1966 World Cup 50th anniversary: Barking remembers Bobby Moore
- Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES
Celebrations are taking place up and down the country today to mark the 50th anniversary of England’s historic World Cup win.
Fours days after his childhood home was honoured with Barking and Dagenham’s only English Heritage blue plaque, one man will feature prominently in people’s memories and thoughts.
Leader. Legend. Icon
Such words are often bandied about when describing sports stars, but when talking about Barking’s most famous son, they could not be more apt.
Robert Frederick Chelsea Moore was born at Barking Hospital, then known as Upney Hospital, in Upney Lane, on April 12, 1941, while an air raid siren wailed outside.
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A pupil of Westbury School, in Ripple Road – which is now part of Ripple Primary – Bobby, as the world would remember him, lived with his parents Robert and Doris in Waverley Gardens.
Debbie Riley, 60, moved into a house opposite Bobby’s home shortly after the footballer’s dad, a former Beckton gas worker, lost his battle with cancer.
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“I knew Bobby because my husband worked for West Ham,” she explained.
“We used to have a claret and blue car covered in bubbles – it actually said ‘Don’t follow me, follow West Ham United – and one time he asked his mum who the car belonged to.
“His mum told him it was my husband’s so he came across the road to meet him.”
Despite being the only England captain to lift the World Cup, a fashion icon and a bona fide A-list celebrity, Debbie insists her neighbour’s son never let fame change him.
“He was absolutely lovely, quite shy, but always immaculately dressed,” she said.
“He used to pick up his mum in a Rolls Royce and she’d come out in a mink coat that he’d bought for her – she was like the Queen Mother.
“It was quite funny, all the neighbours used to watch.
“She never called him Bobby though, it was always ‘My Robert’ – so we weren’t allowed to call him Bobby either.
“There was nothing ostentatious or flash about him, he was shy and retiring. He wasn’t someone that was boastful in any way.
“You would just think he was Mr Ordinary, apart from the fact he drove a Rolls Royce!”
Debbie’s brother Mark Julians, 55, now occupies the house after his retired publican sister moved to Felixstowe.
And the pipe-fitter reveals his bedroom may have been slept in by an infant Bobby.
“The lady who lived in this house before my sister bought it used to babysit for Bobby and he often stayed in this house on a Saturday night,” he said.
“There’s a good chance he slept up in my bedroom.”
Retired nursery nurse Joyce Sheppard, 87, lives next door to the former Moore home and was another close friend of Bobby’s mother Doris.
“They were a lovely family,” she said. “His parents were delightful.
“I only really saw Bobby at the weekends when he came to visit them, but he always said ‘Hello’.
“I was very fond of them, they were very nice people.
“It’s really exciting to think how much someone from this street achieved.”
The first blue English Heritage plaque to be installed in Barking and Dagenham, and the first for a footballer, was unveiled at Bobby’s home yesterday on Tuesday.
It marked the house where he not only grew up, but also where he was still living when he made his unforgettable England debut in 1962.
HGV driver Darrin O’Connor, 49, lives opposite the house and used to play with Bobby’s son Dean, who died at the age of 43 in 2011.
“We used to play football in the street, like you do as a kid,” he said.
Despite being a West Ham supporter, he admits Bobby was just one of the regular dads on the road to him.
“He was just another dad,” he said. “He had a big yellow Jaguar coupe which stood out a little but that was it really.
“But he certainly deserves the plaque for what he’s achieved through his life..
“After all, he’s the only England captain to win the World Cup.”