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.