The Valley

Other Pitches

A snapshot of 3 moments in time...

In 1919, Charlton Athletic were looking for a new ground. The club found an abandoned sand and chalk pit, but without any cash to fully develop the site, an army of volunteer supporters dug out a flat area for the pitch at the bottom of the chalk pit and used the excavated material to build up makeshift stands.

This 00-scale Valley, is a celebration of three moments in time.

  • The working pit with much work being done!
  • The abandoned pit - getting overgrown and reclaimed by nature.
  • The fans on the terracing for the first ever game on 13th September 1919. Charlton ‘A’ v Summerstown in the South Suburban League.

The Chalk Pit

 ...volunteer supporters dug out a flat area for the pitch at the bottom of the chalk pit and used the excavated material to build up makeshift stands....

Bloke in the hat: "This'll do just fine. If you chaps can dig out the rest of it, we've got ourselves an association football pitch."

Bloke on the right: "He's 'aving a laugh!"

Game on!

The club played its first game at the ground before any terraces, were installed; there was simply a roped-off pitch with the crowd standing or sitting on the adjoining earthworks. 

Bloke in the hat, just to the left of the bloke in the grey cap: "I say Smithers, be a good chap and fetch my armchair."

Smithers: "Certainly sir, shall I build you a corporate box while I'm at it?"

For some morning games it can get a bit foggy

Bloke in the red hat: "Why did we have to sit right behind the buffer stop?"

Bloke in the blue top with arms in the air: "The buffer stop isn't actually there you numpty. It was there maybe 10 years ago."

Bloke in the red hat: "It's still blocking my view though..."

Bloke in the blue top with arms in the air: "You don't really get art do you Salvador. You've no imagination."

Bloke in the red hat: " Yes I do - I can imagine that we, as two bits of plastic are actually having a conversation."

A quick pan...

The whole scene...

Whoever it was looked at the disused chalk pit and thought 'football pitch', saw this scene in a blink of their mind's eye.
Over a century on, this vision has been captured Subbuteo-style! ?

The idea...

It was a chance bit of photography by Riccardo Bertone that started the whole project of. He took some pics of his home set up and the flash made it look a bit foggy.

So,... foggy pitch... playing Subbuteo in the fog... who in their right mind could ignore this inspirational challenge? ?

Certainly not the Friends of Old Subbuteo!

...and after bit of thought and some 'low-fogger' research, a plan was hatched to feed fog through the tunnels of the terracing. Needless to say there were many teething issues, but we now have Subbuteo in the The Valley! ?

A few flicks in the fog with David 'Down The Wing' Heron. We're discovering the water from the fog stops players sliding smoothly. A different flick needed - an emphasis on the old 'finger-at-an-angle-to-send-the-figure-on-a-slight-curling-trajectory' technique.

The build

The first challenge. How to get the fog from the larger aperture into the smaller gap under the terrace...?
Without solving that particular problem, we gave it a go anyway, on the lowest power setting. It looked promising... ?
It appears it should work ok, which was a big relief all round - well, for the 'ground-fogger-purchaser' at least! ?
Now on a higher setting, an eerie effect and unplayable...until you play... and then it's playable! ?
There was quite a bit of fog escaping in the gaps in the terracing. A solution needed to be found to create a fog-tight stadium...
The solution! Rayleigh Silkscreen, kindly donated plastic sheets (with nuts and bolds) used for street signs! ?
Joining the plastic sheets together to fit around the terracing.
Essential weights needed to help with the glueing of supports

Extra terracing...

eBay was scoured to find more terracing. As it was all going to be painted, pristine condition wasn't a requirement. eventually this lot popped up and was acquired at a reasonable price.
The sellers were Emmaus Hastings & Rother Homelessness Charity, who put a nice note with the package. Handwritten and with a drawing of a ball! ?
Fitting the terracing to the supports
All terraces fitted (it took ages to do!)
Half of the solution to fit the fogger to the terrace!
The other half of the solution ?
First set up in situ. Checking out the fog-tightness of the build. Not too bad, all things considered! ...well obviously, not 'all things considered' Bill Bailey. ?
OK - Maybe a little morning mist would make for a more sensible game? This was the effect after a few minutes, with the fog slowly dissipating...

Some balsa wood inserted into the terracing to create some plateaus for our limestone quarry.
Around the corner terraces, some modelling foam was used. Just squished in, as glue would melt it.
Spray painting time!
Ready for a fog-trial. Not too much escaping from gaps now, and you can hear from the chatter that the plan of having some intermittent fog burst might work better than pumping out an incessant fog-storm...
The arrival of some quarry wagons...
The first spectators take their seats...
A visit to Bluewater to see what a disused quarry looks like.
Some 'disuse' has appeared in The Valley quarry! ?

Ron's Gaff

A chance neighbourhood conversation created the concept of 'Ron's Gaff'.

Ron is a lifelong Charlton fan and now about to enter his 10th decade, he remembers standing on the terraces cheering on the likes of Len Glover and Derek Hales, as they donned the red and white kit in the hope of achieving great things for the club.

Ron also remembers the TV advert, where a team was losing hopelessly at half time, wins the game after drinking some Mackeson stout. He recalls the many times where "give 'em a Mackeson" rang out in The Valley, chanted by the good natured stoic supporters! ?

Ron's Gaff open in all weathers.
Mackeson's delivery has arrived!
The Mackeson's party has started! Glasses and bottles supplied by Gatehouse Gaming. They didn't arrive initially and when asked if they had been posted, the reply came: "Hmm...should've long got to you... no matter I'll send out a replacement - should arrive Monday for you. I'm very sorry for any inconvenience" The Friend of Old Subbuteo love Gatehouse Gaming! ?

Valley Scenes

Team photo! With a box camera. ?
Say "Mackeson..."!
Not entirely sure what this train crane contraption is doing, but there's limestone rubble, a shaft that goes somewhere, and a chap directing operations. So something is clearly going on...
One of the bolts that hold The Valley in place! ...and a die-hard fan who's found a nice little spot to watch the game, sitting on a few barrels of TNT! ?
Horse and cart doing a sterling shift on the quarry.
Fans in the North Bank
Workers dealing with a landslide of chalk...
The Big Match camera crew capturing some highlights...
A day out for all the family...
A prestine Marstons Crane at work...
A Wagon from the Valley, although it appears to be near Barnsley(?) Maybe a different valley!
Horses and cart with driver at the foot of Ron's Gaff. All three looking forward to a Mackeson!
Workmen, crane, supporters and a tree that need straightening.
The three moments in time encapsulated in a still frame.
The working quarry at its zenith!
A walking beam engine, removing water from the quarry.
The art of goalkeeping in the fog
No easier in 00-scale...

Charlton Athletic v Summerstown - 1919

With the unfortunate cancellation of the 2021 Southend-on-Sea OSC Christmas event (due to Covid), a consolation solo match was played to commemorate the first ever football game to be played at the Valley: Charlton Athletic v Summerstown. ?
As it turned out the match was abandoned after 9 minutes – not because of fog, but because Chris’ mum said the players had to do their lateral flow tests(!) ??

A neighbourly game

Later that evening, next door neighbour David 'Down the Wing' Heron popped round. Mackeson time! ?
At 4-0 down, David said he probably needed a Mackeson, so after a swift bit of quaffing, he won a direct free kick and scored his first goal for at least 2 and a half years! ?
A nice way to celebrate the oft forgotten chant once heard regularly at The Valley of "Give 'em a Mackeson!"
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