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Meet the Durham boys of '66 who defeated Germany on home soil a day after England lifted World Cup; Some 50 years after their touring side beat a German team in the wake of England's success, two best friends are looking for their old team-mates.

Byline: nechronicle Administrator

Beating a German side on foreign soil a day after England won the World Cup, these then-budding footballers had a tour to remember in 1966.

Now, 50 years on, the best friends who played that day are trying to track down their team-mates for a reunion.

Graham Comer, 67, and Brian Hopkins, 68, were friends from their schooldays at Stanley Grammar School and played together in midfield.

Graham Comer remembers Brian as "a very constructive central midfielder", and adds: "I was on the left. My nickname at university was 'Chopper', but I preferred 'cultured left foot.'"

As part of an exchange with County Durham's partner area of Kreis Moers - now known as Kreis Wesel - their team of under-18s from schools and youth clubs across the county defeated their German counterparts on 31, July 1966.

The day before, the group had watched England beat West Germany 4-2 on a big screen in a dance hall in Rheinhausen, sitting with more than 100 German students.

Graham, a former physics teacher who is now semi-retired but still works part-time at Tanfield School, said: "The atmosphere was good natured but fraught at times -- especially when Germany equalised in the 89th minute.

"Our hosts were extremely gracious in defeat though, and when we all went back to the homes of the families we were staying with they insisted that we sat at the head of the table in celebration of England winning."

The real match, however, was still to come and the boys lined up the next day against the Kreis Moers team.

"The World Cup just made us more determined - we weren't going to lose," said Graham, and both men are certain that they scored six and won.

Brian, who went on to become a civil servant, scored two goals - one a tap-in after a free kick from Graham came back off the bar -- and they think the final result was County Durham 6-4 Kreis Moers.

Graham continued: "With the 50th anniversary coming up we'd love to be able to have a reunion with the other lads from the team. So we're hoping they see this or someone they know does and gets in touch with the council so we can make it a reality.

"It would be great if we could all get together again after so many years and even better if one of them can remember the final score."

Asked if he would consider playing Kries Moers again, Graham said: "If it was the same team against the same team we'd fancy our chances."

Brian Stobie, Durham County Council's international officer, has been tasked with helping the boys of '66 find their old team-mates.

He said: "We're delighted to try and help reunite the team. Over the years we've arranged many collaborations and exchanges with our partner area in Germany and across the world which have strengthened County Durham's international standing and given unique learning experiences to hundreds of young people."

People with information about the team and their current whereabouts are asked to email the council's International Office at international@durham.gov.uk.

County Durham and Kreis Wesel have a long history of exchanges and collaborations. Recent projects include pupils from Park View School visiting Germany in autumn last year researching employability and language skills.

Pupils from Germany also visited their counterparts at Seaham School of Technology to re-enact the First World War's Christmas Day truce football match in December 2014.

CAPTION(S):

Brian Hopkins and Graham Comer

Captain Bobby Moore holds aloft the Jules Rimet trophy as he sits on the shoulders of his teammates after England won the World Cup

Members of a County Durham youth football team that beat the Germans in their own back garden the day after England won the World Cup in 1966
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Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Date:Jan 30, 2016
Words:632
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