Harry Redknapp has praised Everton for the way they treat their former players – even revealing that they’ll pay for hip replacements and other medical treatment in their time of need.
The English boss – out of work since leaving Queens Park Rangers earlier this year – heaped praise on the tradition of the Goodison Park club after telling again how West Ham mistreated club legend Bobby Moore after his retirement from football.
Redknapp told the story in his book about how, in his view, the Hammers failed to properly recognise and reward Moore for being arguably their greatest player ever.
Frank was still playing but West Ham were struggling that season and it was quite a poor gate. It was a mid-table, middle-of-the-road, nothing match.
The players’ families and guests used to sit in E block and Bobby would often come to watch. He didn’t want to cause a big commotion walking through the crowd or hanging around before the game so he would wait until after kick-off, go up to one of the old turnstiles with the wooden doors and knock.
The bloke would open up and, blimey, it’s Bobby Moore. ‘Come in, Bob, there’s plenty of seats upstairs,’ and up he would go. I can see him now. He would sit over in the corner, right out of the way, on these rotten old wooden benches that they used to have and watch the match on his own.
This day I was sitting in E block next to Frank’s mum, Hilda, when from behind me I heard, ‘Harry.’ I turned around and it was Bobby. We were about 15 minutes into the game. ‘Fancy a cup of tea at half-time?’ I said, and he gave me the thumbs-up.
Next thing I knew, a steward was marching up the steps towards him. ‘Excuse me, Bob’ – he looked almost ashamed – ‘it’s not me, but the secretary wants to know if you’ve got a ticket.’
Bob said he hadn’t. ‘Then I’m afraid I’ve been told to ask you to leave.’
And he went. Bobby Moore. The Bobby Moore. Thrown out of a half-empty stand at West Ham because he didn’t have a ticket. I don’t think he ever went back after that.
Redknapp was telling that story again as he spoke on Graham Hunter’s The Big Interview podcast and followed it up by giving an example of how clubs should treat their ex-players.
He used Everton as the case and insisted it’s amazing that more clubs don’t adopt the same approach to looking after past stars.
There are lots of clubs who are great to the ex-players and still make them welcome.
Everton have got a fantastic [tradition]. Bill Kenwright there, the old players when any of them need a hip replacement or need something, they have functions, dinners and they’ll pay for that and they’ll get them private health care even if they can’t afford to get it done.
They look after the old players. There are lots of clubs who don’t want to know the old players, they’re not welcome. It’s amazing, but that’s how it is unfortunately.
It’s reassuring to hear of a club treating their former players with the respect they deserve – and even go above and beyond what they expect as loyal servants.
Bill Kenwright has received criticism from fans over the years – especially throughout the season so far – but this proves that Everton are of the few clubs in British football run with tradition at heart.
You can hear the rest of Redknapp’s interview with Graham Hunter here along with more great Big Interview content.