How different it was from celebrations in 1966

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You could be forgiven yesterday if you were a hero of England's 1966 World Cup football victory for thinking you had been born in the wrong era.

After that 4-2 win at Wembley in extra time against West Germany, all the heroes got, after they left the ground for Hendon after the game, was an impromptu parade down Edgware Road followed by a meal at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, west London.

Then Prime Minister Harold Wilson came over to the hotel to offer his congratulations.

But players' wives and girlfriends were not even invited to the meal, and were banished to a side room. Jimmy Greaves, the former England striker and member of the 1966 squad - who was replaced by Geoff Hurst for the final said: "In 1966 the reception really was quite low-key.

"Everybody cheered but only a couple of thousand people went to the hotel where we had a celebratory meal."

If only the public and the government then could have known how long it would be between celebrations.

The team did manage to hit the capital's bars after the official meal but even the Heathrow celebration for the 2003 rugby champions dwarfed the celebration put on for them. What some see as the "shameful neglect" of the 1966 winners has been well documented, particularly in the past couple of weeks.

Alan Ball, George Cohen, Roger Hunt, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson only received MBEs for the win in 2000.

Last week another 1966 team member, Jack Charlton said: "It's important for people to go and show their appreciation for the rugby lads because they have done so well.

"They've gone away for such a long time and come back winners."

But George Cohen, for one, was not impressed when it was suggested to him that the England football team receive a parade after losing a World Cup quarter-final against Brazil in Japan last year.

Asked if that squad deserved a parade, Mr Cohen said: "No, not really. Because in my time you didn't get any prizes for finishing eighth."

And for that earlier World Cup victory Mr Cohen received just £1,000, together with the rest of his teammates and squad members, after captain Bobby Moore suggested those who had played the majority of games waive the appearance money bonus so that all could share the financial rewards.

Another era indeed.

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