Mel Charles 14/5/35 – 24/9/16.


The last question in my six decades quiz on Friday concerned Jacob Mellis, now of Bury, who became the first player ever to score at Rotherham’s New York Stadium when he netted for Barnsley in a pre season friendly in July 2012. Whatever happens at that ground from now on, no one will ever be able to take that honour away from Mellis and, although there may not be quite the same kudos involved, it’s a little bit the same with me and Mel Charles.

I have this mental picture of Mel scoring with a header at the Grange End, I suspect that’s just me taking a bit of artistic licence though, but what cannot be denied, because it’s there in the record books, is that Mel Charles scored the only goal in the first Cardiff City match I watched – Cardiff City 1 Northampton Town 0 on 5 October 1963 and because of that, Mel Charles has always been a special player to me.

It seems Mel Charles was never far away from Pele in the historic 1958 World Cup Quarter Final between Wales and Brazil - he certainly isn't in this photo.

It seems Mel Charles was never far away from Pele in the historic 1958 World Cup Quarter Final between Wales and Brazil – he certainly isn’t in this photo.

In saying that, a look at his record suggests that his career was in decline when I saw him for the first time (I have no memory of seeing him play before that afternoon because the first match I can remember watching on TV was the 1964 FA Cup Final between West Ham and Preston) and so, as is always the case with former City players of the era I’m talking about, there are other regular correspondents on here better placed to comment on his talents than me.

I’ve always thought of Mel’s place in the Charles brothers relationship as a bit of a Jackie to John’s Bobby, but, perhaps, that is to put him down somewhat. Certainly, Pele rated Mel highly enough to describe him as the best defender he faced in the 1958 World Cup Finals and this view is given more credibility by this story which confirms that the younger of the brothers was voted into a best of the tournament selection eleven.

I’ve searched unsuccessfully for a video of the great goal Mel scored for City in a derby game against the jacks at Ninian Park which, from memory, we won 5-2 (I know one exists because I was not at that game, but have seen the goal somewhere). so, in it’s absence, here’s a link in which Mel talks about his career.*



*I’m very grateful to the poster known as A Quiet Monkfish on the City messageboard I use who has located the goal about three minutes into this You Tube video




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9 Responses to Mel Charles 14/5/35 – 24/9/16.

  1. Russell says:

    Wow what a goal, RIP Mel Charles .

  2. chris whitehouse says:

    Hi Bob.
    love reading your column, my dad first took me down to watch Cardiff play arsenal in either 1960 or 61 and Mel was playing for the arsenal i think we lost 0- 3 but have never forgot watching a great player

  3. Dai Woosnam says:

    Isn’t the human brain the weirdest thing?
    I could have SWORN he’d beat even more men than that!
    But hey, it was still a truly great goal.
    And if I want, I don’t have to believe the real thing in the clip, if I don’t want to.
    When I go to my grave, I’ll still have him leaving as many defenders in his wake as Maradona !!

  4. Dai Woosnam says:

    I forgot to say something Paul.
    Far be it for me to question any statement you make about historical football events, but I think you will find that it indeed is the 23 year old Mel stuck like glue there to Pele.

    The others in the pic are Stuart Williams foreground, and Derrick Sullivan in the distance.

    The fact that he is stretching every sinew, has led to his facial expression getting distorted slightly.

  5. Dai Woosnam says:

    Oh dear…forget the typo on Williams.
    I meant to say something else. I wanted to comment on the comparison with the brothers Charlton.
    Yes, Mel was Jackie, in the sense that there was not a player in these islands at the time who would not play second fiddle to King John. But that is where it ended.

    Jackie and Bobby were both vastly different players: one an old-fashioned stopper, the other an attacking forward of immense flair.
    The thing about Mel and John however, was that they were actually very similar players: at home at centre forward, centre half, or wing-half.
    It was just that Mel did not have the consistency of his brother, plus was more injury prone. And although the gifts they shared were in the same areas of the game, John had them in overflowing measure, whereas his younger brother represented the Human Race against a footballing god of a brother !!

  6. The other Bob Wilson says:

    I can understand why you’d think that was what I meant Dai, but I was saying that Mel certainly wasn’t far away from Pele in the picture.

  7. Dai Woosna says:

    I am ROTFL …at my own stupidity.
    Thanks for your patience Paul with your very own remedial class member !

    Oh, and incidentally, I think I should have used “contorted” for distorted.

  8. Geoff Lewis says:

    Hi Paul,
    What a great player and that goal against his old club Swansea was sublime, his control with his head and foot, was something else. Did he not score 4 goals once, playing for Wales against Northern Ireland?
    I did mention in earlier post, when I lived in Sketty, Swansea, some years ago that I knew of him and it was so sad, that he fallen on hard times. RIP

  9. Lindsay Davies says:

    R.I.P. indeed. Very sad news. He once, at Ninian Park, signed my autograph book (which is more than I can say for Johnny Haynes and George Cohen, on the day that Jeff Hall died; bitter? Moi?). He was very gentle (a family trait?) and gracious. It was because of the Brothers Charles and Allchurch, Cliff Jones, Jack Kelsey, and my particular favourite, Terry Medwin, that I’ve never managed to hate the Swans. The Bluebirds to beat them? Yes, please. But, hate? Nah.


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