Created by Peggy 11 years ago
A Tale of the World Cup 1966 by Jim Bailey
Are we going to the final?
The World Cup Finals approach. Will I be going to any matches? Not very likely, married and with a mortgage to pay. I could only just afford my Chelsea season ticket last year. Without the help of my friend and colleague Augustina J. Fantasia, I would not have made it.
At work we are a band of four Chelsea fanatics. I am on the lowest rung, being PA to the Managing Director of this American/British dealers in Rubber and Plastics - Meuhlstein Northwestern. But it is going to fall to me to produce our longed for tickets to the World Cup.
My new American boss arrives. Tells me I will be very important in helping him to find out what London is all about. I think he means the company, but he is talking about what to wear if he gets to Ascot, Henley, Wimbledon, Glyndebourne, or the Queen's Garden Party. I find him a shirt maker in New Bond Street, a tailor in Saville Row. Also set wheels in motion to get him into the RAC Club. He needs all this, as we are talking about the days when you could tell an American business man as different from any other race on earth...
Not sure what I can do about his polite conversation though. At our first business lunch (I think I am there to tell him to use his knife as well as his fork!) with ICI top executives, all very Public School. He is asked what he thinks of our main competitor in the United States. "We hate their f---ing guts".
We talk a little during lunch about the World Cup. Afterwards he wants to know if I think we should have some tickets for this soccer match. Yes I say, what about four season tickets to Wembley? YES - you organise it, and take a few customers to the games.
Back at the office, I tell the boys, we have four tickets to all the games, plus the FINAL. Loud cheers, this is my finest business deal to date. Our World Cup Committee works out a schedule of who is going to what matches, and we sprinkle in a few customers for appearance sake. No interest in football from my new boss, I think "The Season" in London is taking most of his energy.
All is going well in the tournament and the telex line betwen Berkely Square and our Hamburg office is humming with what we will do to the Germans should they get in England's way. England to play Germany in the FINAL, we are ready and we have the tickets.
My boss returns from a visit to the Hamburg office. "I see you guys are going to play the Germans. I told the Manager in Hamburg to come over for the final and you would give them two tickets". I try not to let him see my crying. Is that what I survived the Blitz for, to be invaded by two Germans on my glory day.
While this has been going on, the Germans have been taunting us a little too much on the telex. It has been too much for my American friend Augie, and he has laid a bet on our behalf of 500 American Dollars that England win. These dollars are worth nearly as much as pounds and so it is a very large bet to share. I take £20 which is a massive amount of the £76 net I earn per month.
Who gets our two tickets? The Committee meets in the Pub, and after crying in its beer for some time, decides it is not able to choose the lucky two who will go to the final from our four-man team. The wisdom of Augie is brought into play. He will go to Wembley the day before the final and see our two tickets to a "scalper" (ticket tout). The proceeds will find the party at Augie/s flat to watch the final on TV. We tell the Germans we will not see them in the seats as we have swapped our two seats for four standing tickets. Augie gets £45 each for the tickets. We have enough booze to last through many finals. The food and the Champagne is the best - it should be, it came from Fortnum & Mason's.
Our pride and money only is in doubt for a little while, we will win through. The Hamburg office is suitably polite in defeat. The next visitor can collect our winnings, they pay us in D. Marks.
Augie - Augustine John Fantasia, died in England aged 40.
Geoff - Geoffrey Martin, died in England aged 38.
Dave - Dave Thomas, moved to San Antonio, USA, in the 60's.
Jim Bailey, aged 58, still supports Chelsea with his son for company.
This was written in 1996.
1966 England 4 - Germany 2