I was driving home yesterday morning to play a match (for my sins) when I came across an excellent interview on RTE Radio One with former West Ham, Manchester United and Ireland great Noel Cantwell. A native of Cork, Cantwell moved to London in 1952 to sign for the Hammers. He spoke about what a wonderful club West Ham is and all the people that helped him develop at a young age.
What struck me most about the interview was the different lifestyle footballers of today have. Cantwell arrived in the East End on a one year deal and was placed in ‘digs’ by the football club. Having spent eight successful years at West Ham, he moved to Manchester United who were still rebuilding in the wake of the Munich Air Disaster. Cantwell was forced to operate under the salary cap which did not permit payments of greater than £25 per week to players. A signing on fee of £150 was arranged, which Cantwell said made him feel like a “millionaire”.
In real terms this salary and signing on fee are the equivalent of £350 per week and just over £2,100. How times have changed!
The full piece can be heard here.