Alan Hubbard

Only once in my sports writing career have I begun an interview with an expletive. 

It took place in a Portakabin in the car park of a non-league football club some 35 years ago.

“Bloody hell, Bob,” I exclaimed as I shook hands with my interviewee. “What the f*** are you doing in a place like this?”

The Bob in question happened to be Bobby Moore, England’s World Cup winning captain of 1966 and one of the greatest players who has ever graced a football pitch.

I had knocked on the door marked "Manager" outside that old Portakabin in the car park of Oxford City FC, then a struggling club of part-timers in the bowels of something called the Isthmian League. Moore was sitting behind a cluttered desk. 

Over the years I had got to know "Mooro" quite well from covering not only England games, including several World Cups, but a multitude of West Ham matches.

Those were the times when we hacks could enjoy a friendly beer and a chat with even the most illustrious in sport, on or off the record.

So exactly what was the hero of 1966, who studiously wiped his hands clean on his shirt before accepting the Jules Rimet Trophy from 
The Queen on the late afternoon of July 30, 1966, doing in a place like this?

Moore shrugged and gave a wry grin. “Well, nobody else will give me a job,” he said.

It was, and still is, to the eternal shame of English football in general and the Football Association in particular that nothing more worthy was ever forthcoming for the only Englishman ever to have held aloft football's greatest prize.

Bobby Moore lifts the World Cup aloft for England in 1966
Bobby Moore lifts the World Cup aloft for England in 1966 ©Getty Images

Okay, so he may not have transformed from one of the classiest of players into the greatest manager who has ever lived but can you imagine what an inspirational coach he would have been to say, the England youth team?

Sadly the FA’s blazers turned their backs on him, too busy plumping up their own egos to properly reward the young man who had done so much to help make the nation proud.

Moore should have been one of the game's outstanding global ambassadors, as was his old adversary Pelé.

Instead he ended his days, before succumbing to bowel cancer at the early age of 51, as a pundit on a radio station, a sometimes forlorn figure in the press box where at least he was among friends after the so-called "football family" chose to ignore him.

The reason I am reminded of that poignant interview in Oxford (where surely he should have been receiving an honorary doctorate from the University rather than orchestrating a team of joiners, plumbers, teachers and  hod carriers in the lower echelons of the game), is that in three months’ time we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of England’s greatest football hour (although because of extra time against West Germany, it was actually two).

This anniversary seems to have been overlooked in a year of sport which has been overshadowed by assorted scandals: drugs, sex, the Hillsborough verdict - you name it.

There have been great British successes in the boxing ring and on the golf course, and the rise and rise of Leicester City is the stuff of dreams. But nothing in sporting terms approaches the heady heights of 1966.

Many memorable sporting moments have been translated onto the cinema screens – Eddie the Eagle, now on general release, is the latest example. But no actual movie has ever been made of 1966 and all that.

It has all the ingredients for a perfect sporting drama. However, at least one can be seen soon on the life and times of Bobby Moore. 

The statue of Bobby Moore outside Wembley Stadium in London
The statue of Bobby Moore outside Wembley Stadium in London ©Getty Images

Simply called Bobby, it is a fascinating and moving film produced by TV journalist Matthew Lorenzo who has spent years on the project,  much of the material acquired from Bobby’s family and the archives of Matthew’s late father Peter, a fine sportswriter who was a great friend of Bobby’s.

Greg Dyke, in his final act as outgoing chair of the FA, is allowing it to be shown at Wembley Stadium on May 23 before it goes on release later that week.

Hopefully it will arouse awareness and raise money for Bobby’s widow Stephanie’s bowel cancer charity as well as providing a fitting tribute to Moore, one that hopefully will prompt the authorities into awarding "Sir" Bobby a posthumous knighthood.

It has always puzzled me that merited knighthoods have been given to manager Alf Ramsey, and players Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst, but not to the blonde maestro who so brilliantly led the team.  

How appropriate if this scandalous snub could be rectified in the upcoming Queen’s Honours list in the 50th anniversary year of England’s greatest sporting achievement.