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Charlie Hurley

Charlie Hurley

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Charles John Hurley born 4 October 1936) was a centre back
Defender (football)
Within the sport of association football, a defender is an outfield player whose primary role is to prevent the opposition from attacking....

. He began his career at Millwall
Millwall F.C.
Millwall Football Club is an English professional football club based in South Bermondsey, south east London, that plays in the Football League Championship, the second tier of English football. Founded as Millwall Rovers in 1885, the club has retained its name despite having last played in the...

, where his term at The Den
The Den (stadium)
The Den was the fifth football stadium occupied by Millwall F.C. in Cold Blow Lane, New Cross, London since their formation in Millwall on the Isle of Dogs in 1885 before moving to The New Den, in May 1993. The ground opened in 1910 and was the home of Millwall for 83 years. It boasted a record...

 was disrupted by injury which certainly delayed his debut on the international stage. Hurley is best remembered from his time at Sunderland
Sunderland A.F.C.
Sunderland Association Football Club is an English association football club based in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear who currently play in the Premier League...

, where he was named the Black Cats' "Player of the Century" by their fans on the occasion of the club's centenary in 1979. Nicknamed 'The King', Hurley was a classy defender for both Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland national football team
The Republic of Ireland national football team represents Ireland in association football. It is run by the Football Association of Ireland and currently plays home fixtures at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, which opened in May 2010....

. He ended his playing career at Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers F.C.
Bolton Wanderers Football Club is an English professional association football club based in the area of Horwich in the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, Greater Manchester. They began their current spell in the Premier League in 2001....

 and was later manager of Reading
Reading F.C.
Reading Football Club is an English association football club based in the town of Reading, Berkshire who currently play in the Championship...


Hurley was born in Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, but his family moved to Rainham
Rainham, London
Rainham is a suburban town in northeast London, England, and part of the London Borough of Havering. Located east of Charing Cross, it is one of the locally important district centres identified in the London Plan and is surrounded by a residential area, which has grown from the historic village,...

, Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 when Charlie was seven months old.

Career at Sunderland

On 26 September 1957, Charlie Hurley arrived at Roker Park
Roker Park
Roker Park was an English football stadium situated in Roker, Sunderland. The stadium was the home of the English football club Sunderland A.F.C. from 1897 to 1997 before the club moved to the Stadium of Light. Near the end of the stadium's history, its capacity was around 22,500 with only a small...

 to begin a career that would span 12 seasons and 402 appearances.

Hurley's Sunderland career had a disastrous start; a 7-0 rout by Blackpool, coupled with him scoring an own goal on his debut, which was quickly followed by a 6-0 defeat by Burnley. Hurley had been unfortunate enough to have competed against centre forwards to would later go on to represent England. In Ray Charnley
Ray Charnley
Raymond Ogden "Ray" Charnley was an English professional footballer. He was a centre forward and was one of the most prolific scorers for Blackpool, with whom he spent ten years, including all but one season in the top flight of English football.With 193 goals in 363 league games, Charnley is the...

 and Ray Pointer
Ray Pointer
Raymond Pointer is a former professional association footballer and England international who played as a striker.He had a long and successful playing career, totalling over 400 league appearances whilst playing for Burnley, Bury, Coventry City, Portsmouth and Waterlooville. He won 3 England caps...

, Blackpool and Burnley had strikers of the highest quality. Matters improved and eventually promotion was achieved in the 1963/64 season after two campaigns which had seen Sunderland miss out on top flight football due to consecutive day last failures against Swansea Town and Chelsea.

Curiously, for a man who was indelibly linked with powerful headed goals, it took 124 league and cup appearances for Sunderland before he broke his scoring duck. A 1-1 Boxing Day draw in 1960 against Sheffield United was the first of 43.

Whilst the 1963/64 season was special for Sunderland AFC, resulting in promotion, it was also personally highly satisfactory for Hurley. Only Bobby Moore
Bobby Moore
Robert Frederick Chelsea "Bobby" Moore, OBE was an English footballer. He captained West Ham United for more than ten years and was captain of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup...

 prevented Hurley from becoming Football Writers Player of the Year.

In the late sixties, alongside Jimmy Montgomery
Jimmy Montgomery
Jimmy Montgomery is a former footballer who played as a goalkeeper. He made a record 627 appearances for his hometown club Sunderland with 537 of these appearances being in the league, after joining the club as a youngster in 1960.-Football career:He made his debut aged only 18 against Walsall,...

, Cecil Irwin, Len Ashurst
Len Ashurst
Len Ashurst is a former footballer, manager and football administrator in England.-Career:As a player, Ashurst was a left-sided defender. He joined Liverpool in 1953 as an apprentice. After being released, he joined Sunderland in 1957, where he would go on to spend 14 years...

, Martin Harvey
Martin Harvey
Martin Harvey was a Northern Irish footballer who played for Sunderland and the Northern Ireland national football team as a wing half.-Club career:...

 and Jim McNab
Jim McNab
Jim McNab was a footballer with Sunderland, Preston North End and Stockport County.He began his career at Sunderland, making 285 League appearances and scoring 13 goals between 1958 and 1967...

, Hurley formed one of the most notable and most settled back fives in Sunderland's history.

Alan Brown's departure from Roker Park, to take over at Sheffield Wednesday saw first George Hardwick and then Scotsman Ian McColl take over. During one match at Old Trafford in November 1966, first Hurley, and then Northern Ireland defender John Parke went in goal, as Montgomery had to leave the game because of an injury sustained in the first half.

Hurley's last goal for Sunderland came against Arsenal in April 1968, typically a header. His last appearance in a red and white shirt was at Turf Moor, Burnley in April 1969.

Hurley's greatest match was arguably the FA Cup 5th round victory at Carrow Road in February 1961, when he scored the only goal to dump Norwich city out of the competition. Sunderland would then go on to succumb to a Danny Blanchflower
Danny Blanchflower
Robert Dennis "Danny" Blanchflower was a former Northern Ireland international footballer and football manager, and journalist who captained Tottenham Hotspur F.C. during its double-winning season of 1961. He was ranked as the greatest player in Spurs history by The Times in 2009...

-inspired Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur F.C.
Tottenham Hotspur Football Club , commonly referred to as Spurs, is an English Premier League football club based in Tottenham, north London. The club's home stadium is White Hart Lane....

 side, who became double winners for the first time in the 20th century.

On 2 June 1969, Charlie moved to Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer. He spent three years at Burnden Park
Burnden Park
Burnden Park was the home of English FA Premier League football club Bolton Wanderers who played home games here between 1895 and 1997. As well as hosting an FA Cup Final replay it was the scene of one of the greatest disasters in English football and the subject of an L. S...

 and was a well-liked figure in the heart of the defence, so much so that he was given the opportunity to manage the club upon the departure of Jimmy Meadows
Jimmy Meadows
James "Jimmy" Meadows was an England international who started his playing career in 1949 at Third-Division Southport, with whom, later in life, he had his most successful period in management...

only to reluctantly turn the chance down because his wife missed living in the South of England.

In a poll Sunderland fans voted him player of the century.