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Meet the WAGS of Euro 2021 as partners of England stars cheer on the boys

The wives of the 1966 England football team demurely raise a glass in celebration hours after their blokes had sent England into meltdown by winning the World Cup for the first and, so far, the last time.

Notable in their absence were their football hero other halves, who were living it up in another banqueting suite.

Tina Moore, Kathleen Peters, Judith Hurst, Barbara Springett, and Frances Bonetti, and the other wives and girlfriends were denied a place at the table alongside their husbands at the World Cup Banquet in Kensington, London.

Just try that with the new intake of independent wives and girlfriends (iWAGs) as England – and, yes, Scotland and Wales, too – bid for Euro glory this summer. They wouldn’t dare.

The iWAGs follow in the Louboutin-heeled footsteps of the originals, such as Coleen Rooney, Cheryl Tweedy, and Victoria Beckham, who were so much more entertaining than the England team that went out in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The wives of the 1966 England football team demurely raise a glass in celebration

In 1966, the England squad’s only contact with their wives during the campaign was a joint outing to the shops in Golders Green. The wives were out of sight, out of mind.

But in 2006, when coach Sven-Goran Eriksson invited the WAGs along, they stole the show.

And that was before social media took off. Today’s iWAGs have WhatsApp to organise themselves and Instagram followers to keep updated on their every move. It’s all a far cry from 1966 – as Daphne Cohen will testify.

Meet the WAGS of Euro 2021 as partners of England stars cheer on the boys
Fern Hawkins and Harry Maguire

Her husband George, 81, is one of four surviving members of the squad, alongside Sir Bobby Charlton, 83, hat trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst, 79, and Roger Hunt, 82.

Daphne, 81, recalls the WAGs of ’66 as the “invisible beings” who were taken to a separate room at that victory meal in the Royal Garden Hotel.

She says: “It was a part of the hotel, it looked like a steakhouse, it was laid out as a restaurant, but we were in there on our own, we were not invited to the banquet.

Raheem Sterling and Paige Milian
Raheem Sterling and Paige Milian

“We then met them afterwards. We could see FA officials going in with their wives, which was very disappointing. They were different times.

“George and I had a drink with friends at the hotel afterwards, but did not stay overnight. We lived not far away, and we wanted to shoot home to see our son.”

Mum-of-two Daphne, who married Fulham legend George in 1962, says England boss Sir Alf Ramsey built an incredible team spirit, which was their “secret weapon” in 1966 and the wives were an important part of that.

Phil Foden pictured with his son Ronnie and partner Rebecca Cooke
Phil Foden pictured with his son Ronnie and partner Rebecca Cooke

She says: “The players really did get on, they had a chemistry between them, and so did the wives. Alf always spoke about the importance of the team over the individual. And they had a special bond.

“That stayed for years afterwards, they genuinely did like each other, there were no prima donnas, they all respected each other. They would laugh and joke like kids at all the reunions.”

Gareth Southgate announced the initial Three Lions squad yesterday, and is likely to repeat his approach from the 2018 World Cup in Russia, when wives, girlfriends and families were able to spend time with the players on the team’s free days.

Meet the WAGS of Euro 2021 as partners of England stars cheer on the boys
Harry Kane and Katie Goodland

He was rewarded with England’s best performance in years as they made it to the semi-finals, where they lost 2-1 to Croatia.

In Russia, the WAGs used social media to give their followers the inside track. Harry Kane’s now wife Kate Goodland celebrated his goal against Colombia with an Instagram post captioned “balls of steel”, alongside an England flag emoji.

The team will be hoping to earn more posts like that at this year’s Euro tournament, which starts on June 11.

Jason Pickford's leading lady Megan Davison
Jason Pickford’s leading lady Megan Davison

Meet the WAGS of Euro 2021 as partners of England stars cheer on the boys

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England’s first game is against Croatia on June 13 at Wembley Stadium.

Covid means there will only be 25,000 fans in the stadium for the match – but the iWAGs will be behind them all the way.

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