Football: West Ham are united by memories of Moore: Henry Winter witnesses an emotional farewell to a legend at Upton Park

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE East End had turned out in force to honour Bobby Moore, but all around the Boleyn Ground were innumerable representations of the man's enduring reputation across the country and overseas.

From the Clock End at Highbury: 'You were lucky to have him. We were lucky he was English'. From Italy: 'Bobby - Riposa In Pace'. And from the visitors: a wreath laid in the centre circle by two Wolves fans, whose every step across Upton Park's cloying surface was applauded.

Few areas of modern life can generate the feeling of togetherness that unites football when one of its most distinguished practitioners passes away. Martin Peters, returning with Geoff Hurst to carry a floral tribute to Moore on to the pitch, spoke of being 'part of the family again', despite having left the club close to a quarter of a century ago.

The current upholders of the claret-and-blue tradition possess little of the style of the Moore-Peters-Hurst era but at least the club's miseries of last season - relegation and demonstrations - have been forgotten in the success of Billy Bonds's team, the admitted failure of the debenture scheme, and now the unity following Moore's death.

The man himself would have appreciated the dignified way the club paid its repects - Kenneth Wolstenholme's commentary of Moore lifting the European Cup- Winners' Cup in 1965 followed by a minute's silence and a match without the West Ham No 6 shirt.

The game itself was more Police Academy than Academy, the sides exchanging fruitless, error-strewn moves until the 57th minute. Steve Bull reminded everyone how to finish (himself included, some might say) by dispatching Mark Rankine's cut-back with a splendid volley from 15 yards.

Within 40 seconds West Ham were level, although whether the goal should have been allowed is debatable. Julian Dicks spoiled another impressive display with a high lunge at Rankine to win the ball, a challenge which left the Wolves midfielder writhing on the grass. Unpunished by Ray Bigger, Dicks laid the ball wide to Mark Robson whose crisp cross was headed in by Trevor Morley.

Dicks is infuriating to watch: good enough to play for England, his wayward side lurks close to the surface in tackles which make even the hardest home fan wince. His left foot is as good as Tony Dorigo's or Stuart Pearce's as he showed by smiting a 60th-minute penalty past Mike Stowell after Lawrie Madden had knocked over Kevin Keen.

Stowell then produced an astonishing save to deny Dicks, the Wolves keeper somehow reacting quickly enough to tip over a venomous free-kick. With Dicks running the game from full-back, it came as no surprise when the Hammers claimed their third from a move down Wolves' demoralised right flank, Matt Holmes scoring via Derek Mountfield's unwitting deflection.

With a relatively straightforward run-in, West Ham's elevation to the Premier League looks ensured. A crowd of 24,679 - Upton Park's largest of the season - had come to remember; they left thinking positively of the future as well.

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

West Ham United: Miklosko; Brown, Dicks, Potts, Gale, Robson (Holmes, 75), Butler, Morley, Small, Keen, Bishop. Substitute not used: Martin.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Stowell; Blades, Venus, Burke, Mountfield, Madden, Rankine, Cook, Bull, Thompson, Dennison (Mutch, 78), Substitute not used: Edwards.

Referee: R Bigger (Croydon).