It was July 1966. The whole of England had been following the hosting of football’s World Cup Competition in London and other cities around the country. Few families went on holiday as England progressed to the knock-out stages and hopefully the Final itself.
Joe Baker was a self-employed financial advisor. He and his wife, Diana, lived south of the River Thames in Richmond, with their son, Alan, aged 12. Alan was a very keen football player himself, regularly playing at centre-forward for his school’s team every Saturday. Now that their summer term had ended, Alan spent most of his time following the World Cup on radio - or television when his dad was at home in the evenings.
As the England team progressed towards the Final in late July, it soon became clear that their opponents would be (West) Germany. Alan and Joe were so excited that Joe decided to buy some tickets so that they could all attend the match to support England.
Since Wembley was some distance away from Richmond, the Baker family decided to get there early for the game. On arrival, they visited a local café for an early lunch. Soon, a large group of English fans were outside on the street, shouting: “Let’s Shoot them Germans”.
“Why are they shouting like that, Dad?” asked Alan.
“Oh, they are just wanting to aggravate any German supporters by suggesting that we will score lots of goals and win the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time,” commented Joe.
“Hope we do!” replied Alan.
The match turned out to be very exciting and very close. It finished at 2-2 so that extra time had to be played. This led to some more chants from nearby English supporters: “Let’s Shoot them Germans”
This continued throughout the extra playoff period until finally England won 4-2. During the presentation ceremonies, Joe turned towards his son and said:
“Alan, I have just remembered an amazing coincidence about that chant to ‘shoot them Germans’. Your grandfather, Chris Baker, heard that chant on Christmas Day in 1914 while serving our country in the First World War.”
“But surely, they would have all wanted to shoot Germans during that war?” asked Alan.
“Yes, that was true when they were fighting them in the trenches but this was different. The regiment your Grandpa Chris served with at Wulvergem in Belgium had a truce with their German enemies that Christmas Day - both sides sang carols, exchanged gifts, and played a game of soccer!” explained Joe. “They played away from the trenches but the Germans won the game 3-2. However, it is believed that Grandpa scored one of the goals for England! So, when you next play a game of soccer, think about that phrase that’s still being shouted:
“Let’s Shoot them Germans”
and score some goals yourself!!!”.
Chris Rawlins (February 2015)