Hundreds of people lined the streets of a Northumberland town today to pay their respects to World Cup winning hero Jack Charlton after the footballer died 11 days ago aged 85.
The funeral cortege left his home and slowly passed through Ashington where he and his brother Sir Bobby spent countless hours in back lanes and parks, honing their skills which took them to the top of the game.
Charlton went on to become a successful manager most notably with the Republic of Ireland. Tributes came in from across the football world for the one-club Leeds United legend, famed for his uncompromising defending.
The centre-back went on to be revered in Middlesbrough after guiding the club into the old first division as champions, but it was leading the Republic of Ireland which sealed his managerial reputation as one of the greats.
People line the streets as the funeral cortege of Jack Charlton passes through his hometown of Ashington this morning
People watch the funeral procession to remember Jack Charlton today in his hometown of Ashington, Northumberland
A close-up of the flower tributes for Jack Charlton as his funeral cortege passes through his childhood hometown today
Mourners in Ashington applaud today as Jack Charlton’s funeral cortege passes through the Northumberland town
People line the streets to pay tribute to Jack Charlton ahead of his funeral procession today in Ashington, Northumberland
The Wilson family stand in Ashington today to pay tribute to Jack Charlton’s work with the Republic of Ireland national team
Young and old line the streets to pay tribute to Jack Charlton ahead of his funeral procession in Ashington this morning
A man and woman wearing England shirts stand on the street as they wait for the funeral cortege of Jack Charlton today
Two boys hold up signs paying tribute to Jack Charlton as the funeral cortege passes through Ashington this morning
Young people hold a flag paying tribute to ‘Jack the lad’ as they line the streets of Ashington in Northumberland this morning
Irish fans took Big Jack to their hearts, and the feeling was mutual, as he led the country to two successful World Cup campaigns in 1990 and 1994
Peter Mather, a 68-year-old semi-retired bricklayer, stood on the route of the funeral with a sign saying ‘Howay Wor Jack’. He said: ‘I never normally wear a cap but I’ve got one on today out of respect to Jack.
‘I lived over the road from here and I vividly remember watching the World Cup final. At the final whistle, he went to his knees, a big hard man like that showing such emotion. I’ll never forget it.’
Irishman Patrick Wilson was stood with his family in Ashington to pay his respects. The 68-year-old civil engineer, who is originally from Rahugh, County Westmead, but now living in Longframlington, Northumberland, said: ‘Jack set football off in Ireland. We used to call it soccer.
‘We look at him as a humble person, a man for the people. He was a simple sort of person with no airs or graces. Everyone was the same in Jack’s eyes.’
Peter Cowans, 64, decorated the outside of his Ashington home with flags in honour of the World Cup winner. The former policeman said: ‘He was a lovely fella, not just a football legend, but a real gentleman too.
Footballing legend Jack Charlton is pictured at Gordon Banks’s funeral in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, in March 2019
People stand apart from each other as they line the streets of Ashington this morning to pay tribute to Jack Charlton
A man covers his face with a scarf as people line the streets of Ashington to pay tribute to Jack Charlton this morning
One man wears a 1970s retro Newcastle United shirt as people wait to pay tribute to Jack Charlton in Ashington today
A man wears a Newcastle shirt (left), while a boy pays tribute to Jack Charlton (right) today ahead of the funeral procession
Peter Cowans, 64, with the display of flags outside his home in Ashington, ahead of Jack Charlton’s funeral procession today
Balloons and tributes are installed by staff at Woodhorn Park Care Home in Ashington, Northumberland, this morning
Peter Mather, 68, stands with a sign says ‘Howay Wor Jack’ in Ashington ahead of this morning’s funeral procession
Flags are left outside houses in Ashington, Northumberland, this morning ahead of Jack Charlton’s funeral procession
‘I’m pleased the crowds have turned out in their droves – I knew they would. He never forgot his roots.’
Leeds United fan Kevin Coe, 51, and his son Ellis, six, were on the route of the funeral procession. Referring to a 1971 documentary showing Jack Charlton’s home life in Ashington, Mr Coe said: ‘He just seems to have been a regular guy. He was still going out to the clubs, involved in whippet racing. It sums up this area.’
Mr Coe, from Rothbury, Northumberland, remembered the keen fisherman spending time on the River Coquet.
Charlton was the eldest son of miner Bob and his wife Cissie, who went on to have three more boys. He followed his father at the pit for a brief spell before leaving Northumberland to join the Leeds United ground staff aged 15.
He stayed there for a remarkable 23 years, a spell broken only by National Service, playing a major part in the club turning from also-rans into a major European force.
He was almost aged 30 when he made his England debut, but the late developer turned good at the just the right time, and was one of the Wembley heroes on that famous day in 1966.
Outside football, Charlton loved his country pursuits and was a keen fisherman. He remained a hugely popular figure in his retirement, with many fans sharing stories of how he always had time for supporters when he was out and about in his beloved North East.
Jack Charlton tributes are displayed in Ashington ahead of the funeral cortege which will pass through his hometown today
A sign in honour of Jack Charlton is displayed on a fence in Ashington in Northumberland this morning ahead of the funeral
Jack Charlton tributes are displayed ahead of the funeral cortege which is due to pass through his childhood hometown today
The West Chapel at West Road Crematorium and Cemetery in Newcastle is pictured today, where the funeral is taking place
The West Chapel notice board at West Road Crematorium and Cemetery shows Jack Charlton’s funeral will begin at 11.45am
The childhood home of footballing legends Bobby and Jack Charlton, in Ashington, Northumberland, is pictured yesterday
The road in Ashington, where footballing legends Bobby and Jack Charlton grew up, is pictured yesterday
The funeral cortege will leave Jack Charlton’s home and slowly pass through Ashington today on the route shown above
He is survived by wife Pat and their three children, John, Deborah and Peter. Charlton had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia.
After his death, his family said in a statement: ‘Jack died peacefully on Friday, July 10 at the age of 85. He was at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side.
‘As well as a friend to many, he was a much-adored husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. 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. His loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives but we are thankful for a lifetime of happy memories.’
A private family service will be held at West Road Crematorium’s West Chapel in Newcastle with a limited number of mourners due to the Covid-19 restrictions.
JEFF POWELL: Blunt but beloved Jack Charlton, the colossus at the centre of England’s World Cup win in 1966, will be sorely missed. He was a giant of man with a heart of gold
BY JEFF POWELL FOR THE DAILY MAIL
On the morning after he watched his brother Bobby unveil the statue of Bobby Moore which stands guard at the portals to the new Wembley stadium, Jack Charlton returned alone to the spiritual home of English football.
Big Jack rose early in his west London hotel room, checked his bag with the hall porter and took the Underground on his sentimental journey.
A slow, reflective stroll from the station along a virtually deserted Wembley Way ended with him doffing his trademark cloth cap to the friend who had captained himself, his younger brother and the rest of the boys of the summer of 1966 to England’s only World Cup glory.
Jack Charlton holds the World Cup aloft as he parades it around Wembley with teammates Ray Wilson (left), George Cohen (second left) and Bobby Moore (second right) following their 4-2 win over West Germany on July 30, 1966
There he stood for half an hour or more. Hand pressed against the plinth. Lost not only in thought but conversation. ‘I needed to have a chat with Sir Robert,’ he explained. ‘I miss him. I think about him most days since he passed on.’
Moore had died 14 years earlier, in 1993, a victim of bowel cancer. Charlton, his partner at the heart of the defence, added: ‘We didn’t see each other a lot, but whenever we did we just picked up and nattered away like in the dressing rooms, the hotels, the training grounds, the dinners, the reunions and all that. Aye, and all the bloody funerals.’
It adds an extra dimension of sadness to the loss of Charlton, at 85, that his burial service will have to take place under the Covid-19 restrictions on public gatherings.
It was at a funeral that he told me the story of his solitary sojourn, saying: ‘I’d been missing my chats with Mooro.
‘I went back to see him so we could spend some time on our own. We talked about the good old days. Of friends and laughs and good times.
Jack Charlton chats with Bobby Moore while England train for the 1966 World Cup at Lilleshall in Shropshire
‘About football then and now. About what’s gone wrong with England for nigh-on half a century since. And I can tell you he’s not impressed with that. Me neither.’
This is a sentimental tale which sheds some light on the blunt but beloved, frank but disarming, engaging but demanding, honest but caring paradox of a character as legendary for the natural warmth of his company as for his uncompromising football.
Beneath that towering determination to win as a player — tempered in the scorching furnace of Don Revie’s Leeds United and that great team’s devouring hunger for success — beat a heart of gold.
Behind the relentless long-ball power game with which his management dragged the Republic of Ireland from nowhere to unprecedented achievement — a World Cup quarter-final included — lived a romantic soul whose bear-hug buried your face in his chest.
That beguiling concoction transported this English patriot into such a darling of the Emerald Isle that they conferred honorary citizenship and granted him the Freedom of Dublin’s fair city. ‘Is that free Guinness for life?’ he asked. Only half joking.
The statue of former England football captain Bobby Moore stands outside Wembley Stadium, on April 27, 2018. On the day that the statue was unveiled at Wembley, Jack Charlton went to speak to it
When I rang him at Ireland’s team hotel in Rome on the morning of their Italia ’90 quarter-final against Italy to wish him luck, he said: ‘Well, thank you for that but I know you don’t much like the way we play.’
Then, after a pregnant pause, he chuckled and added. ‘Don’t worry, bonny lad. I also know you mean it.’ So I did. Just as I was sorry when they lost to the host nation. Though that 1-0 defeat did nothing to impair the reverence in which he is held in Ireland. Nor tarnish the legacy of his 23 trophy-laden years with Leeds. Least of all dull the memory of that sun-blessed afternoon at Wembley.
So on his visit to the statue, did he and Moore talk about the greatest day in English sporting history, the 4-2, two-hour triumph over West Germany climaxed by Geoff Hurst’s World Cup final hat-trick?
‘Course we did,’ he said. ‘We remembered the only time I ever heard him swear. I made a mistake which led to Germany equalising just before the end of normal time. A hard look from him was always bad enough. That time he told me: ‘Don’t f***ing do that ever again’.’
They were disparate personalities. After the official victory banquet, Moore hit the West End. Charlton went for a pub booze-up. Yet the bond was strong. Firmer for some years as it would transpire than that between Big Jack and the brilliant younger sibling he called ‘Wor Kid’.
Jack Charlton arrives for the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 2008 at the Liverpool Echo Arena in December that year
The Charlton boys grew up closer than tinned sardines in Ashington, Northumberland, but family relationships became strained after Bobby married. This had no detrimental effect on their combined exploits for England. Jack ran to embrace Bobby at the end of the World Cup final ‘even though I was completely knackered and kept sinking to my knees’.
While Bobby went from super-stardom at Manchester United to a knighted directorship at Old Trafford, Jack remained rooted in his North East working-class origins.
He could frequently be seen striding across the moors of Northumberland or Yorkshire, cloth cap pulled down against the elements, fishing rod over his shoulder, shotgun under his arm.
Yet when it came to public speaking, Jack proved to be more humorous and entertaining after dinners and on television than his reserved brother.
That eloquence helped forge a rapprochement between them in 2008, when the BBC asked him to present their Sports Personality of The Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
In his speech he said this: ‘Bobby could play football and was the great creator. I couldn’t play football but I could stop others playing. Together we proved there is a place for both in this game.’
Charlton (left) and Moore (right, pictured at LIlleshall in 1966) were disparate personalities but they had a strong bond
England manager Sir Alf Ramsey confirmed as much in a team talk as he brought Jack into his pre-World Cup side only days before his 30th birthday.
‘Alf said that he did not necessarily pick the 11 best players in the land,’ said Charlton. ‘He picked those players who could best do a specific job. I knew who he was talking to.’
Big Jack’s dominance in the air and strength on the ground liberated Captain Cool and Bobby Dazzler to conjure up the world-beating magic.
The same service he performed for Billy Bremner and Johnny Giles in the majority of his more than 700 one-club games for Leeds as they ran rampant in the 1960s and 1970s.
Now he joins those lost from two distinguished casts of high sporting drama.
While Bobby Charlton (right) became a star at Manchester United, Jack (left) remained rooted in his North East working-class origins. They are pictured together in April 1965
Charlton’s memory was never the greatest, especially for names, so when he first became afflicted with dementia it went barely noticed.
But there was no overcoming the lymphoma which took him down in the early hours of Saturday, leaving less than half England’s World Cup heroes still standing.
Moore, Alan Ball, Ray Wilson, Martin Peters and Gordon Banks preceded him. George Cohen, Nobby Stiles, Geoff Hurst, Roger Hunt and Wor Kid remain living mementoes of England’s golden moment.
Whenever Big Jack referred to Moore as Sir Robert he was invoking the question as to why the skipper was never knighted, along with Sir Alf, Sir Bobby and Sir Geoff.
The vexed issue of posthumous honours will be raised again now, also on his behalf.
Two nations – the Republic of Ireland and England – looked up to Jack Charlton (pictured in 1995); an iconic figure
Two nations, as well as football at large, looked up to Jack, and not only because he stood 6ft 5½in high. A giraffe in stature, also a giant of a man.
After talking up to Moore’s monument, which is 20-feet high in total, he said: ‘This is the first time he’s been taller than me, but I felt better for our chat.’
So what did Moore say as Charlton took his leave, rode the Tube back to town to pick up his luggage, then boarded the train north?
‘What he always said when anyone asked how he was.’ Big Jack replied. ‘All is well.’ As it will be once more when they meet again in that celestial saloon.