It was 50 years ago today
.... and I was there.
Our Kid reckons I'm getting senile, but then he loves playing with words. But I must be honest and say that I have few memories of the day, 50 years ago today, when Charlton beat Huddersfield 7-6
as Oigal might ask
, but at the recent Xmas Blogfest someone said that I hadn't mentioned Charlton much recently. The simple matter is that I was waiting for a reason, and this is it.
This momentous match ended with a never before matched and yet to be repeated scoreline. Score six but still lose? The later renowned Bill Shankly
was manager of Huddersfield and he was rendered virtually speechless, except to mutter to himself
: "It’s just one of those things ... It’s history ...
The reason why I have few memories of that day is because the whole notion of being alone in a crowd of as much as 40,000, yet with no sense of danger because we were 'family', was as much an important part of the experience as the match itself. I'd only been going down to The Valley for a month or two, having been asked by one of my new school mates.
Others had asked me to go with them to other football clubs within the school's catchment areas. They were Millwall and Crystal Palace, neither of which I want to dignify with links because ....
Charlton was within walking distance of my home, a tad past my local library
, through Maryon Park
and the adjacent Maryon Wilson Park
which has enclosures for deer and other cuddly animals.
The 50's were quite stultifying for my generation. There was little scope for creative freedom in a country recovering from the deprivations of WWII and its aftermath. Going to watch Charlton play on a Saturday afternoon was, as I wrote here
, a rite of passage into teenage, and an all too brief few hours when I could explore beyond the family confines. A win, a loss or a draw didn't matter so much to me. There was still the ritual of returning home to the Saturday afternoon pilchard sandwiches whilst watching the Billy Cotton Band Show
on BBC TV in black and white. Strewth, I cringe to this day,
Still, at least I can claim that I was there when the great Johnny Summers scored five goals with his right foot - he was left footed. We were down 2-0 at half time because our centre-half, Derek Ufton who's now a Charlton director, had dislocated his shoulder - there were no substitutes in those days. At half time, Summers was switched to the centre forward position. He scored, but playing with ten men Charlton soon found themselves down 5-1.Within two minutes it was 5-3. First, Buck Ryan scored. Then Summers, again with his right foot, this time off a post. Ten minutes later, he completed his hat-trick, blasting a right-foot shot past the diving Huddersfield goalkeeper, Sandy Kennon
. 5-4.Five minutes later, Summers drove in the equaliser and, in the 81st minute, with the Huddersfield defence slithering in the mud and the Charlton spectators in pandemonium, Summers hit the ball once more towards goal. It took a deflection and rolled through Kennon’s outstretched legs. Summers had scored five goals, all with his weaker foot.
Ten-man Charlton, from 5-1 down, had scored five goals in 19 minutes.6-5 home advantage.
But there was more. In the 86th minute, the ball was punted towards the Charlton goal and John Hewie
, the right back, attempted to side-foot it out of the way.... “The ball skidded, I stretched and I could only toe-poke it,
” Hewie said
. “And it went into the net.
In the muddy conditions, the Huddersfield defence slipped and almost comically their goalkeeper sent the ball up in the air, over his head and into the net although the winning goal is credited to John Ryan.Charlton 7 Huddersfield 6.
John Summers died of leukemia in Brook General Hospital five years later. Two years after that I was a temporary porter there and he was still talked about.
And fifty years later he remains a hero.
Four of the six surviving members of the Charlton team will be at the Valley tomorrow when Charlton, back in the second tier, take on Hull. John Hewie, who is one of the four, was a neighbour of mine when I was a lad; maybe it's why I used to play in defence when I found myself a game.
We Addicks have never known what to expect when Charlton play. I like to think that this exciting tradition was started on Saturday, December 21, 1957.