Jack Charlton Interview - Pt 1
By Robert Nichols
Wednesday 21 May 2008 09:38:00
Browse all Interviews articles

This is an archive interview with fmttm from way back when - 12/11/2001. The subject of the interview one of the all time greats Big Jack Charlton. 

Jack Charlton was due to be appearing live at Stockton Arc on the Thursday. We grabbed a short interview with the ex-Boro, Leeds, Ireland and England legend to preview The Audience with Jack Charlton at Arc. Sadly Arc went bust just before the show was due to take place. 

Here’s part one of the interview.


Fly: What can people expect Jack? Is it similar to your after dinner speaking that many people may have been too? 

Jack: Well it is and it isn't. I do a lot of after dinner speaking. But a couple of years ago I was asked to do some on stage nights. Which I've done since. I'm in Belfast the night before Arc for the second time. 


More often than not I talk about what it was like as a kid going away to Leeds as a young boy. Spending my time learning about the game. What it was like at Eland Road. What it was like when I took my first job at Middlesbrough and what it was like with the Irish. Basically it's all football. I speak for about an hour and a quarter. Then we have a break. I do a little bit more and then we take questions and answers. It's been very popular. I've been surprised at the number of people who come. Somebody said to me the people who pay to see you in a theatre must like you otherwise they wouldn't come. But in an after dinner a company might have taken a table for ten who might not even be interested in football. You have to win them over. In the theatre they already like you. Which is nice. It's different. It gives me a lot more scope to wander about and explain things. I very much enjoy them. 


Fly: Is it a relaxed thing? 

Jack: Yes that's right. I don't tell jokes. I tell stories about football. Middlesbrough, Leeds, Ireland etc. Everyone seems to have a thoroughly good time and enjoy it. 


Fly: The World Cup play-offs are on at the moment. Was managing Ireland the pinnacle of your career? 

Jack: As far as management was concerned the Irish job was something that had to be sorted out and I did that. We never had a huge squad and we never had a great deal of choice. But in many ways that helps because you've got to make do with what you've got. You don't have too many problems about picking the team you just hope that everyone turns up on the day. 


Fly: So is it then a question of motivation and tactics? 

Jack: Yes. You spend half your life away from home looking at the teams you are playing and trying to make assessments on them and getting information through to your players. Invariably it's the way that we played.

I'd like to think that when I was at Middlesbrough we inflicted the way we played on the division in the first year and it was very much the same with the Irish. 


Fly: You had a relatively small pool of players at Middlesbrough didn't you? Your game plan must have been very important. 

Jack: The game-plan at Middlesbrough was based around Alan Foggon. He was a midfield runner at a time when everyone else was playing offside. So it suited us if they came out to play offside David Mills held us up until getting on for Christmas because he kept turning and running instead of feeding towards the man with the ball and we had two good deliverers of the ball in David Armstrong and Bobby Murdoch. Two great passers of the ball. We wouldn't let Foggy have the ball in midfield, whenever it went to the right or left he had to make runs. It worked very, very well. Of course it was a method of play you had to change because people get the idea once they have played against you. And what they do is they kill the space behind so they can't go behind them. In other words they don't come out too far and that kills the space that you wanted your midfield runner to run into.

We got away with it for two years. In the old Second and First Divisions. And then after that you've got to change things because once they'd played you and experienced it they normally came up with the right answer. 


Fly: I don't suppose you would have got way with it for so long today with all the televised matches and analysis. 

Jack: Almost certainly yes because there wasn't as much television coverage. The moment you start Foggy running people would recognise it immediately. People did analyse you in those days. It's difficult to explain.. but with Alan Foggon you couldn't mark him. We didn't give him the ball so there was no point. But once he started to run, Alan was a schoolboy 220 yards champion and he was a good finisher. He basically had to run forward all the time and we had people playing the ball into areas where he was going to go. As I say we had two brilliant passers in David Armstrong and Bobby Murdoch. It was no good marking Foggy because once he started to run you had to stay with him and not many people could.


Fly: It seems a completely different world now to when you were at Middlesbrough. You really were the boss weren't you? Even the shop was run by your wife wasn't it?

Jack: Yeah my wife ran the souvenir shop for Middlesbrough. We used to have a souvenir shop at Leeds and she ran them. We didn't have a shop it was three huts that we opened up on a Saturday and put them around the ground and pushed them back into the ground after the game. When I came to Middlesbrough we sold it out to Leeds United. That was at the beginning of people buying shirts, programmes etc and it was very successful. We didn't run them at Middlesbrough for us but for the club. 

It's a big income for football clubs now. Man United have shops all round the world. It's a big money spinner plus the fact that they change their strip every five minutes. 


Fly: If you were a manager now Jack. How would you have got on with agents?  

Jack: Very badly. I never talked to an agent in all the time I was a manager. I did the deal with the player. If the player didn't want to do the deal then that's it don't bother. But I never got involved with agents at all. To a great degree they've taken over football now. We could well do with them. 


Fly: Did you never have to deal with agents at international level? 

Jack: No at international level you were only borrowing the players, they don't belong to us. Which was difficult to convince the Irish FA sometimes. Players belong to the clubs and we borrow them and when we borrow them we've got to treat them in the right way. We've got to report on any injury back to the clubs which we did very well. People could trust you to send their players knowing if they weren't exactly right they wouldn't play. We had a good reputation for that. Even though we didn't have a huge squad we made do. It sometimes helps because it gives you an opportunity to play younger players. 


Fly: Mick McCarthy had a very hard act to follow but he seems to have done it very well? 

Jack: He's done very well. Mick's done tremendously in this qualification. If they hadn't changed the rule a couple of years ago they would have qualified automatically. Ireland won 7 drew 3 in a hell of a difficult group. They knocked out the Dutch. Which is a rarity and they're still not qualified and have to go through two very difficult games. Mick's a smashing lad and he handles the job very well. 


We'll bring you a second instalment tomorrow in which Jack talks about Steve McClaren and has more memories of his Boro days.

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