Sunday 16 July 2023

100 years of supporting Charlton

The first of three special features.

My father (Robert Frank Grant) was born in North Woolwich and lost his mother when he was about twelve years old from the 'Spanish' influenza outbreak at the end of the First World War. His eldest sister looked after the bereaved family of five children. They were allocated a house on the new 'Progress' estate at Eltham built by the Co-op. My father left school at fourteen and obtained an apprenticeship with the Great Eastern Railway as a carriage and wagon fitter. 

I went to Well Hall for the last tram week.

His cousin Ted was already Addickted and introduced him to Charlton around 1923.  My father earned the admission price and tram travel to matches by looking after horses while carters delivered their goods.

My father was a non-league footballer but was typically reticent about it (a characteristic of those descended from north-east of Scotland stock).   Asked who he played for he would always say 'South-East Ham'.   He certainly retained a residual interest in West Ham United, going to the first FA Cup final at Wembley.

With my father

I think he always hoped I would go one better as a footballer and bought me some expensive boots for my 7th birthday, but I had two left feet.

As well as the game itself, a highlight of the weekend was going to my uncle's newsagents shop in Lakedale Road late on Sunday morning.   With the gas lamps hissing away, and no social media, fans would call by to discuss the latest rumours about tensions between manager Seed and trainer Trotter.

The final games I watched with my father were in the holidays at Falmouth Town, then leading the Western League.   And the pasties were great.

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