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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.
(1) Brian Belton, The Lads of 1923 (2006)
Paynter was to have a long association with West Ham and King. Charlie, who was six years younger than King, was brought to London when his family moved to the capital. By the age of 12 he was a fully-fledged East Ender living and going to school in Plaistow. 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. Such was his devotion that his apprenticeship as an electrician was cancelled (something of a scandalous event at the time) but he responded by developing his skills in athletics and knowledge of the arts of coaching.
(2) East Ham Echo (13th April 1923)
Whilst doing your ordinary training, you had, however, always played football, and must have been thought well of to have come under the notice of West Ham's able and discerning secretary-manager, Mr Syd King. In the August of 1901 you played in a trial game, I believe, and then signed amateur forms, whilst practically at the same time also signing for West Norwood, the then crack amateur side. You deputised that season for the "great Tommy Fitchie" as he was known, in Norwood's English Cup-tie, and you performed well, too, from all accounts.
They badly wanted you to play for them regularly, but the lure of the Memorial Grounds was too strong on you, for you still had your "stable" of runners and cyclists to look after. Later in the season, when the evenings drew in, one saw you helping Abe Morris, the then West Ham trainer, in his work, and all after your own day's training, which just showed your love of the work.
Once again it will be seen, in football, as in other sports, you preferred to have something to do with the training of the players instead of indulging in the game yourself. Was it because a football trainer's job is a remunerative one, and there is a life berth if one, like yourself, proves capable, or was it rather the love of training others that kept you off the track and the green square? Anyway, your directors eventually saw your keenness for the position, and you were offered the assistant trainership under Jack Ratcliffe, who followed Abe Morris, and your last season 1903-04, on the old ground, you spent under Will Johnson, who had trained two teams to win the English Cup - the Spurs and Sheffield Wednesday.
It was in the season 1904-05 that West Ham trekked to Boleyn Castle, and you became associated in work with, although you had known him for years previously with - to use your own words - "the dearest and kindliest old soul in sport," Tommy Robinson, who was appointed trainer. It is quite true I mentioned a few weeks back that he "fathered" you, and I am delighted to see that you wholeheartedly endorse that statement. You were together for eight years, and, during that time, as I have heard you say, you "learned to love the old-chap as much as he loved his cigar." It is only human that there should be times when one is dissatisfied and feel that they would like to do better themselves. But your affection for the West Ham Club, its kindly officials, and Tommy Robinson, always won you over, and so you remained to become what you are today - trainer of the final Cup team! And you have also had the pleasure of seeing two of your men, Victor Watson and Jack Tresadern, for the second time in one year, chosen to represent England in international matches, although he could not be spared because of the Cup-tie on the first occasion.
When Tommy retired at the end of the season 1911-12, your true sporting spirit obtained its proper reward. You were appointed first team trainer, and now you have reached the last hurdle in another great ambition - to train a team to win the Cup, and what is equally important - a team that may gain promotion. May these ideals both be realised. You and your directors richly deserve all the blue ribbons of the football field. The sporting fraternity locally, and in London and the South of England generally believe fervently that success will be yours all the way.
(3) Jimmy Ruffell, interviewed by Brian Belton in 1973.
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. But he was good at that. He got us to the Cup final and got West Ham promoted in 1923 so you can't ask for much more than that can you...
A lot of the time we, the players, would decide what we were going to do. George (Kay) and Jack (Tresadern) kept an eye on other players and came up with ways of playing them. But anything anyone had to say Charlie Paynter chatted about. That's how it was done then, by the team, which included the trainer and manager; but it was the player's job to play... that's what you got paid for. And then, if things didn't go well it was down to the players. There wasn't always a set plan but you knew what was expected.
Syd King was a Mason, I think a few of the West Ham board were. He played a bit of golf and he liked a drink. A lot of people did. But like Paynter some of the players were Temperance or teetotal.