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.
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)