#PrideOfTheValley | John Bennett

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, John Bennett has been selected. John has been coming to Charlton since 1968 and represents Hastings and Bexhill supporters at the clubs' fans forum meetings

We asked John for some of his Charlton memories...

Why I became a Charlton fan… I lived only 10 miles from The Valley, in Ilford, but it was expected that I would be a West Ham supporter. My brother went to West Ham and I, because I had loved Charlton from birth, went to Charlton on my bike.

My first game at The Valley was… against Blackburn on 26 April 1958, I have full details of all my Charlton matches. My Dad, whom I was to cycle to matches, and Mum, who knitted my first Charlton scarf, took me. We only needed to draw that match to be promoted straight back to the top tier, but we narrowly lost. My Mum told me my cap went along higher in the crowd than I did – it was a 54,000 crowd.

My first away day with Charlton was… at Upton Park against West Ham on 4 January 1964: they won 3-0, pleasing my brother greatly! 1964 was the year I started venturing further afield on my bike. The journey to Watford, for instance, was 70 miles there and back, but, on 16 September 1969, I had my longest cycling trip to an away game – to Bristol City from Ilford – and it was postponed! But I did not go to every away game until much later and did this for 16 years, stewarding away coaches. By this time, I was living in Bexhill.

On 25th May 1998 I was… At Wembley. Everyone knows about the match but few can have ended the day in Wembley Hospital! Sadly my good friend, who was then in his 80s, collapsed. It was thought that he had had a heart attack from the excitement. In fact it wasn’t that – fortunately – and he was released from hospital the following day. I went with my brother and his family, I had converted them!. Of course my daughter was a season ticket holder!

On 26th May 2019 I was… At Wembley of course. This time I had, not only my daughter, but now my two granddaughters with me. They had been coming from Bexhill to The Valley as well.

My favourite Charlton game (not including the play-off finals) is…would be Charlton’s 3-3 draw at Selhurst against Palace. It was just the quality of our football and particularly Ray Treacey.

My favourite Charlton player is… Now: Lyle Taylor; of all time: Len Glover

My favourite Charlton kit is… Red, white shorts and white socks in the early 60s. I can’t give a reason: I just think we looked really smart.

The best part of being a Charlton fan is… the memories; The Valley; the Red Red Robin – and numerous players and teams who have given everything for the Addicks

My all-time Charlton XI would be… Charlie Wright; Bobby Curtis; Brian Kinsey; Alan Campbell; Alan Simonsen; Frank Haydock; Len Glover; Mike Kenning; Eddie Firmani; Bobby Aire; Ray Treacy

The Charlton player of the season will be… Lyle Taylor – he gives everything for Charlton, is a goal scorer but also a maker of goals. He makes things happen

The game I am most looking forward to is… West Brom at home because we have to test ourselves against them.

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