Can Geoff Hurst be England’s lucky charm?

It's Geoff Hurst's birthday and England are in another World Cup quarter finals - are the stars aligned in the quest to emulate 1966?

I'm looking for belief and links here, reasons to believe that Saturday's result against France in the 2022 World Cup finals is written in the stars.


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Sir Geoff was 81 on Thursday and it's hard to think of an England World Cup quarter final without mentioning West Ham's greatest striker (my view and one I will determinedly defend later). Even if you were not born to remember the 1966 quarter final at Wembley against Argentina, or Hurst's part in the proceedings, you must surely have seen his headed winner.

It was a goal honed at Chadwell Heath, the quick ball into the near post - this time from Martin Peters - Hurst's run into space and the header powered home that gave England their 1-0 victory in one of football's most notorious World Cup matches.

It was a game that started wars. Argentina came to kick England off the park, their captain Rattin was sent-off in the first half, Sir Alf Ramsey famously called them "animals" and was seen to drag a swapped shirt away from George Cohen's hands in disgust. Relations between the countries have never been the same since.

Hurst scored a near-identical goal to that winning effort at Wembley a few days later when, this time, Bobby Moore played another free kick into near post space in the final against West Germany. The rest - and Hurst's World Cup Final hat-trick - is history.

So fast forward 56 years, Hurst is in the spotlight again as he celebrates his 81st birthday and England are about to face France in Qatar. If Harry Kane ( I know, sorry) comes up with a near post header, or even our own Declan Rice if he can get himself anywhere near the box, there will be no happier man than Sir Geoff who has carried the weight of memories and triumphs of 1966 for long enough.

Many England sides have tried since, but nobody has achieved anything. If they beat France then the semi-final will be against Morocco or Portugal, both within the capabilities of this improving England. The final? How about either Brazil or Argentina. Now that would truly be something.

Blimey, West Ham may even have to commission another statue, this time for Rice and Paul Nevin, our first team coach and Gareth Southgate's go-to coaching expert. But I'm getting ahead of myself, sorry.


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West Ham's involvement in England World Cup quarter finals over the decades is interesting. Bobby Moore played in the 3-1 defeat by Brazil in Chile back in 1962 and of course Hurst, Moore and Peters won the World Cup for West Ham four years later.

Moore and Hurst also played in the 3-2 defeat to West Germany in Mexico in 1970; Peters too, but by then he was a Spurs player. Trevor Sinclair featured in the 2002 defeat, again by Brazil (2-1) and now it's Rice in the 2022 quarters against France. England, for what it's worth have figured in nine WC quarter finals, winning three. Now for the French.

And so we are back to Hurst. I wished him happy birthday in KUMB on Thursday and insisted he was our greatest ever striker. To which there was considerable debate.

Vic Watson's name was rightly thrown at me, as were Tony Cottee and Frank McAvennie. Watson is our all time leading goalscorer, with 316 goals from 505 games. That's a strike rate of 0.63 goals per game. Cottee scored 113 goals in 292 games at 0.39 per game and McAvennie hit 57 in 186 games - that's 0.31 goals per game.

Together they were a brilliant partnership, but they are both some way short of Hurst's record. Hurst hit 248 in 502 games, at 0.49 goals per game plus 24 in 49 England matches. Watson scored four in five England appearances.

Hurst, though won the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup, plus of course the World Cup. I feel medals should play a part in all this; Watson won promotion to the top flight and appeared in the 1923 FA Cup Final which we lost 2-0 to Bolton, the first staged at Wembley.

Now that is in no way any disrespect to the great man, but the game was very different then. The rules were different, in particular offside and challenging goalkeepers, who could be smashed over the line with a shoulder charge.

I also feel the period that Hurst played in was much quicker, fitter and tactically superior. So I maintain Hurst was the better player, with more achievements and therefore our greatest striker. But I'm not going to die on that hill and will not be taking further questions on the matter!

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