Hardback copies of CAS Trust member Steve Bridge’s excellent book “Charlton Athletic In Pictures 1975 – 2015” started arriving on the doormats of pre-publication subscribers over the last few days. Mine came on Saturday morning – just in time for me to relish it on the train journey up to Birmingham.
The book provides with wit and imagination an evocative visual record of the club over the last forty years – the players; the managers; the fans; the stadia; the drama, the highs and the lows. There are 123 pictures in all but what makes the book particularly charming is the sheer variety of subjects. There are of course a number of thrilling action shots both in black and white and colour. The development of The Valley is well documented. There is a terrific photo of Yann Kermorgant scoring that goal against Hartlepool and a memorable one of the scoreboard at The Den on that snowy night in 1995. Mixed in with these are some very touching pictures of us – the fans – in all our eccentric glory and despair. In his choice of which pictures to publish it is clear that Steve is very aware of how central the supporters are to the history of CAFC.
Every photo is accompanied by a short commentary explaining how it came to be taken. Steve documents his own progress as a photographer over the years and wryly notes that some of his earlier action shots were sadly not always in focus. I would have been fascinated to observe the process by which Steve decided which pictures to include and which (I’m sure reluctantly) to leave out.
My three favourites? 3. Steve’s daughters aged about 4 and 6 in Charlton shirts and wellington boots in their back garden in 1993. 2. A Bob Peeters lookalike at Rotherham in 2014. 1. A fantastic black and white shot at Ashton Gate of the cup tie in 1994. It is one of those photos that tells a whole story in just one frame.
And on page 82 there is a shot of pre season training in 2001 with the finely honed physique of Jon Fortune leading the way. Next to him Mark Kinsella seems to be carrying a lot of excess baggage. Surely Kins wouldn’t have come back overweight ? It must be a trick of the camera. What do you think ?
The softback book is now available here or by post with a cheque for £23.50 including p&p to Steve Bridge, 12 Forest Close, Waltham Chase, Southampton, SO32 2NB.