Whether or not you choose to believe this is a tough time to support Charlton Athletic, most will agree there’s a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the Addicks at the moment.
What are Roland Duchatelet’s true intentions? Will Chris Powell be managing the club next year, next month or even next week? Will The Valley be hosting Championship football next season?
But, even in the lowest ebbs of the Charlton’s recent history, one thing has always been certain. The club’s academy will always produce high quality talent.
The enthusiasm with which Duchatelet recently spoke of the academy, siting it as a major factor in his decision to purchase the club, and the U18s’ recent success in the FA Youth Cup, with a number of players receiving international call-ups as a result, goes to show it’s currently the healthiest sector of the club.
In fact, such is the quantity and diversity of the talent that has come through Charlton’s academy, a full matchday squad of 18 past graduates and products can be named.
The academy XI lines-up in a 4-5-1 formation, whilst the bench contains adequate replacements in almost every position.
Appearances: 110 in all competitions between 2008 and 2011.
Strengths: A fine shot stopper and an excellent distributor, the ‘keeper made few mistakes in the shirt of the club he supported as a boy.
Away From The Valley: He may only have a handful of games to his name, but Elliot has made himself a fans’ favourite at Newcastle United and impressed whenever called upon. A recent call up to the Republic of Ireland’s squad was justified.
Finest Hour: His reaction following Charlton’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in 2009. Charlton’s first win for 19 matches was celebrated by the stopper with as much passion as anyone inside The Valley that night.
Appearances: 125 in all competitions
Strengths: Solly’s main strength is that he has no weakness. Deceptively strong, will contest aerial duels with the tallest forward and as good in the tackle as he is running down the wing and delivering a cross. The Player of the Season awards he’s picked up for the past two years are well earned.
Finest Hour: an incredible displaying against Cardiff City at the CCS that saw the youngster keep Craig Bellamy and Kim Bo-Kyung quiet all night. A crunching tackle on Wilfried Zaha runs his performance in Wales close.
Appearances: 338 in all competitions between 1994 and 2003.
Strengths: The best player never to play for England? He’s up there. Pace; strength; an aerial presence; excellent in the tackle and composed with the ball at his feet; Rufus had it all and was a crucial member of both promotion sides and a regular fixture in Premier League starting XIs. Unfortunately, he also had knees Ledley King would have been proud of, and injury curtailed his career several years too early.
Finest Hour: His bullet header that took the 1998 play-off final to extra-time; his first senior goal.
Appearances: 195 in all competitions between 1998 and 2009. A further 21 in the 2010/11 season followed, but the less said about them, the better.
Strengths: Dubbed the new Richard Rufus due to his similar style of play, he never quite reached the levels set by his fellow academy graduate. However, Fortune was a reliable performer for the Addicks throughout the years.
Away From The Valley: A handful of appearances for Stoke, Sheffield United and Barnet, but Fortune enjoyed the best years of his career at The Valley.
Finest Hour: Just like Rufus, Fortune’s finest moment was an important equalising header. His one sent Crystal Palace down on the final day of the 04/05 season.
Strengths: A complete full-back. Dependable, if prone to the odd error, at the back and strong going forward, Konchesky was a solid performer in a Charlton shirt. Such were the level of his performances that the one-time youngest ever Addick received one of his two England caps whilst at The Valley.
Away From The Valley: Baring an unpleasant spell at Liverpool, Konchesky has been a steady performer at every club he’s played for. Now a regular for leaders of The Championship, Leicester City.
Finest Hour: The England cap, as recognition of his displays in Charlton red.
Appearances: 29 in all competitions from 2013 onward
Strengths: Rarely has a teenager made such an immediate impression on a side, let alone a struggling one. His goal, and a mature display, in his league debut off the bench against Barnsley in August has been followed by a number of excellent performances against vastly more experienced midfield opponents. In fact, he’s hardly missed a game since October, showing he has all the attributes to become a high quality holding midfielder. Even when pushed out wide in recent weeks, Cousins as acquitted himself well, with criticism of him wide of the mark.
Finest Hour: A man of the match display against Nottingham Forest; one of the best individual performances of this season.
Appearances: 145 in all competitions between 1997 and 2004
Strengths: Of all the players in this squad of 18, Parker is arguably the stand out. The star man in a side that achieved Charlton’s highest ever Premier League finish of 7th in 2003/04, Parker’s sale to Chelsea saw the Addicks fall away from the European spots in the second half of the season. Strong in the tackle, the vision and creativity to pick up a sensational pass and scorer of the odd eye-catching strike; a superb footballer.
Away From The Valley: After Chelsea decided they didn’t fancy making the most of their £10,000,000 signing, Parker has been a key player at Newcastle, West Ham, Tottenham and, his current club, Fulham. The 2010/11 Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year award and captaining England in 2012 made even those Charlton fans who still viewed him as a greedy sod proud of their club’s academy graduate.
Finest Hour: Doing some kick-ups for a McDonalds advert.
Appearances: 134 in all competitions between 2005 and 2010.
Strengths: At his best, Sam was a real handful for defences. Unfortunately, his best was rarely seen. But the winger still had plenty of pace, trickery and, occasionally, a final product to match. A very good championship winger on his day, League One was far too easy for him.
Away From The Valley: Sam showed glimpses of his quality in two seasons at Leeds United, but all too often left the fans feeling frustrated. Now made New York his home, with the Red Bulls’ fans fond of him.
Finest Hour: Wining League One’s Player of the Month for August 2009.
Appearances: 152 in all competitions from 2008 onward.
Strengths: Another one of those players who warmed your heart in difficult times. Not the most exciting winger, but one who would run through brick walls to make something happen for the club he loved. A key performer throughout Charlton’s three seasons in League One, and scorer of important goals in the title winning season, ‘Waggy’ found life a little tough in the Championship but still continued to give his all. A player Charlton fans will remember fondly.
Away From The Valley: He appears to have settled in well at his new club, Bristol City, scoring a number of goals and displaying his trademark ‘FIFA’ celebration.
Finest Hour: The sheer look of joy and shock on his face with every goal he scored, but the volley against Bournemouth on the first day of the title wining season kicked off a successful campaign in style.
Appearances: 47 in all competitions between 2008 and 2010.
Strengths: There’s a myth that has done the rounds that suggests Phil Parkinson’s reasoning for not always playing Shelvey in his side was that the playmaker was ‘too good’. I don’t know if I believe that, but it serves to show just how sensational a player Shelvey was even in his teens at The Valley; a luxury the Addicks couldn’t really afford. A tough, if sometimes rash, tackler, a superb passer and capable of scoring the odd goal. It was obvious from his debut as a 15-year-old he was going to be something special.
Away from The Valley: Liked at Liverpool, loved at Swansea and improving week-by-week. He’ll soon add to his solitary England cap.
Finest Hour: It was always a pleasure to watch Shelvey play in a Charlton shirt, but becoming the club’s youngster ever player and, soon after, goalscorer are records that probably won’t be beaten.
Appearances: None, but he’s ours and not West Ham’s, I promise.
Strengths: Goals, goals, goals. Okay, I know it’s criminal to praise Defoe, but he did come through Charlton’s academy and has a goal scoring record that anyone would be proud of. He also had a habit of scoring against the club that taught him everything he knows, including the goal that resigned them to the Championship in 2007. Ah.
Away From The Valley: 535 career games, 220 goals. 55 caps for England, 19 goals. Not bad. A legend at Tottenham, as shown by the reception he received after completing his final game at White Hart Lane before heading off to the MLS.
Appearances: 20 in all competitions between 2007 and 2010.
Strengths: Replacing Elliot in the starting XI towards the end of the 2009/10 season, the Irishman displayed similar qualities to his fellow stopper and Charlton fans were disappointed to see him leave at the end of that season.
Away from The Valley: over 100 games for Motherwell and the number 1 shirt at Birmingham City have followed since the Irish international departed SE7. He showed The Valley crowd what they were missing with a number of excellent stops in the recent fixture between his current and former club.
Finest Hour: an incredible stop to deny Jermaine Beckford late on in a 1-0 win over Leeds United.
Appearances: 9 in all competitions between 2010 and 2011.
Strengths: Without setting the world alight, the youngster was one of few bright sparks in terrible Charlton side. A consistent performer in the few appearances he made, the full-back’s solid defensive work and promise going forward was enough to earn him a move to Arsenal.
Away From The Valley: Despite finding the going tough to being with, Jenkinson has gradually become accustomed to life in the Premier League, racking up 50 games and often impressing. He also has an England cap to his name.
Finest Hour: Indirectly funding Charlton’s promotion to The Championship.
Appearances: 63 in all competitions from 2012 onward.
Strengths: A ‘Chris Powell player’ if ever there was one. You’ll find plenty who are technically better in The Championship, but he’ll match anyone for effort and determination. Whether at right-back in the absence of Chris Solly or on the wing, Wilson has been a consistent performer in a forgettable season.
Away From The Valley: Released by Charlton before making a first team appearance after coming through the academy, Wilson’s curly locks got the chance to shine at Stevenage. Two promotions and 191 games later, Wilson had impressed enough to earn a move back to SE7.
Finest Hour: “He used to be s****, but now he’s alright, walking in a Wilson wonderland,” sang The Valley faithful as his two goals against Brighton earned the Addicks a shock 3-2 win.
Appearances: 36 in all competitions from 2011 onward.
Strengths: Whilst still be very raw, and certainly not the finished article, Harriott has shown in glimpses the level of ability he possesses. Like any good winger, he’s not afraid to take on a full-back, and his trickery and pace give him a fighting chance of beating his opponent. The end product needs some work, and he can often be a little eager to shoot, but there’s certainly something there.
Finest Hour: In his fist start of the 2012/13 season, Harriott gave Peterborough’s defence problems all night, and provided a glorious through ball for Johnnie Jackson, who finished in a manner the assist deserved.
Strengths: After leaving Charlton as a youngster, via a loan to Inter Milan, without a making a first team appearance, Turner has carved out a decent career for himself. A crucial cog in Hull’s promotion winning side of 2007/08, the centre-back has impressed at Sunderland and Norwich. One that got away?
Away From The Valley: 385 career appearances, including 153 in the Premier League. Not too shabby at all.
Appearances: 34 in all competitions between 2012 and 2013
Strengths: After leaving the club without making an appearance as a youngster, Haynes returned in 2012 and left such an impression on the fans that they were disappointed to see him leave 18 months later. Raw pace, equally effective on the wing as up front and possessing an eye for a sensational goal, Haynes often provided the spark to liven up a lifeless game or turn one Charlton’s way. His injury struggles prohibited him from having a prolonged run in the side, but he often impressed off the bench and in his rare starts.
Away From The Valley: Haynes’ goals for Ipswich Town against rivals Norwich City have made him a cult hero at Portman Road. However, he’s only amassed more than 50 appearances for one other of his six clubs, Bristol City, and fell out of favour with the management at Notts County this season. He’ll be attempting to rekindle his career during a loan spell at Hibernian.
Finest Hour: An extraordinary volley against Leicester City that meant the Addicks came away from the King Power Stadium with an unlikely three points.
Appearances: 176 in all competitions between 1996 and 2007
Strengths: Yeah, let’s not gloss this over, Lisbie wasn’t that great. But the other options were Danny Green or Josh Wright, and I don’t like either of them. However, he did rack up over 175 appearances for the club, which is quite an achievement.
Away From The Valley: Goals for Colchester, Ipswich and Millwall followed after his departure from The Valley, but he’s found home at Brisbane Road. 41 goals in 101 games has made him a favourite amongst the Leyton Orient fans.