Charlie Hurley: Sunderland legend dies aged 87

Written by on 22nd April 2024

Charlie Hurley. Credit: Alamy

Sunderland have announced the death of their legendary former player Charlie Hurley at the age of 87. 

Hurley, a centre half, was dubbed ‘The King’ by Sunderland fans and joined the Black Cats in 1957 from Millwall. He was voted as ‘Sunderland’s Player of the Century’ on the club’s centenary in 1979.  

Kelvin Beattie, of Sunderland fan site Roker Report, said: “Hurley’s length of service coupled with his quality on the pitch makes him one of our all-time greats.

“My very first game was at Roker Park in 1966, I was eight years old and perched on the fence in the boys’ enclosure of the Roker End. A chant of ‘Charlie Charlie’ was reverberating around the stadium. 

“I looked up to see this colossus in red and white running towards me as he came trotting up for a corner. He won the ball causing mayhem from which John O’Hare scored. In the process he almost brought the goalposts down in a collision with the upright. 

“He required treatment but jumped up to wild acclaim from the stands, as if to say ‘nowt but a scratch.”  

Charlie Hurley is received by fans before the Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland. Credit: Alamy

During his 12-year spell with the Black Cats Hurley amassed over 400 appearances, a feat only ten players in Sunderland’s history have achieved. 

Gavin Henderson of Roker Report said: “He was, and still is, dearly loved by those who stood on the terraces at Roker Park and watched as he fought, headed and kicked everything in sight. 

“His playing style resonated with the people because he played for Sunderland that they would if they had the chance to do it themselves.” 

Flags at Sunderland’s ground, the Stadium of Light were flown at half mast on Thursday following the news.

Born in Cork in 1936, Hurley moved to Essex as a child with his family, joining Millwall at the age of 16 and later being voted as Millwall’s best-ever player in fanzine ‘The Lions Roar’ in 2007. 

Hurley also made 40 appearances for the Republic of Ireland, scoring two goals, 38 of these caps came whilst he was playing for Sunderland. 

After leaving Sunderland in 1969, Hurley played for Bolton before managing Reading for five years between 1972 and 1977. 

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