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Fifty years since Keith Peacock became the first Football League substitute

21 August 2015

On this day in 1965 Charlton Athletic’s Keith Peacock became the first substitute to appear in a Football League match.

The 20-year-old replaced injured Addicks goalkeeper Mike Rose after just 11 minutes of a match against Bolton Wanderers, stepping onto the pitch and into the history books.

Peacock spent his entire professional career with the south-east London outfit, making more than 500 appearances for Charlton, but he will always be remembered by the wider football world for one he didn’t start.

''I was disappointed when I was told I wouldn't be playing and doubly disappointed that a lad younger than me, Alan Campbell, was in,” the midfielder told the Telegraph on the 40th anniversary of that famous day.

''Before the rule change, the 12th man came along and pushed the kit skip and was there in case of an emergency. Suddenly I was expected to get changed and prepare with the rest. But after 11 minutes I was on and it was unbelievable."



Prior to the rule change in 1965, teams were forced to play on with a less-than-full complement if injured players were unable to continue, but pressure had grown for substitutes to be allowed after injuries to players had been seen to impact high-profile fixtures.

The following season it was agreed the allotted substitute could be used at the manager’s discretion, but not until 1987 would the number of replacements be increased to two per team.

And it wasn’t just Peacock – who went on to become assistant manager at Charlton during their time in the top flight – who claimed a place in history on this day in 1965. Later in the afternoon Bobby Knox came on for Barrow and became the first Football League sub to score a goal.

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