Charley Hurley



Years at the club: 1972 - 76
Date of birth: 04/10/1950
Birth place: Cork
Position: Manager
Appearances: Manager (238)
Goals: -
Clubs: Millwall, Sunderland, Bolton Wanderers.
Honours: 40 Republic of Ireland caps Reading: Division Four Promotion 1975/76

Hurley was born in Cork, Ireland, but his family moved to Rainham in Essex, England when Charlie was seven months old. He later survived the Blitz, in which one of his best friends was killed, and as a teenager worked as an apprentice toolmaker. His first offer of a football contract was from West Ham but he turned it down as he could earn more for his family by continuing with his apprenticeship. However, at the age of sixteen he did eventually accept a contract offer from Millwall.

Career at Millwall

Hurley began his football career at Millwall in 1953, making his debut at the age of seventeen. Although his time at The Den was blighted by injury he managed to make over one hundred appearances for his club and achieve an international debut for the Republic of Ireland. Hurley spent four seasons at Millwall before reluctantly moving to Sunderland in 1957.

Career at Sunderland

On 26 September 1957, Charlie Hurley arrived at Roker Park to begin a career that would span 12 seasons and 402 appearances.

Hurley's Sunderland career had a disastrous start; a 7-0 rout by Blackpool, coupled with him scoring an own goal on his debut, which was quickly followed by a 6-0 defeat by Burnley. Hurley had been unfortunate enough to have competed against centre forwards who would later go on to represent England. In Ray Charnley and Ray Pointer, Blackpool and Burnley had strikers of the highest quality. Matters improved and eventually promotion was achieved in the 1963/64 season after two campaigns which had seen Sunderland miss out on top flight football due to consecutive day last failures against Swansea Town and Chelsea.

Curiously, for a man who was indelibly linked with powerful headed goals, it took 124 league and cup appearances for Sunderland before he broke his scoring duck. A 1-1 Boxing Day draw in 1960 against Sheffield United was the first of 43.

Whilst the 1963/64 season was special for Sunderland AFC, resulting in promotion, it was also personally highly satisfactory for Hurley. Only Bobby Moore prevented Hurley from becoming Football Writers Player of the Year[citation needed].

In the late sixties, alongside Jimmy Montgomery, Cecil Irwin, Len Ashurst, Martin Harvey and Jim McNab, Hurley formed one of the most notable and most settled back fives in Sunderland's history.

Alan Brown's departure from Roker Park, to take over at Sheffield Wednesday saw first George Hardwick and then Scotsman Ian McColl take over. During one match at Old Trafford in November 1966, first Hurley, and then Northern Ireland defender John Parke went in goal, as Montgomery had to leave the game because of an injury sustained in the first half.

Hurley's last goal for Sunderland came against Arsenal in April 1968, typically a header. His last appearance in a red and white shirt was at Turf Moor, Burnley in April 1969.

Hurley's greatest match was arguably the FA Cup 5th round victory at Carrow Road in February 1961, when he scored the only goal to dump Norwich city out of the competition. Sunderland would then go on to succumb to a Danny Blanchflower-inspired Spurs side, who became double winners for the first time in the 20th century.

In a poll Sunderland fans voted him player of the century.

Career at Bolton Wanderers

On 2 June 1969, Charlie moved to Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer. He spent three years at Burnden Park and was a well-liked figure in the heart of the defence, so much so that he was given the opportunity to manage the club upon the departure of Jimmy Meadows only to reluctantly turn the chance down because his wife missed living in the South of England.

Managerial Career at Reading

From 1972-1977 Charlie managed Reading F.C. then based at Elm Park. One of his greatest moments was in the 4th round of the F.A. Cup in February 1971 when he guided Reading, then a 4th division outfit to a 4th round meeting with the great double-winning Arsenal side. Over 20,000 people packed into Elm Park and Charlie's charges narrowly lost 2-1 to a side containing George Graham, Charlie George, Geordie Armstrong, Bob Wilson Frank McLintock and other international class players.

Did you know?


Martin Hicks, 1978-1991

Martin holds the club appearance record. He made 603 first team appearances in all competitions.


Neil Webb, 1978-1982

Neil won 26 full England caps, the FA Cup and League Cup.


Bill Davies, 1953-1961

Bill totalled 226 appearances for Reading, playing in every game of the 1958/59 season.


Trevor Senior, 1983-87 / 1988-92

The greatest goalscorer in the club's history, Trevor scored 191 goals in 362 appearances.

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