The Boys of 66: The Unseen Story Behind England’s World Cup Glory by John Rowlinson

by David Garfitt


30th July this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first and only time England has won the World Cup. The author, a journalist who enjoyed a long career with BBC TV Sport, uses previously unpublished photos to bring to life the era in which Alf Ramsey led the England team to glory. The book charts the chequered path to eventual victory, assessing both the players who made the final squad and those who lost out and it also contains sections on each of the players and what became of them after the Final.

The book recalls how Ramsey’s flight to triumph started, not in 1966, but four years earlier in Suffolk, when as Ipswich manager he won the then First Division. Those formative years are the theme of John Rowlinson’s book which includes all the bumps and twists in the road to glory and recalls how, with less than 16 months before the start of the finals, almost half of the Final players were still to appear in an England shirt!

The book reveals a stark contrast with football today, a purer and more innocent game then; the way it was reported (newspapers initially showed little enthusiasm for the World Cup being held in England!) and how it was managed; not to mention the players’ modest fame, pay and other conditions.

The final chapter contains a detailed account of the Final itself, the last minute German equaliser, the controversial Hurst goal, the Hurst hat trick and those famous Wolstenholme words when it was all over. You could almost be in the Wembley stands!

This book will instantly appeal to anyone who remembers that iconic summer day and the players involved, Banks, the Charltons, Moore, Ball, Hurst and Peters but it will also appeal to the younger generation who, it seems, can only dream of such a day!


David Garfitt is a partner in Trusts, Wills and Estates at Raworths LLP.



John Rowlinson will be appearing at the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival on Thursday 7th July at 6.30pm. Click Here to Book.