Finding Jack Charlton

Finding Jack Charlton, Doccumentary, released on 6th Decemvber 2020

DirectorsGabriel ClarkePete Thomas

Music composed byJames Copperthwaite

Executive producerAndy Townsend

ProducersJohn McKennaTorquil Jones

I wouldn’t advise you to watch this doccumentary I would suggest you watch it twice or more.

Although it explores Jack Charlton’s life and a final battle with alzheimer’s (Like his brother and many other footballers and sports peolple) it concentrates mainly on his phenominal decade long career as Manager of The Republic of Ireland’s national football team.

Having had a fantastic playing career with Leeds and England, winning the World Cup in 1966, he went on into football management initially with Middlesborough and in 1985 was invited to be the Irish national Manager. His initial lack of response gave no indication of the succees in two World Cups and a EUropean Championship that would follow. The matches are all doccumented with some great clips but it is the special relationship that Jack developed with the Irish people that shines through. It is so sad that in his later years he could not remember this.

Past Presidents and Taoiseach’s praise him for his raising the moral and spirit of the country but it falls to clips of Larry Mullen, drummer with U2 to put in context of how Jack Charlton’s success with the team amazinly increased the belief of the peolple of Ireland that they were as a country able to stand up to and with any other country on earth. This new belief was at a time of great troubles and decline and paved the way for the new self confident Ireland of today.

Jack Charlton chose and worked with a band of British Isles born footballers with Irish ancestors who also caught the mood and took their chance to prove themselves. Niall Quinn and Parick Bonner give great background stories, David O’Leary explains why he was overlooked but was there to slot home a World Cup second round penalty shoot out deciding goal. Andy Townsend (Executive Producer of the doccumentary) reads out some of the notes that Jack Charlton kept throughout his career that are cleverly shown on a 3D board throughout the 97 minutes.

But it is the story and relationship with Paul McGrath that gives me the tingling moments. Paul explains what it was to be different in Ireland and how you had to fight to overcome the predjudice in a very closed society which was felt by many and led to some of the emigration. Having watched Paul in his Aston Villa career I already admired a man who was a top footballer despite his demons, no wander he is idolised wherever he played.

The Charlton family raidiate love for Jack, his wife and son and the rest of the family show that in their support and care for him.

On a personal note I did not realise that I watched the end of his Republic of Ireland career on 13th December 1995 when I was able to get two tickets for the European Championship play off between the Republic of Ireland and The Netherlands at Anfield for my son and I. The Netherlands won two nil in what I remember as a one sided game. Having found a parking space near the ground we were intrigued to watch a black Mercedes pull up opposite us and four men get out, go round to the boot, change out of their very good clothes into orange t shirts, boiler suits with orange hard hats and march off to the ground. I was also aske inside the gound by a Dutchman ‘what is this Bovril’, how do you exlpain! Jack Charlton resigned the next day.

This is a great doccumentary which transformed my undestanding of a great man, deffinately in the same class as Bobby Robson. Jack’s wife asks why didn’t he become a ‘Sir’ and I have to say, a complete mystery.

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