As the new year started with a depressing run of gloomy and wet days, it’s been good to have some sporting sunshine lighting up the week.
As you may have seen on Monday, Sky Sports had a lovely celebration of the unforgettable day when England’s footballers won the World Cup almost half a century ago on a sunny day at Wembley in July, 1966.
As well as replaying the game in original black and white, they had the top idea of running a modern style analysis as they do for today’s Premiership games.
I remember seeing that game on a very grainy and, by modern standards, tiny TV picture and living every moment of a pendulum of a match which ended with England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in extra time.
Sky even used modern kit to prove, probably, that the famous third goal really did cross the line and that the Russian linesman had been right.
My abiding memory of that day was the diminutive figure of Nobby Stiles dancing around the pitch and encapsulating the sheer joy of the England victory.
Last time I saw him in person was when we were speaking together at a dinner at the old Mayfair Centre in Seaton Carew.
Even though he must have told the tale of that day a thousand times, he still mesmerised the audience as he savoured every moment.
Despite his status as a World Cup winner, he was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet, without a trace of edge about him.
That night, somebody had forgotten to bring the number cards to draw the stand-up bingo, so Nobby set about solving the problem.
He grabbed a menu, tore it into squares and wrote the 90 numbers by hand!
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several of the “boys of 66” and they represent something unique to those of us who shared in the joy of their success.
Just to put the icing on the sporting cake this week, we had the amazing treat of seeing the record-breaking innings of Durham lad Ben Stokes for England against South Africa in Cape Town.
Just to show how TV technology has moved on since 1966, watching this Test Match in wide screen high definition colour was like being there.
Cape Town is one of my favourite cities in the world, and that lovely ground is beautiful, with Table Mountain towering over it – and the hoppy fumes from the brewery next door!
Ben Stokes has had a couple of ups and downs in his cricket career, but his rise to the top, with wise advice from Durham, is an inspiration to young sportspeople everywhere.
On that same Sunday, we saw the Yorkshire player Jonny Bairstow playing beautifully and raising his bat to his late father when he made his century.
Despite all the big money around in top sport these days, it’s those magic moments which are the stuff of legend.
Days like July ’66 and the amazing feats of two young players for Durham and Yorkshire this week will live for ever in the memory.