Four of England’s heroes returned to the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington on Tuesday as a new 1966 World Cup exhibition was announced.
Sir Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks, Martin Peters and George Cohen joined FA Chairman Greg Dyke at the west London venue, which hosted the Three Lions squad during their victorious World Cup campaign almost 50 years ago.
And to commemorate the hosting of the competition in England, along with the win, The FA and National Football Museum have teamed up to stage exhibitions to celebrate the glory of 1966 and the legacy of England’s win 50 years later.
With a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of over £300,000, the exhibitions will open later this year at Wembley Stadium and the Museum in Manchester with the partnership launched at the Royal Garden Hotel exactly 50 years to the day since the World Cup draw was made in the very same room.
"It’s brought back great memories and some of the happiest days of my professional career," said Sir Geoff, who scored a hat-trick in the final to beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley Stadium.
"My wife was here with me on the day after the final for the banquet, but it’s all great memories for me and the other players.
"Just coming here today and seeing the amount of interest has got me quite nervously excited about it."
Gordon Banks recalls the celebrations @RoyalGdnHotel on the evening of their World Cup win, via @66winners https://t.co/1nUaF5GxMQ— England (@england) January 5, 2016
Goalkeeper Banks was equally delighted to be back at the hotel, recalling the scenes following that famous win on 30 July: “I remember when we got here after the win, we couldn’t get in because the road was so full of people and the traffic couldn’t get past.
"It was incredible and it’s nice for the country to remember and get these bits and pieces together for people to see and show their children and grandchildren."
Greg Dyke also spoke affectionately about his memories from ’66 and watching three live games of the competition, including the semi-final against Portugal, before missing out on a ticket for the final.
But visiting the hotel and meeting the quartet as well as getting his hands on the Jules Rimet trophy itself made it even more special.
"It was great to see four of the players who won medals that day back here for the beginning of a commemoration that will run right through to August, when those who are old enough will remember the game and those who are young enough will celebrate what a great game it was," said Dyke.
"I remember it very well, sitting in my aunt’s house where there were about 20 of us watching the final, and we are now delighted to be working with the National Football Museum to commemorate the achievement of our ‘66 winners."
What did @TheGeoffHurst make of his return to @RoyalGdnHotel for today's 1966 World Cup exhibition announcement? https://t.co/yPZ5uNhCgG— England (@england) January 5, 2016
The Royal Garden Hotel’s deputy general manager of commercial Mark Anderson also spoke of their special welcome for the four players on their return ahead of the Tuesday’s launch.
"We opened in ’65 and in ’66, the World Cup really set the scene and put us on the map," he said.
"There were joyous scenes outside the hotel and the draw was made in the same room on this day in 1966 before celebrations took over the whole hotel in the summer.
"We’re very proud of the history that we have at the Royal Garden and we’ve also partnered up with the Bobby Moore Fund this year to try and raise £50,000 whilst celebrating the Royal Garden’s 50th year."
The exhibition itself will be divided into a selection of themes focusing on the wider tournament, the players and their families, the fans, popular culture of the time and the tournament’s legacy.
.@FA Chairman Greg Dyke recalls where he watched the 1966 World Cup Final, as commemorative exhibition is announced. https://t.co/P4R5M8jKCn— England (@england) January 5, 2016
New objects, photographs and film will feature alongside the ball used in the final and the Jules Rimet trophy handed to England on the day of the win.
A major focus will be around collecting the memories of players, fans and ordinary people affected by the famous World Cup win.
The Sporting Memories Network will work alongside the National Football Museum to record and collect the memories to feature in the exhibition and an accompanying website.
They will also be used to develop a health and wellbeing programme in Greater Manchester to celebrate the football memories of older people.