Leo McKinstry - CollinsWillow £18.99 - ISBN 0-00-711876-7
English Victorian author Henry
Sambrooke Leigh wrote in his book The Twins, "In form and feature,
face and limb,/ I grew so like my brother/ That folks got taking
me for him,/ And each for one another." The same could not be
said of the Charlton brothers for not only were there distinctly
unlike in appearance, they turned out to be quite different in
outlook and personality as well.
Both products of the north east coal-mining town of Ashington,
they both made their way into professional football, they both
became valued England internationals, winning the 1966 World Cup,
and they both became football club managers. In addition both
have had many business interests that have earned them millionaire
status. But although these similarities seem perhaps many, they
have achieved their status in quite
Bobby as a youngster was always the family favourite and was
determined to become a footballer from the beginning but Jack
had no such early ambitions and indeed the standard of his play
as a junior did not lead anyone to remotely suspect that he would
make the grade. He even went down the pit for a very short time
before deciding that it was not for him and, in his way that became
very familiar in later life, told the managers so in no uncertain
Surprisingly it was Jack who earned a professional contract first
and he later, perhaps slightly misleadingly, said, "Neither of
us had ever considered anything but playing the game for a living."
He did not join Leeds United on their first approach but later
had second thoughts and, after a trial, he signed for the Yorkshire
club. Mother Cissie Charlton, the power behind the throne, commented
on the signing, "I was amazed because although Jack had enjoyed
his football, he just wasn't the same calibre as Bobby."
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Almost twelve months later and Bobby too had become a professional
footballer as he joined Manchester United. And while Jack sweated
away in the Second Division, Bobby became one of the famous Busby
Babes and assisted Manchester United in their Youth Cup triumphs.
Then came the disastrous Munich accident after which many felt
that Bobby changed and was a little more reflective and introspective.
Both players progressed and by 1966 they were both in the World
Cup squad and shared mixed emotions on the field after the epic
victory. They continued in the side, bobby almost regularly, Jack
more intermittently until the 1970 World Cup when they both played
their final international game.
Retirement came for both of them on 29 April 1973, Bobby after
755 games and two appearances as substitute and Jack after 773
games. Managerial careers followed but in this field Jack was
more successful than Bobby who even made a brief return for Preston
North End when his side were not doing too well. Bobby quickly
realised that the manager's role was not for him but Jack went
from strength to strength culminating his highly successful role
as manager of the Irish Republic side.
Jack also continued his outside interests, fishing and shooting
most particularly, while Bobby became the football ambassador
and businessman. Both made huge successes of their life and their
names are still very much to the fore when football is spoken
Leo McKinstry, in his usual fine style, gives a balanced view
of both Jack and Bobby and a superb statistical section backs
up the text. As for the question as to whether they are "brothers
in arms" or "brothers in conflict", readers will have to enjoy
the enthralling 492 pages to make up their own minds!
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