Charlton Athletic

The Valley

Capacity: 27,111 (all seated)
Address: Floyd Road, Charlton, SE7 8BL
Telephone: 020 8333 4000
Fax: 020 8333 4001
Ticket Office: 0871 226 1905
Pitch Size: 112 x 73 yards
Club Nickname: The Addicks
Year Ground Opened: 1919
Shirt Sponsors: University of Greenwich
Kit Manufacturer: Nike
Home Kit: Red and White
Away Kit: Charcoal and Black
Third Kit: Orange and Yellow

West and South Stands
West and South Stands
East Stand
East Stand
Looking Towards The Away End
Looking Towards The Away End
West Stand
West Stand
Jimmy Seed (South) Stand
Jimmy Seed (South) Stand
West Stand External View
West Stand External View
Sam Bartram Statue
Sam Bartram Statue

The opening of the North Stand in 2002, completely transformed the look of the ground. What was a single tiered separate stand, is now a large two tiered affair, extending and completely enclosing the North East & North West corners. Iin total it houses 9,000 fans. Both sides were also redeveloped in the mid 1990's and anyone who saw the derelict Valley some years back, now wouldn't believe their eyes. The West Stand on one side is a good sized two tiered stand, whilst opposite is the smaller single tiered East Stand, where the vast open terrace, reputedly the country's biggest, was located until demolished in the 1990's. There is a row of executive boxes that run across the back of this stand and it has a television gantry suspended beneath its roof. The older South Stand, behind the goal, is given to away supporters and now looks out of place in its smart surroundings. On one side of this is a police control box.

The stadium doesn't have any floodlight pylons as such, but has rows of small floodlights running across the tops of the stands. The stadium is overlooked by a block of flats beyond the South Stand and it is not uncommon to see fans out on their balconies watching most of the game for nothing and others hanging flags from their balconies in support of other teams. In one corner of the stadium between the Jimmy (South) Seed & East Stands is a large video screen. Outside the ground there is a statue of Charlton's legendary former goalkeeper Sam Bartram.

Mike Keeler informs me; 'The Club have now got planning permission from Greenwich Council to increase the capacity of the Valley to 30,900. This will involve adding a second tier to the East Stand as well as the 'filling in' of the South East corner of the stadium'. However formal time scales have yet to be announced as to when this will take place. 

George Packman adds; 'The Club intend to increase the capacity of the Valley to over 40,000. Following on from the first phase of the scheme, which would see an additional tier added to the East Stand, the Club then intend to re-develop the Jimmy Seed (South) Stand. This would be replaced with a similar looking structure to the existing North Stand. This would result in the Valley becoming totally enclosed and boosting capacity to 37,000. Lastly a third tier could be added to the new South Stand at a later stage, meaning that the Valley would have a final capacity of 40,600'.

Away fans are housed in the Jimmy Seed (South) Stand at one end of the ground, which is slightly raised above pitch level, making for a generally good view. Up to 3,000 away fans can be accommodated in this end. However, if the visiting team are unlikely to sell their full allocation of 3,000 tickets, then this end may be shared with home fans. Peter Inwood a visiting Leeds fan adds; 'There is one solitary supporting column in the entire ground and guess where it is? Right in the middle, behind the goal, in the away supporters end. Very annoying it is as well. However, I would commend the stewards, who took a relaxed attitude to the away supporters who stood throughout the match, although expect to be searched on the way in'. Otherwise the height between rows is good and the stand quite steep, keeping you fairly close to the playing action. It is worth noting that if your team is allocated the whole stand, that there are refreshment areas on either side of the stand. As to be expected those located by the entrance turnstiles, tend to be busiest, whilst those on the other side of the stand are normally less congested. Food on offer include a range of Peter's Pies; Steak Pie (£3.50), Chicken Curry Pie (£3.50), Cornish Pasty (£3.50), Cheese & Onion Pasty (£3.50) & Sausage Rolls (£2.90). These outlets are supplemented by separate hot dog stalls (£3.60 per hot dog). There is also a Ladbrokes betting kiosk inside the ground. Adam Hodson a visiting Stockport County fan adds; 'There is a decent fish and chip shop at the top of Floyd Road, which you pass on the way to the away fans entrance.' 

I was quite impressed with the atmosphere at the Valley and I can see why many away fans see it as one of their favourite away days to the capital. The Charlton fans are clearly passionate about their team, but in a non-intimidating way. I had pleasant day out and would go again. I was particularly impressed with the loud P.A. system that played some great music before the game commenced which rocked around the stadium. It is worth noting that you can only gain entrance to the ground by ticket, which you have to buy from a ticket booth beforehand.

Simon Phillips informs me that 'The Antigallican, a big pub near Charlton station, seems to be the favourite haunt of away supporters'. However, it can get very busy and this is not helped by the local Police not allowing fans to drink outside. It is a rather basic pub but has real ale available (albeit a lone handpump) and also offers a selection of filled rolls and pork pies. Whilst Colin Gilham recommends the 'Rose of Denmark' on Woolwich Road. The pub not only allows in away supporters but absolutely welcomes them. They have a photo display on the wall of fans from visiting clubs that have frequented the pub this season and it also has SKY television'. They also serve Fullers London Pride. Please note that this is a home supporters only pub after the game. To find these pubs come out of Charlton station and turn left into Charlton Church Lane and the Antigallican pub is down on the right hand corner. If you continue down to the t-junction with the Woolwich Road and turn left you will reach the Rose of Denmark further down on the left.

Robert Taylor adds; 'I would recommend the Pickwick on Woolwich Road, which is about a 10 minutes walk away from the ground. It has a good mix of away and home fans, with a friendly atmosphere (with the usual banter!). There is a huge beer garden where kids are allowed to play football and it has Sky television with a huge projector screen at one end. It has a pool table, games machines and there is a handy chippie right next door'. Alternatively alcohol is available in the away end in the form of; John Smith's (£4 pint), Fosters (£4 pint), Smirnoff Ice (£3.50 small bottle) & White Wine (£3.50 minature bottle).

Leave the M25 at Junction 2 and follow the A2 towards London. After around 12 miles the road splits with the A2 going off to the left and the right hand lanes becoming the A102. Proceed on the A102 towards the Blackwall Tunnel. Leave the A102 at the next slip road (sign posted Woolwich & Ferry A206). At the bottom of the slip road turn right at the traffic lights towards Woolwich/Charlton. Proceed along the A206 passing the 'The Antigallican pub on your right (the ground and away entrance are diagonally behind this pub). For the main club entrance and car park go straight over the next roundabout, passing a retail park on the left. At the next roundabout, go right around it turning back on yourself along the A206. Then take the first left into Charlton Road (beware that there is a seven feet width restriction along this road). Cross over the railway and after passing the Royal Oak pub on the right, turn right into Harvey Gardens. The ground is down on the left.

Parking at the ground is for permit holders only. There is street parking, but due to a local residents parking scheme, not in close vicinity to the ground or Charlton railway station. However as you come off the A2 onto the A206, there is some street parking to be had on your right, in a couple of streets, before you reach the Rose of Denmark pub.

Colin Gilham informs me; 'There is some street parking to be had around the industrial estates in the area, in Westmoor Street, Eastmoor Street (the very road where the club was apparently formed 100 years ago!), Warspite Road and Ruston Road.  If you are coming up the Woolwich Road from the the Blackwall Tunnel, then as you go past the ground, the industrial estates are on the left hand side.

Post Code for SAT NAV: SE7 8BL

The ground is a short walk from Charlton Railway Station, which is served by trains from Charing Cross, London Bridge and Waterloo East stations. On Saturdays there are also services from Cannon Street station. 

Colin Gilham informs me; 'Come out Charlton station into Charlton Church lane (all exits lead onto this road). and turn right and cross over to the other side. Take the next left into Floyd Road and then right into Valley Grove for the away section entrance'. 

Darryl Chamberlain adds; 'Although Charlton station is very close to the Valley, many people will find it easier to take the (far more reliable) London Underground. Using the Jubilee Line to get to North Greenwich station and then take a short ride on buses 161, 472 or 486 to get to the ground'.

Remember if travelling by train then you can save on the cost of fares by booking in advance.

Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can normally save.

Click on the trainline logo below:

The Club operate a category system (Prime & Standard) for matchday ticket prices, whereby the most popular games cost more to watch. Prime prices are shown below with standard prices in brackets:

Away fans:

Jimmy Seed (South) Stand
Adults £28 (£24)
Over 60's/Under 21's £19 (£16)
Under 18's £10 (£10)
Under 11's £5 (£5)

Official Programme £3.

Crystal Palace, Millwall & West Ham.

Record Attendance:
75,031 v Aston Villa
FA Cup 5th Round, February 12th 1938.

Modern All Seated Attendance Record:
27,111 v Chelsea
Premier League, September 17th, 2005. (This record has subsequently been equalled).

Average Attendance:
2013-2014: 16,134 (Championship League)
2012-2013: 18,499 (Championship League)
2011-2012: 17,402 (League One) 


For details of disabled facilities and club contact at the ground please visit the relevant page on the  Level Playing Field website.

Charlton Athletic FC fixture list (takes you to the BBC Sports Website).

If you require hotel accommodation in the area then first try a hotel booking service provided by Late Rooms. They offer all types of accommodation to suit all tastes and pockets from; Budget Hotels, Traditional Bed & Breakfast establishments to Five Star Hotels and Serviced Apartments. Plus their booking system is straightforward and easy to use. Yes this site will earn a small commission if you book through them, but it will go to help with the running costs of keeping the Guide going. The Hotels listing also includes details of how far away the accommodation is located from the Valley football ground. 

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Charlton Athletic v Huddersfield Town
Championship League
Saturday, February 28th 2015, 3pm
Ben Hancox (Neutral fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground:

I had already visited Charlton’s home, The Valley, on several previous occasions in the past three years. My first visit in 2012 was after a recommendation to watch a match there by a Charlton Season Ticket Holder who I had a long conversation with at a social event. I had enjoyed my previous visits and as a Neutral fan I have a bit of a soft spot for Charlton and their fans, especially when you look back to their well-publicised ‘Back to The Valley’ campaign in the early 1990s and their 7 year stint in the Premiership in the early 2000s, during which they claimed some notable scalps in punching above their weight and beating teams like Chelsea and Arsenal. And not forgetting the incredible 1998 Division One Play-Off Final at Wembley, too!

To add to the above, something unusual happened on my previous two visits to The Valley. The first against Leeds the previous season the kick-off was delayed for half an hour due to a pitch inspection and against Blackburn on a freezing grey FA Cup 3rd Round day in the New Year the floodlights somehow went out after just 20 minutes, but thankfully came back on 10 minutes later after the players were ordered back to the changing rooms!

The match was part of a special ‘Football for a Fiver’ offer organised by Charlton, similar to the match against Wigan last season and Stevenage in League One three years ago. These games always tend to attract bumper crowds at The Valley. Added to that fact, former Charlton Athletic legendary Player and Manager Chris Powell was returning to the Valley as Huddersfield Town Manager, almost a year on from his controversial sacking as Charlton boss. 

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I arranged to meet my friend, who was arriving from North London, at London Bridge Station just over an hour before kick-off. We took the National Rail train to Charlton. It only took 20 minutes and went by without any hiccups. We noticed there were large groups of Huddersfield fans on the train who had made the long trip down from Yorkshire, indicating a possibly bigger away crowd than normal. It was only a short five minute walk from Charlton Station to the Valley. One of the quickest journeys from a railway station to a ground you can make. Although access is quick, you don’t see the stadium until you’re very close to it as it’s partially obscured by terraced houses. As I’d been to the ground only two months before, it was an easy task for me to find!

3. What did you do before the game pub/chippy … home fans friendly?

We walked past the Club Shop on the corner of the West Stand and North Stand, which is a decent-sized modern shop with a fairly wide range of merchandise in it. However, today there were simply too many people to fit in comfortably, which was one indication the match would be a sell-out. So we decided to go straight into the ground and find our seats, as kick-off was only 20 minutes away. The considerable number of away fans present mixed fine with the home supporters as they travelled from the station and there was no trouble whatsoever to speak of. I noticed there were more families with children present than at previous games … the £5 ticket offer had a big part to play in this! We walked past a van selling the usual supporter merchandise, including the now widespread T-shirts emblazoned with ‘Keep Calm And Support Charlton’, common all over the UK for almost all football clubs.

4. What you thought on entering the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Once we got past the turnstiles it was very crowded in the concourse. Not sardine-like but still crowded enough to make you want to get out the area in a hurry and into the seating areas. We didn’t buy anything from the food and beverage kiosks, having thankfully brought some chocolate bars with us from home. Although the food and beverage kiosks were well manned with staff, queues were still quite long.

Our seats were in the Central Block of the North Stand Lower Tier behind the goal in Row S, about 20 rows from the very front. The away end opposite us (named the Jimmy Seed Stand, in honour of Charlton’s most successful manager) has a pillar in the very middle of the stand, which must have been very annoying for those Huddersfield fans sat directly behind it, as it was the only pillar present in the entire ground! The views are very good from all other stands, and I am in a good position to testify that as I have sat in all other parts of the ground apart from the East Stand. The West Stand is a double-tiered structure where the Directors Box is and the Players Tunnel, too, which is located a little strangely closer to the corner flag than the halfway line. Outside this stand is an impressive statue to Sam Bartram, one of Charlton’s most famous ever players and goalkeeper, who spent 19 years with the Addicks over a period spanning the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The North Stand is also a decent sized two-tiered structure, an extension having been completed halfway through the 2001/02 season when Charlton were establishing themselves in the Premiership. There were two corner infills either side of the North Stand, and I thought the East Stand looked quite neat and imposing, too. There was no Upper Tier on this Stand and it is very interesting to note that before The Valley was converted to an all-seater stadium in the early-mid 1990s, the East Stand Terrace was the largest single terrace stand in English football.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc.

Before kick-off, Chris Powell got a rousing reception from the Charlton Athletic faithful, thanking him for all his efforts as a Player and Manager at the club he managed only one year ago. As I mentioned earlier in the article, his resignation was rather controversial as I later read in Charlton’s ‘Voice Of The Valley’ fanzine that he effectively had no other option but to resign following the difficult working conditions created by the Club’s new billionaire owner, Roland Duchâtelet. (More on that point later). Charlton started the match brightly and were clearly the best team in the opening half hour. They followed up this great start with a brilliantly taken free-kick on 34 minutes, scored by Berg Gudmundsson from 25 yards. Huddersfield had several attacks in the first half down our end but were not quite accurate or decisive enough to make a breakthrough. Half-time soon arrived and an atmosphere of positivity reigned around The Valley.

After a quick trip to the toilet at half time (thankfully not too crowded!) I returned for the second half. Shortly after the half-time break Charlton scored their 2nd goal. Tony Watt was the man who scored this time after being set up by Igor Vetokele. The omens were looking good for a Charlton win! Cue chants of ‘Olé olé Tony Watt Watt Watt’ around the ground, as the former Celtic man celebrated. Charlton continued to press forward with good interplay and incisive attacks in the 2nd half. Their 3rd goal was scored by the same man again, after he sped past Huddersfield players to finish with some aplomb. Watt was incidentally on the scoresheet in the Glasgow club’s famous Champions League victory over Barcelona at Parkhead in 2012.

In the 76th minute, Charlton introduced French midfielder Alou Diarra into the action. My friend told me that in 2006 he played in the World Cup Final against Italy, coming on for Patrick Vieira (which of course will forever be remembered for Monsieur Zidane’s headbutt in his last ever professional game). This is another good example of how players have unlikely career trajectories in this crazy modern world of football! One of Diarra’s shots was very wild and almost hit the corner flag … but that didn’t matter as it was towards the end of the game, with a precious three points almost wrapped up. A few minutes later the referee blew the final whistle and all three points were in the Reds’ bag. For the Home support, today was a happy Valley … something that hasn’t happened too often this past season, judging by the fanzine I bought!

6. Getting away from the Valley after the game:

As my friend was heading back to Central London, I went in a different direction to him when leaving the ground. He headed up Floyd Road to Charlton Station, but I did a bit of prior research and walked up a pedestrian passage called Ransom Walk, under a small arch. The passage is actually quite wide, and not dangerous as hundreds of fans were walking in the same direction as me. I arrived on the nearby Woolwich Road and caught a Number 486 bus to North Greenwich Underground Station (on the Jubilee Line), next to the O2 Centre. This bus link is actually pretty handy and something people heading to/coming from certain areas north of the River Thames, like myself, before and after matches should take more notice of. There are other bus routes covering the same journey, too. I was lucky a bus arrived almost immediately, as the football traffic was quickly building up behind us. The journey to North Greenwich Station takes a little over 10 minutes and surprisingly was not too busy. It took me only 45 minutes to get home, which is pretty quick for those of you readers not accustomed to London travel after major events!

The majority of Charlton fans heading away from the ground head to Charlton Station, where they travel towards Central London and Greenwich, or the other direction into Outer southeast London suburbs such as Woolwich, Plumstead and Abbey Wood. Some supporters travel home further to parts of Kent within striking distance of London, such as Slade Green and Dartford, all of which are considered to be strongholds of Charlton support.  

An important point to bear in mind for those people travelling towards Central London from Charlton Station after the match … the station entrance is in a nearby street called Delafield Road. Queues can build up quite quickly, especially if there is a large away support present, as was the case when Charlton played Leeds last season.

7. Overall Comments on the day out at the Valley:

My friend and I certainly enjoyed the experience. A Championship match against Huddersfield wasn’t the biggest of games, but the £5 ticket offer added to the factors outlined in Section 1 made it a memorable day. I wish football clubs all over the country could do this more often to tempt back disillusioned supporters and encourage youngsters to become passionate about our National Game.

Charlton still appear to have a more local, family-centred feel around their club, in stark contrast to an increasing number of Premier League clubs. Their fanbase is an interesting mix of southeast London and Kent working and middle classes. One last interesting point worthy of note is that the Charlton Athletic Museum has been open since this January (I advise people to check the opening times on the Club Website). Wolves are the only other club I can think of in the Championship that have a Museum open at present. I wish Charlton and their supporters all the best in their quest to return to the top flight.

Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town
Championship League
Sunday, November 29th 2014, 3pm
Ian Sharp (Ipswich Town fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):
I live in Kent, so the chance to see my team Ipswich, playing away without some prodigious travelling is rare. Town are doing well this season, although that is not a special reason for going to see the team, in my case anyway.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?
I was planing to drive to Dartford station, then catch the stopping service on the north Kent line to Charlton, as Charlton station is no more than a couple of minutes' walk from the ground. Then I found out that the Dartford Crossing had roadworks going on, removing the toll barriers in preparation for online toll charging - a friend who lives nearby told me that the motorways had been gridlocked for days. In the end, I drove to a local station near Maidstone, then did the whole journey by train, with one change at Strood. Saw a few Town fans & plenty of Charlton fans, but not a hint of any discord.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?
I had thought of using the chippy just outside the ground, which seems to have a good reputation, but (even though the crowd was relatively small and the match was live on Sky) I was put off by the queue and needed to use the facilities in the ground. Once inside and somewhat reluctantly, I bought a pint of keg John Smiths & a pie from the bar at the far end of the Jimmy Seed Stand. Both pint and pie must rank as the worst food & drink I have had for years & years and I couldn't finish either. The bar staff seemed to be new into the job, being confused, slow and and incapable. While I was waiting to be served, both the Fosters and J Smiths kegs ran out & their replacements were attached to the wrong pumps! I asked for a steak pie and was given a chicken curry one, this was disgusting.
I had no real contact with home fans at the ground, especially as they left almost to a man (woman and child) as soon as Town scored the winner in the last but one minute of injury time, leaving 2,500 ecstatic away fans to celebrate. By the time I got to the station, the few home fans still about seemed to be cheerful enough, despite some quite noisy ragging by Town fans waiting for trains into London. My train back to Strood had a good few Charlton fans on board, they seemed to be OK, although I avoided getting into conversation with them.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?
I had been to The Valley twice before, many years ago in the 1960's when it was almost all uncovered terracing and again about 6 years ago. I was not particularly impressed with the relatively old Jimmy Seed Stand (seedy would be more apt), particularly in comparison with the far more modern stands on the other three sides. It is not steep enough to see the six yard box from the back of the stand, but it's redeeming feature is that, as (in effect) a tin box, the acoustics are really good, from the inside at least.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..
Charlton had been unbeaten at home, although without too many wins before the Town match, Town were having a good run and had climbed into the top six. With both teams having solid back fours, I was not expecting too many goals. Charlton had more possession, but too many times their attacks lacked the final cutting edge. I suspect that most people were thinking of a nil-nil result when Noel Hunt (signed on loan two days earlier) scored in the 95th minute. In hindsight, Mick McCarthy made bold substitutions (instead of his usual policy of shutting up shop) and the win came from playing 4-2-4 for the last 15 minutes. I spoke to a few of the stewards, both before and at half time. They were quite relaxed, very friendly & approachable, also they weren't bothered about standing.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:
No trouble at all, most home fans were long gone. I got the first train home.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:
What can I say? A dramatic and somewhat unexpected ending had me on cloud nine, also I got home just in time to see the final quarter of England beating Australia at Twickenham. One of the best days out for years!

Charlton Athletic v Watford
Championship League
Saturday, September 13th 2014, 3pm
Tim Sansom (Neutral Fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

I am on a continued quest to visit as many football grounds as possible in my lifetime. It is a noble ambition. Possibly a stupid ambition and it is not an especially cheap exercise. Watching football is a very expensive business, and it is an ambition that cannot be done every week but it is fun and relaxing entering into the life of fellow football fans, without the stress of shouting at your team. 

Although I have ‘done’ most of the current London clubs that are currently in the Premiership, I have not really touched the league outfits. In the early noughties, Charlton Athletic had seemed to be the natural next staging post for Ipswich Town players who needed to progress into the top tier. My beloved Ipswich were in the quick sand of Premiership relegation and crippling administration. It seemed that any player, with any saleable value, was shipped away, and Charlton seemed to be the popular destination. 

Things had dramatically changed over the next decade. Charlton had fallen into League One, and came back into the Championship whilst Town had plateaued in English football’s second tier. I still viewed Charlton in the crucible of Matt Holland, Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose, as well as the quiet, folksy but world weary personality of Alan Curbishley. What had been so special about The Valley?  

I was visiting The Valley, with an old friend who I had not met for far too long. The friend possessed the positive ‘get up and go attitude’ that defines people who are active in sport. The friend had been a regular player for the university football team, and would look at the game in a much more analytical view than what I could ever offer. He is not an active traveller to games, but was willing to enjoy a late Summer Championship game. 

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

When I lived away from the Greater London area, I always had this thought that the city ran a full and comprehensive public transport service throughout the weekend, and travellers could go from any ‘A’ to any ‘B,’ with minimal changes and hassle. After a year in this area, I have realised that this is just not the case. The underground is fine if you want to conduct your life in a very defined set of places. If you are travelling from North West to South East, it is a mental and physical strain, and your life is made complicated by Oyster Cards. 

As it was a nice day weather-wise, I took the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Bank through to Greenwich. It was at Greenwich station, when I became confused with the whole idea of ‘touching in’ and ‘touching out;’ paranoid that if I did not ‘touch’ anywhere, the full force of the Law would appear at the next station, swoop on me and my offending piece of plastic, and send me off to jail without any argument. Greenwich Station platforms swamp the small trains that travel from London Bridge towards Charlton. I touched out and touched in when I should have just continued with my journey. It was a big error. When I tried to explain my situation to the platform staff, the reaction was a mixture of frustration, embarrassment and distain. I was embarrassing his station for making such an elementary mistake. 

I was sent back to the train to Maze Hill station, where the mess was sorted out by a very friendly train person, who behaved like a travel therapist rather than a source of train information. If you don’t want the hassle, the simplest travel option is to take a train from London Bridge going towards Woolwich. 

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

The area around Maze Hill station is typical inner London suburbia. There is a gym at the bottom of the hill, if you fancy a work out before a game. There are various nail bars, barbers, petrol stations, the seemingly obligatory Tesco Express and pubs that look like the Queen Vic in Eastenders. I watched a young student walk out of a barber shop, gentling patting his shorn hair with the desperate hope that everything had gone alright in the chair. To kill some further time, I ate at the Trafalgar Café on Trafalgar Road, slumped over Friday’s Evening Standard and Mirror. It was a pleasant café but I really felt that I was in Albert Square, with Phil Mitchell expecting to walk through the door at any moment. 

I drank with the friend in The Trafalgar pub in more upmarket Greenwich, turning left at the bottom of Maze Hill. We sat overlooking the River Thames towards the O2 arena. It was a bustling pub, with a proud bust of Nelson near the door. The pub seemed to offer a wide range of food and drink and it is in the tourist trap of Greenwich. I am not sure that the pub would ever struggle for trade. 

We took the 177 bus towards the ground. There was no sense in the area that a former Premiership football ground in the neighbourhood; no adverts of Charlton players modelling watches or cars on the bill boards. It is possible to walk from Greenwich to Charlton although you are walking along a main arterial route out of the city towards Kent.  

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The Valley Stadium is definitely in a ‘valley’ and travelling from the south to the ground means that you will see a great vista of this red-clad Premiership-looking ground with the River Thames in the background. It must be an exciting sight. There is not as much excitement when you are travelling along the A206 Woolwich Road. You begin to see the top of the Main Stand jutting above random shops and 1960s flats, whose owners tolerate the stream of football fans swaggering to their match. The friend and I walked down Ransom Road, under the railway line and the ground dramatically appeared in our faces.

I suddenly lost all sense of bearings and time and wanted to visit all of the facilities all at once. We headed into the Charlton Megastore for no apparent reason, wondering whether it was worth buying a range of branded goods from rubber ducks to flame red Charlton training kits. I then drifted towards the smells of fast food outlets, till the friend reminded me that we could not enter a football ground without tickets. The whole outside ground atmosphere had a Goodison Park feeling about it. Slightly old fashioned in the sense that you were not walking up shiny walkways into a NBL basketball arena or Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, but comforting that you were heading into a comforting football community.

We were in the top of the large home stand facing to the south (in Block Q.) You could tell that Premiership football had been played at this ground and the stadium was impressive, but a big shell. The game was not a sell-out. There were large gaps around the home end. Single men looking slightly depressed that they had made the effort to come to the football on a Saturday afternoon. In contrast, the away end was full and raucous, generating considerable noise drowning out the announcer and the noughties rock music. 

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

I had gone to the game with very low expectations. Championship football can dramatically vary in quality, and having sat through some serious football dross with the friend during previous years, I did not want to jinx the action. A penalty was slotted away after three minutes, and the home fans had some hope against Watford, who were one of the division’s pace setters. However, the home supporters became considerably fed up with the apparent lack of ambition by their team. Charlton defended well, but did not seem to totally push for the second goal. Playing the ball into the corners with an extra six minutes of injury town was coldly sensible from Charlton but not much of a spectacle. 

Championship football is meant to be deliciously unpredictable. Games regularly finish in 5-5, and 4-2. One team scores 6-0 against another, and then gets tanked 7-0 during the following Saturday. It is not quite like that in reality. With so many games in a season, it can seem to be a bit of a trail to marshal yourself through the campaign. The post-match coverage suggested that this game was not the greatest of games. I found it a lot of fun, but if I was a Charlton fan, I would desperately want a bit more cutting edge up front for my team. If my team is going to kill time at the end of games from September to May, it could be a positive but slightly unfulfilled season. 

To make yourself feel a bit more uplifted when you watch Charlton, there is a pretty impressive selection of food outlets including the chance to have a salt beef roll cut in front of you by a carvery chef. I had never seen this cuisine before for fans, and it was a pleasant change to the standard pie and cup of tea. During one moment in the game, when Charlton were being resolute in dinner, the friend suddenly presented two Whispa Gold bars to munch on throughout the game. It was a very welcome surprise, and gave me a nice mid half sugar rush, but the usual range on confectionery and fizzy drinks are available to you throughout the game, served by very cheery people in bright Charlton red t shirts. 

6. Getting Away From The Ground:

Getting away from the ground was initially easy. It was less than a five minute walk to Charlton Railway Station along Valley Grove and Floyd Road. Not wanting to brutally axe the day at the entrance of a classically dreary suburban London station, we walked back along to A206 to the next railway station along the line, Westcombe Park. The plan dramatically failed as the timetabled trains came passed rammed to the doors with angry football fans. 

Realising that a Saturday night could now be spent on a platform of a South East London railway station, I changed direction and heading to Woolwich Arsenal, taking the DLR into Central London. Passing Charlton station at 5:50pm. I could see the opposite platform still three deep with bored and frustrated Watford fans waiting for a train to take them into the city. There seemed to be a lack of additional train services for fans; another example of local failure to put on enough transport to deal with mass participation sports events. 

I was lucky. It was a mild and sunny September evening, and I did not have any time commitments. As the DLR rode above the roofs of docklands houses, I enjoyed watching the planes fly away from London City Airport. On a cold Tuesday evening, you will want more from a train service, because the car is not a serious option if you are travelling to football grounds that are close to Central London. If clubs and authorities want their people to travel to football matches by public transport, they have got to make it easy and attractive. It took an hour to travel back into London. You may want to get a bus along the A206 towards Greenwich, and there are multiple bus routes available on this route.  

7. Overall Comments on the Day Out:

I enjoyed my trip to this game. Travelling to and from a ground can be a mine field anywhere in the UK, and it did not really affect the day. Charlton may not have the same high profile as other London clubs, without the swagger of the Premiership elite, or the gritty outlook of some of the city’s league clubs such as Milwall. It was difficult to tell quite where the fan base comes from, although there were many coaches that had travelled up from Kent for the game. Travelling back into London, I lost sight of many people with Charlton shirts on, quite soon after leaving The Valley. 

The match was fun, although with some ‘classically Championship’ frustrating moments, but the atmosphere is welcoming, and The Valley does have a certain character about it. The stadium obviously yearns for the return of Premiership football. Looking at half empty standards does affect the atmosphere, and gives a bit of a slightly faded image of the club. At the time of writing, Charlton were being christened the Championship “pacemakers.” Whether they are still there at the end of next May, it is very hard to tell.  

Charlton Athletic v Wigan Athletic
Championship League
Sunday, October 27th 2013, 3pm
Christopher Watson (Doing the 92)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be): 

Living far away in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, it is rare that I get to see a London based team. So when the opportunity arose whilst visiting Salisbury for a weekend, that Charlton were playing on the  Sunday (which meant I could get another game in at Southampton on the Saturday), then off to the Valley I headed.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

We arrived in London in plenty of time and parked up near the Thames Barrier which isn't to far from ground, just followed the fans to the ground.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We had already eaten breakfast at a Wetherspoons in Salisbury beforehand. We did though have a look at the Thames Barrier before heading to the game.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

On arriving at the ground I was impressed by how good it looked. Definitely Premier League standard in my opinion. Only one stand (the away end) remains of the old Valley. The other three sides have all been redeveloped with modern stands.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

The game itself was a bore finishing 0-0. The pre-match was good and as they were doing tickets for a fiver, the attendance was good. A few fans behind us made us laugh every time a fish came up on the screen!

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

A plenty simple affair. Out of the ground and back to the Thames Barrier to pick up our car before embarking on the long journey back to Bridlington.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

I would recommend the Valley if you are in the area. Hopefully you will have a better game to watch plus the game for a fiver day seems to be an annual event so worth it. Now 27 ticked off my list on my way to completing the 92 .

Charlton Athletic v Nottingham Forest
Championship League
Saturday, February 23rd 2013, 3pm
Liam Tolley (Nottingham Forest fan)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

A trip to London was always going to be an attraction and when the fixtures came out a trip to the Valley was always on the cards. With ‘King Billy’ back in charge at the City Ground it seemed only right to attend his first away game back and it had the potential to turn into an absolute great day.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

Living 20 miles away from Nottingham in Grantham, we took the one hour train journey to King’s Cross and arrived there for 11am. After exploring the pubs and the attractions in Covent Garden and Leicester Square we arrived at London Charing Cross for the 13:35pm train to Charlton and arrived there an hour before  the 3pm kick-off.  Finding the ground was straightforward with just a five minute walk from Charlton Station.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

When arriving in Charlton, we headed to a pub called the Rose of Denmark for a quick drink. The pub was packed full, with both set of supporters mixing without any trouble. The home supporters seemed friendly and seemed happy to share their pub with Forest Fans. Just before you arrive near the away end there is a small Fish and Chip shop which seemed very popular judging by the queues.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

My first impressions of the ground when entering through the away turnstiles is that it was very similar to the City Ground in terms of 3 ‘good’ stands with one stand looking out of place. Guess what? The stand which was out of place was the away end with very basic facilities. The toilets were outside alongside a small refreshments bar which sold a variety of drinks and warm food.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

As previously said, the facilities were very basic but they were good enough. The stewards seemed friendly, however the amount of police and security present you would of thought it was a local derby. The atmosphere within the Valley wasn’t the best however 3,000 away fans created an electric atmosphere. The game itself was dominated by Forest which resulted in a comfortable 2-0 win, with goals from Radi Majewski and Henri Lansbury. Didn’t try a pie but got great comments from the man next to me, who was enjoying his.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Getting away from the ground was very easy and was at Charlton station for 17:05pm. We caught the 17:15 train back to London Charing Cross and was back in the centre of London twenty minutes later. Train was busy on the way back so it might be suggested to wait 45 minutes after the game while the queues go down.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Brilliant day out and was made even better with Forest bringing home three points. One of the best away days yet and there will be no doubt at all to attend in future.

Charlton Athletic v Chesterfield
League One
Saturday, September 24th, 2011, 3pm
Chris Connolly (Chesterfield fan)

Offering tickets at £5 a time is a clever way of attracting a bumper-sized crowd and so Charlton well deserved the 22,000 plus (including well over a thousand Spireites) who attended this game. Driving to the ground was much easier than anticipated and one of our party had received some inside knowledge about parking which we took advantage of and left the car in a nearby megastore car park for free.
The Antigallican is as good an away fans’ pub as could be found anywhere and we also discovered a decent chippie up the road. Although they gave me mushy peas rather than the beans I had asked for the chips were damn good and neatly filled the hole which had developed since we left Chesterfield early in the morning. There were plenty of Police around but they were good-humoured and low-profile and there was no hint of any antagonism at all.
The stadium, like many these days since floodlight pylons became unfashionable, is invisible until you are right next to it, but when you find it, you are immediately reminded of the colour of Charlton’s shirts since everything is painted red, red, red. It’s a very nice ground too, although the Jimmy Seed Stand, for away fans, looks and feels a bit anachronistic. Of course, the important thing to remember is that this whole place would have been built over years ago were it not for the heroics of those Charlton fans who worked their red socks off to get the football club back into the area. For that they deserve a good stadium, and they have one which, at League One level, is excellent indeed.
I was looking forward to hearing Into The Valley before kick-off so it was a disappointment to get The Red Red Robin instead. The most notable thing about the public address system though was not its content but the decibel level, which is the loudest I have ever come across. I’m surprised the neighbours aren’t complaining about the noise. When we arrived there was a diva on the pitch singing Land of Hope and Glory with so much oomph that we were all deaf by the time the teams came out onto the field. We had a good view of the action when the game started; too good, in fact, since Charlton tore the Spireites apart for the first half hour and took a 2-0 lead which looked likely to develop into something embarrassing. There was a 1970s retro moment when an infiltrator was frog-marched out of the away end but I suspect he was not a Charlton fan at all but just a local hooligan attracted by the admission price and the chance for some inexpensive aggro.
At half time the volume was turned up even further before the action recommenced. Chesterfield were much more up for the game now and pressed forward encouragingly. Manager John Sheridan became so enthusiastic, in fact, that he got himself sent off for abusing a linesman over a penalty which wasn’t awarded. 15 minutes from time the Spireites pulled a goal back and it was end- to-end stuff from then on but in stoppage time, with our lads committed to attack, the homesters broke away and notched a killer third goal.
Getting away from the ground was no problem at all and in spite of the result the whole day was an enjoyable one. The stewards are friendly but capable of dishing out justice when they need to do so and the home fans seem happy to enjoy the game without indulging in any naughtiness at all. I’d be happy to come back again, certainly, although I expect to have to pay a lot more for the privilege next time.

Charlton Athletic v Leyton Orient
League One
Saturday, April 2nd, 2011, 3pm
Paul O'Shea (Doing the 92)

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.

Charlton Athletic v Gillingham
League One
Saturday, March 20th, 2010, 3pm
Philip John (Gillingham Fan)

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 back foot. 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 don't think everyone was wearing deodorant 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.

Updated 26th March 2015