Charlton Athletic
The Valley

Ground No. 33
Visited - Saturday 10th January 2004
Result - Charlton Athletic 2-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Competition - FA Barclaycard Premier League
Attendance - 26,148

After two poor displays in the past week, and the daunting prospect of playing Man Utd and the banana skin of Kidderminster in the upcoming 7 days, I think we could all have done with a rest from having to watch Wolves, but the fixtures computer wasn’t having any of that, and so it was a trip south to The Valley that was scheduled for early January.

Having lost 4-0 to Charlton earlier in the season, that was another reason not to especially look forward to this game, but it was in good spirit that we caught the train down to the capital, changing at Birmingham to take the benefit of a cheap offer on Chiltern Trains.

We arrived into Marylebone in good time, and caught the tube and another train down to Charlton, coming out of the station and walking over the road to a pub called The Antigallican, where we met up with a few people and spent several hours drinking before setting off for the short walk to the ground.
It’s an odd ground, because of the way its situated with the housing around you can barely see anything until its right on top of you, but we went in and found our seats with about 10mins to spare until kick-off. My first thoughts on seeing the ground is that it has a lot of character, unfortunately character tends to make for uncomfortable conditions, which was the case here. The legroom was some of the smallest I've seen, and there are pillars in the way which isn’t good either, although the view wasn't too bad, and the ground created a very intimate feel, which was quite good. The rest of the ground looks to be better, with the stands looking more modern and also bigger, when full they were especially impressive.

The game got started and it was pretty even, until the linesman gave an unbelievable decision ruling their striker onside, when he was very clearly about 10 yards off. With our defence standing still he poked it past Michael Oakes putting the home side 1-0 up. The rest of the half continued in an even fashion.

At half time we went to go to the toilets to find that they were outside. There is no concourse underneath, and the facilities are basic to say the least, with one small block of toilets for the entire away end. If it was raining you would get absolutely soaked as there is no cover and you had to queue for about 10mins just to get in. With the food outlet (also far too small for the amount of people it was serving) being right next to the toilets it created chaos with there being confusion in which queue you were in!

We went back for the second half, and it got started and we absolutely dominated them. Unfortunately they managed to get one on the break and that killed the game. We still took it to Charlton, and you could count the number of times they got out of their half on one hand. Unfortunately we couldn’t make the pressure tell, and it ended 2-0, in a game we really deserved something out of. Perhaps it was their performance that resulted in a poor atmosphere from Charlton, as its yet another ground to add to the long list of Premiership venues where fans evidently don’t believe in singing.

Afterwards it was interesting getting out because everyone, home and away fans have to go up one small road away from the stadium, similar to Sir Matt Busby Way at Old Trafford, but walking in such a large crowd all going in one direction felt good in some way. There were no signs of trouble despite both sets of fans mixing freely.

We went back to the same pub for an hour or two before going home later on in the evening. Overall it was a pretty disappointing day, good to meet up with friends, and we’d had a good laugh in the pub, which was a bit of a dive, but like the ground, ‘characteristic’, but still the run of not being able to win away goes on.

No comments:

Post a Comment