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John Snow took three wickets on the day of
England’s greatest sporting triumph

Spirit of '66

Throwback Thursday

31-Jul-2014

Wednesday marked the 48th anniversary of what most Englishmen still regard as the proudest day in our sporting history, when a hat-trick by Geoff Hurst inspired England to a 4-2 victory over West Germany in the World Cup final at Wembley.

If such an event were to take place these days, of course, the whole country would come to a standstill, never mind the sporting world.

But back on July 30, 1966 sport the country carried on as normal. At Hove, Sussex were beginning a three-day County Championship match against Gloucestershire.

Wisden’s reference to the opening day made no mention of the fact that the crowd was one of the lowest of the season, instead mentioning that "the cricket failed to match the weather." It had not been a great summer, but that Saturday was warm and sunny. Perfect conditions you might think for batsmen to enjoy themselves, whilst keeping one eye on events at Wembley.

Instead, Gloucestershire ground out just 162 in their first innings in 59 overs. Mike Buss took four catches at slip but the player who would remember the game more than most was John Snow.

The country’s leading fast bowler was warming up for the Fourth Test against West Indies a few days later (when England lost by an innings) and his four wickets in the Gloucestershire match made him the second bowler that summer to take 100 wickets – achieved before the end of July, remember. He was to finish the season with 103 wickets in the Championship alone.

Sussex responded positively to Gloucestershire’s total with 142 for 3 before stumps and while Hurst was completing his extra-time hat-trick Buss was on his way to 53 opening the innings with Les Lenham.

The warm sunshine that shone over events at Hove and Wembley did not last. Just 45 minutes play was possible on the second day, a Monday, and rain intervened again on the third day after Sussex were set 194 to win in two hours.

Still, like countless others of their generation, 22 county cricketers from Sussex and Gloucestershire could recount what they were doing on the day England won the World Cup. Just going about their sporting business on an afternoon which, for them at least, was just like so many others during their cricket careers.

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