Dismay as another 1966 World Cup hero passes away without a knighthood
Dismay as yet another 1966 World Cup hero passes away without a knighthood – as failure to present the award to Jack Charlton is branded a ‘disgrace’
- Pressure is now building for Jack Charlton to be honoured posthumously
- Only two players, Geoff Hurst and Jack’s brother Bobby, received knighthood
- There have been calls over the years for the entire 1966 team to be knighted
The failure to award World Cup winner Jack Charlton a knighthood before his death was last night branded an ‘absolute disgrace’.
Pressure is now building for the much-loved former Leeds United defender and Republic of Ireland manager to be honoured posthumously.
His death on Friday, aged 85, following a year-long fight with cancer, means another hero from England’s famous 1966 football team has passed away without receiving a knighthood.
Of the 11 players, only two – Geoff Hurst and Jack’s younger brother Bobby – received knighthoods. Sir Alf Ramsey, the manager, was knighted in 1967 in recognition of the World Cup win. But the failure to honour ‘Big Jack’ has long angered football fans and former players.
Pictured: Geoff Hurst of West Ham United in 1960. Of the 11 players, only two – Geoff Hurst and Jack’s younger brother Bobby – received knighthoods
Pictured: Jack Charlton with brother Bobby during an England training session at Stamford Bridge in 1965
Ray Houghton, the former Liverpool midfielder who made his debut for Republic of Ireland in 1986 during Charlton’s first game in charge, yesterday led criticism of the failure to honour him during his lifetime.
‘The word legend is used too much in football but not for Jack. For what he’s done domestically with Leeds, winning the World Cup, which he should have been knighted for, I’ve still never understood that.
‘I think that’s an absolute disgrace and the fact that he did so well with Ireland,’ he said.
Ian Lavery, Labour MP for Wansbeck, which includes Charlton’s hometown of Ashington, yesterday submitted an Early Day Motion calling on the Government to award a posthumous knighthood.
He tweeted: ‘Today I’ve submitted a Parliamentary Early Day Motion calling on the Government to award a posthumous knighthood to the legend that is Big Jack Charlton.
‘We’ll be launching a petition very soon.’
There have been various calls over the years for the entire 1966 team to given the top honour. Bobby Charlton had to wait until 1994 before he was finally knighted and Geoff Hurst until 1998.
Despite being the team’s captain – and one of England’s greatest ever footballers – Bobby Moore was never knighted before his death in 1993. A campaign in 2016 for him to be knighted posthumously failed, despite the support of the then FA chairman Greg Dyke and a cross-party coalition of MPs.
Pictured: Bobby Moore kissing the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy after winning the World Cup in 1966
Last year it was reported that goalkeeper Gordon Banks missed out on a knighthood because officials lost key paperwork.
Friends were sure he was due to be made a sir in the 2019 New Year Honours, but although nomination papers had been submitted two years earlier, it was claimed they were then mislaid in a blunder by the Government’s honours committee. Banks died in February 2019.
All the members of the team were awarded MBEs, although farcically, five ‘forgotten’ players – Nobby Stiles, Alan Ball, Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson and George Cohen – did not receive theirs until 2000. Jack Charlton, Moore and Banks also received OBEs. In stark contrast to Britain’s failure to honour him, Charlton was awarded honorary Irish citizenship in 1996.
The honours system would have to be overhauled for Charlton to receive another award because the current rules ban the awarding of knighthoods posthumously.
Earlier this year, former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said: ‘That England squad never got the recognition they deserved.
‘It was years before Geoff Hurst got his knighthood. Bobby Moore should have had a knighthood and never did.
‘It was years before some in the team were honoured.’
It was an embrace between two footballing brothers that encapsulated the national mood of elation after England’s 1966 World Cup triumph.
After the final whistle blew at Wembley Stadium, a joyous Jack Charlton hugged his younger brother Bobby.
‘Nobody can ever take this moment away from us,’ Bobby said as tears streamed down his face.
The extraordinary image of brotherhood masked a complex relationship between two very different personalities who at times clashed off the pitch while complementing each other on it.
The extraordinary image of brotherhood masked a complex relationship between two very different personalities who at times clashed off the pitch while complementing each other on it
And it was Jack’s footballing prowess that was remembered yesterday as Premier League teams observed a minute’s silence following the announcement of his death on Friday, aged 85.
Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the famous Wembley victory over West Germany, described his World Cup teammate as a ‘great and loveable character’, while Boris Johnson said he was ‘a footballer great whose achievements brought happiness to so many’.
In a statement, the Charlton family said: ‘We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.
‘He was a thoroughly honest, kind, funny and genuine man who always had time for people.’
Born in 1935, Jack grew up in the Northumberland pit town of Ashington where his family lived in a house without a bathroom or running water. Money was so tight that Jack shared a bed with Bobby and their two younger brothers, Gordon and Tommy.
Jack was happiest outdoors. He fished off the coast at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and in nearby rivers, sometimes staying out all night.
‘If I can choose the way I will leave this world, it will be clutching a rod, with a 40lb salmon on the other end of the line dragging me down the river,’ he once said.
By contrast, Bobby preferred staying indoors. Jack once remarked that he refused to fish because ‘he didn’t like handling worms’.
Their mother Cissie bought Jack his first pair of football boots when he was seven and would often join her sons for a kickabout in the street. Unable to afford to buy them a football kit, Cissie made Jack a pair of shorts from an old curtain.
While Bobby and Jack were both gifted players, Bobby was usually picked ahead of his taller brother. Indeed, when Leeds United offered Jack a trial, Cissie asked whether they had intended to ask Bobby.
Academically, they also went in very different directions. Bobby passed the 11-plus and went to Bedlington Grammar. Jack failed the exam and attended Hirst Park Secondary Modern School.
After leaving school, Jack worked for a few weeks as a miner at the Linton colliery, where his father had worked, but soon decided to leave and pursue his dream of becoming a footballer.
Fiercely proud of his roots, Jack joined Bobby for a trip back to Ashington days after their 1966 triumph. They were mobbed as they toured their hometown in an open-top car. Jack later spent part of his £1,000 World Cup-winning bonus on a new home for his parents – their first with an indoor toilet.
Cissie, whose cousin was Jackie Milburn, one of England’s most famous post-war players, always showed a keen interest in her sons’ exploits – both on and off the pitch.
On the night of England’s victory in 1966, Jack sneaked away from the official reception at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, West London, and enjoyed a long night of partying.
When he eventually returned to the hotel, his mother was waiting for him in the foyer. ‘Where have you been?’ Cissie demanded. ‘I’ve been up to your room and the bed hasn’t been slept in!’
Early in their careers and despite playing for rivals Leeds and Manchester United, the brothers were close. Jack asked Bobby to be his best man when he married Pat Kemp in 1958. ‘It was not through convention, but because he was my best friend,’ he later said.
However, after Bobby’s marriage three years later to Norma, they began to grow apart amid claims of tension between Cissie and Norma. Years of growing antipathy exploded in 1996 when Jack criticised Bobby for failing to visit Cissie in her final years and suggesting that had been influenced by Norma.
A decade later, Bobby described Jack’s claims about his wife as ‘absolutely disgraceful’. Writing in a book in 2007, he confessed he and his brother had ‘never been further apart than we are now’, adding: ‘I just don’t want to know him.’
Their relationship seemed irreparably broken but they were very publicly reconciled a year later when Bobby was presented with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. Jack agreed to present the trophy and told his sibling: ‘Bobby Charlton is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. And he’s my brother.’
Their relationship seemed irreparably broken but they were very publicly reconciled a year later when Bobby was presented with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award
The pair embraced – just as they had on the turf at Wembley 42 years earlier.
Two years ago, the brothers were pictured together again – for the first time in years – when they attended the funeral of their 1966 teammate Ray Wilson.
Jack, who spent 23 years at Leeds and who later managed the Republic of Ireland for a decade, suffered a fall at his home in Morpeth in 2010 and needed a hip replacement. He was later treated for an aneurysm and was also found to be suffering from Alzheimer’s.
In a statement, Leeds United said: ‘He will remain in football folklore for ever and his records at Leeds United are unlikely ever to be surpassed.’
His granddaughter Emma Wilkinson, an ITV news reporter, said: ‘Beyond sad to have to say goodbye to my beloved grandad, Jack Charlton.
‘He enriched so many lives through football, friendship and family. He was a kind, funny and thoroughly genuine man.’
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