Legends of the game
GRAPEVINE: “They think it’s all over, it is now!” Those immortal words by BBC commentator Kenneth Wostenholme rang in my ears on that famous day in July 1966.
Friday 25 May 2012, 04:16PM
The day England won the World Cup at Wembley. The day Geoff Hurst hit a hat trick, the day Jack Charlton and his younger brother Bobby cavorted like teenagers.
Little did I know as celebrations continued on that famous day that the Charlton brothers, surely the most famous brothers in football, would be back in my life in such different ways in years to come.
Jack was about to join the police but was offered a trial by Leeds United. He chose the trial over the force, and was offered an apprenticeship, signing professional terms in 1952.
He became a stalwart for the mighty Leeds United, the only team apart from England he ever played for.
I first met Jack in Leeds in the 1960s but our paths crossed regularly in the ‘80s and ‘90s in northeast England, at sporting events and on his visits to Federation Brewery, where I was Chief Executive.
Bobby was a couple of years younger. He signed with Manchester United in January 1953 as a 15 year old. There after began a remarkable career. His first team debut was against Charlton Athletic in October 1956, and he became one of the famous Busby Babes under Matt Busby.
But in 1958 disaster struck with the horrific air crash in Munich. Many of the legends died, but Bobby was pulled free by teammate Harry Gregg. Bobby recovered, his career progressed, World Cup and Club success followed as he set appearance and goal scoring records. He was knighted in 1994.
Manchester, July 1996 was to prove sensational for me. The occasion was the official opening of my Brewery’s new distribution centre attended by a number of distinguished guests, including Freddie Pye, at that time associated with Manchester City.
He brought a friend along, and imagine my shock and indeed delight as the friend turned out to be Bobby Charlton. My mind instantly recalled the famous words from 1966, but for me it was not all over, it was just beginning!