Charlie Palmer, the boy was a larker…

The boy was a larker part 3. 

I’m asked to do a regular input to the supporter’s trust newsletter and as writing is my happy place, I don’t mind chucking the odd piece their way. Rather than randomly write about wherever the wind takes me, I tend to focus on players of yesteryear (possibly reflecting that the supporters trust members are often old, like me!). I did this one a while ago and seeing as the newsletter is old news now, I thought I’d tinker with it slightly and send it out to you my lovely Twitter (x) folk.

There’s a ton of positive things going on at City presently, not least the fantastic young manager we have, which links nicely to this man, Charlie Palmer. Through his nephew Graham, who has been a mate for 30 years I sent the original copy of this to him. Humble and down to earth as ever Charlie thanked me and I was relieved to see my recollections matched his. Anyway, he still lives in the Derby area and he believed (and still does) that Derby’s loss was our gain. Speaking incredibly highly of Liam Rosenior, Mr Palmer proving that much like a last ditch tackle in 1988, his judgement is as accurate as ever. Some guy is our Charlie. Anyway, enjoy the piece…

Ok, I’m biased towards Charlie Palmer. Why? Well, there’s a connection from him to me (I grew up good mates with his nephew) and met the great man a few times. Thus, when message boards came about in the late nineties I took his name as mine, which is still my other twitter handle, and it’s stuck. Sometimes now fans who I see sporadically at southern games might call me Charlie, much to the amusement of my mates. But it’s not just that. Charlie was a rolls royce, he was the best full back this young fan had seen in his early years of watching the tigers and although he didn’t stay a long time (pretty much exactly two years) his influence was more significant than his time at the wheel. 

My Dad worked shifts as a copper in the eighties and when I’d get home from school, he’d frequently ask me or my Mum to check the “text” to find out any City news. 

That would include putting on Ceefax and Teletext to see if we could find any news on the second level City team at the time (if the word Ceefax has you stumped, ask your Dad), so on February 13th of 1987 I was a busy lad. Checking the text during what I think (statos please confirm) was the transfer deadline of 1987. I was also surprised to be able to tell the old man we’d secured two signings. One was Charlie from Derby County for 36 grand, and one was Alex Dyer from Blackpool for 41 grand. Now both would turn out to be fairly astute moves by the ever-sharp Brian Horton. 

Both also had a link to him. Brian knew football in the area he was at before taking the City job, so we’d get Richard Jobson, Ray Daniel, Garry Parker, Frankie Bunn, Alex and Charlie because of his knowledge of the young players coming through Watford and Luton. Although they’d both moved on from Watford, that was without doubt the link. 

Charlie came straight in that season and made an impact. It was perhaps the one thing Horton hadn’t really found since coming to Hull, an elite wide defender. We’d got by with Laurie Pearson, Bobby McNeil, Gary Swan and others but it was undoubtedly a weak point. 

That wasn’t Charlie. He had pace, he was strong and importantly he read a game. He was good on the ball for the era, was strong in the air and was unflappable under pressure. Later on in his career he’d play centre back at Notts County under Neil Warnock, so he had the ability to deal with the more physical players of the time too. I remember watching him several times just completely shut down the opposition winger and he quickly became a fan favourite. I’m honestly not sure I ever saw him have a bad game.

In that era, I think your full back had to be bit of everything, part pit bull, part whippet, part sniper. Charlie was the first full back I’d seen who had all of the above, he didn’t get pushed around in what was an infinitely more physical game, he was tall and languid for a full back so he could motor, but most importantly, he knew when to shut the door, his timing in his tackles was so impeccable you began to take it for granted. For younger City fans, imagine a pacier, right footed Andy Dawson, but swap his free kick taking ability for aerial presence. Just like Andy Dawson, Chaz was the epitome of consistency.

By the time he was sold almost two years to the day to Notts County, I think it was more to do with the change in management. Eddie Gray wasn’t Brian Horton in any sense, he inherited some fantastic talent but barring a cup run really didn’t do much with it. He sold him where I don’t think Horton would have and we were poorer for it. 

Years later Charlie would tell me it was pretty hard for a black man in Hull in that era. He said he got no trouble from the City fans quite the opposite, but the rugby fans were very different, and you had to watch your step. Although he loved playing for the club and made some close friends (Richard Jobson and Alex Dyer namely) he was quite relieved to go by the end. His face didn’t fit any more and he like all pro players wanted to be wanted. It was a shame it ended that way. But City’s loss was Notts County’s gain, and he went on to play for them in the highest league during a six -season stint. Any City fan who went to watch during that era would have been unsurprised by this or the fact that we seemed to self harm in the process. This was later eighties and early nineties City, that’s what we did. 

We all have that player we loved, even if they aren’t the first on the team sheet of an all-time 11. Charlie is mine and anyone who saw him wear the shirt would agree that Charlie Palmer was a larker. 

Thanks for reading. UTT.