Wor Jack’s deed
As my Kendal-based Geordie mother is the nonogenarian Matriarch of the British side of my family, I have, in recent years, had to accompany her to a number of funerals in her native Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as those of her generation have died before her (‘before’ as in ‘pre-deceased’ not ‘in front of’). Consequently, I know the area around the Whitley Bay and West Road crematoria rather better than I would wish, particularly as I hardly know the rest of the city.
On such occasions, once I’d met up with the Matriarch in Kendal we had a 100 mile drive to Newcastle, so we usually set off in good time, which, on an early trip to the West Road crematorium, is how we discovered what became for us a modern tradition: a pre-funeral ‘greasy spoon’ lunch and cuppa in what is now Margaret’s Café in Fenham. A seemingly unprepossessing little place, but I rather like it, and it has a 5 star food hygiene rating to boot!
Anyway, the reason for this funereal discourse is that I read in Newcastle’s online daily, the Chronicle Live, that the recent funeral service for the Leeds and England footballer, Jack Charlton, was held at the West Road crematorium. I suspect there were no takers for a pre-service cuppa at Margaret’s that day, but as a widely-revered and down-to-earth ‘local boy’, it strikes me as much the sort of place that he may have frequented, if only very occasionally.
The Leeds United of Charlton’s era was, in today’s terminology, an ‘uncompromising’ team (if they couldn’t stop ’em, they’d chop ’em) and due to his stature and elongate neck he was often baited as a’ big dirty giraffe’. He later proved to be a hugely successful manager of the Irish soccer team where his success and ‘man of the people’ persona endeared him to the nation. Unlike his famous uncle, ‘Wor Jackie’ (Jackie Milburn – a three times FA Cup winner with Newcastle in the 1950s), Charlton never turned out for the Toon, but it was still nice to read of him being remembered in the north east as ‘Wor Jack’.
Here’s the limerick:
There once was a tall centre back
Who cut-down his opponents’ attack
Fans said, with a laugh,
“He’s a dirty giraffe”,
But full-time has now blown for Wor Jack!
Postscript: ‘Tis a little known fact that Wor Jackie was actually Wor Jack’s first cousin once removed, not his uncle as usually stated.