Historians call the Swinging Sixties the decade that shook Britain. England and its commonwealth had only just begun a greater recovery period after a post-WWII world, the nation’s youth was a rejuvenated generation of a high-spirited character and British rock was redefining music in a way never before seen in history.
All the conditions were met for a recently Blitzkrieged nation to thrive once again — and the very same stars were aligned in the world of the beautiful game.
In 1966, Real Madrid won the European Cup (now the Champions League), Burnley qualified for the Europe, Manchester City won its league (Division Two at the time) and Chelsea finished in fifth place. England also won the World Cup against West Germany in 1966.
In 2018, all the stars are aligned, all the omens present and all the checkmarks ticked. If the football gods have their way, England’s Three Lions will do this year what the Wingless Wonders did in ’66: Bring it home.
The queen herself handed Bobby Moore, England’s captain, the World Cup after a 4-2 victory at Wembley Stadium.
England isn’t a powerhouse of uncanny skill and rhythmic finesse as much as Brazil’s dream teams but it is a powerhouse of an ancient character. A character that Alan Shearer recently described as “enormous” in an article for the BBC.
“The best teams do not always come out on top, but it is the ones with togetherness and belief that go on and achieve things at a tournament like this, and England have definitely shown their mettle there,” Shearer wrote, in comment on England’s, let’s say, peculiar game with Colombia.
Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat trick in the ’66 final, executed this geometric anomaly. Is this the most controversial goal in football history?
The Newcastle legend also applauded England’s team under the supervision of Gareth Southgate. Shearer also hinted at this unspoken hint of magic following England, regardless of the hellacious yellow card mania that ensued in the match against Colombia.
“You go into any tournament with expectations but they grow as you progress and, the further you get, the more you start thinking something really special could happen here,” Shearer wrote. “That's the feeling I have now, and that is what the players will be thinking too.”
In 1966, the chosen ones were Sir Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst and Bobby Moore, all of whom showed England what it meant to embody the everlasting grace of the beautiful game’s spirit. Charlton himself had endured the tragic Munich air crash, which left several Manchester United players injured or dead, but it didn’t stop his morale. That’s just it, isn’t it? Morale.
The kind of morale that oozed off of Southgate after England’s curse-breaking victory against Colombia.
— England (@England) July 5, 2018
England doesn’t have exceptional players and that’s just the bitter truth. Harry Kane is no Leo Messi, Jordan Pickford is no Gianluigi Buffon and Harry Maguire is no Raphael Varane. That also implies the opposite; these international names aren’t the Lions of England.
No one expected the British Invasion of the Beatles or Freddie and the Dreamers, and why should anyone expect Kane and the Lions to win the World Cup? Therein lies the rub, people. It’s the beautiful game because anything can happen. In all the stunning chaos of a 90-minute match lies either the mediocre victory of the expected winner or the apocryphal glory of the unexpected one.
We are happy either way but don’t kid yourself; you’d like to see England win as well.