The headlines have been dominated by the death of the Duke of Edinburgh since he died on Friday and to some extent it does feel like the end of an era.
I was born in 1954 and so Prince Phillip has been a constant throughout my life as has The Queen. He dedicated his life to this country, and I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to live your life out in the goldfish bowl that is the royal family. Yes, there is privilege that goes with that but the sheer volume of his visits and handshaking, the hundreds of charities that benefited from his patronage and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme that benefited so many young people around the world means he has left a legacy.
Not as high profile perhaps but equally sad was the passing of former Charlton Athletic player and director Derek Ufton. I came to know Derek very well when I became Managing Director of the club in 1997. He was always so supportive and quite simply loved the club. In my early years, we were heavily involved in redeveloping The Valley and Derek often popped in to check on progress and once or twice he shed a tear or two as seeing The Valley transforming into a modern Premier League stadium was for him a dream come true. He was always a voice of calm and reason ably supported by his wife Judy and son Tim who both regularly attended matches home and away. He was equally passionate about Kent County Cricket Club.
I used to rib him that Charlton’s greatest ever comeback in a match was sparked by him getting injured and going to hospital to have his dislocated shoulder attended to.
Back in 1957 Charlton entertained Huddersfield Town who at that time were managed by Bill Shankly who was going to go on to become a legendary manager of Liverpool FC.
Derek departed the match after 27 minutes and Charlton were reduced to ten men as there were no substitutes in those days. Almost immediately, Huddersfield took a 1-0 lead through Les Massie.
Huddersfield would continue to build on their lead with two goals to Alex Bain, one to Bill McGarry and one to Bob Ledger—holding a commanding 5-1 lead over the Addicks with 27 minutes remaining in the match before something remarkable happened.
Johnny Summers and John Ryan scored a goal apiece for Charlton in the space of two minutes to reduce the margin to 5-3. Summers then scored in the 73rd and 78th minutes—tying the game at five goals all before netting his fifth goal in the 81st minute to give Charlton a 6-5 lead.
With barely any of the home crowd remaining having all left when their team was down 5-1 with 10 men, visiting Huddersfield drew level again at six-all with five minutes to play before a final-second header by Ryan gave Charlton a remarkable 7-6 victory.
Derek always took all the ribbing about his lack of involvement in the match with great humour and he always had so many great stories to tell often throwing former teammates under the proverbial bus!
Prince Philip and Derek Ufton were two giants in my lifetime and will be greatly missed but the world is better for the fact they both lived a full and long life and truly made their mark.
Peter Varney, Chairman – Integral Sports Management
Image – Getty Images