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Has the time come to bring back the No 6 shirt?

By CandH’s top blogger Allen Cummings


Has the time come to do the unthinkable? Is the mood in the West Ham camp, on and off the pitch, now right to re-instate a shirt that has been missing for over a decade?

Our upsurge in form and fortune has been a concerted team effort – but every team needs a leader, and it shouldn’t be underestimated the part played by our present ‘team leader’ Declan Rice.

Having assumed the captain’s armband from Mark Noble, whose own game time over the past three matches has amounted to just a handful of minutes, Rice has clearly grown in confidence and stature in his new found role.

Already it’s clear his team mates have the utmost respect for a young man with the football world literally at his feet. And although Noble remains club captain, as he no doubt will for as long as he remains at the club in a playing capacity, Declan Rice is now surely the permanent team captain.

Understandable there have been comparisons drawn between Declan and the late, great Bobby Moore, and clearly there are similarities in both ability and career pattern.

Bob was handed the West Ham team captaincy by incoming manager Ron Greenwood shortly after he arrived at the club in 1961 – Moore was 20 years old at the time. Declan is just a little older, he will be 22 next January.

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Moore was told by Greenwood he was going to build the team around him and David Moyes has said the same about Declan as he bids to keep his at the club.

The question now being posed is not so much a playing issue, but more a sentimental one. Should Bobby Moore’s famous No 6 shirt, retired by West Ham in 2008 as a mark of respect for the great man, now be reinstated and handed across to Declan Rice?

I have a sneaky feeling should Bobby somehow be able to have an opinion on the issue himself from on high, he’d say “why not?”! Such was the unassuming modesty of the man he’d probably ask what all the fuss was about. That would be typical of him.

Personally I’m going with a firm ‘no’! That shirt has been retired now for 12 years. The legend of Bobby Moore goes way beyond the 27 years since his sad passing. I believe bringing back that famous shirt would, in some way, devalue the tribute it represents to the memory of our greatest ever player.

Every time a West Ham team takes the field without a No. 6 shirt, it’s a poignant reminder of what we had and what we have lost. Such is the nature of Declan Rice I’m sure he is more than happy to continue playing in his own No 41 shirt, leaving the legendary No 6 shirt in its rightful place in our memories!

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

24 comments on “Has the time come to bring back the No 6 shirt?

  1. Most stupid idea I’ve ever heard. Rice will not even be a WH player in a couple of years at absolute best, more likely gone at the end of the season. A shirt won’t keep him. I love that Bobby’s shirt is retired. Always should be!!

  2. No. What is the point of retiring a shirt only to bring it back?

  3. ThHere is no doubt, Declan is our on the feild captain and an outstanding talent. The temptation to honour him with the number 6 shirt is pressing. Some will even speculate that is will pursued Decs to stay with us for his entire career. But we’ve seen this movie before. Rio was just as exulted and just as talented and seen as the new Bobby Moore. But in our heart of hearts, we knew his talents were so special, the reality of him staying with us for the duration of his career were unrealistic. The call of the big name clubs, domestic and foreign, would always be too strong to resist. The Champions League is a dream and the test all great players yearn for. So when Leeds acme a calling, our Rio, our new Bobby, was gone. Declan will no doubt be the same one day. Let’s hope it’s later rather than sooner, and when is happens, we can decide if we want to retire Declan’s number 41 shirt to hang alongside Bobby’s number 6.

  4. I was there when Bobby played his first game. He is of course our greatest ever player . I can think of one reason to give the number 6 to Declan (who will become a great player) -If it persuades him to commit his future to The Hammers,!!

  5. Our club has had enough history destroyed in the last ten years, there is no way under the current regime should we bring the 6 out of retirement, and as much as Dec Rice is one of our own, unfortunately he wont be for long we all know that. Leave the memory of the greatest ever Hammer as is, have a 66 shirt by all means

  6. No.
    Firstly it was retired in respect of Bobby.
    Secondly, it will be rather embarrassing when DR finally jumps ship to Chelsea

  7. Maybe if he stays and captains us for 10/15 years yes. But if we give him the 6 and he goes elsewhere we could get someone unworthy of the number following on. Or we’d need to retire it again, and then it gets silly. Leave it and let sleeping dogs lie

  8. Great article Allen.

    Although i think there is a place in football for the kind of sentimentality that decries bringing once retired shirts back out of retirement, i think a key point in this article is what would Bobby himself say? I agree that he’d likely think there were more important things to consider. I initially thought something similar and that’s why my hat ‘was’ firmly in the ‘give it to Declan’ camp.

    HOWEVER(!), I’ve been thinking about this since i saw someone initially make the point yesterday and I’ve done an about-turn. At first i was all for it as I’m not one for sentimentality. On the flip side, though, i am one for tradition and that has made me think twice. There’s something to be said for respecting the tradition of retiring a shirt due to the esteem that the person who once wore it is held by a club and its supporters. If a shirt is retired out of great respect and then 10/20/50 years later it is bought out of retirement it makes a mockery of the initial act. It becomes a gimmick rather than a great show of respect. I don’t agree with your point regarding the poignancy of a West Ham team entering the pitch without someone wearing the number 6 though. Maybe back in the day when players wore numbers 1-to-11 it would seem more poignant but these days there are other 1-to-11 numbers not worn and i don’t think most supporters pay it any mind.

    I imagine Dec himself would likely say that it should remain retired if offered the choice. He seems more pragmatic than most and that’s to his credit. Maybe therein lies the answer.

  9. Definite no. It was withdrawn as a mark of respect, which was the least we could do to honour him.
    We cannot go back on that, withdrawn is withdrawn.
    I am sure Declan is happy with his 41 which is ‘his’.
    Shirt numbers are not the same any more now anyway, as 1-11 is not seen very often given squad numbers, so it is less important what number is on their back, more importantly is the honour of the captain’s armband and the way it is going, that will be his very soon on a more permanent basis

  10. Nice piece as usual Allen

    How about Declan taking the number 66 shirt as a compromise? It is not the number 6 but the message will be there?

  11. No, it’s been retired and that’s it. If Rice stays with us for the next ten years and captains a winning England team, then maybe!

  12. Interesting article Allen, Those of us old enough to see the great man in his prime still rever his memory, I suppose for younger supporters the he is just a historic figure from the past. Perhaps when we pop our clogs the youngsters will have their own heroes, I certainly hope so .For now I think No 6 should stay where it is ,in our memories.

  13. No.

  14. Never pure and simple. That No 6 shirt being retired doesn’t even come close to what Bobby Moore means to West Ham fans. He was poorly treated by the club in retirement the least it can do is honour him in this way and when fans in the future ask why we don’t have a No 6 then we can remind them of the greatest club and Country captain English football has ever had. My hero he brought me to this club I love so much.

  15. I personally don’t agree with retiring shirts. The number 6 should be symbolic with West Ham’s great players like number 10 for Brazil or Argentina. The memory for Bobby Moore lives on more of the number 6 is still used. Young players should be striving to get the number 6 shirt. I loved Alan Devonshire wearing the 6 shirt, another great player. For me retiring the shirt loses the memory, so I’d love to see it come backend become THE jersey to wear at West Ham.

    • 100% agree with this. One example is Totti at Roma. Probably equally if not more a legend at Roma as much as Bobby Moore was to us. On retirement he was strongly against retiring the number 10 shirt as he wanted it to be available to young players striving to play for the club!

  16. Yes it should be unretired, it’s a complete waste doing nothing for the club, Bobby Moore would probably be embarassed to see any shirt number let alone his put above the team, he was a man of the people, down to earth and certainly never saw himself as bigger than the team or club. In other clubs it’s seen as an honour to wear the number that former greats did, we are depriving our players of that opportunity to live up to those levels, bringing it back would give the players something to aspire too and perhaps attract great players for whom it would be an honour to wear the shirt of the greatest English player..

  17. I think Moore would be fine with giving it to him but I wouldn’t do it. Some players care a lot about numbers, you can see the ones who grab #7 or #10 as soon as they become available. Rice has come out about keeping #41 & making it his own. Antonio as well could have taken #7 or #9 but he hasn’t. It’s nice to have the starters 1-11 but with all the turnover & change in football it’s rare now. I love that Rice has embraced number 41 as his own & has made it special. Imo even if they offered to unretire #6 for him he think he would do no, that’s Bobby’s number & 41 is mine.

  18. So when I made this suggestion few days ago, I was thinking opinions are like bums, everyone’s got one and knew that this would split said opinions right down the middle. We all love Bobby as much as we do our beloved club and that will never change. The very fact he was a Hammer makes me puff my chest out with proud fondness, respect and sadness. He will forever live on at our club, because unlike others labelled ‘legend’, he was the actual real deal. No other club in the premier league inc Manu, City, Chelsea or anyone else can say their captain led England to a World Cup victory. Now, I am as sentimental as every single last one of you and when I stand and look around at my fellow fans, non stop singing their hearts out In the very stand named after my hero, that’s what makes me feel proud and honoured to be a Hammer and will forever be part of his legacy. So after all that you’d be forgiven for thinking I should be the last person to suggest such a move, but the reality is, retiring a shirt number while initially respectful, honourable, sentimental, I just don’t think it stands the test of time quite like naming an entire stand after him. This year we celebrate 125 years, in another 125 when you and I are all long dead, will we still be playing without the ‘6’. I very much doubt it. The youngens will ask, Dad why don’t we have a number 6? , well 150 years ago we had this guy………. I just have the slight feeling that retiring the shirt was Moore about making a load of 45-75 year olds feel a little more fluffy inside (I include myself in that). The 6 should be an aspirational shirt, something young players like Dec should be aiming for. Now of course, yes, Declan could leave and go to Chelsea and win everything going and become just another name in a long list of great players, or stay, have a team built around him, win a cup or two and become a real legend at our club, it’s difficult to ignore the former and really no one knows what is going on in his head, but he certainly didn’t push for a move away because he knows full well that he could have ended up on the young player scrap heap at 15 if not for West Ham offering him a route. Maybe that goodwill doesn’t last forever, but that really depends on what we do from here in terms of performance and is of course the risk you take with every young player. First, improve his contract so he is one of the highest paid at the club, at least that way we reduce the pull of more cash, then it just comes down to wanting to win things. Now I remember a few years ago now, us winning cups and while a few years ago, does that mean we can’t do it again. No it doesn’t, of course it will take some great players like Dec and a nice slice of luck to boot. But if we’re winning things occasionally then I am sure he’ll want to stick around a bit longer. Finally, before any decision like that is made, I’d ask Tina, Roberta and Dean and if they said yes, I’d get Tina to present him with the 6 on the pitch before our opening game of the season against Spurs, which we then go on to win 6-0.
    COYI X BM6 lives forever.

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