Vale (Valley) of Tears
So Chelski have duly won the Premiership without losing at home, not that they won every game.
Let it not be forgotten that manager Alan Curbishley masterminded Charlton's masterful draw in January - "a real team effort" which echoed the Addicks "heroic" defeat of Chelsea in the League Cup in October last year.
But Charlton lost yesterday
. We Addicks are waking up to the realisation that we have lost the man who has fed our dreams for 15 years. He has had enough having, perhaps, taken us as far as he is able.Charlton chairman Richard Murray announced to the Valley crowd ahead of kick-off against Blackburn Rovers that Alan Curbishley is set to leave Charlton at the end of the 2005/06 season.
Murray said,"Fifteen years ago we started on a journey which saw us return here to The Valley in 1992 and then embark on a period of sustained progress and success on and off the field. Throughout the entire period Alan Curbishley has been the manager of this great club.
"He has given us memories that will live with us all forever.
"Promotion to the Premiership in 1998 followed the most dramatic play-off final ever to take place at Wembley Stadium - 4-4 against Sunderland and 7-6 winners on penalties.
"In 2000 we won the First Division Championship in spectacular style. Next season we will start our seventh successive season in the Premiership - the best league in the world. "Alan has masterminded all this success and deserves our total admiration.
"When Alan emerges from the tunnel today I would ask each and every one of you to stand and pay tribute to a remarkable man and leave him in no doubt of the genuine affection you all hold for someone who has done so much for our football club and is in my opinion the greatest football manager this club has ever had."
Three minutes before the end of the match, in which, it must be said, the team played very badly, the crowd - including the Blackburn staff - rose as one and started applauding the man, an ovation that lasted minutes after the official end of the match.
There can be few managers in any sport who have engendered such affection and been able to leave on their own terms. Curbs is, at 48, young enough to reach new peaks. Where he goes next ~ England? Newcastle? ~ is immaterial. It's where he's been and where he's taken us which demands and commands respect.
Charlton Athletic are a model club in that the management has been prudent. We're solvent, a valued member of the local community, one which seems to have expanded from London SE7 where I grew up, with education programmes in local schools and outreach projects stretching into Africa and China. A modern model, a club whose team
both top fair play leagues and which other clubs hope to emulate.
I feel proud to be an Addick and so much of that is because Alan Curbishley has been the public face of the only sports club I have ever felt part of.
That said, I wish you Happy Travels, Alan.
And thank you.