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Jimmy Armfield and Bobby Charlton on Blackpool against Manchester United

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25 Jan 2011 17:29:59

Jimmy Armfield and Bobby Charlton on Blackpool against Manchester United

When Manchester United face Blackpool on Tuesday night, it will be the first top-flight meeting of the teams for 40 years. United's last visit to Bloomfield Road was Blackpool's final game in the top tier until the start of this season and the 1-1 draw in May 1971 marked the final match of England great Jimmy Armfield. In black and white: Armfield played his last professional game against United back in 1971 STEVE CURRY asks Armfield and United icon Bobby Charlton - both now in their seventies - for their memories of a poignant afternoon... Sir Bobby Charlton It was a fitting finale to Jimmy's career and one I look back on with fondness. By then we had become firm friends because not only had we played in the same army sides when we were both doing national service, but we were pals from our appearances with England. Jimmy had not won his first cap when I became a regular in the side, but between 1961 and 1964 we were both usually in Alf Ramsey's team. Of course, in those days there were a lot more Lancashire derbies because clubs like Blackpool, Blackburn, Burnley, Manchester United, Preston, Bolton and Everton were all in the first division. At that time we were all earning the same wages, no matter who you played for, and there was a great camaraderie. By the time that final game between the clubs came around, Jimmy and I had become firm friends. He was a lovely man and was really Mr Blackpool, as many people still see him. There were some big names in the Blackpool side of that generation and, as a young player coming into the side, he was able to mix and play with his heroes Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen. He was one of the pioneering, overlapping full backs and operated down the same right flank as Matthews. West Ham were the first team to introduce a players' lounge, where both teams could mix and have a drink, and that later became common when we went to these derbies. There will be nobody prouder than Jimmy about Blackpool once again playing the top sides and there will be a lot of nostalgia in the air this evening. I'm pleased to say that our friendship is as strong now as it was when we played together. Jimmy has become one of the most respected match analysts on radio and, like me, he has stayed in touch with the game. He has always been a gentleman and a great model as a player and as a man. Jimmy Armfield I shall always remember that last game against United and I find it astonishing that the two teams have not met since then. This is a big occasion, a landmark for Blackpool. After I had been diagnosed with achronic knee problem, the consultant advised me not to carry on playingand I felt it was fitting that United were the opposition for my lastgame because Bobby would be there. Old pros: Charlton (left) and Armfield have remained good friends away from the field Born: Manchester, 1935. CAREER Blackpool: 626 appearances, 1954-1971. England: 43 caps (15 as captain), 1959-1966. Voted best right back at 1962 World Cup. Voted best right back in Europe in 1962, '63 and '64. Member of England's World Cup-winning squad in 1966 but didn't play after losing out to George Cohen. There were 30,000 in the ground for the farewell and both sides lined up to form a guard of honour as I ran out on the pitch. I recall posing for the photographers alongside Bobby. We earned a 1-1 draw in that game - a good result for us then, as it would be tonight. I don't recall being too emotional after the game, although I am quite a sensitive type. I was realistic enough to know nothing goes on forever. I had played until I was almost 36 and my routine has always revolved around Blackpool Football Club. On that last day, I can remember Tony Green scored our goal and that at the end all the fans came on to the pitch to say their farewells. Bobby and I have sustained our friendship over the years and, in fact, we were together very recently at a function staged by the Lancashire Partnership Against Crime, which I chair. It was a nostalgic get-together because I also invited Roger Hunt, Ian Callaghan and John Connelly, so we had five members of the World Cup squad from 1966. I'm just hoping I can meet up with Bobby on what I know will be an emotional night for Blackpool.  Charlie can be your boy for £14m! Ollie tells Reds to 'put up or shut up' in quest for Adam Why didn't you attack Dalglish? Angry Houllier hits out at Holloway over AdamAdam told to forget Liverpool move after Blackpool reject skipper's transfer requestBLACKPOOL FC


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