IT was like when planets align - that moment in time when the elements come together in perfect synergy.

In Ian Passingham's case, it was the trinity of his skills as a journalist, his knowledge of football and the 50th anniversary of England's historic world cup victory which lead to the publication of his first book.

66: The World Cup in Real Time tells the story of England's famous 1966 World Cup victory.

But in a break from the norm, it is written not retrospectively, but as though it is unfolding before you.

The book follows the days leading up to and after the great sporting event.

It is underpinned with football reportage but also gives an insight into the life and times which were the backdrop to the world cup finals.

True to his journalistic roots, Ian has composed the book in the style of a newspaper with punchy text and headlines.

Off-field news and gossip from the 16 nations intermingles with the action on the pitch and includes tales of players breaking curfews, the English WAGs of the day and football's first-ever drug-testing programme which left the Brazil team worrying whether drinking coffee would lead to failed drug tests.

There are reports of the Soviet Union players having their hair cut like the star from The Man from UNCLE and the Mexican player who turned down a career in bull fighting.



Ian said: "Books about the world cup tend to look backwards and centre on interviews of people who were around then.

"But over the passage of time, stories can become embellished or exaggerated whereas this book is based on what people said then."

Ian is a lifelong football fan with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the beautiful game.

Dates and events in his life are remembered through associations to significant football matches.

Ian is a proud dyed-in-the-wool West Ham and England supporter and saw his first professional football match when he was eight.

"My brothers were sports mad," he said.

"I was born in Romford and my eldest brother, Keith, was a West Ham supporter - it was our nearest team.

"Keith took me to see my first game which was Fulham against Carlisle.

"It was a really bad game, Fulham won 1-0 with a penalty, but I loved it.

"Pele was the guest of honour there. His team, Santos, were playing exhibition games in London and he was there and walking around the ground waving to the crowd."

Ian became a season ticket holder for his beloved West Ham and it was football which drew him into his career - the two inextricably linked.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do for a living but my sister knew someone who covered West Ham for the Romford Recorder and I thought 'That sounds like a nice job'.

"I became a journalist specifically to be a sports reporter."

Ian, now 50, moved to Colchester when he got his first job in journalism and has stayed ever since.

He started working for the Gazette in 1985 and was sports editor at the paper when Colchester enjoyed their glorious Wembley victory in the FA Trophy in 1992.

He went on to work on national papers becoming a sub-editor in the sports department of the Daily Star before moving to The Sun 13 years ago, where he is now deputy night editor for sport.

It was while preparing for the 2014 World Cup, he came across the germ of idea for the book.

"It was a bit of an accident," he admitted.

"I was researching for work and stumbled across some information about the 1966 World Cup which was really quirky.

"It made me laugh and was really interesting.

"The information was quite obscure and I decided to delve a bit deeper.

"I struck upon this idea to write a day-by-day account of the world cup, retelling the story as though it was in real time.

"Writing the book to co-incide with the 50th anniversary of the 1966 World Cup was not something I specifically set out to do. It just fell into place by chance."

Extensive research included days spent in the British Library in London, reading through a variety of publications from when the library opened in the morning until he was kicked out at the end of the day.

Ian said: "What was really interesting was the way it was covered at the time.

"It was relatively low key. Life just carried on.

"Two days after England won, it was all over, you would not have known it had been on."

Ian hopes the book will appeal to all.

"It is unique in its format and hopefully a good read not just for the die-hard football fans.

"I think working in the newspaper industry for so long, you sometimes forget you are creating an historical archive."

So what would he rather have - a best seller or England to win another world cup?

"England to win the world cup," he says in a heartbeat.

"I hope the book will do well but it will just be nice to have my own book on my bookshelf."

* 66: the World Cup in Real Time is published in hardback by Pitch Publishing costing £14.99. It goes on sale on February 28 but is available to pre-order from Amazon, Foyles, WH Smiths and Waterstones.




IAN has his own World Cup story involving his brothers Keith and Trevor.

His father, Ken, had been offered a ticket for the World Cup final and the third place play-offs.

As the elder son, Keith was given first choice but had already seen England play against West Germany in a friendly so went for the third place match between the Soviet Union and Portugal leaving Trevor to enjoy a piece of history.



* No games in the world cup were sold out.

The biggest crowd was for the match between England and France which had 98,270 supporters, just under the 100,000 capacity of the old Wembley stadium.

Just 96,924 attended the world cup final.



* The world cup produced its own drama of intrigue and insinuation.

Ian said: "It is a widely held view in South America that it was a fix England won the world cup in 1966.

"There were various circumstances which, when you look at them, were rather naive on the behalf of the organisers.

"The South American countries even threatened to pull out of Fifa and organise their own world cup."


* Uruguay players were given heart tests to monitor their stress levels before facing England.


* England stars were stood up by Muhammad Ali when they visited his London gym.


* The Queen was unlikely to have attended the World Cup final had England not been playing. However, once there, she was drawn into the match asking Sports Minister Denis Howell anxiously how much longer extra time would go on.