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25 years ago today

Rarely do you attend a game and have no real interest in the outcome of it but that was how I felt as my Dad drove us to our regular parking spot at The Heights 25 years ago today.

Rick Everitt wrote in his magnificent book ‘Battle for The Valley’ that the atmosphere that day was poisonous and the whole afternoon was a shambles of discontent, and they’re exactly what my memories of the day are. The anger and absolute helplessness had built inside me from a fortnight before when we were handed that extraordinary piece of paper entitled ‘Message to our Supporters.’

Many would argue that 21st September, 1985 was the day that Charlton fans united and that jointly going through the pain of leaving The Valley was the springboard to a new and brighter chapter in the club’s history. It was, but at that moment 25 years ago there wasn’t the slightest glimmer of what the future held.

I was there that day but it was a very surreal experience. There was no real media coverage and I had just started my first job and I’m not even sure I’d shared my Saturday afternoon hobby with the people I worked with yet. 8,858 were left to mourn a 66-year old friend alone. No one else gave a shit.

Like others I shouted abuse at nobodies in the stand and was on the pitch after the game, finally getting on from the closed East Terrace once the old bill gave up the chase. I remember only leaving after a man who had climbed the floodlight pylon, was finally coaxed down and my Dad insisted there was nothing else to see.

I took some turf home dug from the pitch and planted it in my Mum’s garden. It died. My brother and I used to drive to the vacated Valley on Sundays afterwards and break in, well it wasn’t really breaking in, it was climbing in and we would wander around and read the grafitti that others had left. We used to have conversations regularly about which team we would support when Charlton died.

I’m sat here with a tear in my eye after reading (again) this thread on Charlton Life and I have a tingle down the back of my spine. What it is to support a real club, eh?

If you have never read Rick Everitt’s ‘Battle for The Valley’, then do anything to find a copy.

Charlton fan David Wheeler’s memories from the Stoke game can be found here, as can Kings Hill Addick’s here and Kap’s here. What are your memories of that strange day 25 years ago?

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. EdinAddick #

    I wasn’t at the last game, and ironically I didn’t support the Addicks until after we moved to Selhurst. We lived on the Kent / Surrey border and I was too young to go to football regularly yet. I didn’t have a connection with Charlton, but my Dad wanted to take me to football, and going to Selhurst was convenient for us. There were only two Charlton fans in my school, Rob and me, and we would share the stories of our relegation battles and winning the Soccer Six. For most it was a battle, to get back to the Valley, to me it was just fun. I still remember going onto the pitch when we stayed up (and subsequently getting lost), Kettering in the cup, and meeting Nicky John. It wasn’t all bad, and it has defined what the club has become. A spirit was engendered in the club that inspired me as a kid. I am probably one of the youngest that remembers Selhurst, and I hope that it doesn’t get lost.

    September 21, 2010
  2. You know EdinA, that is a very important point. We should never lose those years at Selhurst. It was very important.

    September 21, 2010
  3. Chris #

    My first game was at Selhurst aswell.. Norwich, if I recall correctly.

    Remember where you came from.

    September 21, 2010
  4. Pat #

    I had just come back from working in the US for the summer and thought it was a hoax as I had missed the notices being given out. I really thought my friends were joking. Anger was the predominant emotion for me – I sent my (standing) season ticket back in protest and was determined not to go to s******* park – but somehow couldn’t do it – those were the days of feeling a loyalty to the players. And I still wanted to see Bobby Lee play. Oh, and I remember feeling cross at all the people that turned up that day that didn’t normally go which meant I couldn’t watch from the covered end.

    September 22, 2010
  5. As for the pre-groundshare days, apart from pre-history, don’t remember much.. I remember the long drawn out afternoons travelling to Upton Park and trying to find a place to park though.
    What I remenber the best was the first game back at the half-finished Valley and the 1-0 offside win from Walshie. He didn’t care, the ref didn’t care, the Portsouth fans didn’t care, cos it was a great day for football. I can’t remember seeing it all , I was there standing next to my son, in the Jimmy Seed, with tears in my eyes .

    September 22, 2010
  6. Beautiful Rick. There have been a lot tears shed over our Addicks, but they were some of the happiest.

    September 23, 2010

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