The only man who has lifted the Football World Cup for England, Bobby Moore, died prematurely in 1993. There is much feeling within the game, that the man was under appreciated by some within the profession, particularly the leaders of the game in this country. Bobby Moore never wrote his own memoirs, so this is perhaps an opportunity to get a closer understanding of the man, and the player who was undoubtedly one of the finest defenders this nation has ever produced.
However the title is a little misleading. When I started reading the book, I knew little about Bobby Moore’s private life – who he was married to and how many children he had for example. So in this book, I discovered the author, his first wife Tina, was separated from him since the early 1980s, and probably lost the deepest knowledge of him from when he met his second wife Stephanie in 1979. So you get a good understanding of Bobby Moore up to a point, probably 1979, but after that Tina Moore writes more about her odd meeting with her estranged husband and about herself and the rest of the family. So there are certainly gaps which, for a full understanding of the man, would need filling in elsewhere. The journalist, Jeff Powell wrote a book about Bobby Moore after his death, The Life and Times of a Sporting Hero, which may help to cover more details of his later life, however as anyone who has read Powell’s thoughts in the Daily Mail, it is likely to be an account very much in Moore’s favour and therefore unlikely to be balanced.
I’m a little too young to have seen him play live, but I remember him as a commentator later in life on Capital Gold, providing the reasoned responses behind the lively commentary of Jonathan Pearce. I’m aware he never really made it in the coaching or managerial side of things, that he was all set to become manager of Watford in 1977 until Elton John was persuaded to take a punt on a young and upcoming Graham Taylor. It is clear from the book however that the years of perhaps an under appreciation from the game for one of its greatest servants had not dampened the man’s enthusiasm for football. His final public appearance, less than a week before his death, was as a commentator at Wembley for a World Cup qualifier between England and San Marino, one of those awful games where the home team was trying to rack up a cricket score and the crowd got restless when the battling underdogs hung on for dear life in the early stages. He had only recently gone public with the news of his illness, a second fight with cancer that was ultimately to defeat him.
I’d like to think that in the twenty years since Bobby Moore died, the appreciation for him has increased, certainly there has been greater recognition for his services to the national team and to his club team West Ham United with statues outside Upton Park and Wembley. Even those like myself that didn’t see him play would probably think of him in an all time England XI, and he’d be a shoe in for the captain’s armband. The book certainly helps you to understand Bobby Moore the young man, the player who became one of England’s greatest, and man who liked to socialise with those he was close to, but yet was also quite a private man, the man who could put away several pints and yet was a fitness fanatic. Well worth a read as a football fan, but for those wanting a deeper understanding, there may still be gaps to fill.