The Valley - Charlton
The Valley - Charlton Athletic - SeasideEssexXile
The very name - 'The Valley' conjures up allsorts of imaginative connotations:
Into the valley sang The Skids almost 30 years ago. For those of you too young to remember this was a lighter side to punk. 'Into the Valley, Betrothed and divine, Realisations no virtue, But who can define, Why soldiers go marching, Those masses a line'. Prepare to hear this classic tune before the teams appear on Saturday.
Heady days, the Pool had just dropped from our current league whilst Charlton were a couple of years away from bankruptcy and a ground share with the Palace. How those things have changed over the last 20+ years. Charlton have just dropped from the prem, and their recent track record reflects this - Striker sold pre season for £16.5 million, 17,500 season ticket holders for this season. Pool however, are on the up and memories of a close run cup tie there several years ago are still fresh in the memory.
How to get there
From the North:
M6 South, M1 South M25 Dartford bound to J2. Joint he A2 heading into London then the dual carriageway becomes the A102M - the approach road to the Blackwall Tunnel. Leave at the junction after the A2 exit and take the right-hand exit at the roundabout - the A206 Woolwich Road. After the major set of traffic lights at Anchor and Hope Lane and Charlton Church Lane, travel around second roundabout and take the last exit to drive back on yourself. Then take the first left into Charlton Lane. Cross the railway line and continue up the road, then right into Harvey Gardens. The stadium is on the left.
From the South:
Follow the A205 South Circular Road to Woolwich and turn left into the Woolwich Road at the roundabout for the free ferry. You should then turn left into Charlton Lane and proceed as above.
For the Virgin Lovers amongst us:
Southeastern runs train services to the railway station at Charlton, from central London in the west and north Kent to the east. The station is a short walk from the ground. Frequent services depart from Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge, with limited departures from Victoria and Cannon Street. Some services come through Dartford continue to Charlton, while connections for others can be made at Blackheath, Lewisham and London Bridge. The Docklands Light Railway from east London connects with rail services from Greenwich and Lewisham to Charlton, while the Jubilee Line underground station at North Greenwich is a short bus ride from The Valley.
Charlton have come along way since moving grounds. The old Valley held over 60000 standing fans, the new Valley however still accommodates an impressive 27000+. It really is a nice stadium and plans are proposed to up the capacity to 31000. Located behind a goal in the Jimmy Seed Stand we can really make some noise here. On my last visit I recall the Valley being one of the noisiest grounds around. There's room for 3000 away fans although I expect us to have between 1200 - 1500 for Saturday's trip.
Parking is tight around the ground. Get there early enough and there is some street parking available, check for the permit signs though. £5 for the car park is a cheaper option than the inevitable metropolitan clampers fee.
Where to drink
The Antigallaghan, near Charlton Station, is the most popular pub for away fans. The station is less than a 5 minute walk to the ground. The Horse and Groom pub is located just down the Woolwich road from the ground. The Bugle Horn at the top of Charlton Church Lane in Charlton Village.
The landlord is a devoted Charlton fan and has decorated the bars with plenty of framed memorabilia from signed player's shirts (pre-war and currant) to photos and historic programmes. The Rose of Denmark is located on Woolwich Road,
Plod & Stewards
Stewards are reported to keep a low profile but this is the met, and the police look for easy pickings from Northerners.
Fear Factor Rating - 5
Just a point on the Fear Factor Rating - after the cup game I walked round the ground with the Essex Juniors in tow. A couple of leary cockaneyes thought it hilarious to scream foul mouth abuse towards us. I hope it was a one off as the day out at the Valley was a great experience other than this. I'd expect no problems come Saturday.
As I said at the beginning the Valley conjures up some fantastic thoughts, bearing in mind the Charge of the light brigade - 'Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred'.
Here's hoping come 5 pm on Saturday we're remembering the words of the lovable 70's Scottish punk band and not recalling the slaughter of brave souls.
Onwards + Upwards