Remembering Jack Charlton
Sir, – Although it isn’t, it probably should be a cliché to say that the main thing you need to learn from your first job is that you’d like to get a better one. In that sense, my own first job, along with a good school friend, following my Leaving Cert in the late 1980s, was an easy one to improve on. Working from a building site in Brixton, workers descended 150 feet below ground, where a mixture of mostly Irish labourers and miners, and English engineers, were digging a water tunnel called the London Ring Main. To make this dark and claustrophobic environment somewhat worse, shifts were 12 hours long and alternated weekly between days and nights.
At a point along the ever-extending tunnel wall was a piece of graffiti that simply read “Republic of Ireland 1 – England 0”. This famous result still formed the basis of much of the banter between the group at work, and was often seen on the T-shirts of people you’d pass on the street, eliciting a smile and a nod of mutual identity.
Presumably, following the passage of many years and an incalculable amount of water, the writing is now long eroded. But the memory of that transformative win is not, and the expectations of Irish sports fans have never returned to their prior baseline.
It’s often struck me what a good thing it was that after briefly working in mining, like his father had done, Jack Charlton rapidly realised he should get a better job and became a footballer.
That he ultimately ended up managing Ireland, rather than England, was probably an even greater victory for us.
Thanks to him, and his team, for changing how we see ourselves. – Yours, etc,
A chara, – We all have our memories of Jack Charlton and the wonderful Italia 90. Mine has nothing to do with football itself. As Ireland’s World Cup campaign was storming to its climax, my wife had just given birth to my daughter, and my abiding memory is of queues for the lifts in Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital, where nearly every visitor was lugging a portable television to the wards for their relatives. – Is mise,