Each summer they have returned to the turf of Wembley Stadium to commemorate the heroes who gave so much for so many, and reminisce about the day that became etched on our collective consciousness for so many decades.
‘It’s sad but inevitable that the fabled England win is finally fading from living memory,’ explained historian Derek Wills. ‘The ‘World Cup Johnnies’ are dropping off the perch with cruel regularity, with many of those who are left languishing in nursing homes. However, I think we’ve done a good job of reminding people what happened all those years ago in the hope that it may one day happen again.’
On their final get-together on the hallowed turf, the small but dedicated group watched from their wheelchairs as young up-and-coming players re-enacted the famous pitch invasion, complete with Kenneth Wolstenholme’s memorable commentary: ‘Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over. It is now! It’s four!’ played through the speakers.
Ceremonies then took a reflective tone as one minute’s silence was held to remember the hundreds of games lost down the ages, after which the veterans joined in an emotional rendition of ‘Two World Wars and One World Cup’, as a restored 1960’s Concorde passed overhead.
However, the disbanding doesn’t mean the event won’t be commemorated in smaller reunions and, thanks to the association’s work, by younger generations who will ‘tip their hat’ when the England triumph is mentioned as one of Steve Wright’s Factoids.