The Pilgrimage – 27/09/2014
The Valley seems much larger on the telly.
I guess that’s the case with many of England, particularly London’s, city and suburban grounds. They pretty much sprang up in the middle of their neighbourhoods with houses packing in against all four corners. On the train out, a longer than expected 20 minute ride, we passed by the New Den, Millwall’s home, and that really did seem like a box.
After arriving at the train station we hiked up a hill for a pub lunch and a couple of pints. The trek up was through a rough-looking neighbourhood and the pub was fairly basic. After lunch we whizzed quickly down hill, literally into the valley, where the ground appeared from amongst the houses.
Anyway, location appreciation aside, the match was a reasonable way to start our footballing pilgrimage to the motherland. It definitely could have done with a goal or two (it finished 0-0) but had enough to keep me interested. We were there with Jean’s best friend Sue, who lives in the UK, her partner Pete and his brother Colin. The two lads are long suffering ‘Boro fans but should have been reasonably pleased with what they saw.
The visitors had the better of a stale first half and should have been at least a goal up at the break. Charlton rarely threatened. The second half was more even and Charlton hit the upright and had a late chance cleared off the line, while the visitors had a man sent off for a reasonably crude looking second yellow card.
The frantic finish to the match made up for the slow start, although it didn’t really grab Nathan’s attention. Literally minutes in he was asking to play Plants versus Zombies on my phone.
I was surprised at the size of the crowd for this match. With both sides in the top eight prior to kick-off it was a fairly important game, but the Valley was barely half full. The shape of the ground, however, made the fan-generated noise more prolific than what it would otherwise have been, so that helped.
I was a little disappointed by the standard of play. Sure it was competitive, but there was a lot of wasted possession and a couple of absolute sitters were missed. I guess it’s a long way between the top end of the Championship and the Premiership. The quality of refereeing was also a bit suspect – barely NRL standard, at best.
So, the pilgrimage is underway. The day ended better than expected with Spurs grabbing an unlikely point at the Emirates. Hopefully that’s a sign of better things to come and we’ll get to see a couple of wins at the Lane come Thursday and Sunday. Before then, however, we’re at Watford on Tuesday to watch my brother’s team play Brentford.
And before that I have two days to play tourist in London with Nathan. Speaking of which, it’s time to get out the door and onto a London bus.