Friday 27 November 2009

The Night The Addicks Scored Nine

Following on from last night’s Richard Murray Q&A, and inspired by a couple of comments from the subsequent post that suggest I’m not the only living Addick with a recollection of a particular night back in May 1967, I thought I’d do some searching into the equally chaotic archives of my mind and my programme collection to see if I could dig out details of ‘the night the Addicks scored nine’. Happy to say I found the programme – and also the programme of the March 1965 game at home to Bolton Wanderers that was being played in the North Stand lounge last night.

My only recollection of the friendly against Apoel Nicosia (now about to end their campaign this season in the Champions League), which according to the programme was the first played in England by a team from Cyprus, was that the visitors displayed all the commitment of some team which more recently apparently travelled north for the first round in the FA Cup (although as per the comment they did indeed go on to play against Arsenal a few days later and must have been a little better prepared to have secured a 1-1 draw). I remember that by the end Charlton players were pretty much queuing up to score. The rest is down to the programme, price 6d, which contained suitable ads for Mosaic Cyprus golden sherry and one from the Cyprus Trade & Tourist Centre (Cyprus: “a new country with enormous potential for future development”; well, this was all before a certain rift).

In those halcyon days before squad numbers, the line-up was ‘as printed in the programme’: Wright, Bonds, Kinsey, Gregory, King, Appleton, Glover, Tees, Firmani, Campbell, and Peacock. The first half must have been at least vaguely competitive as we were only 2-0 up at the break, when White replaced Wright in goal and Green came on for Firmani. But by the finish Peacock had a hat-trick, with a brace each for Glover and Campbell, and goals from Firmani and Green. 9-0. Will it ever happen again? Or indeed have we ever scored 10 or more in a any other friendly?

According to the programme, it seems that our visitors were already no strangers to the European Cup/Champions League, having first competed in 1963. The programme, diplomatic as ever, notes that after defeating GJovik of Norway in the qualifying round they came up against Sporting Club of Lisbon, who were to go on to win the trophy that year, and that the “tremendous task” proved “too much” for Apoel (a quick check on Wykopedia reveals that the aggregate score was 1-18). It notes somewhat chillingly that that the club was sponsored by the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, which I’m sure was an entirely altruistic organisation (although a further check on the club’s history does reveal that one of their track and field athletes was indeed hanged by the British during the uprisings of the 1950s; other more recent notable events have been their being disqualified from UEFA competitions in 1986 as they were drawn against Turkey’s Besiktas and the Cypriot government prohibited them from playing).

As for us, the programme – in addition to a splendid reference to the Charlton supporters as being “the finest in Britain” – gives a thumbnail sketch of some overseas tours by the club. In particular there is reference to a four-week tour of Canada and the USA in 1937, when 13 games were played in four weeks of which 12 were won and the other drawn, with 72 goals for and only 9 against (so by the law of averages perhaps there was a double-digit victory then). For that tour it seems the Charlton contingent travelled on the Empress of Australia liner, something of a contrast with a 1953 trip to Rome for a match against Roma (lost 4-2) as apparently on the return Bobby Ayre managed to get himself locked in the lavatory.

The 1966/67 season itself for us was I guess just another one of those indifferent campaigns in the old Second Division which ended with us celebrating having avoided relegation (we won the final two games, although looking at the table we would have just survived even if we had lost them). Under Bob Stokoe we managed 13 wins and 9 draws in the 42-game season, finishing 19th. The season had seen the return of Firmani, who was to take over from Stokoe after five games of the next season, which did pave the way for that glorious 1968/69 season when we came close to promotion, before normal service was resumed the following year (Theo Foley taking over after Firmani was sacked, finished third from bottom).

As for the Bolton game that was being shown last night, I have the programme so I may well have been there. But the video failed to stir any memories. Well, we did lose (3-1) and selective memory is a wonderful thing (Northwich who? I was out of the country – like it seems most of the directors – and have already erased it.). Perhaps if I’d stayed to watch Mike Kenning get our consolation goal it would have come flooding back. I’m not going to say how old I was then as that would be giving the game away; suffice to say acne was still a distant dream.The team was: Rose, Bonds, Kinsey, Hewie, Haydock, Tocknell, Kenning, Kennedy, Matthews, Peacock and Glover (with of course no subs then). The programme notes call for a “strong pull” from the supporters and the team against a strong Bolton side that had been relegated from the top flight the previous season (and were to go on to just miss out on a quick return, finishing third). It contained an account of the previous game, away at Southampton, noting that the story of the match was “not a happy one” (we lost 4-0). But there was special mention for an 18-year-old Billy Bonds, who had made his debut the match before (a 1-1 draw at home to Northampton).

With another flurry of recent loan signings it made me chuckle to see how it sometimes worked in those days. The programme made reference to a Stewart Scullion having signed amateur forms for Charlton, but that as his club, Chesham Utd, were fighting for promotion from the Athenian League Stewart “cannot be spared most Saturdays” but would “assist us as often as possible”. Bless. As there’s no mention of a Scullion in The Valiant 500 I guess he didn’t go on to assist us that much (wasn’t there a Scullion in Porterhouse Blue?). There is also mention of a certain 20-year-old Keith Peacock, who “studies accountancy in his spare time” and “has a big future as a footballer”.

The 1964/65 season, the last under Frank Hill, saw us finish in the lofty position of 18th but just two points above second-bottom, with 13 wins and 9 draws (a pattern emerging?). I do remember the FA Cup matches against Middlesbrough, with Mike Bailey (who that season became only the second Charlton player since the War to win a full England cap) breaking his leg. I have the scrapbooks to remind me, as well as a poster of the squad for that season hanging on the kitchen wall.

So there you have it. Tales of managers getting sacked and relegation struggles. It’s all getting contemporary again and with a bit of luck next season will see us back to scrapping for points in the second flight. Before then, it’s worth noting in light of the treat that’s in store for us in December that the highest crowd of the 1966/67 season was 29,529 - for the visit of Millwall.


Mark said...

I thoroughly enjoyed that. Thank you very much. A lot of names from the past to stir the memories. Maybe this is old hat but I found this on yahoo talking about the 100 best football games ever - we feature twice!! Not bad for a club like ours I feel.

Uttlesford Addick said...

Was acne a distant dream in 1965 because you were looking back on it with fond memories or looking forward to it I wonder ?