Friday 29th June 2018
Fifty-two years ago, England beat West Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final to secure their first and, so far, only international trophy. Geoff Hurst’s historic hat-trick and the image of Bobby Moore on his teammates’ shoulders have gone down in folklore, but it is less known that a quiet hotel in Hertfordshire also played a part in helping England achieve their famous victory.
The Best Western Welwyn Garden City Homestead Court Hotel hosted the West Germany squad on the eve of the 1966 final and as one of their former employees recalls, the players were more focused on a front of house staff member than on their pre-match preparation.
Sandra McCall, who worked at the hotel between 1965 and 1966, said: “Germany stayed the night before the final and many of team were climbing out of the windows to go partying with a German receptionist I worked alongside.”
The West Germany team, including icons Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler, was one of many to stay at the venue, , with the likes of France and Argentina also using it as a base due to its relative proximity to Wembley.
The England team also took temporary residence at the hotel and Sandra remembers the eventual champions as being the perfect guests: “It was fun having the teams around, but at the time I did not think it was a big deal.
“I recall that the England players were all so polite and well behaved. It was a pleasure to have them stay.”
The England team returned to the hotel in 1971 and 1972 for separate fixtures, and Nabil Lababedi, current Managing Director of the property, has always been keen to celebrate such ties with the national side.
He said: “It is great to have been part of England’s football history – we like to think that we played a part in their success in 1966!
“Our executive level rooms are named after England’s starting eleven from the final, while our Bar 66 serves steins of beer in memory of the West German team!”
The hotel has increased in size by around 50% since Beckenbauer and co. graced its halls in the sixties, with the nearby business parks of Welwyn and Hatfield making it popular with travelling professionals.
A spokesperson for Best Western Great Britain said: “All of our hotels are individually owned and so have their own brilliantly different quirks, qualities and histories.
“The Best Western Garden City Homestead Court Hotel is a perfect example, with its connection to the 1966 World Cup evident of its fascinating heritage. It’s interesting to hear that a staff member may have inadvertently helped disrupt the West German preparations so close to the final!
“While the hotel rightly celebrates these ties, not everyone is quite as enthusiastic about the football. For these people, we’ve created a new Google Chrome extension which will block all online mentions of the tournament this summer.”
To download the World Cup Google Chrome Extension, click here: https://www.bestwestern.