Saturday, July 11, 2020

IT is a sad day in Ireland today after the news of Jack Charlton’s death, aged 85. Though there is sadness at the passing of such a legendary figure in Ireland’s history there will be plenty of smiles too at the memories of the joy he brought to this country.

In May of 1999, Big Jack visited Kildare as a guest of Newbridge Town and regaled the packed attendance at the Stand House Hotel with stories of his life in football. This is how that visit was reported on at the time by the Nationalist.

Soccer’s glory days were replayed in colourful style by one of sport’s great heroes in Newbridge last week.

Jack Charlton was in town. As a special guest of Newbridge Town FC, he addressed a dinner in the Stand House Hotel but also took time out to play golf at the Curragh and take a tour of the area.

Tales of ‘Our Kid’ (his brother, Bobby), his own part in the English World Cup winning squad in 1966 and Ireland’s great success in Italy were just some of the topics touched on by Jack in his entertaining talk.

With genial conviviality, as is his style, Jack posed for photographs with one and all as he circulated in advance of the dinner on Tuesday 4 May. He was very much the hero but when he began his talk he was ‘one of the lads’, giving the inside track on lots of events, including what it was like to meet the Pope during Italia ‘90.

Chairperson of Newbridge Town, Sean Butler, welcomed Jack and his wife Patricia to the and noted the achievements of the town soccer club, which has six underage teams from under 11 to under 18 as well as two senior teams. The senior teams both play in the Leinster Senior League with the first team currently top of the division. Mr Butler said the club is considering forming a co-operative at present and selling shares.

Stores just flow from Jack Charlton and he entertained with tales of how he got the Irish manager job and became the first Geordie English Protestant to take charge. He noted the prestige of being an international team manager and told how this gave him a special place in Ireland.

He related his surprise at Ireland reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Italy which interrupted his plans to fish on the Ridge Pool in Ballina.

“I didn’t expect us to get that far. I was due on the Ridge Pool on Tuesday morning and it is a very difficult pool to get on.”

He said he flew into Dublin attended a reception to meet the Taoiseach, got a flight back to England that afternoon, dropped in to kiss the wife he hadn’t seen for eight weeks and collect his worms and gear before driving with a friend to Stranraer to catch the ferry to the North.

“We drove through the North and at 5pm in evening we were on the west coast and we pulled in to have a pint of Guinness. I just opened the door and in front of me was a big Irish man, 6’4”, who looked down on me. ‘Ah Jack, it is great of you to come all this way for my redundancy party’. We went in and had a few pints of Guinness and the owner said to me ‘Jack, come in the back’.”

Jack was told how the pub had two screens in the back room and was ‘heaving with people’ during the World Cup matches. The publican told Jack they had made a fortune and he produced a big box of Martel brandy and said ‘Jack, this is your share of the profits’.

Stories like that flowed and had the audience begging for more. It was the first of a series of Guest Dinner nights organised by Paul Heylin Promotions in association with Newbridge Town FC.

 

Written by Jane Mullins and appeared in print of The Nationalist of 14 May 1999.

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