for a new generation to be able to have that memory in their lifetime, of England winning a final.
‘I am full of hope, and I think England can do it. My view is that it is time to pass on the baton to the next generation. Everyone has been talking about 1966 for so long. It’s time for a new generation to look back at what was achieved in 2021 instead of constantly going back to 1966.
‘I will be watching the match on television from hospital after breaking my hip six weeks ago.’
‘Over the course of my life, I’ve attended 256 England games both home and away. Because of my age, I don’t go as often as I used to.
‘I’ve got four children, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren and will be watching the final on Sunday on the television with some of them at home.
‘Obviously, I want England to win but part of me will not be that disappointed if they don’t because I was there in ’66, which is still the greatest day in English football.’
1966: Top row left to right: trainer Harold Shepherdson, Nobby Stiles, Roger Hunt, Gordon Banks, Jack Charlton, George Cohen, Ray Wilson, Manager Alf Ramsey, and bottom row, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Alan Ball and Bobby Charlton
Derek Roberts, 73
Age in 1966: 18
Retired police sergeant
‘I was 18-years-old and in the Royal Marines band stationed in Portsmouth, so I was playing my clarinet on the pitch before the match and at half time.
‘I was not a big football fan at the time because I was more interested in playing hockey, but it was great to be at the World Cup final. I also got paid around £3 for playing which was nice as I was only earning around £7 a week at the time.
‘We left Portsmouth at around 7am and I was sitting at the back of the coach with the other young bandsman. We had only gone around ten miles to Waterloovlle when I was going through my mental checklist and suddenly realised my uniform and helmet was still hanging up back in the barracks.
‘I had to gingerly go up to my Drum Major and told him what had happened. His reaction was to kick me off the coach and tell me that I would be on a charge if I did not make it to London with my uniform on time.
‘There were no mobile phones, but I caught a bus and got back to my Morris Minor 803 van. I then picked up my uniform and set off for London up the A3. Luckily, I got to Wembley in time and the Drum Major told me, ‘Well done Roberts, you will not be on a charge’.
Retried police sergeant Derek Roberts, 73, (left and right) was just 18 in 1966. He was in the Royal Marines band stationed in Portsmouth at the time of the match, so played his clarinet on the pitch before the match and at half time
‘I remember the noise of the crowd all around as I was waiting in the player’s tunnel and going out on the pitch. It made the hackles on the back of my neck go up. I was only a young lad and it was a massive thrill to play in front of so many people.
‘We had to play God Save The Queen, but I can’t remember if we played the German national anthem. I guess we probably did. Then we were allowed up into the stand to see the game.
‘I remember it seeming like a big occasion, but I didn’t think we would still be talking about it 55 years later. It was a good game but nothing like as fast paced as today because the footballs were so much more solid then.
‘When it went into extra time, I thought about leaving early because I did not want to get stuck in all the traffic. So I watched the first quarter of an hour and then went off with three of my mates because they wanted a lift back.
‘We went back to our changing room and quickly got into our civilian clothes and headed back to my van with our uniforms and instruments so we could make a quick getaway.
‘We were in such a hurry that we didn’t even pick up a programme and I think we were already on the road when the match ended. Now, I kick myself for not staying until the end – but at the time I wanted to get back.
‘I had no radio in my van so I don’t think we even found out the result until we got back to Portsmouth. To make matters worse, the big ends in the engine went and we had to limp back. All the money I earned from playing ended up being spent on repairs.
‘I have become more of a football fan as I have got older, and I am confident that England can win on Sunday. They have been playing brilliantly and Gareth Southgate has done a fantastic job.’
30 July 1966, FIFA World Cup Final, England v West Germany: Jack Charlton runs with the Jules Rimet trophy
Retried telephone engineer Tom Lutton, 75, was there in 1966
Tom Lutton, 75
Age in 1966: 24
Retired telephone engineer
‘I got two tickets for the final in a draw and my dad was supposed to travel down to London from Liverpool with me for the match.
‘But on the day of the game, he had to work so I went to Wembley with a spare ticket which I was convinced that I’d be easily be able to sell.
‘But I was wrong, and I couldn’t believe that nobody wanted it.
‘Twenty minutes before kick-off there was nobody outside the ground, they had all gone in and I had this extra ticket that I couldn’t get rid of.
‘So, I decided to go in. Nobody ever used that spare ticket and I’ve still got it to this day.
‘I was a very keen photographer at the time and took loads of great pictures both at the final and at some group matches that I attended.
‘I’m proud of being one of those who was there in ’66 but I’m also delighted that this 55-year curse is about to be lifted, which I’m sure it will.
‘I’ll be at home watching on television, like most people in the country.
‘I wasn’t sure England would win going into the ’66 final but I’m a lot more confident about Gareth Southgate’s team. Of course, they will win, there’s no doubt about that.’
Mr Lutton keen photographer at the time and took pictures at the final (one is pictured here)
MailOnline spoke to the select few who will relive England’s 1966 glory (the team on the pitch after the match) when they watch Sunday’s match. Pictured: An image taken by Tom Lutton, who was in the crowd on the day of the win
Ian Verdon, 78
Age in 1966: 23
‘I remember being on a tea break at the factory where I worked as a lathe operator when the chap next to me spotted an advert in the paper for the sale of tickets for the World Cup the next year.
‘It turned out to be £5 for a complete booklet so we both decided to send off for them. Then we forgot all about it and the tickets arrived about a year later. The booklet had tickets for all the matches at Wembley and other London grounds.
‘There was a totally different atmosphere around football then. Nowadays with all the influx of money everything is hyped up and matches are massive occasions, but there was not the same level of excitement back them
‘I remember going to the Mexico game and Wembley did not even seem full, although it was packed for the final. There was a lot of people there for the Argentina game as well.
Ian Verdon, 78, (pictured) was 23 in 1966. He said: ‘I remember being on a tea break at the factory where I worked as a lathe operator when the chap next to me spotted an advert in the paper for the sale of tickets for the World Cup the next year’
‘Going to the final just seemed like a normal day. I got to Wembley quite late and didn’t even bother to buy a programme. I didn’t think of it at the time.
‘The stadium was so crowded when I got there. I can remember there was not much room for jumping up and down. There was also some German fans in front of us, but there was no aggro.
‘It got very tense when Germany scored their late equaliser. Then when we won in extra time, it felt fantastic. I still remember the players dancing on the pitch.
‘Afterwards, I thought there was no way I would be able to get a train because of the crowd so I walked four or five miles home to Edgware. A lot of people had the same idea and were walking home as well.
‘There were a few people waving flags, but the scenes were nothing like you get nowadays. There was nobody jumping on buses or anything like that. I remember getting home in time to see the highlights on TV and the debate over whether Geoff Hurst’s goal was over the line.
‘England have a great chance on Sunday and I think they can win it.’
Qamar Ahmed, 83
Age in 1966: 28
Retired cricket journalist
‘I came to England in 1964 to play league cricket and I was living in Bayswater in 1966 when one of my friends from Pakistan who was studying aeronautics at Perth in Scotland called me to say he had two tickets for the final, and asked me if I wanted to come.
‘I was football crazy at the time, although I had never been to a big game in England, so I jumped at the chance. He came down on the train and we had seats in the stand opposite the Royal box.
‘It was a great game and the whole experience was incredible. Afterwards, we were walking home because there was no transport and people had tears in their eyes. Every car going past was beeping its horn. I felt at the time it was so unlike English people who were normally very reserved.
Qamar Ahmed, 28 – a retired cricket journalist – came to England in 1964 to play league cricket. He said: ‘One of my friends from Pakistan who was studying aeronautics at Perth in Scotland called me to say he had two tickets for the final, and asked me if I wanted to come’
‘When we got back to my room, I heard on the radio that the prime minister Harold Wilson was going to see the England team at their hotel in Kensington. We headed out into the crowds to walk there so we could see for ourselves, and we could hardly move because there so many people shouting and cheering.
‘We saw Mr Wilson walk into the hotel, and there were shouts and applause from the crowd. Then just after midnight, the whole England team led by Bobby Moore, and the prime minister all appeared on a roof.
‘I saw Bobby Moore and the prime minister hold up the cup. It was an amazing scene, and I will never forget it.
‘England have a good chance of beating Italy on Sunday because they are doing so well at the moment. I have been following all the games in the tournament, and I will be watching the final from Pakistan.
‘People in Pakistan are not only crazy about cricket, they are crazy about football as well. They love the premier league, and will be supporting England as well.’
The England team (above) waiting for their bus after training at Roehampton in July 1966. England manager Alf Ramsey insisted the players complete the 60-minute journey from their hotel in north London to the training ground every day
Bryan Raven, 71
Age in 1966: 16
Retired security installation company boss
‘My parents split up at the beginning of 1966 and my mother was beside herself and in a wretched state. My younger sister and I ended up not speaking to my dad for three or four months, even though he had tried to contact us.
‘We had an uncle who was trying to liaise between us, and he eventually got us to meet up. I think as a sweetener my Dad got these two season tickets for the whole World Cup, so I was absolutely privileged at 16 to have tickets for all the matches.
‘He let me take a friend to all the matches, but when it came to the final, he decided he had to go with me, even though he was not particularly a football fan.
‘We were sitting in Block D near one of the corner flags. The tickets must have cost a small fortune.
‘As England had progressed through the tournament, playing and beating some very good teams, everyone in the country had got more and more excited as we got closer and closer to the final. The atmosphere and optimism just built up from a slow start.
‘The atmosphere at the final was just euphoric. The noise of the crowd was so deafening that you almost could not hear yourself speak. My father was shouting away like mad. It was so memorable.
‘The game was very even, but I always felt that England could win although the Germans were so disciplined that I was worried they might do something that was just fantastic.
Bobby Charlton (centre) with team mates Peter Bonetti, Martin Peters, Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore (rear left to right) playing cards in some relaxation time between matches in 1966
‘Even though I was only 16, I was thinking there had been two world wars and we could get third time lucky by winning the World Cup as well. The war was still so fresh in the minds of so many fans as it had only ended 21 years earlier.
‘People were regarding Germany as a friendly enemy, and it was almost like a derby game.
‘It was so close right up until the end. I didn’t see anyone leaving early. But once that last goal went in, the scenes were euphoric. It was a resounding win. I remember the players dancing on the pitch. We were jumping up and down for joy. It must have been half an hour before things calmed down. People were hugging each other in the stands, just like the players were doing on the pitch.
‘My only disappointment was Jimmy Greaves not playing as I am a big Spurs fan and he was and still is my hero.
‘I will be watching the game on Sunday at the home of some friends on an outdoor projector. I will be taking along World Cup final programme from 1966 which I have still got.
‘I have always been a pragmatic person and I have to be optimistic about England’s chances, but the Italians are not a team to give way at all, and they can be a bit aggressive. I’d like to think that after 55 years, it’s got to be our turn again.’
Steve Maddock, 63, was only eight years old when he went to the match with his father in 1966
Steve Maddock, 63
Age in 1966: 8
‘I’m a Welshman from South Wales but my father was involved in football for all his life.
‘He loved the game and even played for Swansea reserves as a youngster.
‘We got the tickets for the final after my mother wrote to the English FA asking for them and told them how passionate my father was about football and how he had dedicated his life to the game. She also told them how much I loved football.
‘Ironically, she hated football, but the FA wrote back, sending her two tickets.
‘I have still got their letter and the two tickets they sent us.
‘My father drove to London but there was no M4 at the time, so it took us the whole day.
‘My mum and sister came with us, but they went shopping while we went to the final at Wembley.
‘Despite being Welsh we were cheering for England. I’ll be doing the same on Sunday and I’m sure some other Welsh people will be doing the same.
‘Obviously I always support Wales but if England are not playing them then I always back the English.
‘In ’66 my father said to me: ‘How can we support the Germans?’
Mr Maddock said: ‘We got the tickets for the final after my mother wrote to the English FA asking for them and told them how passionate my father was about football and how he had dedicated his life to the game. She also told them how much I loved football.’ Pictured: The reply from the FA
‘I might have been very young, but I can still remember Hurst scoring his hattrick and the team celebrating.
‘It was a wonderful day, even for a Welshman. I haven’t got a ticket for Sunday but I’m sure that if my father was alive, he would have got me one.
‘As I did 55 years ago, I’ll be cheering for England all the way while watching on television.’
Bryan Horsnell, 82
Age in 1966: 27
‘I filmed what I could of the match on my 8mm cine camera, and, while it is in colour, the quality is fairly poor. It’s six or seven minutes long and mostly consists of the players running round the pitch at the end of the match.
‘I’d mainly captured the lap of honour. But then, out in the Wembley carpark, suddenly we noticed this coach appear.
‘It pulled into the car park and a group of young, attractive women started to board it. We got closer and realized it was the players’ wives.
‘We recognised some of them from the newspapers. When people realized, they started clapping and cheering and giving the ladies the thumbs-up. The ladies waved back.
‘At that moment I saw Bobby Charlton’s wife, Norma. She was sitting by the window and she held up Bobby’s medal which he had obviously handed to her for safe-keeping.
‘We were all goggle-eyed with excitement, as it was the first time any of us had seen a World Cup medal close up. I filmed it all and, when I took it back to Ken at work, he was like a cat with two tails, as you can imagine.’
Bryan Horsnell, 82, (left and right) filmed what he could of the match on a 8mm cine camera. When in the Wembley car park, he captured footage of the footballer’s wives