Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hurst's Chapter and Verse; Football

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hurst's Chapter and Verse; Football

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN DYER

BOBBY MOORE was my big hero but Geoff Hurst wasn't far behind. I can still see him now - big, pow erful, short strides, cheeks puffed out, that gap-toothed smile when he scored. Hurst smiled a lot at his peak, both for England and West Ham.

He won 49 England caps in six years from 1966, scoring 24 goals. In 499 ga mes for West Ham he netted another 248. What would he or Moore be worth in today's inflated transfer market?

Sir Geoff is too modest to fix a price on his own head but says of his late friend and team-mate: "Bobby w ould be priceless now. We've never really had anyone any where near as good since he played. Rio Ferdinand could maybe develop into a worldclass player but it is a big maybe. It's up to him. Rio is probably ahead of Bobby in basic talent but he had that special attitude."

I was at We m bley in '66 to see Hurst score his hat-trick against West Germ a ny. I didn't care then if the ball crossed the line for his second goal and I care even less now.

The Russian linesman was good enough for me. As for the scorer himself, he is still not sure.

Hurst, how ever, revisits that old controversy in his book, 1966 and All T hat, published by Headline and written in collaboration with my Evening Standard colleague, Michael Hart.

It is an account of his life and w ork; his early days in Chelmsford, Essex, how West Ham manager Ron Greenwood transformed him fro m an average wing-half into a worldclass striker; the 1966 and 1970 World Cup finals; the subsequent rift with his parents; his brother's suicide; his daughter's life-threatening illness.

Hurst was one of the best of his era, a time of primitive defenders, crunching tackles from behind, mud-bath pitches. Now 59, Hurst talks admiringly of 'Bobby's attitude' but he, too, was determined to maximise his potential. The way he lost that front tooth, long before he became a superstar and cricketers w ore helmets, illustrates the man's determination.

As he writes in his book: "It was knocked out when I was playing club cricket for Chelmsford. I was batting and the ball flew off the top edge and caught me in the mouth, knocking one of m y front teeth about 15 yards to point. It was painful but I went back and scored 50!"

At his peak as a centre-forward, Hurst was unstoppable. Together with the impish Johnny Byrne, they formed a prolific striking partnership at Upton Park in the early and middle Sixties and, as he recalls: "At one stage I was averaging two goals per game. In one week I played in three matches and scored a total of 10 - a four and two threes."

Hurst sees no reason why that extraordinary scoring average should not be reproduced now.

"The rules favour strikers much more these days," he says. "Top strikers should be looking at an average of a goal every two matches. …

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