Friday, 30 May 2014

Their respective clubs' outrageous treatment of Yaya Touré and Bobby Moore - compare and contrast

I read roughly one sports book a year. 2014’s treat is QPR manager Harry Redknapp’s Always Managing: My Autobiography (a snip at £3.49 on Kindle, here). I’m about half-way through, and it is fascinating, funny and poignant. When I read about West Ham’s treatment of its greatest-ever player, former captain Bobby Moore (who, let us never forget, was the captain of England’s only World Cup-winning side), I couldn’t help reflecting on Manchester City star Yaya Touré’s recent hissy fit over his club’s appalling failure to make a sufficient fuss of diddums (who earns up to £240,000 a week) on his 31st birthday earlier this month:

 Bob [Bobby Moore] has got it all now. The old South Bank named after him at Upton Park, statues outside the ground and at Wembley Stadium. They even use his name to sell West Ham United merchandise these days. “Moore than a football club” is the slogan. When he was alive they didn’t want to know him. I saw him get slung out of there for not having a ticket.
It was the 1979-80 season… I went to watch West Ham, who were in the Second Division at the time… The players’ families and guests used to sit in E block, and Bobby would often come to watch. He didn’t want to cause a big commotion walking through the crowd, so he would wait until after kick-off, go up to one of the old turnstiles with the wooden doors, and knock. The bloke would open up and, blimey, it’s Bobby Moore. “Come in, Bob, there’s plenty of seats upstairs,” and he would go. I can see him now. He would sit over in the corner, right out of the way, on these rotten old wooden benches that they used to have, and watch the match on his own.
This day I was sitting in E block next to Frank's [Lampard Sr] mum, Hilda, when from behind me I heard, “Harry.” I turned around and it was Bobby. We were about fifteen minutes into the game. “Fancy a cup of tea at half-time?” I said, and he gave me the thumbs-up. Next thing I knew, a steward was marching up the steps towards him. “Excuse me, Bob” – he looked almost ashamed – “it’s not me, but the secretary wants to know if you’ve got a ticket.” Bob said he hadn’t. “Then I’m afraid I’ve been told to ask you to leave.” And he went. Bobby Moore. The Bobby Moore. Thrown out of a half-empty stand at West Ham because he didn’t have a ticket. Now he’s dead you can’t move for pictures of him around the place.
Redknapp partially restores one's faith in humanity by telling the story of what happened after the death in a car accident in Italy of Bournemouth Football Club’s Managing Director, Brian Tiler, a friend of ‘Arry’s (Redknapp, who was the club’s manager at the time, almost died in the same crash). The club arranged a fundraising dinner in aid of Tiler’s family. The reviled chairman of Chelsea, Ken Bates, attended the event. He pulled the organiser aside and told him he’d top every bid in the auction. When Bournemouth eventually sent him the invoice, Bates returned a cheque for double the amount.

Funny old game. 

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