This year's Academy Day will be different to previous years, with no fans allowed in the stadium for the first time since the day's introduction in 2010.
The Addicks host Blackpool in Sky Bet League One on Saturday and despite the lack of fans, the matchday will still be dedicated to celebrating the club’s academy.
Academy Manager Steve Avory explained the history of Academy Day: “In 2010 I came up with the idea, at the time it was about fundraising and we felt that if the academy was going to continue we needed some financial support, which Valley Gold provided but we wanted to appeal to the supporters, for them to help out with our academy.
“I’ll never forget our first Academy Day. There must’ve been over 20,000 in The Valley that day, the Jimmy Seed end was packed and there were Sheffield Wednesday fans as well.”
However, this year will be the first Academy Day without fans since its introduction in 2010. Avory explained how it will be different without supporters in the stadium.
“It will be so different this year as there’s no crowd due to COVID. Fortunately, we have got Valley Pass so this allows us to put on a bit of a programme for the supporters at home,” he said.
“There will be some dedication and attention to the academy, as well as some special content and videos shown for those watching at home.”
Each year, each academy squad from as young as U9 level walk around the pitch, allowing the Charlton faithful to show their support, however this year will be the first time that the annual pitchside walk will not take place. The Academy Manager went on to explain how sorely missed this will be.
He said: “That walk around the pitch is a big thing, it means a lot to the players. I’ll never forget that first day and many since, especially with loads of fans in the ground. The supporters love the homegrown players and they can see the young boys walking around, to what extent the academy operates.”
“We are going to miss that moment but we will try to provide content for the fans, we have a video we have produced to show and hopefully the fans can come back when it is safe to do so.”
Avory will be appearing live on Valley Pass Live on Saturday to discuss the club’s youth setup on Academy Day. Get your streaming pass for the game now.
(Article by Nick Emms)