Continuing last week's feature on the 1953/4 season I look at the time Charlton beat Liverpool 6-0
Looking back at my first season following Charlton in 1953-4 there are certain matches that remain in the memory. One of them was the 6-0 defeat of Liverpool on 26th September 1953 in front of a crowd of 31,258. This was Liverpool’s biggest defeat since 1934. They were then managed by former Addick Don Welsh and were relegated as bottom club.
It is interesting to look at this match from the perspective of a report in a Liverpool paper. ‘A foul against Liverpool at the fifth minute proved fatal to their cause, for Evans calmly headed Fenton’s free kick into the net while the Liverpool defence appeared to stand still. This was indeed a blow for the Anfielders had opened promisingly. For the next few minutes Charlton bothered the Liverpool defence quite a lot and Leary made a good shot which Crossley saved on the line. The ball went out to Kiernan who raced into the centre and shot when most expected him to pass. Evans who is particularly good with his head made another effort from Hurst’s centre.’
‘Whenever Liverpool threatened danger, the Charlton defence packed well and these tactics often checked the Liverpool advantage. A Liddell corner went straight into Bartram’s hands. Liverpool were testing the Athletic, and after a Liddell shot was dropped, Baron seized on the ball and shot, but a slight deflection ruined it and saved Bartram from anxiety. Liverpool for the last 15 minutes had as much play as Charlton, but could not get a real shot at goal.’ (Memory can play tricks, but I have a vision of Charlton clearing well on their left in front of the East Terrace). Spicer made a determined tackle to prevent Leary’s shot from becoming dangerous. Bimpson gave Ufton the dummy but it got him nowhere for the Charlton defence stepped in to do their stuff.’
‘Leary was a little slow at making a shot from a good position, giving a Liverpool man a chance to nip in and block his effort. Jackson made a jab into the goalmouth but Bartram had no difficulty in saving. Liddell was here there and everywhere, but Charlton left few openings. Crossley had to save a low shot from Hurst and Leary was not far off the target with a header. Charlton went further ahead, Leary picking up a pass from O’Linn to give Crossley no chance from 15 yards’ range at the 43rd minute.’
Charlton thus went in 2-0 ahead at half time. Having been refreshed by a cup of tea and an orange, ‘Charlton undoubtedly looked the more dangerous side and Evans was unlucky to have a hefty shot blocked by Paisley. Evans offered O’Linn a chance which he took quickly, but not accurately, the ball passing wide. Charlton were in trouble a moment later but Hammond dropped back and kicked clear. Charlton were well on top at this stage and Crossley had to turn a Kiernan angular shot over the bar. Later, O’Linn came along with a header which was off the mark.’
‘There was a groan when Fenton offered the chance “on a plate” slewed his shot well wide of the far post. There was a big shout for a foul for hands against Hughes who did perhaps handle, but quite unintentionally, the referee thought so too.’ An absence of intent wouldn’t have helped him today. In 1953 my mother was always alert for evidence for what she thought was systematic referee bias against Charlton and would have made her views clear.
‘A Baron header was cleared off the line by Ufton. Charlton missed a third goal when a free kick taken by Fenton was helped on by O’Linn. He headed wide with most of the goal open to him. Charlton had been bang on top for the last 20 minutes and Leary scored a third goal at 20 minutes when Crossley failed to hold a Leary shot which passed over his line. Leary obtained his hat-trick and Charlton’s fourth goal when he ran through and took the ball close in before he smashed it beyond Crossley at 72 minutes. After Crossley had got to his feet to save from Hurst, the referee awarded a penalty and Leary scored a fifth goal in the 74th minute. Evans scored a sixth goal for Charlton after 83 minutes.’ If Charlton had taken all their chances, they might have won by an even bigger margin.
The match against Cardiff City in March 1954 was memorable for me because Bartram was not in goal. Apparently he had been injured in training. For the outfield team training was focused on running round the pitch and up and down the East Terrace, supervised by Jimmy Trotter in his white coat which made him look as if he had just wandered in from the pharmacy counter at Boots. The keeper was, however, allowed to see the ball during the week. Bartram was also out the next week when Charlton 4-1 away at Huddersfield. Eddie Marsh deputised on both occasions and one of my memories was of him fumbling a save with a frown on his face which left me worried for the rest of the match. Fortunately, the Cardiff keeper also had a bit of a mare.
What I do not remember is that there was clearly quite a lot of tension between the two teams. ‘Play was over vigorous at times and at one period in the second half hustling and bumping were taken to such extremes that the referee had to issue words of advice to both teams.’ In what was a foul strewn match and both O’Linn and Leary were injured. The Cardiff president was left with a bloody nose after a no nonsense Campbell clearance hit the roof of the stand and then bounced directly on to his nose.
A report from Wales blamed defensive blunders for at least two of the goals scored by Charlton. ‘Although there was plenty of honest endeavour in the City forward line it was never a smooth working unit mainly because of the tendency of the inside forwards to hang back. The usually sound Graham Vearncombe [in goal] was not too sure of himself. He did not position himself well for the first two Charlton goals, and he was not confident when running out of goal.’
‘Charlton made most of the running in the early stages, and after only a quarter of an hour Leary easily rounded Gale to cut in and put the ball across the City goalmouth for Hurst to apply the finishing touches. When Firmani scored Charlton’s second in the 23rd minute the City looked a well beaten side. They staged a grand rally, however. In the last 15 seconds of the first half Grant scored with a 20-yard shot and immediately the second half started Ford headed home a corner kick in his best style.’
‘For some time then Charlton were hard pressed to keep the City going into the lead. This hectic spell gradually faded.’ For the winning goal Ayre surprised the defenders by challenging for a loose ball, and the ball was put to Leary’s feet in front of an unguarded net, leaving Charlton 3-2 winners. Cardiff finished one place behind Charlton who were 9th and on the same number of points as Chelsea.
There were more disappointing results during the season, but I was left hooked for life.