The whole world knows Russian linesman Tofik Bakhramov got it wrong in 1966. There are good places to make a mistake and bad places and the World Cup final with millions watching around the globe is not a good place.
With England drawing 2-2 with West Germany in the World Cup final at Wembley, Geoff Hurst pivoted and shot. The ball cannoned down off the crossbar onto the goal-line – photos prove it was not behind it – and back into play, but Bakhramov signalled a goal. A Russian linesman, German victims. Conspiracy theorists have had a field-day ever since.
Let’s suppose that Bakhramov got it right, raised his flag and signalled ‘no goal’. Who knows how the final might have ended. Had the game, or the replay, eventually gone West Germany’s way there would have been several obvious victims. Geoff Hurst would have been denied his unique hat-trick, Alf Ramsey would have been denied his ‘I told you so’, and his knighthood, and West Ham fans would have been denied the chance to crow that – with three players in the England team – it was the ’ammers what won the World Cup.
This is the starting point for Martin Godleman’s Hammers Through the Looking Glass. He rewrites history, interweaving fact and fiction to show what might have happened, as opposed to what did.
Hammers Through the Looking Glass is a novel. Most novels disclaim any association with any real persons alive or dead. That is not possible in this case, for most names are real. Nevertheless, what follows is pure invention, and no slight is intended to anyone whose life in these pages turns out rather less rosy – thanks to Tofik Bakhramov’s fortunate blunder.