Clive Whitehead’s Contribution to the Commemoration Day for the late Prof. Richard Aldrich of the Institute of Education, The University of London.

Kindly supplied by Prof. Gary McCulloch, Brian Simon Chair in the History of Education, The Institute of Education, University College London
Unfortunately,I cannot be with you in person today at Richard’s Day of Remembrance, but I am very grateful to my very long-time colleague and close family friend Roy Lowe, for agreeing to read my comments to you. I would like to share with you some of my fondest memories of my very special friend, and how that friendship came about. I also want to convey a deeply personal picture of Richard. We all know that he was an academic colleague who could match it with the most erudite and august in his chosen profession, but I shall always cherish the fact that at heart, he always remained a young boy from the suburbs of south London. I say this because despite living most of my adult life first in New Zealand and latterly in Australia, I too was shaped as a young boy growing up in Croydon by much the same experiences. I have no doubt that the undying basis of our friendship was forged back in the years immediately after the end of the second world war although we had no idea at the time that in later life our paths would cross and that we would forge such a lasting and deeply felt friendship.

Please bear with me for a few moments while I indulge in some details about my own love of Charlton Athletic. I do so because it shaped my subsequent friendship with Richard.

For me it all started back on Saturday 24th April 1947 when Charlton Athletic beat Burnley 1-0 to win the FA Cup for the first and only time in the club’s history. As an eight-year-old I heard the radio commentary on the game. I had no idea who Charlton were. My earliest soccer experiences involved watching nearby Crystal Palace who spent most of their time immediately after the war avoiding re-election to the old Third Division South league. I asked my father who Charlton were,and he told me that they were a south London club within travelling distance of where we lived. I used my powers of persuasion as an only child and Dad and I duly attended Charlton’s first home game of the 1947-48 season. I still recall it as if it was yesterday. It was a beautiful late August day the pitch was a lovely swath of green and there was a crowd in excess of 35,000 in attendance. As was common practice in those days I sat on the crush barrier so that I could see. When Charlton ran out onto the pitch in their bright red shirts, the huge crowd roared their delight and at that point in time my life changed. I think I fell in love for the first time and joined ‘the tribe’. Henceforth I belonged at the Valley and regularly made the trip across south London with my red and white scarf and a large rattle given to me by my uncle who had served in the ARP during the war. I steadfastly followed Charlton week by week until the end of the 1951-52 season. Unknown to me, Richard did likewise. In late 1951 my world was turned upside down when my parents told me that we were going to emigrate to Christchurch, New Zealand. My first response to the news was “But I won’t be able to watch Charlton!” By then I had already decided that I wanted to play for Charlton when I was older but,instead I was carted off to what seemed like the ends of the
earth. As a consequence I followed Charlton’s fortunes even more avidly from afar. I think my love of Charlton in exile was my way of keeping my English identity alive. For many years I thought I was the only Charlton supporter in New Zealand. I certainly never met another. In 1976 I obtained an academic appointment at the University of Western Australia in Perth and thereafter made regular visits to the UK on study leaves. I think it was in 1991 that I attended a conference in Boston, Mass. and met Roy Lowe, an equally ardent and lifelong supporter of West Bromwich Albion, who stands before you today. He knew Richard and when he returned to the UK,he facetiously told Richard that he had met the ‘other’ Charlton supporter in this world and thought it would be good if we met each other. We did so one afternoon in the lounge of the London Institute of Education. I think we both thought it would be all over inside an hour. Instead the meeting lasted almost four hours from memory. I know Richard arrived home in Sevenoaks way beyond the time he was expected. I guess we just clicked! We started with the usual pleasantries –I was after all an unknown Aussie and Richard was an English gentleman! Within a couple of minutes, Richard later told me, I cut across our introductory remarks and said “Lets talk about Charlton” and talk we did. It was the first time in my adult life that I had met another totally committed Charlton supporter. We shared so many common boyhood memories of great players and memorable matches, and we also spoke a common language. When we parted and I walked back to Hughes Parry Hall where I was staying it felt almost surreal. I am told that it is rare to meet a soul mate in later life but that is what happened. Thanks Roy. Bringing us together was one of the best things you have ever done in your life. Obviously,our friendship blossomed from there and it has always been a source of great satisfaction to me that my wife and our three adult children all got to know Richard and Averil as ‘family’.

I have no doubt that there will be many tributes paid today to Richard with respect to his academic achievements but for me I shall always remember him first and foremost standing on his feet with arms raised, loudly shouting approval, with a great grin on his face as Charlton scored a goal at the Valley. I often said to him at such times, “If only your students could see their illustrious professor now”. Like me, he was always a south London boy at heart,and we belonged for life to the faithful ‘Addicks’ whatever fates might befall the club. He had a saying that I shall always remember. When a player had a good game,he would say so and so ‘put himself about’. That meant that he had covered a lot of ground, especially in midfield. It was so south Londonish idiom. Following Charlton has always been a roller coaster experience, up one minute and down the next, but Richard never faltered in his support. We had bothknown the days in childhood when Charlton were a match for any club in the land and I guess we always hoped that those days would eventually return. I still do. I think we complimented each other. Richard would often be downhearted after a loss and as we walked back to the car after a game,I would frequently have to raise his spirits by saying that there would be another game next week. By the following Saturday he was usually back to normal and ever hopeful. I shall also always remember with great fondness our fish and chip suppers together after a game; a pint or two and Sunday lunch in various Sevenoaks pubs, sitting in the beautiful garden at Richard’s home drinking afternoon tea and watching high flying aircraft making white vapour trails in the clearblue summer sky, and the day I emerged for breakfast to be told by Averil that Princess Diana had been killed in a motorcar accident in Paris. The loving welcome that I always received at Sevenoaks station from both Richard and Averil when I returned to London onyet another study leave are also priceless memories.

I have deliberately focussed on our mutual love of a south London football club,but I wouldn’t wish you to think that that was the only aspect of our friendship. We both had a high respect foreach other’s scholarship and I still recall the more-or less-penultimate copy of Richard’s history of the London Institute landing on my desk with a request that I cast my critical eye over it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have taken up much of your time highlighting how we became ‘mates’, a term held in great esteem in both Australia and New Zealand. Mateship is a term which was given a unique quality ‘down under’ by the sacrifices made by ANZAC troops at Gallipoli and in France in the first world war. In essence, one would give one’s life to save one’s mate in time of war. When I turned 70 some six years ago,I received a card from Richard which said it all. He congratulated me on reaching 70 and said that if he could choose anyone to be with at a time when his life was in danger, as in war, it would be me. It was a most humbling moment in my life and I readily admit that it brought tears to my eyes.

I think it is a most fitting end to Richard’s life that his ashes have been placed at the Valley. I guess he will never again miss a home match. Unfortunately,I was unable to attend Richard’s funeral late last year but sometime in the future I will make my way to the Valley on a quiet weekday to say my own special personal goodbye.

Throughout our long friendship we regularly emailed each other. In one of our last exchanges I mentioned my need to use a catheter at night. He emailed back saying that when he went into hospital not long before he died, he too had to have a catheter. As the nurse attended to him,he said “I thought of you!”

Thank you, Gary ,for the opportunity to speak about my friendship with Richard, and Roy for speaking today on my behalf. To paraphrase what I said when Richard died; at the going down of the sun and in the morning, I will always remember him with love and gratitude. I was so fortunate to travel some part of life’s journey alongside him. As we always signed off our emails to each other – Charlton forever!

Clive’s Schooldays

Clive’s Early Schooldays in England – A paper given by him from his private collection to Tom O’Donoghue

Read About Clive’s School Days Here

Tributes to Clive

Tributes from friends and colleagues of Clives

Read Tributes Left For Clive Here

Clive’s contributions to Richard Aldrich

Clive Whitehead’s Contribution to the Commemoration Day for the late Prof. Richard Aldrich of the Institute of Education, The University of London.

Read Clive’s Contribution Here

Selected publications of Clive Whitehead

A selection of publications from Clive in Academic Papers and Book Chapters

Find Clive’s Publications Here

Special issue papers in honour of Clive

A short selection of papers issued in honour of Clive

Read Special Issue Papers Here