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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this article to

This article is taken from PN Review 242, Volume 44 Number 6, July - August 2018.

From Chetham’s Library

12: 1966 and All That
Michael Powell
BY THE TIME this goes out the World Cup in Russia will be well underway and the England football team will no doubt be on the plane home. But the 2018 World Cup provides a timely excuse to trawl through the Library’s extensive collection of ephemera to see what survives from the 1966 World Cup in England, the apotheosis of the English game.

The Manchester programme of events for the 1966 World Cup is a rare and treasured relic of that era. The teams playing in Manchester were Hungary, Portugal and Bulgaria, and visitors from those countries could rely on some sparkling entertainment outside the confines of Old Trafford. At Platt Fields, for example, they could attend the dairy festival, with morris, sword, clog and country dancing, and if they got through that, could then take in a demonstration of flower arrangement and care of house plants. Should they venture too far south, the Locarno Ballroom on Washway Road invited them to come and play Britain’s other national game – bingo. German, French and Spanish interpreters were to be present, for those visitors from Hungary, Portugal and Bulgaria who were particularly gifted in languages. ‘A large board to indicate all the numbers called’ was erected for the myopic, the visual equivalent of trying to speak to foreigners with a loud voice. Those who suffered from hearing difficulties, unfortunately, had to travel further afield, all the way to Blackpool where they could choose between the Bachelors and Cilla Black plus full supporting cast, twice nightly (it sounds much more threatening in German – ‘Cilla Black mit voller Besetzung. Abends zweimal’) at the ABC Theatre, Val Doonican and Charlie Chester at the Queens, and Des O’Connor and Kenneth McKellar on the North Pier. To some extent those who endured all three shows were the lucky ones. Those world cup travellers who made it to Morecambe were forced to suffer ‘Chase me Comrade’ starring Brian Rix and an all-star cast, and ‘Gaytime’ presented by Hedley Claxton. Rumour has it that a troupe of Bulgarians were so traumatised by the latter that they never left the resort.

Manchester Programme of Events, 1966

IMAGE Manchester Programme of Events, 1966 (© Chetham’s Library, 2018)

As always the libraries pulled out all the stops: Chetham’s sought to persuade our cold-war enemies of the benefits of the culture of materialism with an exhibition entitled ‘Getting and Spending’; Rylands sought to convert catholics and communists to a muscular version of Protestant Christianity with a stupefying display of Bible translations, whilst Central Library, bizarrely, put on the lecture ‘Tourism in Hungary’, which attempted to show those Magyars fortunate enough to get a visa out of Hungary what they were missing back home. It is difficult to know what was the worst piece of entertainment devised for the football fans of Portugal, Hungary and Bulgaria, although the Sea Cadet carnival at Fleetwood and the Interdenominational Service in Esperanto at Cross Street Chapel are particularly hard to beat.

If proof were ever needed that England’s 1966 triumph was from another age then the Manchester programme of events belongs to a world that we have truly lost.

This article is taken from PN Review 242, Volume 44 Number 6, July - August 2018.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this article to
Further Reading: - Michael Powell More Articles by... (15)
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