IT’S 50 years since Bobby Moore was carried around the Wembley pitch with the World Cup trophy held aloft – and it’s 35 years since the England Captain strutted his stuff in a series of games in Perth.
Bobby Charlton was the first of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning heroes to turn out in Western Australia when he played three games for Perth Azzurri in the night series in 1980.
Moore, who was 38 at the time, followed in 1981 when he was a celebrity guest star with Inglewood Kiev in two league games.
He then joined up with Rockingham United for a one-off appearance.
Moore extended his link with WA when he agreed to team up with Cracovia for a four-match tour of Malaysia.
Cracovia won one, drew two and lost one game.
The Cracovia team included Gary Mateljan, who is now a member of the Football Hall of Fame WA, and was coached by the late Paul Sobek, who was also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The team manager was Russell Whitson, who was a member of the Hall of Fame Committee.
Whitson, who died in January 2008, always remembered Moore as a real gentleman with no airs or graces.
There have been many articles written in recent months to commemorate the efforts of Moore – and the entire England team of ’66 – and a movement has gathered pace for him to receive a posthumous knighthood.
A new documentary, entitled simply “Bobby”, was released in England in May to salute the incomparable Moore, who died of cancer at the age of 51 in 1993.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, columnist Jim White said:
“Watching the footage of him in action, observing his calm, elegant control, seeing once again his astonishing ability to read the game, his articulacy in the tackle, the range of his passing, is to appreciate that, while tactics and systems may evolve, talent like his remains an absolute.
“The sad thing about Moore was that, though it seems so obvious 50 years on, the English football establishment never appreciated how special he was. After he retired, it was assumed another would be along just like him any time soon. As the film does not shy away from pointing out, his post-playing life was one long downward trajectory. From the peak of ’66, he slipped further and further from the centre, ending up as a £100-a-time summariser for local radio.
“Instead of being invited into the heart of things, serving as an ambassador, a leader, an adviser, he was shunned, offered no part in the governance of the game. Those in charge thought him a little Essex, a touch too Barking to be included in their Masonic gatherings. So they spurned the biggest asset available to them, allowed a man who would have opened doors across the globe to wither behind a radio mic.”
Another star of the England ’66 team, Alan Ball, followed in the footsteps of Charlton and Moore and made his way to Perth in 1982.
Ball made three stand-out appearances for Floreat Athena.
Then aged 37, he showed he had lost none of the tigerish enthusiasm he displayed for England by driving Athena from midfield. David Andrews, who was the football writer for The West Australian at the time, later said that Ball was the most impressive guest player to have graced WA football.
Ball died in 2007 at the age of 61 of a suspected heart attack while trying to put out a fire in the back garden of his home in England.
Charlton was made a knight in 1994. Now aged 78, he is a director of Manchester United and the South Stand at Old Trafford was renamed the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand in April, 2016.
WA Football Historian Richard Kreider writes:”Bobby Moore was my very first interview from my Radio 6NR days. Just nine days after being on the air. Nine days! I was a gibbering wreck but Mr Moore made my interview sound like a million dollars. Admittedly there were two of us. (John Doust was the other interviewer, but he was not a soccer man and had no idea of proper football questions).