Bobby Moore documentary by Dartmouth Park director marks 50 years since England World Cup victory
- Credit: Action Images / MSI
Bridget Galton talks to Bo66y director Ron Scalpello, who marks 50 years since England’s World Cup victory with a documentary on squad captain.
As the latest England squad prepare to jet off to the Euros, it’s timely to look back nearly 50 years to English football’s finest hour.
Wembley, July 30, 1966 and that iconic image of red-shirted England captain Bobby Moore holding the Jules Rimet trophy aloft is etched in every football fan’s memory.
A new documentary about Moore by Dartmouth Park director Ron Scalpello appropriately had its premiere at Wembley Stadium on Monday.
Boasting interviews with family, team mates, and commentators, Bo66by focuses on the footballing hero’s life before and after the landmark tournament; a career played out in a very different climate to the modern Premier League.
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“It’s not just a football story it’s a very rich story, about the rise and fall of a significant figure in British social history,” says the former sport and music journalist.
“It celebrates 50 years since the World Cup from a historical perspective through the life of a giant who become a national icon.”
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The 49-year-old says Moore was a worthy working class hero at a time when class boundaries were breaking down in Britain.
“The squad’s never-repeated achievement seemed to symbolise a certain period in English sporting supremacy with Moore as a kind of Steve McQueen character, a beautiful young man who held himself with dignity and grace.
“Getting to know him in more detail he had an amazing sense of understanding and innate ability to lead; to be respected while not being egotistical; to ensure they worked as a team despite lots of strong characters in that squad.”
The documentary uses World Cup footage, interviews with surviving team mates, Gordon Banks and George Cohen and opponents like Pele, and airs previously unseen home movies.
“The most important thing is to get to the heart of the man.
“We interviewed his first wife Tina, daughter Roberta and second wife Stephanie to get a view of the domestic sphere. There’s real poignancy in the footage of Moore with Tina that shows a young man falling in love with his teen sweetheart.”
Tina talks movingly about the time two years before the 1966 World Cup when Moore underwent surgery for testicular cancer.
“They agreed not to share the surgery publicly, it was a different time, people didn’t understand testicular cancer. It was a potential disaster that might have ended his career yet within 18 months he comes back stronger than ever.”
Born in Barking, Moore captained West Ham for a decade as well as securing 108 caps for England and playing in three World Cups.
Scalpello a “passionate” football fan and West Ham season ticket holder, adds: “There were three players from the West Ham youth academy who ended up playing in the final and it’s perceived rather tongue in cheek that West Ham won the world cup - but that does a massive disservice to all the other players in the squad.”
Scalpello likens Moore’s post tournament fame to “a prototype Beckham career”.
“He was an international icon recognised all over the world.”
But unlike Beckham there were few opportunities to trade on his fame. After retiring to managerial roles in the lower leagues, Moore suffered financial worries, chronic insomnia and died aged 51 of bowel cancer.
“There was a lot more going on under the surface,” says Scalpello.
“The Premier League has changed the modern game, we tend to forget that football came from very humble origins - when he was an apprentice Tina was earning more than him as a secretary. Back then footballers weren’t set apart, but members of the community, once your career finished you had to quickly retrain, but Bobby was so famous he could hardly be a bank manager.
“The neglect of him after he retired was a great pity. He never got a proper manager’s job like Franz Beckenbauer. The FA didn’t use him as a symbol or ambassador.
“He found it hard to support his family and for a period had depression – he wasn’t even knighted - the documentary is encouraging a campaign to get him knighted posthumously – yet there are statues of him outside Wembley and Upton Park, he is one of our greatest players who represented a special time in football and certain values, and he’s among 20 or 30 people who represent Britishness.”