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: 03330 14 44 44
Pitch Size: 112 x 73 yards
Club Nickname: The Addicks
Year Ground Opened: 1919
Shirt Sponsors: BETDAQ
Kit Manufacturer: Nike
Home Kit: Red and White
Away Kit: All Purple
Third Kit: Blue and Black

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 Pies; Peppered Steak (£4), Chicken Balti (£4) and 3 Cheese & Onion Pies (£4),  These outlets are supplemented by separate hot dog stalls (£4 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), Bulmers Cider (£4 bottle 330ml) & White Wine (£4.50 miniature bottle).

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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 normally save on the cost of fares by booking in advance.

Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can save on the price of train tickets.

Click on the trainline logo below:

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

Visit the the trainline website to see how much you can save on the price of train tickets.

Click on the trainline logo below:

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

Jimmy Seed (South) Stand

Adults £23 (£20)
Concessions £18 (£16) 
Under 18's & Students £10 (£10)
Under 11's £5 (£5)

Official Programme £3.
Voice of the Valley Fanzine £2 (issued eight times a season).

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

Crystal Palace, Millwall & West Ham.

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

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
2015-2016: 15,632 (Championship League)
2014-2015: 16,708 (Championship League)
2013-2014: 16,134 (Championship League)

If anything is incorrect or you have something to add, please e-mail at duncan@footballgroundguide.com and I'll update the guide.

Charlton Athletic s AFC Wimbledon
Football League One
Saturday 17th September 2016, 3pm
Mark H (AFC Wimbledon fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Valley?

A south London Derby is always an attraction. Especially since it is easier for me to get to than an away match to Bury, for instance.

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

Planned maintenance on the rail line to Charlton made the journey slightly more tedious. I travelled from Wimbledon to London Waterloo,  then took the Underground Jubilee line to North Greenwich and then a bus to the stadium.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

I visited the Antigallican pub before the match. It was a:nice enough place for a drink before the game. Home fans were awesome.

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

The Valley is carved into a hill surrounded by residential buildings, so it doesn't really come into sight before you're at the turnstiles, really. Inside, you realise just how big the club can be. A truly brilliant stadium - well built and great colours, vibrant setting. The away end was good also, considering we are behind one of the goals - we could see the pitch brilliantly. However, the solitary supporting pillar located in the middle of the stand is annoying when viewing the game being played

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

Stewards - 10/10 Bars selling beer 8/10 Pies 8/10 Atmosphere 7/10 (but that's because the stadium was only a third full). But their home drummer created a good carnival atmosphere. Seats 3/10 - I'm 6"3 and the seats are so close together I could barely sit properly. I felt like I was being viced into a seat.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Easy. Walk away. However the traffic on the A206 Woolwich Road was atrocious, so we ended up walking the entire way to North Greenwich because it took less time than catching the bus.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Yes, I would visit the Valley again. No questions asked. Not just because we won the match and the elation of winning can sometimes cloud your judgement, but overall not once did I feel intimidated or stressed out, which a day away can sometimes cause.

Charlton Athletic v Reading
Football Championship League
Saturday 27th February 2016, 3pm
Richard Stone (Reading fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Valley ground?

This was our first visit to The Valley so I was looking forward to the game. We had been to a number of away games before the new year which had yielded some truly dispiriting results, but Reading's fortunes seemed to be improving of late. Charlton had been having a dismal time of it so expectations were high. On top of that, Charlton had reduced the ticket price for this game to just £5 which had attracted a large Reading contingent of about 3,000.

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

We travelled on one of the supporters coaches which dropped us near the Antigallican pub, mentioned elsewhere on this website. From there, it was a short walk to the ground, which you can't really see until you're on top of it being located in a residential area. Away fans are housed in the South Stand. You can't walk right around the stadium so if you approach the ground from the north side, walk along the West Stand to get to the away fans entrance. Charlton fans are quite rightly up in arms at the moment over the current owners' plans for the club and there was a demo planned for after the game which was presumably why there was a heavy Police presence. The Charlton Fans' Action group were handing out free teamsheets and were very friendly and keen to explain their grievances. Stewards also were very friendly.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

Although we were quite early, we decided to go into the ground after checking we could get a drink! - which we could. The whole of the South Stand was given over to Reading fans - depending on your row letter, you either enter through the side or you have to go up around the back for higher rows. There's a barrier horizontally across the stand so you have to go around to move between the lower and higher sections. There's a quite small servery for the whole of the stand staffed by friendly but rather inefficient servers. There's beer or lager at £4 per pint and the usual array of pies and hot drinks. A cup of hot water plus a teabag is £2.20.

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

From the away end, you get quite a good view of the rest of the ground. The opposite North Stand is pretty big and the corners are filled in joining the East and West sides of the ground. It looks quite impressive although it was fairly sparsely filled by home fans.

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

We were in row J, so had a good view and were in front of the single pillar in the centre of the stand. Possibly due to the reduced ticket price, there seemed to more than the average proportion of younger teenage Reading fans, many behaving as teenagers will and many having difficulty controlling themselves. The stewarding was 'light-touch'. We were supposed to occupy our allocated seats and a few futile half-hearted pleas over the PA for everyone to sit down were ignored. The game itself was a bit of a roller-coaster which Reading did their best not to win. 3-1 up at half time, our defence looked decidedly creaky in the second half and Charlton pulled back to 3-3. Our new Latvian striker, Deniss Rakels made himself an instant folk-hero by scoring the winner in about the 4th minute of additional time right in front of the away fans - cue riotous celebrations. A bit tough on Charlton I suppose, especially as their Arsenal loanee Sanogo scored a hat-trick. (I wish we had a player called Yaya!)

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

After the match, the coaches were parked right outside the turnstiles. There was a short wait while the crowd dispersed and we were soon on our way.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

As others have mentioned, there's quite a nice "feel" about Charlton and I hope the issues that the supporters have with the owners are resolved asap.

Charlton Athletic v Bristol City
Football Championship League
Saturday 6th February 2016, 3pm
Jason D (Bristol City fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Valley Football Ground?

This was to be a new ground visit for me. I had liked what I had previously heard about the Valley and also from what I seen of the stadium on Football League shows. So it was a fixture I had been looking forward to for sometime, plus it would be an away trip to London.

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

I went by train for this match. Once arrived at London Paddington Station, we ventured onto the London Underground, heading for London Bridge. There we switched to the overground train to Charlton. We came out of Charlton Station, turned right, crossed the road and before we knew it we were at the entrance to the away end. It was as smooth and simple as that.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?

The away end had it's own outdoor facilities for food and drink including those partial to a pint of London's finest (well maybe not) so we choose to hang there with like minded people even though City fans had a pub locally sorted and it was sound place to congregate and got very busy indeed

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

The Valley is a three sided modern looking stadium with an away end which resembled old fashioned terracing but with seats. We walked into the middle of the stand but found that from here were unable to head up to the back of the top of the stand. So we had to go back out of the stand and walk up and around the back it, to enter gain to reach the top portion. The stand was spacious and we had a pretty decent view of the playing area. Plus the atmosphere created in this pretty low roofed stand was excellent, but saying that we around 2,500 fans inside it.

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

The game was fast and furious and a great one to watch if you like nail biting for sometime that is...as we narrowly won the game, so it was all well from that point of view..... The stewards were friendly and had bit banter and all good natured of course......they were pretty chilled apart from having deal with the odd flare incident, but then again the were just doing a job which didn't involve my group of lads so no bother there either. It's a shame that the Valley seems is too big for the size of fanbase Charlton has. But I guess with the current predicament at the Club on and off the field, has contributed to the large numbers of empty seats. 

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Getting away was as quick and easy as getting there, unlike long drawn out waits such as at Brighton.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

I loves my away days in London and this was no different. Shame it won't be mapped out for next seasons campaign as Charlton look like there will be heading to League One as of writing this, oh well its Villa away instead then. 

Charlton Athletic v Bristol City
Football Championship League
Saturday 6th February, 2016, 3pm
Keith Farrow (Bristol City fan)

Why were you looking forward to this game and visiting the Valley football ground?

Bristol City had sacked their manager a few weeks previously and it was anticipated that they would name Lee Johnson as their new manger before this match. It was also my first visit to the Valley since the 1970's at which time it had the largest capacity in the country.

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

My daughter was meeting me for the match. I travelled from Wiltshire by train to London Paddington and then had an easy tube journey to North Greenwich tube station via the Bakerloo and Jubilee lines. Tube journey was about 35 minutes. I then had a ten minute walk to our meeting point. My daughter drove to our meeting point, the Millennium Leisure Park from Essex. There is a five hour free parking period here, giving us time to eat, walk to the ground (about 20 minutes) and return after the match.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?    

The leisure park has lots of places to eat, we chose Nandos. No problem wearing team colours.

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

The Valley has changed a lot in 35 years! It's now a fairly modern stadium, but still tucked away within residential streets. Fans mixed well before the match. Turnstiles entrances were a little dated, but worked well. We were surprised at the high level of policing for the match. Whether that was for rival fans or driven by the home supporters opposition for the regime controlling the club I'm not sure. Once inside the stadium it was noticeable that the drinks concessions etc are a bit dated. They are in an uncovered area with little space around them. The same applied inside the away end. Traditional stand with seats that were a bit tight on knee room. However fans are close to the pitch and the compactness made for good acoustics and atmosphere.

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

Stewards were very friendly and helpful. The game itself was tight. As expected out new manager was announced in the hours leading up to the game and will have been very happy to see us win 1-0.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Leaving the ground was trouble free. Again a very heavy Police presence, with officers lining the centre of the road at the point were home and away fans converged. All was peaceful and the home fans I spoke to were very welcoming.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

The Valley is a nice ground to visit. A real traditional club, squeezed into the community. Well worth a visit. We much enjoyed our day.

Charlton Athletic v Leeds United
Football Championship League
Saturday 12th December 2015, 3pm
Nigel Evans (Leeds United fan)

Why were you looking forward to visiting the Valley football ground?    

It had been many years since I last visited the Valley, when I was in my early 20's as a single lad. I was returning with my 16 year old son and was keen to see if my maturing years had changed my view on the stadium. From the last visit my memory had left me with a favourable impression.

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

We set off from Leeds at 8am, by official supporters coach, which seemed ridiculously early for a 3pm kick-off. We made good time even though it poured with rain most of the way to our stop off at Peterborough Services. At that point it looked like we'd make it to London with plenty of time to spare. However once we hit East London we got snarled up in traffic. It seemed to take for ever to get to the Blackwall Tunnel-all because it transpires a car had broken down taking out a lane and causing the mayhem for miles back! Once we got through the short journey into South London was pretty straight forward. As usual with London clubs the lack of organisation from the Police in directing coaches to the designated parking parking area was standard. This resulted in our driver having to double back & block the road until the Police took an interest in us! Luckily for us on board this just happened to be right outside one of the designated pubs for away fans!

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?    

Straight off the coach and into the pub, The Antigallican. To say it's basic is an understatement! The place was packed as expected with us filling another clubs away end as usual! However I got served fairly quickly & after forcing my way back through from the bar found a spot out of the way with a good view of the televised game been shown on the big screen. The Leeds fans were in full voice & the atmosphere was relaxed. A nice touch by the bar staff was putting some Leeds songs on over their music system to as well!

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

Coming out of the pub it's not instantly apparent which direction the ground is. Luckily my memory served me well as even though it was after 2pm there wasn't the usual throng of crowds to latch onto and follow! At this stage we hadn't seen one home fan! Walking up to the ground we spotted people with black and white scarves on which was odd and a little worrying in case I'd taken us the wrong way! Apparently the scarves are part of a Charlton fans protest about the way the Club is run.

Even as we approached the stadium it is well hidden from view. A tip I remembered from my last visit was to head toward the high rise tower block which is visible long before the ground is. By doing this it leads you toward the away end. By taking this route you don't get to see any of the outside of the rest of the ground as its hidden behind shops & houses. Even getting a good view of the exterior of the away end is limited due to approaching the outer gates side ways on! As the stand is the oldest & very basic I don't think the facade would be anything spectacular! Once inside the stand me & my son were impressed with our view. We had the whole of the stand, and looking around I think everyone would've had a good vision of the action. The other three sides looked good and only a lack of people sitting in them made us realise Charlton is a small club. The stadium itself, probably because of the three sides sweeping round & enclosing it, feels much bigger than it is. On this occasion it was more a case of the stadium being too good for the team that played there!

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

The stewards were very polite but unfortunately I had to pick the one who was new and sent us in the wrong direction for our seats! To be fair she was very apologetic and personally escorted us to the correct ones. I have to point out, as it doesn't seem to have been mentioned in other reviews, that the refreshment area and toilets are open to the elements! It was dry when we visited but I wouldn't want to stand on a wet day drinking my beer! Even though the away end was packed with over 3000, plus we had opted for the facilities that you come across when coming through the turnstiles-as most did down to the fact the ones on the opposite side of the stand weren't apparent-the service before the game was quick. Even the seemingly inadequate portaloos coped. I ventured down to use the loo at half-time & queued less time than I normally have to at Elland Road to be fair. We didn't sample the food, which only appeared to be Holland pies and little else. The beer was typical football standard and priced accordingly. Another tip is buy your match programme when you see them before you go through the turnstiles as strangly they don't sell them inside the ground.

The first half was totally forgettable. Both sides were equally poor and showed with the appalling finishing why where both in the lower half of the table. Thankfully we came out in the second half with more intent but sadly the finishing skills of an under 7's team! We had enough chances to have snatched the 3 points but a glaring miss from an open goal 8 yards out summed the game up! The only atmosphere in the ground was made by the Leeds United fans. The home sections were sparsly occupied and aside for a brief part of the game, when the dreaded football drummer decided to make some noise in an attempt to rouse his fellow fans, they weren't audible at all. We did comment that maybe the club should think of condensing the fans into just 2 of the 3 sides to help create an atmosphere and save on running costs.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

After the game both sets of fans mingled without any incident. In fact it was the most orderly I've ever seen! The only trouble I saw was inside the ground on departing when a heated argument between two Leeds fans over some bizarre claim by one that something was Sam Byrams fault, resulted in a bit of pushing & shoving between them. We hurried down toward the vague rendezvous point where the Police said the coaches were being parked up. Although we found ours relatively quickly I'm sure others faired much worse as they seemed to be parked anywhere up the dual carriageway, on both sides of the road! Maybe clubs with smaller support don't have this issue. Certainly I got the impression the whole operation inside & outside the stadium is set up for clubs bringing sub 1000 support & no alternative plans by the Police or club are put in place for the bigger teams.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

At least we didn't lose! We've seen so many games involving our club where the other side would nick an unlikely goal & steal all 3 points. Charlton are hard to dislike. If anything I'd say it's a very bland club that needs a bit of passion pumped into it. Even the rallying call from the P.A announcer on the team coming out at the start of the game was met with near silence! We felt totally safe in and around the ground. A decent day out that would've been perfect but for that missed open goal!

 

Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town
Championship League
Saturday 28th November 2015, 12.30pm
Mickey Woo (Ipswich Town fan)

Why were you looking forward to visiting the Valley Football Ground?    

Living in South East London, and with no Millwall fixture this season, this is the nearest away game to me, The Valley is one of my favourite grounds, partly because they are team of my father, uncle and many of my cousins. Also Ipswich's recent form had started to pick up, so I was hopeful of a good result.

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

Other than London Bridge Station being closed, grrr, travel was easy enough as we had chosen Elephant & Castle for pre-match drinks, so used Waterloo East. The Valley football ground is very close to Charlton Station. So much so that it makes the walk from Ipswich Station to Portman Road, look almost like a marathon!

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?    

As mentioned I ate and drank beforehand at Elephant & Castle. However, being in London there are ample places to eat/drink around the Valley. As long as you eat fried food you will never starve in London!

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

Having first visited in 1978 the ground has developed thru the years, and given the fact it was almost turned into a housing development in the 80's we are lucky to still have it. Away end is ample for most away support and has great acoustics, however, unless on the front few rows you can not see the goal line!

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

Charlton fans are currently protesting at the way in which their club is run, so they either stayed away [shame] or held up "We are the 2%" cards in the second minute. Apparently the Club's Chief Executive had previously remarked that  2% of Charlton fans were unhappy with club, so this was in response to this. I think the owners need to check their history on how Charlton came to return to The Valley. They face very active politically supporters.

Game was easier than the last two visits which involved early goal then hanging on, then hanging in there with late goal. This one was a relative cruise. Due to location there's always a good Town following here, which given the acoustics, makes some noise. Stewards were laid back enough and friendly. I try not to use stadium facilities or catering due to general poor quality at some venues, so can't comment here.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

As home fans had pretty much gone by the time we left, it was straight across road and into Charlton Station.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

 Always a pleasure to visit the Valley,  nice to see a win. Good luck to the Charlton fans.

Charlton Athletic v Preston North End
Championship League
Tuesday 20th October 2015, 7.45pm
Paul Willott (Preston North End fan)

I honestly didn’t know whether to dread or look forward to this in the immediate run-up to the game.  Before the season kicked off, this was for me an absolute banker as a fixture as I live in north-east Kent, and hence one that I looked out for and ring-fenced in the diary.  However, with Preston occupying a bottom three space in the legaue table, and Charlton just above us, I sensed a relegation “6 pointer” in the offing as match day approached and potentially a defining point in our first season back in the Championship. A defeat at the Valley against another “struggling” team really would indicate that the whole season would be one long battle to survive, and although one dared occasionally to hope for a win, I couldn’t really see past us getting a draw at best. I guessed that the match risked being one that both teams might be more scared to lose, rather than going for the win.

The Valley Charlton Athletic

On the more positive side, The Valley had always been a pleasant away day with no problems in the past with the home fans, stewards, or the police, and one can usually enjoy good football chit-chat with the home supporters on the train both before and after the match. I had no reason to doubt that this evening would be any different, and I joined my train at Chatham looking forward to having a few pre-match beers with an old school colleague who is like myself exiled in the south-east. It would be hard to pick a football ground that is easier to get to really; Charlton station is literally a hop, skip, and jump from the stadium itself and well served by trains from both central London and rural Kent.  I could only ever envisage myself using any other method of transport for fixtures at The Valley if the railways were non-operational for whatever reason.

As per the suggestion in the guide itself, once I’d linked up with my friend, we pounced into the Antigallican pub for a few beers before  the match and found the pub pretty much as the guide describes. Its cheap and cheerful, and for unfussy lager drinkers its perfect, although I suspect real ale fans it would be a disappointment.  As it is a haunt favoured by away fans, there really is no need to check your watch, for as soon as most of the clientele start to down their pints and head out, then you know its time for kick-off!

View From The Away End

View From The Away Stand At Charlton

I have always liked the Valley; I recall an author by the name of Simon Inglis saying in one of his books that grounds bedecked in red always feel ‘warmer’ than blue, and although I wouldn’t profess to understand the colour psychology behind such a sentiment, on evenings such as this, I thought of his words upon entering the ground. Also worthy of note is the history of this proud and historic site; older fans amongst us will recall the sad days when they were exiled from The Valley, forced to groundshare with Crystal Palace and West Ham for much of the 80s and doubtless I wasn’t the only one that doubted The Valley would ever see league football again, and even wondered about the long term sustainability of the club. The story of how the supporters got involved in local politics, gaining some 15,000 votes in local elections to force through the processes needed to get the club back to the Valley is one of the greatest untold stories in English soccer, and I’m always mindful of that when I enter this stadium ; a good stadium too that wouldn’t exist otherwise.

The ground of the modern era although fully modernised, still retains character. The West Stand is these days the most impressive; a double decker affair that boasts the club crest on the cladding on the roof gable. Opposite, is the single tiered tidy East Stand, with word “Valley” picked out in white seating. This stands on the site of what was claimed to be one of the biggest terraces in English football. The North Stand, or ‘home’ end was given an extra tier and extended to meet both the East and West Stands in 2002 or thereabouts and dramatically “oomphed” up the appearance of the stadium; you can still pick out the contours of the original seating within the lower tier of the stand and visualise how the ground used to look.  We away fans housed in the South Stand are arguably in the stand most in need of modernising, although what is currently there is more than adequate, I’m consistently led to believe that the club favours putting an extra tier on the East stand before doing anything to the South Stand. The floodlights are mounted along the the roof gables of the East and West Stands.

West Stand

West Stand

However, it must also be noted that as we’d entered only seconds before kick-off, the other impression I got of tonights encounter was of a far reduced turnout in the home stands than on previous visits.  My earliest visits to the Valley predated the dramatic re-build of the North Stand, and then in subsequent visits to cheer on Preston North End, the ground seemed pretty full. I can only surmise that in those days, many fans were hoping on a speedy return to the top flight, and I’d guess that the attendance was easily a good 10,000 down on earlier visits as people drifted away over the intervening years.  Thus I would conclude it will be some years before the club actually puts any stadium extension plans into place for either stand concurrent with an upturn with fortunes on the playing surface.

The match got underway with Preston getting out of the traps early and putting the hosts under pressure which resulted in a promising free kick that Paul Gallacher happily tucked away into the top corner to give us a dream start.  To be fair from then on it was pretty much one way traffic. Charlton looked like a side that had lost all confidence and even when they enjoyed little spells of possession, their forwards never looked like they had the belief that they could score.  Just when we began to worry whether we really could capitalise on this situation, Paul Gallacher fired in a corner that rebounded back to him, and he caught a defender napping and struck a sweet shot from a tight angle to put us 2-0 up before the break.

East Stand

East Stand

As we nipped out to grab a half-time pint, I felt confident that we could secure the 3 points at the end of the match, such was the vibe of the evening. The home crowd had been silenced from very early on in the match, and I couldn’t see Charlton getting back into the match unless there was something spectacular on their bench waiting to come on that we didn’t know about.

There is a large area just outside the South Stand that is marked out with hatched yellow paint; it transpires that it’s the zone where you physically could stand with a drink and watch the action, hence it was marked out as what we christened “the box junction” and was being firmly policed as a “no drinking zone”. We noticed that some stewards were just about to get a little over zealous in the policing of said area, so we jocularly asked if there were indeed “box junction” fines in operation at The Valley. The jests were taken in good spirit by the stewards and it happily diffused the scenario for all concerned.  

After we’d retaken our seats for the second half, we enjoyed more of the same with Preston North End comfortably in control, and it was little surprise to any-one when Daniel Johnson curled in a cracking shot from some distance to give us a third on the night and effectively end the game as a contest.  I felt for the Charlton fans really, even their substitutions didn’t spark any revival, and in truth if it wasn’t for some wasteful finishing by our strikers, we could have won by 5 or 6.  It was no eye-brow raiser to see a fair few of them start heading for the exits with some 10 minutes left to play. By the time the injury time board was raised, very few home fans remained at all.

And so, the final whistle blew on a match that more than exceeded my expectations, and I bade my friend farewell as I headed for the station to jump the next coast-bound train. As usual, I was quite comfortable to engage Charlton fans in discussion, and I noted that none of them blamed the manager for the teams decline, but instead the owners for their perceived paucity with the purse strings.  Many of them observed though with a hint of resignation in their tone that the manager would be the one to carry the can, which within a week was indeed the case. 

As my train rattled along and I reflected on a much needed three points, I hoped that the match may mark a turning point in our fortunes for the season. We’d played well in earlier matches and not got results the show for it, and it was pleasing to see the hard work and determination pay off with a win that lifted us out of the dreaded drop zone. I was now intrigued how we would fare in a few days time down at the south coast at the runaway league leaders , Brighton.  That would doubtless be a sterner test.

As for our hosts, the result effectively meant we’d swapped places as they now sat in the bottom three.  I hope that Charlton’s fortunes improve though; it’s a good ground that’s also almost embarrassingly easy for me to get to, tickets priced competitively (very competitive when you consider its London), and a pleasant ambience. So come on you Addicks, turn it around, and we’ll see you next season!

When I trundled in through my front door with matchday programme and gloves in hand, my eye fell on an envelope on the mantelpiece ; this envelope contained six tickets with the name “Brighton and Hove Albion” emblazoned across them – Bring it on !!!!!!!

Charlton Athletic v Queens Park Rangers
Championship League
Saturday 8th August 2015, 3pm
Peter Eriksson (Neutral fan)

Why were you looking forward to going to the Valley football ground?

I have not been to the Valley for over 15 years so I looked forward to coming back again since it was always a good day out.

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

We went on a riverboat from Embankment pier to Greenwich (along with quite a few QPR fans) and stopped off there first for a few hours before we made the short trip to Charlton station which is near the ground and very easy to find.

What you did before the game pub/chippy etc, and were the home fans friendly?    

Went almost straight in the ground since we arrived only a half hour before kick off. Only a short stop in the club shop. My daughter wanted a new Charlton top since it's her team. As always a very good feeling when you arrived at the Valley. There was only a few mouthy QPR fans trying to stir things up but the local Police moved them quickly on.

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

The ground is very good and is more suited for the Premiership since all the redevelopment that was made when Charlton was a Premier League side. The only "bad" side is of course the away end as it's the oldest but it was absolutely packed with very noisy QPR fans so it was still an impressive site.

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

The game was typical Championship football in very hot conditions. Very hectic and many passes did not find their intended receiver. QPR looked the better team for the first 30 minutes but after that it was all Charlton and two well taken goals in the second half made it a fully deserved home win. The home support was good for the whole game and it only got better with the goals of course. The Rangers fans were very noisy to start off with but they got more quieter as the game went along as their team gave a very poor showing. However, they backed their team to the end.

Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

No problem what so ever. I guess we were on the train to Kings cross in approximately 30 minutes after the game had finished.

Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Great day out with family and friends. It will not take 15 years for me to come back again. I always tell my friends in Sweden who wants to see a game in London when they visit. to avoid the Premier league. The heart and soul of English football exists much more in the Championship and further down the Leagues.

 

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.

Why not write your own review of the Valley Charlton Athletic and have it included in the Guide? Find out more about submitting a Fans Football Ground Review.

Updated 19th September 2016

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