50 Years Can’t Hurt: 1966 World Cup Exhibition at the National Football Museum

I stand, utterly transfixed by the (presumably) deliberate contrast of imagery. As ‘Three Lions’ provides a bittersweet soundtrack to England’s nut-crushing defeat at the hands of Germany in World Cup 2010, I’m reminded of that pertinent and oft-cited lyric: ’30 years of hurt never stopped me dreaming’.

It’s no coincidence that co-writers of said melodious masterwork The Lightning Seeds are currently on their once-every-two-years (except when England don’t qualify for that summer’s international tournament) tour of the UK. And guess which of their tunes is the show-closer?

There is one significant change to the version we are accustomed to, however: that lyric has become ’50 years of hurt’. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that time has passed so quickly, or that Ian Broudie and his chums will be reminding us of that fact in near-metronomic fashion every 24 months.

1966 exhibition opening Bobby Moore

Ahh, it’s almost like being at Wembley in ’66 again!

“After 50 years, we should stop the discussion over whether the ball crossed the line and say England deserved to win.” A very gracious gentleman from the German FA must have uttered those words with some reluctance, but you could tell the sentiment was (mostly) genuine.

Then again, he was sitting on a stage alongside ’66 superstars Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Armfield and Roger Hunt, who were in turn backed by a crowd of 100-odd (allegedly) Bucks Fizz-fuelled English people. On this occasion, it would have been inadvisable to play the Henning Wehn comedy villain role.

As it transpired, You Are The Ref artist Paul Trevillion was the one to seize the jester’s hat, ‘gatecrashing’ the stage to pay an emotional tribute to those legends present, including a previously unheralded figure standing at the back of the room.

“Let’s not forget Mike Summerbee. He should be up here [on stage] too!”

Paul Trevillion

Paul Trevillion controversially adds himself to the speakers list.

Though Armfield,¬†FA chairman Greg Dyke and Alan Ball’s son Jimmy subsequently tried, it was impossible to follow such an act.

That opening ceremony will forever be remembered as that time Mr Trevillion told a slightly inadvisable (but very funny) Englishman-Irishman-Scotsman Euro 2016 joke. (I probably don’t need to recount it as you have filled in the gaps already.)

But that’s fine, because it was his party.

Well, sort of. This was a co-ceremony to celebrate both the opening of the National Football Museum’s 1966 World Cup exhibition and a new Football Walk of Fame featuring artwork by Trevillion. If the latter was an artistic expression of football history, the former was a more… memorabilia-tistic expression.

And the most memorabilia-tastic item might possibly be the very football used in that fateful final. It was surprisingly clean and blemish-free, at least compared to the faded, world-weary ball from the England-Portugal semi final.

Match balls from England v Portugal (left) and England v Germany (right).

1966 match balls from England v Portugal (left) and England v Germany (right).

It would be remiss of me to spoil many more of the exhibits, since you have no doubt just made plans to see them for yourself at the National Football Museum. Which, incidentally, is conveniently situated just opposite Manchester Victoria Station, a short 40-minute train ride from Wigan Wallgate.

However, in case you haven’t yet booked via Northern Rail’s site, I shall provide a few taster images that might just persuade you to take that trip. Oh, and did I mention admission is free?

1966 cinema

The 1966 cinema boasts three short films relating to England’s victory at the ’66 World Cup.

BBC Broadcaster's Handbook

Ahh, good cover design never ages!

Champions of the world

England? Champions? Pah! Next you’ll be telling me Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup…

AGL enters the '66 World Cup

Hey, remember that time All Gone Latics entered the 1966 World Cup?

The National Football Museum’s 1966 World Cup exhibition runs from 25 June 2016 to 23 April 2017.

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