Bobby was the GOAT

Edward Case
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Bobby Charlton is the finest player ever to don the England shirt. He scored 49 international goals in 106 appearances at a time when balls were heavier, defenders were harder and playing surfaces more like mud bogs than today’s plush carpets of green.

That would be some feat for any player, but Bobby wasn’t even an all-out striker. He was the template for today’s attacking midfielder. Without him there wouldn’t have been a Paul Scholes or Bryan Robson and much of Jude Bellingham’s game is modelled on what Bobby did 60 years ago (although admittedly Duncan Edwards had been Matt Busby’s original candidate for the role).

A survivor of the 1958 Munich air crash that decimated Manchester United’s squad of “Busby Babes”, he was the cornerstone of what Sir Matt built over the following 10 years into the team that became the first English club to lift the European Cup.

When I was growing up during the 1960s, all over the globe, non English speakers would invariably demonstrate their knowledge of the lamguage with two heavily accented words: “Bobby Charlton”. I saw him play when United would come to Molineux between 1968-73 and while eyes were inevitably drawn to George Best, everything the team did above the halfway line began with the stately, calming presence of Charlton.

I don’t think he made a single tackle in his entire career, but he could control the pace of a game from the centre circle by simply putting his foot on the ball and stopping dead while everyone else was running about like headless chickens and with either foot he could unleash a shot of such power and accuracy that they were just unstoppable.

Even Pele himself once said that Bobby could shoot from Manchester and score in Rio.

He was booked only once in 17 years and that was during the melee of the 1966 World Cup quarter final when the Argentine skipper Ratin was sent off and every outfield player somehow found themselves in the panicking ref’s little black book just for being there.

Bobby was our greatest ambassador for the game both during and after his playing career. He was a gentleman, a statesman and at Old Trafford a revered hero on a level all his own whose loyalty to the Red Devils was unwavering until his death at 86 on Saturday after suffering with dementia.

Sleep well Sir Bobby.

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Woke-ness really has completely got out of hand when someone like actress Emily Blunt finds herself having to apologise for something she said on an American chat show 12 years ago.

No one would have remembered her off the cuff comment about a waitress if it hadn’t suddenly re-emerged as if by magic on social media last week.

Do the woke police go searching back though everything that’s ever been said by living celebrities on the off chance that they might find something to shame them in this new puritanical age where everything is viewed as black or white with no nuance or irony (whch is really done just to create content that will encourage online comments)? It’s ludicrous.

The best thing Emily could have done, especially for whoever is next in line for a public shaming, would have been to respond with: “Really? Is that the best you’ve got? Get a life!”

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The BBC drama The Reckoning has to be one of the most disturbing pieces I’ve ever seen on television thanks to an utterly chilling portrayal of Jimmy Savile by Steve Coogan whose performance is so convincing it makes my skin crawl to the extent that I’m having to watch it in small bursts, Even then it makes me feel dirty and in need of a long hot shower.

He has to be a dead cert for a BAFTA with this transcendent, menacing display of a true monster hiding in plain sight.

Stupid TV quiz answer of the week

Tipping Point

Q: Housesteads was a fort on which fortified barrier built to protect the north west frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain?

A: Fort Knox?

Special mention to the guy on Tipping Point who thought Bram Stoker wrote Tarzan.

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Edward Case

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