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West Brom legends tributes to ‘midfield maestro’ Bobby Hope

FA Cup winning captain Graham Williams and Albion legend Ally Robertson have paid tribute to the great Bobby Hope following his death at the age of 78.

With their hands on a replica of the FA Cup again, (left) Graham Williams, and Bobby Hope, attending the 40th reunion dinner, at the Hawthorns.
With their hands on a replica of the FA Cup again, (left) Graham Williams, and Bobby Hope, attending the 40th reunion dinner, at the Hawthorns.

A true Baggies icon, Hope famously won the League Cup with Albion in 1966 and the FA Cup in 1968.

In total the former Scotland international played 409 times for the club between 1960 and 1972.

But while on the pitch he was known for being a wonderfully gifted midfielder, Williams and Robertson said off it he will be remembered for being an outstanding friend and mentor.

“I feel incredibly fortunate that I got to captain Bobby – but the truth is he captained me,” Williams said. “Marriages don’t last as long as we’d been together, I’m going to miss him terribly.

“He joined Albion as a schoolboy. We really had a great bunch but he was the outstanding one as he went on to prove in his career.

“He was a midfield maestro. The way he passed the ball was unbelievable and his vision was incredible.

“People would say if you stopped Bobby Hope you’d stop Albion and a lot of the time that was true.

“He was an outstanding footballer but he was a truly outstanding person.

“He was perfect in every way. He was great company. He had great one-liners.

“Him and Jeff Astle together were hilarious. They were like a comedy show.

“You’d want to get in training early every day just to be part of the banter.

“And a lot of people don’t realise just how good he was in the dressing room.

“He was like a lawyer, he would always see both sides of the argument.

“That was vital in those days because we had a lot of fights and a lot of arguments.

“After he retired from playing he went on to become chief scout at Albion and he could really spot a player.

“I honestly can’t think of one thing he couldn’t do – maybe golf, he wasn’t the best at golf!

“But he was an incredible footballer and an even better man.”

Albion legend Robertson was just 15 when he first met Hope.

But the duo immediately clicked with Robertson going on to describe his fellow Scot as ‘his hero and best pal’.

“He was just the most remarkable man and I’ll always be grateful for the way he looked after me,” Robertson said. “From when I started training with Albion’s first team when I was 15, to when I’d retired and was managing Worcester,” he’s the person I always went to for help.

“We had a great bunch of Scottish lads when I was coming though.

“But Jeff Astle used to always take the mickey out of me for my accent.

“He’d say ‘Hopey translate what this kid is saying, I can’t understand him’.

“And we just hit off from there.

“He made me feel so welcome when I made that step up to the first team. And he was determined to do everything he could to make me a better player.

“I remember in only my second game, he took me to one side and told me I was taking too many touches.

“He wanted me to control it and then play it forward quickly.

“The way he did, though, was top class. He didn’t have a go. He just explained exactly what I needed to do.

“And I did it for the rest of my career.

“That’s how it started and we just stayed mates all the way through.

“I’d always look to give him the ball because he was incredible.

“He could pick any one out anywhere. His passing really was brilliant.

“He wasn’t one of them that would go around kicking people.

“But we’d win it and give it to him. He really was a mentor for me and I couldn’t believe it when Don Howe decided to let him go.

“But we stayed friends. We would play golf together. Every Thursday we would go to the pub.

“He was the type of person that never had a bad word to say about anyone. He really was lovely.”

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