Monday 24 July 2023

What went wrong - part 1?

I believe that Charlton could have been far and away the leading South London team.  So what happened?

We were at peak just before and after the Second World War.  We lost some momentum because of the war with Adolf Hitler rumoured to be a secret Millwall supporter as in various online spoofs.

In 1936/7 we finished second behind Manchester City and were the fifth best supported club in the top flight,   We were fourth in 37/8 and third the following year.

After the war we were FA Cup finalists and then winners, a much bigger deal than it is today.   League performances were less impressive, even dangerous, although we made 5th in 52/3.

The small seated stand regularly sold out and produced at least five times as much revenue per fan.  But the owners wouldn't build any more seated accommodation, nor would they fund the marquee signings that Jimmy Seed wanted.

Just before one match my father pointed out Stanley Gliksten surveying the crowd.  'He want to know how much he's taking home today.' commented my father.    In 1954 it was 'proudly' announced that the club was solvent for the first time.  It may not have been a cash cow, but it wasn't a benefactor club.

More like benign neglect and we all know what happened.   Visiting my retired uncle in Belvedere I craned out of the train window for a glimpse of The Valley.   I hoped we would return, but all sorts of forces were against us.

As Curbs has noted, the spell at West Ham was vital in giving us a platform to return to SE7/   It was touch and go whether we survived, but we did and under Curbs we won the Greatest Game.  We came down, but were back again as champions - a joyful day away at Blackburn.

A persistent myth has grown up that fans wanted to get rid of Curbs for a manager to take us to the next level.  The facts are that Richard Murray wanted the manager to sign a three year contract rather than see out the year remaining.

'Too slow to hurry mints' should have realised that even if Curbs had gone after a year it would have given time to properly research replacements.  BTW, I do not know how much the decision was Murray's alone or a collective one of the board.   Either way it was a disaster.

Instead we got Dowie and his famous move north, the board convinced by his PowerPoint.   I first saw him warming up the players on the pitch, fixing them with what he thought was a hypnotic stare.   I thought this isn't rocket science, this is a rocket that blows up on the launch pad.

After the Les Reed interlude, we got Alan Pardew.  I thought at the time that it was a good appointment. How wrong I was.   We did manage to get off the ground, but it was a bumpy ride and ended with a crash landing.   He is now managing in the Greek Super League.   Worse was to come.

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