The #PrideOfTheValley campaign launched last season to reward the most dedicated Charlton fans. Each home league game, a fan is selected to win the award and the individual is presented with a signed shirt.
Today Joshua Baker has been selected. Joshua has one of the highest loyalty point tallies amongst all supporters.
We asked Joshua for some of his Charlton memories…
Why I became a Charlton fan: It runs in the family. My grandparents, parents, uncle, sister and I were all born and raised in Charlton. They would all go together, and would occasionally bring me along when I was around five years old.
My first game at the Valley: I was quite young, so don’t remember the exact match. I only started going regularly when I got a season ticket when I was eight, so I guess the 3-2 win against Wycombe Wanderers in August 2009.
My first away day with Charlton was: My dad took me to a 1-0 defeat at Leyton Orient in December 2011, where Ben Hamer got sent off in the first six minutes! A fun experience and a great atmosphere, nonetheless.
On 25th May 1998: I wasn’t born until 2000, but my whole family was there, and they still reminisce about it to this day. I’ve grown up on their stories and memories; not to mention watching the game back on video.
On 26th May 2019, I was: Sitting straight behind Josh Cullen as he put that cross in for the BFG. What an emotionally draining day! I was warned not to expect a dramatic repeat of ’98, yet this game did it in its own way. It’s lovely to have a Wembley story for my generation.
My favourite Charlton game is: I can’t decide between the 0-2 win at Shrewsbury Town in April 2018, and the 1-2 win at Burton Albion in November the following season. Heading to Shropshire knowing that a win was what we needed to continue challenging for play-offs, but were unlikely to get it, it was a thrilling encounter that really personified the fight that Lee Bowyer brings his Charlton players. At Burton, the crowd stayed properly behind the team despite us going behind, and drove them on to snatch a last-gasp winner against the run of play – and right in front of the away terrace as well.
My favourite Charlton player is: Ooh, how do I pick a favourite out of this great bunch? There are so many talented flair players in the squad; but for me, a player who truly epitomises what it means to pull on a Charlton shirt is Darren Pratley. He may not always get the recognition that a lot of the others get, but he certainly plays a pivotal role in the team, and leaves everything out on the pitch every game.
My favourite Charlton kit is: I’ve always been fond of the more subtle colours, like those in the 2017/18 and current away strips.
The best part of being a Charlton fan is: Supporting a team who could equally win, lose or draw every fixture; but the one thing that’s for certain is knowing that the fight and effort will be there every time. You can get the same excitement from a glamour tie against a big name, and a cold midweek fixture in the north. Once the team are on the pitch and the crowd starts singing, it’s a buzz that only being a Charlton supporter can give you!
My all-time Charlton XI would be: Another tough call, but I’ll go with: Dillon Phillips; Jay Dasilva, Jason Pearce, Alou Diarra, Chris Solly; Darren Pratley, Krystian Bielik, Johnnie Jackson, Johann Berg Gudmundsson; Yann Kermorgant, and Lyle Taylor. It’s difficult to choose anyone from before my time, but I know there have also been some other great players over the years.
The Charlton player of the season will be: If anyone’s to take Lyle’s crown this season, then it’ll probably be either Conor Gallagher or Josh Cullen (albeit both loan players); but if Tom Lockyer keeps playing the way he’s started this season, then that’s where my vote will be going.
The game I am most looking forward to is: Probably unsurprising considering the fact that my two past favourites were both midweek fixtures, but I’m most eager to go to Sheffield Wednesday (on a Wednesday) in February. It’s a ground which I’ve not actually been to before, and its potential significance might become a bit clearer by that stage in the season.