06.12.10

The Ghosts of England's Soccer Past

Ghosts of 1966 haunted this Brit-born American citizen, especially when poor Butterfingers Green missed a ball Gordon Banks would surely have scooped up.

There were ghosts on ABC's presentation of the U.S. versus England. I saw Nobby Stiles, George Cohen, and the giant Jack Charlton winning every ball in midfield and distributing beautifully. The ghosts haunted me because, in 1966, that glorious year for English soccer, I was on the ground to see England win through to the final, with a memorable goal in the semifinal against Portugal by Bobby (now Sir Charlton) that I'll swear was a single bullet from 60 yards out, more likely 30. On this encounter with the U.S., though, England lost too many balls midfield, but all credit to a vastly improved U.S. team. It doesn't have the ball-player stars England has—Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard, Johnson, say—but it did play as a team. And, of course, it had a brave and skilled goalkeeper. What can one say of poor Butterfingers Green who fumbled an easy first-half shot and so deprived England of a 1-0 win? Now, had England swapped goalkeepers with the U.S., the result would have been different.

Tunku Varadarajan: An Entirely Just Outcome

Alex Massie: Can England Forgive Robert Green?
As a British-born American citizen, I suppose I should be the most content of watchers with a 1-1 draw, but those ghosts, those ghosts of '66, keep spoiling my tranquility.

Plus: Plus Read Our Coverage of the World Cup.

Harold Evans, author of two histories of America, just published his memoir, My Paper Chase. Editor at large of The Week, he was editor of The Sunday Times from 1967-81 and The Times from 1981-82, founding editor of Condé Nast Traveler, and president of Random House Trade Group from 1990-97.