‘The young Bobby Moore was an extraordinary talent’

Ken Brown and Bobby Moore celebrate FA Cup glory in 1964


Monday 8 September 1958 will forever be a special date in West Ham United history.

For it was on that day, now some 59 years ago, that a fresh-faced 17-year-old named Bobby Moore appeared on the Hammers’ teamsheet for the first time.

Born in nearby Barking in February 1941, Moore had joined West Ham at the age of 15 just two years previously, quickly impressing manager Ted Fenton and the senior players with his ability and character.

When regular centre-half Malcolm Allison was struck down with tuberculosis, a vacancy in the starting XI opened up alongside Ken Brown.

In the opening weeks of the 1958/59 season, Fenton selected the more experienced Bill Landsowne, with encouraging initial results.

Despite only winning promotion the previous May, West Ham won their opening three matches, then drew with reigning champions Wolverhampton Wanderers, to rise to second in the First Division.

However, a 4-1 defeat at Luton Town saw Fenton reconsider his options. One was to recall Allison, while another was to call-up the blond-haired lad who had caught the eye in the reserves.

Moore, and not his mentor, was handed the No6 shirt, and played his part in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Sir Matt Busby’s Red Devils at a sold-out Boleyn Ground.

The man with the best view in the stadium of the teenager’s encouraging debut was Brown, who encouraged his young teammate through the first 90 minutes of an illustrious, immaculate and hugely successful career.

Bobby's awareness was so much better than everyone else’s

Ken Brown

A teenage Bobby Moore
“As one of the senior players at the club, I would like to think a bit of my experience rubbed off on Bobby, but he was such an extraordinary talent, there wasn’t much he didn’t possess,” Brown told author Tim Crane in the book They Played With Bobby Moore: The West Ham Years.

“His awareness was so much better than everyone else’s.”

Moore and Brown would partner one another at the heart of the West Ham defence much of the 1960s – the most successful decade in the Hammers’ history.

The defensive duo lifted the FA Cup in 1964 (pictured, above) and European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1965, reached the League Cup final in 1966 and were both voted Hammer of the Year by the Claret and Blue Army.

“Walking out at Wembley for that FA Cup final was a magnificent experience,” Brown, now 83, recalled. “The noise of the crowd hit me like an electric shock and it didn’t seem to stop throughout the entire game.

“It was a tremendous feeling and something I will never forget. I followed Bobby up the Wembley steps that day and carried the base of the FA Cup for him.”

Some 59 years on from Moore’s West Ham bow, and nearly 25 after his untimely death at the hands of bowel cancer, Brown will never forget the impact his young teammate had not only on him, but on the Club both served with such class and distinction.

“Bobby was just a great fella.”

*They Played With Bobby Moore: The West Ham Years was written and published by lifelong Hammer Tim Crane. Order your copy here.