There is an old saying you should never meet your idols, the inference being they are bound to be a disappointment.
As I am unlikely to see Bob Dylan strolling through Alicante anytime soon that eventuality can be discounted, but watching again the ITV drama series Tina and Bobby again over Christmas it occurred to me that long ago I came into the orbit of a true hero – Bobby Moore.
Far be it for me to claim I knew him, even remotely (many who were classed as friends often expressed the view he was an engaging yet distant character), but toward the end of his life when he worked as a broadcaster for Capital Radio our paths occasionally crossed in the press box. Hell, I would go so far to say the highlight of my sports writing career was not a Champions League Final or World Cup tie but receiving a nod of recognition from Bobby Moore – three days after sitting near each other at Wembley for a midweek England fixture, we met again in the press room of Villa Park, he giving me a ‘we have to stop meeting like this’ type grin. For the life of me I cannot remember who Aston Villa played that day but will never forget an up-close Bobby Moore smile – that from July 30 1966 had been engrained on the consciousness of a nation.
Space does not allow to fully extol Bobby Moore the footballer. The finest defender Britain has ever produced, the best of his generation and since he retired from the International stage only Rudi Krol and Paulo Maldini have come close to reaching his level of achievement, but Moore was suitably gifted to be world class in any era he would have played. Until England once more unearth a central defender with the poise and instinct to counteract danger in an instant, their delusions of grandeur will remain exactly that.
As for Bobby Moore the man who knows? The Tina and Bobby TV drama had a decent script and was well acted but like successive biographies found it difficult to depict a man who could be emotionally elusive even to those who knew him well. Clearly he was complex and flawed, as we all can be, but despite his foibles he seemed remarkably short of ego or side for someone who achieved so much.
His acclaim as a footballer was richly deserved – what he did not deserve was the shabby, appalling treatment he received from West Ham United and The Football Association when his playing career ended. Neither was it fair for him to be taken at the relatively young age of 51.
The day after he died in February 1993 I asked John Bond, then manager of Shrewsbury Town about England’s World Cup winning Captain and his former West Ham team-mate. Holding back tears John thought for a moment before replying: ‘There are no more from where Bobby came from.’
NEIL SAMBROOK is the author of MONTY’S DOUBLE – an outstanding new thriller now available as an Amazon Kindle Book.