This season, BETDAQ launched the #PrideOfTheValley to reward die-hard Charlton fans. Each home league game, a fan is selected to win the reward and the individual will be presented with a signed shirt on the pitch.
On New Year’s Day, the award went to John Hutley, who has supported Charlton since 1959 and now volunteers to help with the distribution of programme subscriptions.
This is the second time John has featured in the programme, with the last time being in January 1977. We asked him for some of his Charlton memories...
Why I became a Charlton fan: My Dad and his family were all Charlton supporters.
My first game at The Valley was: In the 1959/60 season, so this year will be my 60th anniversary! The first game I saw was against Sheffield United and I was taken into the West Stand seats by my Grandad. We managed a one-all draw. I will always remember the atmosphere at The Valley, children at the front, hanging over the railings shaking their rattles and waving their scarves. I was too late to witness Sam Bartram but there were still some legendary figures from that era that I did manage to see. Willie Duff in goal, John Hewie, Sam Lawrie, Johnny Summers and the great Stuart Leary. My dad never forgave the club for selling Stuart to QPR following a dispute over him playing county cricket for Kent in the summer.
My first away day with Charlton was: The short trip across the river in the 1965/66 season to see Leyton Orient. Obviously, I was only used to watching football at The Valley and I remember thinking that the Brisbane Road pitch seemed almost square in comparison. Not that I minded though as we won 2-1 with goals from Keith Peacock and Ron Saunders.
On 25th May 1998 I was: Not surprisingly, I was at Wembley. There will never be another game like it. At the end of the game, my emotion wasn’t so much of jubilation but more like complete and utter exhaustion!
My favourite Charlton game (not including the play-off final) is: After 60 years of supporting, that’s very difficult. There have been many favourites – and many low points too. I’ll go for a game that left me (almost) speechless. In the Easter of the 1976/77 season, we started on Good Friday with a win against Millwall. That was a surprise in itself but then on Easter Monday, we welcomed promotion-seeking Chelsea. We completely outplayed them, winning 4-0. Mike Flanagan scored a hat-trick against the likes of Ron (Chopper) Harris and Ray Wilkins. I left the ground thinking ‘Did that really happen!?’
My favourite Charlton player is: Scoring goals is what wins matches, so it would have to be a toss-up between our two leading scorers, Stuart Leary and Derek Hales. You can make arguments either way about who was best. That said, I cannot possibly ignore the magnificent contribution, albeit briefly, from Clive Mendonca. We all remember his Wembley hat-trick but I particularly recall the goal he scored at Villa Park the following season. A few hundred goals between them but I wonder how many were headers?
My favourite Charlton kit: Has to be the early 60s all white with red shoulder flashes. I don’t know who came up with the idea of discarding most of the red from our kit, and it caused some controversy at the time, but it has become an iconic memory of all the great times and players of that era.
The best part of being a Charlton fan is: Being on the committee of the Former Players’ Association, the best part of supporting Charlton is meeting so many ex-players who almost without exception are such great people. The same applies, in my opinion, to all the current staff working at the club.
My Charlton starting XI would be: I’m going to pass on that one. Lee Bowyer has assembled an excellent squad of 18 to 20 players with a blend of youth and experience. As long as there’s Patrick Bauer and Jason Pearce in the centre of defence and Lyle Taylor up front, I’ll leave the rest to the manager.
The Charlton player of the season will be: So far, it would have to be Lyle Taylor. Not only for his goalscoring exploits but for pulling out all the stops to be selected even though he may not be fully fit. In my book, that shows commitment to the cause.
The game I am most looking forward to is: For what happened at The Valley earlier this season, the away game at Peterborough…as long as we give them a good hiding.