Harry Redknapp: My friend Bondy lived for football and I will miss him
21:47 GMT, 26 September 2012
There used to be a clothes shop on East Ham High Street and one day the owners took delivery of what were described as some particularly garish jackets.
‘They were so flash we thought we’d really struggle to sell them,’ said one of the then owners, a 24-year-old Harry Redknapp. ‘We’re standing there thinking, “Who’s got the front to wear one of these” Then it comes to me. “Bondy!” So we got him down to the shop and he loved it. Sold. He was such a flamboyant character.’
Redknapp adored John Bond and he joined the rest of football in mourning the passing of a West Ham legend and one-time manager of Manchester City and Norwich. Bond was 79.
‘I first met him when I was 10 years old,’ recalled Redknapp. ‘Every afternoon all the West Ham players would go to Cassettari’s, the cafe next to the ground, and talk football, moving salt and pepper pots around on the table, talking tactics and all that.
A life in the game: John Bond looks smart as Manchester City boss in 1981
John Bond career factfile
444 games and 37 goals for West Ham (1950-66). Won the Second Division title in 1958 and the 1964 FA Cup. Played in the victorious 1965 Cup-Winners’ Cup campaign. 130 games and 12 goals for Torquay (1966-69).
Managed Bournemouth, Norwich, Manchester City, Burnley, Swansea, Birmingham, Shrewsbury and Witton Albion (1970-99). Led Norwich to the 1975 League Cup final and Manchester City to the 1981 FA Cup final.
‘I was stood outside, waiting. I had this team photograph from the Christmas party. In it John Bond is holding a chicken leg and I wanted him to sign it. And he did. He was good as gold with me and I just remember staring up at this big man. I then watched him walk home. In the 20 years he was at the club he lived in the same house, 50 yards from Upton Park. Come out of the ground, turn right, first left, just there.’
Eventually Redknapp would get to train and play with Bond. ‘One summer I think he’d fallen out with Ron Greenwood and he didn’t go on the pre-season tour so he came and trained with the kids,’ said Redknapp.
‘I was about 16 and he was brilliant with us. He was a great player, a right back. He could use a ball as good as anyone I’ve seen. He could see a pass to the striker, and he was a great striker of the ball, too. He could score goals and he had this arrogance about him that a number of the West Ham players at that time had. They had confidence in themselves but they also knew their football.’
I'm the boss: Bond (back row, left) and Harry Redknapp (front row, second left) pose at Bournemouth before the 1972-73 season
Redknapp and Bond would one day do some coaching together. After 444 games at West Ham, where Bond was a member of the 1964 FA Cup-winning side, he finished his playing career at Torquay under the guidance of his former Upton Park team-mate, Frank O’Farrell. He then took a coaching job at Gillingham.
But before he secured his first job in management at Bournemouth he joined Redknapp and Frank Lampard Snr in coaching the kids at Pretoria School in Canning Town. ‘Frank had been to school there and Dave Jones, the teacher who’d been like a father to Frank, was Bondy’s neighbour,’ said Redknapp.
‘At the time Frank and I used to split the 25 quid a week we’d get for coaching there. We were still players. But then Bondy came back from Gillingham and needed something to do, so we got him involved and split the money three ways.
Up for the cup: Bond, Bobby Moore and Peter Babcock celebrate the Hammers' 1964 FA Cup victory
‘It was when he was with us that he told us he was applying for the coach’s job at Bournemouth. Cyril Lea was expected to get the manager’s job but in those days coach was treated as a separate appointment.
‘On the day Harold Walker, the chairman, was holding the interviews, Cyril had a problem with his train down from Ipswich and Bondy ended up impressing them so much he got the manager’s job.’
Bond proved to be a fine manager. He guided Bournemouth to promotion from the old Fourth Division in his first season in 1971, and the following year his side finished third in Division Three.
Training day: Bond and West Ham team mates, including Moore, in 1958
Lighting up: Bond during his stint at Norwich
It was enough to land him a job at
Norwich in November 1973, and although the side were relegated to
Division Two that season he steered them back to the top flight the
There was also a place in the League Cup final, which Norwich lost to Aston Villa. From Norwich he went to Manchester City, in October 1980, as successor to another cigar-smoking, champagne-swilling manager: Malcolm Allison.
Bond guided City to an FA Cup final memorable for Ricky Villa’s goal and a 3-2 victory for Tottenham in the replay.
But there was a 6-0 defeat of a Norwich side that included Kevin Bond en route to Wembley and the City manager made an athletic, not to mention dangerous, leap from the stand into the tunnel to offer his commiserations to his son. ‘The whole family are lovely,’ said Redknapp. ‘His wife Jan, Kevin and Toni.
‘Kevin has worked with me for years and
it was only last season John came up to watch us train at Spurs. He was
such a passionate football man. He was a great coach, like Ron. But he
also had this big personality that made him a great manager. He lived
for football and I will miss him.’