On Sunday, shortly before 8 p.m., Ron Baynham, like many others throughout the country, would settle in his living room in front of the television to watch England play in their first World Cup final since 1966.
Baynham, a former Luton goalkeeper, made his three England matches more than a decade ago.
He’s now 92 years old.
Baynham is now the oldest living England international, following the death of Derek Ufton in March.
In 1955, Baynham made his debut with a triumph over Denmark.
On that day, Nat Lofthouse and Don Revie each scored two goals in a 5-1 victory.
Harry Kane scored the game-winning goal in the semi-final on Wednesday.
Mind you, not without a few paused breaths first.
At Luton Town in 2019, Ron Baynham wears the England jacket he was given in 1955. “When Kane missed the penalty, I thought “oh no,” Baynham told The Mail on Sunday.
‘But, he had luck on his side and scored.’
Everyone praises England’s performance.
I believe they have.
Let’s hope for the best that they are able to continue.
England, according to Baynham, will win.
The Luton legend’s mind is as sharp as ever, his wit as sharp as ever, and his memories as clear as ever.
The majority of comments are accompanied by a hearty chuckle.
And he believes Gareth Southgate’s team will defeat Italy.
‘I have full faith that they will win on Sunday,’ says the coach.
It’s ideal for football.
They appear to be quite decent based on what I’ve seen.
Man of the Match went to Raheem Sterling.
Jeepers, he’s a fantastic player!
He is currently England’s finest player.
Yet, I wouldn’t say they’re as good as they were back in the day!
When Baynham claimed he was backing his side to beat the current crop, his buddy laughed.
Baynham does not believe England is a great squad.
At least not yet.
Let’s wait and watch what occurs on Sunday evening.
In a 5-1 triumph over Denmark in 1955, Baynham made his debut alongside Nat Lofthouse (above). The England lineup in which Baynham featured included some of the best players the country has ever produced.
He takes a breather to pick up a photograph of himself with the England team.
He rattles off a few names.
‘Remember Johnny Haynes, Tom Finney, Billy Wright, and Nat Lofthouse!
Duncan Edwards was also a member of the team.
‘When I look at Harry Kane, I think of Nat Lofthouse,’ Baynham continues.
‘I had a few games against Nat.
He was a tough opponent.
He had a habit of knocking me down.
Then he’d come up to me and ask, “How are you doing, mate?”
He was a talented young man.
During the war, Baynham began playing football for the army.
He started out as a center-forward and only stepped between the pipes after his team’s goalie was injured.
‘That’s where it all began,’ he says.
He returned home and turned down a Wolves trial because he didn’t believe he was talented enough.
He needed persuasion to av for Worcester.
When he did, they immediately signed him.
In 1951, he began working in Luton on a weekly basis for PS12.
After injuring his head in a accident in 1960, Baynham played 434 times for the Hatters, reaching the FA Cup final the year before but losing to Nottingham Forest.
It’s a consequence that irritates him even now.
‘We shouldn’t have lost.’
I’m not sure why we played so poorly.
There wasn’t a single one of us who performed that well.
We had performed admirably in every previous round.
We had just defeated them 5-1 in the league a few weeks before.
The problem was overconfidence.
Walter Winterbottom chose all three of Baynham’s caps in 1955.
Dally Duncan, the manager of Luton Town, informed Baynham that he was being considered for selection.
‘I replied “no, don’t be dumb!” but he was correct,’ Baynham says of England striker Harry Kane, who he compares to England icon Lofthouse.
Baynham made his debut in a 5-1 victory over Denmark, followed by victories over Northern Ireland (with a clean sheet) and Spain at Wembley.
There is no finer feeling than that for Baynham.
‘Playing for your own country makes you feel on top of the world,’ he explains.
‘You feel nervous walking down the tunnel, and I don’t believe anyone who says they don’t, but you also feel proud.’
The best moment of my career was being selected for England.
You have to ask why Baynham didn’t get more caps after three wins and a clean sheet.
‘Walter Winterbottom was a great manager, but I don’t think he thought much of me.’
We finally have a manager who has played football and understands the game.
One more game separates Southgate and his players from glory and immortality.
And England’s oldest international has a message for them ahead of the biggest night of their careers.
‘Go out there and play as you have the last five or six games.’
Have faith in yourself and in the people you work with.
Good luck, and have fun playing football.
That is what matters.