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Stuart Leary - Thoughts and Memories

edited October 2014 in General Charlton
Born: 30/4/1933 Cape Town, South Africa.
Died: August 1988, body found at Table Mountain, South Africa on 23/8/88 after being missing for 5 days.
403 League and Cup appearances. 163 League and Cup goals. Charlton's highest league goalscorer with 153 goals.
Debut: Huddersfield Town Home 1/12/51. Final game: Liverpool Away 30/4/62.
England Under 23 international
381 appearances for Kent County Cricket Club. Over 16000 runs and 140 wickets.

Anyone old enough to have seen Stuart play for Charlton or Kent? Thoughts and memories
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Comments

  • Saw him play both cricket and football when I was a very young Addick .. t b h as a footballer he did not leave much of an impression other than that he was a 'deep lying' centre forward, a number 10 rather than a 9 in the days before over analysis of players and positions .. as a cricketer, Kent v Surrey when the game was always played at the Rectory Field Blackheath .. again, the main talking point was that he was also a CAFC player. In those days, dual sports professionals were not that unusual
  • I remember seeing him play and always liked him. I think I was influenced by Dad who would tell everyone he was the most underrated player in the side. Also remember his cricketing days. I seem to recall that he scored a rapid and mainly aerial 50 in one of the annual Kent v Surrey games played at the Rectory Field.
  • Remember him scoring direct from a corner when curling the ball was virtually unheard of. Wasn't it his commitment to cricket, when the start of the football season the reason was brought forward, that was the reason he was moved on? The plus side, it was this that gave Keith Peacock his chance in the side, if memory serves me right.
  • Class oozed from Stuart Leary, silky player, both in football and cricket. Despite being a 'deep lying centre forward' a great scoring record. Always had 'time on the ball'. And always had time for chat and autographs in the old stand bar after the game. See my previous comments on Stuart in previous discussions which included one of my most treasured memories,(I was behind this goal)....here it is again... Memories of watching the other Charlton trio playing crick et often at the Rectory field at Blackheath, Dartford etc ie Cowdrey ,(was on the Charlton board for a while) Ufton and Leary. Leary batted 4 or five, brilliant slip fielder and occasional spinner.

    It was never clear why he left Charlton, couldn't agree a contract with the Glikstens and I remember he went on 'strike' for a while and eventually moved to QPR when they were temporarily playing at the old White City with no clear ending...a sad end to a great career.
  • edited October 2014
    Saw him play but not for long enough to appreciate his legendary status but Johnny Summers, now he WAS my boyhood hero.
  • Leary was top goalscorer for Charlton in three different seasons (52/53,53/54 and 55/56) and his 153 league goals is unlikely to be broken for many, many years to come. Maybe not broken in many of our lifetimes.
  • According to the excellent Valiant 500 book by the late Colin Cameron, Leary was the best player he saw in a Charlton shirt.

    The book makes reference to his departure from the club to QPR (17,000 December 1962) where after the long and demanding Football and Cricket seasons plus the death of his friend Johnny Summers he asked the club for a holiday. Weeks before he went on a three month break to South Africa (August to November 62) he was told by the club to accept to their terms. These were reduced in stages from £40 to £27.
  • remember a game against Derby at the Baseball ground played in very muddy conditions when Leary scored the only goal with a shot that dribbled over the line and just avoided getting stuck in the mud. He scored many other better goals but I expect I remember that one as it was my first away game.
    He always seemed to have plenty of time on the ball and had a gentlemanly demeanor about him
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  • I'm too young to have seen him play for Charlton but I did see him play cricket for Kent and had his autograph in my now sadly lost childhood autograph book.
  • Always enjoyed watching him play, alongside John Summers and with Sam Lawrie on the right wing. Always played hard and always looking for the goal. Chatted with him at a charity cricket match, lovely fellow. One of my heroes as a kid.

  • A magician!
  • My childhood hero together with Eddie Firmani and Sid O'Lynn who also played cricket for Kent.
  • My Dad's favourite player. Did see him play, with Sam Lawrie on the right wing but can't recall him very well. (I was probably more interested in the sand pit.)
  • Class oozed from Stuart Leary, silky player, both in football and cricket. Despite being a 'deep lying centre forward' a great scoring record. Always had 'time on the ball'. And always had time for chat and autographs in the old stand bar after the game. See my previous comments on Stuart in previous discussions which included one of my most treasured memories,(I was behind this goal)....here it is again... Memories of watching the other Charlton trio playing crick et often at the Rectory field at Blackheath, Dartford etc ie Cowdrey ,(was on the Charlton board for a while) Ufton and Leary. Leary batted 4 or five, brilliant slip fielder and occasional spinner.

    It was never clear why he left Charlton, couldn't agree a contract with the Glikstens and I remember he went on 'strike' for a while and eventually moved to QPR when they were temporarily playing at the old White City with no clear ending...a sad end to a great career.

    His cricketing career below via Cricinfo

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/16509.html
  • Anyone attending games then might recall he used to get the occasional groans from the crowd when some of his passes during a game would end up in no mans land. This annoyed my dad who had to point out that it was the other players who were not reading the game like Leary, he was just too clever for his team-mates.
  • Narrowly missed him as a Charlton player as he was transferred to QPR some weeks before I was taken to The Valley for my first game.

    I saw him bat for Kent quite a few times though and would concur, particularly in the early to mid sixties, that he was not the most exciting batsman to watch generally working the ball away to leg for singles when he scored. In his defence though He often found himself wandering in at number five with only a few runs on the board and had a "shoring up" role to perform. I'm talking pre Denness and Luckhurst as regular openers. Lucky in fact would often come in at six or seven and help Stuart rebuild the innings. As others have said he was a brilliant close fielder most usually at leg slip and his leg spin was useful as a partnership breaker from time to time.

    He did manage to lead the six hit league one year in the very early days of the John Player league which was quite some achievement for a reputed defensive batsman.

    RIP Stuart. Those who saw you play football or cricket remember you with affection.
  • Quite simply the best Charlton player I have seen in 59 years of supporting The Lovely Red Boys!
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  • Quite simply the best Charlton player I have seen in 59 years of supporting The Lovely Red Boys!

    that's quite a claim .. better than Firmani ? .. Mendonca .. of course it's all a matter of errrrrrr opinion int'it
  • Saw the last few months of Leary and Sam Lawrie. To young to really appreciate his silky skills. It was a different world then!

    Seem to remember Stuart scoring by chesting the ball into the net from a corner?
  • He was the last of a breed. Probably as good a cricketer as he was a footballer.
  • Quite simply the best Charlton player I have seen in 59 years of supporting The Lovely Red Boys!

    that's quite a claim .. better than Firmani ? .. Mendonca .. of course it's all a matter of errrrrrr opinion int'it
    Well, Colin Cameron said the same thing.....also if you look in the Valiant 500 book, I believe there is a list (by vote) of the best ever player for Charlton.....Stuart was the favourite.
  • I would have to put Stuart very near the best player I saw for Charlton if not the best, he came over to play for Charlton and had 2 years national service here played for England at under 23 level and should have played for the England team, but the FA refused as he was born in South Africa.
    I am not sure who was the best player out of him and Eddie Firmani as a boy I liked Eddie better but we sold him at a young age
  • Certainly one of our greats.
  • Quite simply the best Charlton player I have seen in 59 years of supporting The Lovely Red Boys!

    that's quite a claim .. better than Firmani ? .. Mendonca .. of course it's all a matter of errrrrrr opinion int'it
    Well, Colin Cameron said the same thing.....also if you look in the Valiant 500 book, I believe there is a list (by vote) of the best ever player for Charlton.....Stuart was the favourite.
    as I wrote (a long way) above, his career at CAFC was virtually over by the time I was a regular Valleyite ..
  • Not too shabby as a cricketer either. He used to coach a South African friend of mine back in Cape Town.
  • I was lucky to see him play and clearly recall his raking cross-field passes (usually to Sammy Lawrie on the right wing) and the crowd "swooning" at his skill with prolonged applause. Once I recall him being closed in by 3 defenders on the by-line only to out fox them all by bringing his right foot around his left and toe punting a pass along the line to our left back. The crowd just gasped. Also saw him playing in an charity cricket match at Bexleyheath CC ground Park View Road Welling when he was hitting sixes over the football stand roof just for fun. "Stylish" describes him well with a talent few footballers had at the time and a great pleasure to watch.
  • edited December 2016
    In the first instance (early days of them playing together), Eddie probably just shaded Stuart....but it was after Eddie left us (for the first time), that Stuart took over the reigns and became the player he was really to be remembered for.
    John Hewie referred to him as The Master.....he was also known by some as The Clown Prince because of some of the amusing things he would get up to on the pitch.....he would get the fans in stitches on occasions. One of his favourites was at free kicks to hide the ball up the back of his shirt with his legs apart.....bunching up the front of the shirt in one hand which held the ball in place. The ref would be totally flummoxed as to where the ball had gone, looking around in vain, only for Stuart to release his shirt front and for the ball to drop at his feet, the ref would turn round and there was the ball, they never seemed to work out what had happened.......honestly he was a magician.
    Also thought to be the first player to run down to the corner flag with the ball to kill a bit of time (in England anyway)...oppo players used to wonder what the f he was up to until the penny dropped.
    Also seen him do hand stands with the ball between his feet at free kicks as well as on occasions intentionally scoring direct from corners, something unheard of at the time. If we were a couple of goals up with a few minutes to go he'd often showboat.....some of his reverse passes running at pace ( curling one leg around the back of the other) were pure genius and would go as much as 30 yards and land on a sixpence.
    Oh for another Stuart Leary......but they only come once in a lifetime.....sigh!
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