Saturday, 23 May 2020

Charlton's first lost season

I wrote about the curtailed Second World War season in the last Voice of the Valley.   As that is still on sale, I cannot reproduce the whole article yet.   However, here are a few highlights.

There were only 8,608 spectators at The Valley for the match against Manchester United on Saturday September 2nd, the day before war with Germany broke out.    Charlton won 2-0 with Bartram keeping goal well.

After the outbreak of war, the Government initially closed all football grounds and places of entertainment to prevent large numbers of people gathering in one place, but this order was rescinded after a few days.

While wartime arrangements were sorted out, clubs played friendly games and Charlton were commended in the press as ‘pioneers’ for organising fixtures on Saturday 23rd and Saturday 30th September.   For the game against Fulham on September 30th Charlton printed tickets numbered one to eight thousand.   These were evenly distributed among the turnstiles and spectators were given half a torn ticket on payment for admission.  Once the figure of eight thousand was reached, the turnstiles were closed. Charlton lost the match 0-1.

Following the outbreak of war, the players were let go, although their registrations were retained. Jimmy Seed was retained as secretary-manager but on a salary halved from £1,560 a year to £780, down from just over £100,000 a year to just over £50,000 at today’s prices.  Trainer Jimmy Trotter was kept on at £5 a week, essentially a decent skilled worker’s wage, £330 at today’s prices.

A meeting of London clubs gave impetus to the establishment of regional competitions on the lines of those instigated in the First World War after the first season had been played on the usual competitive basis.  Travelling to away matches would be restricted to approximately 50 miles.   

Charlton started playing in the South Regional League on October 21st when they lost 8-4 to Arsenal at White Hart Lane, having three penalties awarded against them.   Their first home match at The Valley saw them beat Southend United 8-1 in front of a crowd of just 1,291.   The maximum crowd allowed was 16,000 and the gate fell just short of this for the home match against Arsenal in March 1940.

No comments: