A bit of football history was made in south-east London half a century ago when Charlton Athletic’s Keith Peacock became the first ever substitute.

It may seem virtually impossible to believe now with Premier League squads naming seven players on the bench, but before August 1965 there was no such thing as a sub.

If a serious injury occurred then the player’s team would end up a man down through no fault of their own, prompting the then radical suggestion of having a back up option to finally become reality.

Peacock, then aged just 20, had no idea at the time he was about to book his name in the record books when then Charlton boss Bob Stokoe named him as the reserve option ahead of the opening game of the season at Bolton Wanderers on 21 August 1965.

He recalls: “The manager was Bob Stokoe. He told me about an hour-and-a-quarter before kick-off and I was so disappointed because I expected to play as my name was in the programme.

“It was sheer disappointment and the thought of sitting there on the sidelines fully kitted out was so hard to try.

“Don’t forget at that time substitutes were only going to be allowed for injuries and people didn’t come off very easily in those days.

“You had to have a broken leg or a 12 inch gash on your head and even then it wasn’t guaranteed, so you are thinking ‘It isn’t very likely I’m going to get on here’.

“But then it happened.”

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And it happened a lot quicker than anyone expected as stopper John Hewie was forced to make way after just 11 minutes after suffering an injury.

Peacock explains: “The goalkeeper got injured and the next thing I know I’m on, although thankfully not in goal!

“We lost 4-2 so I was disappointed about that, but I didn’t realise I had done anything special until I saw a small report mentioning I was the first every substitute in the Manchester football results paper that evening.

“As each year has gone past and we’ve gone from no substitutes to one to two and now seven nowadays it is hard for the younger generation to think about games without subs.”

A regular question on TV game shows and pub quizzes, Peacock admits it is an piece of history which he is still asked about today.

He said: “It has become more of a landmark and celebrated. I’ve been asked a lot of times about it over the last 20 years compared to the first 30.

“I never get fed up of telling the story, although it is a strange one that I became renowned for it because I played nearly 600 games for the club.

“Yet the reason I’m probably more known is the question about being the first ever substitute.”

But it isn’t just the substitute feat which Peacock is remembered most for in SE7 after representing the club an incredible 532 times during a 17-year spell as a player, with only Sam Bartram boasting more appearances for the Addicks.

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Peacock takes caretaker control of the Addicks for their third round FA Cup tie at Spurs in 2011

Asked to describe the highlights from his time wearing the famous red and white, Peacock pauses briefly before answering: “There is nothing quite like your home debut.

“My initial debut came in front of 40,000 at Roker Park with Brian Clough playing for Sunderland and that will always be remembered, but my home debut was against Luton Town in 1962 and I remember scoring that day so that always stays in your memory.

“Also as a player there was a special game against Leicester City when we 4-0 down in the League Cup and I was only 17.

“Gordon Banks was playing for them and we drew 4-4 with me scoring a couple of goals that day before we went on to beat them in a replay.”

Peacock went on to enjoy a spell as Gillingham manager in the late 1980s but it was only a brief spell away from his beloved Addicks before he returned in a coaching capacity in 1991.

“There are so many highlights on the playing side but my abiding memory is of the play-off final win at Wembley over Sunderland in 1998 sitting on the bench with Curbs,” he explained.

“It was the most amazing match so from a management side of things that would be the one that stands out.”

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