The 'More than Just a Game: The legacy of the 1966 Football World Cup' symposium, held at Senate House on Friday 3rd June proved an enjoyable day with many interesting new insights into the 1966 tournament and its longer term impacts emerging. The day was well attended by sports historians and other interested parties, and organised by Leslie Crang, a student on the MSc Sport Management & the Business of Football programme at Birkbeck College, London, together with Emily Stidston, Senate House's Engagement Support Officer.
Before Kevin's presentation the day was kicked off by Prof John Hughson from UCLAN, in Preston, who showcased the research from his new book7 on the cultural aspects of the 1966 World Cup. In an intriguing talk Hughson commented on portrayals of the competition on film, from an episode of the Rank Organization's Look at Life documentary series, to FIFA's official film of the tournament, Goal!, and also Alf Garnett and his son in law Mike attending the 1966 Final in the film version of the BBC sitcom Til Death us do Part. In the afternoon Dr Christoph Wagner of De Montfort University presented his research on the impact of the World Cup on Anglo-German relations, with particular interest in German reactions to 'Das Wembley-Tor' and how the 1966 final was seen as something of a moral victory for both sides. This was followed by Dr Stacey Pope of Durham University who has studied memories of the 1966 tournament of female football fans of Leicester, some of whom were already seasoned followers of Leicester City FC, but
for others the tournament, which reached record TV audiences, was their first experience of soccer. Not surprisingly England's victory remained an important memory for many. The final session saw Kevin join a panel discussion with the football historian and Guardian writer David Goldblatt, and Prof Kath Woodward of the Open University, in which the long term implications of the tournament for English identity were discussed; a major contention being that the English have lacked any real outlet for their patriotism apart from football, as perceptions of Englishness have drifted away from Britishness in the years following 1966. After all, the Union Jack would never be seen as a representative emblem of the England football team today, as it is on the front cover of the Radio Times prior to the 1966 tournament as seen in our picture.
The symposium was very enjoyable and useful for us and we thank the organizers as well as the other speakers and the attendees for their feedback on our book, Foundations of Managing Sporting Events: Organizing the 1966 FIFA World Cup and contributions to the discussion.