Bobby Moore with Celtic captain Billy McNeill

Testimonial Thriller! The night the mighty Celtic paid tribute to the great Bobby Moore

The illustrious career of West Ham United’s greatest captain Bobby Moore was marked with a memorable Testimonial match against Celtic on this day 51 years ago.

The evening of 16 November 1970 saw the Boleyn Ground lit up by visit of the Scottish giants for a game that no fan who attended will ever forget.

On the night, Moore was honoured by nearly 25,000 supporters eager to pay tribute to, at that point, the only player to raise a major trophy in Claret and Blue, and the man who had led England to FIFA World Cup glory just four years before.

The defender was also just a few months removed from another outstanding display on the world’s biggest stage, when his immaculate tackling and post-match embrace with Pele were the highlight of England’s narrow defeat by Brazil in Mexico.

Moore’s outstanding performances caught the imagination of his fellow professionals and the wider football public, too, with the Hammer being named runner-up for the Ballon d’Or and third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year voting.

The Testimonial itself broke new ground, with the unique arrangements for the game being handled not by West Ham, but by fuel suppliers Esso.

Among the topics handled by Esso was attracting top-class opposition and, in 1970, they did not come much bigger than Celtic.

The Glaswegians had become the first British club to win the European Cup in 1967, beating Italians Inter Milan in the final in Lisbon.

Three years later, they reached the final again, only to be edged out 2-1 after extra-time by Dutch champions Feyenoord.

Seven of the legendary Lisbon Lions were in Jock Stein’s side at the Boleyn Ground, including goalscorer Tommy Gemmell, captain Billy McNeill and the winger Jimmy ‘Jinky’ Johnstone.

On the other side, Ron Greenwood blended Hammers heroes like Moore, Geoff Hurst, Frank Lampard and Clyde Best with newer faces in full-back John McDowell, Moore’s new central defensive partner Tommy Taylor and 17-year-old winger Johnny Ayris.

Unfortunately, Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds missed the game through injury, while Martin Peters had moved to Tottenham Hotspur in a swap deal involving Jimmy Greaves in March of that year.

Unsurprisingly, the teams produced a titanic tussle that produced six goals and entertaining, attacking football from two talented groups of players.

Celtic went ahead three times – through Bobby Lennox, Johnstone and George Connelly – but, led by the irrepressible Moore, West Ham roared back on each occasion.

It was from the defender’s cross-field pass that Geoff Hurst scored the Irons’ first equaliser, followed by second-half strikes from Ayris and Best.

Johnstone should have won it for the visitors in the final seconds, but his shot flew over the crossbar and West Ham held on to secure a share of the spoils.