So, having endured a very tense final 20 minutes standing in front of the telly last Sunday morning, my hands partially covering my worried face, (in England a friend of mine shared this moment hyperventilating) Britain finally secured a men's champion at Wimbledon after a wait of 77 years. How Andy Murray managed to find some source of power from his bootlaces to grab those last vital points I'll never know but when he did, he sent Britain into ecstasy. It's lovely to see the country finally win something. It makes such a change to that mackerel colored psyche of ours. Murray won on 7/7, not only subconsciously acknowledging the long wait but also helping to partially douse the memory of the London tube and bus bombings from this day in 2005.
The last British winner at Wimbledon was Virginia Wade who crushed everyone in her path to hold the women's trophy, get this, in 1977, the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee. Between these two dates, the nation has witnessed a Rugby World Cup win in 2003; its best ever finish at the Summer Olympics in 2012; and two cycling ‘erberts called Bradley Wiggins, Tour de France winner 2012, and Chris Froome who might win the event this year.
We better slow down! While I cheer and weep at these wondrous moments, there is one thing I never want Britain, or England, to win again, and that is the Soccer World Cup, our only sporting triumph in the 1960s. I truly don't think I have to worry in all honesty, but blips do happen. My reasoning is purely selfish for when the English side strode out onto that Wembley turf in London to face the might of West Germany that July 30, 1966 (my wife knows the date by heart, poor lass) Britain was at its zenith in pop culture glory and beauty. In the singles charts that week were Chris Farlowe ‘Out of Time’, The Kinks ‘Sunny Afternoon’, Beatles ‘Paperback Writer’, and The Troggs ‘With a Girl Like You.’
As for albums, there were Stones, Small Faces, Beatles, Hollies, Animals, and Yardbirds. Along Carnaby Street and King's Road colorful gear was offered up from shops like ‘Lord John’, ‘Granny Takes a Trip’, ‘I Was Lord Kitchener's Valet’, ‘Pop’ and ‘Bird Cage.’ Hair was by Vidal Sassoon, make-up and mini skirts by Mary Quant, and men’s ‘kipper’ ties by Mr. Fish. England’s 4-2 victory that day fed off the fabness of the times with Geoff Hurst getting a hat trick (that's 3 goals in a game), a record still not surpassed in World Cup history, and the post match photos showing a young, dashing golden haired English captain called Bobby Moore holding aloft the Jules Rimet trophy for the first and only time in our history. The commentator, Kenneth Wolstenholme, also added to the warm summer charm of the day with one of British sports greatest lines that every English schoolboy knows better than a Churchillian speech, and is used to this day to add irony to anything and everything.
With 20 seconds left of the match, the score at 3-2, Wolstenholme politely screamed, "Some people are on the pitch. They think it's all over.... it is now" just as Hurst thumped home the fourth and final goal. How could we ever best this moment?
I hope we never do. One thing for sure is the music would be crap. I still support England at the World Cup but usually have a surrogate team as well, ironically choosing the Germans, as I know our weaknesses are many. I think we could possibly be the only country that religiously repeated its lone World Cup Final win on the telly every ten years, that is until Video, DVD, YouTube took away that necessity.
While I had seen photos of this great July day, the first time I saw the match was on its 10th anniversary in 1976. I remember watching it on a portable black and white TV in my grand dad's old bedroom in Wales. The sound crackled and the picture fuzzed in and out but I could still make out the glorious pop art triumph of the day and celebrated it just as much as if it had just happened. The moment also helped make it one of my favorite trips to Wales as well even if Elton John and Kiki Dee were at No. 1 with ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ and the albums chart filled with Neil Sedaka, Demis Roussos and…..Rod Stewart.