I’ve only just caught the news that a new statue celebrating the careers of the Man Utd ‘Holy Trinity’ – Best, Law and Charlton – was unveiled at Old Trafford this week by two of the key figures. Sadly of course, George is no longer around and it was poignant to hear Law talk about his continuing sadness at the loss of his great friend and team mate. The statue is a glorious tribute and I like the fact that it is sited to mirror the statue of the godfather of the Busby Babe’s, Sir Matt Busby. It’s as if the characters are paying their mutual respect. I like that.
Sir Bobby Charlton expressed the view that the next people to be so honoured by the club should be Sir Alex Ferguson and Ryan Giggs, which may well turn out to be true. But it got me thinking that statuary to footballs greats must be the contemporary answer to all those bronze and marble figures of our military leaders (and latterly Prince Albert) which sprung up during Victoria’s reign. So little new statuary seems to get commissioned now unless it’s towns remembering the famous entertainers who were born/lived there or those outside football stadia.
Most clubs have the things now; my home town team of Blackpool have own of Sir Stan Mortenson though not one of Matthews – who is honoured at Stoke City. Local rivals Preston have a great one of the legendary Sir Tom Finney. My other side Boro have two no less, in honour of George Hardwicke and my good friend L’s hero Wilf Mannion. Others include Billy Wright at Wolves, Sam Bartram at Charlton, Sir Alf and Bobby Robson at Ipswich, Bill Shankly at Liverpool and Dixie Dean at Everton. Leeds have a statue honouring Billy Bremner (and maybe others?) and I seem to recall a dreadful effort – was it of Ted Bates at Southampton? I’m sure there’s a statue of Cloughie in Nottingham (if not at the club?) and maybe even one of him at Derby County’s ground and in Middlesbrough town centre? The town of Dudley has one in honour of that other colossus in the Busby babes side, Duncan Edwards. West Ham have a tribute to the heroes of ’66 (which because it is an iconic image of the incomparable Bobby Moore being carried aloft, shows the other two West ham players in the side, Hurst and Peters, and also Ray Wilson who was not, of course, a WH player). There’s also a great and fitting statue of Moore at the new Wembley.
If there are any more out there please let me know. I’m sure there must be. Has anyone published a collection of them? Perhaps you might want to suggest someone who deserves to be honoured but hasn’t yet been. Can’t see one being erected at the the Bridgski in honour of ten Cate can you? But one of Wenger at Arsenal surely at some point? Juninho at Boro for me – not only would it link the historical figures to more recent moments in Boro’s past, he’s so tiny they could melt down a horse brass and still have plenty of metal left over for Steve Gibson’s.
ps I see from the auto-generated link below that Arsenal have already unveiled a bronze bust of AW. Presumably they stuck it on the plinth previously occupied by the David Dein bronze…