#PrideOfTheValley | Marilyn Toft

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 is Charlton Athletic Community Trust Christmas Spirit Day at The Valley and CACT have nominated trustee Marilyn Toft, who is a lifelong fan after first coming to The Valley with her father.

We asked Marilyn for some of her Charlton memories…

Why I became a Charlton fan… My dad first took me to The Valley when I was nine years old - it was all terraces then and hosted 70000 fans. My dad made me a little wooden stool to stand on so that I could see! It was love at first sight with The Valley even though my earliest memories are about wet and cold days and walking home crying because we had lost.

My first game at The Valley was… The earliest games I remember were quite dismal - heavy pitches, lots of defending and few goals. I do recall some of the players - Billy Bonds, Len Glover, Mike Bailey and, of course, Keith Peacock!

My first away day with Charlton was… when my Dad took me to Stamford Bridge. There were loads of fans, all standing, and we lost 5-0! Not a good day.

On 25th May 1998 I was… in Oxford - darting in and out of pubs to check out the score - which was constantly changing. I remember listening to the penalty shoot out on the radio in the car and jumped out the car when Michael Gray missed his penalty, knocking over a poor woman's pushchair and crazingly running up and down the street shouting ‘CAFC’ with everyone looking very startled!

On 26th May 2019 I was… at Wembley of course with all the family including my two grandsons Luke and Toby and the 'Charlton gang'. I had a red flag and everyone followed as we walked up Wembley Way. We were utterly gobsmacked when the own goal went in but somehow I knew we would do it and we all went absolutely mad when Patrick Bauer scored right at the end. Luke has a very large poster in his bedroom of this historic moment signed by the BFG.

My favourite Charlton game (not including the play-off finals) is… A number come to mind but especially 3-3 at the Valley against Manchester United (Manchester United were the only Premiership team we didn't beat); Kevin Lisbie's hat trick vs. Liverpool and when I took my 90-year-old dad to watch Charlton vs. Ipswich on New Year's Day, we went 2-0 down in the first five mins and he said 'what have you brought me to see here? - same Old Charlton'. We ended up winning 3-2 and my dad presented Johnny Robinson with the Man-of-the-Match award. Great stuff!

My favourite Charlton kit is … To be honest I've liked them all - but do particularly like the away kit this season

The best part of being a Charlton fan is…the ups and downs, the excitement, you can take nothing for granted. My Dad always used to say 'Charlton build you up and then let you down to earth with a bump!' and the lovely friends I have made and out trips away as well as introducing my grandsons to The Valley.

My all-time Charlton XI would be… That's a hard question but I am full of admiration for the players who helped us win promotion last season. A fantastic group of players who gave their all for the shirt, brilliantly supported by Lee, Jacko and Andy - not forgetting Steve Gallen who helped us bring in some great players.

The Charlton player of the season will be… Conor Gallagher, I have to say this as I have sponsored him with Luke and Toby.

The game I am most looking forward to is… Millwall at home, we will beat them this time for sure!

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