Martin Smith: Former Sheffield Wednesday reporters share their memories of Jack Charlton

Jack Charlton. Photo: Simon  Bruty/AllsportJack Charlton. Photo: Simon  Bruty/Allsport
Jack Charlton. Photo: Simon Bruty/Allsport
Jack Charlton belonged to a simpler age, an age fondly remembered by Sheffield Wednesday fans.

He started his working life as a miner, looked like a farmer, loved fishing and said of himself that he couldn’t play football but could stop those who could.

Which was only partly true.

Ian Vickers was the Star’s Wednesday man when Jack became manager at Hillsborough in 1977 with the Owls bottom of the third division.

He got them promoted within three years.

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Back then the local reporter travelled on the team coach, stayed in the team hotel and ate with coaching staff the night before games.

Ian remembers that when Jack found out Ian was getting married he offered him his farmhouse in North Yorkshire for the honeymoon.

It was 1978 and Jack also went on Ian’s stag night - met in a pub in town and on to Josephine’s, of course - with the lads.

When the happy couple got to their remote honeymoon escape there were Jack’s mother and father Cissy and Bob to greet them.

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“Jack was a funny and generous bloke who did things his own way and had a charm and straightforward way with him,” said Ian.

“I got on well with him, what you saw was what you got with Jack.”

On his team talk before a game at Shrewsbury: “Jack had a badly written scouting report for his team talk and he kept struggling to read it until eventually he screwed it up and said: “Ahh sod it, just go out there and play’”.

And they won.

Like many big personalities there was more to Jack than quips and confidence.

Wednesday players would speak of his brilliance as a coach.

Paul Thompson took over from Ian as Owls reporter in 1980.

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“Jack used to tell a story about the fear he felt in the 78th minute of the 1966 World Cup final when a ball ballooned in the air off a German defender and was dropping to him for a chance to win the game. Luckily, said Jack, it landed for Martin Peters instead.”

On quicksilver striker Jimmy Greaves: ‘You thought you had the little f****r and then he’d drift past you and it’s in the net.’

Then there was World Cup adventures with Ireland where he became a national hero and honorary Irishman, changing Irish football for ever.

All our thanks to Jack Charlton, May 1935 to July 2020, what a life.