Gerry Cox on the Match of the Day farewell to a football writer and friend.
THE CREAM of British sportswriting talent turned out in numbers to honour John Moynihan at the football writer’s funeral service on Tuesday January 30.
Hugh McIlvanney, Brian Glanville, Pat Collins and Henry Winter were among the many at Mortlake Crematorium for the service, where John’s former Sunday Telegraph colleague Colin Malam did a reading and evoked fond memories of John, who was 79 when he passed away two weeks ago.
John’s son Leo, himself a fine football writer and an FWA member, paid tribute to his loving father in a moving eulogy, which recalled his colourful life. John grew up in bohemian circles, with his artist father Rodrigo commissioned to paint a portrait at the family home of the young Princess Elizabeth, now our Queen. John’s frustration at being unable to enter the room where the Princess sat was understandable.
The stories were many and surprising. Few of us who knew John realised that he’d briefly been a music writer, but realised it was not for him after suggesting to the Beatles that their bubble had burst when ‘She Loves You” was knocked off the top of the pops in 1962.
It was in the 1960s that he got the chance to write about his first love, football, and more specifically Chelsea, the club he followed and adored.
Leo recalled how, as a young boy, he would get postcards from tournaments in exotic places, and even the odd crackly long-distance phone call, enabling him to go to school the next day, bursting with pride that his father was covering the World Cup. Perhaps we take for granted now the fact that our friends and families still marvel at the wonderful opportunities this career affords us.
Leo explained that on the day John was fatally injured by a car, the two of them had lunch while discussing how John would celebrate his 80th birthday this summer. As a fixture at Chelsea Arts Club, he would have one party with his ‘arty’ friends, while another for his colleagues from many years covering football. Another party would accommodate those he played and partied with at Chelsea Casuals and then Battersea Park FC, and then finally a family celebration.
Sadly it was not to be, but the celebration of John’s life was concluded in upbeat spirit as the Match of the Day theme tune played us out of the service, and the stories and memories were exchanged long into the evening at the Chelsea Arts Club.
It was a fitting tribute to a fine football writer and friend.
The FWA was represented by former chairmen, Alex Montgomery, Brian Scovell and Gerry Cox, and many other members.