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"At least he's answering me" | George Hamilton's mad Jack Charlton story from USA '94

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

22:28 13 Jul 2020

Commentator George Hamilton joined Off The Ball on Monday night to chat about his memories of the late Jack Charlton.

Hamilton told a story about an encounter with Charlton at the World Cup in the USA in 1994 that illustrated the manner of the man.

The commentator and his floor manager Tadhg de Bruin were getting a flight the day after Ireland had beaten Italy in the Giants Stadium.

"The next day we were to go see Norway play Mexico in Washington," recalled Hamilton, "because they were the other two teams in our group.

"So we were flying down to Washington from Newark Airport and on the same plane was Jack. When we arrived in Washington there was a guy in the airport with a board with Jack Charlton's name on it.

"Jack says 'there's a lift here with me, I'm not going to let you go in a taxi.' So he gave us a lift to the stadium, that was all great.

"Then Tadhg [floor manager] sought Jack as a half-time interviewee. That would beef up out coverage if at half-time we could speak to the Ireland manager and we could say 'what about these two teams?' because we were going to play Norway and Mexico.

"Jack was very reluctant to take this on because he was there to concentrate and just sit in the VIP box and watch the game. Tadhg reminded him, he was a wonderful man, who got the best out of everybody and got interviews when nobody thought he could."

Jack Charlton

"Tadhg said 'you have an agreement with RTE that you'll make yourself available when we want to interview you.' Jack's reaction was not great, but he had remembered he made this promise.

"So he said 'Okay, you come and get me and I'll come to you at half-time.' So as is the case in American stadia, we were all in little booths and Jack's VIP booth was just along the way from ours, so at half-time, Tadhg went to get him.

"He brought him in and sat him down in Tadhg's chair and I'm beside him. so I'm about to interview Jack after the commercial break and he turns his back on me.

"So I'm thinking 'how am I going to interview this guy?' So I put the question to him, and Jack Charlton answers, but he's looking away over there. [away from George].

"I'm thinking 'at least he's answering me.' It was only afterward we realised what was going on.

"Jack didn't want to do the interview and this was his way of showing us that he didn't want to do it, but he did it nonetheless. And then what happened?

"At the end of the game, we're all coming out, because we're all close at hand, he's only two doors along the corridor of VIP boxes.

"So he sees us and says 'lads, I'm meeting a guy, we're going out to dinner, will you come and join us?' And we went, we were their guests.

"That was Jack, on the day, on the plane, gave us the lift. Didn't want to do the interview but did it, then took us out to dinner."

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George Hamilton Giants Stadium Italia 90 Jack Charlton Ray Houghton USA 94 World Cup

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