Three Hammers, Three Lions, One World Cup
West Ham United trio Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters won the FIFA World Cup for England 55 years ago today...
Today, 30 July is a date that will forever be part of England – and West Ham United – folklore.
That day, three Hammers inspired the Three Lions to their greatest-ever triumph, a triumph that has never been repeated – FIFA World Cup glory.
Inspirational captain Bobby Moore was the man who lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy at Wembley Stadium that sunny afternoon 55 years ago, while hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst and goalscorer Martin Peters were the men whose goals helped England to win it.
More than 96,000 supporters inside the ground, and millions more watching and listening across the country, enjoyed the finest day in England’s football history thanks to three humble young graduates of the Academy of Football.
Moore was the boy from Barking who grew up to be his country’s greatest defender and captain; Hurst was the converted midfielder who Ron Greenwood had turned into a prolific centre forward; Peters was the multi-talented player who could line up anywhere and was considered ten years ahead of his time.
Together, the trio took what they had learned on the lush green grass of Chadwell Heath in Claret and Blue into the bright white of England on the biggest day of their lives.
Moore’s free-kick was headed in by Hurst to level after Helmut Haller’s opener before Peters put England on the cusp of winning the cup in normal time with his 78th-minute shot.
Wolfgang Weber equalised with a minute to go, but England would not be denied as Hurst scored twice – the first a disputed effort that bounced down off the underside of the crossbar, and the second an emphatic last-gasp finish while fans spilled onto the pitch.
Five decades on, England have yet to repeat the triumph, and here two of West Ham’s World Cup winners share their memories of a truly unforgettable afternoon.
The hat-trick hero
Geoff Hurst scored after 18, 101 and 120 minutes to complete the first – and only – FIFA World Cup final treble…
“Scoring three goals and losing would have meant absolutely nothing to me. I think my first was the most important goal and I’ve always said that. My celebration was a combination of ‘I’m here, I’m ready, I’m myself now and I’ve justified my place. That stupid ‘knees in the air’ thing I did was an expression of ‘I’m really here’.
“The disputed goal, from a technical point of view, was a good goal. To get the power on it, I had to lean back and I’m almost sitting on my bum to get the power. The ball bounced behind the goalkeeper Tilkowski, so I had the worst view in the stadium.
“The Swiss referee then consulted the Russian linesman and they couldn’t speak a common language. God knows what they were talking about!
“We were then hanging on 3-2 with seconds to go and the last cross of the afternoon was put in by Willi Schulz on the right wing and the ball was going to bounce in a very dangerous position. Who was there who has great technique and reading of the game ability? Bobby Moore, of course.
“What does he do? He chests the ball down in the middle of the penalty area in a World Cup final. His centre-half partner Jackie Charlton of Leeds would have dealt with this in a slightly different way and he was heard to shout across to Mooro: ‘Robert, will you please kick the ball out of the ground!’.
“What Bobby was also good at was hitting the front player. Overath was going to catch me because he didn’t have the ball and I did, but then there was a call from the other side of the pitch [from Alan Ball] of ‘Hursty, give me the ball’ and that call disturbed the German defence.
“It could have gone beyond the bar and into the stand, into the crowd, and by the time the ball boy had got the ball back to Tilkowski and he had hit it upfield, the game would have been over.
“My feeling was one of relief and then ‘Did the last goal count?’ so I went back out on the pitch in my suit and looked at the scoreboard and it said ‘4-2’ and I realised that it had counted.”
The man of the moment
The late Martin Peters had only made his England debut in May 1966 and now the Hammers midfielder was a national hero…
“It’s so difficult to explain how I felt, but I can tell you how the goal came about. There were 12 minutes to go and Alan Ball had won a corner on the right.
“The little guy went out to take the corner and he hit it to the far post. I had a position on the near post where Alf Ramsey got me to stay.
“It actually went right over the far post and out of the box and Geoff Hurst got onto the ball and maybe he should have passed but he shot. It was a rubbish shot to be honest with you and it hit the full-back called Hoettges on the leg and circled across the edge of the box.
“I had pulled out from my position on the near post to the edge of the box and, as it came, I thought ‘Oh God, it’s coming to me, keep your knee over the ball, like Ron Greenwood had told you at West Ham, and make sure it doesn’t go over the bar.
“As I hit it, the goalkeeper went one way and the full-back Schnellinger went the other and it went down the middle and hit the back of the net.
“I was up and running and everyone was jumping all over me. Even now when I talk about it, it gives me a thrill to think about scoring in the World Cup final.”