Peter Rhodes on bigger fans, heavier fans and how Covid is making us stricter

Read Peter Rhodes' latest column.

An age of beards
An age of beards

Own up. How many of us part-time, fair-weather fans spent 120 minutes watching a rare screening of the full-colour film of the 1966 World Cup Final on Channel 4, only to miss the most famous words ever uttered by a football commentator?

The explanation is that the immortal line: “They think it's all over - it is now” was spoken by Kenneth Wolstenholme for the BBC. C4's restored and colourised film version, screened on Saturday, was commentated by Hugh Johns who marked the final goal with: “Here's Hurst, he might make it three. He has! He has. So that's it. That is it!”

Anyway, that apart, what a joy it was to see the England v West Germany match all over again. It somehow put Sunday's final into perspective. The occasional shots of the '66 crowd were an education. They dressed more soberly than today's fans, their singing was more varied and tuneful and there seemed to be more clapping. But what really marked the Euro 2020 players and followers out from those of '66 is the facial hair. Bearded manager, bearded captain, bearded fans.

And, of course, bigger fans. Compared to the average UK man in 1966, today's British male is three inches taller, 23 lbs heavier and the proud possessor of a paunch.

However, we humans may start getting smaller. Scientists in Germany and Cambridge have found a clear link between temperature and size. People living in cold climates, such as the Dutch (average male height 6ft) tend to tower over those in warmer places, such as the average 5ft 5ins Indians. And if your part of the globe gets 2degsC warmer through climate change, average body weight could decrease by one kilogram. The bad news? The process could take centuries.

So if you're hoping global warming will help you fight the flab, forget it.

There is a theory that the pandemic, with its sudden lockdowns and travel bans, is creating a more authoritarian society as folk demand, and accept, hard-line solutions to all sorts of issues, and to hell with our liberties. I might have dismissed this as mere Covid gossip but my eye fell on a report that councillors in Warwickshire are seriously considering slapping 20mph speed limits on all towns, villages and residential areas. If you think this is a good idea, you may be one of the 20 per cent of Brits who, according to a poll in The Economist, believe a 10pm curfew should be enforced on us all – even after the pandemic is over.

It poses an obvious question. What do we do with people who break the 20mph limit in order to get home before the 10pm curfew? I shudder to raise the issue to today's increasingly hard-line citizenry but if anyone suggested a public flogging, what percentage of Brits would heartily agree?

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