Football: Fond farewell to the legend

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The Independent Online
THE long banner draped behind the North Bank goal put into words the feelings of everyone present: 'Goodbye Bobby - thanks for the memories'. They came in their thousands to fill Upton Park with its biggest crowd of the season, laying wreaths, hanging up scarves, pinning to posts old programmes and match tickets and moving tributes to Bobby Moore, who served the club so admirably on 642 occasions.

Last season, West Ham were often a club divided; board and fans at odds over an unloved bond scheme. Yesterday United were truly as one. Those supporters who had run on to the pitch to demonstrate last year, now walked respectfully across to place flowers in a centre circle dominated by a huge No 6 shirt of painted claret and blue flowers, carried out by Moore's World Cup colleagues Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.

The applause for each short pilgrimage grew even louder when two men in Wolves colours strode over to leave their own floral tribute and saluted the home ranks.

Moore's old No 6 shirt was withdrawn for this match, Ian Bishop wearing No 12, but reminders abounded of the top Moore had made famous. West Ham's colours mixed with those from all over Europe. Messages from Napoli, Ibrox, Anfield and a short eulogy scribbled across the front of a Charlton shirt: 'I never saw you play, but my dad told me you were the best'. This shrine stretched for 100 yards.

Inside the crowd of 24,679 stood for the minute's silence, when the only sounds to be heard were the whispers carried in by the wind of a future generation of Hammers' fans playing outside.

They should have a Premier League team to support next season. A Steve Bull volley gave Wolves the lead before West Ham showed the spirit that has taken them to second in the First Division with goals from Trevor Morley, a Julian Dicks penalty, and Matt Holmes.

Afterwards the fans lingered to re-read the tributes. 'That's the way they feel about him,' Billy Bonds, the West Ham manager, said. 'He was a legend around here.'

West Ham United: L Miklosko; K Brown, J Dicks, S Potts, T Gale, M Robson (M Holmes, 75 min), P Butler, T Morley, M Small, K Keen, I Bishop. Sub not used: A Martin. Manager: B Bonds.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: M Stowell; P Blades, M Venus, M Burke, D Mountfield, L Madden, M Rankine, P Cook, S Bull, A Thompson, R Dennison (A Mutch, 78 min), Sub not used: P Edwards. Manager: G Turner.

Referee: R Bigger (Croydon).

Goals: Bull (0-1, 57 min); Morley (1-1, 57 min); Dicks (2-1, 60 min); Holmes (3-1, 87 min).