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David hopes Sunday brings back memories of seeing England in '66

One football fan from Peterborough is urging England to evoke the spirit of '66 on Sunday night for the Euro 2020 final - having witnessed that glorious summer first hand.
Euro 3
Mr Oliver with the heroes of '66

David Oliver, who is now 83, attended all of England's games during their only successful World Cup campaign, including the final against arch rivals West Germany.

He still has the programme and ticket stubs from the matches, and almost incredibly these were the only England games he ever watched in-person - giving a true meaning to going out on top.

In his office are photographs with eminent figures from the British game who Mr Oliver has met at events through the years. They include three England managers in Gareth Southgate, Terry Venables and Roy Hodgson; Bob Wilson; Chris Kamara; Pat Jennings and Mr Oliver's favourite Harry Redknapp, who he described as very kind. 

Also on display are memorabilia from following Spurs, including FA Cup final programmes in 1981 and 82, and of course a large canvas of his favourite player Bobby Moore, Nobby Stiles, and the rest of our only World Cup winning side.

Back in 1966 Mr Oliver and his wife were living in Kent.

He was an employee of Pearl Assurance at the time, where he worked for 39 years in total, and he and a friend applied for the tickets because they believed no-one would be letting them into their homes in the evening that summer because they would be too glued to the television!

He said: "The tickets came all together - £3, 17s and 6d - with each game costing 7s 6d. We went to all the England games, and the other group games as well.

"We had only recently been burgled and lost so much stuff. So when the tickets arrived I slept with them under my pillow for a while! They went everywhere with me for a while.

"After the first game with Uruguay (0-0) we had been very disappointed and thought there was no way were we going to win the cup. We just thought it was slow and predictable.

"But the atmosphere was building for each game, and we were much better against Mexico and France, which meant we topped the group.

"We went to the quarter final which was a nasty game against Argentina. It doesn't bear mentioning really, but Alf Ramsey was a damn good manager who was keen to make sure the discipline was there.

"Then the semi-final against Portugal was an exciting game. Our tickets were for standing and we were behind the goal where Eusebio scored to make it 2-1, and put the game on edge for the last 15 minutes.

"For the final ticket prices shot up to 50p. I also got a programme, for 2s 6p, so the whole lot cost me £4."

 

Euro 2Then and now: Mr Oliver's programme from 66, and one from three days ago. By John Baker

For the big match, the duo stuck to their routine of travelling by car from Pembury, where Mr Oliver was living at the time, parking the car at Kilburn before taking the tube.

A crowd of more than 96,000 attended the match on July 30, which saw England go behind early before equalising to take it to 1-1 at half time.

Mr Oliver said: "There were a couple of Germans in front of us but no animosity towards them at all, which was good.

"The atmosphere grew and when we went to 2-1 we thought we were there, despite hanging on. There was then a very doubtful free kick against Jack Charlton from which West Germany scored, and everybody's heart sunk.

"Alf Ramsey got them all standing up during the interval before extra time, because he didn't want to give the Germans the edge by thinking we were tired. He said they'd won it once, and they needed to win it again.

"For the third goal we were at the far end, so we couldn't see if it went over the line, but the wonderful Russian linesman had great eyesight.

"And then Geoff Hurst scored his hat trick in front of us and pandemonium broke out as people ran on the pitch. It was all civilised though.

"Everybody was cuddling and hugging, it was fantastic. On the way back we stopped at a market and there was a chap who'd got some fruit on his stall who found out we'd won and gave us some free bananas!

"It was all so exciting and such a lift, and the Germans took it so well."

Mr Oliver moved to Peterborough in the late 80s, having travelled the world with his job, and has watched this summer's game from his home in the Ortons.

Since then he has taken the ticket stubs to various talks to groups eager to hear about England's greatest side. 

While the Italians might still be celebrating following this weekend's final, '66 represents one of the Azzuri's lowest ever ebbs, as they exited following a disastrous loss to North Korea.

 

Euro 1Mr Oliver with England manager Gareth Southgate. By Supplied

However Mr Oliver is anticipating a much tougher game on Sunday night. 

"I just hope we've got strong enough reserves to use them well. Southgate has done such a good job in choosing players and is not influenced by others telling him what to do. He's his own man.

"We're much speedier now with players like Sterling, Saka and Walker, who is the oldest player but also the fastest, and of course Kane provides a masterclass in finishing,

"I don't think we can hope for much more than a 1-0 win."