Kenny, like Trevor Senior before him, has been a terrace cult hero at all his clubs - bar one. Why it is that these terrace heroes decide that the club that they will fail to deliver at should be Watford is beyond my comprehension. Maybe there is something in the water!
I first encountered Kenny plying his trade at my hometown club, Maidstone Utd (deceased and sorely missed), where he could be relied upon to swoop on any loose ball, and bury it deep in the opponents' net. The fact that the goal in question belonged to a team like Newport County or Gateshead was neither here nor there. Maidstone were riding high in the Gola League, with Kenny at the helm; and Kenny was a man with a proven goalscoring record - which is why the then Peterborough manager Chris Turner took him to London Road at a bargain basement price. Newly promoted Maidstone were a club whose league status brought about an upturn in fortunes, and they were seriously lacking such fortune - no ground, no fans and no hope.
At Posh, Kenny was a revelation, almost as reliable up a division as he was against no hopers in the then Gola League. Indeed, it was at London Road when he came to the attention of that wonderful striker-spotter Steve Perryman. He had already made one influential signing to bolster the attack, signing Roger "Harry" Willis, and felt that Kenny would partner "wor Harry" perfectly. Perryman captured Kenny's signature with ease, personal terms were no problem - he still had links with the south.
However, the move upwards did not appear to do Kenny much good. The influential former Maidstone captain looked completely out of his depth in Division Two, yet still Kenny's adoring Maidstonian fans turned up by the carload to cheer their hero - seeing as they could no longer cheer their team. (In fact, the poor, misguided souls still, to this day, make an annual pilgrimage to London Road to see Kenny, and another Hotshot, Liburd Henry, in action).
It was not that Kenny could not actually make the grade, unlike most others who have to move up a gear, but he just seemed fated to have a tally not becoming of a centre forward. Kenny was and, despite his advancing years, still is lightning fast when chasing the ball. He could beat defenders, but would rather have run past them while off the ball - resulting in him being offside a few more times than is healthy. The problem with Kenny was that he was unable to make any significant attacks on Second Division defences that would leave the ball in the onion bag. The reason for this is uncertain, although a genuine determination to deliver probably turned the young(ish) prospect into a bag of nerves - he would naturally be somewhat perturbed facing defenders who couldn't remember having been builders. Not only that, but rather than employing Kenny as an out and out number nine, the role he has played throughout his life (don't let the number ten shirt fool you), he was used by Perryman as a link man, providing the through balls for Harry Willis, whose job it was to put them in the net. Maybe a role reversal would have been ideal, with the slower Willis providing and the more pacy Charlery burying. Nevertheless, Kenny was far from useless, he did find the goal on a handful of occasions, but not nearly as often as he, or we, would have liked.
Disillusioned with Watford, he lost his first team place to the young upstart Paul Furlong - and Luther was still around. He felt that he was not getting the full support possible from the fans - although he was more poular than a certain former Welsh wing wizard(!), so he used his links with the Peterborough Press, where he was sorely missed, to launch a torrent of abuse on us well meaning, but frustrated, Watford fans. This, obviously, did not go down well with us at the Vic - a player will never gain respect if he slags off the supporters - and Steve Perryman was duty bound to give over his page of programme notes one week, so that Kenny could make a full apology.
However, when the opportunity came to get out of his Hertfordshire hell and return to East Anglia, he grabbed it with both hands, packed his bags, and fled. Kenny is loved at Peterborough, where he has been the club's top scorer for many years. In fact, a Second Division scorers' top ten without the name Charlery is something of a rarity, and the influential number ten now wields the captain's armband at London Road.
Watford fans, though, will never remember Kenny for his goalscoring record, but instead for his love-hate relationship with the club. Kenny played forty-nine times for the Horns, plus a handful of appearances as sub, but he hit the target on only thirteen occasions.
Well played, Ken Charlery.