Charlie Paynter was born in Swindon in 1879. When he was a child his family moved to Plaistow. He left Grange School at the age of 14 and started an apprenticeship as an electrician at the City of London Electric Light Company.
He played for Victoria Swifts and West Norwood but while still a teenager he developed an interest in physiotherapy and helped Tom Robinson who worked as a trainer at the Memorial Grounds.
As Brian Belton pointed out in his book, The Lads of 1923 (2006): "From an early age Payner was an all-round sportsman and when the home of Thames Ironworks FC, the Memorial Grounds, was opened in 1897 he began to spend most of his free time there, competing in athletic events and coaching."
Paynter gave up his career as an electrician when he was offered a contract to join West Ham United at the beginning of the 1900-01 season. However, he never played for the first-team and in a match against Woolwich Arsenal he sustained a knee injury which ended his career. The club now appointed him reserve-team trainer.
Syd King promoted Paynter to first-team trainer when Tom Robinson retired in 1911. The two men developed a very good partnership. According to Jimmy Ruffell, it was trainer Charlie Paynter who decided on the team's tactics: "Syd King was a good manager. But he left a lot of the day-to-day stuff to our trainer Charlie Paynter. It was Charlie that most of us talked to about anything. Syd King was more about doing deals to get players to play for West Ham."
Ruffell also pointed out that Paynter talked a great deal to George Kay and Jack Tresadern about tactics. "A lot of the time we, the players, would decide what we were going to do. George and Jack kept an eye on other players and came up with ways of playing them. But anything anyone had to say Charlie Paynter chatted about."
West Ham did very well in the 1926-27 season. This included a 7-0 victory over Arsenal and two 5-1 wins against Aston Villa. At the end of the season they were in 6th place scoring an impressive 86 goals.
The 1927-28 season was a great disappointment with West Ham finishing in 17th place. The forwards remained in good form but the 81 goals scored was cancelled out by 88 against.
West Ham's defensive problems were not sorted out and in the 1931-32 season they finished in bottom place with only 31 points and were relegated to the Second Division. That season the Hammers conceded 107 goals.
At a board meeting on 7th November, 1932, Syd King insulted one of the West Ham directors. At an emergency board meeting the following night, it was decided that King had been drunk and insubordinate and that he should be "suspended for three calendar months from November, 9, 1932, without salary". Charlie Paynter became the temporary manager.
At another board meeting on 3rd January, 1933, doubts were expressed about King's honesty in the day-to-day business of running the club. It was decided that King should be sacked from the post of manager. However, he was granted an ex-gratia payment of £3 per week. King was devastated by the news and a few weeks later he committed suicide by drinking a corrosive liquid.
Paynter did not have a very good start to his managerial career and West Ham came close to being relegated to the Third Division in the 1932-33 season. Paynter stablized the team and with the development of players like John Morton, Stan Foxall, James Marshall and Len Goulden, West Ham finished in 7th (1933-34), 3rd (1934-35), 4th (1935-36), 6th (1936-37), 9th (1937-38) and 11th (1938-39).
Paynter remained the manager of West Ham United until 1950.