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Sunday marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of English World Cup winning captain, Bobby Moore. Moore won 108 caps for his country and made 544 appearances for West Ham. His legend is a central, glorious strand in English football’s story of its own past; he is a symbol, an icon and his memory is a rallying cry for a footballing nation that often looks to the past - and the World Cup winners of 1966 in particular - for its heroes, as each subsequent generation of players fails to live up to expectation.
A statue of Moore stands outside Wembley. The inscription reads: “Immaculate footballer. Imperial defender. Immortal hero of 1966. First Englishman to raise the World Cup aloft. Favourite son of London’s East End. Finest legend of West Ham United. National Treasure.”
The treatment of Moore during his life, however, was in stark contrast to the dignity bestowed upon his memory. Yesterday Matt Dickinson of The Times wrote a piece lamenting the disrespectful treatment of Moore, by both his club and The FA, while Moore was alive.
Dickinson wrote that “the governing body, in its pompous wisdom, decided during his lifetime that it had no need for him. And Moore died just as football was about to embark on its 1990s boom built on broadcasting riches.” As for West Ham, Dickinson recalled that, “(Moore) was also snubbed by West Ham, once turfed out of his seat for not having the right ticket despite being the club’s greatest legend. He walked out and never went back as a fan.”
John Giles played in the same era as Bobby Moore and spoke to Eoin McDevitt on last night’s Off the Ball about the legendary player. Giles soon got to discussing the stark contrast between the treatment of the man and the treatment of the memory of the man.
“They’re making more of Bobby Moore now than when he was alive.”
Giles believes “Bobby Moore was one of the great players for West Ham”, but the FA and West Ham failed to show him the respect his service warranted as they offered him little or no assistance once his playing days had finished. It wasn’t just Moore however, but rather all footballers of that era who were treated with disrespect by their clubs.
“That was the times. I played in the times with Bobby Moore and there was very, very little respect for the players.”
“It was always, ‘well, you’re gone’. It was a very, very cruel game. It’s probably still cruel in many ways today but the only difference today is the players now are very wealthy. That doesn’t mean everything, but in my day no player left the game financially secure so they did need a bit of help. Whereas, now the players don’t need any help. In my day you depended on the club.
“These were great players who loved the game. Weren’t getting much money, weren’t playing for the money. They should have been treated with more respect and dignity when they finished playing. When I hear about the clubs now moaning about the wages - now I don’t feel sorry for them because I remember the days when they treated payers very, very badly.”