A lifelong football fan who missed the biggest game in English sporting history through no fault of his own is selling a ticket for the 1966 World Cup final – the one he never got to use.
Dave Courtney was 13 years old when the chance to see England lift the World Cup for the first time eluded him. Instead of being at Wembley on July 30, 1966 to watch the famous 4-2 victory over Germany, he was beaten into submission by sudden illness.
“I got up to go to the game but just felt too ill,” said Dave, who ended up collapsing in a heap on the settee at his Stafford home to watch the game in black and white on a tiny screen.
He was so poorly he can’t even remember whether he made a feeble attempt to jump for joy when the final whistle blew.
Dave with the ticket he never got to use and in the 1960s when he was a keen footballer. Credit: Emma Errington/HANSONS
Dave, a 67-year-old retired crane driver, said: “I think I was just tired out because, until that point, I’d been to all the World Cup Group B games which included West Germany, Switzerland, Argentina and Spain. I was at a quarter final match, both semi-finals, the third and fourth place play-offs – and I had a ticket for the final. But I never got to use it – someone else did.”
Football fatigue kicked in after Dave, one of the youngest amateur football managers in the UK in the 1960s, went to four World Cup games in the space of a week just before the final. The busy schedule included two trips to London and another to Everton’s ground, Goodison Park in Liverpool.
“I got up on the day of the final and just felt totally lifeless,” recalled Dave, who became player-manager of Castle Church team in the Stafford Youth League when he was only 16 in 1969.
“I had been travelling to the World Cup games with a Stafford company called Greatrex Coaches and they sent someone round for my ticket when my dad told them I was too ill to make the game. Afterwards they returned the ticket to me, minus the stub, but to this day I have no idea who used it.”
The disappoint lingers - 54 years on - but Dave’s 1966 World Cup dream could come to life in another way when his collection of 20 tickets from the event, plus the back of a Wembley seat used during England’s finest footballing hour, come up for sale at Hansons Auctioneers with joint a guide price of £800-£1,000.
“I’ve kept the tickets in a scrap book since the 60s, then in 2016, the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup win, I started collecting other tickets from the 1966 tournament,” said Dave, a season ticket holder at Wigan with daughter, Beth.
“There are 32 World Cup 66 tickets in total and I have 20 of them – plus the Wembley seat back. It was one of only 2,000 removed when the stadium closed in 2000. The certificate of authenticity says it was specially installed ahead of the 1966 World Cup.
Dave is also selling other World Cup match tickets and this seat from Wembley Stadium.
“I suppose I could have one of the best collections of football memorabilia relating to the 1966 World Cup. I also have a programme from the event.”
Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “As a huge football fan myself, this story really tugged at my heartstrings. How sad that Dave missed his big day out at Wembley - the 1966 World Cup final which turned into the most significant match in the history of English football.
“I’m sure football memorabilia fans will be interested in Dave’s collection. Perhaps Hansons can score a late winner for him and reward him for years of football devotion, and the fact that he has treasured those tickets for so long.
“It’s hard for him to part with them now but Dave tells me he thinks England might win the World Cup again soon and the 1966 tournament could then be forgotten. I’d like to think England will lift the trophy again but I can’t see that 1966 victory ever being forgotten. I hope this collection gains the hammer price it deserves.”
Consign to our sports memorabilia auction
The 1966 World Cup football memorabilia is due to be sold on November 18 in Hansons’ Football In Focus and Sports Memorabilia Auction.
To find out more or to arrange a free sports-related valuation, please email David Wilson-Turner: [email protected].