I’m an early riser, so the 7:45am (EST) pre-game show for the West Ham versus Swansea was not a problem, and I settled down in front of the TV, hoping to see the boys’ make it 2 for 2!

Reality set in after Collins’ errant back pass was dispatched into the back of the net to make it 2-0 to Swansea. I felt disappointed.

I started to think what was my first memory of being disappointed by a result? ..and so it begins….June 1970 the World Cup in Mexico….

West Ham had soundly beaten West Germany to win the World Cup in 1966, I’m not sure I understood what “controversy” meant, I just remember Bobby Moore holding up the Jules Rimet trophy and Nobby Stiles with no teeth and not much hair.

I was older now and feasted on morning papers and the coverage on our black and white TV (anyone else remember those? lol) of England going to Mexico to defend its crown.

Remembering now, the entire campaign was doomed before it even started.

My beloved Bobby Moore was accused of stealing some jewelry, while on a trip to Columbia, which threatened to keep him out of the World Cup. He was cleared of any wrong doing, but even back then I remember thinking that Bobby might have to go to jail – today it would have made a great episode of “Locked Up Abroad”.

The save that Gordon Banks made on the header from Pele, is in my book, still the greatest save EVER made and England should have not lost that game.

Still we got out of the group finishing second, and would play West Germany in the quarter final. I was still in 1966-mode thinking of the combination of Moore-Hurst-Peters, this would be easy.
And as a bonus, my Dad and I would be watching the game in COLOUR at our Dentist’s house – what a treat!                                        

Oh, did I mention that “Harry the Dentist” was German?

The only depressing pre-game news was that Gordon Banks had food poisoning, and that Peter Bonetti would be in goal.
Even back then I hated Chelsea;  David Webb, who in my mind never made a clean tackle; Peter Osgood with his wavy hair; Iain Hutchinson who could take a throw-in and put the ball anywhere into the penalty area; and of course ‘Chopper Harris’..enough said.
Probably him who delivered the meal to Banks the night before the match versus West Germany!

Even with Chelsea F.C. , conniving to get Bonetti in net, it didn’t matter; England was up 2-0 and cruising into the semi-finals.
Up to that point, Harry the Dentist was chain-smoking and lighting up in the house. None this “oh I will smoke outside to protect the kids from second-hand smoke”, these were the days, when nothing was questioned, not even as the living room turned into a night-club, albeit without any hostess!

Germany got a lucky deflection to make it 2-1, and now my Dad started lighting up even faster than Harry – I just sat there sucking it all in.
Then a decision made by Sir Alf Ramsey, would impact not only this game, but the rivalry between these two countries for decades to come. Bobby Charlton had played a great game, yet Ramsey subbed him for Colin Bell (I couldn’t stand Manchester City either), and from that moment, England lost the midfield battle and the Germans surged forward, looking for the equalizer.

I remember looking at the clock; 10 minutes left and commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme hadn’t said a word for what seemed like an hour. Oh, here comes a long ball…….Bonetti comes out of his net, but doesn’t commit and is in “no-man’s land”  –  Uwe Seeler makes a back-header that loops high into the air, and into an empty net. Disaster, West Germany had equalized!

Harry the Dentist was up on his feet, yelling something unintelligible to my ears and doing some weird thing with his legs, a movement that I would later see John Cleese do on Monty Python! My Dad had his head in his hands. Eventually, Harry epitomized the “New Europe” by handing my Dad a glass of scotch. We all made it through to the end of the game.

Extra time loomed. Harry was still giddy, occasionally whistling bars of the West German National Anthem. My Dad and I were confident too, it was only 4 years ago that Geoff Hurst had owned extra-time at Wembley and scored two goals.

I clearly remember 2 moments of extra-time….

First was Geoff Hurst scoring. I jumped up and down screaming with delight, my Dad had a big grin on his face – I had swirling visions of West Ham winning its second World Cup, Bobby Moore holding aloft that same trophy…but just as I was about to discover levitation, I heard the following guttural words fill my ears…”N-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o  G-o-o-o-o-o-a-a-a-a-l-l-l-l-l-l”….Harry the Dentist had a foreboding look on his face, one which convinced me to ask my Mum to get me a new dentist. I looked at the TV and indeed he was right. The goal had been disallowed, but there seemed to be no good reason. Where were the 12 different camera angles? Where was the goal-line technology? Where were the 5th and 6th officials, in place for just this moment?

My longest lasting memory however, happened in the 108th minute. Bonetti failing to be aggressive and come get the ball, Gerd Muller volleyed it home to give Germany a 3-2 lead.

Harry the Dentist was delirious…I don’t think he noticed my Dad and I leave, as soon as the final whistle blew.

As I trudged the 3 minutes back to our house with my Dad, he must have heard me, as my chest heaved. He bent down and just held me, and I balled and balled into his shoulder, for what seemed to be forever……it was early June 1970 and West Ham’s first game wasn’t until late August.

This summer was going to suck!


About Neil

Trying To Find The Spark Again To Write! View all posts by Neil

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