Bobby Moore (1941 – 1993)
For the English football fan no image is more iconic than that of England football team captain, Bobby Moore on the shoulders of his teammates holding the World Cup aloft in front of a packed Wembley stadium in the summer of 1966. While the image represents the apogee of the England team’s success, it is also a symbol of the last hurrah of Great Britain in the year following Churchill’s death, and at the height of the swinging Sixties; Moores image with the cup marked the end of Great Britain and the beginning of the United Kingdom as a dwindling world power.
Bobby Moore was good old-fashioned footballer born and raised in Barking, East London, and signing up for his local team, West Ham United, when he was a snip of a lad at 16-years-old. More of a grafter than a skilful player, Moore’s starting wage was £7.00 a week; a lot of money then but still a drop in the ocean compared to players today.
West Ham legend Malcolm Allison took the young Moore under his wing, and saw in him the realisation that he had a lot to learn but was willing to give it his all in order to achieve at the Boleyn Ground. During impromptu coaching sessions in cafes and during the drive home from the ground, Allison would talk tactics with Moore and it was here that he imparted what was to become the cornerstone of Moore’s game:
"Always keep a picture in your mind where everyone is, that way when you get the ball you don't have to think what to do with it."
Not long after he turned 17, the young Moore signed his first real professional contract at £12.00 per week. Not long after Moore got his first crack at first team football, ironically taking the place of his mentor, Allison, who had been out with illness.
Bobby Moore made his professional first-team debut in 1958 against Manchester United, who the Hammers beat 3-2, in an unspectacular game that belied the scoreline. In his next game West Ham were soundly thrashed 4-0 by Nottingham Forest. Moore spent most of the rest of the season on the bench.
Moore continued to work hard and eventually forged a place for himself in the West Ham and England teams, the spine of the latter made up of Hammers players. Before raising the World Cup at Wembley in 1966, Moore lifted two other trophies at Wembley – the 1964 FA Cup, and the 1965 European Cup Winners Cup. The scene was set.
Moore almost didn’t make it to the World Cup in 1966, with the elapsing of his contract with West Ham making him temporarily ineligible to play. Moore and West Ham argued about £10.00, until the England captain got what he wanted – fair treatment – and signed.
The World Cup started badly for England with a 0-0 draw against a Paraguay side that stifled the game with heavy defending. The next game against Mexico went England’s way with Bobby Charlton and Roger Hunt supplying the goals in 2-0 win. After overcoming a belligerent Argentina, and then a Portugal side buoyed by the great Eusebio, England found themselves in the World Cup final and on the verge of making history.
The 1966 saw England face Germany, and in an action packed match that went into extra time, Moore led England to a famous 4-2 victory – to this day the only tournament England have won. Moore received the coveted BBC Sport Personality of the Year Award, and was also honoured in the New Year honours list being awarded the Order of the British Empire.
Moore played his last game for West Ham in 1974, before moving onto Fulham where he saw out his last days in the English game; playing his final game for the West London club in 1977. Moore then crossed the pond to play for San Antonio Thunder, and the Seattle Sounders in the USA. He retired in 1978. There were brief and unsuccessful forays into management at Eastern AA in Hong Kong, Oxford City, and Southend United.
In 1991 Bobby Moore was diagnosed with colon cancer, and with characteristic fortitude he battled the disease until in February 1993 it claimed his life. He was 51.The legend of Bobby Moore lives on in the hearts and minds of English football fans who hark back to a halcyon age for English football and the UK as a whole.