When Essex won the World Cup

Did you know that England’s only triumph in the World Cup was actually powered by Essex? Four members of the team that triumphed in 1966, and their manager, were born in or had close connections with Essex.

Bobby Moore, the iconic captain of the team and central defender, was born in Barking in 1941 (below). Interestingly Chelsea was one of his middle names, although he played most of his career for West Ham United, making 544 appearances for the club, before moving to Fulham in 1974 and then finishing his playing career in the USA.  He later managed Southend United from 1984-1986.

Baptism of Bobby Moore (D/P 81/1/57)

Bobby Moore’s baptism record (D/P 81/1/57)

Martin Peters was born in Plaistow.  He too played for West Ham United before moving to Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich and Sheffield United.  While at West Ham he played in every position on the team, including goalkeeper.  He played in midfield and was a free kick specialist.

Jimmy Greaves was born in Manor Park, East Ham. He began his career at Chelsea before moving to AC Milan for a short spell in 1961.  He returned to join Tottenham Hotspur and won the FA Cup in 1972 and European Cup Winners Cup in 1973. Greaves later played for Chelmsford City in 1976-1977 after he had retired from top flight football.  During the 1966 campaign, Greaves was injured in a group match and his place in the final was taken by Geoff Hurst.

Geoff Hurst, scorer of the winning goal, moved to Chelmsford when he was 6 and also played for West Ham United.  His father, Charlie Hurst, was a professional footballer who played for Bristol Rovers, Oldham Athletic and Rochdale.  He married in Chelmsford Cathedral in 1962.

Bobby Moore and Geoff Hurst both played cricket for Essex in the county youth team, while Hurst went on to make one 1st XI appearance for Essex against Lancashire in 1962 and play regularly in the 2nd XI as wicketkeeper between 1962 and 1964 when he left to concentrate on football.

Alf Ramsey's baptism record (D/P 69/1/18)

Alf Ramsey’s baptism record (D/P 69/1/18)

The England Manager, Alf Ramsey, was born in Dagenham in 1920 (above).  He was a talented youth player and played for his regiment during the Second World War before joining Southampton FC and then moving to Tottenham Hotspur. He retired as a player in 1955 and went into management managing Ipswich Town from 1955 until 1963 when he was offered the England job. On his appointment as England manager he predicted that England would win the next World Cup.  Ramsey was the first England manager to have control over team selections and he instituted a strict regime of control over the players on and off the field.  As a player his tactical awareness had earned him the nickname The General and he brought this tactical astuteness to the England team.  He was sacked in 1974 after failing to take England to qualification for the 1974 World Cup.

World Cup fever in Essex

With the World Cup in full swing in Brazil, we look back to the glory year of 1966, when the World Cup came to Essex.

The team from Uruguay stayed near Harlow for the duration of the World Cup.  They arrived on 1 July 1966 and stayed at the Saxon Inn (now the Park Inn by Radisson Harlow). The Epping and Ongar Gazette reported the team’s arrival.

Uruguay team 01071966

Reproduced courtesy of Epping & Ongar Gazette/Essex Chronicle series

The following week the paper reported that the team would make an unexpected public appearance at the local cinema to thank the town for the warm welcome which the players had received.

cup team appearance08071966

Reproduced courtesy of Epping & Ongar Gazette/Essex Chronicle series

It has been stated that Harlow Town FC arranged a friendly match against Uruguay, and that they were defeated, 6–1, but we have not been able to find a press report of the match.

Do you remember a match between Harlow Town FC and Uruguay?  Do let us know if you have any memories, photographs or programmes of this match.