Matt Wright reports
Charlton have been saddened to learn of the death of the club’s second oldest surviving player, Tony Pawson, who passed away on Thursday. The former Addicks forward was 91.
The Chertsey-born player only represented the Addicks twice, notably netting a winning goal and creating two more on his debut, but, in the words of club historian Colin Cameron, he was ‘an amazing man who led an absolutely astounding life”.
Once labelled ‘the amateur Stanley Matthews’, the 15-year-old Oxford University student smashed 237 runs for a Public Schools Combined side on his first cricketing appearance at Lords, and won the World Fly-Fishing Championship in 1985.
Indeed, it was for his services to angling that Pawson was honoured with an OBE in 1998, and he also once pulled Labour MP - and non-swimmer - John Golding to safety when their fishing boat sank in April 1985.
Amazingly, Golding had the opportunity to immediately repay the debt when Pawson slipped and was knocked unconscious as they reached shore, allowing Golding to pull him to safety.
A man of many talents, he netted a winner on his Charlton debut, aged 30, against Tottenham Hotspur on Boxing Day 1951, finding the net in the 86th minute to ensure a 3-2 victory after the Addicks had trailed 2-0 in the first half.
Indeed, it was Spurs’ first league defeat against London opposition for 27 matches, but Pawson would play just once more for the club, against Burnley the following season in April 1953.
In an interview with the Valley Review in May 2004, Pawson explained that former Charlton manager Jimmy Seed had spotted him when the club trained one day at the sports ground of Reed International Paper Group, where he worked.
“He asked me if I fancied playing, and I agreed to turn out for them on the odd occasion – thinking he meant reserve games – if he could get me tickets for their First Division match with Tottenham at The Valley on Christmas Day,” said Tony.
“He said he could do that as long as I played for the first team in the following day’s game between the two sides on Boxing Day.
“I couldn’t believe it and I ended up actually spending most of Christmas Day running up the hill near my house trying to get fit, as Charlton lost 3-0 to Spurs.”
Before the game, Seed told Pawson to hit all his corners to the far post –and to ‘have a whisky’ for his nerves.
After the successful debut, Seed tried to sign Pawson, but having lost most of his youth to the Second World War and since graduated from Oxford University, with football wages not very high at the time, he wasn’t keen.
A batsman for Kent Cricket Club, Pawson played 69 first-class matches, mostly for Kent and Oxford University, scoring seven hundreds.
Pawson, who served in the 6th Armoured Division of the Rifle Brigade, advancing to the position of Major, represented MCC against South Africa alongside Denis Compton, and later became a cricket correspondent for the Observer.
He also wrote 10 books, including the centenary history of the FA Cup, and was chairman of the Cricket Writers' Club in 1980 and 1981.
Charlton’s oldest surviving former player is 1946 F Cup finalist Arthur Turner, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday on January 22nd.