Few footballing fables can match the remarkable story that unfolded at The Valley when Charlton Athletic took on Huddersfield Town in a Division Two game in 1957. Apologies for the cliché, but the words ‘Christmas’ and ‘miracle’ are impossible to resist trotting out.
Things started badly for the home team when centre-half and captain Derek Ufton (pictured above) dislocated his shoulder after 17 minutes. With no substitutes allowed. Charlton had to carry on with 10 men.
At half time, they were 2-0 down and, despite pulling a goal back just after the restart, fell further behind as three more goals took the visitors into an apparently unassailable 5-1 lead with just 28 minutes remaining.
Many of the home fans in the 12,535 crowd had had enough, and left – perhaps picking up some last-minute Christmas shopping before going home to kick the cat. It was not a wise move (leaving early, or kicking the cat).
Within two minutes of Huddersfield’s fifth goal, Charlton pulled it back to 3-5 with a brace of quick-fire goals from Buck Ryan and Johnny Summers. Amazingly, Summers then added another three in the subsequent eight minutes to give Charlton a 6-5 lead. But the story was not over.
With four minutes to go, Stan Howard equalised for the Terriers – and then, incredibly, with just seconds remaining, than man Ryan popped up again for the Addicks to secure an incredible 7-6 victory.
From 1-5 down to 7-6 winners in the space of just half-an-hour. Truly, truly astonishing.