A True Charlton Legend

Paul Baker takes a look at the early contributions of Eddie Marshall, a club legend whose name may not be familiar to most Addicks, but played a hugely important part in the formation of Charlton and beyond

First published in Valley Review on August 21st 2018

June 9th 1905 is an important date known by most Charlton supporters as the date when the club was formed by a group of 15 and 16-year-old youngsters. One of those was Edwin (“Eddie”) William Marshall who took an active part in the proceedings and was elected vice-captain. Eddie was regarded as the real founder of the Charlton club and remained a Charlton stalwart up to 1921. He was a great centre-half (“pivot” in those days) and it was around him that Charlton Athletic were built. Eddie was involved in almost all matches played before World War 1.

Charlton’s Earliest Confirmed Match

The first game known to have been played by Charlton was a friendly played on 11th November 1905 at North Woolwich against Victoria United and resulted in an easy 8-0 win, with Eddie at centre-half. In the following season Charlton entered league football for the first time in the guise of the Lewisham League Division III, but the first match played that season was a friendly against Wesley United on 1st September 1906 at Siemens’ Meadow which resulted in another easy win, by 6-1. This was Charlton’s first match of the season and has sometimes been erroneously identified as their first-ever match.

Charlton’s First League Match

The first league match played by Charlton was on 22nd September 1906 at Nunhead against Nunhead Swifts Reserves. William (“Porky”) Bonner had the distinction of scoring Charlton’s first-ever league goal, but Eddie Marshall soon scored from a corner to record his first goal for the club. Charlton went on to win the match 6-1 and eventually finished the season as champions by winning 17 and drawing 1 match out of 18. The medal won by Marshall this season is one of Charlton Museum’s most treasured items and was also featured in the 2015/16 programme v QPR.

Serious Injury

In 1907/8 Charlton entered a Cup competition for the first time – the Woolwich Cup. Unfortunately Charlton fell at the first hurdle, being beaten 3-0 by Landsdowne at Manor Farm, Shooters Hill. This defeat was partly due to the fact that Eddie Marshall fractured his wrist after only 10 minutes, and the injury kept him out of the team for nearly two months. This was the only serious injury he sustained in his playing career. It is interesting to note that Charlton won 17 successive matches, in all competitions, once Eddie Marshall resumed playing on December 7th.

First Charlton Player Sent Off

On 8th October 1910 at Pound Park before 212 supporters, Charlton defeated Prices Athletic 3-2 . The Charlton match report in the KI fails to mention that the referee had to send two men off the field, viz. the centre-half of Charlton [Eddie Marshall] and centre-forward of Price’s. Thus Eddie Marshall became the first Charlton player known to have been sent off.

Charlton’s Finest Goal?

Eddie Marshall may well have scored Charlton’s finest-ever goal, although there is obviously no video footage! Charlton beat Tufnell Park by 7-0 in 1913/14. The KI report states that, “Marshall’s goal was a particularly brilliant effort, and was quite the best scored for Charlton this season. He secured the ball on his own goal-line, and, running at top speed, beat no fewer than seven Tufnell players before finishing with a terrific shot from thirty yards range that burst the net, and finally came to rest some forty yards behind the goal. It was a phenomenal effort, and quite deserved the vociferous applause afforded it.”

First FA Cup and FA Amateur Cup Matches

Charlton closed down in 1914/15 due to the difficulty of raising a team, caused by the war, but Charlton played their first matches in the FA Cup – losing to Dartford after a replay, and the FA Amateur Cup – losing to Oxford City, in both of which Eddie played.

Charlton reformed in January 1918 under the captaincy of Eddie Marshall and played a number of matches for charity during 1918 and 1919. Charlton had no ground at this time so some of the home matches were played at the Rectory Field, Blackheath and the remainder at Charlton Park. It was reported that £800 had been raised for War charities and Marshall was presented for a medal in recognition of the charitable work:

Eddie was a regular member of the first team, playing in the Kent League, during 1919/20 and was a member of the team that won the Woolwich War Memorial Hospital Cup by beating the Royal Army Service Corps 7-0 at the Valley in May 1920.

In the summer of 1920, Charlton took the decision to become a professional club. Marshall and many of the club’s players were discouraged by the decision, but they remained loyal and continued to give of their best to the club they founded and cherished. Although Eddie did not feature for the first team after this, he continued to play for the reserve team in 1920/1 and 1921/2. His last appearance at the Valley is believed to be against Millwall Reserves in April 1922, and his last match for the club was an away fixture against Swindon Town reserves in May 1922.

Gold Medal

Eddie was presented with a gold medal, dated June 30, 1921, with an inscription reading: “Charlton Athletic, Presented to E. Marshall for long and devoted service.” Unfortunately the whereabouts of this medal is now unknown.

Eddie Marshall’s contribution to our great club’s early years was immense and he deserves wider recognition. He died on 27th April 1962 in Woolwich, aged 72.

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