Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship game against Blackburn Rovers is the club’s annual Academy Day, celebrating the great work done at Sparrows Lane.
As part of the celebrations every academy player will make their way around the pitch at half-time. A tradition that has been going on since the day’s inception in 2010, meaning first team players including Dillon Phillips, George Lapslie, Albie Morgan and Alfie Doughty have all been involved in the past.
Ahead of the celebration Academy Manager Steve Avory explained the crucial role that Valley Gold plays in helping our youth system to thrive.
Valley Gold was launched in 1989, with its original aim being to aid the club’s return to The Valley. When this was achieved in December 1992, the focus switched to helping Charlton’s academy go from strength to strength. Valley Gold, a supporter membership group, supports the academy financially throughout the year.
Avory explained: “The supporters are very important to us with Valley Gold. I remember in 2010, when it looked like we [the academy] were going under – it was so crucial back then. I’ve always wanted to be involved and assist on Academy Day because the organisation shows how much the supporters and people on the committee that I work with do value the academy.
“The funding is important and allows us to do so much. The minibuses are vital to us, the tours that we are able to go on through Valley Gold. The budget would not allow more than one team to go away without them. It’s been so important in helping us give young players the wider experience.”
Last season the Charlton 2004 age group finished as runners up in the 2019 Valley Gold Invitational Tournament hosted at Sparrows Lane. Avory explained how with the help of Valley Gold, the tournament is changing this year.
“The Valley Gold Invitational Tournament that we are running in May is expanding more each year. Once again, we’ve got eight teams coming. We always try to get a couple of foreign teams as we had last year with clubs like PSV. It’s a marvellous weekend, particularly for our U15s who we are confident will be successful in it.”
Alongside providing these services Valley Gold are a proud sponsor of the half-time Valley Gold Crossbar Challenge, where all Valley Gold members are automatically entered into a draw alongside fans who buy a Jackpot Ticket, to try their luck at hitting the crossbar on the pitch, the prize fund is £5,500 for Saturday’s game.
Article by Nick Emms