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If He Goes To The Loo-Follow Him

When Charlie was in his prime in the early sixties he was recognised as the best centre half in Britain. He was a huge dominating centre half who loved to go forward at every opportunity and when he did so, he terrorised opposing defences. While with Millwall, Big Charlie was centre half on the London Select side which competed in the European Fairs Cup. In 1957 he made his debut for Ireland against England in a vital World Cup tie before a record breaking attendance at Dalymount Park. England needed just one point to advance while wins against England and Denmark would give Ireland a play-off against the “auld enemy”. England got the fright of their lives and only managed to scrape through thanks to a last second equaliser.

Hurley was magnificent and completely blotted out the great Tommy Taylor. At a function in Cork where he received the Cork Soccer Legend Award he recalled that memorable occasion. When the news of his selection reached the Hurley household his father’s response was typically Cork “this is it boy”, he roared. “But I’m marking Tommy Taylor dad”, replied a tentative Charlie. “Don’t leave him breathe boy, stick to him like glue, even if he goes to the loo follow him” added the dad.

“I took dad’s advice,” Charlie told the adoring Cork attendance at the awards function. “ I went everywhere with Taylor. Every turn he made I was there in front of him. When he stooped to tie his lace I stood over him. When he was being treated after a tackle I smiled mischievously at him. I didn’t get to follow him to the loo, but when the final whistle blew I noticed that he made a mad dash in that direction”, added Charlie. 

In an International career spanning 12 years he went on to gain another 39 caps. It was normal in those days for players to play in the English League on the day prior to Internationals. This meant that Charlie, after helping Sunderland in an afternoon match, regularly had to get a taxi from Roker Park to a railway station to catch a train to Fishguard or Holyhead and from there across the Irish Sea arriving, all going to schedule, about 7.30am on the morning of the International.

I wonder what would Roy have to say about that style of preparation. When Charlie was capped for the first time it was as a Millwall player and when he played his final International against Hungary in the World Cup in 1969, he was with Bolton. All other caps were gained while with Sunderland giving him the honour of being the most capped player in the club’s history. Charlie, who captained Ireland on 21 occasions, scored twice in the green jersey and was Irish Coach during the last three matches of his International career. Charlie became the first recipient of the Irish International Hall of Fame Award when honoured at the FAI Banquet in 1989.

Inducting and incorporating Cork's Own CHARLIE HURLEY into our CORK HALL OF FAME collection of soccer legends is further sanction of his Cork roots. PLUNKETT CARTER Profile

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