The Valley (London)

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The Valley
The Valley, Floyd Road
The-Valley-Charlton.jpg
Location Floyd Road, Charlton, London SE7 8BL
Coordinates 51°29′11″N 0°2′11″E / 51.48639°N 0.03639°E / 51.48639; 0.03639Coordinates: 51°29′11″N 0°2′11″E / 51.48639°N 0.03639°E / 51.48639; 0.03639
Broke ground 1919
Opened 1919
Renovated 1991
Expanded 1994 (East Stand re-built)
1998 (West Stand re-built)
2001 (North Stand re-built)
Closed 1985–1992
Owner Charlton Athletic F.C.
Surface Grass
Capacity 27,111
Field dimensions 112 x 73 yards
Tenants
Charlton Athletic F.C. (1919-1985, 1992-present)
London Broncos (1996-1997, 1999-2000)

The Valley is a 27,111-capacity sports stadium in Charlton, London, England and is the home of Charlton Athletic Football Club.

History[edit]

In Charlton's early years, the club had a nomadic existence using several different grounds between its formation in 1905 and the beginning of World War I in 1914. The ground dates from 1919, at a time when Charlton were moderately successful and looking for a new home. The club found an abandoned sand and chalk pit in Charlton, but did not have sufficient funds to fully develop the site. An army of volunteer Charlton supporters dug out a massive pit for the pitch, and used the soil from the excavation to build up the sides. The ground's name most likely comes from its original valley-like appearance. The club played its first game at the ground before any seats, or even terraces, were installed; there was simply a roped-off pitch with the crowd standing or sitting on the adjoining earthworks. The unique circumstances of the ground's initial construction led to an unusually intense bond between the club's supporters and the site that exists to this day. In the 1923–24 season, Charlton played at the Mount stadium in Catford but in a much higher populated area. A proposed merger with Catford South End FC fell through and thus Charlton moved back to the Valley.

In 1967, Len Silver the promoter at Hackney made an application to open Charlton as a British League speedway club, and plans were put forward to construct a track around the perimeter of the football pitch. The application to include speedway at the Valley was enthusiastically supported initially, but was eventually ruled out on the grounds of noise nuisance.

For many years, the Valley was the largest League ground in London and one of the largest in Europe, with a capacity of up to 75,000. The East Stand was by far the largest stand in English football.[1] However, Charlton's long absence from the top level of English football prevented much-needed renovation. Eventually, the club's debts led to bankruptcy administration. A consortium of supporters successfully acquired the club in 1984, but the Valley remained under the ownership of the club's former owner. However, the club was unable to finance the improvements needed to make the Valley meet safety requirements. The next year, Charlton left the Valley, entering into what became the first official groundshare in The Football League, with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. In 1988, the ownership of the club and the Valley was again united, and in an event that harkened back to the ground's initial construction, thousands of supporters volunteered to clean the ground, eventually burning the debris in a huge bonfire on the pitch. By this time, however, the large terraces were no longer seen as desirable or safe. Charlton Athletic supporters then proposed a brand-new stadium to surround the original pitch. However, the Greenwich Borough Council overwhelmingly turned down plans to renovate the ground. Club supporters formed their own local political party, the Valley Party, in response to the council's refusal. The party ran candidates for all but two Greenwich Council seats, sparing the two councillors who had approved the new stadium plans. The party won almost 15,000 votes in the 1990 elections,[1] successfully pressuring the council to approve the plans for the new stadium.

In 1991, construction began on the new Valley, and the club moved from Selhurst Park to West Ham's Upton Park. The modern stadium opened in December 1992. Since Charlton's return to the Valley in 1992, the ground itself has undergone some remarkable changes. The north, east and west sides of the ground have almost been completely rebuilt, giving the ground a capacity of over 27,000. The club have ambitions to extend the ground's capacity to over 40,000 by expanding the east side and completely rebuilding the south side,[2] but it remains uncertain if or when the plans will be implemented after the club's relegation from the Premier League in 2007 and from the Championship two years later.

In 2004 the Unity Cup was held at the Valley with Nigeria winning the competition.

Stands[edit]

North Stand[edit]

Capacity: 9,000

The North Stand

The North Stand was built as a replacement for the 'covered end', and is sometimes still called by this name. It was built during the 2001–02 season as part of the developments to bring the Valley's capacity to 26,500 after promotion to the Premier League in 2000. The North Stand houses what is considered the most vocal supporters in the ground, along with restaurants and executive suites. It is also the home of the club's band, which includes drummers and trumpeters.

East Stand[edit]

Capacity: 6,000

The East Stand

The East Stand was constructed during the 1993–94 season and fully completed in 1994. As part of the first development to the ground since the return in 1992, it replaced the massive east terrace, which had been prohibited from use since the mid-1980s after the Bradford City stadium fire. This is a single tier stand and houses the television gantry, and also has numerous executive boxes. Occasionally, in FA and League Cup matches, part of the East Stand is used to house away supporters if demand for tickets is high.

West Stand[edit]

Capacity: 9,000

The West Stand

The West Stand was built in 1998 after Charlton's first promotion to the Premier League and is also two tiered. This is the main stand at the Valley with the largest capacity, and also houses the club's offices, as well as the director's box, board room dug-outs, changing rooms and the commercial centre (ticket office). There are also many conferencing rooms in this stand which are used for official and community events. There is a large statue of Sam Bartram, (considered to be Charlton's finest player) at the entrance of the West Stand.

Jimmy Seed Stand[edit]

Capacity: 3,000

The Jimmy Seed Stand

The Jimmy Seed (or South) Stand is the oldest part of the ground, and dates from the early 1980s. This stand is named after Charlton's manager, Jimmy Seed – with whom Charlton won the FA Cup in 1947. This stand has a capacity of around 3,000 and hosts the away supporters at games. It is also the only part of the Valley which has a supporting pillar in it.

Details[edit]

Records[edit]

Average attendances[edit]

The Valley's highest average attendance came in the 1948-49 season when crowds averaged 40,216, making Charlton one of only thirteen clubs in English football to achieve a seasonal average of 40,000+. The Valley's lowest average attendance is 5,108 from the 1984-85 season.

Highest

Season Average Division
1948-49 40,216

Division One

1947-48 36,248
1949-50 34,567
1946-47 32,401
1936-37 31,086

Lowest

Season Average Division
1984-85 5,104

Division Two

1973-74 5,306

Division Three

1972-73 5,658
1922-23 6,175

Division Three South

1981-82 6,649

Division Two

Average attendance for every season since 1993–94, the first full season since Charlton returned to the Valley.

Season Average Division
1993–94 8,056

First Division

1994–95 10,216
1995–96 11,185
1996–97 11,081
1997–98 13,275
1998–99 19,823 Premier League
1999–2000 19,541 First Division
2000–01 20,020

Premier League

2001–02 24,135
2002–03 26,235
2003–04 26,278
2004–05 26,378
2005–06 26,171
2006–07 26,197
2007–08 23,159

Championship

2008–09 20,894
2009–10 17,407

League One

2010–11 15,582
2011–12 17,485
2012–13 18,499 Championship

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Details about Charlton Athletic". BBC London. Retrieved 17 July 2007. 
  2. ^ "Expansion plans underway". Charlton Athletic F.C. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 17 July 2007. 
  3. ^ Matt Ashare (8 June 1999). "Total Death of Loud: Guitar Wolf, Atari Teenage Riot: louder than bombs". The Village Voice. 

External links[edit]