The 5th day of the 12th month. It’s a very special day for anyone associated with Charlton Athletic Football Club. It’s the date, in 1992, that Charlton returned back home to The Valley after seven years in exile. Today marks twenty years since that historic moment and, more than ever, those connected with the club having a reason to proud. There’s been some memorable moments in the 20 years since the return, and here’s my list of the top 20.
3:07 – 5/12/92
The first game back at The Valley, it was a game Charlton were destined to win. Seven minutes into the game Darren Pitcher played in Colin Walsh who smashed home the winner as a sell-out crowd saw the Addicks beat Portsmouth 1-0. Delirium, relief, pride. Chartlon were home.
Ipswich Play-Off – 13/5/98
Without this result, Wembley and the penalties would never have happened. Leading 1-0 from the first leg, Charlton knew a draw would see them through, but a Shaun Newton goal just past the half hour mark sealed the victory in the leg and on aggregate. I don’t need to tell you what happened next.
Premier League Welcomes and Returns
The combined total of Charlton’s first home games upon promotion to the Premier League makes happy reading. Played 2, won 2, scored 9, and conceded 0. A 5-0 win over Southampton in 1998, including a Clive Mendonca hat-trick, and a 4-0 win over Man City in 2000 made this Premier League malarkey look all too easy.
It may have been a poor end to the season, and a defeat to Ipswich in the final game, but Charlton had bounced straight back to the Premier League and as champions. A fantastic season prior to the bad run saw the Addicks amass a total of 91 points, and only that was being thought about as Mark Kinsella lifted the Division One Trophy.
United Comeback – 9/12/2000
3-1 down to Manchester United with 15 minutes to go, game over surely? Not in the mind of a John Robinson inspired Charlton. The legend epitomised everything the club is about with fight and desire to snatch a late equaliser after Shaun Bartlett got Charlton’s second. Beckham et al embarrassed on the Valley turf, how beautiful.
Bartlett Banger And The RVP Rocket
There are not many better sights on a football pitch than an unbelievable volley. The Valley has had its fair share of world class strikes, but two goal of the season winners stand out. First of all, a goal for the Addicks in the 2000/2001 season. Reminiscent of the Song to Van Persie goals of last season, a long ball from Gary Rowett is played forward to Shaun Bartlett, who somehow volleys home on the full from a seemingly ever widening angle. The second goal physically involved Van Persie. A ball through to Eboue saw him cross to the edge of the box, which Van Persie somehow flew onto and volleyed into the back of the net. The reactions of Luke Young and Talal El Karkouri say it all. There was nothing anyone could do.
Brown Red Card – 29/9/01
One of the more light hearted moments came in 2001 when Steve Brown was sent off for a deliberate handball. The card was shown to him whilst he was carried off on a stretcher which didn’t please the Charlton fans. Putting to use the club shop brochures that were handed out before kick-off, the home fans littered the pitch in them. A strange sight indeed.
10 years on – 7/12/02
Two days after the ten year anniversary of the return to The Valley, one of Charlton’s 21st century legends kicked started a 2-0 win against Liverpool. A close range finish from Jason Euell and a second from Paul Konchesky gave Charlton the three points and another sentimental victory. I presume it will be 3-0 on Saturday then?
Boxing Day Bashing – 26/12/04
It was the season were Roman’s millions first started to show. Chelsea finished second in the league, but they also lots emphatically to Charlton. Goals from Hriedarsson, Holland, Johansson and Euell gave the Addicks a remarkable 4-2 win in a season that saw their highest ever Premier League Finish. Days like that always seemed to come into a conversation after an embarrassing defeat to Exeter or Hartlepool.
Claus and the keeper – 21/2/04
Another remarkable game from the 2003/04 season against Blackburn saw Charlton throw away a 2-0 lead with a keeper equalising in injury time, only for the Addicks to go down the other end and grab the winner. Carlton Cole and Euell put Charlton ahead, only for Andy Cole to get a goal back with 15 minutes to go. With Blackburn getting a corner late on, Brad Friedel went up and unbelievably scored. Thankfully for Charlton, legend Claus Jensen volleyed home from 25 yards to give Charlton three points. Brilliant.
We Sent The Palace Down – 15/5/05
It’s the final day of the 2004/05 season and there’s nothing to play for, for Charlton at least. They’ve already sealed a comfortable mid table position. The visitors, Crystal Palace, on the other hand are fighting for their lives. Three of four teams will go down, Palace needing to win and hope other results go their way. With 15 minutes to go it looked like the Eagles were safe; 2-1 up and Norwich and Southampton losing meant they were staying in the Premier League. That was until big Jon Fortune popped up with a header 8 minutes from time to level the match and relegate Palace. ‘Tralalalalalalala we sent the Palace down’ became a Covered End classic for the next few seasons.
Thanks Curbs – 29/4/06
The first time I’ve ever cried at a football stadium for footballing reasons was when Alan Curbishley resigned as Charlton manager. A flat 2-0 defeat to Blackburn meant nothing as the hero of Charlton’s rise to the Premier League announced his decision to leave. It all went downhill from there.
You’re not fit to wear the shirt – 19/12/06
The 2006/07 was full of embarrassing displays and defeats, and one of the worst was Wycombe in the League Cup. Les Reed’s men, facing the League Two side, looked destined for a semi-final tie and the chance of a shot at a final appearance. But such was the inadequacy of Reed’s sides, Charlton put in one of their worst ever performances to lose 1-0 to a Jermaine Easter goal. ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ sang the angered Addicks fans.
Premier League relegation – 7/5/07
A 4-1 defeat away at Blackburn the previous week had left Charlton on the verge of relegation to the Championship. Tottenham were the visitors for a Monday night fixture in a must win game. After just 10 minutes Berbatov had turned El Karkouri and finished past Carson. Former Charlton academy player Jermaine Defoe rounded off a 2-0 win, heartbreak. Cue tears from the fans and an image of a downbeat Matt Holland; one that always stays in my mind.
Pardew’s Final Act – 22/10/08
Respected as a player and a respectable battle against Premier League relegation meant to begin with, the Charlton fans were happy to have Alan Pardew as their manager. But an 11th place finish in the first season back in the Championship and an awful start to the following season that saw the Addicks bottom of the league. The final nail in the coffin was an awful display against Sheffield United that saw Charlton lose 5-2. He was sacked later that day and immediately became a villain.
Penalty Heart Ache -17/5/10
In my life time, Charlton haven’t really done penalties. Apart from a shootout win over Chelsea in 2005 in the League Cup at Stamford Bridge, I struggle to think of any real success. The worst one of all though, by far, was the shootout defeat to Swindon in the 2009/10 play-off semi-final. Going into the second leg 2-1 down, Charlton were 3-2 ahead by half time. With 30 minutes to go Gordan Greer was sent off and it looked like Charlton were in control, but a goal from Danny Ward with 15 minutes to go and a period of extra time that saw Charlton come close on countless occasions without scoring saw the game go to penalties. Regular penalty taker, captain and player of the year Nicky Bailey stepped up and picked out the corner flag. Every other penalty was scored. Swindon were through. Despair and resignation to another season in the Micky Mouse division followed.
Powell’s First game
Nothing too remarkable about the game itself, a 2-0 win against Plymouth, and an embarrassing run followed shortly after, but that’s not the point. Chris Powell’s first game was the start of something magic. The legend had returned as a leader and my word has he led us well.
CHAMPIONSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS – 21/4/12
With the final whistle sounding on the penultimate home game of the 2011/12 season, Charlton looked to have secured the title with a 2-1 win over Wycombe. There was an agonising wait though as fans waited for the end of MK Dons v Sheffield United, which saw the Dons lead 1-0. The wait seemed to last forever, until over the loud speaker system a cry of ‘CHAMPIONSSSSSSSSSSSS’ was sounded by pitch side announcer Dave Lockwood. The perfect reaction to the perfect moment as fantastic moments of celebration followed.
Yann Basten – 5/5/12
‘We all dream of a team of Kermorgants was sung by the home crowd on mass up to the 70s; the perfect salute for cult hero who’d inspired the Addick’s promotion. He had one more piece of magic for the home fans though. A looping ball from Bradley Pritchard looked like it was heading out of play, put some how the Frenchman kept it in and flicked the ball over the keeper from an impossible angle. Pure class. The day was also remembered for the red devils parachute display team, the lifting of the League One trophy and a heart-warming rendition of ‘we’ve got our Charlton back’ as Chris Powell gave a speech to the Covered End.
Cardiff Madness – 13/11/12
One game was needed from this season, and what a game. On the back of an awful run of results and a 4-1 defeat to Middlesbrough, an embarrassing start saw Charlton go 2-0 goals down to Cardiff. I’m sure every Charlton fan was beginning to get a little concerned with the thought of a struggle and relegation, but the crowd sang ‘Chrissy Powell’s red army’ non-stop for a good 20 minutes. Two fantastic goals from Johnnie Jackson saw the Addicks go in level at half time and then, inspired by the crowd, raced into a 5-2 lead with a fluke free-kick from Dale Stephens and two headers from Danny Haynes and Rob Hulse respectively. Two goals for Cardiff in stoppage time tested the nerves but three valuable points were Charlton’s.