Watch the emotional scenes as Charlie Hurley takes to the Stadium of Light pitch

5
Have your say

Sunderland fans paid an emotional tribute to their King Charlie today.

The Black Cats designated today's home clash with Hull City as 'Charlie Hurley Day' in honour of the 80th birthday of the man the fans named as their Player of the Century.

Charlie Hurley acknowledges the applause of the crowd

Charlie Hurley acknowledges the applause of the crowd

Charlie was joined by family members and fellow players from the 1963-64 promotion-winning team which he captained - Cecil Irwin, Len Ashurst, Martin Harvey, Brian Usher, George Herd, Stan Anderson and Jimmy Montgomery.

The day began with the dedication of the gates from the club's old training ground- the Charlie Hurley Centre - which have been refurnished and moved to a new permanent home close to the Stadium of Light's main reception.

Then the former players walked out onto the pitch shortly before kick-off to a rapturous reception from a delighted crowd. The Stadium of Light rang with the strains of the old Roker Park anthem, the Z Cars theme, in honour of the occasion.

Charlie was clearly moved by the extraordinary reaction from fans, many of whom were far too young ever to have seen him play.

Charlie Hurley (centre front) and fellow members of the 1963/64 promotion team at the Stadium of Light today.

Charlie Hurley (centre front) and fellow members of the 1963/64 promotion team at the Stadium of Light today.

Sixty-eight-year-old Alan Jackson, from Ryhope, was one of those who did remember watching Charlie in his pomp, despite the unpromising start, which saw Sunderland lost 7-0 and then 6-0: "He had a nightmare in his first two games," he said.

"But the supporters stuck with him and so did the team - perhaps some of our supporters today should do the same. We're too quick to complain.

"Charlie was the spirit of the club. The other players looked up to him and the crowd looked up to him."

Alan Dunn, 46, had brought son Michael, 16, to see Charlie, Both have been raised on stories of the big centre Half's exploits from Alan's dad Ken.

An emotional Charlie as he leaves the pitch

An emotional Charlie as he leaves the pitch

"He can't be here today, unfortunately," said Alan.

"But Michael has been looking forward to this all week. It's the first time he has seen Charlie."