Black History Month – Remembering the pioneering career of John Charles of West Ham United

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West Ham United pioneer Jean Charles was celebrated at a special event held in his hometown of Canning as part of Black History Month.

The full-back became one of the first black players to represent the Hammers, captaining the U18s to FA Youth Cup glory before making 142 first-team appearances between 1963 and 1972, playing alongside some of the greats. players in club history. .

Nicknamed “Charlo”, the defender also became the first black player to represent England at all levels when he played for the U18s in Israel in 1962.

John’s younger brother, Bow-born Clive, also represented the Club in the early 1970s. The pair, alongside Clyde Best and Ade Coker – who debuted with the Hammers exactly 50 years ago today ‘hui vs. Crystal Palace – paved the way for black footballers not only in West Ham but throughout English football.

Sadly, John and Clive, who were the sons of a Grenada-born merchant sailor father and a Silvertown-born mother, died in their 50s, but their legacy continues in east London and beyond.

The Charles brothers were among a number of players featured in a special exhibit celebrating ‘Newham’s Black Soccer Players Through the Years’, which ran throughout Black History Month 2021 at the Canning Gallery in Canning Town.

There, John’s son, Mitch, and his former West Ham teammate and friend Brian Dear attended a special event recalling his unique life and career at Claret and Blue.

You can learn its pioneering story now with West Ham TV.

* West Ham TV also met the family of the late West Ham United shoe room manager Jack Leslie, who should have become England’s first black senior international in 1925, at the same exhibition. Click here to watch this moving video feature now.

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