25 years ago. Doesn’t seem possible but the Addicks welcome Portsmouth, befittingly the team we have played the most in our history, back to The Valley tomorrow afternoon in a wild quirk of fate. Thanks EFL for actually doing something right.
That Saturday 25 years ago is ingrained in my memory. My brother and I and a couple of mates were at Barnsley the week before and that was a carnival atmosphere on their away open terrace.
However getting tickets for the 8,337 sell out wasn’t easy. My Mum, brother and I were season ticket holders at Upton Park, but my Dad, who was getting a little disillusioned with it, wasn’t so sadly he missed out on the game, but the rest of us went with my mates.
We started early and driving our old route in the car was odd and dream-like. We stopped at the Blackheath Standard, then in Charlton we had a quick drink in the Bugle before joining the march which had started at the Woolwich Town Hall. I remember the hairs standing up on my neck as we approached the ground, and it looked absolutely fantastic.
We sat in the Covered End, up towards the back of the left side, and I will never forget those white doors opening of the temporary dressing rooms, and Simon Webster leading the team out down newly painted steps to the sound of the beautiful Red, Red Robin. Tears were in all of our eyes.
Colin Walsh’s goal was perfect in every single way and it was celebrated wildly. I remember after that it was a bit surreal and the noise levels were huge as the latest incarnation of the Covered End shook.
The atmosphere was further cranked up in the 2nd half and weirdly every Charlton fan I have spoken to in later years have all said the same, and this was that we never looked like losing. Which is what no Charlton fan has said ever.
A second goal didn’t seem necessary, as Portsmouth appeared to not try particularly hard, and they were good that season, but the rest of the game flew by and the Covered End rocked to ‘Charlton are back, ello, ello’ ‘Back to The Valley’ and ‘Valley Floyd Road’ throughout the 2nd half. The final whistle was met with tears and endless cheers, and I know I was in no rush to leave, finding it hard to believe we could come back again the following week!
That day is one of my lifetime’s best memories, and December 5th, 1992 was a celebration of the fans. The Valley Party, those influential fella’s behind VOTV, Peter Cordwell and The Mercury, Roger Alwen, Richard Murray, Martin Simons and their fellow directors who somehow kept the wolves from the door, fans that were able to be VIP members or in Valley Gold, or just those that bled red and white and stuck with it through the exile, or as now boycotted for their own perfectly good reasons.
Tomorrow is also a celebration of the fans. The attendance is expected to be twice that of that 25 years ago. If you are going enjoy your day. Soon I believe ‘Charlton are back’ will once again echo around our famous home. COYR.