Football fan who attended 1966 game ‘privileged’ to be back at Wembley on Sunday

A lifelong football fan who witnessed England lift the World Cup at Wembley in 1966 said he feels “privileged” to be working at the stadium on Sunday.

Tony Stopford, 66, was 12 when he saw England beat West Germany 4-2, after his father secured tickets to the game.

Mr Stopford will be back at Wembley Stadium again on Sunday, where he has worked for around 12 years in the level two hospitality area, something he said was a “privilege”.

He told the PA news agency: “[In 1966] the day was just phenomenal, going up to Wembley, getting amongst the crowd.

“One of the big things I remember was waiting for that Russian linesman, the referee, to give us that third goal, just sitting there and waiting, and everyone held their breath.

“And it took quite a long time for him to have a chat, and then he pointed to the centre spot and the crowd went mad.”

World Cup 1966
Crowd scenes during the World Cup match between England and West Germany at Wembley in London (PA)

Mr Stopford, a lifelong football fan, said: “When I started working at Wembley I didn’t have any sort of goals, I just wanted to be a part of it.

“But when they announced the Euros, I have been to every other final you can dream of within the European English game, but I had never been to a European Championship final, so I wanted to be part of that.

“To link it with 1966 is even better.”

A Queen’s Park Rangers supporter, Mr Stopford said he used to “get tickets for everything” when he lived down the road from the stadium.

Tony Stopford
Tony Stopford said he has loved football all his life (Tony Stopford/Zoom/PA)

Mr Stopford, who now lives in Watford, said he remembers the “entire country” got involved in 1966.

The father-of-two said: “One silly thing I remember were those plastic hats everyone wore, they were union jack plastic hats and everyone had those on around the street.”

He added: “I’ve just been outside now and nearly every house has got an England flag hanging from it, and it’s great.

“My next-door neighbours are Ukrainian, and when we played them the other week, at the end of the game they came in and said well done and congratulations, it was really good, and we had a beer together.”

He said he “just hopes England can get across the line and pick that trophy up when it’s time”.

Other long-time football fans have shared their memories of the 1966 game and said they are looking forward to “better picture quality” on TV this time around.

World Cup 1966
England goalkeeper Gordon Banks saves a shot on goal with West Germany’s Lothar Emmerich closing in (PA)

Peter Gould, 74 from Ealing, told the PA news agency: “Watching the match on a small black-and-white TV is one of the most vivid memories of my life.

“That and the Moon landing, three years later. History unfolding in front of your eyes, thanks to television.

“No doubt the pictures will be better on Sunday, but the excitement will be the same.

“I felt dazed after the match in 1966, watching the players celebrating on the pitch. The doubters were proved wrong, and the nation basked in the triumph.

World Cup 1966
England captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet Trophy, followed by hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton and Roger Hunt (receiving medal from the Queen (PA)

“It’s an indelible memory from fifty-five years ago. For the sake of a new generation, let’s hope for a repeat performance on Sunday.”

Barry Schofield, 67 originally from Huddersfield, added: “We felt unbeatable in 1966 but then again I didn’t have any memories of failure.

“This time I have more fear about the strength of the opposition but that’s probably because of our track record since.

“But the mood this time is far more positive than for previous competitions, in no small part due to the spirit within the squad and (manager Gareth) Southgate’s calm authority.”