The Valley - Charlton
Saturday, March 20th, 2010
Vs Gillingham, League One, 3pm
By Philip John
Well it was the day I had been looking forward too for ages. Gillingham vs Charlton at the Valley for the first time in 20 odd years. And before any of you readers say, this is not a Kent derby. Charlton are in South East London and will always be. We are the only professional team in Kent!
I headed off at about 12.30 from Chatham, and got the train straight to Charlton. Which arrived about 1.15. From the station it is pretty simple to get to ground. We just followed the crowd, and stopped off at a pub on the way. We stopped off at the 'Antigallican'. (Quite near the station) We found this to be a very friendly pub, yet it was packed with away fans, and was very busy. We decided to head to the ground at about 2pm, and was very surprised to see programmes for the game being sold in local newsagents. This turned out to be very helpful.
We were seated in Row D, to one side of the ground. Before the game looking at our tickets, we didn't think they were going to be good seats. How very wrong we were! The stand is raised up above pitch level, with advertisements to the front, so we were quite high up. Another benefit of where we were seated, is that a few rows behind us, there is a gigantic pillar, right behind the goal. A lot of other people I knew were sitting behind the pillar, and there view was effected by it. I must add and say, Isn't it strange that the only pillar in the ground is located right behind the goal in the away end?
When waiting for kick off. I was very pessimistic. Gillingham had not won away all season, and were fighting relegation. Whereas Charlton were high flying. In the first half, the teams cancelled each other out. Yet Charlton struck first. Surprise Surprise. I got off my seat and started walking to the concourse, when suddenly I heard 3,000 travelling supporters cheer. Yes, we had equalised! At that moment, I thought I would sit back down. One minute before half time, the impossible thing happened. The Gills scored again to make it 2-1 to us. At half time we were winning!
The concourse wasn't anything special. They served the usual food, that most teams serve. So I got myself a burger for an average price. In the second half, there wasn't much to shout about. We had a few chances, and they had a few chances. Which surprise Surprise they scored one. 2-2. The final 20 minutes, Gills were on the backfoot. Yet held out for a well deserved point. The final whistle went with 3000 men singing 'We are staying up! Say we are staying up!' It was very amusing walking out the ground as there is a tower block right near the away end. So as you can expect, the chants were funny!
We walked straight back to station, and had to wait about half an hour, for a train. yet on the train it was packed like sardines, because about half of the travelling Gills fans were all getting the train home. Judging by the smell on the train, I dont thing everyone was wearing deodraint either . Haha.
Overall a very pleasant day. The Valley created a great atmosphere, Dominated by our following. I found the stewards to be okay. As they gave people warnings. Unlike some other grounds which just throw the person out. Nice Stadium, nice day out.
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