Sunday 31 May 2020

Happy 92nd birthday Derek Ufton

Derek Ufton is 92 today.  He was one of my childhood heroes.   He had repeated problems with a dislocated shoulder (20 times in all), but in those days you had to play on injured if you could.  

His main role was as a centre half so he scored just 14 goals in 277 league and cup matches for Charlton.

Here is a report of a match between West Ham and Charlton in 1958 when it all kicked off with Ufton as captain:

The report by Peter Lorenzo reads: 'The Quiet Man became a Very Angry Young Man for 90 seconds at Upton Park … and it ended with Charlton inside right John "Buck" Ryan, described by his team mates as "the quietest bloke in the club" being ordered off in the 68th minute of the top-of-the-table clash with West Ham.'

'But I must back Bolton referee Tom Cooper to the hilt. Said dapper Tom afterwards: "Ryan was ordered off for striking an opponent … there was no doubt about that." [Interesting that the referee felt able to explain his decision to the media which they won't do today]. Agreed. I saw tall, dark-haired Ryan aim blows at West Ham left back and skipper Noel Cantwell after they had clashed in the Charlton penalty area.'

'In the corridor outside his team's dressing room, Ryan, a 25-year-old softly-spoken Scot told me: "As Cantwell got up he grabbed a handful of mud and threw it in my face. [The pitch was almost waterlogged with clinging mud]. He was mad and that made me mad. I went to retaliate and the referee saw me. He came over, asked my name [no red cards] and said Off"'.

'Provocation there may have been for the unfortunate Ryan - "I've never even been spoken to before." But the referee had no option, despite the fierce and repeated protests of a pack of Charlton players, led by angry skipper Derek Ufton.'

'Said Ufton: "John never touched anyone. He couldn't. I was holding him all the time. In fact, it was Ryan who was punched."'

'Certainly West Ham's 6 ft. right back John Bond could count his lucky stars he was not accompanying Ryan on that lonely trek to the dressing room. Bond, for once losing his icy-cool, almost contemptuous composure, ran 15 yards to join the scramble which developed while Ryan was being restrained by Ufton. This was a completely unnecessary intervention by Bond who, in turn, had to be dragged away by team mate Andy Malcolm.'

'If the Ryan sending off was unfortunate for Charlton, it certainly gave West Ham no advantage. The depleted Charlton side seemed to find new strength.' The result was a 0-0 draw.

Charlton just missed out on promotion, losing the final home game of the season 3-4 to Blackburn. Under the present points system, they would have been promoted alongside West Ham.

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