Following Friday night's excitement at The Valley we are returing to Wembley some 21 years after our last visit.
If you are of similar age to me it really doesn't seem that long ago and acts as a sombre reminder of how time flies and seems to pass more quickly the older one gets !
Of course it just had to be that our opponents would be Sunderland our opposition on 28th May 1998. Most Addicks I believe will be happy like me that we are facing them. Their fans were great following their defeat last time and I have a lot of respect for them as a result.
In striking similarity to last time it is true that it is more importnat for us to win the game than Sunderland. Last time they followed with a straight promotion garnering a record number of points on their way the the title.
If we lose then we face an even more uncertain future and none of us wants that.
The Addicks have been to Wembley 2 before in my lifetime. The aforementioned 1998 game and 1987 Full Members Cup Final for which I was away on holiday and so I can't rightly say I've never seen us lose at Wembley !
Another thing I can say is that I've never seen us lose a penalty shoot out. 1998 aside I've seen one other one and that was the League Cup one versus Luton at The Valley a few years ago.
Back to Friday and what an amazing evening that was ! It was alwas going to be and I was telling everyone I knew that The Valley was going to be rocking but it passed even my wildest expectations.
I'm trying to recall another atmosphere like it. The play off semi against Ipswich might come closest but I'm not sure even that was as good.
The fans passion came through loud and clear. Everything surrounding Friday's game was intensified and magnified by events of the last few years and ultimately was released in joyous eruption made manifest by a spontaneous and peaceful pitch invasion.
Lee Bowyer, Johnnie Jackson, the staff and the players have given us fans something to get behind having played so well and representing our club in splendid fashion and enabling the so importnat reconnect with the fans.
We have so much to thank the managemnt team for even if we do fall at the last hurdle.
The only downside of Friday you might argue was our performance but you have to acknowledge how well Doncaster played as well as it was something of a rare blip on our part. However, that aside, what a game and what drama !
Just as it looked like we might have thrown it away up pops Pratley to equalise and send us onto penalties. Even then just as it seemed the script was written for Naby Sarr he had his penalty saved.
Like many others I failed to appreciate that Rowe's miss meant we were through. In all the excitement I forgot that was the case !
The reaction to Friday's events on social media has been huge and everytime I access Twitter, Facebook and also Charlton Life I'm reading great accounts from fans of thier evening.
There's little surprise that our allocation of tickets for Sunday's final have sold so well. This is still a tremendmous amount of support and affection for our club. I'd love to think that Friday and the upcoming final will showcase our club and that some wealthy, right-minded individual will think I'd like to be involved with that team.
Lee Bowyer faces a tough week in deciding his team for Sunday. Should he go for experience over youth. I don't envy him the task but trust him to get it right of course.
21 years ago and I recall that Les Reed had a pitch marked out with the exact dimensions of the Wembley one. I expect that level of attnetion to detail will be repeated as we aim to give oursleves the best possible chance.
The lead up to Friday and the game itself was tense and stressful enough. I'm not sure how I'm going to cope before then so it's probably just as well that these Wembley visits don't come around too often.
Whatever happens we do need to make the most of it and enjoy the day as much as possible.
Come On You Reds !
3 years ago