Monday 15 October 2018

'He threw mud in my face'

I came across a press report of a match between West Ham and Charlton in 1958 when I was researching the career of one of my Charlton heroes, Derek Ufton, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday.

The report by Peter Lorenzo reads: 'The Quiet Man became a Very Angry Young Man for 90 seconds at Upton Park … and it ended with Charlton inside right John "Buck" Ryan, described by his team mates as "the quietest bloke in the club" being ordered off in the 68th minute of the top-of-the-table clash with West Ham.'

'But I must back Bolton referee Tom Cooper to the hilt. Said dapper Tom afterwards: "Ryan was ordered off for striking an opponent … there was no doubt about that." [Interesting that the referee felt able to explain his decision to the media which they won't do today]. Agreed. I saw tall, dark-haired Ryan aim blows at West Ham left back and skipper Noel Cantwell after they had clashed in the Charlton penalty area.'

'In the corridor outside his team's dressing room, Ryan, a 25-year-old softly-spoken Scot told me: "As Cantwell got up he grabbed a handful of mud and threw it in my face. [The pitch was almost waterlogged with clinging mud]. He was mad and that made me mad. I went to retaliate and the referee saw me. He came over, asked my name [no red cards] and said Off"'.

'Provocation there may have been for the unfortunate Ryan - "I've never even been spoken to before." But the referee had no option, despite the fierce and repeated protests of a pack of Charlton players, led by angry skipper Derek Ufton.'

'Said Ufton: "John never touched anyone. He couldn't. I was holding him all the time. In fact, it was Ryan who was punched."'

'Certainly West Ham's 6 ft. right back John Bond could count his lucky stars he was not accompanying Ryan on that lonely trek to the dressing room. Bond, for once losing his icy-cool, almost contemptuous composure, ran 15 yards to join the scramble which developed while Ryan was being restrained by Ufton. This was a completely unnecessary intervention by Bond who, in turn, had to be dragged away by team mate Andy Malcolm.'

'If the Ryan sending off was unfortunate for Charlton, it certainly gave West Ham no advantage. The depleted Charlton side seemed to find new strength.' The result was a 0-0 draw.

Charlton just missed out on promotion, losing the final home game of the season 3-4 to Blackburn. Under the present points system, they would have been promoted alongside West Ham.


  1. That Blackburn defeat was such a major turning point for the club. A return to The First Division then and those slow decline years in Division 2 could have been avoided.

    1. Very much agree. There are those who thought it was a bit suspicious, but probably more cock up than conspiracy.