The anniversary of my father's death was this week and a love of football and Charlton Athletic in particular was a bond that held us together, although the last matches we saw were at Falmouth Town which were worth it just for the pasties.
My father was a reasonably successful non-league footballer. He would never talk about it very much, always answering 'South-East Ham' when he was asked which club he played for, but I believe it was the predecessor of East Ham United as he always got very excited when we went past the ground on the bus. He was apparently good enough to play for a London non-league representative side in Paris and Brussels.
I think that he hoped that I would emulate him, perhaps even making the grade with the Addicks, and when I was seven he presented me with an expensive pair of boots. But I had two left feet and the only sport I ever participated in competitively was orienteering.
Unfortunately I can't remember the first game I saw at The Valley. The first match I remember was our 6-1 defeat of Liverpool for obvious reasons but I know that I had been to many games before then. I used to go through the turnstiles with my father until I was seven. I have to confess I was quite nervous when I first went through the big turnstiles on my own and handed over a few old pennies to a grumpy gatesman.
My mother was also a keen supporter and came down very hard on any referee she thought was biased against the Addicks shouting 'Dirty ref!' at the top of her voice.
My grandmother was a young adult by the time Queen Victoria died, but she took a keen interest in football. This was partly for gambling reasons and she read the Racing and Football Outlook very carefully before completing her coupon. However, she also took a close interest in the fortunes of the Addicks, having lived in the area since the First World War when her husband too a job at the Woolwich Arsenal, and was always eager to discuss issues of promotion and relegation with me.
We only went to a reserve match at The Valley once and I only recently figured out that it was when my grandmother was terminally ill at home and my father sensibly thought that some football, even against Aldershot Reserves, would be a good distraction.