The Day I Met … Bobby Moore

bobbymooreBy Gerry McCarthy

I am not sure what my exact age was but I think I must have been 11 or 12 when I and a couple of friends ventured over to Upton Park one Sunday morning in the hope of collecting autographs. All of us lived within 15 minutes walk of Upon Park in those days, like so many other supporters of that generation and off we trotted with all of our scrapbooks in great anticipation of getting some of our heros’ signatures. We knew that there would not be that many first team players turning up at the ground but we did expect one or two would be there because they may need some treatment or something. After hanging around outside the ground for what seemed many hours we were eventually approached by ‘Paddy the Groundsman’. He was the one who always used to retrieve the ball whenever it went over the Old Chicken Run Stand and he used to walk along to the touchline to great cheers from the crowd whenever it happened. He listened to our reason for being there, but sympathetically told us that there was not much chance of any first team players being there as it was a Sunday, but there might one or two from the youth squad as they had to sweep the terraces and generally clear up.

That was not much use to us even if it may have included a budding Sir Trevor Brooking in the squad at the time. So we eventually we went over across the road to the ‘Bobby Moore Sports shop’ in Green Street to gaze into the window and eye up the things which we or our parents just couldn’t afford. I particularly longed for a pair of football boots under the label Chasseur’s OURS which I believe were a Hungarian brand and had always wanted since I saw them in Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly. Anyway there I was with my nose pressed up against the window when to our amazement we saw a Jaguar Mark 2 in the British Racing Green colours pull up outside the shop. My jaw dropped to my knees as out stepped Bobby Moore with his wife Tina. We immediately surrounded him pleading for his autograph but he only wanted to make his way into the shop and said he might sign for us later. He then obviously realised how disappointed we all were and invited all three of us into the shop where he promised us he would sign as many autographs as we wanted provided we helped him sort out some of the shelves. Well, of course, we did not need to be asked twice. In those days the shops were not allowed to open on Sundays so we knew we would not de disturbed.

I think we spent about an hour helping him doing things which I can’t really remember because I really was so star struck, and he then sat down and signed every autograph we required and chatted to us about our individual aspirations. He even gave us some glossy photos which he signed for us individually. Tina then ushered us out of the shop because I think she was a bit more interested in him doing some other type of work! So off home went three very happy boys to tell their stories which of course nobody believed until we showed them all the evidence.

Many years later, I was propping up a bar in Liverpool Street one evening when a bloke whom I vaguely knew came in with tears in his eyes and informed us that Bobby has just died. There was a strange hush in the place but people then started to remember the good times and stories about Bobby and by the end of the evening the whole pub which included many non West Ham supporters gave a full chorus of ‘Bubbles’.

The following day I just felt I had to go over to Upton Park and pay my respects and spent the whole day there just people watching and looking at all the flowers and momentos that people were bringing and laying. It really was an eye welling experience. I also remember that somebody overnight had already placed a plaque up on the old gatepost in tribute to him. I went back the following Sunday with my brothers to show them and just could not believe the scene it was just a mass of tributes from all over the world.

We eventually made our way on to the main forecourt when somebody tapped my on the shoulder. I turned around to see who it was it was – Alan Sealey whom I had become friends with over the years through his connection with Greyhound Racing. He of course played with Bobby in the final of the ECWC in 1965 in which he scored the two goals that lead us to that great triumph. He just stood there shaking his head in sorrow. Alan also tragically died a relatively young man of a heart attack at the age of 53.

A few years later I was helping my parents move house from East Ham to Hornchurch when I noticed one of the last items to be loaded into the van was an old black sack. When I asked what was inside my dad replied it was those old programs that somebody had given me when I was a kid. As they were mainly Arsenal & Chelsea ones I did not really have much use for them, but I do remember the driver asking me if they were going in but I said to him that he could have them if he wanted, as he was an Arsenal supporter. To my horror many months later I discovered that not only were those old programs in there but also all of the West Ham programs and my old autographed scrapbooks & photographs which included the ones signed by Bobby and one which was signed by all three of our world cup winning team. I contacted the removal company but not surprisingly they were unable to trace them. I can’t bring myself to look on eBay to see if they ever made it there.

I have been a supporter of West Ham for nearly fifty years now, and a season ticket holder for at least 30 of them, and to me Bobby Moore was the greatest player ever to represent this club and maybe even this country. In an a society where words are over emphasized these days the term “Legend” is a fitting and true description of a man who will always be close to the hearts of people from West Ham. It’s a shame that the club did not ever recognise this in the past and they certainly missed out in not employing him an ambassadorial role. Just think of the kind of esteem and respect throughout the world he would have brought to the club.

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32 Responses to The Day I Met … Bobby Moore

  1. Gerry, what started out as a lovely story ended with huge disappointment when I read about the loss of your treasured mementos.

    I know it’s a big blow, but the time that you spent in the little shop with your hero is something that nobody can ever take away from you.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  2. geoff says:

    Iain

    Nice aricle, Bobby (should be SIR BOBBY !!!)still remains the greatest footballer I have ever seen. I’m still so proud that he was one of ‘our boys’ at West Ham. I’m only in my 44th year of supporting the Hammers so a few years behind you, but every year on the anniversary of Sir Bobby’s death a few of us still go out and raise a glass or seven to the greatest footballer ever. I wish we could get him the Knighthood he so deserved.

  3. SJ Chandos says:

    That’s a really nice story and a unique encounter with the great man that you can treasure forever. As they say, they cannot take your memories away from you. The loss of your momentos is absolutely gutting, but I know how you feel. In the late 1980s a girl friend of mine chucked out a load of boxes and folders whilst I was away. It contained all my childhood West Ham scapbooks, shirts and the bulk of my programmes going back to the mid-1960s, 1975 & 1976 FA Cup Final programmes and an official 1976 ECWC Programme. Devastating! Needless to say she did not last very long after that! lol.

    Bobby Moore is quite simply the best and anyone who saw him play is incredibly lucky. I feel sorry for some of the younger people who never saw the 1966 Triuvirate play live. Bobby is the shining star of our club and, indeed, English football. A true legend and a true gentleman.

  4. chris says:

    Our best player and our countries.
    END OF!
    Legend.

  5. Roshi says:

    My meetings with Bobby are so etched on my mind that they never fade. The man was quite simply the greatest footballer ever to grace a football field. The mark of the man is that those of us who were lucky enough to meet him or indeed see him play will never ever forget the experience.
    I was lucky enough to watch him all through his West Ham career and I feel sorry for our younger fans who will never witness the like again.

    RIP

  6. Joe says:

    Nice story Gerry

  7. Roshi says:

    As we are on Bobby stories.

    My cousin was a swimmer for Newham swimming club (think it was Newham) and my aunt was always busy trying to raise funds for the club.
    Way after Bobby retired she wrote him a letter asking for his support, (perhaps a photo for auction)
    Not long after sending the letter, she received a call from Bobby, who ever gracious just said “whatever you want I am here to help”.
    I know he was supportive towards her efforts from then on.

  8. DevoDevo says:

    Nice story, Gerry. Iain, perhaps you can re-post that other wonderful story of Bobby Moore on the train returning from a game?

    My cousin worked at Upton park in the offices in the late 60’s and always spoke very highly of Bobby. In fact, I recall that he gave her a lift home occasionally to Ilford!

    It’s a national disgrace that he never received a knighthood when they seem to give them to all & sundry now.

  9. Met him when he was manager of Oxford City, and we lived down the road from the club. Wonderful footballer (am old enough to have witnessed ’66, and to have seen him play), great guy, hopeless manager.

    My Mum threw out all my mementoes of my Man City fandom. My 30+ programmes from the Championship season, my FA & League Cup programmes, and the 14 foot scarf my gran knitted me.

    How could she!

    By the way Iain, one of the funniest things I ever saw at Maine Road involved West Ham. Our wonderful goalie Joe Corrigan, brings the ball up out of his box for a free kick or summat. Belts it towards your goal, turn round and wanders back, only to see Ronnie Boyce’s volley fly over his head and into our goal. Whole Kippax chanting “Behind you”, and then pissing themselves laughing, despite it being a goal against us.

    Think we lost 5-1 that day. Happy days 🙂

  10. Mick in Iceland says:

    I was very lucky to have two cousin’s who played for the Hammers Bobby Howe and Trevor Hartley (married Bobbies sister Julie). When Bobby married at the Chadwell St Mary village hall which must have been around 1964 (sorry can’t be exact with the year) I was in total ore to have nearly all the 1st team and many of the younger players milling around me including Bobby Moore & Geoff Hurst and thinking how tall they all were, Never really occurred that maybe I was the small one. Memories are made of this.

  11. Doc H Ball says:

    Something died in this country when Bobby Moore passed away. I remember standing outside the gates the night it happened realising that my generation had moved on and things would never be the same again.

    There should be another campaign to posthumously Knight the great man because, as somebody else has posted, many others are given knighthoods now for far less. Even Fred the Shred got one!

    Iain – you’re the one with the political contacts. I’d vote for whoever raised this in the Commons regardless as to any other policy they might have…

  12. E1 says:

    I have Bobby’s autograph signed for me as a kid and it is now framed with an original programme from his debut and his last 1st team game. Every time I look at it the memories just come flooding back.
    Like when I through the ball back to him from the chicken run and he gave me a thumps up and a wink as a small lad it ment the world to me.

  13. ray says:

    great story,i met (sir) bobby once on crewe railway station only about 10 miles from where i live i also got and lost his autograph to my eternal regret,i’ve been a northern born hammer for about 45 years and am still as keen as ever ,coyi

  14. brooking still the best says:

    There’s only one Bobby Moore!

  15. Croydon Hammer says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful memory Gerry. It reminded me of my own meeting with Bobby Moore. I guess I was one of many kids of between 10 and 14 who became West Ham fans when we won the World Cup for England in 1966. It must have been just before my 13th birthday in August 1968 that I pursuaded my Mum and Dad to take me to Bobby’s shop in Green Street to buy me a pair of football boots. Can you imagine my reaction when we walked into the shop and the man himself was behind the counter? He served me and actually put the boots on me to see if they fitted. They could have been five sizes too small and I wouldn’t have noticed, I was so awe struck – Bobby Moore was helping me with my boots!!!!! Even today, I still find it hard to believe it actually happened, but my Mum and Dad were there to confirm it and thankfully, unlike poor Bobby, they are still here today. I think they were pretty awestruck too because we all walked out of the shop without getting Bobby’s autograph, but I had a great pair of Puma’s that I knew Bobby Moore had laced up just for me.

    My sons are now West Ham fans and I still bore them to tears with my story of that day in Bobby’s shop. But one of them watched the Legends DVD of Bobby the other day and he began to appreciate what a fantastic player he was. No matter what else happens to West Ham United, no one can ever change the fact that Bobby Moore (and Hurst, Peters, Brooking, Bonds, Lampard, Martin, Devonshire and all our other Legends) was ours, one of us, West Ham forever! COYI

  16. Shropshire Hammer says:

    Nice one Gerry. Like many of the other fans on this site I have followed West Ham for a long time, for me over 40 years, so it’s always nice to have memories rekindled. I never met Bobby Moore, but I have some fantastic memories of games he played in, a true Hammers (and England) legend.

  17. upton spark says:

    Yes,a good story and well written. I too was very lucky to meet the one and only Bobby Moore as I was doing interviews for a local radio station at the time and Jimmy Greaves was in Basildon doing an evening of chat and his special guest was Bobby. I had asked Jimmy if I could come over before the show started to interview him and he said he would ask Bobby if he would do a short interview as well.Bobby actually done a 10 minute interview with me and he was an absolute gentleman. I was very nervous about meeting him but he was very good at making you feel at ease so it wasn’t a problem.I consider myself very fortunate to have met him and Jimmy of course and will never forget their kindness they showed to me.

  18. mokumhammer says:

    I hate to say it – but Bobby was the first, but also quite likely the last, England captain to pick up the world cup.
    I remember queueing up for hours (or what seemed hours) for Geoff Hursts autograph in leytonstone high st. in the late 60’s. Wonder where that is now?! I don’t have it unfortunately.

  19. On the subject of lost autographs, can I share this one? Even though it’s slightly off-topic it does concern a sporting Knight (as we all agree Sir Bobby should be).

    Sir Garfield Sobers was booked to appear as main speaker at our Boy’s Brigade event in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex.

    The great man duly arrived and entranced his audience for well over an hour with some fabulous stories (Roger Buxton of Essex Radio was our compere for the evening… any profession link there, Upton Spark?).

    We had a lady who specialised in novelty cakes and she baked one for the occasion in the form of a cricket bat, which Sir Garry duly signed for us.

    It was auctioned off and, unbeknown to me, a group of friends clubbed together to make sure they were the top bid, presenting me with the cake later, for organising the event.

    Unfortunately it was the only item we got Sir Garry to auction. So what do you do with an iced cake with a knight’s autograph on it? We decided to freeze it, but about a year after the even we eventually succumbed, thawed the cake, and ate it!! How stupid and short-sighted were we?

    But like I said in my original post in response to Gerry’s story, you can’t take away special memories, even if an autographed item does go astray.

    As a postscript to the story I had the task of driving Sir Garry to his hotel in London, and I remember how gingerly he got out of the car after the journey… his knees were playing him up something rotten.

    Fascinating to read that interview by Piers Morgan with Freddie Flintoff and Sir Garry recently (even if it was in the Daily Fail).

    Sorry about that, going off topic, but I felt it fitted in with the theme of lost autographs and legendary sportsmen.

  20. Sorry, correction, Roger Buxton of BBC Essex. Should have proof-read before posting. DOH!

  21. phil says:

    In about 1968-9 I went down the ground with a friend in midweek to get some autographs. The first player we met was young Trevor Brooking and he spent the best part of half an hour chatting to us (he’d previously been at our school and was asking about all the old teachers).
    Later we went over the road to Bobby Moore’s shop and there he was serving customers (hard to believe now).
    I’ve no idea what happened to those autographs.

  22. Roshi says:

    DevoDevo, I posted the train story of when I was a lad. It was the return trip from a 1-1 draw at Man U.
    Still got the piece of paper with all the signatures on which I guess I could scan and put on here.
    Bottle of wine for the first one to get all the signatures matched up to the names? What do you think.

    I also had the World Cup Final programme, bought by my Dad at the game, which Bobby signed for me, that has somehow gone AWOL. I have searched everywhere but it’s gone. I’ve blamed everyone even the guys who re-lagged my Mums loft about 20 years ago….I know it was them!!!!!

  23. DevoDevo says:

    Re-post it, Roshi. Many more people have joined this blog since it was originally posted.

    I’ll do anything for a bottle of wine! 😉

  24. … and we all promise not to Google the match, or cheat in any other way (even for a bottle of wine) 😉

  25. Eddie Chappers says:

    A really lovely story, very touching and thank you for sharing it with us. The loss of your treasured possessions must have been a great blow though you still have the memories which no-one can take from you. I remember how devastated my late grandad (Eddie Chapman) was to lose many of his treasured west ham items to a burglary, unfortunately they were irreplacable and were never recovered but the memories lived on with him and through his family regardless.

  26. Roshi says:

    DevoDevo,
    I have looked for the post in the archive but can’t find it, can you have a look I think it was about March/April/May last year. I’m not sure if Iain has access to the history of an individuals posts. I will look for my autographed paper tonight and attempt to scan. (any probs perhaps Iain could advise)
    Cheating won’t help because there are some guys who didn’t play in there.

  27. Phil says:

    Eddie Chappers – was that the Eddie Chapman who was your grandad? He gave me a ticket for the 1980 cup final (its a long story) so i’m eternally grateful to him.

  28. E1 says:

    ************************* NEWS FLASH ****************
    BERAHMI is out for 6 months it’s on the official site cruciate ligament damage.

  29. Eddie Chappers says:

    Phil- yeah Eddie is my grandad and its nice to hear someone outside of the family touched by his generosity and kindness, he is sincerely missed and the overriding reason for my passionate support of our great football club.

  30. Goatygav says:

    Thus proving that you really can’t “Have your cake and eat it,” Graybo.

    Many thinks for posting this Gerry. Your memory is such a treasured one – you’ve really brought it to life for us all. I didn’t get to see too much of Bobby Moore as a player but what a dignified, honourable and gentlemanly ambassador he should have been for our club. Do you think any of today’s players would take the time and care that Bobby did with you?

    I have read much about him but your story is far more “Alive” than any book or article I’ve ever come accross.

    So sorry to hear about your loosing your momentos.

    Cheers

    Gav.

  31. Clive Smith says:

    Greatb article about the greatest player ever to waer the claret and blue I have followed the hammers for over fifty years and saw Bobby from the youth team to the first team He had a brain thats what a lot of the present players lack he could read the game like no other player a true legend and why not Sir Bobby its a joke

  32. mokumhammer says:

    Great story graybomeister

    Soooo 70’s

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