Charlton returned to The Valley in 1992
Credit: Charlton FC

In 1992, it was my 32nd season following Charlton and in all those years I turned up on a match day and took my seat with not a prawn sandwich in sight. We had a regular parking spot in the Cawood’s front car park on the Woolwich Road.


In the 60s, I had stood on the east terrace with my dad and later moved to the covered end before progressing to the west stand lower when I was employed by the club. My dad would have hated the west stand (although not as much as Selhurst and Upton Park) as the fans there were too quiet for him! I have always bought my own season tickets and never took up my seats in the directors’ box apart from season 2011-12, for operational reasons.


I never really felt a connection with any manager until Lennie Lawrence came along, and it was for that reason I approached his testimonial committee in 1992 offering to organise a testimonial dinner for him. In my letter to the committee, I told them I believed a minimum of 500 people could be achieved. The feedback I got at the time was that the committee wondered if I was a total fruit cake, although Steve Sutherland vouched for me.


It didn’t matter too much because Lennie left to move to Middlesbrough and so that was the end of the discussion. Or was it? I thought about it and decided that I would go ahead with the event but re-classify it as the Back to the Valley Celebration Dinner. I approached the club and was asked to a meeting at The Valley where I sat for an hour beyond the agreed meeting time. I was told that my target of a minimum of 500 people was not achievable, so they declined to support it. I approached the Supporters Club and finally found a group of people who believed in me. The best response I could give all the doubters was that the dinner was attended by 700 Charlton fans and was the biggest Charlton fan dinner ever.


It became an annual event and I remained involved up to the 10th dinner, as well as the Centenary Dinner in 2005. Every single dinner sold out with a minimum of 500 guests. George Best, Denis Law and Jack Charlton were amongst the many guest speakers. Steve Sutherland was the host of every event and never charged a penny, not that I would have paid him anyway!!


Because I was the event organiser for all those years, I have a lot of video and DVD content that has never been seen before and I owe a great debt to my close friend David Moss for all his great production and editing work over many years. We had some great fun making the videos with the brilliant Brian Moore, Jim Rosenthal and Gabriel Clarke adding their unique commentary skills to the content.


Now that we are celebrating 30 years since our return to The Valley, I plan to share it in small doses throughout this season and am discussing how that is done with Steve Sutherland in his role as Chair of the 30th Anniversary Committee. I hope Charlton fans everywhere will enjoy

what they see and that it brings back some fond memories.




The new football season is almost upon us, and it is that time of year that football fans are full of hope for the coming season and optimism outweighs reality. 

 

In the Premier League, both Manchester City and Liverpool have strengthened their already impressive squads and I expect them to dominate at the top of the league once again.


As with last season, I expect City to come out on top but without doubt their biggest priority will be the Champions League and I expect them to finally win that also. They dominated Real Madrid over both legs of the semi-final last season, and it is still a mystery to me how they lost the tie in five mad minutes after Madrid hardly mustered a chance over 90 minutes in the second leg. I think City will re-think how they approach the League Cup and FA Cup this season as a result.


Tottenham and Arsenal have also done some astute business in the transfer market this summer and I expect them to qualify for the remaining two Champions League places.


At the other end of the table, this could be a difficult season for a number of clubs, and I think Southampton, Brentford and Everton will struggle. But it will be tough for the three promoted clubs - Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest - to bridge the massive gap that now exists between the top two divisions and I do expect them to fill the three relegation places.

 

In the Championship, the disparity in finance between the sides who have the parachute payments and those who don’t is enormous and for that reason I take Norwich City, Watford and Burnley to be in the final shake up for promotion back to the Premier League. I expect the surprise package to be QPR. Michael Beale is a talented and highly rated coach and has taken Damien Matthew with him. Damien coached the League One Championship winning side at Charlton. I think they will be a strong team and have a major impact on QPR.

 

League One has some big clubs in it and will perhaps be the most competitive league next season. There are around 12 teams who would expect to be challenging for promotion and I think the points share will be very close. I take Sheffield Wednesday to take the league title, as much I’m desperate to say Charlton. 

 

I have a vested interest in Walsall in League Two and the new owners are going about building the club in the right way and I am rooting for them to take the League Two title.

 

It is three months since the last EFL season ended and I for one am ready for my weekly dose of football. This will be a strange season with a World Cup in Qatar in the middle of it but that gives the season an added spice and I have high hopes for England, particularly as the competition is not taking place after a long hard season and the players will be in peak condition.


Tom Tugendhat had been campaigning to be the next Prime Minister

Tom Tugendhat MP is not going to be the next Prime Minister but he has certainly performed as well as some of the others in the race to be the Leader of the Conservative Party and the next tenant of 10 Downing Street.


He certainly has a look of his father and reminded me of the many ‘happy days’ I spent in the company of his father, Sir Michael Tugendhat, when 15 years ago as a high court judge he presided over the case of Crystal Palace FC (and Simon Jordan) v Iain Dowie.


That case centred on whether Dowie was guilty of misrepresentation in order to exit his contract as manager of Crystal Palace without £1m compensation being payable. Justice Tugendhat found he was guilty of misrepresentation and based on the evidence I heard and I attended every day of the trial I have no argument with the decision reached.


In his judgement, he said he that the relevance of attaching Charlton Athletic FC and it’s senior personnel to the case was largely irrelevant to the case of misrepresentation as that was a matter related to conversations between Jordan and Dowie.


Jordan could of course have served legal papers on Dowie at any time as he wasn’t that difficult to find but he chose to have them served on Dowie during the press conference to announce him as the new Charlton manager. The agent serving the papers misrepresented himself to gain access to that press conference (is there a rich irony there?) and of course it was all pre-planned because Jordan was then immediately on TV to state his case.


The written evidence I was obliged to disclose under court rules proved that Dowie was not on my personal shortlist for the job largely due to his affiliations with Crystal Palace and I felt the fans would not accept the appointment. The club’s General Manager favoured Peter Taylor but in the end the senior Charlton directors made their choice in Dowie.


In Jordan’s book, he reveals his QC believed my evidence but I think we all know that Simon regards himself as a superior intellect to barristers! Having said that, he is a great daily performer on talkSPORT and talks a lot of common sense (most of the time...) and should certainly be involved in the governance of the game in some capacity.


Ironically, the period that followed Alan Curbishley’s reign at Charlton was one of abject failure and Charlton is still struggling on the back of the relegation from the Premier League that followed.


Hopefully there will still be good times at some point in the future but if not, no one can take away the memories!