Sunday, December 21, 2014

21 December 1957 - A Summers Day In December

On 21 December 1957, Charlton Athletic staged a record-setting comeback to beat Bill Shankly's Huddersfield Town in a Second Division match at the Valley.

The hosts got off to a difficult start when center half Derek Ufton went off injured in the 17th minute. The rules at the time did not allow for substitutes, so Charlton had to play on with only 10 men. Visiting Huddersfield took the advantage and were up 2-0 by halftime.

At the half, Charlton left winger Johnny Summers (pictured) moved to center forward. He also switched boots, throwing out his old ones for a new pair. The changes appeared to help, as, in the 48th minute, he scored to close the gap to 2-1. But Huddersfield responded and, by the 62nd minute, had extended their lead to 5-1. Then the momentum shifted. Within 19 minutes, Charlton were unbelievably in front 6-5, after four more goals from Summers and one from Buck Ryan.

Still, the drama had not ended. Huddersfield scored an 86th-minute equalizer, then, right before the whistle, Ryan powered the game-winner past the Huddersfield keeper. Charlton got the win, 7-6. It was the first and only time that an English league team scored 6 goals and lost.

After the match, Summers told reporters that he would hold on to those boots for the rest of his life. Sadly, he died five years later from leukemia. He was 32 years old.

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