Tuesday, 21 September 2010

25 years ago

Strangely the most shocking moment was two weeks before when the flyer was handed out at the game with Palace. It was ironic that their fans found out at the same time as ours that they would be ground sharing. Maybe it wasn't ironic, maybe it planned that way.

It didn't give the fans of either club much time to arrange any kind of protest, despite the fact that there was a 'sit in' on the East Terrace which was, by this time, declared unsafe.

I have many memories of The Valley, and for me there are two Valleys. The one that we played at until this day 25 years ago, and the one we came back to.

In all honesty there wasn't much to be proud about with The Valley during the five years I had been going when we moved away. It was a terrible stadium by modern standards (as were most of them in those days) but it had not provided me many memories of successes or wonderful victories either. The modern day Valley has seen us chalk up victories against the then current Premier League Champions, the then current European Champions, as well as most of the top flight teams - Man Utd being the only exception.

Twenty-five years ago I hadn't, and I've hardly now, gone to games with friends, I went with my Dad, and at that time a lot of the things I did I did with my parents. I knew it was something important as my Dad seemed genuinely concerned about it all, but at this time The Valley was a tired stadium.

My memories of that day are that we, by some quirk of fate, sat in the same spot as we did some seven years later when we came back, and we got on the pitch at the end. The result, despite being a 2-0 win, seemed of little importance.

I had never been on the pitch before, and we, like most others, dug up a small section of turf to replant in our garden in Basildon in Essex. I suspect that The Valley turf now covers the largest area of any football club, even though it might well have died off in our garden and I certainly don't know exactly where it is today (my Mum still lives there).

None of the things we did that day (parked in the normal spot, walked up the usual roads etc.) had anywhere near the same significance as they did when we returned in 1992. Ironically, despite talking about those things for literally years we have now abandoned all those traditions and replaced them with new ones. We park in a different spot and approach the ground from the opposite side as we used to.

A few years ago my Mum gave me the framed photo' of the last game at The Valley that my Dad had bought and hung in our front room for many years. I used to look at it on the way to the kitchen and wish "If only we could just get back there again one day".  When I offered it on to my Dad (who doesn't live with my Mum now) he said that I could have it. I hung it on the wall outside my office so that I could see it 'on my way to work' every day (I work from home). Today it looked different, but I'm convinced that I can still see us in the North Stand.

When I look at that scene I realise just how much we have to be grateful for today. Let's never make the same mistakes again.

Up the Addicks!


Anonymous said...

Well said Kings Hill!

I remember a bloke climbing up one of the floodlight pylons after the game and refusing to come down - wonder how long his protest lasted, or if they found his bones many years later....

My bit of Valley turf is in a plastic bag in my Mum's loft...

Pembury Addick

ChicagoAddick said...

Funny I also think of The Valley as two grounds and even with the best will in the world there simply were not many great days from my time at The (first) Valley from 1975 to 1985 BUT it was home, and it was family.

Your last paragraph KH, is very symbolic.