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By: Gary Thacker

Cheers, Tears and Jeers - A History of England and the World Cup

Pages: 495 Ratings: 5.0
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Winning the World Cup in 1966 was the high watermark in the history of the England national football team. Both before and after The Day, however, the Three Lions have a chequered history in the world’s biggest footballing event. This book seeks to chart a path through that history, stopping for contemplation at various points on the way. It’s a journey full of highs and lows, with memories both golden and tarnished, and an occasional dip into some iconic games and events where England weren’t involved.

Completed ahead of the World Cup Finals of 2018, the book offers an account of the story up until that event. How will England fare in Russia? Only time will tell, but perhaps a review of the history up until that time may give an indication as to why it ended up as it did.

It’s a tale of smiles and frowns, of joys and sorrow, and indeed of Cheers, Tears and Jeers. It’s the history of England and the World Cup.


Writing any book can be a fearsome venture. This particular tome took almost three years to complete before it even reached the hands of the publishers.

Research into hundreds of games covering many, many decades was a test of commitment and dedication. Sourcing information, searching old newspapers, countless delving into YouTube videos and any number of reference books, writing, rewriting, double-checking, amending, rewrites—and then repeat. Still with the possibility of occasional errors creeping through. With such a plethora of facts and stats, please forgive any that may have stealthily escaped the critical eyes of umpteen checks and reviews ahead of publication.

It’s difficult to look back now and consider the opportunity cost for the time spent in getting to this stage, but that moment of joy when the job was completed, pays for all.

My aim was to write a history as a neutral observer. As a fan, teasing away the partisan emotion wasn’t easy. I hope I’ve broadly achieved that though. I also hope that you find this book both interesting and enjoyable to read.

Gary was born in 1956 in a working-class area of the West Midlands. Football has been a continuing background music to his life, as was detailed in his semi-autobiographical book "I Don't Even Smoke!", written under his pen name 'All Blue Daze.'

He has been writing about the 'beautiful game' since 2010, with much of his work featuring in magazines and high-profile websites. His collected works can be found on his website

Gary is married to Sue. They have a daughter, Megan, and a son, Gregory.

Customer Reviews
1 reviews
1 reviews
  • David Marx

    You’d stay up late to watch games between Mexico and El Salvador, or Sweden and Israel; just because you could. It was an intoxicating brew of the hardly known and the totally unknown, the exotic and the exciting, the daring and the beautiful, and right there in the middle of it, was England – as defending champions.

    (‘Mexico 1970 – Titanic Struggles, Heat and Leads That Just Melted Away’)

    The following day, it was announced that Bobby Robson would be knighted in the Queen’s Jubilee birthday honours list. Not only did the honour offer the reward to the man who guided England to their best World Cup performances since 1966, but it also underlined the level of importance that football occupied in the public psyche across the country.

    (‘South Korea/Japan 2002 – Five Joys, Sweet Revenge, and Not So Safe Hands’)

    There are generally two roads you can take when then taking control of a team. Firstly, you can choose a ‘steady as she goes’ path, with an evolutionary rather than revolutionary approach to changes, or you can walk in and rip up the old ways, staking your future in a new direction. It’s probably fair to say that Steve McClaren leaned towards the latter.

    (‘Forty-Four Years After The Day’)

    ‘’And right there in the middle of it – was England – as defending champions.’’

    Now there’s something you don’t often read, but boy, does the country need something to feel good about right now. For betwixt one shambolic crisis after another – the most recent being our pathetic Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, turning up supposedly drunk at the recent COP meeting in Glasgow (where he fell asleep right next to Sir David Attenborough without wearing a mask) – not only do the glory days of 1966 seem a veritable impossible dream, it remains resolutely locked into the afore-quoted ‘psyche’’ of the nation.

    For better, for worse, for unbridled nationalism to run riot amid the current vacuous corridors of power; wherein anything to remotely do with the word ‘worldly,’ is, so far as the UK is concerned, w-a-y beyond a terrible and deplorable joke.

    To be sure, the only thing to feel remotely proud of is England’s current football team.

    A team, who, unlike those in government, openly resonate with a conscience.

    Whether it is the manager, Gareth Southgate, who continues to defend the team taking the knee against racism; or Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, who has raised over £20 million in donations for groups tackling child poverty in the UK.

    In a way, these two issues (alone) are a whole other story, as is Cheers, Tears, and Jeers – A History of England and the World Cup, which goes a very considerable way – all 495 pages – in re-living 66 and re-telling all of England’s World Cup Tournaments since. And in so doing, capturing the very endemic essence of every English football squad and its fans since, as essentially described by the author, Gary Thacker: ‘’This book is about the record, about description, not prescription, but if there’s anything as redoubtable as the consistent failure of England’s football team, it’s the indomitable spirit, the belief and hope nurtured in the hearts of England fans (‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow…’).

    Might this be an unrelenting understatement? Or something of contagious home-truth?

    This overtly readable book not only shows the way but sets the record straight in so doing.

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