As England fans eagerly anticipated the kick-off of England vs. USA in the World Cup on Saturday and the rest of us sat back to enjoy (or dread) the football world’s jewel in the crown, I started to think about how footballers and more importantly their wives and girlfriends (WAGs), dominated our media and grabbed the headlines during the last World Cup. Is this public obsession something my ancestors experienced as they enjoyed England’s 1966 World Cup victory?
During the 2006 World Cup, no-one could escape the entrance of the glamorous WAGs into popular culture but was this a new phenomenon or had they also dominated past World Cups?
Interest in footballers’ partners appears to date back at least to the late 1960s when England captain Bobby Moore (1941–93) and his first wife Christina Dean were regarded as the stylish “golden” couple – the Posh & Becks of the 1966 World Cup winning team. However, their lifestyles were quite different during the 1966 World Cup, as WAGs drove themselves to Wembley to watch their husbands and the FA booked them into a single function room in the Royal Garden Hotel at Kensington. Maybe their World Cup winning success went to their heads as in contrast when defending the 1970 World Cup in Mexico the England manager Sir Alf Ramsey (1920–99) expressed concern at the effects on the team’s cohesion of the presence of the wives players, so it seems that the effect of WAGs was not just isolated to Germany four years ago!
Still this year and under the watchful eye of Capello I look forward to this World Cup being dominated by the on-field activities and, dare I say it, possibly a repeat of Alf Ramsey and his team’s success of 1966!