The 30th of July 1966 is forever etched on the English football fans conscience.
Every one of the English players performed like a hero especially the captain but at the beginning of the tournament there was a huge doubt hanging over Bobby Moore's participation in the competition.
The rules for the tournament in 1966 stated that every player must be signed to a club in order to participate. At the time Bobby was in dispute with West Ham and had refused to sign a new contract. You have to remember that in those days the clubs held a players registration even though the players contract had run out and that they still "owned" the player and could demand a transfer fee if they so desired.
The dispute centred on the princely sum of £10 per week which by today's standards is a laughable amount to disagree over but as Bobby's contract with West Ham was due to run out on the 30th June 1966 it meant that he would be ineligible for the match against Uraguay which was to be the opening game after the Queen had opened the tournament.
Ron Greenwood was summoned to Hendon Hall, the England teams hotel, by Sir Alf Ramsey who was annoyed about the whole affair disturbing the atmosphere he had worked so hard to create. When Greenwood arrived at the hotel he was told by Ramsey "You can have him in there for just one minute." Bobby duly signed a 1 month contract with West Ham. It is interesting to note that Bobby was regularly the last person to sign a new contract with the club. This was not due to greed just the fact that he wanted a fair deal. It is hard to believe that the country's best known player was never the highest earner in the Football League.
On the 11th July 1966 England played out the opening game of the tournament against Uragauy. The Uraguyans played ultra defensively and it was an awful game which resulted in the crowd giving England a lot of stick and a final score of 0 - 0.
Next up were Mexico and goals from Bobby Charlton and Roger Hunt gave the home side a 2 - 0 victory. The last game in the group stages was against France and 2 goals from Roger Hunt meant England were through to the quarter finals against Argentina but the crowd was still not happy.
The Argentina game will always be remembered for the dismissal of Antonio Rattin and the chaos that ensued when he refused to go off. FIFA officials were called down from the stands as the whole Argentinian team was arguing with the referee but the game eventually resumed without Rattin and a Hurst goal meant that England went into the semi finals. After the game Ramsey famously said "Our best football will come against the right type of opposition. A team who come to play football and not act as animals." This comment got Sir Alf an official warning from FIFA despite the fact that the FIFA disciplinary board said of the Argentinians "They brought the game into grave disreputeby their flagrant breaches of the laws and disregardfor discipline and good order."
The semi final was against Portugal and 2 goals from Bobby Charlton answered only by a penalty from Eusebio gave England a 2 - 1 victory and a place in the final against West Germany. This game seemed to be a turning point for the crowd and Bobby was later to say that he felt that this was the first time that the crowd believed in the team.
Bobby Moore spent the morning of July 30th consoling his good friend Jimmy Greaves who had been told by Ramsey that he would not be in the side. The game started well for the Germans who scored first but a goal from Hurst after a quickly taken free kick from Moore drew tha teams level. Martin Peters put England in front and that is the way it stayed until the final minute when the West Germans scored with only seconds remaining after a hotly disputed handball incident.
In the moments before extra time Ramsey looked over at the Germans and said "Look at them. They are finished. You have won it once now go and win it again." In extra time Hurst scored probably the most debated goal in history and then with only seconds remaining the ball broke to Bobby on the edge of the England penalty area and with Jackie Charlton and Nobby Stiles shouting at him to get rid of it he calmly passed the ball 40 yards to the feet of Geoff Hurst and as Kenneth Wolstenholme famously said "Some people are on the pitch. They think it's all over, it is now!" Final score England 4 West Germany 2.
On the way to collect the trophy Mooro took one look at the Queens white gloves and proceeded to wipe his muddy hands on the velvet drape of the Royal Box.
In a way that sums up Bobby.....immaculate on and off the pitch. This was the pinnacle of his career and as he was later to recall "It was the be all and end all." The pride on the players faces is clear to see in any photograph.
Bobby received the Player Of Players after the 1966 World Cup. His belief in sportsmanship as well as his leadership and playing skills made him a worthy winner.
When you consider some of the other players who were at the tournament such as Yashin and Eusebio who had wonderful performances throughout the championships you get an idea of the prestige involved.
1970 World Cup Finals
After the dramatic events of the previous days it must have been a relief for Bobby to get back within the England training camp. Considering what he had been through he was remarkably fit and he was back in his normal position of captain as England took on their first opponents, Romania.
The game was not particularly exciting but England were the eventual victors by 1 - 0 with a goal from Bobby's West Ham colleague Geoff Hurst.
The second game was against Brazil and many people saw this as the forerunner for the eventual final. This game is famous for so many things. The remarkable save by Gordon Banks from Pele's header which is probably the best save ever and certainly the most often seen on television. Alan ball hitting the crossbar towards the end of the game. The fantastically timed tackle by Bobby Moore, which saw him backing off of Jarzhinio for 20 yards and then taking the ball off his toe at the last minute with the precision of a surgeon's scalpel. But none of this stopped Brazil winning By 1 - 0.
Most famous of all has to be the scene of Moore and Pele swapping shirts at the end of the game. The mutual respect of two giants of the game was there for all to see. Pele turned down other people so that he could swap shirts with the man he called "The greatest defender I ever played against."
The next game was England's last in the group stages and they beatCzechoslovakia 1 - 0 thanks to an Allan Clarke header to set up a quarter- final match against West Germany.
The West Germany game was to be a watershed for England. Leading 2 - 0 with goals from Mullery and Peters and seemingly in control with only 20 minutes to go Sir Alf made a decision that many were never to understand. Bobby Charlton and Martin Peters were taken off to be replaced by Norman Hunter and Colin Bell. You could almost see life come back to Franz Beckenbauer who had been marking Bobby Charlton. Beckenbauer duly scored with a soft shot that Peter Bonetti, deputising for an ill Gordon Banks, should really have saved. The confidence visibly ebbed away from England and Uwe Seeler scored with a header after another mistake by Bonetti to equalise and take the game into extra time. There were to be no heroics this time and Gerd Muller scored the winner for West Germany.
The whole game had been turned by one substitution and many people could not understand why Sir Alf had done it. Mooro could see the reasoning behind the change but as Bobby Charlton was one of the fitter members of the squad, despite being at the wrong end of his career, he never really understood why Ramsey had selected Charlton to be rested.
Unlike most of the England squad Bobby stayed on to see the rest of the Tournament, which Brazil went on to win with victory over Italy in the final. Little did he know that England was not to appear again in the final stages of the World Cup for 12 years. Moore and Pele swap shirts. The greatest striker and the greatest defender.