In pictures: Charlton and Coventry fans march together and launch pig protest

Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016

Saturday saw fans of Charlton Athletic and Coventry City march together to protest about the running of their clubs.

Charlton fans are angry at the stewardship of Roland Duchâtelet, who has not attended a match at The Valley in two years, and his chief executive Katrien Meire, which has seen the club go through seven managers, an exodus of experienced backroom staff and the team relegated to League One. Coventry fans face losing their ground for a second time under the ownership of a mysterious hedge fund, Sisu.

These fans were packing a surprise – thousands of plastic pigs rained upon the pitch at kick-off, delaying the match by seven minutes and getting worldwide media attention.

Plastic Pig Protest at the Valley October 2016

Greenwich & Woolwich MP Matt Pennycook is writing to the Football League following a post-match incident where a fan was grabbed by the throat by a plain-clothes security guard after having protested with a North Korean flag during the match – a reference to Meire’s comments about not caring about the club’s history.

“Antagonism between supporters and club owners is [is] at worrying levels,” he tweeted.

The Charlton Champion‘s own Neil Clasper took these photos of the march. You can see more here.

Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016

You can find out more about the protests at the Coalition Against Roland Duchâtelet.

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Charlton’s Horn Fair returns this Sunday 

Charlton’s Horn Fairbanned for an excess of drunken behaviour in 1874 – is back for a second year in its new guise as a family-friendly, heritage-themed event run by Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust.

Taking place at Charlton House on Sunday October 16th from 10am-4pm, the event promises: “…a day for all ages. With activities from Stone Masonry by the Building Crafts College, plaster workshops from Philip Gaches, and our very own WWI Nurse Ivy and Devoted Frank. Amongst all the music and revelry of the day come along and enjoy our range of short talks, food and drink treats, and lots of children’s activities that are on offer”.

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Catch the train? Take the bus? Come to Transport for Charlton’s first meeting

A weekend train at Charlton: There'll be fewer of these over the next few months
The Charlton Rail Users Group, which has been dormant for a few years, has come alive again under a new name – Transport for Charlton.

It’s holding its first public meeting on Wednesday 12 October, at 6.30pm at Charlton Liberal Club. Representatives from Southeastern, Transport for London and other local campaign groups will be there.

The new group will be encompassing all forms of transport around the area – one of the things the group is likely to be campaigning for will be a better link to North Greenwich, by diverting the 472 so it serves the stop outside Charlton station.

The ongoing engineering works at London Bridge and Abbey Wood – and the lack of information about weekend closures – is also sure to be on the agenda. (Because Southastern can’t be botherd to announce this stuff, we keep a full diary here, currently up to Christmas.)

One piece of good transport news to note – the Night Tube will come to the Jubilee Line at North Greenwich from Friday night/Saturday morning. Trains will run all night at weekends, every 10 minutes, feeding into half-hourly all-night buses on the 108, 132, 188, 472 and 486.

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Petition aims to put a life-saving defibrillator in Maryon Park

Defibrillator petition

Charlton Champion reader Jon Kingsbury has been in touch about a petition he’s launched to get a defibrillator installed in Maryon Park.

He says:

It’s wonderful that the park is home to communities from all across the area who play sports throughout the year. Football, tennis and, during the Summer, the park hosts a number of school sports days.

Installing a defibrillator by the public toilets in the park would provide people with the means to save a life should someone have a cardiac arrest. Waiting for an ambulance to arrive may be too late.

Councils across the UK are beginning to install these life-saving devices, which can be unlocked and used after a 999 call. They are designed to be used by members of the public and cannot give a pulse to someone who doesn’t need it.

We want our local park to be as safe as possible for our communities and families. Please join our campaign.

Here’s a video from London Ambulance Service which explains how they work.

It seems like a good use for some of the ward budget money (in this case, Woolwich Riverside ward) that Greenwich Council started to make available last year. You can sign the petition here – and it’s something to think about for the area’s other parks, too.

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Greenwich Trust School: Charlton to get new secondary school

Greenwich University Technical College

Greenwich Council is to spend over £13 million converting the Greenwich University Technical College on Woolwich Road into a new secondary school, due to open in September 2017.

The college, which opened in 2014, caters for 14-19 year-olds, but has struggled to persuade 14-year-olds to switch their education there.

From next year, it will be known as Greenwich Trust School, with 150 places available in each of years 7-9 from September. For the council, it’s a quick and simple way of easing huge pressure on school places across the borough.

The expansion has already been agreed by the government, and most of the £13.7 million costs are being met by Greenwich Council. £200,000 is coming in section 106 payments from two housing developments in Abbey Wood.

Greenwich Trust School will be the first secondary school in Charlton since St Austin’s boys school on Highcombe closed in the late 1980s, eventually becoming part of St Matthew Academy in Blackheath.

The former Charlton Secondary School for Boys, which was merged into John Roan School in the early 1980s, had its upper school in the current Windrush Primary School building, next door to Greenwich Trust School.

Earlier this month, St Mary Magdalene Church of England school opened a temporary site in the old Blackheath Bluecoat building on Old Dover Road, ahead of moving to a new secondary school on the Greenwich Peninsula in 2018.

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Addicks fans’ protest shirts raise £3,500 for Charlton Park Riding for the Disabled

CARD protest, 17 September 2016

Pest control: Charlton fans gather in their protest shirts before last week’s match against AFC Wimbledon

Charlton Athletic fans protesting against the club’s controversial owner have raised £3,500 for Charlton Park Riding for the Disabled Association after selling nearly 1,000 protest t-shirts.

The black and white shirts – loosely based on the kit the Addicks won the 1947 FA Cup in – have been sold as an alternative to the club’s official shirts for fans who are boycotting official merchandise while Belgian electronics magnate Roland Duchâtelet remains in charge.

Duchâtelet and his chief executive, Katrien Meire, have overseen the club’s collapse into League One and a 40% drop in season ticket sales since taking over in January 2014. They are now on their seventh team manager, Russell Slade, and are 14th in League One.

Fans clubbed together on the Charlton Life forum to get the shirts made – even getting them sponsored by technology company Data Techniques, which pulled its own backing from the club in protest at its mismanagement.

They have now made enough money from sales to donate cash to local good causes. A further £3,500 is going to the Demelza children’s charity, which operates a hospice in Eltham.

Other proceeds from sales will help fund further protests against Duchâtelet, which have included disrupting matches with black and white beach balls and protesting in the tycoon’s home town of Sint-Truiden.

John Furlonger, chair of the trustees of Charlton Park Riding for the Disabled Association, said: “The group is run entirely by a happy, dedicated team of volunteers getting disabled children on horseback, so it’s very dependent on its community. The same volunteers also work astonishingly hard at everything else in between, from mucking out the horses to fundraising. No charges are made for riding.

“This wonderful donation will go a very long way indeed in making a real difference helping local disabled children to reach their true life potential. Heartfelt thanks are sent from everyone at Charlton Group to each and every Charlton fan who contributed for your kindness.”

Bob Jacobs, who runs Data Techniques, said: “Over the past 20 years we have spent in the region of £200,000 with Charlton as match sponsors, executive box holders and on corporate events at The Valley.

“For us it’s always been about ‘our’ team, not the owners of the club. By sponsoring the protest shirt, we took the opportunity to publicly express our opinion on what is happening to the club and support such a good cause as Demelza.”

CARD protest, September 2016

Charlton fans gather outside The Valley on 17 September

Although Duchâtelet has finally appointed a manager with British experience after trying a succession of failed “head coaches” from Belgium, fans and the club’s owners remain bitterly divided. Recent developments include:

  • The disclosure that much of Charlton’s transfer policy was being run by an inexperienced Belgian, Thomas Driesen, over the heads of the club’s coaches and scouts. Driesen remains involved in Duchâtelet’s set-up.
  • The grandson of Jimmy Seed, the manager that won Charlton the FA Cup in 1947, has disassociated his family from plans to renew the faded “Jimmy Seed Stand” sign that adorns The Valley’s south stand. “He would be horrified to hear about the scouting ‘system’ imposed on the club by Roland Duchâtelet over the last four years”, Jim Dutton said.
  • Katrien Meire applied to join the Football League’s board – but did not turn up to the meeting to make her pitch to other clubs.
  • Season ticket sales are down to 6,297, compared with 10,278 at the same stage last season – the lowest figure in nearly two decades – as long-term fans stay away.

A rare visit to London by Duchâtelet saw the club boast he had met a “fan group” set up by the owners, Target 20,000 – but even that stage-managed show of harmony ended in disarray after one of its members was told to resign after discussing the meeting on Twitter.

Duchâtelet told the group he rarely visits the club as it only accounts for 1.5% of his investments, and that he wished rival football fans would mingle together, as they do at rugby. Ironically, Charlton fans have been joined by rivals in their protests – including those of AFC Wimbledon, who beat the Addicks 2-1 at The Valley last Saturday.

The Addicks’ decline doesn’t just affect the club, it affects the area too, which is why this website will continue to cover the protests. Locally-based fan Dave Thomson and The Valley Cafe’s Mehmat Mantery discuss the impact of decline and Duchâtelet on the club and the community in this short video.

Tickets have been cut to £5 for next Saturday’s match against Rochdale. The Football for a Fiver match has traditionally attracted crowds of well over 20,000 – but with fans having withdrawn goodwill from the club, this season’s match is likely to see renewed protests as well as a fall in sales.

A limited number of protest shirts are still available for £25 adults and £19.05 for children – visit for more.

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Charlton Conversations: Talk about new Anchor & Hope Lane development at Greenwich Yacht Club

Charlton riverside at the Thames Barrier

Charlton riverside at the Thames Barrier

We’re still waiting for news from Greenwich Council on its detailed plans to redevelop the Charlton Riverside – a consultation on a new masterplan was due earlier this year, is apparently due this month, but that’s what they’ve said before.

In general, we know from the previous masterplan and a recent land use consultation that the plan is to sweep away much of the area’s industry (and ultimately, some of the retail barns) and replace it with housing – completely changing the shape of the area in which we live.

The consquences of this faffing around are being felt by riverside businesses – such as the council being set to buy an old recording studio on Eastmoor Street, down by the Thames Barrier, because the building’s owner has served a notice on the council complaining that it is blighted by the council’s previous plans. (There’s more on this at From The Murky Depths.)

Developers aren’t waiting – they probably know what’s going on anyway. So a consultation begins this weekend on a 15-acre site off Anchor & Hope Lane and behind Atlas Gardens and Derrick Gardens. The developer here is Rockwell – which is also involved in the highly controversial cruise liner terminal at Enderby Wharf, east Greenwich.

It says

With exciting new plans for this neglected riverside area now well underway, it’s time for sensitive and visionary planning that will benefit residents and visitors. Part of Greenwich’s new economic and environmental strategy, the new urban community at Charlton Riverside will include new green landscaping plans, while improving access to the waterfront area and its stunning views.

The development of a new Barrier Park link to Maryon Wilson Park will be key in opening up new views of the river and its striking silver defences, while making cycling and walking in the area much easier and safer, improving access to river transport links, opening up choice for local residents and helping to attract visitors.

Those who live at Charlton Riverside will enjoy direct links to exciting new developments already underway at Greenwich Peninsula and Woolwich town centre. This focus on helping to build a community in harmony with its urban surroundings is a key focus for Rockwell.

The plans for Anchor & Hope Lane include a new public park as well as new homes. There’s an exhibition taking place over the next week, and a special website, Charlton Conversations.

Unfortunately, the exhibition isn’t actually in Charlton itself – it’s at Greenwich Yacht Club, at the end of Peartree Way in Greenwich.

You can see it tomorrow (Saturday 24 September) from 10am-4pm; Wednesday 28 September from 6.30pm-9pm; and Thursday 29th September from 4pm to 8pm.

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