How a World Cup winner almost took over a pub in Sprowston
PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:58 02 February 2020
As Norwich City's only World Cup winner, Martin Peters will always be highly revered in these parts, thanks to five memorable years at the club.
However, a close friend of the City legend has revealed the classy midfielder came close to also running a pub on the edge of the city.
When Mr Peters moved onto Wroxham Road in Sprowston, he soon became friends with auto businessman Graham Thompson, who lived just a few doors away.
Mr Thompson, 73, was the owner of the Blue Boar Garage and served as the 1966 World Cup winner's sponsor. However, this business relationship soon blossomed into a long friendship, which Mr Thompson still cherishes more than a month after Mr Peters' death.
And he has revealed the pair even came close to running the Blue Boar pub together, before the opportunity for Mr Peters to play football in Australia derailed the plans.
Mr Thompson, who now lives in Thorpe End, said: "We had held serious talks with the brewery that owned the pub and we were going to run it together, but Martin decided he could not pass up the opportunity to play Down Under.
"He told me to go ahead with it and he would join me when he got back, but I wasn't confident it would work without him in the meantime. I told him 'Martin, people would be coming to see you, they wouldn't come to see me'."
The pair's friendship saw them bond over sport, particularly football and Mr Peters developed such faith in his friend that he entrusted him with one of his most valuable possessions.
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"I used to help him manage his finances as his sponsor, so he used to keep a lot of his money in the safes at the garage," Mr Thompson. "And it wasn't just money he kept there - he used to store his World Cup winner's medal there too, so I've actually held it, I'm not sure many other people can say that.
"He was such a gentleman, I never had to buy a drink when I was with him because he was just so well thought of. Everywhere we went people would want to buy a round for him and his friends."
Mr Peters made 230 appearances for the club between 1975 and 1980 and also went on to represent non-league Gorleston. His testimonial, held on October 18, 1978, saw the Canaries take on England's 1966 World Cup-winning squad - an event Mr Thompson sponsored.
And Mr Thompson said it was not just football that the former City star excelled at.
He added: "Any sport that involved a ball, Martin was terrific at. Snooker, cricket, tennis, golf - everything. One time our families went on holiday together to Portugal and him and I ended up playing a game of cricket with some children.
"They didn't actually have a bat so we were playing with a broken and bent piece of tree, but Martin was hitting absolutely everything. He was a terrific batsman and would quite comfortably hit around 80 in an innings.
"On the football pitch, I don't think anyone has ever come close to his level for Norwich City. He was marvellous - he was about 10 years ahead of his time in the way he played the game. He would see things that other players couldn't see and was always three steps ahead of everyone else.
"But most of all, he was a normal bloke and a complete gentleman. He fitted into the community and would always make time for people. He was a good man and a great friend."
The pair lost touch in the latter years of Mr Peters' life, however, Mr Thompson remains in contact with Kathleen, his widow, and attended his funeral at Brentwood Crematorium, near London, earlier this month.
Mr Peters died in his sleep on Saturday, December 21, at the age of 76.