September 20, 2020

Jack Charlton: Leeds and Ashington legend remembered

Jack Charlton Image copyright PA Media
Image caption “You don’t forget people like this”, said Phil Beeton, from Leeds United Supporters’ Club

“It’s another legend gone, the last few months have been heartbreaking,” said Leeds fan Andy McVeigh on the news club hero Jack Charlton has died aged 85.

The World Cup winner with England and ex-Republic of Ireland boss spent his whole playing career at Elland Road.

The West Yorkshire club has recently seen the deaths of fellow legends Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry.

Mr McVeigh said of Charlton, from Ashington: “He played 773 times as a one-club man, an amazing feat.”

The former defender had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and also had dementia.

Image caption Flowers and notes have been left at Elland Road

Mr McVeigh, known locally as Burley Banksy for the Leeds United murals he paints, said: “He played before my time, but of course I’ve watched footage of him in action.

“I loved that he played that record number of games and yet liked a fag at half-time.

“I would love to paint a tribute to him, maybe a great, towering header.”

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption A 1969 clash with Jack (Right) battling his brother Bobby Charlton (Left)

Phil Beeton, co-chairman of Leeds United Supporters’ Club, said he had watched Leeds since the 1957-58 season and saw Charlton develop.

“He stood out for his stature, nobody wanted to fall out with him,” he said.

“This is our centenary season and there could be no finer tribute to him and the other former players than to gain promotion this season.

“It’s a great shame none of us can show our respects in the normal manner due to the virus, many people would want to be there as a thank you.”

Image copyright Staff/Mirrorpix via Getty Images
Image caption Bobby and Jack Charlton leave their mother’s house in Ashington after the 1966 World Cup

Charlton, the nephew of Newcastle United legend Jackie Milburn, went to Hirst North School in Ashington and grew up as part of a footballing dynasty.

Brian Shotton, chairman of Ashington AFC, said the club’s 150 young players aged between seven and 19 were inspired by his achievements.

He said: “Jack Charlton was a proud Ashingtonian who never forgot his roots.

‘We haven’t won the World Cup since 1966, but what a win when two heroes of Ashington were involved – Jack and his brother Bobby.

“Wor Jackie was a giant of our town. He was not that well in recent years but used to come and do after dinner talks and presentations for free and our club would reap the benefits.

“He was here for the opening of our new building in 2008 and he was deeply proud of where he was from. He will be an inspiration for generations of footballers to come.”

Image caption Maria Wood, from Ashington, said Charlton played for the love of the game not “big money”

Fan Tony Taylor, 36, from Ashington, said: “He was great for this town, he was local and meant everything.

“If he was out he would always stop and have a chat – five minutes crack with you. I’ve just been watching some football and I had a couple of minutes silence for him.”

Maria Wood, also of Ashington, paid tribute.

She said: “He was a legend when football wasn’t what it’s like now. He played for the game not the big money, he loved the game with all his heart and he was a lovely man.”

George Chisholm, who used to live near the family in Ashington, said: “Bobby and Jackie in their day were brilliant.

“I remember when they lived on the colliery rows and they had a big party when they came back from the World Cup, brilliant.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Charlton played more than 700 times for Leeds

Neil Sutcliffe, another Leeds United fan, said: “He was an icon for the club and embodied everything about the team and he went on to be a successful manager.”

Fan Jez Long added: “You can’t do better in life than play for Leeds United can you? He was one of the one-team greats.”

Steve Till remembered meeting Charlton and the rest of the Leeds team on a train after an infamous defeat to Liverpool in 1967, when goalkeeper Gary Sprake had thrown the ball into his own net.

“He chatted with me as a 14-year-old and I remember the way he looked up and called me over.

“There has been a few tears today from me, he was a colossus.”

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Jack Charlton with his Footballer of the Year trophy in 1967

Simon Strachan, a Leeds fan living in Calgary, Canada, said: “We are running out of stands to name after our legends.”

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “He was a legend in English football and it is an absolute privilege that he spent his entire 21-year playing career at Leeds United.

“As well as being an amazing player, Jack was a true gentleman off the pitch. We will never forget him or his impact on the sport.”

Leeds United commentator Adam Pope said Charlton was synonymous with the “golden era” of Leeds United.

“His passing along with former team mates Norman Hunter and Trevor Cherry has seen another outpouring of grief amongst the supporters during the club’s centenary year,” he said.

A family man, he married Pat Kemp in 1958, and granddaughter Kate Wilkinson said: “He was kind, playful and genuine, and I’ll miss him so much.”

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