They think it’s all over

Last night I was working at an awards ceremony and the guest speaker was former England goalkeeper and member of the 1966 World Cup winning squad Gordon Banks. After cracking a few topical jokes about recent sporting events and the forthcoming World cup he started to reminice about his career and then got onto the subject of 1966. It was a really interesting and amusing tale which featured one name in particular – that of Nobby Stiles.

While I am told that I watched the 1966 World cup Final I was actually only 4 so I don’t remember doing so. I do remember the 1970 World cup Finals in Mexico and his wonderful save from Pele in the match against Brazil – probably the second greatest save I’ve ever seen eclipsed only in my somewhat biassed opinion by the double save from Jim Montgomery in ithe 1973 FA Cup Final. Bank’s career was cut short by a car accident before I was old enough to go to football matches butI did however get to see Nobby Stiles play.

It was towards the end of his career* when he was playing for Preston North End under the management of former 1966 England star Bobby Charlton. Sunderland beat them (3-1 I think) and at one point Nobby was a source of amusement for the crowd when he went to kick the ball, missed and fell over! After the game we waited outside the players entrance trying to get autographs of the two England world cup heroes. Nobby Stiles came out and started to sign peoples programs etc. However after a minute or two Charlton emerged and not only brushed away anyone who asked for his autograph but made Nobby Stiles get on the coach as well. Sore loser?

* I think it was the 1973/4 season, the year after the FA Cup win against Leeds, because I remember being in the Roker End as my dad wouldn’t let us go in the Fulwell End where the  Sunderland fans were at that point. A very scary experience in amongst a bunch of Middlesborough fans during a local derby did finally change his mind though!

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