Monday, 22 December 2008

Charlton memories

Someone who was involved in training with the club in the late 1940s has sent us these memories:

'I had been picked up by the Southend Club, and after playing a few games they had arranged for training sessions at the Valley, as they did with other players that lived in the area it wasn't much as far as I was concerned, mainly stamina work, and kicking around in the car park, apart from the track, we weren't alowed on the pitch, I guess that would have been the Groundsman's decision depending on the few days previous weather conditions. However it didn't last long, as I was at night school at Woolwich Poly doing the Higher National Certificate at that point, my father found out I was skipping classes, and came down hard as he thought that education was more important than playing football. This all happened after I had come out of the army, I was in pretty good condition as I had been playing for the Regiment,where we were treated like professionals, by the RSM. who was a football fanatic, no duties just training, and playing. We had several players in the team who were playing for League Clubs on week-ends, services games were played mid-week, I can remember one game against the Air Force at Boscombe Down who had Mortensen, and McCormak as their two inside forwards, I played another game against the Woolwich garrison which was full of International players, they were all PT instructors, and I suspect kept there just to play football. Those were the days of the leather ball, which on a wet day could feel like a medicine ball, the W formation, and boots had leather studs, and a hard toe cap,I can remember as a kid lusting after a pair of "Mansfield Hotspurs" which were the top of the line boot, used to lace them up and sit in a bucket of water to mould them to your feet, when the had dried out, lather them with tallow, and dubbin to make the leather supple. That all changed when Bert Williams brought our a new design, which was more like a running shoe, forerunners of to-days boot. A top line player got fourteen pounds a week, a tradesman, for instance a Fitter, and Turner, made three pounds fifteen. What happened to it all?'


Anonymous said...

Forgive my ignorance Wyn, but what was the W formation? And what position did this player play in?

I wonder why the Mansfield Hotspur- I presume the town of manufacture.

Its interesting to note the degree of professionalism in the Army that long ago, by keeping players off duties so that they can focus on the game.

Pembury addick

Wyn Grant said...

I think this is really the WM formation introduced by Chapman at Arsenal following the change in the offside rule in the 1920s, necessitating the introduction of a centre back. It was the formation I was used to at Charlton when I first went there: five forwards - centre forward, two inside forwards and two wingers, but playing a W. Then two half backs (midfielders) and a centre back, right back and left back. I don't know which position this player played in. I presume the Hotspur was manufactured in Mansfield although I don't recall it as a boot and shoe centre like Northamptonshire.

Anonymous said...

I had a quick look on Google, and apart from two items from auction houses nothing on Hotspur origins!

When I get the time I shall investigate further and astound my friends in the pub with a casual but informed reference.

When I started playing football for my Primary school (about 1970)we played 5 up front, two in midfield, and I, as centre back, dropped into the middle of defence. We thought it was atactical innovation but obviously not!

Pembury Addick