Bobby Moore was a man I had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside when he became the sports editor of Sport Newspapers at a time when no other organisation – and shamefully football itself – offered him any sort of role. He managed just three clubs over six years after his retirement – Oxford City, Eastern Sports Club and Southend United.
Thirty years on from his death he was remembered as the greatest footballer this country has ever produced and shamefully was never knighted. It would be wrong for me to claim Bob as a friend. He was a guy for whom I ghost wrote and came to admire as a human being even more than a footballer. That’s as big a compliment as I can pay him.
His humility and golden smile were his trademarks and I remember doing one column with him on the pride he felt in leading England. ‘Not a lot,’ he answered. ‘What does the captain do exactly? Shake hands and call heads or tails.’
That was Mooro. Always self depreciating, always looking to take the attention off himself with an ironic comment and gentle smile. To have grown up in the west enclosure seeing that blond head emerge from the tunnel and later to become his ghost writer goes down as the moment of moments in my career – he was the best of us.
The last time I saw him was at The Hawthorns when I was covering West Brom v the Irons way back then and he was a pundit for a London broadcasting station – a tragedy in itself given his stature. He didn’t look well and I mentioned it to him as we had a cup of tea at half time. As ever there was no fuss with him replying: ‘Oh, just a touch of winter flu Hughie.’
That was Bob: No fuss, no bother, no fluster – an attitude he carried on to the pitch. But a month later I learned he had passed away from cancer. He died as he lived – calm and at peace. Forever remembered.