The magnificent footballer's sense of his own greatness did not diminish in his later years, nor did his awareness of the void which many former players faced on retiring from the sport. It was Carter who said players should be sent to the knacker's yard when they were finished, and shot like old horses.
I am reminded of a conversation with Carter in the early 1980s which presented an opportunity to test the authenticity of an anecdote from his Derby County days. Carter apparently disabused an admirer who praised him for the selflessness of his team work with Peter Doherty, his fellow inside- forward. He and Doherty would strive for individual glory, Carter informed the fan, and the headline would proclaim: 'Stamps Scores Hat-trick]' (Jackie Stamps was the Derby centre-forward.)
'I was arrogant and conceited,' Carter said. 'I wanted to be recognised as a better player than Peter, better even than Matthews. I couldn't have put up with being just an ordinary player.'
Mention of Sunderland produced a note of humility. Carter, idolised by the working men of his home town, did not disguise his emotions when recalling how they would scrape together the money to support the team, home and away, in the 1930s. 'Football meant so much to them, you see,' he said. 'It was all they had.' And tears ran down his cheeks.Reuse content