Christ Almighty !
Starring Alan Pardew and David Meyler. Dir: Alan Pardew.
(Also nominated for “We Need to talk about Alan”).
Starring Harald Schumacher and the body of Patrick Battiston.
Star: Eric Cantona. Prod: Eric Cantona. Dir:Eric Cantona. From an original screenplay by Eric Cantona. Half time oranges by Eric Cantona. And some fishermen.
Star: Zinedine ‘Popeye’ Zidane.
Prod: Andrew Lloyd Webber & Michael Ball. Exec Prods: Frank Rijkaard & Rudi Voller.
Star: Nigel de Jong. Prod: Michel Platini & Stepp Ladder.
As true today as it’s always been….
In a quiet side street of the charming hamlet of Charlton, (as in ‘Charlton Athletic Nil’), London, SE7, once stood a little pub called The Valley, named after the local football team’s home ground. A pretty unremarkable little boozer, which my brother and I used to go in for “just the one” at lunchtime on match days (we were supporters, you understand, not players. The players were in the boozer across the road). It was suitably scruffy, unknown to traveling opposition supporters, and mercifully free of the formica and stainless steel decor favoured by the Slug and Pianos, the All Bar Funs and the Trout n Tillbox pub chains so popular with the yoof of today.
But the feature of this pub which will stay with me forever was an old photograph on the wall. Or to be precise, a photo so large it stretched across two walls, floor-to-ceiling, in the main bar. It showed life as it was 60 years ago, a life sadly no longer with us. The photo at the top of this post, similar to the one in the pub, will give you an idea of what I mean.
Pictured was of the old, massive, main terrace at Charlton’s ground, presumably photographed just post-war. Several things struck you when you looked at the picture: That they used to sell-out home games; Some of the supporters were smiling; No-one was kicking seven shades of shite out of anyone else; and everyone in the photo was male.
But there was something else: of the nigh-on 20,000 people in the photo everyone, and I mean EVERYONE was wearing a hat. Be it a trilby, a flat cap, or whatever, EVERYONE wore a hat. Question: when the time came to throw your hat in the air in celebration of Charlton scoring a goal (quiet at the back!) how did you get your own hat back? It must have been carnage.
In 1953 Charlton beat Middlesbrough 8-1 which presumably meant that some of those present changed hats 8 times during the match. I wonder if after twenty minutes you ended up with a real corker of a titfer you just buggered off home and sod the result? Were you refused entry to the ground if you were hatless? What if your chapeau was a birthday present but the bloke standing 7 yards away caught it during the melee after a late equalizer? My mum would have gone Garrity if I returned home without it.
Perhaps it’s only me, but it’s something that’s always bothered me.
The pub’s not there now. Demolished to make way for yuppie flats, a Costa Bundle Coffee bar or somesuch. Gone the same way as epidemic hat-wearing, a thousand proper boozers around the country, and home goals at The Valley.
(originally published by the Sharp Single as “Saturday Titfers” in March 2009. And we’re still waiting for a home goal— The Ed).
Why do we bother watching football ? Who out there hasn’t felt like this on more than several occasions about their own team ?
Very sweary Geordie gets himself in a lather about the Toon. (Works perfectly too if you substitute the word Newcastle for Charlton). Things clearly ain’t going well for the Magpies from the Land of My Fathers (well, mothers to be precise). Made me smile on more than once, which is more than Charlton do.
Thanks Shola, but fook off !
Last night’s Season Finale of I’m Scared of Fast Bowling, Get me Out of Here brought to a predictable close another in a long line of less than heroic sporting disasters. I’ve been going to The Valley, SE7 to gawp at Charlton Athletic FC ‘play’ football since 1977 (see elsewhere in these pages) and the sight of one side running rings around another, like adults versus kids, is not an unusual one for me.
So as you sit back and watch the following clip, try to picture CAFC vrs Tottenham, or even one of the big sides like Stoke. This is how it is for us every week.
(And for those of you watching in black and white, Charlton Athletic are in the red.)
I put it to you that however little us English care about the future of that lot north of the border, many of us will miss stuff like this splash from this morning’s rags. Cynics may feel that the threat of losing of great headline writers is a flimsy reason why we should support the preservation of the Union between Scotland and England. But however much you may try, you just can’t find a better headline than this from the Scottish Daily Record…
….unless you count this footballing gem, of course…
That’s why I’ll be voting “NO” come referendum time. At least I would if they’d let me vote.
(Thanks to the Wee Mon Hugh, still scribbling away, for this one)
And it’s over to you, Our Man Up a Ladder outside Wembley, Nick Collins….
And now, back to you in the studio.
…Another chance to see…