In the last instalment in our History Workshop World Cup series, John Hughson explores England’s World Cup in the context of the “Swinging Sixties”, and the untold stories of the women around the England team.
On 30 July 1966, the day of the World Cup Final between England and West Germany at Wembley Stadium, The Daily Mail ran an unexpected headline: “England wives left out of party”. The article under the headline reported, sarcastically, that while players and other invited guests would enjoy a post-match evening banquet in the Palace Suite of Kensington’s Royal Garden Hotel, the wives and girlfriends of England players would be treated by the Football Association to a separate dinner in the inelegantly named Chophouse restaurant. To the left of the article was a photo of Tina Moore, then wife of England captain Bobby Moore, emerging from a London high-street store, carrying a parcel and appearing to be looking for a taxi. The accompanying caption commenced, “eyes front for the shop window dummies, eyes left for Mrs Moore”. By the time of the 1966 World Cup Final, Tina Moore had become something of a proto-WAG figure, in the public spotlight enough to warrant such front-page attention.
The best-known image of Tina Moore is of her with husband Bobby in Epping Forest, by photographer Terry O’Neill. Although taken a few years after 1966, the image captured the mod-couple look by which the Moores were identified during the World Cup in England. Bobby and Tina were not a celebrity pairing in the manner of the previous England football captain, Billy Wright, and his wife Joy Beverley (of the 1950s pop trio The Beverley Sisters) or the more recent England captain David Beckham and his pop star wife Victoria (née Adams). Tina did not have fame independent from that of her husband. She married Bobby Moore in 1962, and within five months of their wedding Bobby had become captain of the England team, an appointment he would hold up to the 1966 World Cup and beyond. While the arrival of daughter Roberta in 1965 had given opportunity for Bobby to be portrayed with Tina in a domestic and family context, with England’s victory in 1966 came the lingering memory of Bobby and Tina as a hip young couple in the public limelight. This representation of Tina and Bobby – captured in O’Neill’s photograph – has become emblematic of a connection in the public imagination between England’s victorious World Cup team and the prevailing “Swinging Sixties” image of the time. It is an image that has been perpetuated by Tina Moore herself. In her 2005 book, Bobby Moore: By the Person Who Knew Him Best, she wrote: “The Boys of ’66 were part of the Swingin’ 60s, swinging London, student protests, flower power, the Beatles and the Stones, white boots, miniskirts, Biba and Mary Quant. It was a gorgeous, glorious time when the whole of Britain seemed youthful, successful and optimistic.”
Being Londoners was a key part of the Bobby and Tina’s public image. The fashionable pop culture allure of 1960s Britain was essentially identified, as we can see in the quote from Tina’s memoir, with “Swinging London” – Carnaby Street and all that. And while the connection between the World Cup and the already largely mythologised “Swinging London” is overstated, the 1966 World Cup was, for the England team, entirely London-based. England played all of its six games at Wembley Stadium and resided in North London throughout the tournament. Tina Moore’s depiction of the mood of the time repeats a London-centred tendency for the view from the capital to set the scene of the nation. However, photographic images of World Cup Final day around the country show two rather different Englands. For example, a street party in Liverpool gave view to a traditionally cobbled-stoned industrial North, whereas young revellers dancing in the fountain at Trafalgar Square evoked the newer shiny England of Tina’s book. The mediated look of Tina and Bobby matched well to that image, fully in-keeping with a popular view of a trendy, up-to-date mid-1960s London which provided the setting for England’s World Cup.
While we may be rightfully sceptical of exaggerated claims for the hipness of the 1966 World Cup, or, for that matter, of “Swinging London” per se, the profile acquired by Tina Moore against the backdrop of that image is indicative of a shift in the public conservation around England’s football team. The Daily Mail front page of 30 July 1966 is a key example. Rather than highlighting the World Cup Final, focus is placed on the exclusion of the wives and partners of the England team from the dinner to be held that evening. The accompanying photo of Tina Moore with shopping bags in hand, and its accompanying caption, may have been rather sexist, but the Mail’s use of her image suggests that the running of the story had much to do with her prominence.
Tina comes back to the dinner snub story in her 2005 memoir, reaffirming blame on the Football Association for the exclusion, while also pointing to the responsibility of England manager Alf Ramsey. Bobby Moore: By the Person Who Knew Him Best is an interesting example of biographical writing. Ostensibly a biography of Bobby Moore, it is as much an autobiographical account of Tina’s married life with the England football captain. The book gives a novel insight into the toll that professional football and the gradual post-World Cup career decline of Bobby took on the Moores’ private relationship. It was used as the basis for ITV’s 2017 three-part television drama Tina and Bobby, which gave opportunity for Tina to return, in press coverage, to grievances raised in the book, especially the lack of regard and respect afforded by the FA to Bobby subsequent to his departure as an England international footballer in 1974 until his passing in 1993 at age 51. Tina Moore may not offer an alternative history of the 1966 World Cup, but she does offer an alternative voice to the androcentric accounts that have dominated the narratives around this significant occasion in England’s modern history. Her story – and that of other women associated with the England team (especially Cissie Charlton, mother of players Bobby and Jack Charlton) – is important to an appreciation of the fuller cultural context of England’s 1966 football victory.