Thursday, February 12, 2009

Memories - from 6d to £3

One of the problems with not working at present, and with my wife also be unemployed, is that to fill some time this week we have been doing spring cleaning. This is not the kind of cleaning where we get the hoover and duster out and zip round the house, but a full blown "let’s sort out this cupboard out and put stuff in the loft so that we can decorate" type of spring cleaning. I hate it, but it has to be done.

Yesterday we shifted clothes out of the cupboard, moved my bagged up LP’s so they can be ready to go up in the loft, and brought down all the stuff in the loft that was not "organised" as my wife wanted. This included all my Charlton programmes from the last forty plus years.

The programmes do have a bit of a story attached: I would not call myself an avid collector, but I do buy a programme at every game and keep them. I even have a nice friend who furnishes me with the programmes from games I have missed due to holidays. I save up a year’s at a time, and then archive them up to the loft. I keep all the ticket stubs and season ticket books too (sad I know!). I made the fatal mistake of writing the match score line on the first years programmes I had (1967/68) but all those since are in fairly pristeen condition considering their age. Well most of them...

You see, about fifteen years ago, when I was single and lived in my one-bedroom second floor flat, I stored my programmes in various bags (plastic, then inside sports bags or the like...) and kept them in a cupboard. I didn’t have a problem until my girlfriend (and later wife) moved in with me and then we had the usual space problems when two people fit into one persons home.

The outcome was that I decided to utilise the basement storage area that the whole block of flats could use. Suitably bagged (including six years being forced into my wife’s large rucksack), I hauled the programmes (and some other stuff to be fair...) down to the basement and sort of hid them round the back of some furniture that someone else had placed down there. I was slightly worried about them being stolen, but shouldn’t really have been concerned. All was fine; I remember checking they were OK a couple of times over the next couple of years or so, and then one day, the next time I checked, in the late nineties, I found that the basement had flooded. I have no idea if this was caused by any abnormal wet weather we may have had, or if a pipe had burst or leaked, but the floor was about an inch or two deep in murky water.

I immediately shifted the bags containing the programmes so that they were no longer sitting in the pool of water but the bottom of the rucksack was damp, as were some of the other bags too. I must admit that I was a little distraught by this catastrophe, and could not bring myself to look inside the various bags in case I realised the damage.

Having moved the bags so they were no longer getting wet, it was not until I moved out of the flat in 2000 (having bought a house with my future wife...) that I had course to do anything with the programmes. At that time, I still couldn’t bring myself to check them, even though the bags seemed to have dried out; I had no idea how long they had been in the water so hoped that it was a recent phenomenon and that the wet stuff had not permeated too far...

In our current house, these programmes have been stored up in the loft until this week...

Today, after getting them down, I had to check them, mainly so that we could label each bag and repack them "tidily" for my wife’s pleasure.

The bad news was that season’s 1993/94, 1995/96, and about half of 1994/95 were a mucky mess, and compacted into one or two big wet lumps. Lots of ink had come off and made the inside of the plastic bags filthy. The programmes were irretrievably damaged. Sadly I had to dump the sodden mess of these memento’s into the rubbish bag...

The good news was that sorting out the other dry programmes and looking through them when I got the chance brought back some fantastic and wonderful memories of times gone past - and yes, we have had plenty of good years during the last 42 seasons since I started attending The Valley.

It was easy to reminisce about the play off final at Wembley in 1998, but also interesting to see the St Andrew’s programme of 1987 (which was almost as stressful and in some ways more!), plus the Battle of Stamford Bridge programme from 1988, all of which resulted in positive results for the Addicks.

Then there was the Carlisle away programme from 1981, and that from 1986 – both games which won Charlton promotion. I remember the 1986 trip vividly (May 3rd), as, arriving back at Euston around midnight, the taxi driver told me of the problems over in Wapping that night with Maggie’s marvels getting a pasting outside Murdoch’s castle.

Cup tie programmes against Arsenal, Fulham, Harlow, Watford, and Ipswich sat next to testimonial game programmes versus West Ham, Chelsea, and Arsenal. I also had a few programmes from non-Charlton games I went to as a youngster – West Ham versus Middlesboro (Derek Hales Hammers debut) from ‘78; Chelsea vs Coventry in 1971; Chelsea vs Spurs in 1970; plus the first game of “organised” football I ever saw live – Kings Lynn versus Wellington in 1967 (1-2, all the goals in the first eight minutes!).

I also had international programmes – England vs Turkey and England vs Austria (the only two times I have seen England play football live). But I also had others from games I hadn’t been to including the 1966 World Cup tournament souvenir programme, plus the England vs Hungary programme (plus ticket stub) from 1953 which my Uncle Sid gave me when I was young. That was the famous 6-3 game which signalled the end of the belief that England were the best team in the world (no change there then!).

All these programmes contain such memories, even if they weren’t all mine...I won’t even bother recalling some of the players names rekindled by cover images etc...

They are all suitably tidied up, re-bagged, and placed inside a couple of big boxes up in the loft now; I’m sure that when we next come to sort them out (when we move or when I die, whichever comes first...) then we’ll get a lot more pleasure from re-calling the days when being an Addick made me happy, just as it does today.

I hate spring cleaning; I hate the thought of decorating even more, but at least looking at the Charlton programmes cheered me up a little…


Cheers Pedro. Enjoyed reading that. I usually keep mine, but chucked the Forest one a couple of weeks ago!

Your programme memories remind me that maybe we just need to enjoy each game as it comes, and forget the dizzy heights we reached a few years ago.

Pembury Addick
Good one Pedro and good luck for the future. All my programme's were stored in the loft at our old house and when we moved to my horror I also found them a sodden mess-curse that one cracked roof tile. Unfortunately none could be salvaged. Among the many was a Sam Bartram signed programme and my First game at the Valley in March 1967 against Preston and some going back to the old First Division in the Forties.
Come you Reds.
My ex-wife threw most of mine out, I did rescue some however. CND - I feel for you, I would have cried if that'll been me.
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