OBITUARY - CHARLIE WITHERS
Charlie Withers, who passed away on June 7, aged 82, was associated with Tottenham Hotspur for 20 years and featured at left back in our glorious Push and Run side of the late Forties and early Fifties.
He made 164 senior appearances in our colours between 1948 and 1956, scoring two goals, and won an England ‘B’ cap against the Netherlands during 1952. Charlie missed just two games when we romped to the Second Division title of 1949-50 and went on to play well over 300 games for the club at all levels.
Born at Edmonton on September 6, 1922, Charles Francis Withers was the seventh in a family of eight children. His father worked for Edmonton Borough Council as a stonemason. Charlie attended Lower Latymer School and featured for Edmonton, Middlesex and London schoolboys during season 1936-37. He also played in an England schoolboys trial but was considered too small. Charlie excelled at cricket and swimming, representing Edmonton in the former and winning the local schools championship in the latter.
On leaving school during 1937 Charlie was employed at a Chingford factory as a wood-working machinist and played for the 7th Enfield Boy’s Brigade and Tottenham Juniors. He signed amateur forms for Tottenham Hotspur on May 12, 1938. After two and a half years with Finchley he was called up for Army service in 1942 and joined the Royal Artillery. His regiment took part in the D-Day landings at Normandy and went on through Belgium and Holland into Germany.
Charlie made his first recorded appearance in our colours on December 22, 1945 when we sent a reserve team for a friendly match at Gillingham. He also played five games for our ‘A’ team during season 1946-47 before being demobbed and offered a place on our groundstaff during July, 1947. He made his Football Combination debut at Charlton Athletic on September 27, 1947 and signed full professional forms three weeks later on October 16. His Football League debut followed on March 15, 1948 against Barnsley.
Season 1949-50 proved to be the finest of his career. Charlie played in 40 of our league games as we clinched the Second Division Championship and he also appeared in each of our three FA Cup ties.
Charlie featured for the England ‘B’ team in their 1-0 win against the Netherlands on March 23, 1952. The match, staged at the Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam, was watched by a crowd numbering 60,000. He had also played for the Football Combination XI against the Diable Rouge at Brussels on March 1, 1949.
Preston North End featured prominently in Charlie’s career. Interviewed by the Spurs programme in 1975, he cited his favourite match as the 3-2 home victory of April 8, 1950. The winner came two minutes from time, this after Preston had taken a 2-0 lead within 28 minutes.
A fourth round FA Cup encounter at Deepdale on January 31, 1953 saw Charlie selected to play at outside left. He scored his only senior goals for us that day, opening his account with a wind-assisted corner after three minutes and putting us 2-1 up five minutes before the break. We drew 2-2 and he kept his place for the replay. Charlie’s final league appearance was at Deepdale on April 2, 1956. He remained on our staff for a further two years as player/coach to the ‘A’ team, leading them to the Eastern Counties League title of 1957-58. His final game for the club came in the 4-1 win over Norwich City in the East Anglian Cup Final on April 28, 1958.
Having also assisted Finchley as coach during his final season at Tottenham, Charlie joined Southern League club Boston United during the Summer of 1958. He played 46 games for them during 1958-59 and had a spell at Deal before joining Romford during June, 1961. He played four Southern League games for the Essex club and also took up coaching duties from September, 1961. A stint as manager at Edmonton followed from October, 1963.
On leaving the game, Charlie worked as a bank messenger for Barclays at their Enfield Highway branch. He lived at Ponders End and was a member of the local ‘Knights of the River’ angling club and represented Barclays in inter-bank tournaments. In retirement, Charlie moved to Bovey Tracy, Devon where he continued his passion for fishing.
Charlie Withers passed away at a Torquay hospital on June 7. He is survived by his second wife Renee (Irene), daughter Glynis, sisters Ivy and Margie plus numerous nieces and nephews. A service will be held at Torquay Crematorium on Wednesday, June 15 at 14.30.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.
With thanks to club historian Andy Porter