Address: Floyd Road,
Capacity: 27,111 (All-Seater)
A football ground that slips under the radar given the other quality stadiums that London has to offer.
First built in 1919, it was the home of Charlton Athletic Football Club from its opening until 1985, when the club fell into administration and changed ownership. The Valley however remained under the ownership of Charlton’s former owner and so the club was forced to move out, first groundsharing at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park and then later at West Ham United’s Upton Park.
Charlton regained ownership of the stadium in 1988, with thousands of supporters volunteering to help clean the debris-filled ground, and following required renovation that began in 1991, the Addicks were finally able to move back into their new home in December 1992.
They have been there ever since.
Location and Getting There
The Valley is located in the Charlton district of southeast London. The Thames Barrier is less than one mile north of the ground along the river, with London City Airport beyond the north bank. The Royal Observatory in Greenwich is around two miles west of the stadium.
As with most London football grounds, getting to The Valley by car is not something I would recommend.
The streets surrounding the stadium are tight and finding free parking within close proximity of The Valley itself is very unlikely. There is a car park beyond the stadium's western side but spaces here are limited.
I would recommend using public transport instead.
Charlton Station is easily the closest rail station to the ground and less than five minutes walk away. It is served by both Thameslink and Southeastern rail services.
Alternatively, the 486 Bus Service stops on Charlton Church Lane very close to the station, and it is once again a simple walk from there down Floyd Road to the stadium.
Outside the Stadium
The nicest-looking part of The Valley's exterior is the North Stand, otherwise known as the Covered End.
Made up mostly of red panels, the base of the stand has a sandy-coloured brickwork design and there are several large towers protruding out of it. The largest of these displays Charlton Athletic’s Club Badge and a large plaque underneath that lists the North Stand Patrons.
It was erected when the newly-developed stand was opened in April 2002.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction brings you to the East Stand, which is named after Alan Curbishley.
Born in Essex on 8th November 1957, Curbishley played as a midfielder for five English clubs, including having two spells at Charlton Athletic between 1984 and 1993. He became Charlton manager whilst still playing there, and would remain at the Valley until 2006. Curbishley would twice guide the Addicks into the Premier League, firstly through the Play-Offs in 1998, and then as First Division Champions in 2000.
The East Stand became known as the Alan Curbishley Stand at the beginning of the 2021-22 season, marking the 30th anniversary since he was appointed manager of the club.
You can only get round to the exterior of this stand if your match ticket is here, as the Alan Curbishley Stand turnstiles are in both the northeast corner and beyond the southeast corner along Lansdowne Mews. From this entrance, you have to go down a couple of steep flights of stairs, but there is also a zig-zag ramp for disabled use.
The Alan Curbishley Stand's exterior is much more basic than that of the North Stand, made up mostly of red and white panelling. The cantilever roof that you can find on the North Stand does not continue here.
The South Stand at the Valley is named after Jimmy Seed.
Born in Blackhill on 25th March 1895, Seed was an inside forward who played for clubs in Wales and England following the First World War. He started a career in management in 1931, initially spending two seasons at Clapton Orient (nowadays known as Leyton Orient) before moving to Charlton Athletic in 1933. Seed would take Charlton from the old Third Division to the old First Division in successive seasons, guiding them to second behind Manchester City in 1937 and reaching FA Cup Finals at Wembley following the Second World War. Charlton would lose to Derby County in 1946, but would beat Burnley in 1947.
Jimmy Seed remained at Charlton Athletic until 1956, and is considered one of the most important figures in the club's history. He passed away on 16th July 1966 at the age of 71.
The Jimmy Seed Stand is another part of the Valley that you cannot get behind without having a ticket for there.
Turnstiles into this stand are at the aforementioned southeast corner along Lansdowne Mews, and also in the southwest corner along the side of Valley Grove.
The Jimmy Seed Stand itself is the smallest of the four, the oldest-looking, and completely detached from the rest of the stadium. The exterior is made up mostly of red corrugated iron walls and a grey roof.
The West Stand is the largest of the four at The Valley.
It shows similarities with an exoskeleton as you can see the stand's staircases from the outside. The exterior does still though have a brickwork design at the base and red corrugated iron in the upper levels, with a cantilever roof on top.
The stadium’s Main Reception is located in the middle, and the Main Ticket Office is over towards the northwest corner. Turnstiles run regularly along the base of the stand.
A statue of Sam Bartram, considered to be Charlton’s finest ever player, can be found a little outside the Main Entrance in front of the stand, and a large triangular shape car park is out beyond the exterior.
The Charlton Athletic Superstore is separate from the stadium itself and based beyond the northwest corner.
Fans normally walk through the gates between the Superstore and The Valley as they make their way to the West Stand.
Inside the Stadium
The Covered End, which has also been known as The Covered End because of how the stadium used to look, is made up of two tiers, with the bottom tier slightly larger than the one above. A row executive boxes separates the two levels from one another. The letters CAFC are spelt out in white along the bottom tier blocks, with a sliver of black seating also used to give these letters a 3D effect.
There are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so your view of the pitch is perfectly clear from any seat.
Expect the most vocal and passionate Charlton Athletic fans to be based in this stand, particularly in the upper tier right towards the back.
The northeast and northwest corners are directly connected to the top tier of the Covered End.
Both of these corners are made up of a single tier of red seats and given their back rows are not as high up as the Covered End’s back row, the stadium roof drops slightly here on either side.
Your view though is not affected by this and still remains perfectly clear from any seat in either corner.
The Alan Curbishley Stand is made up of a single tier of red seats and is connected directly to the northeast corner.
The seating area is divided into two sections, with the upper one much smaller. Executive boxes can also be found behind the very back row. The letters THE are spelt out across the upper section and the letters VALLEY are spelt out across the lower section, again using additional black seating for a 3D effect.
Given the Alan Curbishley Stand’s back row is nowhere near as high up as the Covered End’s back row, the roof of this stand is much lower down, though is still connected to the roof over the Covered End by a transparent glass pane, ensuring that fans inside here are protected from the elements. On the opposite side of the Alan Curbishley Stand, over by the southeast corner, is a large windshield that covers most of the seating area, but does leave seats down towards the front rows unprotected.
Like the Covered End, there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof and so your view from anywhere inside is perfectly clear.
The Jimmy Seed Stand is made up of two tiers, with the lower tier much larger than the one above. The letters CAFC are spelt out in white seating along the lower tier blocks, again using black seating for a 3D effect.
Whilst the general view from this stand is good, there is one large supporting pillar that comes down in the centre of the lower tier. If you have a seat behind this pillar, it will likely restrict your view somewhat.
Large windshields protect the entire top tier but do leave the front rows of the bottom tier exposed from the sides.
The West Stand of The Valley is two-tiered, with the lower tier much larger than the one above, though there are no letters spelt out amongst the rows of red seats. Additionally, whilst the stand is connected to the northwest corner, there is a small wall in place between the two, meaning that fans cannot transition from one stand into the other. Two blocks at the back of the lower tier make up the executive seating area, whilst the club’s dugouts and changing rooms are also located in the stand. The tunnel is over towards the northwest corner.
Views from anywhere inside the West Stand are perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof.
A large windshield over towards the southwest corner protects every seat in the upper tier but only a few rows in the lower tier. Those sat lower down over this side of the stand have just a small wall alongside them that doesn't offer anywhere near as much protection.
There is one large television screen at The Valley, which can be found in the southeast corner. The southwest corner also holds a small building connected to the Jimmy Seed Stand where the technical team controls the stadium’s electronics from.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the Jimmy Seed Stand.
Depending on the allocation, the entire stand can be given to travelling supporters or just one of the two tiers, usually the upper one. Charlton have also been known to split the Jimmy Seed Stand 50/50 between home and away supporters for games where a big home crowd is expected.
A single supporting pillar in the stand's centre can affect the quality of your view, but if you are in one of the seats down towards the front then it will not get in your way at all.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include*:
-The Anchor and Hope (Riverside, SE7 7SS) (Away Supporters Welcome) (Located north of Charlton Station) (Do not confuse with other Anchor and Hopes within London)
-The Angerstein Hotel (108 Woolwich Road, SE10 0LE) (Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Railway (16 Blackheath Village, SE3 9LE) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located very close to Blackheath Station)
-The White Swan (22 The Village, SE7 8UD) (Typically Home Supporters Only)
*The recommendation may be to find a drink elsewhere in London and on your way to the Valley, especially as an away supporter)
The Valley is one of those grounds you don’t appreciate until you’ve actually been there in person.
It may not carry quite the size or prestige that other stadiums in London do, but it fully deserves recognition as it is a really good place to watch live football.
I made my first visit here in October 2019 and I’d happily come back time and time again if I could.
It really is a fantastic example of a proper English football ground.