Sport on TV: How to win the World Cup: make sure girls aren't allowed

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The Independent Online

There's not much that is quaint about today's footballers but it's always sweet when you hear them say they will watch the highlights of their game on Match of the Day. Whatever temptations lie in wait on a Saturday night, it seems they will be sprawled in front of their cinema-sized TV screens at 10.30pm with their slippers on. It's a throwback to a different era before Cristal and kiss 'n' tell. But as Tina Moore revealed on the excellent Wags of 66 (Yesterday, Thursday), in the really good old days her husband Bobby stayed at home to touch up her highlights.

"Football suddenly became glamorous that night," said Tina of the day England won the World Cup. As much as Bobby was a national treasure, so too she looks and sounds like an East End version of Joanna Lumley. But for others the new world was not so different. "I can't say that my life changed that much," confided Daphne Cohen, wife of George. "You've won the World Cup and life goes on." The footballers' wives were down to earth and kept their feet on the ground. When the Cohens met, Daphne wondered what George's real job was: "I didn't realise that people got paid to play football." He added: "She thought I was semi-retired."

Many players could have done with a second job because they were paid so little. The maximum wage was £20 a week until 1961, and when Tina met Bobby she was on £11 a week, Bobby on £8. Megs Wilson, the wife of goalkeeper Bob, recalled smuggling a bottle of wine into the club when they had a night out in London's exclusive Talk of the Town. So long as Bob didn't tip it on to the bar, they could have a cheap round.

Before and during the World Cup, however, Alf Ramsey ensured the WAGs didn't see their second halves for nine weeks. "We had to be aware not to give them any extra pressures or worries," said Daphne. As for retail therapy, they were lucky if they were recognised at the local corner shop.

Even after the cup was won and the WAGs were invited to join the party for a banquet at the Royal Garden Hotel, they were shut away on their own in the Chop Room while the boys dined in splendour with Football Association officials and their wives. These days, of course, if the players brought their wives and their girlfriends, it would be the FA who were crammed in the Chop Room because there wouldn't be enough room in the banqueting suite.



* To claim that boxing could be fixed is like saying wrestling is a bit dodgy. When Newsnight (BBC2, Thursday) alleged that Azerbaijan wanted to buy two gold medals at London 2012, the Amateur International Boxing Association didn't exactly lay our fears to rest. Ivan Khodabakhsh, an implicated senior executive, said: "You have no idea what kind of dubious people there are in boxing."

After much irrelevant wittering the BBC's sports editor, David Bond, finally got round to name-checking Fifa but failed to mention the fact that the day before, football's dodgy governing body had appointed Issa Hayatou to preside over London 2012's football before having to backtrack because the African head honcho is being investigated for, er, corruption. Later we heard from Indy proprietor Alexander Lebedev describing his own fight against global corruption. Now there's a man who wouldn't pull his punches.

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