The Valley - Charlton
Saturday, April 2nd, 2011
Vs Leyton Orient, League One, 3pm
By Paul O'Shea
Having originally intended to attend a Championship game that those helpful folk at Sky switched to a monday night I had to settle for this east London derby and I had one of the best days out for ages.
Travelling down on a train packed with Carlisle fans on their way to Wembley I arrived into London late morning. I made my way to the Harp near Trafalgar Square. This pub had recently won the Camra pub of the year and had a good selection of ales on offer. After sampling a good few I walked the short distance to Charing Cross to catch the train direct to Charlton.
The station is so close to the ground that it only takes a few minutes before you are at the turnstiles and despite a quite large police presence there was a very relaxed atmosphere around the ground.
I had brought a ticket online and found I was in the North stand amongst the Charlton vocal support.
The first half was fairly equal but Orient looked more likely to score and so it was that a well worked move saw them go in at half time 1-0 up. Orients support of just under 1500 were enjoying themselves but were not overly vocal unlike Charlton who tried to lift their team. When the second half got under way it was obvious that the Charlton players had been told to step up a gear or six and they came out much more committed. Attacking the home end they equalised and the Charlton fans responded with a good noise. Having survived a scare when Orient had a goal disallowed they went in front almost immediately after before wrapping up the points with a third.
All too soon the game ended and I managed to get to the station and on a train back to central London almost straight away.
In these days of clubs relocating to out of town stadiums on characterless industrial estates it is great to go to a ground still surrounded by houses and the closeness of the station is a real bonus. I really enjoyed my visit to the Valley and I would not hesitate in going back in the future.
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