Wednesday - 26 November 2014

Wembley ticket at Folkestone auction holds special memory for specialist

03 September 2012Written by Tom Derbyshire

Jonathan Riley has a particular interest in a Wembley ticket from the 1953 match which shocked the world – he was sitting in the crowd mesmerised as the ‘Magical Magyars’ tore England apart 6-3.

The football fan, now part of the Grand Auctions of Folkestone team, was 14 at the time and the visit to Wembley with his brother was the first time he had been to the stadium, which remarkably turned out to be quite some game.

"This really was the match of the 20th century," he said.

It is a highlight of football memorabilia featured in Grand Auctions' September 19 sale, and marks the moment when Walter Winterbottom's team were thrashed by Hungary and realised that maybe they were not quite as good at football as they thought.

"To go to Wembley as a 14-year-old was quite something anyway but my eyes got wider and wider as I watched. It was just absolutely amazing. It could have been 10-3," said Jonathan.

On November 25, 1953, England could count the likes of captain Billy Wright among their team and were unbeaten at Wembley against countries from outside the British Isles, a record stretching back to 1863. But they were taught a football lesson by a Hungary side featuring Puskas, Kocsis and Hidegkuti, and the home side ended up with just five shots compared to the visitors' 35.

The Magical Magyars lost just one game in a six-year, 50-game run - which was the 1954 World Cup final, unfortunately.

The visitors' approach, right through from tactics to a modern style of kit, was light years ahead. Jonathan remembers being astonished by a move featuring Puskas and Hidegkuti which he found out later they had practised 125 times the day before. Before the game Wright had apparently turned to Stan Mortensen on seeing Hungary's line-up and said it was going to be easy - they did not even have the right kit.

 

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Above: Jonathan Riley of Grand Auctions who was actually at the game.

 

Jonathan was also a keen footballer in his youth and was on the books of West Bromwich Albion after growing up in Warwick, and was even involved with the England under 18 set-up, witnessing at first hand the effect of the Magical Magyars on the national coaches.

But injury cut short his promising career and he went to Cambridge University instead. His normal duties at Grand Auctions - set up a year and a half ago by his wife, who trades under her maiden name of Alison Cawley - involve paintings, but he grabbed at the chance to deal with the tickets.

Given Jonathan's memory of that landmark day for English football, he was astonished when a "young lad" who lives just a few hundred yards away wandered into the office with the tickets.

"I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the 1953 ticket," said Jonathan.

The lot has four other Wembley tickets, including England v West Germany on February 23, 1966. This friendly (Geoff Hurst's first cap) was a 1-0 win for England, giving the same result, if not score, of a much more famous Wembley game on July 30...

As a Manchester United fan, Jonathan also has a personal interest in another football lot: a 1983 Milk Cup final programme signed by Sir Matt Busby, together with a menu and seating plan for special guests.

He has hopes of £200-400 for the Wembley tickets and £70-100 for the Busby items, but admits it has been difficult to put an estimate on them.

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