Big Jack but little voice

Wherever Jack Charlton goes he is feted as a football icon so it was nice to see the less famous but equalling interesting older brother to Sir Bobby visit Cayman.

The Triple Crown pub on West Bay Road was heaving again on Saturday night with punters paying $75 a head for the privilege of an audience with Big Jack.

Sunset Football Club organised the event to raise funds and the veteran Geordie was brought over with wife Pat.

A lot of money was raised for Sunset funds. Neil Purton, goalkeeper and the chief organiser of this event, deserves plenty of props. Last year he got Sir Geoff Hurst, previously Peter Shilton.

With Charlton’s expletive-filled delivery it was an amusing evening although patrons at the back often complained that they could not hear him and some even walked out in disgust.

A World Cup winner with England in 1966, Charlton, an uncompromising centre half, spoke the way he played – direct and no frills.

He complained that the flash on my camera was giving him a headache so would I please: ‘Go away!’ (He actually used something stronger).

The evening was moderated by Alex Bodden and such is Charlton’s standing with the Irish community worldwide because of his success managing Republic of Ireland, local Irishman Ronan Guilfoyle had the honour of introducing him to rousing applause.

His first anecdote set the tone. It centred around West Bromich Albion labelling him at their end of season dinner their most hated opponent with a fitting epithet.

Getting the Republic of Ireland manager’s job was puzzling for Charlton considering he is an English Protesant.

When he got the job under bizarre circumstances, he was invited to go to a salmon fishing event. There followed tales of hilarious blind man’s races and goose racing.

‘People say I don’t get on with my brother Bobby. That’s not true, it’s his wife I don’t get on with,’ he quipped.

On a football trip to Rome, Jack took the team to meet the Pope expecting to get an exclusive audience. After a lot of arranging, they ended up meeting him, only sharing the pontiff with 8,000 others and having to sit for hours hearing prayers in all sorts of languages.

Fighting not to doze off, Charlton thought the Pope was hailing him and waved only to realise he was giving the sign of the cross.

Charlton, now 76, claimed that Alf Ramsey, the England manager who guided them to World Cup glory, did not like him at all.

In the six years he was in the England fold, Ramsey rarely spoke to him and when he deigned to do so was cutting. ‘I said to Alf that at 34 I felt I should retire from the England scene,’ Charlton said. ‘Without pausing he said: ‘I totally agree!”

There were stories of playing alongside the short-sighted Nobby Stiles and calamitous keeper Gary Sprake who once gifted Liverpool a goal when he threw the ball into his own net. ‘They would show that incident on TV and play Careless Hands. Within six weeks that record was top of the hit parade.’

Charlton wore his heart of his sleeve and once received such a bad foul from Terry Payne that he attacked him. Charlton was pulled away as he tried to choke his tiny rival yet as the ref booked him (not a red card!) he told Charlton Payne fully deserved throttling!

We were also treated to Charlton’s assessment of Bobby Moore and the 1966 World Cup final.

Then followed a question and answer session and his thoughts of the notorious Roy Keane-Mick McCarthy episode.

Charlton revealed that he almost joined Liverpool from Leeds United in the early 60s but they couldn’t agree on the fee. The difference of asking price and offer look farcical today but it was a hot topic then.

Leeds wanted the equivalent of US$50,000, Liverpool wouldn’t pay a penny over $48,000! Liverpool manager Bill Shankly said at the time: ‘I won’t be held to ransom!’

Charlton’s six-year success with Republic of Ireland led him to be given an Irish citizenship, something he is very proud of.

A successful club manager too, he applied for the England manager’s job but never even got a reply. He felt the two best players he played with or against were brother Bobby and Denis Law.

Charlton talked about the alleged ‘black book’ incident, when in a TV interview he was asked if he really kept a record of all the opponents he was going to get revenge on. It sounded like a thug’s hit list but Charlton talked his way out of it ‘after being pilloried in the media for three weeks’.

There was an insight into the Don Revie era when Leeds were hated and loved in equal measure. Apparently, Revie kept an extensive dossier on all opposition, his attention to detail was extraordinary.

Revie was also ahead of his time by ensuring the players were treated like kings. First class travel and accommodation was paramount.

His relationship with Revie as manager was initially strained though because Revie was a player at Leeds at first. At a training session, Revie told the tough-tackling Charlton that if he was manager he would not tolerate excessive physical contact.

‘I told Revie to f*** off. Three weeks later he was my manager!’

Naturally, Charlton thinks players today are over paid prima donnas. He never earned more than $500 a week. That wouldn’t buy a Rooney hubcap now.

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