Tag Archives: Jack Charlton

Leeds Legend Big Jack Attacked by Former York Mayor the Day After Passing Away – by Rob Atkinson

York Councillor Dave Taylor (Green Party)

I’ve never been fond of the whole huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ scene myself, not have I ever been enamoured of blood sports – it seems perverse to me that entertainment should be had at the expense of some poor creature’s life. Still, it takes all sorts and, like most people, I tend to afford my sporting heroes a bit of latitude where their tastes differ from my own. Thus, I never had any problem with Vinnie Jones, who is frequently to be found at the less harmful end of a gun as he pursues his countryside recreation. It’s just one of those things I file under inexplicable, and move on, minding my own business.

Another Leeds United legend who enjoyed a spot of sporting mayhem was Jack Charlton, lost to us at 85 on Friday after a long illness. Big Jack was beloved by many for his extraordinary contribution to the football world as player, club manager, international manager and as a pungent pundit who was never at a loss for a bon mot or two. He was larger than life, massively successful, utterly likeable and revered accordingly. It’s certainly not for me to pick faults with a man of that stature and a legend in the history of the club I love.

However, there’s always the odd person who is willing – nay, eager – to abandon any such scruples and weigh in on the attack even against a beloved public figure, just as soon as they are safely dead and unable to defend themselves or retaliate. In the case of York councillor and former City Mayor Dave Taylor, we’re talking about a very odd person indeed, with a particularly lousy sense of timing. Councillor Taylor chose to bray his delight at the news of Big Jack’s passing, barely 24 hours after that sad event. For a person in public life to put into print on social media such very tasteless comments as Taylor did must surely indicate supreme self-confidence or profoundly arrogant stupidity. I offer no verdict on that point, beyond noting that the offending Facebook status was removed when poor Dave became aware he’d upset folk with his crass comments.

Sadly for those of a reckless demeanour and possessed of mouths that flap without brain being engaged, nothing ever disappears from the Internet, and Taylor’s unwise and tasteless remarks are quite easy for anyone to find. I shall not reproduce them here, I wouldn’t wish to sully this blog with such crass idiocy and, after all, the necessary details are indelibly out there. Suffice to say that the initial remark was along the lines of I hear Jack Charlton is dead. Good – later toned down to some weasel words about having no sympathy and finally deleted altogether. But it may be that some of Jack’s legions of fans and friends will choose to pursue and harry Councillor Taylor, who might well pay the price so many public figures pay when they choose to chelp not wisely, but too well. And there’d be some justice in that, along with maybe some comfort for those appalled by Taylor’s sheer lack of taste and respect. Who knows? The Green Party are unlikely to welcome the publicity that their York councillor is attracting, and they will have a decision to make as to what, if any, disciplinary action is appropriate.

Councillor Taylor, pictured above, looks like the kind of chap who seeks and welcomes attention. But it seems that, in the matter of his attack on the late and deeply lamented Jack Charlton, he may already be regretting the attention he’s attracted. He might just have bitten off more than he can chew. I do hope so.

Marching On Together

Reading Join Huddersfield in Leeds United’s Little Black Book – by Rob Atkinson

Big Jack

Big Jack of Leeds United – neither forgot nor forgave

A few decades back, a couple of rival footballers were daft enough to upset Leeds United‘s beanpole, World Cup-winning centre-half Jack Charlton. Perhaps they over-estimated the man’s capacity for forgiveness, but that would have been a terrible mistake. Although somebody once rightly said of the Charlton brothers, that Bobby was twice the player but Jack was ten times the bloke, our legendary number five knew how to nurse a grudge, alright. He had this to say of those unwise enough to rile him:

“I have a little black book with two players in it, and if I get a chance to do them, I will. I will make them suffer before I pack this game in. If I can kick them four yards over the touch line, I will.”

Chilling stuff, you might agree and, really, very Leeds United at that time. This was a team that bore grudges and looked after themselves and each other – famously, the attitude was “If you cut one of us, we all bleed”. With the subtext to that being “…and we’ll all be lining up to pay you back, so watch it”. But Jack rarely needed back-up.

Some might say that, although the great United team is a far-off memory now, and although Big Jack himself has long since retired into a mellow north country affability, the cold, hard core of steel persists around Elland Road. As a club, and reflected also in their redoubtable fans, Leeds United excels still in bearing a grudge; it neither forgives nor forgets. Big Jack’s little black book is still a thing in LS11, and there have been a couple of new entries made this season.

Given the nature of football, such accounts frequently have to remain unsettled for a considerable period of time, what with rival teams usually meeting but twice a year. But these days, it’s a little bit different and – intriguingly for those who keep an eye on slow-burning feuds – the two clubs who have most offended White sensibilities this season are both likely play-off opponents in the near future.

It’s fairly well-documented that Huddersfield Town, those perennial Yorkshire bridesmaids, have got themselves a little over-excited at times in this campaign. It’s perhaps understandable – after all, they’ve contrived two narrow victories against the club that, more than any other, is responsible for their long-standing inferiority complex. What’s more, they’re looking well-placed to finish higher in the league than those hated rivals, for the first time since 1961.

Still, understandable or not, Huddersfield have transgressed the unwritten law about not pissing Leeds United off. So they’re in the modern day little black book – and they’ve been joined over the past week or so by fellow tiny upstarts Reading FC, who have had so much to say for themselves in the run-up to Saturday’s match at the Madejski Stadium. The phenomenon of small clubs gobbing off in the press about bigger outfits fallen upon hard times is one that has gained some currency in recent years. As the ultimate sleeping giant, Leeds United has had to suffer slings and arrows from some fairly surprising directions, given the large size and glittering status of our more accustomed rivals. But lately we cop it in the neck from the likes of Bradford, Barnsley, Millwall and so on. And now Reading. Saucy little gits of clubs, all, that revel in the golden chance to show disrespect to their betters. It’s distasteful, but we’ve just had to grimace and bear it. And yet that doesn’t mean that we forget, nor indeed should we forgive. And, by God, we don’t; we bear a grudge and vow to have our own back. That’s what little black books are for.

Call it motivation, psyching-up, or the naked desire for revenge – the outcome is likely to be the same. If, as expected, Leeds United figures in the end-of-season lottery we know as the play-offs, then our beloved club could well be playing with the dice loaded marginally in our favour. At home, Elland Road will be a wall of sound, an arena of passion and hostility fit to blow away those used to a more placid atmosphere. Away, the travelling army will invade and conquer; enemy territory will ring to the noise of locals being out-shouted and sung into silence. At Wembley, if such is our destiny, the stadium will look like a rhapsody in white, yellow and blue, with a massive majority of raucous Yorkshire voices demanding victory and a return to our rightful level. On the park, the shirts will be occupied by snarling warriors, snapping into tackles, giving no quarter, harrying the enemy to exhaustion. Such will be the case, whoever we happen to meet.

But, if and when we meet Huddersfield, and/or Reading – as we almost inevitably will – then that extra-keen edge may well be evident in the attitude of both team and fans. United in all senses of the word, the boys on the park and the fans in the stands will remember past offences and will be eager for payback. Promotion via the play-offs is its own incentive; many say there is no better way to go up, and no worse way to stay down. But that little extra few percent in performance and support, added into the mix by foes ill-advised enough to find their way into Leeds’ little black book – that extra few percent might just make all the difference.

Huddersfield, Reading – it’ll be good to see you again. We’ll be waiting, with long memories, but short on patience and the milk of human kindness. We’ll go about it hard but fair, just like Big Jack – but with an intensity and passion you might find hard to deal with. You’ve had your moments this season, at our expense too, and you’ve earned your places in the book. Beware, payback time approaches. It’s time to settle up.

History Shows A Strong Leeds United is Needed For a Strong England Team – by Rob Atkinson

Art of Football remembers England's - and Leeds' - glory day at Wembley '66

Art of Football remembers England’s – and Leeds’ – glory day at Wembley ’66

Long-standing and esteemed Friends of the Blog Art of Football have been kind enough to send me another quality example of their fine work, something I can defiantly wear close to my heart, to emphasise my status as a proud Englishman. This is a helpful state of mind at a time when, as not infrequently happens, all is chaos and confusion in the world of Leeds United. England have just booked a place at a major tournament in Euro ’16, with a flawless performance in the qualification group, winning ten out of ten matches. That, in itself is a cause for pride, whichever club team you might happen to support. In these cosmopolitan times, national pride and club pride have little in common with each other; most clubs are predominantly staffed by players from beyond these shores – you really do have to look to the England team if you’re a devotee of St. George and fancy stoking up any latent feelings of nationalist fervour.

Time was, of course, when our top clubs were much more parochially inclined. Any League team with pretensions to success would boast its clutch of current England internationals, and Leeds United was no exception in the days when the national team was a real force to be reckoned with. Harking back to the glory days of 1966 – as my Art of Football product clearly does in the picture above – Leeds fans will be proud to recall that our own Jack Charlton played his part on the day, ensuring that Leeds would go down in history with the likes of West Ham, Liverpool and even Fulham and Blackpool, as clubs that contributed players to England’s finest hour. For Leeds, there was also Norman Hunter in that legendary squad – and it’s good to know that his presence was belatedly acknowledged when he was finally awarded a World Cup winners medal in 2009.

The fact that the World Cup Final in July 1966 remains England’s solitary impact on World Football’s honours board, though, is a more sobering thought. The decisive moment reproduced on the front of Art of Football‘s evocative product could fairly be described as England’s last real mark on Football history. Next summer, when the current crop of national heroes are doing battle in France, it will be 50 years since the late, great Kenneth Wolstenholme so memorably remarked on Wembley pitch invaders thinking it’s all over – adding “It is now!”, as Geoff Hurst‘s late thunderbolt hit the back of the German net. Half a century on, it’s really difficult to imagine such a moment happening again, with almost every major nation having long since overtaken us in terms of international honours.

Still, that’s probably a bit too carpy and whingey, considering that the current wearers of those Three Lions shirts have breezed so effectively to qualification for next year’s finals – and especially when you consider that Scotland have maintained their recent form by failing yet again to make it to the party. And the fact that, if England by some miracle did succeed in France, it will be without the involvement of any Leeds United personnel – well, I’m not going to let that bother me either. I’d be chuffed, delighted, flown with patriotic pride if the lads did it, even given that some of those lads, and at least one past-it striker, ply their trade for that lot over the Pennines whom I shall not dignify by mention of their name. What the hell, after all. When they play and win for England, they’re English – petty matters of club rivalry are for less momentous occasions.

The fact remains for the moment, though – and barring that unlikely miracle I was talking about for our lot in France next year – that England only wins a cup with at least one Leeds lad involved, and another in the background. That, in itself, is a matter of unshakeable pride for long-suffering Leeds United fans. So I’ll wear my iconic design proudly, as a tribute to those lads of so long ago – but most especially with a glow of pride for our Jack and our Norm, who did their country proud – and immortalised themselves in the process.