Paddy Haughton

1966 - Poem by Paddy Haughton

To London’s Wembley stadium they came.
A crowd almost a hundred thousand strong
The final of the world’s most cruel game
All voices raised in patriotic song
Ye gods! Two hours never seemed so long
In 1966 in late July
At 3 o’clock by British summer time.

First France and Mexico and Uruguay
Trailed in the wake of England’s flawless chase
Then Argentina followed the same way
Next Portugal; Eusabio’s goal and grace
Inadequate to conquer England’s brace
With seven for and just one goal against
They met the Germans, Ref’ed by Gottfried Dienst

As T’whistle blew, brave hearts were all a tremble
On thirteen minutes Germany scored first
Was this the point where English hopes would crumble?
Oh how the Germans gnashed their teeth and cursed
When minutes later – equaliser – Hurst!
Despite titanic efforts from each side
Half-time came with scores remaining tied

So what would Ramsey do to spur them on?
He couldn’t change the team - no subs allowed
So stirring speech he made to call upon
Their bulldog spirit – yes - he had avowed
“We’ll stand up tall in front of our own crowd
Through fitness, craft and altruistic toil
We’ll win this competition on home soil”

The second half no better than the last
An ebb and flow of play no chances seen
Until near eighty minutes had elapsed
A goal for England’s young number sixteen
Oh what a glorious sight it would have been
Jules Rimet in Bobby Moore’s right hand
But once again hearts broke throughout the land

With just one minute left upon the clocks
A blast upon his whistle Gottfried blew
A German free kick just outside the box
Did it hit a hand on the way through?
One hundred thousand people never knew
They only saw the ball go in the net
It seemed the struggle wasn’t over yet

Through extra time they battled on and on
And nought could separate them, hard they played
Their weary bodies toiled beneath the sun
Through cramp and aching muscles nerves a-frayed
But Alan Ball had still the strength to run
And though the Wembley turf had took its toll
He set Hurst up for that disputed goal

With barely seconds left to keep the lead
The opposition sapped beyond reply
Now could it be that they would not succeed?
The captain, Moore, with calm and watchful eye
Sent one more pass upfield for Hurst to read
And Wolstenholme his famous line to crow
“Some people are running on the pitch – they think it’s all over – it is now.”

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, December 24, 2011

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