On reflection, it was better than any tournament since in my opinion. Mexico ‘70 was special. I gained a feel for international football – that watching England abroad in a major tournament is always more exciting than a game at Wembley, and that one of the main pleasures of life is travel abroad.
It was definitely an adventure that combined a holiday of a lifetime and the chance to see some top-class football. I would hate to think what a trip like this would cost these days. We certainly got good value for our money I think.
I think the majority of England supporters remained solidly behind Sir Alf and his ideas. From what I saw and heard, our squad was better prepared than most, if not all, of our opponents. I felt equally certain however that little was learnt from the tactics employed by the Brazilians. Their eventual and, in my opinion, inevitable success sprang from the huge individual technical ability of all of their players. They were always a joy to watch.
Best England player of the tournament? In my opinion it was Terry Cooper. Good defender and excellent at going forward. Not really surprising as he started his career as a left winger. Most disappointing? Francis Lee.
Star man of the tournament for me was probably Bobby Moore. He was so calm and never hurried – the time he always seemed to have on the ball. He could pick a pass… But I never really thought Jeff Astle was a top class international player. People blame him and, of course, Bonetti – but, in the end, it was just unfortunate.
I never followed England to games afterwards. I hadn’t done before either! I watch them on the telly though. As for Mexico itself… It was a one-off really.
Mexico itself left me with a lot of lasting impressions. It was a vast country, rich in memories of the Aztec Empire and exciting in its ultra-modern developments and ideas. At the same time it was still home to a huge population of almost destitute families who scratched a living from the land and in most cases were housed in badly constructed pre-fabricated homes – often without sanitation, roads or other services. Beasts of Burden still seemed to outnumber the motor car and it was impossible to ignore the beggars in the streets, without giving the money. And although the main reason for going was obviously the football, it did broaden my horizons.
… Mexico was a land of stark contrasts. The football pitches (at the Reformer Club, Mexico City, where England initially trained) were immaculate, like manicured lawns, with perfect playing surfaces. But… every day we saw the contrast between rich and poor. We were training in a top-class sports club with a beautiful clubhouse and facilities. Next door was a shanty town. You couldn’t help feeling sorry for those people in those tin huts, but we had to stay focused on the job we had come to do.
It was worth every penny though I maybe would have taken sunscreen and tried more of the local food instead of the American-style restaurants.
I wish I’d gone to see some Aztec stuff. But we never did. We were there for the football. I’m not a sight-seer really. But if we were back in 1968 all over again, and my mate said, “Are you coming to Mexico?” Then, yes – I’d do it. Definitely. And one thing I’d do is go to the Aztecs [Temples]. It’s the one thing I regret not taking the chance to see.
And another thing… the moon… With a crescent moon it was like – on its back rather than standing-up. No idea why that was. I’m sure I didn’t dream that… Something to do with the Southern Hemisphere? I’ve been to Australia and never seen it there.
Although I like a drink, and I did have the occasional drink, I can say without fear-or-favour that I enjoyed the tournament so much that I never thought to resort to it. It was so enjoyable I never felt the need for it.
A number of fans that went will have gone to the great stadium in the sky by now. Most supporters must now be over 60 years of age.