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Best recalls THAT night in Blackpool

Filed: Tuesday, 20th December 2016
By: Staff Writer

Clyde Best has revealed what really happened on the infamous night in Blackpool that nearly led to Bobby Moore being sacked by West Ham United.

A West Ham United team - featuring Bobby Moore, Jimmy Greaves, Brian Dear and Best himself - were thrashed 4-0 by underdogs Blackpool in a third round FA Cup tie at Bloomfield Road on 2 January 1971.

However that was just the start of the players' troubles, as someone subsequently leaked to the press that all four had spent the night before the match drinking in a nightclub belonging to the former British boxing Heavyweight champion Brian London.

Ron Greenwood, the manager at the time was naturally furious and, claims Best, initially wanted to sack all those who had been involved - including World Cup-winning captain Moore - only to be dissuaded by Chairman Reg Pratt who fined the players two weeks' wages instead.

"I think we were all dragged into it innocently," Clyde, speaking on the latest episode of the KUMB Podcast, said. "Because the referee had already told us that the game wasn't going to be played.

"Then, when we were woken at four in the morning, after being out [the night before], the game was put back on! But the fact that the guys had been out should take nothing away from Blackpool or Tony Green, who was brilliant."

Talking about the match in his new autobiography, The Acid Test, Best recalled how Blackpool's Green - who scored the first two of the Tangerines' four goals - "reminded me of a ballerina", even though "the surface was at time like ice".

Already in hot water, the players eventually met with a fiery reception from Greenwood once he had been made aware of their decision to sample the Blackpool nightlife which was strictly against orders hours ahead of an important cup tie.

"Ron came down hard on everybody," recalled Best. "I was the only one who wasn't drinking as I was on ginger beer and lime. In fairness, the senior players spoke up for me and told Ron I hadn't been drinking.

"We'd got talking to some members of a television crew and they said they were going to visit London's nightclub. Bobby knew Brian so we all decided to go along; if the game was going to be off, what harm was there in whipping out for a couple of hours?

"Ron didn't hold the incident against me but Greaves, Moore and I were all dropped from the first team - and Jimmy and Brian [Dear] were soon on their way out. They'd only had one or two beers, it wasn't anything out of hand like they'd had seven or eight.

"The main thing is that the display on the field didn't help. If we'd have won everybody would have been happy and he would probably have told us to have a few more beers the next week, you know!"

Best, who spent a further five years at West Ham after the incident - even outstaying his skipper on that fateful day - also felt that Greenwood used the incident to attempt to force Moore out of the club.

"I wouldn't be surprised as he and Bobby had fallen out at that time," he added. "That was maybe Ron's way of trying to get rid of him.

"I think the Blackpool incident was probably the main thing, that and some disagreements they had with the way the team was playing because at times we took a lot of chances when we probably shouldn't have.

"That's probably what happened to make that particular relationship very tough."

* Clyde's new autobiography, entitled The Acid Test can be purchased from publishers deCoubertin Books, in hardback, here. Price 20. A full review will follow on KUMB soon.

* The KUMB Podcast featuring Clyde Best will be available to download tomorrow (Wednesday 21 December).

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