Thirty-three years on from Sir Geoff Hurst’s moment of World Cup triumph, who would miss the chance to meet the legendary footballer in person and quiz him about those celebrated goals? Certainly not the cream of car fleet executives, as was proved recently when they turned out in strength for Toyota Fleet’s Sir Geoff Hurst Dinners.
The events took place on consecutive nights at historic Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire, and were attended by no fewer than 60 senior managers who were staying at the Abbey while visiting the Fleet Motor Show at the National Exhibition Centre.
Toyota Fleet’s General Manager Mark Hall hosted the dinners at the exclusive 63-room hotel. As the guests tucked into the Sole Bonne Femme and Cornish lamb, guest of honour Sir Geoff changed tables between each of the five courses to ensure that everyone had the chance to chat with him. All the guests later received a framed and signed print of the footballer scoring ‘that goal’ as a souvenir of the evening.
Sir Geoff was described afterwards as “…an inspired choice of guest and a true ambassador for Toyota,” by Graham Kerr, Corporate Sales Manager for Godfrey Davis. “The highlight was undoubtedly the opportunity to meet Sir Geoff almost on a one-to-one basis and ask all the usual questions surrounding the 1966 and 1970 World Cups,” he said.
“He told us how he had intended to boot the ball over the stand to waste time at the end of the ’66 match, and only put it into the net because he miskicked it!” His comments were echoed by many others, including Susan White, Fleet Manager of Coats Viyella, who said: “It was a very special moment for me to actually meet Geoff Hurst, a player who created a little bit of footballing history,” while Julia Hall, Equitable Life’s Fleet Manager, said: “The hotel was fabulous and it was an honour to meet Geoff Hurst.”
A prolific goal-scorer, Hurst joined West Ham in 1957, netted 180 goals for his club and was three times voted Player of the Year. He won a FA Cup medal in 1964 and was part of the European Cup-winning team the following year.
But as one of the youngest players in the 1966 national side, he will always be remembered for the goals that won England the World Cup. His hat-trick included a disputed goal and finally the one that led to the immortal commentary: “They think it’s all over – it is now!”
If he has heard all the questions before, Sir Geoff hides it well. The answer to the inevitable one about that disputed goal? Martin Peters would have knocked it over the line if it hadn’t gone across it already.
And Sir Geoff also revealed the strangest question he had ever been asked, by a guest at another dinner party who had been blissfully unaware of whom he was talking to: “Do you remember where you were when that fourth goal went in?”