Remembering 1966: The odds on England’s World Cup triumph
It’s 50 years to the day that England’s football team were crowned champions of the world but the memories of that triumph remain as vivid as ever.
Even for those who weren’t alive the evocative images and sounds of the Three Lions’ triumph on Saturday 30 July 1966 permeate the English national psyche and resonate with the wider general public.
But nostalgia aside, let’s get to the issue at hand.
How would we, the bookies, have called World Cup ’66 and the final against West Germany?
When plain old Alf Ramsey claimed in 1962 that his England side would win the next World Cup, it’s safe to say there were several eyebrows raised.
But, four years later, the hosts went into the tournament as 5/1 second-favourites behind mighty two-time winners and defending champions, Brazil.
However, with the Selecao failing to make it out of their group, the competition started to open up.
The Three Lions sailed through their pool and into a quarter-final with Argentina without conceding a single goal.
And a semi-final 2-1 victory over Portugal meant England were in their first ever World Cup final.
All of which leads us neatly onto that famous afternoon when 96,000 fans packed in to Wembley Stadium to witness the greatest moment in English football history.
England went in to the game as 2/5 favourites but those odds were soon looking out of kilter when Helmut Haller netted his sixth goal of the tournament to put the Germans ahead.
However, it took the boys in red just six minutes to get back on level terms through West Ham striker Geoff Hurst. And when Martin Peters fired home a volley from inside the penalty area in the 78th minute, it looked like the game was sewn up.
But not so. Wolfgang Weber scrambled home a 90th minute equaliser and the match was forced into extra-time.
Though a draw in 90 minutes was 3/1, England to win in extra-time was priced at 10s which in today’s world would have represented a pretty juicy carrot to in-play backers.
And they would have been handsomely rewarded too.
Hurst’s second of the game, though it was somewhat controversial, meant England simply had to hold on for another 12 minutes to be crowned champions of the world.
But a one-goal lead wasn’t enough for the Three Lions, as Hurst completed a perfect hat-trick (which would’ve been a 10/1 shot) in the final minute of the game, meaning England ran out 4-2 winners.
As a result, Alf Ramsey’s prediction came true and the venerable manager was duly knighted a year later.
It’s an accolade no England manager since has received. And if you were smart enough you would’ve piled into the even-money on offer for Sir Alf to arise and be rightly crowned as one of the heroes of the hour.
Ladbrokes World Cup Final Betting:
England to lift the trophy – 2/5
Draw in 90 mins – 3/1
Alf Ramsey to be knighted – Evens
Any player to score a hat-trick – 10/1
England to win in extra-time – 10/1
Pre Tournament Prices:
England – 5/1
West Germany – 10/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.