To celebrate the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup victory, we’re serialising the wonderfully comprehensive new book 1966 and Not All That throughout July. Published by Repeater Books, 1966 and Not All That includes contributions from award-winning writers David Goldblatt, Simon Kuper, Philippe Auclair and Amy Lawrence, among others. An exclusive discount code for readers of The Set Pieces can be obtained at the bottom of the article.
Note: All extracts are written in real-time, with match reports penned by journalists from each of England’s opposing countries.
Mexico Team Background
Mexico’s performance at the 1962 World Cup in Chile gave supporters hope of making even greater progress in England. The core of the ‘62 squad remained for the 1966 tournament, including the coach, Ignacio Trelles, who was the first manager to lead Mexico to consecutive World Cups.
Between the posts, Ignacio Calderón was the man tasked with following in the footsteps of the legendary goalkeeper Antonio Carbajal, who, after first representing Mexico in 1950, was now on the bench. Trelles, better known as Don Nacho, also took a number of talented youngsters with him to London, including Enrique Borja, Gustavo Peña and Aarón Padilla.
The draw wasn’t kind to Mexico’s hopes of reaching the latter stages, putting them in Group One alongside the hosts as well as two-time winners Uruguay and the always competitive France.
Mexico’s first game of the tournament was against the French at Wembley on July 13th, 1966. Playing calm and composed football, they took the lead thanks to a goal from Enrique Borja. But the joy was short-lived as Gerard Hausser made the most of a defensive lapse to equalise.
The match finished 1-1, and Mexico prepared to face England with Group One finely poised.
England v Mexico Match Report, 16 July 1966
Venue: Wembley Stadium
MEX: Calderon (GK), Hernandez, Mejia, Velasco (C), Gutierrez, del Muro, Diaz, Rizo, Monteon, Borja, Aguirre
ENG: Banks (GK), Cohen, Moore (C), Wilson, Charlton. J, Peters, Stiles, Charlton. R, Hunt, Paine, Greaves
Final score: Mexico 0 England 2
Goals: Charlton. R, 37; Hunt, 75
With just under half an hour to go before kick-off, a number of Mexican flags are being waved in the Wembley crowd. There are just over a hundred fans shouting for the Latin Americans, but they are being drowned out by tens of thousands of locals booming out “England! England!”
The grass is perfect as the teams run out on to the pitch under a cloudy sky. Mexico have Ignacio Calderón in goal; a back line of Gustavo Halcón Peña (the captain), Arturo El Cura Chaires, Jesús Del Muro, Gabriel Nuñez and Guillermo Campeón Hernández; Ignacio Jaúregui, Isidoro El Chololo Díaz and Salvador Reyes in midfield; and Aarón Padilla and Enrique Borja up front.
Trelles has appointed Chava Reyes to a deep-lying defensive role, but he is usually much more useful making sudden attacking bursts.
England’s line-up is Banks, Cohen, Wilson, Stiles, Charlton. J, Moore (captain), Paine, Greaves, Charlton. R, Hunt and Peters.
The Mexicans are wearing their classic kit of maroon shirts and navy-blue shorts, while England are in white tops and navy shorts. When the Italian referee Concetto Lo Bello signals the start of the game, the Mexicans take the kick-off and attempt to mount their first attack.
It’s England who have the first chance, however, but Greaves strikes wide of the post. The England team are continually on the attack; Hunt lets fly and Calderón pulls off an unbelievable save, parrying the shot and eventually catching hold of the ball to prevent what looked a certain goal.
After 15 minutes, England are well on top and the first goal could come at any moment. Banks is tested by an effort from Díaz, though, which hints at the potential threat Mexico pose.
Hunt eventually gets the ball in the net, but it’s disallowed by the referee for a foul. England are soon ahead, however, thanks to a fine strike by Bobby Charlton, who hits the back of the net with a screamer from 30 yards. “England! England!” rings out once more around the stadium as the Mexican players look crestfallen.
Mexico have to respond positively; they can’t keep sitting back, waiting for the opposition to come to them. Hunt tries a volley from a corner and the ball flies out of play. Mexico counter-attack and Díaz is brought down just outside the penalty area. It’s a great opportunity but England clear their lines and the ref blows for half time.
The second half begins with England pouring forward, cheered on by their supporters. With Calderón already beaten, Díaz clears a header from Bobby Charlton off the line.
The Mexicans attempt to break upfield and a tentative counter-attack produces a dangerous shot from Padilla, which Banks just manages to hold on to. He releases the ball to start England’s next move; Hunt runs free on the right and passes to Bobby Charlton who passes to Stiles, and then heads his teammate’s lobbed return skimming past the post.
The pressure from England is unremitting and the Mexicans have hardly got out of their own half, leaving Borja and Padilla isolated up front.
In the 75th minute, a space opens up in the Mexican defence as the team moves forward. Greaves nicks the ball and manages to get a shot away, which Calderón palms to safety. The ball lands at the feet of Hunt, however, who doesn’t waste the opportunity and beats the goalkeeper to put England 2-0 up.
Mexico now have to go for broke if they don’t want to leave Wembley as the losing side. In the final minutes, Borja is just about to capitalise on a mistake when Banks bravely dives at his feet.
Regrettably, Mexico came looking for a draw, and ended up deserved losers. The Italian referee blows his whistle for full time and Trelles’ squad will now have to defeat a strong Uruguayan team if they are to reach the second round for the first time in their history. England, meanwhile, go into their match against France brimming with confidence.
You can follow Carlos Calderón Cardoso on Twitter.
This is an edited extract from 1966 and Not All That published by Repeater Books.
This new book includes original writing on 1966 from contributors including David Goldblatt and Simon Kuper, an oral history of the tournament compiled by Amy Lawrence, and new thinking on what 1966 meant then and now. Just £8.99 from Philosophy Football there’s an exclusive £1 discount for The Set Pieces readers. To pick up your copy for £7.99, quote coupon code ‘The Set Pieces’ at the checkout.