| 16.5°C Belfast

Jack Charlton gave us his time, that meant the world, say IRA bomb survivors


Walter Harrison and his son Graham Harrison

Walter Harrison and his son Graham Harrison

Walter Harrison and his son Graham Harrison

A father and son who survived the Shankill bomb have recalled memorable moments spent with Jack Charlton at Windsor Park.

Walter Harrison and his son Graham were invited as special guests for the World Cup qualifying match between Northern Ireland and the Republic in November 1993.

Less than a month previous they had both been badly injured in the IRA atrocity which killed nine innocent victims and one of the bombers.

Walter posted on Facebook yesterday about the post-match encounter he and his son enjoyed with big-hearted Charlton, a keen fisherman who was a regular visitor to Northern Ireland where he enjoyed fishing in waterways in counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Londonderry.

"Jack must have heard that we were upstairs and knew what happened," recalled Walter.

"George Best, Jimmy Greaves, Pat Jennings and many more stars were there; Jack came over to talk to us.

"Paul McGrath of Manchester United came over and said to Jack that the coach was going and they would miss the plane.

"Jack said, 'I'm talking to Graham and his dad', he told him to go without him. He then talked for another five minutes and then went on."

He added: "Respect from my son and I.

"A true gentleman."

Graham Harrison added: "RIP Big Jack. Gentleman."

Walter later told his followers: "He (Jack) really said 'f**k off, go without me. The coach driver waited."

Meanwhile Jackie Fullerton, who commentated on some of his most memorable games in charge of the Republic of Ireland, said he was a "big man with a big heart".

But he also recalled a expletive-laden fall-out the pair had during one World Cup which the big man healed, much to his surprise.

Jackie was on the commentating team for the BBC during the 1994 World Cup in the United States where Charlton had taken the Republic to their second successive finals.

"When we arrived in America and myself and my producer, Terry Smyth, arrived for our first training session, he came over and gave me a big hug," recalled Jackie.

"But we had camera problems and we arrived late for one of the press conferences a few days later and I think the pressure was obviously getting to him.

"As he came out afterwards I asked him if I could have a word, I wasn't looking for him I was looking for Andy Townsend who was the captain.

"Well Jack let loose this tirade, f-ing and b-ing, and I'm standing there thinking, 'This is my big pal Jack?'

"Jack stormed off and his assistant said, 'Where did that come? I thought you and he were pals', I said, 'So did I'.

"He said to come down to the team hotel and he would get it sorted out, which he duly did.

"So that evening there was a press reception and Jack was due to be there and we arrived just as Jack was coming out and from about 20 yards, he shouted 'Jackie!' and I wondered what I had done now?

"I went over and lo and behold the big man said he was bang out of order that morning shouting at me but I had just got him at a bad time.

"I thought, what a big man, he didn't have to apologise to me, a wee media man from Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph