What a wonderful article by Simon Burnton (Apathy and the ecstasy: how England’s summer turned gold, 30 July): full of anecdotes from the days when professional sport was accessible to us all, and not just about politics and money, as Simon Jenkins pointed out in his excellent piece on the Olympics (Denationalise the Olympics to stamp out cheating, 28 July).
Fifty years ago I went round to Michael Wheeldon’s house, a terrace in Riddings, Derbyshire, to watch the World Cup final with him and his family. My dad wouldn’t have it on, and I wanted to watch it with people who could share the excitement.
The Wheeldons had a medium-sized (probably 19-inch) black and white TV, and we sat around the room, some of us on the floor, with the curtains drawn. During the World Cup, Golden Wonder crisps had a special promotion: if you found a golden ticket in your packet, you won a prize – up to £1,000 in cash. The Wheeldons had bought a box of 48 packets of salt and vinegar, and for the whole game we munched our way to victory, and, perhaps, a prize too. Each time England scored, the floor and furniture were sprayed with broken crisps.
I have never been able to eat salt and vinegar flavoured snacks since then. A joyous day that I still remember clearly.
• My father wanted to create “a mini United Nations that really is united”, so he and my mother founded an English language school in Folkestone.
In July 1966, Dad invited all the students to watch the World Cup final on our relatively modest television. I was seven years old and had absolutely no interest in football, but was spellbound by all the cheering, stamping, waving and hugging. When England won, our German friends were disappointed of course, but the French, the Spanish and the Italians, the Iranians, the Turks and the Israelis, were thrilled because they loved England, they loved Folkestone and the School of English Studies. They had a strong bond of friendship with their teachers and their host families. It was as if their own country had won the World Cup. On that afternoon in 1966, we really were a mini United Nations.
Una Suseli O’Connell
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