The film begins by taking us back to that momentous day, 30 July 1966. With fantastic colour footage of the stadium, the World Cup final is brought back to life with its roaring crowds and sense of anticipation. The cameraman sneaks into the tunnel and we get the first glimpse of our man Bobby Moore.
But this is not a World Cup documentary. The makers of Bo66y are not here to show you what you already know. Whilst the final in ’66 is a pivotal point in Moore’s story and one which the film centres itself around, producer Matthew Lorenzo (of Sky Sports) has in mind a more complete look at the life of England’s number six.
It is for this reason that we are first catapulted back eight years to some rather less glamorous days at London club West Ham. Originally nicknamed “tubby” or “fatso” Moore managed to shake off his doubters and make the Hammers team sheet with the support of teammate Malcolm Allison.
Amid the dark days of 4-0 losses and brutal write-ups Bobby’s first wife, Tina, recounts her first meeting with the then shy young man. Unimpressed by his work as a footballer, Tina took some persuading, revealing that Moore was in fact something of a romantic. Tina also provides an insight into Moore’s drive. By the age of 20, he was taking corners against the likes of Brazil in the 1962 Chilean World Cup.
In this way the film goes back and forth piecing together Moore’s development with West Ham and his marriage to Tina. Elements of Moore’s personal life are discussed including his cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment in 1964. This illness is cited as the beginning of the defender’s problems with insomnia.
Big names from the game such as former West Ham manager, Harry Redknapp, World Cup winner Sir Geoffrey Hurst and ex-footballer Frank Lampard Snr appear along the way to provide commentary on both Moore himself and football during this era.
After a run through the group games against Uruguay, Mexico and France plus that brutal quarter-final against Argentina, the film inevitably returns to Wembley and the game against West Germany.
Skilfully re-conjuring the exhilaration of the day, Ron Scalpello manages to convey the life changing effect of the final as it happened without allowing it to dominate the whole film. For football lovers this part of the documentary is the high point, with the England team at their finest and plenty of opportunity to reargue those controversial goals.
For those who shake their heads at the lifestyle of footballers in our times they might be surprised to find that this is the night the game changed. According to Tina Moore this is the night the game became glamorous. Accordingly, this is where the film takes a different path exploring lesser known aspects of Moore’s newfound fame including parties with The Rolling Stones and having Sean Connery over to babysit.
Unfortunately this doesn’t last long. The film covers Moore’s arrest and subsequent release during a stopover in Colombia whilst travelling to the 1970 Mexico World Cup. There is then the loss to West Germany in the quarter final and decline following a move to Fulham and nearly taking up a post as Watford manager.
It is this staggering later part of the story that many are not familiar with. The image of the man in the red jersey is long forgotten giving way to financial difficulties, rejections and work as a commentator for local radio.
Whilst this truly heart-breaking account of the life of Bobby Moore ends with his death through bowel cancer in February 1993 there are many questions that still remain. Both Moore’s first wife Tina and second wife Stephanie speak of how crushed he felt at the rejections he received and his inability to find work in the footballing community. Sir Geoffrey Hurst raises a further question of whether Moore should have been knighted, whilst England manager Roy Hodgson and current captain Wayne Rooney touch on Moore’s legacy and his inspirational career.
This documentary is at once a nostalgic nod to the glory days of England’s finest and a heart-breaking tale of talent, stardom and loss. Whilst some may view the depiction of Moore as overly positive with various sources including the likes of Pelé, Norman Hunter and Gordon Banks painting him very much as a hero, these contributions are genuine and focused on remembrance rather than controversy. What emerges is a well-constructed comment on a life but also on the beautiful game itself and the startling realisation that by the end maybe, just maybe, we let down the greatest defender the game has ever known.
Review by Georgina Pollard
Bo66y is in cinemas 27 May and on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download on 30 May 2016.