Book Review: Fixing Sixty Six – A tale of political corruption that could just be true by Tim Flower
Well, there was that rumour at the 1978 tournament that Argentina needing to win 4-0 against Peru to progress to the Final, gave their South American neighbours a boatload of cash and grain. Full-time score, Argentina 6-0 Peru…
1982. Austria v West Germany in the Group Stages. A win for the Germans would see them and their opponents Austria through and would eliminate Algeria. Horst Hrubesch puts West Germany ahead after ten minutes and that is effectively the last action of the game, as both sides effectively stop playing. Full-time, Austria 0-1 West Germany…
Then there were the accusations in 2002 that the match officials were ‘got at’ as joint hosts South Korea achieved unbelievable wins over Italy and Spain to reach the Semi-Finals…
And of course, who can forget the debacle of the awarding of the 2018 Finals to Russia and Qatar in 2022 due to corruption within FIFA.
Oh, for the good old days, times like 1966 when England showed the world about fair play and sportsmanship in lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy. Not a whiff of corruption. Or was there?
Tim Flower’s Fixing Sixty Six is a fictional look at the tournament told through the eyes of retired journalist Harry Miller. It tells of an undercover government operation to ensure that England win the World Cup, ensuring at the same time the boosting of the popularity of the Labour government under Harold Wilson at a time of economic struggle in the country. Flower’s cleverly weaves fact and fiction to provide a very credible story as government advisor Ludovic Forsyth manipulates and spins away behind the scenes.
The book also provides a believable sketch of life in the 1960s, where a ‘woman’s place is in the home’, where ‘foreigners’ and ‘homos’ aren’t to be trusted, and the idea of exotic food is a boil in the bag Vesta Curry. Whilst football is the focus of the book, the author also touches on providing a comparison with the political situation in 1966 and that when Harry regales his sensational story in 2016, as Britain once again struggles with its identity and its position not only in a European context, but globally.
A minor criticism is that it could have done with a tighter edit as a number of avoidable typos are present. Overall though, it is ultimately an intriguing and absorbing read. That day back in 30 July 1966 may never be seen in the same light again.
(“Talk About Productions” November 2019. 428pp)