On 29th April 1975 Charlton beat Preston North End 3-1 in front of a 25,000 crowd to achieve promotion to what is now known as The EFL Championship.
For a Charlton fan it was a great night full of drama and tension but one moment from that night has stuck with me for the past 46 years.
As the Preston North End manager emerged from the tunnel to take his place in the away dugout, the home supporters in the old but iconic main stand at The Valley rose in unison to give him a standing ovation. That man was Sir Bobby Charlton, and the crowd were demonstrating their love and admiration for a man who did as much as any to win the World Cup in 1966.
Unlike a lot of people I was able to see that World Cup win and still remember Bobby Charlton’s long range wonder strike against Mexico and the aggression and gamesmanship of the Argentina team with Rattin sent off but refusing to leave the pitch and Sir Alf Ramsey coming on to the pitch to stop his players shaking hands with their opponents at the end of the match. Of course, the icing on the cake was the Sir Geoff Hurst hat trick in the final and the third England goal given by the Russian linesman which is still disputed to this day. I was beginning to think I might never see England beat Germany again in a major competition let alone win a major tournament in my lifetime, but this England team did just that.
In 1966 Jimmy Greaves was supposed to be our main man to deliver a victory but it didn’t work out that way and to some extent there are parallels to be drawn with the current England team as the 11 who have started the matches would not have been that chosen by the football media or indeed most of the fans and yet they have all done us proud.
Last night England went close to delivering our first major trophy in 55 years and to be fair penalties are a lottery. Under the excellent Gareth Southgate, this modern-day England team continues to progress and there shouldn’t be any negativity as we are now a realistic potential winner of the 2022 World Cup and we need to build on what we did at this tournament. Until the current squad win something they won’t get the reaction Sir Bobby Charlton got back on the night in April 1975, but they are on the right path.
We should not let the progress we are making be hijacked by a few morons on social media. What happened to those who missed the penalties and the racist abuse that followed is unacceptable, and we have to find a way of delivering justice to these people. If Gareth Southgate takes his seat in the directors’ box at a game you are at next season, let him know what you think of what he has achieved so far and give him the reception and acknowledgement he deserves.
Gareth warrants nothing less for lifting the mood of an entire nation in some of the most challenging times we have ever faced.
Peter Varney, Chairman – Integral Sports Management
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