CAST member Paul Breen (@CharltonMen) reports on the annual Football Supporters Federation awards ceremony on Monday
Charlton as a club is no stranger to punching above its weight. Amongst supporters’ groups too, the club has earned great renown despite our recent ownership issues. It was no surprise then to see the club so well represented at the recent Football Supporters’ Federation 2018 Awards in central London on 3rd December. This is an annual event that draws together a broad spectrum of the football family from the great and good of the media world to players on the pitch and those who do sterling work in the background with fans and their communities.
Speaking of Sterling, City and England’s Raheem was nominated for the Men’s Player of the Year award but didn’t win. That went to the inimitable Mo Salah who spoke by video link of his happiness at getting an award from the fans in a genuine and passionate way. So too Gary Neville, pundit of the year – even though personally I’d have liked to see Alex Scott get it – and Martin Tyler, Commentator of the Year. It was great in a time of such growing distance between clubs and fans, their grassroots, that these dignataries of the game showed such great respect for football supporters, Football Trusts and the true spirit of the game.
In that true spirit of the game, the night was more about a celebration of achievement beyond the pitch and even beyond the mainstream media outlets – though it has to be said they do still tend to walk away with the majority of prizes. This was a night that really resonated with the things that our own Supporters Trust and our club’s Community Trust have been fighting for over the years. It was also a night that brought together different elements of the Charlton football family, from renowned journalist Patrick Barclay to those of us who follow Charlton and are involved in other aspects of writing or work that involves football in general.
Prime amongst the Addick attendees were the already renowned Charlton Live team and The Proud Valiants, both of whom were nominated for awards in different categories. The Proud Valiants were nominated for the Fans for Diversity Award and Charlton Live for Club Podcast of the Year. In the end, both of these prizes went across the river to north London to Tottenham and Watford respectively. However, the success in being nominated for the awards in the first place shows the calibre of the people involved in Charlton Live and in the Proud Valiants. They have both reached out far beyond the Charlton supporting community with their impact and have achieved reputations at a national level.
Charlton Live is as much a staple of the average supporter’s life as a pint before the game or a pie in the days before boycotts. Most of us have tuned in at some point or another either on a Sunday night or the subsequent streams following on from that. Now it seems that it’s not just in SE7 and surrounds that the boys are being listened to but on a wider scale to match any of the ‘bigger’ clubs in the Premier League. Looking at those that Charlton Live were competing against, you can see they are all in the top division at the minute – The 77 Club from Wolves, Blue Moon from Man City, The Rookery End from Watford, Fulhamish who don’t need any further explaining, and No Nay Never from Burnley.
The Proud Valiants are a newer addition to the Charlton family but they too have had notable successes such as the evolution of the Invicta club and a strong social media presence at a national level. Again they too were up against a strong field but in the spirit of the award, there was slightly more diversity in terms of entrants. This category had a much better representation of non-Premier League teams – AccessiBlues from Birmingham City, Apna Albion and Proud Baggies from West Bromwich Albion, Lady Imps from Lincoln City, and Proud Lilywhites from Tottenham, the winners.
Thus, even if we didn’t win the big prizes, Charlton fans and attendees can take great pride in having a place at the top table of football support in its various forms. That alone was plenty of cause to crack open the champagne. And it has to be said there was plenty of champagne on offer as a reward for all the hard work that has been done and all the great things achieved by people at different levels of the game here in England. I have no doubt that Charlton Live will be back again at some point in the future and the Proud Valiants too. Unfortunately I don’t think there can really be an award for Supporters Trust of the Year because that goes against the spirit of selflessness and equity that we are all striving for in making Trusts a vital part of the professional club landscape.
What is significant though is that people from other Trusts are very much aware of the good things that our Trust has done over time, particularly around the issue of the Olympic Stadium. Against all the odds, we’re still dining at the top table in terms of reputation and hopefully there’s a lot more to come from all involved.