It's been quite some time since I felt the magic of the FA Cup. The worlds greatest club tournament has somewhat passed Charlton by since our last noteworthy run in 2006 (and quite some time beforehand, in all honesty). In that year we managed to find ourselves in the hat for the semi-finals, after a zero - zero draw with Middlesbrough in the QF's at the Valley forced a replay (which we lost, of course).
In December, those present at the Oldham Athletic game would have been lucky enough to have seen the FA Cup on display on the Valley pitch prior to kick-off (pictured above) when fans and players alike observed a minute's applause in honour of Charlton's 1947 FA Cup winner Peter Croker, who had sadly passed away earlier that month aged 89. Let's hope the sight of the world famous cup gave the players some inspiration heading in to tomorrow's match at Craven Cottage.
Back in 1983, when I was an impressionable 9 year old lad, I experienced my greatest FA Cup moment to date. My local non-league side, Bishop's Stortford, had gone on a wonderful cup run, beating Reading and Slough away from home before being drawn away against Malcolm Allison's Middlesbrough in the 3rd round. My Dad, my Great Uncle Percy and me watched an amazing 2-2 draw at Ayresome Park (former home of Boro) in which we came from 2 goals down, which set-up a replay back at Bishop's Stortford. Unbelievably, and against all odds, Lyndon Lynch scored first for the Blues and sent 6000 fans packed like sardines in the tiny stadium into total and utter delirium. My Granddad had stood me on a support pillar that held up the corrugated cover to the stand behind the goal to keep me from getting crushed, and from my lofty position I saw the ball hit the net. It still makes my eyes glaze over to this day, and knowing where I stood, I can just make myself out on the YouTube footage of the game below. Eventually we lost 1-2, and our dream was over. I can recall crying my heart out on the walk back to the car.
And so on to tomorrow. I am like a small kid again: full of excitement and looking forward to his big day out. I'll have a run in the morning to get my mind state in order and then jump on the train on-route to West London, wearing my colours with pride.
Charlton are on the up, and with 7000 Addicks cheering on Sir Chris and the team from the Putney End Stand, the atmosphere will be as upbeat as we've seen for years. Long may it continue!
Come on you Addicks!