Thursday, 10 March 2011

Charlton Athletic and Me

I've been a Charlton Athletic fan for as long as I can remember having been taken to my first game at 3 by my dad. I've been told he took me to keep me quiet as I kept pestering him to take me. What dad wasn't prepared for was me to absolutely love it and want to keep going. So from the age of 3 to 16 I went to as many matches as dad could afford to take me to.

Once I hit 16 I could afford to go to more matches and went to practically every home game and whatever away games I could. Home games found me standing on an East Terrace that was slowly crumbling but still gave a great view of the game. Charlton weren't the best team in the world, but they were "My" lads. But then disaster struck. Charlton were in danger of going out of business and fans got more and more worried. Charlton fane did what they could to make sure we stayed in business but it looked bleak. The gates at The Valley were locked and it looked like I would no longer have a football team to support. What would I do? Should I change team? Should I just follow football for football's sake? Shall I just follow Blackheath Rugby Club instead?

Then - literally - at the last minute Charlton survived. Only things really didn't get much better. In May 1985 39 Juventus fans were killed at the European Cup Final. Safety checks were made on all grounds The Valley was deemed to be unsafe. With the club not able to afford the repairs the decision was made to leave. Charlton Athletic would no longer be based in the borough of Greenwich. Instead they would move to the Borough of Croydon to share Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace. It may have only been 8 miles away, but it may as well have been on the moon. Charlton fans were not happy. Some stayed away only going to away games. Others went to support the team.

I was one of the latter. It was easy for me to get to Selhurst Park, as I lived within walking distance, and I wanted to support the team. We were in the old Division Two then and won promotion to Division One. This meant the "big teams" like Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and Manchester United would visit Selhurst. A new chapter awaited us all.

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