Sports fans, by their nature, are people whose lives are defined by the fixtures calendar. But in the case of former BBC and Sky Sports presenter Matthew Lorenzo, the biggest date of this summer is one when there isn’t even a match on. On May 25th, Wembley Stadium will play host to the world premiere of Bo66y, his labour of love documentary about West Ham and England’s finest, Bobby Moore, who Lorenzo grew up knowing through his father, fellow broadcaster and Moore’s close friend, Peter.
Speaking exclusively to Blowing Bubbles, Lorenzo – the first-ever sports presenter on Sky – revealed it was an incident there nearly 25 years ago that inspired him to make the film. ‘They were looking for someone to preview the weekend’s fixtures, and I suggested Bobby,’ he said. ‘My producer’s reply was “Bobby Moore – he’s a bit old hat, isn’t he?” My anger at that injustice made me want to redress the balance. Now I have.’
Talking to MA Sports journalism students at St Mary’s University Twickenham, Lorenzo revealed more about the process of how the film came about. ‘We were discussing a film about the East End’s finest footballers but I didn’t think it’d work, then I thought Bobby on his own might,’ he said. ‘From there the idea just grew, everyone wanted to be involved, and within two weeks, we had Pele agreeing to speak to us for free – so there was no turning back.’
The film reveals some of the reasons for Moore’s shunning by the football establishment – and also helps redress the balance when it comes to the Football Association. ‘Although he was always very well presented in public, Bobby was a very private man, which didn’t help, nor did things like the Bogota bracelet incident [when he was arrested on a theft charge before the 1970 World Cup] or some of the colourful East End company he kept, but the real problem was the FA,’ Lorenzo explained.
‘The blazer brigade who ran the game didn’t like the fact that when Bobby came into the room, there was someone more important than them there. Also, even though he had great success with West Ham, he had a difficult relationship with manager Ron Greenwood, who went on to become England manager, reinforcing that feeling in the establishment.
‘That’s why it’s so refreshing that we’ve got FA chief Greg Dyke in the film, acknowledging how poorly he was treated. Hopefully we’ll have the premiere at Wembley and being a central part of the 1966 50th anniversary celebrations really helps.’ The only two people Moore really opened up to were his two wives, Tina and Stephanie, both of whom get to have their say in the film.
‘It wouldn’t have worked without them,’ said Lorenzo. ‘They’re very different characters, with very different stories to tell about the two halves of his life, but I know them both, and they trusted me to tell their tales. ‘It’s very serious – we’re talking about the person they buried. They’ve both seen the film and said “You didn’t let me down”, which is very important.
Lorenzo cites award-winning documentary Senna as a major influence – ‘that wasn’t a Formula 1 film, it was about an amazing charismatic individual who happened to be a driver, so it had much broader appeal’ – and says the fact everyone knows how Moore’s story ends makes it all the more important that it is presented as engagingly as possible. ‘The film is my baby, but after putting so much work into it, you have to trust a director to do your vision justice, and I’m very lucky I found one [Ron Scalpello] who really does that,’ he explained.
Making Bo66y has clearly been a learning experience but it is an experience that has been utterly worthwhile. ‘I’d never made a business deal in my life until I had to call Fifa to haggle with them over the cost of World Cup archive footage, and I managed to get them down to nearly a third of the original price. I think they were good enough to recognise that part of the proceeds are going to the Bobby Moore Fund,’ Lorenzo said. After giving so much of his life to the project, Lorenzo is clearly proud of the film he has made, and the story he has depicted.
‘Other people have tried to tell Bobby’s tale before, and I’m sure will again, but you’ll get more from this than from anyone else,’ he said. ‘If when it all began, I’d looked at a diagram like I was putting Lego together and said “I’ll make the film like this”, where would the creative satisfaction be? What I’ve ended up with is a totally different Bobby Moore story to the one I had in mind at the start, and that’s far more satisfying.’ *Bo66y will be released in cinemas across the country on May 27 and available on DVD, Blu Ray and digital download from May 30.