Newswire » Local News » We’re All Part of Jackie’s Army

We’re All Part of Jackie’s Army

We’re All Part of Jackie’s Army – Shane Adlum provides us a fitting tribute to Big Jack

It’s hard to sum up what Jack Charlton meant to the people of Ireland. His decade in charge of the national team was incredibly successful, taking us to three major tournaments, and proved to be one of the most exciting periods in Irish football. He may have been born in Northumberland but he was an honorary Irishman.

I’m a little too young to remember Euro ‘88 or Italia ‘90 but I do remember the World Cup in 1994. Not so much what happened on the pitch but what was happening around the country. Green, white and gold flags and bunting hung out of every window with pride. Chants of “Ole Ole Ole” rang out throughout the entire country. Street parties, face painting and as much Country Spring red lemonade and Tayto crisps as any 7-year-old could possibly want.

In 1986 Big Jack was appointed Ireland manager. His tactics were simple, long balls over the full backs, get runners in behind and get crosses into a ‘big man’ up front. Goalkeepers were to kick every ball long, as high and far as they could and midfielders were told to only play football in the opposition half. And of course, most importantly of all, put ‘em under pressure, a tactic that defined his spell as manager. While this idea of putting the opposition under pressure and forcing mistakes was heavily criticized by the purists at the time it’s actually not too dissimilar to the ‘high press’ deployed by many of the top clubs in modern football.

While some criticized his tactics, Eamon Dunphy in particular, you can’t argue with the results. Charlton took Ireland to our first ever major tournament in 1988 and qualified for two consecutive World Cups in 1990 and 1994, providing the nation with some of its greatest sporting moments. Ray Houghton’s looping header in Stuttgart to beat the English. Packie Bonner’s heroics against Romania and David O’Leary dispatching the winning penalty. Truly iconic moments for Irish sport.

In Ireland we always seem to overlook his playing career. He was a one club man, making an incredible 773 appearances for Leeds United between 1953 and 1973 winning the First Division title in 1969 and the FA Cup in 1972. At international level Jack, along with his brother Bobby, was part of the England team that won the World Cup in 1966, forming a formidable centre back partnership with Bobby Moore.

Sadly, Jack passed away at the age of 85. The legendary manager had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and had also been battling with dementia. Despite this he still managed to crack a joke in his last moments with his final words, “bugger off.” He was famed for his sense of humour and that is certainly how he’ll be remembered.

Irish football owes a lot to Big Jack and Irish football fans will forever be grateful for everything he did for the national team. I’m sure once international football resumes and fans are allowed back into the stadium; you’ll be able to hear chants of “We’re all part of Jackie’s Army” coming from the Aviva Stadium for miles around.


Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design