Friday 7 December 2012

4th October 1977

Still probably my most memorable league match occurred 35 years ago when tomorrows visitors came to the Valley on a Tuesday night. Both Charlton and Brighton were going well in the old Second Division and both had leading scorers in Mike Flanagan and Peter Ward respectively. Their names dominated the evenings' raucous singing.

My memory as a 14 year-old was that Brighton brought thousands of fans and that the Valley was swollen with a massive crowd. Interesting to read that the attendance was actually only 19,098, although those were the days when Charlton look liberties with the official gate as they avoiding tax by declaring lower numbers than were actually there. It was also a time when people could get into the game in a variety of ways without paying.

There was a fantastic atmosphere that night and the Covered was packed. It was a cold evening but we were kept warm by repeated surges down the Covered End terraces and by the fact there was so little room.

The Brighton side were delayed by traffic and arrived at the ground with only twenty minutes to spare which may account for their slow start. 

Midfield prompter, Dick Tydeman opened the scoring after 16 minutes. Just after the half-hour Hugh McAuley netted for the Charlton second and we believed we were home and dry. I leapt up in the air for the second-goal and was caught mid-air by the surge from above which carried me ten yards down the terracing before space opened up and my new Indian moccasins hit the concrete again.

Peter Ward pulled one back after 38 minutes but we went in at half-time with our noses in front. After the break the referee gave Brighton a lifeline when he awarded them a penalty after Mark Penfold, our exciting young left-back prospect was adjudged to have brought Ward down (I walked passed Mark the other day on his way to the Huddersfield match - he's a regular).

Brian Horton took the spot-kick but Jeff Wood saved it, only for the ref to rule that Jeff had moved before it was taken. Horton's second effort was slammed wide but again Wood was penalised for moving early and they were given a third bite at the cherry. The Covered End was livid and and we roared our disapproval. Horton wasn't trusted with the third effort and Peter Ward stepped up to make it 2-2. 

After that the game swayed towards the visitors and their comeback was completed after the hour when Winstanley scored to put the Seagulls ahead for the first time in the game. We couldn't believe it in the Covered End and I remember our players having words with one another across the pitch at that moment.

We tore back at them and within minutes little Keefy Peacock out-jumped the Brighton defence to meet a typically pinpoint Powell cross from the right wing and steered home our third. Cue another eruption in the home end and a mass surge down the terraces where the gaps were between the stanchions. We all  turned around and climbed back up the steps to regain out positions and continue the fevered singing. The ground was alive at that moment and every Charlton pass that found another red shirt increased the volume as the East terrace and West Stand thousands joined in. On 71 minutes, Colin "Paddy" Powell sped down the right flank in typical fashion veering infield and threatening a trademark obstruction by deliberately running into his opponent and throwing his hands up in despair. He shunned the opportunity for the free-kick this time, checking inside instead and strode on making a couple of yards odd space, the winner was on. 

I remember the movement of that shot vividly. It went left from Powell's right boot (his left was strictly for standing on) which set Eric Steele heading that way but the force of the shot had spun the ball violently and the night air caught the spin and sent it back right. What a goal! Chaos in the Covered End and Brighton were finished 4-3. I lost a moccasin in that surge and was lucky to have it handed back to me by a mate. It was great night which I have talked about on and off ever since. 

If Saturday's match is half as good I will be a satisfied Customer, especially if we collect the points again. The gate will be almost certainly be bigger but the atmosphere can't possibly match that evening in a sardine-packed standing Covered End. Oh how I miss it.


  1. Was sure Powell curled it in with his left foot after cutting inside the full back? Great write up and memories. The young fans really have no idea of how great it was to be in the Covered End during those night games in the 70.s/80's.

  2. I was there that night too and it is a game that has alway stuck in the memory. Midweek games always seemed to be really good matches then and we always did well.

  3. I was there that night as well Dave. don't remember a thing about it! On the way home at Dartford I got jumped by a Chelsea fan who put a bottle over my head. I got up and gave him a kicking, but I think the skull damage may have affected my recall of the preceding football events!

    I used the wear cheap black plimsoles at the time - very punk. Like moccassins not very practical in mid winter!

    Pembury Addick

  4. Great memories. Remember it well. I used to practice that Powell move at school, feigning left, then right and left again and bumping into the left back, hands in the air. Love Paddy.

    Those school-night matches were always special.

  5. Dick Tydeman was a real favourite of mine back then,like Steve Brown could do a shift between the sticks.I have a memory of him going to the Gills as a keeper,but that may be old age,and too much strong cheese over the years.

  6. Anon - you may well be right about Paddy scoring with his left but I thought he only ever did that once in his career at Selhurst?

  7. PA - Chelsea fan with a bottle? Typical. The verges of punk eh?

  8. Anon - you may well be right about Paddy scoring with his left but I thought he only ever did that once in his career at Selhurst?


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