Friday, 26 October 2007

Awaydays #8 - Charlton Athletic

The ValleyThe club: Charlton Athletic (The Addicks), The Valley

The ground: A good 'ol 'hemmed in by terraced housing' affair that has been redeveloped over the years. The ground is hidden away in back streets and has three enclosed sides of various levels and tiers - the North and West Sides behind the goal being two tiered, the East and South high backed singles, with the away South side completely separate from the rest of the ground. A complete absence of floodlight pylons, replaced with two rows of lights mounted on both the side stands is different of others' lighting solutions. A large video screen is located next to the away end. Unusually only the away seating is covered over - the rest of the facilities are open to the elements and the 'concourse' has a lower league ground feel to it
. The seats have a good view down the front, even the very front row as they are raised several feet off the ground. There is one single support pillar right in the centre of the stand behind the goal, any further back than it and you will get some resticted views. 7/10

The facilities and food: The number of facilities were woefully inadequate, located in a narrow walkway between the remote ticket office and turnstiles on Valley Grove and the stand, and totally open to all weathers. There is not enough room to queue for the bar and toilets, mill around or get to/from the seating area. The queues for the bar were very unorganised and after the game it took a good 15 minutes to get out as everyone tried to get through 1 small exit way. Alcohol is only served before the game, not at half time, and there are no pies - 'pastry slices' are on offer instead. 3/10

The stewarding/police: Compared to other London fixtures there seemed to be a smaller police presence. There were several patrols of the away pub, and vans of police personnel dotted around but not overly noticeable. The roads around the area are kept traffic free around game time. The stewards allowed supporters to stand for long periods of the game, even near the front. 8/10

The travelling: Very direct on long distance routes via the M25 and A2, roadworks permitting! Finding the ground hidden behind the main roads is hard as road signing is next to non existent - save for a few. Parking is also difficult as permit parking is only available until 6.30pm. Charlton is without the Tube coverage but a railway station is very close to the ground. 6/10

The surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): The Antigallican is away fan friendly, as is the social club further up the hill, both a few minutes from the away end. £3 a pint but the Antigallican was friendly and efficient. 6/10

The home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Friendly and helpful and quite passionate, the sound travels nicely around the ground when they all sing especially with the good turn out.. 8/10

Total score: 38/60

Awaydays League Table:

Barnsley (Oakwell Stadium) - 42

Blackpool (Bloomfield Road) - 38
Charlton Athletic (The Valley) - 38
Hull City (KC Stadium) - 38
QPR (Loftus Road) - 36

West Ham (Boleyn Ground) - 31
Stoke City (Britannia Stadium) - 28
Torquay United (Plainmoor) - 27

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