A chunk of my formative years as a sportswriter were spent inside Andy Townsend's head. When we first started working together in 1992 - a ghosted column for The Sunday Tribune - he had just succeeded Mick McCarthy as captain of the football team. In 1994, the column became a book - Andy's Game: The Inside Story of the World Cup. So it's fair to say we go back a while, and that I've always loved him.
Which is not to say that I've ever known him.
Andy is the funniest sportsman I've ever met but it was never his nature to dwell on things. Whether it was club or country, the FA Cup or the World Cup, he played the ball in front of him, looked for the next pass and moved on. It's 18 years since we last sat down together and we've bumped into each other twice - once on a beach in Portugal during the Celtic Tiger years, and five years ago at the Aviva after the play-off game with Bosnia.
So the text message was a surprise.
It was a Monday afternoon in July, two days after we had learned that Jack Charlton had died: "Hi Paul, hope you're well. Sad day Saturday. I'd like to speak to you about doing an article. I'm fed up reading about this crude, prehistoric game we (apparently) played under Jack. Too many of the Irish journalists in particular continue to reference this, and I think it's unfair. We were a tremendous team at times, and exceptionally difficult to play against, never mind beat. Perhaps I can call you later? Thanks, Andy."
Later was the following afternoon.
"I've been reading about the Charlton legacy," he said, "and how the football wasn't great. Hold on a f***ing minute! He gave you stuff you wouldn't dream about! What do you mean the football wasn't great! Because everyone has been fed a diet of Guardiola and f***ing Klopp for the last decade!
"Take yourself back for a minute. Don't compare now with f***ing then! I've got some stats here from Jack's time with Ireland: Played 94. Won 47. Drew 30. Lost 17. Win percentage 50. Now, here's Sir Bobby Robson's record with England: Played 95. Won 47. Drew 30. Lost 18. Win percentage 49.5.
"Now, Bobby Robson is revered as an England manager. He's a knight of the f***ing Empire! But here's our man with a better record and all I'm hearing is that the football was negative! Hold on a minute!
"We had a back four that couldn't run - Mick couldn't, Kevin couldn't, Stan couldn't - but we're on our half-way line going after some of the best teams in the world in their half! Baggio . . . Gullit . . . Van Basten . . . Schillaci . . . there's nothing negative about that. That's f***ing brave!"
He was steaming.
And it was interesting, because I'd rarely seen him like that and the more he vented, the more obvious it became that it wasn't really about the football at all, but a manifestation of something else.
A kind of grieving.
While it's a great honour to be captain, there are elements of it that I don't particularly enjoy. I don't enjoy having to stand up at functions and make speeches. Just before we came away, when Guinness hosted this big reception in London with Albert Reynolds there, Jack came up to me and said: "You're going to have to introduce him to all the players - and don't forget his wife." Panicking I said: "Well, what shall I call him, Taoiseach?" "Nah," Jack laughed. "Call him Albert like me."
Paul Kimmage: The last time I interviewed you was in May 2002, just before the World Cup.
Andy Townsend: Was it? Crikey!
PK: I'll read you the intro: "There are certain things you take as a given when interviewing Andy Townsend. You know it's going to be more fun than usual - he has always looked on the brighter side of life. You know it's going to run longer than usual - he has always warmed to a microphone. You know the venue will be more exclusive than usual - he has always enjoyed the finer things in life. And you know he will turn up wearing a T-shirt and jeans - he has always dressed like a rock star. And so it proves. It's a Wednesday morning in London and we are being served tea from the finest china in the finest hotel on the Thames, with crème-de-la-crème for clientele and the most splendid view of Westminster and Big Ben. 'So, 'ow've you been my son?' he inquires in his not-quite Eton accent. 'What's the buzz like in Ireland? Is everyone looking forward to the World Cup?' His mobile phone rings twice before I can answer. 'Builders,' he explains. 'We're renovating the house.'"
AT: (laughs) I can't believe that.
PK: What are you wearing?
AT: A T-shirt and jeans.
PK: What's happening with the house?
AT: We're renovating (laughs) . . . well, there you go, nothing has changed in my life.
PK: Some things have changed. You're a grandfather now?
AT: Yeah, Stanley is five and we've another grandson, Harry.
PK: What's work these days?
AT: I don't keep diaries but that's what October looks like for me (he points to a small white marker board sitting on the counter). I'm doing Man City/Arsenal this weekend, Leeds/Wolves on Monday, something for Talksport on Tuesday, Champions League on Wednesday, and then that (Aston Villa/Leeds), that (Liverpool/Sheffield United) and that (Arsenal/Leicester).
PK: So mostly TV?
AT: Yeah, IMG have the gig to make Premier League Productions, which is the overseas arm of the Premier League. They do all the games and the studio work and sell to broadcasters around the world. I'm trying to wind it back a little - there was a time when I was working seven days a week between Talksport and ITV. It was too much.
PK: Talk to me about the transition. Your last game as a footballer was with West Brom on March 25, 2000 - a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City in Division One at Maine Road.
PK: You had started the season in the Premier League on an 800 grand contract with Middlesbrough?
AT: Yeah, I didn't want to join West Brom, and should have had the balls when I left Middlesbrough to say, "That's it. I'll finish now." But I come from an era where they had to drag you off the field and almost nail your boots to the ceiling. There were only a few - people like Kevin Keegan, the superstars - that left the game before they were done.
PK: Did having to earn play a part?
PK: Because you were on good money.
AT: I was on good money, but we've always spent good money: I've earned good money all my life but we've always spent f***ing more! And I don't mean on cars and stuff like that, but on ourselves and things we like - our home. We've always been prepared to go the extra mile when it comes to whatever we're developing or building, so there's always been a need to work. And I've never been the sort of guy to do nothing - even at 57, I wouldn't be happy doing nothing.
PK: Go back to West Brom. The deal was 300k a year and a new manager, Gary Megson, had just come in.
AT: Yeah, Brian Little had signed me - I had known Brian well from my time at Villa - then Gary arrived and said, "Look, I haven't any room for a 36-year-old plodding about. I'd much rather you were a voice in the dressing room and came to work with me."
PK: He wanted you to join the coaching staff?
AT: Yeah, he said: "We'll give you 25 grand a year and you'll get a car." Then he pointed to this Mondeo that was parked outside there - it looked like it had done about 200,000 miles!
AT: I was driving an Aston Martin at the time, that was my car. I said, "Listen Gary, I'm happy to talk to you about the job but you can stick the car up your arse." And we laughed about it. So I spent a year working with the reserves and stepping in with the first team at weekends.
PK: I didn't realise you took the job.
AT: Oh yeah. We had Frank Burrows on the coaching staff and Frank was a great foil for Gary, who was explosive as a manager, and would be jumping up and down on the touchline. I used to look at him and think, "He's going to have a f***ing heart attack!" And when I look back maybe, subconsciously, that had something to do with it.
PK: The fact that you didn't stay?
AT: Yeah, when you see what the game does to people.
PK: I've often wondered that about Mick (McCarthy).
AT: What? That he can't let it go?
AT: I think the skin thickens to such a degree that it's almost water off a duck's back. Look at Roy Hodgson and everywhere he's been. Every time I see him I shake his hand, "How are you Roy? How's things?" But what I'm really saying is, "Are you feeling alright? (laughs) Do you not want to knock this on the head?" But they don't. They don't.
PK: It's said that coaching or management is as close to playing the game as you can get. You had a taste but didn't like it?
AT: No, there were a lot of red flags for me; I'd spent half my life travelling and being in hotels and I wanted to spend more time at home. I'd seen what football can do to a marriage, and can do to your health, and thought, 'Not for me.' That's not to say I wouldn't have been good at it: I think I could have done it. I think I had the credentials for it, and the personality, but I didn't really want it. And that's the kind of truth of it really.
PK: Talk to me about your transition to the media.
AT: The first gig was On The Ball for ITV on Saturdays with Gabby (Logan) and Barry Venison. They would send a car to the house on Friday and drive me to London. We'd have a meeting that afternoon about the show the following day, and there would be a car waiting downstairs to take me home on Saturday: "See you next week."
AT: Yeah. I did everything that came my way . . . some radio stuff with Talksport . . . stuff with the papers . . . everything, and within a year I'd gone from footballer to fully-fledged, here-there-and-everywhere pundit. Then ITV offered me a full-time gig and I was there for 15 years.
PK: So you didn't want to stay in the game because of all the travel, but you're doing a lot of travelling?
AT: Correct, but there's a difference. I can take a week off and go and do something with Jackie (his wife) if I need a break. You can't do that in football. You're trapped. You have to go in. And I never liked that feeling.
Filmed during the last 18 months of Jack Charlton's life and detailing his previously undocumented life with dementia, 'Finding Jack Charlton' is a uniquely emotional insight into the life and career of a sporting legend. The documentary is released courtesy of Noah Media Group, the creators of some of the most acclaimed feature-length sports documentaries of recent years ('Bobby Robson: More than a Manager', 'The Edge', 'Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans').
Directed by Gabriel Clarke and Pete Thomas and with former Republic of Ireland captain Andy Townsend as an executive producer, 'Finding Jack Charlton' is a portrait of an extraordinary man: an English World Cup-winning legend, who became an Irish hero. Shot on location in Ireland and England, the film also explores Jack's life with dementia. The contemporary narrative forms a central theme of the story, offering an intimate, compelling insight into Jack the man and the challenge faced by thousands of families universally.
Noah Media Group
PK: I'm going to throw another date at you - June 5, 1994. It's a day before you board a flight to Orlando for the World Cup and Dave O'Leary has done some pen pics of the squad for the News of the World. Here's what he says about you: "Biggest mickey-taker in the squad. Great pals with Tony Cascarino, though you'd never guess it the way Andy rips him apart. Jack idolises him."
AT: I don't know about idolising me, I think he took to me and trusted me as a player because, and I'm not casting aspersions here, I was always prepared to sacrifice my game for the sake of the team. I was a kid born in South London who ended up playing for Ireland through my grandmother and I was always conscious of not letting people down. I didn't want anyone saying, "That Andy Townsend ain't bad but he's a lazy bastard."
PK: That you weren't invested in the team?
AT: Yeah, I was never going to have that said or, "He's just here to pick up a few quid and feather his nest for a while." F**k that! So when Jack asked me to run through brick walls for him, I did it. But I also did it for me, for my family, and I did it for Ireland. I'm not looking to be worshipped but I don't have to prove my Irish heritage to anybody, or my commitment to the team. There was nothing more I could have given Jack, or Ireland, as a player . . . (smiles) there were probably a few club managers I could've done a bit more for.
PK: Take me back to how it started; it's June 1988 and you're in a bar in Minorca watching Ireland playing England at the European Championships.
AT: (smiles) Yeah. I'd nicked a bike and had to cycle about five miles to find a bar that was showing the game. There was about seven people in there - most of them Irish - and they hadn't a clue who I was. When Ray scored they went crazy. I was in shock. It was a shock result. I thought, "F***ing 'ell!"
PK: And two years later you're playing with Ray against England at Italia '90.
AT: Bizarre isn't it?
PK: It was your mother who sowed the seed?
AT: Yeah, a couple of months after the Euros. I'd signed for Norwich that season and came home one weekend after a game. She said, "You know you can play for Ireland through your Nan, don't you?" And to be honest I had never really given it much thought. But I knew my Nan was Irish (laughs) - it wasn't as if she spoke like I do.
PK: Bridgid Browne from Castleisland.
PK: She leaves for Dublin at age 16 to work in a hotel and meets Cecil Townsend, a British soldier. They marry and settle in Swindon and he abandons her with four kids.
AT: Did I tell you that?
PK: It's in the book.
AT: Yeah, she had nothing, no money. It was his parents that took pity on her and helped to support them.
PK: Your father, Don, is the third eldest: "He remembers summers in Castleisland at his grandparents' old tin-roofed house on Barrack Street, where an uncle taught him Irish songs and his mother taught him how to say his prayers."
AT: Yeah, he had a slight Irish lilt in certain things he used to say jumbled in his 'Ohh-Arr' (accent) from Swindon.
PK: But you had never set foot in Ireland before your debut in 1989?
AT: No. My brothers and sister had been over as kids. Dad had taken them over a couple of times, but I was the youngest.
PK: On Sunday, February 5, you meet Tony Cascarino at Heathrow and fly to Dublin for the first time. You're playing France in Dalymount.
AT: I remember it. It was also my first time to meet Jack. He shook my hand: "Hello son, welcome. We do things our own way here but as long as you play by the rules you'll enjoy it." And that was it, short and sweet, but what he was really saying was, "As long as you do what you're f***ing told you'll be okay" (laughs). But I could tell within hours that the players enjoyed him. He was 'Jack' to everyone. There was only Mick Byrne and Charlie (O'Leary) that called him 'boss'.
PK: You bought him a cap once?
AT: We used to go in to Grafton Street for a walk on the day before a game. He says, "Andy, I forgot me cap. Get me a cap." He told me the size and I went in with Cass (Tony Cascarino) to . . . what's the name of the big shop at the bottom?
PK: Brown Thomas.
AT: Yeah, that's the one. We thought about getting him a yellow one for a laugh but chickened out and chose something he'd normally wear: "How much was that?" he says. "Thirteen punts." "Whaat! I only ever spend a fiver on my caps! Where's the receipt?" "I don't have a receipt. It was 13 punts, Jack!" "Sorry," he says. "No receipt, no pay." And that was it, he wasn't going to pay. So he was...
AT: Yeah, I remember watching him once on . . . I think it was a Wish You Were Here with Judith Chalmers, and he's walking around this market place with Pat (his wife). And a nice piece of fabric or lace catches her eye - "Ohh! The colours are lovely" - but Jack goes straight for the price tag, pulls a face and shuffles her away from it.
AT: Cass told a story recently about how hard Jack had it growing up. He said Jack's dad would bring the firewood in every night and sift through the ashes the following morning for nails, because he could use them again.
AT: F***ing hard! And I think they used to sleep four-in-a-bed. Does that ever leave you? I don't know . . . actually, if it does leave you, it shouldn't!
AT: I bonded with him pretty quickly. There were better footballers on the team - Ronnie was a terrific footballer - but he couldn't get up-and-down the park like I could, and deliver what Jack needed. So we had an understanding. I knew what he wanted and he trusted me: I was always fit, always there, and always ready. I can't say I always played well but he knew I would give him every drop.
PK: You watched the Euro '88 game in Minorca. What was it like walking out in Cagliari?
AT: Against them?
AT: Well by that time I had already played a few games.
PK: I understand that.
AT: And I was absolutely committed. A year or two before it might have felt a bit strange but there was no staring at my boots as we were queueing up in the tunnel - I could look any of them in the eye.
PK: So it was probably more unusual for Jack than for you?
AT: How do you mean?
PK: Well, you've both been described as adopted Irishmen, but that's not quite true of you?
AT: No, but his love for Ireland and his commitment to making a success of the job was absolute, which is why I want you to see the film. There are parts where you'll go, 'F***ing hell! I didn't know about that.' Because I did. And the way Gabriel has put it together is really clever.
PK: Don't go there yet. He made you captain in February of '92: "Mick's knackered now, and I'd like you to do it."
AT: (laughs) Yeah.
PK: You were a little uneasy about it at the time?
AT: Paul was the obvious choice, but he was fighting a few battles, personally, around that time and Jack didn't want to burden him. Paul features a lot in the film, and the empathy Jack had for him, and I'm not sure he was asked, but that's what Jack told me: "Paul doesn't want to do it." I'd been a captain at Norwich and was skipper at Chelsea at the time, but he did say to me, "Don't overthink it. If you can't do it, or you're no good at it, I'll take it off you."
PK: Talk me through those last two years to when he finished in '95?
AT: The play-off game with Holland?
AT: Well, the team had ground to a halt. Things move on over the years, as I've witnessed as an analyst, and what seemed brilliant for a while had to change. But Jack wasn't comfortable with change, he was concrete in his ways, and we were exposed that night, and comfortably beaten.
PK: How much contact did you have after he stepped away?
PK: Which is not unusual really?
AT: No, because I was still playing. I remember seeing him up at Newcastle once after a game. Someone said, "Big Jack's next door" and I popped into the lounge: "Heyyy Andy! You were terrible," he laughed. So I saw him occasionally, but he had a life away from football he was content with, and would happily sit on a river bank five days a week. And he knew when he left the Ireland job: "I'm done. It doesn't get any better than this."
PK: There were a couple of reunions?
AT: There was a reunion at the K Club that Quinny (Niall Quinn) organised in . . . was it 2018? Actually, it was just after Noah, the film company, approached me about Jack, so that was two-and-a-half years ago. It was the first time I'd seen him in a long time and he wasn't totally aware of who was in the room. Charlie sat next to him at the table and they were talking when I came over. Charlie said, "It's Andy, Jack," and he looked up at me . . . "Hello son" . . . but I could tell from his eyes he wasn't sure.
PK: You'd seen that look before?
PK: Your father?
You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realise that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all, just as an intelligence without the possibility of expression is not really an intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.
Luis Bunuel 'My Last Breath'
PK: You tell a nice story in your book about the day you realised your father was 'someone.' He had been asked to play in a testimonial for a former teammate and he took you along.
AT: Yeah, to Crystal Palace.
PK: "I had never seen him play before and, watching from the stands as he struggled to get off his toes, it was no great comfort to me that he was 40 years old. When it was over, I was invited to join him in the players' lounge and I noticed him with a famous face. Okay, so the players weren't exactly nobodies but this was a real famous face. My dad was talking to Brian Moore, the commentator on The Big Match. I couldn't believe it."
AT: Brian was an amazing man, a brilliant commentator, I actually got to work with him when I got into the business, but I can still remember him patting me on the head that night with my dad as a kid.
PK: Your dad was a defender?
AT: Yeah, an era when - on a wet Tuesday night in South London on a pitch covered in mud - a ball into the box was like a medicine ball coming at you. "I'd come on to it, and head it, and I'd be seeing stars for minutes sometimes," dad said. And there's a lot of talk about that now, and the link with dementia. Alan Shearer has done a documentary on it. Chris Sutton has often spoken about it and his dad. And when you watch the film you'll see the correlation with Big Jack.
PK: When did you first notice it with Don?
AT: When my mum passed away eight years ago, he moved down to where my sister lives in Westgate-on-Sea. He was in good health generally, very mobile, could walk for miles, and was quite independent until he started getting confused and wandering the streets at night. It got to a point where decisions had to be made about his car - taking it off him - and he didn't like that. Then he started to deteriorate and my sister had to monitor him like a child.
AT: He came up to stay with us about five years ago to give Karen a break and it really opened my eyes. He came into the house, took his coat off and sat down: "Oh! I've lost my keys." "No, they're in your coat pocket, dad." He put on the coat, found the keys, took it off and sat down again. "Oh, I've lost my keys." "No dad, they're in your coat. I'll put them on the counter in front of you." Then Jackie made dinner and served him a mound of food that Red Rum wouldn't have jumped in his heyday.
AT: Half-an-hour later he says, "Are we going to have something to eat?" And that really blew my mind. How does your stomach stop communicating with your brain? I couldn't work it out. I thought, 'Wow! How powerful is this illness?'
AT: It was cold, so I lit a big fire and got the thing roaring. The kids were here. We turned the telly off, and all the phones, and started talking. He liked the fire: "It reminds me of when I was a kid," he said. "We lived near a railway line and there was always coal down there - lumps that had been chucked out of trains - and my mum would send us down with a bucket." Jackie had some old photos, and I showed him one of a car he'd had as a player at Charlton, a beautiful, dark blue Ford Corsair. "Oh, I loved that car," he said. It was incredible. He was talking about things that happened 20, 30 years ago but couldn't stitch together what had happened before dinner!
AT: My sister had taken him to a specialist and this is how the guy explained it: "Imagine your life as a book for each year that you live. When you get to your dad's age, the stack is quite high and the latest book - what he does today - is hard to reach. It's easier for him to access the things he did 40 years ago, because those books are closer to the bottom." And that's exactly what happened that night. We got some of his old scrapbooks out: "Do you remember him dad?" "Oh yeah, Sammy Bartram, a fantastic goalkeeper."
AT: It was a lovely night. I was so pleased. And the next morning I'm up early, because his bedroom is at the far end of the house and I want to be ready when he gets up, but he's standing in the kitchen with his coat on and his bag packed: "I want to go home. My wife will be wondering where I am." And I try to reason with him but there's an edge to his voice: 'I WANT to go." I didn't know what to do. I called Karen: "If he's not happy, bring him back," she said. So we got into the car and I drove him back. It was the last time he stayed with us.
AT: But we'd visit him. "I'll make you a cup of tea," he'd say. "What have you been up to lately?" I'd tell him. "You're Roy, aren't you?" "No dad, I'm Andy, your youngest son." "Yeah, course you are. Roy's my brother." Half an hour later. "You're Roy, aren't you?"
PK: That is hard.
AT: And yet, amongst the sadness and the heartache, there's a side to it that's comical. There were two pictures on his wall of my mum - one when she was 75, and the other when she was 21. He sat there one day and said, "I've been married twice, you know?" "Have you really, dad?" "They're actually my two wives there." I looked up and he was pointing to my mother at 75: "I didn't like her that much, but she (my mother at 21) was lovely."
AT: And you come away with a tear in your eye thinking about how sad it all is and yet, as I'm driving up the road, I'm roaring to myself.
The club are saddened to hear of the passing of former Addick Don Townsend at 89. Born in Swindon, he began his career as a striker for non-League Trowbridge Town before arriving at The Valley in 1954 where he became an ever-reliable left-back in the top-flight, making 40 appearances in his debut season.
Townsend went on to make a total of 268 appearances across eight seasons (three in the First Division and five in the Second Division), scoring one goal. His son, Andy, would also go on to have a successful career in football, earning 70 caps for the Republic of Ireland.
Club ambassador and Addicks legend Keith Peacock shared his memories of Don saying, "When I was 16, I played with Don in his last ever game for Charlton which was a reserves match at Swindon Town and he scored the winner in a 4-3 victory. He was a lovely man and a very stylish left full-back who I would watch as a kid at The Valley. A great, steady player with an excellent left foot who played a great amount of games for the club - he will be missed."
Charlton Athletic website,
July 29, 2020
PK: Tell me about Finding Jack Charlton. You're an executive producer?
AT: I've read that (laughs) but I'm not sure what it means. I had no input into the editing or the structure or the dialogue. They're the filmmakers - I am most certainly not - so all I've done is connect people and help build some of the blocks.
PK: Start with the director, Gabriel Clarke.
AT: I worked with Gabriel for a long time at ITV. When I was in the studio, Gabriel was on the touchline grabbing Fergie (Alex Ferguson) when he came off the pitch in the Champions League. He also made features and short documentaries - the Bobby Robson film, another on Steve McQueen - and he's quite intense as a person. When he does something it has to be right or he's not going to bother. He approached me about Jack: "We'd like to do a film, a story about his journey with the Irish team and what it meant to him."
PK: The time of the K-Club reunion?
AT: Just before it. I said, "Look, I don't know. He's not great." He said, "If we're going to do it, we'll have to approach the family. Do you think they would be receptive?" So I said, "I'll talk to John."
AT: Jack's eldest son. I'd seen the Bobby Robson film and really liked it, but I knew Jack's story would be different. I said it to Gabriel: "Jack was uncompromising. This might be more difficult. You might find people who say, 'I don't want to know.'" But I connected him with John and we went up to see him together.
AT: John has a pub in the north east. It was a cold, bleak day. He pulled a couple of pints and we sat around the table. Jack was there with his coat, his cap, and a pint. I tried to engage him but he didn't say much. It was all going through John. I knew Gabriel would not let him or the Charlton family down and he hasn't. He's done a brilliant job. It's beautifully made.
PK: Where were you when you heard Jack had died?
AT: It was July so . . . we were here, in lockdown. Gabriel had been up there on a couple of shoots and had told me he was poorly, and I'd called John, "How's your dad?" He said, "He's not good. It won't be tonight, or tomorrow, but we're talking about a couple of weeks." And everything with the film was put on hold to give the family space. So it was sad, but some of the tributes were amazing.
PK: You lost your dad a few weeks later?
PK: When was the last time you saw him?
AT: Three days before he passed away.
PK: What was that like?
AT: I knew it was probably going to be the last time. His eyes were closed and he was very peaceful but it was tough. I sat there thanking him for everything, the man he was, the person I've become, I couldn't speak at his funeral. The church was empty, there was only about 12 of us there with the restrictions, and Karen spoke - she had written something down. Then I stood up and . . . my lips started wobbling. I couldn't get the words out.
PK: You tried?
AT: Yeah, but I literally couldn't speak.
PK: What did you want to say?
AT: I wanted to say that my abiding memory of him was that he was always there. Always home. Always there. He had a job, but at six o'clock every evening he came through the door. He wasn't in the pub. He was home. There. At the weekend, if I was playing, he was there. When I needed to go somewhere: "Come on, I'll take you." He was there. He was always there.
PK: That's nice.
PK: Here's a question: your dad was 89 when he died, Jack was 85. Do you think they might ever have played against each other?
AT: You're not going to believe this.
PK: Go on.
AT: Three weeks ago, my sister sent me two photos of an old match programme her husband had just found going through dad's stuff: "Gary found this . . . " I glanced at it and thought, 'Oh that's nice.' Then I looked at it again and nearly fell over. The first was a photo of the cover: Leeds United versus Charlton Athletic on the 19th of August 1961. The second was a photo of the teams: The Number 5 for Leeds? Charlton. The Number 3 for Charlton? Townsend.
PK: You're joking.
AT: I'm not.
PK: That's priceless.
AT: I can't believe it.
PK: How did I never ask you that before?
AT: F**k that! How do you think I feel?
PK: So how do you explain it?
AT: I don't know, I mean . . . there was only four years between them but for some bizarre reason it always felt like ten to me. Jack liked a fag. He liked a drink. He liked to tell people to f**k off. My father was the complete opposite. Subconsciously, I never put them together but why wouldn't they have played against each other? It just never dawned on me.
PK: It's kind of maddening that you can't ask them about it.
AT: It's a shame. I'm actually embarrassed. You get so wrapped up in your career and consumed by what you're doing and never see the bigger picture until you stop. My dad and Jack Charlton played against each other! How great is that?
PK: It's great.
AT: It's put a smile on my face I can tell you. I told my sister, "Take care of it. I'm going to put it in a nice frame." The walls of our house have never been adorned with any of my stuff but that's going straight up.