Friday, April 28, 2006

Ten years ago: Valiant Victory

On 27th April 1996 Charlton faced Burslem Port Vale who were 9th in the league at Vale Park. It was my first visit to what was once vaunted as the 'Wembley of the North' and I noted a 'strange ground with huts dotted around.'

My notes recall, 'We didn't start well and when we 0-1 down because of a defensive error my worst fears were realised. But Sweaty Balmer made it 1-1 before half time. Then Nelson scored just after half time and Allen made it 3-1.'

'Vale supporters started to congregate round the touchline and invaded the pitch when the whistle went and a charge of mounted police appeared from the left. Lots of police, including mounted ones, in Burslem.'

In the Valiants programme, chairman W.T.Bell stated his ambition for the club 'to stay in the First Division for many years to come', although admitted this was difficult on average gates of 8,000. Charlton's average attendance that season was 11,076, placing them 5th in the league. Curiously in the programme they referred to Charlton as 'The Addicks or Valiants' using the top down nickname that never caught on.


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