Every football club has some dates in its history that are celebrated by its fans. For Charlton Athletic, our opponents on Saturday, one of those dates is December 5th 1992. That was the day that the Addicks went back to the Valley.
Charlton had left their ground in 1985 because the club didn’t have the money to upgrade the Valley to the required standard of safety. For the next 7 years it kept going by ground sharing with Crystal Palace and, later, with West Ham. Their fans wanted to move back to SE7 and put a lot of effort in campaigning for this. When the council refused planning permission for a new stadium to surround the original pitch, they formed a party to contest the local elections. In May 1990, nearly 15,000 votes were cast in Greenwich for the 60 Valley Party candidates. They didn’t win any seats but the council did grant planning permission.
Construction started in 1991 and Charlton played their first game back at the Valley in December of the following year. Fans celebrated that first game with the ‘River of Red’ walk as 750 walked from Woolwich Town Hall back to the Valley, singing and chanting as they went. The route was the reverse of the one they had used for many protest marches against Greenwich Borough Council.
Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust chose December 5th, 2013, as the date of their launch. This was the 20th anniversary of the return to the Valley, which the CAS Trust website describes as “a symbol for what can be achieved when a community stands as one, and fights for what it believe in.”
The game itself is particularly poignant for supporters of Charlton and in particular their Trust. Similar to ourselves they have recently been successful in their ‘Asset of Community Value’ application. This provides them with a modicum of protection for the home they have fought so hard over the years to retain, at a time when only recently their ownership has again changed hands. We are pleased that they have asked us to join this celebration in conjunction with Greg Dyke, F.A Chairman and representatives of Supporters Direct. It is hoped there is opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding BCFC with these individuals and in particular the “Delay No More” campaign.