While memories of Euro 2016 start to fade away, the memory of one past English footballing triumph still remains fresh. For on this day in 1966, England won football’s World Cup for the first time since the tournament had begun in 1930. Captained by Bobby Moore, who was described by manager Alf Ramsey as the “spirit and heartbeat” of the squad, England defeated their opponents, West Germany, 4-2. They played in front of a crowd of over 93,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium, London, including the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, and a much larger TV audience. The then unconventional attacking formation adopted by the team earned them the name of the “wingless wonders”. But the match is particularly remembered for Geoff Hurst’s third goal in the final moments of extra time, making him the first player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.
Football has been a part of the sporting landscape of student life at the University since around the turn of the twentieth century. Activities in the early days of the University’s Football Club were on a modest and local scale. Home matches were mainly played at the Shirley Ground: “the great events” as the 1904/5 Students’ Handbook notes, “the intercollegiate matches when we play Winchester and Reading…” The emphasis of the Football Club of 1900s was on “healthy recreation and vigorous exercise for men students” rather than on sporting prowess. And while it had no problem in attracting sufficient members to field at least two men’s teams, it was less successful in attracting spectators for matches. “The lack of support which both teams have met with from their fellow students in the past has been deplorable. It is to be hoped that all Freshmen will feel it their duty to turn out to every match that is played this session, and cheer their College to victory.” [1905/5 Students’ Handbook]
Today the world of college football is a very different one, both in terms of character and organisation. There exist both men’s and women’s teams that compete in the British Universities and Colleges Sport South East Conference as well as competitions overseas. The BUCS football programme has become one of the largest that the organisation runs, with over 450 men’s and 150 women’s teams across 100 leagues. Both the men’s and women’s teams have enjoyed a certain success in the competition with the men’s team topping the Western 2A championship in 2015/16 and the women’s team triumphing in the Women’s 2A Western Conference in 2008/9, after being runners up in 2006/7 and 2007/8.
And so we wish everyone who holds football dear continued enjoyment in “the beautiful game”.
For further information on the men’s team go to:
For the women’s team try: