Bertie And Bobby: You Couldn’t Make It Up
Where Fact Is Stranger Than Fiction
Bertie Lutton and his family have regaled us with two astonishing stories in the build-up to Wolves’ midweek visit to another of his old clubs, West Ham.
The former Northern Ireland forward, who was finally located by this website in January following more than a year of trying, has been resident for most of the last three and a half decades in Melbourne, Australia.
But that hasn’t stopped us gleaning tales about him that are given a topical twist by Wolves’ trip to Upton Park on Tuesday.
And one surrounds the man who touched the nation’s hearts by lifting the World Cup at Wembley 44 long years ago.
“I was good friends at West Ham, as we all were, with Bobby Moore,” Bertie said. “He was a lovely, lovely man to be around and we obviously all looked up to him for what he had achieved with the club and with England.
“When I was at Upton Park, I was chosen for the Northern Ireland squad to face England in the Home Internationals of 1973 and asked Bobby beforehand if we could swap shirts at the end.
“But I didn’t get past the bench and was disappointed to learn that Bobby had swapped shirts in the tunnel with one of the Irish lads who had actually played.
“I mentioned this when we reported for training the following pre-season and he was as good as gold. He apologised and promised me something better still. True to his word, he turned up the next day with a shirt he had worn when England set out on their defence of the World Cup in Mexico in 1970.
“I was amazed that he would just give me something that he obviously cherished but that’s the kind of bloke he was.”
As club and country icons go, they come no bigger than the defender who won 108 England caps and received the Jules Rimet Trophy on the never-to-be-forgotten day that his club colleagues Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters scored the goals that saw off West Germany in July, 1966.
Bertie was so taken with the keepsake that he kept it for 33 years, parting with it only at an auction back in England in 2006 as retirement beckoned.
“The shirt fetched £9,000 but Dad swallowed a bit hard when he heard a few weeks ago that it had been offered on e-bay for just under £40,000!” said Lutton’s Wolverhampton-based son, Lee. “He obviously made a few bob in the end from it but it looks like somebody is going to make a hell of a lot more.
“The Mexico World Cup was played in the year I was born, so I was always fascinated by that white shirt. It was perforated, specially designed with tiny holes to make the players more comfortable in that heat. But, here’s the strangest thing……
“Dad never wore it because he treasured it so much and didn’t want to risk washing it. You would only ever see it in the drawer.
“But, when I was in Melbourne with him and lying on the couch one day watching TV, he walked into the room with it on. The news was showing and, just as I was about to ask him why he had put it on, we heard the announcement that Bobby had died.
“Of all the days he decided to wear it at last, it just happened to be the one in 1993 when Bobby lost his fight against cancer. Dad must have been going through a Memory Lane moment and we were absolutely staggered. It was as if he had received a message and acted accordingly.”
Seventeen years ago this month, Wolves were the first visitors to Upton Park after Moore’s passing.
Bertie, who is 60 this year, played 25 matches for Wolves from 1967 to 1971 and made just over half that many appearances after moving to Upton Park in 1972-73, initially on loan, via a spell with Brighton.