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IN AN era when an Olympic gold medal all but guarantees ennoblement and young footballers are drowned in cash before they’ve even kicked a ball in anger, Bo66y is a poignant reminder of a different age.
It’s an age when the man who lifted the World Cup for England and led West Ham to domestic and European glory could be all but forgotten by both after his career ended. Forgotten, that is, until it was too late.
This beautifully directed documentary is a fitting tribute to Bobby Moore, the man who lifted the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley 50 years ago.
Produced by Matt Lorenzo, who grew up with Moore as a family friend, this is a passion project three years in the making and Lorenzo’s insight and football contacts mean it is a unique and heartfelt insight. It charts Moore’s childhood in which the sport provided relief from the privations of the immediate post-war era and how he broke into the West Ham team thanks to his mentor Malcolm Allison.
Then there’s his trio of Wembley triumphs in consecutive seasons: the FA Cup and European Cup Winners Cup (remember that?!) with West Ham and, of course, the World Cup with England.
With that latter victory, the sport “exploded” into the technicolour era of the Swinging Sixties and Moore was at the forefront as footballers became the new rock-and-roll stars. He partied with the Beatles and the Stones, Sean Connery was a regular babysitter.
Despite his fame, Moore was an intensely reserved character. Just 18 months before the World Cup he fought and beat testicular cancer with quiet dignity. None of his teammates were aware of the trauma their captain had been through.
Yet it’s the final third of the documentary, which details Moore’s life from the end of his playing career to his untimely death from bowel cancer at the age of 51 which is the most revelatory. For all the contributions from his friends and ex-teammates it’s the two women Moore married, Tina and Stephanie, and his daughter Roberta who provide the telling and emotional insights into Moore’s struggle to maintain a place in the game and sense of purpose after he hung up his boots.
Elton John lined Moore up for the vacant manager’s job at Watford but was overruled by his fellow board members, who favoured Graham Taylor. The snub, which Moore learnt about from the papers while on holiday, was, according to his first wife Tina, the “biggest let-down of his life,” one that left him “shattered.”
With non-league Oxford City the only other club to offer him a job Moore’s life turned down a different path of gameshow appearances and a role in Escape to Victory.
While Moore was snubbed by chairmen and ignored by the suits at the FA his contemporaries or equals were all offered fitting roles in the game. The likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Diego Maradona all went on to manage their national teams. Pele became Brazilian minister for sport. Alfredo Di Stefano, Bobby Charlton and Gerd Muller were afforded ambassadorial roles with former clubs. Bo66y doesn’t answer the question as to why this happened: no-one really seems to know.
With the financial rewards for footballers not as great then as they are now, and following some bad business decisions, Moore ultimately had to give up both his house and his car. Feeling that he had let down his family he sunk into what Tina now realises was depression: “Bobby died in the years he was neglected,” she says.
Their daughter, Roberta, reinforces the point, saying that players are not prepared for what comes after retirement and the lives of Jimmy Greaves and Paul Gascoigne are reminders that Moore was not the only player that the game has failed in retirement.
Athletes are also now seen rather differently by our government, which is quick to bask in the reflected glory of their triumphs. “Some people are knighted by monarchs, others are knighted by the people,” says West Ham fan Russell Brand. “I know which has more value.”
This superb documentary will leave the viewer in little doubt.
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