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World Cup Final 1966
The author, Denis Howell, was the UK's first ever Sports Minister.
It is a remarkable thing that few referees have difficult games on the really big occasion. Their sense of occasion rarely lets them down and their competence is guaranteed anyway, otherwise their appointment would not have been made. Gottfried Dienst already had a very considerable reputation before the World Cup Competition began. He had refereed many internationals with distinction; he is a warm and likeable man and his linguistic abilities are exceptional for a referee - he speaks German, Italian and English very fluently.
There could be no complaint when FIFA appointed him to referee the final, and he certainly regarded it as the highest honour that could ever come his way.Yet he would have been inhuman had he had no nerves or anxieties, for the sportsman who approaches an event without 'butterflies' is the man most likely to fall down through complacency. When I congratulated Dienst on his appointment, I was struck by his calm and his modesty and by his obvious intention to ensure that the final went well in spite of the occasion and the nationalistic considerations involved.
Many countries still seemed to harbour resentments that the host country had reached the final, and unwarranted doubts came easily about the integrity of some referees who had in fact dealt with almost impossible situations with skill and determination.It remains my opinion that the refereeing in the World Cup Competition was of a very high order indeed, and as I saw games on each of the grounds I had the opportunity of watching most of the officials. I cannot recall one who had a bad match, and considering the tensions that is a very remarkable fact.
Dienst had one advantage in that all the referees had lived together in one hotel. There they had been in the charge of Mr Ken Aston, one of the best known of English referees, who had himself experienced the heat and endurance of an earlier World Cup Competition, and who was designated Referees Liaison Officer. Aston was charged with the overall welfare of the World Cup squad of officials, who numbered 33 in all from 27 countries. He had considerable assistance from officials of the Football League Referees and Linesmen's Association and from the London Referees Association, and he put all this help to very good use. Hospitality and entertainment were arranged, and in remarkably quick time the team of officials developed a cohesion and a unity of outlook that stood them in very good stead.
I had the pleasure of extending a welcome to them on the day before the Competition began, and I was struck by the very friendly atmosphere that had been created in so short a time. We all went out for a meal at a West End restaurant and had a most successful evening although the language difficulties made normal conversation virtually impossible. Trips to the coast and out of town hospitality were part of the techniques used to break down any possible barriers and ensure the social success of the operation.
This accomplished, the next objective was to achieve a common purpose and interpretation by all the officials of the various situations with which they had to deal and which sprang up almost spontaneously from day to day. Ken Aston therefore organised a conference at 9.30 am each morning at the hotel, and by using interpreters the referees were able to find a great deal of common ground on the various situations they discussed.Sign language and gestures between referee and linesmen were an obvious subject of importance, since such communications between a referee and his colleagues in the heat of the moment would be vital, and in practice this certainly proved to be the case.
Another subject that came up early, following incidents on the field of play, concerned injured players. At first a host of officials would charge on to the field, but with Mr Aston in the chair the referees decided they would agree to two attendants coming on to the field, and FIF A then dispatched a telex containing this decision to each of the teams at their various headquarters throughout the country .Problems of discipline became very important as the series progressed, and the common discussion helped to ensure that all the 'impossible situations' were overcome on the field, although some of them looked very ominous indeed at the time they occurred.
The spirit of co-operation and understanding which had been achieved at the Kensington Close Hotel proved to be decisive in achieving a successful tournament, and as I witnessed the violent reactions to quite correct refereeing decisions, first at Villa Park and then at Wembley on successive Saturdays, I could note the common firmness of the referees to assert their authority and insist upon its acceptance. Equally impressive was the speed and determination of first Mr Harry Cavan (a Vice-President of FIFA and representative of Northern Ireland) at Villa Park and then Mr Ken Aston at Wembley to join the referee and insist that his decisions on disciplinary action be implemented by the offending players.
Although two players were sent off the field in these incidents and each took far longer than would ever be justified in any match in this country, one felt that, allowing for the problems of interpretation, the authority of the referee had been maintained during the actual match situation. That was the important consideration and it was underlined by the action which FIFA took to deal with these and other cases. In an international match at this level and with these tensions it is of supreme importance to uphold the referee's authority at all costs, and undoubtedly that was achieved in the 1966 World Cup.
The morning briefing also provided an opportunity of announcing appointments for the various matches and of dispatching the teams of officials, plus a reserve official in each case, to various parts of the country .The match ball has to be selected by the referee and that was also done each morning. In fact two reserve balls were also selected for each match. They were measured to ensure their correct size (a circumference of 27" minimum and 28" maximum) and they were weighed to make certain that they also complied with the law (not less than 14 oz and not more then 16 oz at the commencement of the game.) Getting to the ground also became something of a ritual with Mr Aston, who dealt with the task himself at the London matches. So it was that on Final Day Mr Dienst and his linesmen and substitute official set out for Wembley in two separate cars in case of accident.
They arrived about an hour and a half before kick-off time and then walked round to absorb the atmosphere and relieve their personal tensions, which must have been immense. Since they had been together for over two weeks they had no need for a detailed run-through of their match procedure, but could concentrate on simpler questions, such as the diagonal which Dienst would use and therefore the wing which each linesman would automatically take in the match. They also had to arrange which half of the field each of them would cover and other positional situations.
All this was designed to keep them fully occupied until the moment that the Football Association official assembled the teams in the tunnel and led them on to the field in the presence of the Queen, the Prime Minister and possibly the most illustrious audience of spectators ever to watch a football match anywhere in the world. Certainly it was the largest audience, for the brilliant television presentation was beamed to more than 400 million people throughout the world.
What a responsibility for any referee! Try to imagine the feelings of these three men as they recognised the pressures and responsibility that were theirs alone. They would want a good match and wish for flowing football, but above all was their desire to keep the match under control from the very first moment, to be on top of the game and to be scrupulously fair, even though their trials were added to by the fact that one of the finalists was the host country playing at its own national stadium.
I have never experienced an atmosphere such as there was on that day. The tremendous patriotic fervour of the English, newly found and usually so rarely expressed, came through in the enthusiastic singing of the National Anthem. The countersinging of the West German National Anthem and their gloriously colourful display of outsize flags ensured that this was no one-sided affair as far as spectators were concerned.
The glories of sport! No other activity could stage such an international spectacle. Few sports, if any, could create such fervour and such tension. Yet how near are we to disaster if the disciplines of the game fail to be exerted ! A world a week to conquer' was the expression I used earlier to try to explain the motivations and the satisfactions of a referee in taking on one of the most thankless tasks in the whole of sport. Well, here we are at Wembley and that thought has become a living reality.
Gottfried Dienst had his world to conquer and he knew it.He could not but notice the nervous mannerisms of the players.He certainly felt the atmosphere of the occasion - and he had his own morale to maintain. Few could have exercised the iron control which he asserted over his own feelings right from the start of the match. He looked the part. He carried an air of confidence as he quietly whistled up the captains for the toss. One could sense that he was anxious to get the game under way, for like all true sportsmen he knew that all would be well once he had got the feel of the game. 'The preliminaries are necessary but a distraction. Thank heaven they are over! Let's get on with the show.' Settling the Match Down The referee calls up the captains and himself tosses the coin.
Bobby Moore calls correctly. England line up in red jerseys and the West Germans in white shirts and black shorts important for the referee to memorise the colours and to note carefully which side is kicking off! Bobby Charlton is doing up his bootlaces. The noise is terrific. A loud blast on the whistle and we are off. Immediately we notice that Dienst is running the left diagonal- which means that his linesmen are patrolling the right wings.
A few preliminary passes, and then England attack down the right wing. The German left back comes into the tackle heavily. A firm decision by the referee shows his clear determination to be on top of the game. Only half a minute gone, but he has exerted his authority. He feels much better now and the players show their respect for his decision. Quite a number of football officials in the stand also feel a sense of relief.
Shortly afterwards the ball goes outside for a goal kick.Banks takes a quick free-kick and this is also good to see - the game is going to be kept moving.After two minutes comes the first dangerous move by England and a shot at goal. Hunt is offside and the referee is relieved to see his linesman perfectly positioned and flagging quickly. Hunt was not interfering with play directly but he was standing in front of the goalkeeper and certainly affecting his line of vision and concentration.
Five minutes of play shows that plenty of early tension still exists among the players. Mr Dienst is not immune from it either. He is over-anxious to be up with the play, and at this stage he is ten to twenty yards ahead of the line of the ball.He shows he realises this by trying to get back behind the line of advance so as not to interfere with the play in any way.
Now we have the first corner of the match to England. The referee takes up his position by the far post and the linesman comes along the goal line to the junction of the penalty line. Very typical positioning that ought to cover any situation that may develop ! The ball comes across and Tilowski, the German goalkeeper,goes up for it with Roger Hunt. They both miss it and down on the floor goes the keeper. The referee has a clear view of the incident and decides there was no foul as the ball was in the air and both players were trying to play it. The goalkeeper seems to be knocked out. Immediately the referee finds a foul outside the penalty area in order to stop play. It is a little hard upon Hurst but a very sensible decision.
Ten minutes gone and the game is flowing a little more now.Another corner for England taken by Alan Ball. A German defender goes up for the ball, but the English player does not and backs underneath his opponent. A classic case of 'making a back' and clearly a foul against England. The referee has given the foul, but up jumps the German player loudly protesting. Mr Dienst very firmly admonishes him, for although the German had been fouled the referee must be in control of his own game and the player gets the ticking off he deserves. 'Leave the refereeing to me', you can almost hear Dienst saying, loud and clear.
Germany Take the Lead
A tackle from behind by Wilson is clearly more in desperation than in justification, and the inevitable loud whistle from the referee shows that he is still very much on edge himself. Anxious as he is to be on top of the game and hesitant to allow anything to go, there is now a suspicion that repeated fouls will create petty hold-ups that could spoil the game as a spectacle. One feels that if this happens it will be a great pity, because none of the fouls were vicious and both teams are trying to play very constructive football. At this stage England look the more positive in their approach, and the fouls they have committed are the result of over-anxiousness more than anything.I reflect that the match could benefit by slowing down a trifle and that an indication to the teams to 'keep calm' or 'take it easy' might do the game a service.
We are now twelve minutes into the game and West Germany take the lead in a manner that shakes the English supporters.Held sends over a high cross from the left wing position and Wilson, who seems to have time to clear quite comfortably, heads the ball directly to Helmut Haller, and the German outside-right makes no mistakes with his gift horse.
One notices that the referee is still keeping up his own tremendous pace and has to jump over the ball to avoid a square pass. He is a little lucky not to make contact with the ball and causes me to wonder why he did not hold back a yard or two so as to have the whole movement of the game in front of him.However, his pace enables him to be right on the spot when there is a little trouble between Stiles and Beckenbauer, and it is good to see Mr Dienst very quietly telling the England player to go carefully in a way that is almost impossible to detect unless the spectator is specially watching for such a technique.Similarly, when Alan Ball is chopped down soon afterwards, the referee is on hand and immediately jumps between Ball and Overath. The referee was taking no chances on any possible retaliation, even though the German player wanted to end the encounter by shaking hands.
All Square Again
The English team are now mounting attack after attack, and the encouragement they are receiving from the Wembley crowd is unprecedented. This appears to produce some signs of desperation in the German defence and leads to yet another foul by Overath after nineteen minutes' play. Overath not only gives away this foul some yards outside the defending penalty area, he is immediately on his feet to stand near the ball and prevent Bobby Moore taking a quick free-kick. Dienst orders him away and Moore floats the ball across the goal mouth with wonderous artistry - so accurate and perfectly timed for Geoff Hurst to run forward and deflect with his head for the equaliser. This is a fascinating point for the 'armchair' referee in the stand. Had Moore taken his quick free-kick, would this have produced a goal ? It seems very doubtful indeed. The ceremonial of getting the offenders 10 yards away has certainly paid off in this instance.
The play is gaining much more rhythm now, so that when Martin Peters is seen to be barging, Mr Dienst does not stop the game but looks a little severely at the England player as if to say 'Don't do that again, or else-!'. The run of the ball enables play to continue.Around the half-hour stage comes one of the very rare offside incidents, and it is a happy reassurance for the referee to observe that his linesman, Dr Galba of Czechoslovakia, is absolutely in line with the play. The English appeal for offside is quite unjustified, as the player standing offside was left behind by an England player who was in possession of the ball. The linesman shakes his head and Mr Dienst confidently waves play on.
At this stage of the game the referee must be very pleased by the approach of the players, and one two odd fouls are entirely due to over-enthusiasm. Two of the home defenders sandwich an attacker who has no chance of keeping his feet, and shortly afterwards Ball is fouled, though not in any serious manner. Ball is seen to be arguing with the referee, probably asking for a little more protection, but this is silly as the referee has given the foul and has to say, 'Please don't argue and leave me to control the play!' Nobby Stiles receives a similar piece of advice when inclined to argue, but the referee obviously judges that both these incidents are the result of tension and natural anxiety and do not require any tougher action on his part.
Half-time creeping up on us now, and one observes each of the linesmen showing two minutes to go! The referee again has to jump over the ball, and when Germany are awarded a corner the referee has to move over to the other side of the goal to tell his linesman to move back towards the corner flag to keep a 'short corner' under close observation. This is a situation that ought to have been discussed in the pre-match talk. Maybe it was. The linesmen might have a degree of tension too !
Alan Ball shakes his head when penalised just outside the England penalty area, and Mr Dienst is quick to say 'Don't do that again', but it seems clear that the England player is more digusted with himself than with the decision against him. A real piece of evidence to demonstrate how players can easily get themselves into trouble by misinterpretation of their actions.With the referee having added three minutes to cover injuries and stoppages we reach half-time. No doubt it is a relief to both players and officials, but certainly to the spectators who are watching the match of a lifetime and have been subject to just as much tension as anyone on the field. But how well they are behaving- an object lesson to spectators everywhere! No need to curtail enthusiasm or partisanship, but this had never got out of hand and the self-discipline is a joy to behold.
Referee Dienst has certainly spent some of the interval time in checking signals and impressions with his linesmen. 'How is it going?' is the invariable question asked by every referee.'Did I miss your signal at all ?' Good. In this match the linesmen will be very happy as the referee did not need to comment upon their positioning and signalling, so they will have used their precious ten minutes for a quick wash and refreshment.The referee may have mentioned the name of a couple of players on either side and told his linesmen to keep a special eye on them in the second half, but almost certainly his overall judgment will be that things are going well, though 'we must keep on top of the match'.
In a Football League game in England the referee would not need to discuss the diagonal that he would be running in the second-half- and therefore the wings that the linesmen had to patrol- since there is a regulation that this must be opposite to the one operated in the first-half. As we have seen, Mr Dienst has run the left diagonal with his linesmen patrolling down the right wings. He is not following English custom, as we see as soon as the second-half starts. He continues to operate the left diagonal, and most surprisingly his linesmen do not even change over but keep to the same right wing where they have done duty in the first-half.
The numerous German spectators are waving their flags and singing in unison, but the home crowd are in happy and expectant mood. Collective opinion at this stage is clearly that England has the edge, and this Wembley crowd shows that it has no intention of failing its heroes by any lack of vocal support. The match is on its way again at the same cracking pace that dominated the first-half. Almost immediately the ball bounces awkwardly and hits Jackie Charlton on the arm. The Germans instinctively appeal for a foul but the referee is saying 'Play on', and illustrates his point with a wave of his hands, clearly satisfied that this was an accident. The ball has hit the arm, the arm has not moved towards the ball, and there is no such thing as an accidental foul.
England are still attacking, and now Alan Ball holds the ball and moves down the right wing in good style. He seems to be through, but a tackle from behind blocks the ball and down goes the English player, who is obviously looking for a penalty decision from the referee. He gets up with a very injured expression. Mr Dienst is well up with play, and perfectly satisfied that, although it was a tackle from behind the ball has been stopped and it was inevitable that the English player would go down. These tackles need great timing, and if just a split second late then the defender will miss the ball and take the man. This time all is well, so play moves on and the ball is cleared.
Immediately play is tranferred to the other end of the field, and a wonderful through pass to a German centre-forward looks full of trouble, but Dr Galba, the Czech linesman, is also going at full pace and up goes his flag for offside. A near thing, but the linesman is well positioned and can see that Siegfried Held was at least level with the English full-back and in all probability half a yard in front of him when the pass was made. Mr Dienst looks pleased to see his linesman 'on the job', and whistles immediately the flag goes up.
The kick is quickly taken but the pressure on England is not relieved. The ball is back again within seconds for another offside. This one is a classic case of offside and it is again firmly signalled by Dr Galba.Held was a little too far upfield and beyond the English defenders, and therefore in an offside position. The ball came across the field - a square pass in front of the defenders- and Held ran back between the defenders to play the ball. He must be offside since he was in an offside position when the pass was made, and although he was well onside when he reached the ball this does not matter. No player can put himself onside by running back.
Five minutes into the second-half, and England begin to dominate the game now, although the tensions are still very much with us. Jackie Charlton clears but thinks he was jostled, and Nobby Stiles throws the ball down in disgust when a foul is awarded against him and is promptly spoken to by the referee, who intends to demonstrate that he will be as firm in his "control during the second-half as he had been in the first.
Alan Ball is having a great match and is subjected to very close marking. He is brought down and the foul is awarded, but he is on his feet at once and shaking hands with his opponent. Good for him and good for the match.The referee is still anxious to let nothing pass in case there might be a flare-up, and one wonders whether some of the small fouls might have been overlooked. It is clear that both teams want to make this an occasion and the dangers of the game getting out of hand appear to be very remote indeed.
These small fouls can cause irritation when constantly whistled up, and they interrupt the flow of play. With a third of the second-half gone one senses that the referee is feeling this, too. First Alan Ball encroaches within 10 yards of a corner kick, but the ball is centred without any intervention from the referee. Then Overath is properly judged not to have handled the ball. The crowd sing 'Oh! What a referee' but anyone knowing Mr Dienst thinks this very amusing. It is obvious that he does, too !
England Go Ahead
At this stage Mr Dienst is still looking remarkably fit and keen. He has done more running about than any of the players and he shows no sign of flagging in his efforts. When Held is tackled hard by Moore, Dienst is right on the spot to award a foul against the English player, and to cool them down with a word and so stop any possible retaliation. This works well and both players shake hands before play proceeds.
Then Mr Dienst again finds himself ahead of the line of play and he runs backwards for fully 20 yards as play advances towards him. Finally he is overtaken by the English advance and can turn round and control things from behind - a much more sensible position, for it is no part of the referee's business to interfere in the play, and he should be thinking ahead of its direction and the probable line of passing that the players may use. Apart from this he has to consider the situation if the ball is cleared by the defenders, because if he is ahead of it he will have yards further to cover when he changes direction and moves back upfield.
The West German team now seem to be coming more into the game and for a few minutes they mount a number of attacks, but soon England are pressing forward again. Roger Hunt is twice fouled but on the first occasion- he is tackled from behind by Hottges - he manages to keep his balance and the advantage rule can be applied. A couple of minutes later Hunt is nudged as he jumps for the ball, but it is on the referee's blind side and no foul is given. This is exactly the sort of incident where the linesmen could be expected to intervene by flagging, but he does not do so on this occasion and so the offence goes unpunished.
Next into the fray is Nobby Stiles, who goes into the tackle against Overath with his leg as high as it possibly can be.Dangerous play, without a doubt, but we are amused to see Alan Ball on hand to calm things down and bring about a handshake.England are really pressing at this stage, and the home crowd sense that it is now or never and roar their encouragement as never before at Wembley. Just on half an hour's play and here is a delightful move between Ball and Moore from which the English skipper centres for Bobby Charlton to connect. Unfortunately there is a collision, and two players fall to the ground, but the referee waves play on although the goalkeeper is one of the players out of action. Inevitably play has to be stopped for the goalkeeper to receive attention.
Now England advance again and following a fine movement Martin Peters puts over a beautiful centre for Bobby Charlton to hit hard at goal, and it is only inches past the upright. Still England attack again and again, and corners follow one after the other as the German defence looks a little tired and desperate. Surely so much attack, so much effort must bring its reward ? Thirty-three minutes into the second-half and at last comes the goal we all expect. The goal to settle the match! Hurst centres and the pressure tells. Schulz the full-back cannot get the ball away and it spins off his foot into the centre of the penalty area. On it like a flash is Martin Peters, and England are ahead for the first time. What exhilaration, what relief!
All Square at Full Time
No one can mistake the scent of victory now, and with ten minutes left Alan Ball is badly chopped down but he makes no protest and is up again in a moment. England still press on, and first Ball and then Hunt are clearly offside. Ball carries on and puts the ball in the net, and is promptly ticked off for his pains. Mr Dienst is still taking no chances and any suggestion of time-wasting is to be frowned upon by him.
Bobby Moore exercises his influence now. 'Calm down, take your time, it is on our side' - one can almost hear his command. He wants his players to slow the game down and these are perfectly proper tactics and quite distinct from time-wasting. The England players agree with their skipper as first Wilson, then Charlton back pass to Banks. However, when the next West German attack produces a goal kick, Gordon Banks is seen to be taking it from the wrong side.
'Get on with it', says Mr Dienst and one senses that the referee does not approve of delaying tactics in any form and can properly discriminate ,between legitimate and illegitimate tactics. Mr Dienst intends to be in command of the game right up to the final whistle.We are into the last five minutes of play but still the referee finds a number of fouls by either side. The Germans have to be paced back ten yards from one of these, and a moment later the ball is at the other end for a goal kick. Banks is told to get on with his kick before he has any opportunity to waste time. The tensions of the occasion seem to be present for the officials as for the players.
The German team is piling everything in now and Bobby Moore pushes Schnellinger in his anxiety to get to the ball. The referee is right there and ready with his whistle. Still the German team attacks and the English spectators are whistling loudly for time. One minute to go. The referee looks to his linesmen and gets answering signals confirming his timing.
The ball is in midfield and is suddenly lobbed forward towards Seeler, the German outside-left, who is standing in midfield a few yards outside the English penalty area. Jackie Charlton is on the spot, he goes up to head the ball away but Seeler stays rooted to the ground, making no attempt to jump for the ball, but simply backs underneath the English centre-half. Charlton is fully entitled to head this ball and as he is now right above Seeler he has to put out his arms to prevent himself going over the top of the German player. 'A clear case of making a back by Seeler' is the thought in my mind as the referee whistles, but Mr Dienst had other ideas - a foul against Charlton for pushing. He had given the foul the other way. On such decisions are matches won and lost!
Mr Dienst paces out the ten yards and calls the English players back to his own position. Emmerich blasts the ball into the pack of players and it spins away to Weber. There is an appeal for hands against the German player, but it has come at him so quickly that is seems impossible to say with any certainty that this is a deliberate case of the hand hitting the ball. No foul for hands and Weber makes no mistake with his kick.All square and this incredible match is going into extra time. Thirty seconds later it does so.
There is no specific length to the interval when extra time has to be played, and therefore the players do not leave the field. The drama of the occasion is played out before all the spectators - the elation of the 'West German team and the obvious disappointment of the English team. One thing that is clear is the exhaustion from which they are all suffering as they pour cold water over their heads and try to refresh themselves. The physical efforts of ninety minutes of such a match are quite sufficient to take their toll but the added strains and tensions of the match of a lifetime are immeasurable.
Those of us who are privileged to be present, watch the respective managers rallying their teams for one last effort, and the backcloth to all this is the incredulous buzz of a hundred thousand spectators wondering whether they can believe the evidence of their own eyes.Inevitably, the eyes of any football referee in the crowd wander a short distance towards the centre of the field where Mr Dienst and his colleagues Mr Bakhraamov and Dr Galba also discuss events. They know that they are probably about to face the most emotional half-hour of their whole career, but there can be no place for emotion with them. Their task is to be cold and clinical, to take every decision upon its merits and above all to avoid being caught up with any sentimental attachments arising from the game or the occasion. They still owe to this match the simple obligations of any official to any match the world over: their judgment, courage and integrity.
Mr Dienst whistles up and Bobby Moore wins the toss again, choosing to kick towards the dressing-room end. As the West German team kick-off we observe that the two linesmen are still on the same side of the field that they have patrolled throughout. Immediately England are on the attack again. Alan Ball weaves through with a delightful dribble that forces the German goalkeeper to punch the ball over for a corner. Again and again England attack as they really turn on the heat, determined to win back that which they have lost- the World Cup. Bobby Charlton puts in a great shot which hits the post.
Several players now have their stockings rolled down displaying the physical strains of such a match, but Mr Dienst is going strong, as fit as any of them. He is still so well up with play that here he is again having to jump over the ball to avoid a square pass. There are one or two minor fouls which the referee awards as firmly as any he gave in the opening stages of the game, but it is a remarkably clean football match, creditable to all the players.
Then, with eleven minutes of extra time gone, comes another of those moments of high drama which leave sportsmen arguing for the rest of their lives but which the officials have to determine in the twinkling of an eye on the facts as they see them. There is some wonderful approach play by the English players leading up to a fine interchange between Stiles, Ball and Hurst. Hurst shoots from fairly close in and the ball hits the underside of the cross bar, bounces down and is cleared. Was it on the line or over the line? The whole stadium holds its breath.
We recall the classic definition of a goal- 'the whole of the ball has to be over the whole of the line'. Was this ball eight and a half inches beyond the goal line ? For any referee in the crowd there is an instinctive reaction.Where is the match referee standing ? Can he possibly judge from that position ? The answer in this case is certainly not.Mr Dienst is well up with play, but a ball hitting first the crossbar and then the ground and going back into play can be observed from one place only and that is from a side view. Mr Dienst is situated at 90 degrees from the incident. We follow his thinking and his eyes. 'Where is my linesman ? Is he in position, what does he say ?'.
Mr Bakhraamov waves his flag and immediately Mr Dienst blows up and runs across to him. Spectators are bewildered as some argue that it is a goal and others say no. Mostly they stay silent, waiting and hoping or unbelieving. It is a moment of high drama such as soccer has never known before. 400 million TV viewers throughout the world are no doubt giving their judgments in a hundred different languages. TV film will be replayed in slow motion. Films and photographs will be produced from many different angles, some showing the ball over the line and others the opposite. None of this matters now. There is no time for deliberation between committees, nor to consult pictorial evidence. This decision has to be taken by one man alone - Mr Dienst, the referee - who can listen to the advice of one man only, his linesman.
The one factor that can be acknowledged with certainty is that the Russian linesman is perfectly positioned - well up the field, almost at the corner flag and looking directly across the field. He is the only person who can possibly give such a decision.There seems just a moment's hesitation as a Swiss referee and a Russian linesman try to find a mutually comprehensible language. In the end it becomes sign language. The linesman points to the centre of the field and emphatically nods his head. Mr Dienst is satisfied - he too points to the centre. England has gone ahead again, and though arguments may rage until the end of time history has been made and fact has been recorded - it was a goal.
Every Englishman in the crowd is now a full participant in the match. Schnellinger handles the ball and eighty thousand referees give the decision. No doubt Mr Dienst wishes that all his decisions were so crystal clear, but such a moment helps a referee just a little. Right on half-time Martin Peters has the ball and Nobby Stiles is seen telling him to get rid ofit, to take no chances, a gesture well appreciated by all home supporters who cannot believe that with this cup won again, the gods could subject them to a second fate as cruel as the first.
Positively the last fifteen minutes of this match now! England kick off the second half of extra time. The cheering and the singing reach a crescendo above the stadium as they rise from all sides. But this West German team is not done yet; they have pulled the match out of the fire once and they intend to do so again if given half a chance. They mount their attacks with England falling back now and prepared to defend till the death whistle of this historic game. Seeler is offside as he races through, and he tells Dr Galba a few of his thoughts, and is no doubt lucky that that official cannot speak the German language.
Bobby Moore and Wilson engage in some mutual interplay before passing the ball back to Gordon Banks - a legitimate form of time consumption since they keep the ball moving.Then back to the other end with two further English attacks.
Eight minutes left to play now as West Germany come through again and are repelled. England move away and Alan Ball is quite properly tackled by Overath, who stops the ball. The English player falls in majestic fashion but Mr Dienst, as well up with the play now as he was nearly two hours before, waves play on and Overath picks up Alan Ball in a last friendly gesture which the English player acknowledges.
The German team renew their attacks and linesman Galba observes that almost the only England player upfield is Roger Hunt, standing just in his own half of the field. The ball comes upfield and Hunt is on side, but the movement does not progress very far and soon the German team is attacking again.From one such attack they obtain a corner kick which is wasted.Five minutes of this match to go now, and still England defend well and give the impression that of two desperately tired teams they have more physical resources left. A German player handles the ball and again the stadium is full of referees giving judgment.
One minute to time. Nothing else can happen now, or so we think. Then Hunt obtains possession and makes a good pass to Ball, who quickly sees Geoff Hurst waiting near the halfway line. Alan Ball sends him away with a dream pass and Hurst having the field to himself, takes the ball on in wonderful style until he reaches the German penalty area where he puts in a perfect gem of a shot. If ever a shot had goal written on it this one had and, thank heaven, it was a magnificent goal beyond argument.
The match was won. The match was over. No time to kick off again! The players congratulated each other, as well they should, England being deserved and magnanimous victors. But every one of them acknowledged the quality and sportsmanship of their opponents, who gained admiration by their great play and sporting behaviour . If any match is as superb as this one undoubtedly was, then it must have been well controlled. Controversial decisions, of course, there must be in every match. Someone must make the decisions, which is why we have referees. But no referee should be judged by one or two decisions. It is his overall control and his contribution to the success of the match that count.
Mr Dienst and his colleagues received their medals too from the Queen; they had amply justified the confidence placed in them by FIF A. Later that night they too had cause to celebrate a memorable final.
See an obituary for the author Denis Howell at BBC News UK First sports minister dies which is providing the picture above.
Denis was apparantly an Aston Villa fan, see Villan's WWW - Famous Villa fans all over the World.
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