#CAFC Museum is Looking Good to Go @ChAthMuseum

The theme of renovation and reorganisation has been a welcome aspect of the Roland Duchatelet era at Charlton

imageHaving witnessed a general decline in the upkeep, appearance and functionality under the previous ownership regime, it has been a most welcome sight for supporters returning to The Valley this season to see the old girl spruced up and now fit for purpose (i.e. we have a football pitch that can host football rather than mud-wrestling). Carrying on this sterling work of our new owner are a group of supporters that have organised themselves to give us a truly remarkable addition to the ground - The Charlton Athletic Museum.

imageSupporters follow their chosen team for a variety of different reasons, not all of them as simple as the love of watching good football. Most of those proud to call themselves Addicks are certainly not in it for a sense of vicarious success achieved through the exploits of their team on the pitch. It runs deeper than that for the majority at The Valley and we can point to a strong sense of community, history and direct supporter involvement that runs through the heart of this club. Football grounds are full (or thereabouts!) of people searching for a sense of belonging. Each person who falls in love with a team would like it to represent to everybody what it represents to them. By collecting those marquee items of club history in a designated viewing space, Charlton fans can spend a moment basking in their club`s history. The new museum, housed in the North Stand, is a project that should foster universal pride.

imageSomewhat uniquely in English professional football, Charlton fans really can claim that there wouldn’t even be a club but for the actions and direct involvement of the fans in our darkest hour.

The Battle for the Valley was fought in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds but this did not deter the fans. It was a battle won through hard work, determination and the talent of the supporters involved. As a result, the community has the benefit of the world`s greatest Club playing at one of the most revered and traditional stadiums in the country, with Charlton back in its proper place in SE7.

The same spirit of fan-based contribution is currently again in full swing with the club museum now in its final stages of preparation before opening.

This is planned for November 2014 as the space has been generously donated by the club and thanks must be given to Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire for their help in supporting this fan initiative. It has great potential, with plans to provide a visual and literary history of Charlton through its current 109 year history. Whilst the Museum will not be on the scale of Camp Nou, it will prove to punch above its weight and continue to deliver where it matters, just like the club it portrays.

imageSome of the items to be displayed are breath-taking and there will be items to delight all tastes. The marquee events in our history will get the full treatment, from the club`s inception through to the 1947 Cup Final and then into the success story of the 90s and 2000s.

Fancy admiring the match-ball from the greatest league game in English history (Charlton 7 v Huddersfield 6, 1957)? Or perhaps you`d like to see the boots which scored the 2nd most important hat-trick ever at Wembley (Charlton 4 v Sunderland 4, 1998). There will be an audio-visual room displaying footage of Charlton themes throughout our history.

Another great idea is to use a popular player from each decade to represent the state of the game in his particular era - something that will bring history alive in the eyes of the beholder. Donations of some wonderful items have been secured from our generous fan-base and the museum certainly will not be lacking for content. It has come into being through the collaboration of your fellow fans and surely deserves your support, for the fans by the fans if you will.

On speaking to historian Ben Hayes  -  a central driving force behind the cataloguing of thousands of items of Charlton memorabilia -  it is clear the passion the museum has invoked in its founding committee. Ably supported by the Fans Forum, the committee have begged, borrowed but not stolen the resources necessary to get this project off the ground. It clearly has been a mammoth task - founded on a shoe-string  -  but this doesn’t stop the final product being of the highest quality (much like the Curbishley sides of the early 2000s). Ben estimates around ten thousand  pounds have been spent already and more will be needed, but the key ingredient, passion, is there in abundance. Much of the work, including all of the funding, has been completed by volunteers and some valuable materials have been kindly donated. A big thank you to all those have contributed so far and the same to those that will do so in the future.

One avenue open to the museum is to secure Heritage Lottery Commission funding in the future and in order to do this the committee needs to show that it is seen as a valuable asset in the community by as many people as possible. That is where you come in.

The museum website is up and running and it is important that you register your support. In the Heritage funding game the amount of people interested in a project is a crucial factor. Whilst not stopping those of you with spare cash or perhaps a 1947 winner`s medal in the attic from contributing directly, the museum committee wants the fan-base to know there are many ways in which supporters can get involved, including providing their time to assist with the continued refurbishment of the physical space and also with staffing once the museum is fully opened.

Whilst no-one expects the Charlton Athletic Museum to become a grand stand-alone visitor centre from day one, it is realistic to expect the seeds sown already to blossom into something of which the whole community can be proud. It is planned that the museum will be available for specific hire as well, providing a new option for community reminiscence groups or a personal celebration for anyone who follows the Addicks. This project clearly has huge potential but in order to really achieve great things, it needs your support. Make yourself part of our history by contacting the museum through one of the media below.

The entrance is to be found just by the big CAFC badge on the North Stand and opening times are to be determined initially. Follow developments online on the below links:




Dion Spikes

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CAS Trust believe Charlton Athletic should have a well resourced museum to celebrate our proud history, if you do too please give them your support