James Charlton (1995-2022)

Quaker Hat | Love Heart | Football | Referee Whistle

Blog post by Shaun Campbell (3 minute read)

Remembering James Charlton

On Wednesday 16th February 2022, I attended the funeral at St Augustine’s Church, Darlington, of James Charlton, who passed away aged only 26. James was a pillar of the community, and for one so young, that says a lot!

I was also honoured to be asked to be part of the team of musicians who came together to play and sing the hymns for the service.

James was a remarkable young man who did so much for the community, particularly for Darlington Football Club. In 2012, Darlington FC went into administration and at that time, I was a member of the rescue group that eventually got the team out of their dire situation. I can remember all too well, the huge effort that James put in as a young volunteer to help raise much needed cash for the club. It was a sterling effort in every sense of the word!

I came to learn so much more about James when Peter Barron read out his eulogy and it was at that moment when I realised why there was a person present wearing an FA Referee top.

Meeting the referee

Following the funeral, I went to the wake in the parish centre and introduced myself to the person wearing the said referee top – his name was Charles Stephenson. I introduced myself to him and following an initial chat about James, football etc, he was shocked to realise that I was ’The Wharton guy’ (a term often applied to me for some reason). Charles went on to say that he wears an Arthur Wharton T shirt and was very interested in the work we do as a Foundation.  Upon realising that the Foundation was only a short 5 minute drive away, Charles was extremely keen to visit, and so, we took him there and hosted him.

The Foundation were very proud to be able to add a tribute to James next to our recently installed Darlington Football Club Quaker crest.

The Quakers mural and James Charlton tribute – on the wall of the Arthur Wharton Foundation

Below, is a written piece we received from Charles, informing us of how he knew James and the special regard that he had for him.

Friend of James’s – Charles Stephenson

I first met James around 5 years ago in London at the Camden and Islington Youth Football League Market Road. As a well-seasoned referee on the league for last 10 years I was gob smacked to see a young referee full of beans and on the ball. Always immaculately dressed for the occasion, I as well as the kids thought James was a professional referee from up north who just came down to referee a few games in between lectures as he was a full-time student.

Back to Darlington to say goodbye

Little did I know 5 years later the impact James would leave behind as well as the long-lasting impact on the league and myself as a referee. Over 20 years ago I left London as a spring chicken at 17 on a train to Darlington as I had signed up to join the British Army. So coming back to say my final goodbye to Darlington’s’ local superhero was an absolute pleasure. I had the opportunity to meet members of the community that spoke highly of James. Meeting the referee that trained James when he was 15 was wonderful.

Arthur Wharton t-shirt

Also had the pleasure of meeting Shaun Campbell, from the Arthur Wharton Foundation. Shaun, kindly took time out of his busy schedule to give me a guided tour of the Foundation’s HQ, celebrating a true iconic sportsman. Coincidently I own an Arthur Wharton t-shirt which I wear proudly! It was great to meet Shaun and Danny from the Foundation, and I was so impressed with the great work they are doing to ensure Arthur’s legacy is known worldwide.

Regards, Charles Stephenson

A proud supporter of the Arthur Wharton Foundation.

A day of celebration and remembrance

From everyone at the Arthur Wharton Foundation, our love and thoughts are with James’s family, friends, and colleagues.

James Charlton (1995-2022)

One thought on “James Charlton (1995-2022)

  1. I have known James Charlton since he was at Nursery school with my son ( also James) and can only echo all the wonderful tributes that have been made.
    I have been (likeJames Charlton) a Quakers fan all my life and remember being one of the first proud owners of an Arthur Wharton shirt many years ago.
    Having known Shaun since he started the foundation, it’s incredible how it has grown under his guidance to become globally recognised, not just in soccer, but also with those seeking fairness and fighting against racism.
    It was a pleasure to meet Charles, one of James’s fellow referees, who had made the long pilgrimage from Camden and Islington to pay his respects to a truly special person.

Leave a Reply