The Charlton Brothers

The Charlton Brothers

With the recent passing of Jack Charlton, we feel it only right to honour this great footballing legend with a suitable write-up from our team.

Who was Big Jack?

To many at Leeds United, he was the rock at the heart of their defence. A solid defender who used courage and inner strength to stop some of the best attacking players of that time.

In contrast to his brother, Bobby, who terrified defenders the length and breadth of the country.

It wasn’t news for some, especially for them within each of the Brother’s inner-circle that discord existed between the two Charlton brothers.

Charlton’s feud

Football writers across the globe have analysed the various quotes from each brother. In fairness, the indifferences are no different from what many families have suffered. Especially when so much success has been harnessed by both brothers.

It’s a shame as the pair were such wonders on the pitch, but so divided that during the decade of the 1990s not a single word was shared between them.

Ian Greaves summed them up well when he said “you would not take them for brothers at all, since Jack was loud, ebullient down to earth and very, very stubborn, where Bobby was very shy, quiet and polite.”

The only thing the brothers had in common was the fact that they both held long footballing careers and both held league record appearances for their respective club; Jack with 629 and Bobby managing 606 appearances.

How would have things been different if they had gotten on? Would the chemistry on the pitch have been there? We’ll never know.

The seed that fuelled years of feuding is deep rooted, many agreeing that it started when Bobby married in 1961. His new wife simply didn’t get on with the Charlton’s mother. As years passed overtures were made by Bobby’s wife to their mother, but unfortunately they were never returned, or misinterpreted. This created a lot of disharmony, as time passed the family of Bobby rarely met with his mother due to the fractious relationship with his wife.

Jack interpreted all of this as neglect and the seed was sown, upon her death in 1996 Jack demonstrated just how deep the pain was when he said “I’ll never forgive him. We’ve never been further apart.”

However, the turn of the century signified an air of reconciliation, with the Brothers meeting at the Sports Personality of the Year Awards, in 2008. Where Jack presented Bobby with an outstanding achievement award. In tribute to his brother Bobby was quoted – “I never lost the sense of wonder and gratitude that we were together in 1966 on such a great day”.

Many say that Bobby realised that it was the love of his mother that borne Jack’s fury. Both of them would have suffered but both also had stable and loving wives to help them through it.

Charlton’s game

Along with differences off the pitch, their differences on the pitch couldn’t be any more noticeable too.

Jack was the all-out defender who wouldn’t hesitate in taking you out, even if the ball was not close to you. Well, that may be slightly exaggerated but you get the gist. That said, in 1970 Big Jack claimed to own a black book, filled with the names of footballers who he intended to exact retribution on, whilst on the playing field.

Bobby, didn’t feature any of these characteristics. Bobby had the skill, prowess and movement that was the envy of most footballers.

Even how they appeared couldn’t be more opposite. And their very nature too; with Bobby being well-groomed and always on time, whilst Jack was more slap dash and all over the place, when not on the pitch.

All this is widely known, and many lucky football lovers got to witness them play with their own eyes.

After they both retired, in the same year – 1973, there paths couldn’t have been anymore different. Jack went on to become a football managing legend in Ireland. Whereas Bobby’s attempts at management failed shortly after retirement from the beautiful game.

We've added Big Jack into our monthly Footballers Legends section, follow the link to check out the image and write-up.