Not being an emotional person I was still moved to tears to hear of his passing because he was an icon of my youth… him and the team he created that took on the world of football in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
You see, I’m Suffolk born and bred and I was blessed with a father who supported Ipswich Town Football Club. Naturally he bought me a season ticket as soon as I was old enough to travel on the bus. Yes, I was a Junior Blue! I’m no longer a huge football supporter but I remember those halcyon days of winter 1977, when I was nine years old.
My dad used to put me on the supporters bus in my home town for the hour long journey to Ipswich and then would deliberately hide away from the football scores until I got off the bus again later the same evening. For me it was my first taste of independence… time away from my family, with a group of friends.
In those days Ipswich were a force to be reckoned with in the old First Division and were managed by Bobby Robson.
I can still remember walking down Portman Road singing our hearts out. I can also remember the birthday card I received signed by all the players and Bobby and the way he used to exchange a few words with us boys before and after a match, whether the team had won, lost or drawn.
The impressions of a nine year old boy were of a man who had a strange accent – Suffolk is a lot different from Geordie – but who also took the time to encourage us to keep supporting the club.
My impressions turned to pride when our manager became the England boss. Even more so nine years later when England made it to the World Cup semi finals. If I’m honest, I still haven’t got over the penalty shoot out loss to Germany in 1990.
And now, thirty years later, I’m remembering my impressions of Sir Bobby Robson and trying to find an excuse to write an HR blog about a towering figure from my boyhood.
My mum suggested I link Sir Bobby’s career to values, man management and plain decency in a world that seems to be governed by a different set of values; greed, self centredness and ruthlessness.
But I’m not going to.
All I’m going to say is: thank you Bobby for being part of my life; for bringing excitement, independence and happiness to a nine year old boy. And now that you’ve passed, for being an example, a reference point for me to aspire to as a man.
Thank you Bobby Robson.