Old-school in his values and a lover of simple pleasures he may have been, but Charlton also possessed one of the sharpest managerial minds of his generation.
Long before the ‘pressing’ game was talked about, Charlton’s teams were doing it from the Republic of Ireland to Sheffield Wednesday and Middlesbrough.
Well before deep-lying midfielders with the ability to burst into the box became fashionable in many teams, Charlton had successfully employed that tactic.
The name of Alan Foggon is not known to too many people outside Tyneside and Teesside. But those who know their football recognise his significance as Charlton did.
Charlton utilised the pace of ex-schoolboy sprint champion Foggon to devastating effect in Boro’s promotion to the top-flight in 1973-74 when they won the old second division by a record 15 points when it was two points for a win.
Converted from a striker to an attacking midfielder, Foggon powered forward from deep to latch onto immaculate passes from two greats in Bobby Murdoch and Graeme Souness. He would score 19 goals in that memorable campaign.
Souness is another who owes a debt of gratitude to ‘Big Jack’ after being straightened out by him and put on the road to greatness. Others blossomed from David Mills to David Armstrong, Willie Maddren to John Craggs.
Charlton’s time at Ayresome Park is a period forever treasured by Boro supporters, but with a feeling of ‘if only.’
In later years, Charlton admitted he left Boro too soon after departing in April 1977. He professed to it being his biggest regret in football.
Boro were in with a shout of the Division One title towards the end of 1974-75. By common consent, they were a goalscoring striker away from winning silverware.
But mention the name of Charlton and Teesside sits up. He had much the same effect at Sheffield Wednesday where he dragged an ailing football institution back to rude health.
The likes of Mel Sterland, Gary Bannister, Mark Smith and Gary Shelton would be promoted in the season after Charlton left – in 1983-84 – but this was a side very much in the image of ‘Big Jack’.
Resident in the village of Worsbrough near Barnsley when he was Owls manager, Charlton would enjoy a pint at the nearby Red Lion.
Barnsley fans may not retain much affection for their rivals down the A61, but they made an exception where Charlton was concerned.
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