Charlton Athletic today announced that Albion had sold out their allocation in the usual Jimmy Seed Stand for the away tie in early December.
Not bad, we thought, as though The Valley holds fantastic memories for us in the Gus era, it is a ground that many have done a few times and could be forgiven for giving it a miss this year.
The game has some significance for the hosts however as our match is the closest date to the 20 year anniversary of Charlton returning to The Valley. Some of you may not know, but The Addicks had to leave The Valley for a few years after it fell into a terrible state.
We know what it's like to lose a ground, but Charlton are especially close to their home after their fans built, or dug, the place in the first place. The Valley was traditionally the biggest league ground in London, with 75,000 South Londoners able to fit into what was essentially a glorified football 'pit'. The East Terrace at the ground was a monster (see above), and romantically remembered as the largest terrace in England.
The club, though tasting success, struggled to keep a place in the top flight consistently and The Valley was a big place to upkeep. The 80's was a decade unlikely to be kind to the SE7 club, and after administration caused the club and ground to be separated, the fan-owned Addicks were forced to leave after the old place failed too many safety tests.
This was 1985 and crowds had dropped to around the 5k mark. Charlton moved to Selhurst and then Upton Park while the fans fought with Greenwich Council to ensure the club could move back home and start building again. Just like when the ground was built, it was the fans who cleaned-up The Valley in the early-90s to make it match-fit. 8,337 Supporters turned up two decades ago to see Charlton play Portsmouth in the old second division and over the years massive regeneration of the ground means that the club have attracted 15k+ crowds ever since.
The match has a meaning that we should appreciate therefore, and just like how we'll remember that Donny game at The Amex in 20 years, you should be warmed by the thought of all those Charlton fans reminiscing themselves about their own return home.