There are six billion people on the planet but only one can boast that he scored a hat-trick in a World Cup final. And it may never be repeated ever again. How unique is that?
Sir Geoff Hurst has been dining out on that fabulous achievement for 42 years since that sizzling summer’s night in 1966 when England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time.
Hurst was in Cayman, at the Triple Crown pub, on Saturday night to share his football experiences with an enraptured crowd of 140 who paid $75 a pop.
Organised by Sunset Football Club as a fundraiser, Hurst attended their golf day the following day.
Hurst was good value, sharing with the mostly male, English crowd wonderful anecdotes about his career but chiefly from that match.
He must have told the same stories hundreds of times yet still made them sound fresh. It entertained the crowd, some of whom could remember that day as clearly as Hurst himself.
As a journalist, my favourite Hurst memory was when the England manager, Alf Ramsey, opened his front door to two journalists the day after England had won the most cherished team prize in any sport, wanting an interview.
The notoriously media-unfriendly Ramsey growled: ‘Not today, it’s my day off,’ and promptly slammed the door in their faces!
Imagine a World Cup winning manager taking that attitude today. It could never happen.
Sport was still generally regarded as a past-time in those days and Hurst highlighted that by remembering the Mail on Sunday writing on its front page: England win the World Cup – see back page. Those two anecdotes were clearly a sign of the times.
Alex Bodden steered us through the evening as MC. After Hurst made his hour long presentation, there was a question and answer session before a break for a tasty buffet meal, served for free as part of the sponsorship Sunset had obtained from 19 sponsors.
Triple Crown owner Noel Kane deserves props for his generosity.
After the raffle there was a memorabilia auction which generated plenty for the Sunset coffers. A replica England shirt signed by the surviving nine of the final team went for $2,000. There were other signed shirts signed by such greats as Pele, Rivelino, Denis Law and Kenny Dalglish. All went for substantial sums.
Sunset treasurer Robin Jarvis had never met Hurst despite supporting the striker’s club side, West Ham in the heady Sixties when as a boy he used to watch matches at Upton Park in East London.
Hammers supporters joked that West Ham effectively won the World Cup because they provided the captain, Bobby Moore and the other goal was scored by another Hammer, Martin Peters. It was a golden period in the club’s history, arguably the best.
‘It’s hard to put into words what meeting Geoff Hurst meant to me,’ said Jarvis. ‘This was a player that that the whole family dad, mom, two older brothers, myself and other relatives used to watch at Upton Park in the Sixties.
‘I started to watch in 1964, when I was six, in the South Stand. In those days it was standing only (except some parts of the main grandstand) so we had to take a small fold up bench with us to stand on so that we could see over – or through – the adults.
‘The Sixties was the golden era for West Ham; it had some great players such as Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, Harry Rednapp and later Clyde Best.
‘We were FA Cup winners in 1964, European Cup Winners Cup winners in 1965, World Cup winners in 1966!
‘It was the epitome of a family club, in the days when players would generally stay at one club for all or most of their careers. Thus there was a special bond between the players and the fans.
‘Meeting one of your childhood heroes 40 years later was amazing, even surreal. And the best was, he was a great salt of the earth guy. Tremendous.’
Jarvis wore his West Ham shirt, naturally and bought in auction a Hurst signed West Ham shirt for $900. ‘I’ll be in trouble with my wife, but it’s worth it,’ he joked. ‘The Claret and Blue is in the blood!
‘When our tenth anniversary came up in late 2006, I asked my better half, Lana where she would like to go; just a short trip as we didn’t want to leave our two small boys for long; I suggested a few venues such as Vegas and New York – or possibly a trip to London to watch a West Ham match.
‘My brother has a contact that can get us good seats with access to the VIP lounge. As she loves football (she plays in the Ladies league for Sunset FC and we watch EPL at home all the time) there was no hesitation. To London it was.
‘Even better, we got tickets for West Ham v Arsenal, which is her team. We had a great time at Upton Park with my older brother and his wife, met Graham Gooch (ex-England cricket captain) as our host for the day and West Ham won with a goal in the 89th minute! Most of us were happy.’ (Lana was pretty quiet for a while but she soon cheered up.)
Another West Ham jersey wearer was Mark Thomas, Jarvis’s friend who was as thrilled to meet Sir Geoff.
Martin Waud was not even born in 1966 but he still knows all about Hurst and the whole World Cup phenomena. Waud is a central defender for Sunset and the Cayman national side.
As a Scotsman, through gritted teeth, he said: ‘It was excellent, thoroughly entertaining. It was an interesting evening and great insight into his career.
‘The whole World Cup experience and the 1966 stories were fascinating. To meet somebody who was involved first hand was a real privilege.’ Then he got shouted down by his mates.
Die-hard Chelsea fan Ken Guiste wore an England shirt. ‘Because of the occasion I thought it was very important to wear an England shirt tonight to prove I’m still loyal to the flag, even though I’ve been in Cayman for four years,’ he said.
‘It was a fantastic event. I thought Geoff did really well, he came across brilliantly and the audience really enjoyed it. There were some fantastic items for auction and I hope Sunset made lots of money.’
The auction was conducted by Robert Woods and the main organiser of the whole evening was Neil Purton, Sunset keeper and assistant manager, who said: ‘Geoff had a great time in Cayman. He enjoyed it so much that he wants to come back with his wife for a holiday.
‘We took him to the Sand Bar and Stingray City and he really enjoyed the golf day. He’s a super lad, signed autographs and posed for loads of pictures. He’s not standoffish at all.
‘My favourite story he told was that his wife brought him crashing back down to earth and made him cut the lawn the day after the World Cup final.
‘Sunset made around $5,000 last year when we had Peter Shilton here but we’re going to make more this time. I’d like to thank all 19 of our sponsors for making this possible and especially the Ritz-Carlton who accommodated Geoff.
‘Triple Crown sponsoring the food was a nice touch. It worked for everybody.’