‘Having Finished The Epic Journey That Is The European Cup ,Memories Resurface’

In 1966 I was living in London, reports Ralph McAllister.

‘The swinging sixties it was labelled.

To get a ticket to the final you had to buy tickets for the quarter and semi finals,not knowing,of course who would advance to the final at Wembley.

I duly paid for two tickets for each match which placed me in the draw for one final ticket.

12,000 people won a ticket each.

I was one of them

I could not attend the Argentinian quarter final as I was giving away a dear friend at her wedding in Kensington and the reception was at our place in Kentish Town.

But I still remember most of the men congregated in my bedroom after catching the Number 27 bus to get to the reception of meat balls and champagne, and cheering as the Argentinian captain was sent off.

I took another dear friend to the semi final against Portugal which England won ,but the embedded memories are of the great Portuguese Eusebio and the two goals scored by Bobby Charlton .

Jackie and Bobby Charlton

In the crammed tube afterwards my companion took great delight in correcting a fan who thought brother Jack had scored.

No no ,she said ,it was Bobby not Jackie!

She knew nothing about football so I teased her mercilessly for years afterwards.

Finally, the final…

Finally,the final between England and Germany.

A thrilling game which you can read all about elsewhere but I remember vividly the man who couldn’t bear to watch extra time and sat on the concrete and offered me sweeties if I would keep him informed.

‘My career as a commentator

So he was there along with 90000 others and I ate his lollies and began my career as a commentator .


No joke ,in a seething Trafalgar Square after the game ,when amongst the celebrating crowd ,I tripped over a no parking sign,and fell into the arms of a handsome policeman .

You do not need to be told I was somewhat inebriated .

He was kindness itself,I was not arrested but he extricated me from the masses,determined where I lived and placed me in Charing Cross Road for the long walk home to Kentish Town.

I almost lost a good friend who ignored me at school where we were both teaching as he felt that being English he should be at Wembley and not some funny speaking hybrid of a colonial.

And now Italy are champions ,after a 53 year wait.

It was 1 degree in Paekakariki when I rose to watch the final, live.

Was it worth the risk?

Oh yes as for a while, I had hoped that the team which  had played the most attractive football would win.

And through the last fifty odd years my allegiances have shifted,perhaps my memories too?

The only blemish on a great sporting occasion this morning was seeing many of the defeated players tearing off their medals before they even left the dais.

Then Harry Kane offered a generous and noble speech a few minutes later.

Harry Kane — a ‘noble speech’

Well done captain.

Now having shared these thoughts can I get back to Trollope?


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