Charlton turned professional in 1920 and first entered the Football League in 1921. Since then, it has had four separate periods in the top flight of English football; between 1936 and 1957; 1986 and 1990; 1998 and 1999, and 2000 to 2007. Historically, Charlton's most successful period was the 1930s, when the club's highest league finishes were recorded, and the 1940s, when the club reached the FA Cup final twice, winning in 1947.
In 1937 Charlton finished runners up in the First Division, in 1938 finished fourth and 1939 finished third. They were the most consistent team in the top flight of English football over the three seasons immediately before World War II. This continued during the war years and they won the "war" cup and appeared in finals. They remained in the First Division, and were finalists in the 1946 FA Cup, but lost to 4–1 to Derby after extra time. The Addicks made amends when the reached the FA Cup final again in 1947. This time they beat Burnley 1–0, Chris Duffy scoring the only goal of the day. In this period of renewed football attendances, Charlton became one of only eleven English football teams to average over 40,000 as their attendance during a full season. The Valley was the largest football ground in the League, drawing crowds in excess of 70,000. However, in the 1950s little investment was made either for players or to The Valley, hampering the club's growth. In 1956, the then board undermined Jimmy Seed, and Charlton were relegated the following year.
From the late 1950s until the early 1970s, Charlton remained a mainstay of the Second Division. Relegation to the Third Division in 1972 caused the team's support to drop, and even a promotion in 1975 back to the second division did little to re-invigorate the team's support and finances. In 1979–80 Charlton were relegated again to the Third Division, but won immediate promotion back to the Second Division in 1980–81. Even though it did not feel like it, this was a turning point in the clubs history leading to a period of turbulence and change including further promotion and exile. A change in management and shortly after a change in club ownership led to severe problems, such as the reckless signing of former European Footballer of the Year Allan Simonsen, and the club looked like it would go out of business. In 1984 financial matters came to a head and the club went into administration, to be reformed as Charlton Athletic (1984) Ltd. But the club's finances were still far from secure, and they were forced to leave the Valley just after the start of the 1985-86 season after its safety was criticised by Football League officials. The club began to groundshare with Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and this arrangement looked to be for the long-term, as Charlton did not have enough funds to revamp the Valley to meet safety requirements.
Despite the move away from the Valley, Charlton were promoted to the First Division as Second Division runners-up at the end of 1985–86, and remained at this level for four years (achieving a highest league finish of 14th) often with late escapes, most notably against Leeds in 1987, where the Addicks triumphed in extra-time of the play-off final replay to secure their top flight place. In 1987 Charlton also returned to Wembley for the first time since the 1947 FA Cup final for the Full Members Cup final against Blackburn. Eventually, however, the Addicks fell to relegation in 1990. Manager Lennie Lawrence moved to Middlesbrough in 1991 and was replaced by rookie joint managers Steve Gritt and 34-year-old Alan Curbishley. The pair had unexpected success in their first season finishing just outside the play-offs, and 1992–93 began promisingly and Charlton looked good bets for promotion. However, the club was forced to sell players such as Rob Lee and Anthony Barness to secure a return to The Valley, which eventually happened in December 1992. Less than three years later, however, new chairman Richard Murray appointed Curbishley as sole manager of Charlton.
Under his sole leadership, Charlton made an appearance in the playoffs in 1996 but were eliminated by Crystal Palace in the semi-finals and the following season brought a disappointing 15th place finish. 1997–98 was Charlton's best season for years. They reached the Division One playoff final and battled against Sunderland in a thrilling game with ended with a 4–4 draw after extra time. Charlton won 7–6 on penalties, with the match described as "one of the finest games ever seen at Wembley", and were promoted to the Premier League. Charlton's first Premiership campaign began promisingly but they were unable to keep up their good form and were soon battling relegation. The battle was lost on the final day of the season but the club's board kept faith in Curbishley, confident that they could bounce back. And Curbishley rewarded the chairman's loyalty with the Division One title in 2000 which signalled a return to the Premiership. After the club's return, Curbishley proved an astute spender and by 2003 he had succeeded in establishing Charlton in the top flight. In the 2003–04 season, Charlton spent much of the campaign challenging for a Champions League place, but a late-season slump in form, combined with the sale of star player Scott Parker to Chelsea, left Charlton in 7th place, which was still the club's highest finish since the 1950s. However, Charlton failed to build on this achievement and Curbishley left two years afterwards in 2006, after 15 years as manager.
In May 2006, Iain Dowie was named as Curbishley's successor, but was sacked after twelve league matches in November 2006, with only two wins. Les Reed replaced Dowie as manager, however he too failed to improve Charlton's position in the league table and on Christmas Eve 2006, Reed was replaced by former player Alan Pardew. Despite an improvement in fortunes, Pardew was unable to keep Charlton up and relegation was confirmed in the penultimate match of the season. Shortly afterwards the Addicks were linked with a foreign takeover, but this was swiftly denied by the club. However on october 10th 2008 Charlton received an indicative offer for the club from a a Dubai-based diversified investment company.
The club's first ground was Siemens Meadow (1905–1907), not a meadow but a patch of rough ground by the Thames. This was over-shadowed by the now demolished Siemens Telegraph Works. Then followed Woolwich Common (1907–1908), Pound Park (1908–1913), and Angerstein Lane (1913–1915). After the end of the First World War, a chalk quarry known as the 'Swamps' was identified as the new ground for Charlton, and in the summer of 1919 work began on the ground to create the level playing area and remove debris from the site. The first match at this site, now known as the club's current ground The Valley, was in September 1919. Charlton stayed at The Valley until 1923, when the club moved to The Mount stadium in Catford as part of a proposed merger with Catford Southend Football Club. However, after this move collapsed in 1924 Charlton returned to The Valley.
During the 1930s and 1940s, significant improvements were made to the ground so that it was one of the largest in the country. In 1938 the highest attendance to date at the ground was recorded at over 75,000 for a FA Cup match against Aston Villa. During the 1940s and 50s the attendance was often above 40,000, and Charlton had one of the largest support bases in the country. However, after the club's relegation little investment was made to The Valley as it fell into decline.
In the 1980s matters came to a head as the ownership of the club and The Valley was divided. The large East Terrace had been closed down by the authorities after the Bradford City disaster and the ground's owner wanted to use part of the site for housing. In September 1985, Charlton made the controversial move to ground-share with South London neighbours Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. This move was unpopular with supporters and in the late 1980s significant steps were taken to bring about the club's return to The Valley. A single issue political party, the Valley Party, contested the 1990 local elections in Greenwich Borough Council on a ticket of reopening the stadium, capturing a creditable 11% of the vote, aiding the club's return. The 'Valley Gold' investment scheme was created to help supporters fund the return to The Valley, and several players were also sold to ensure the club's return. For the 1991–92 season (and part of the 1992–93 season), the Addicks played at West Ham's Upton Park as Wimbledon had moved into Selhurst Park alongside Palace. Charlton finally returned to The Valley in December 1992, celebrating with 1–0 victory against Portsmouth.
Since the return to The Valley, three sides of the ground have been completely redeveloped turning The Valley into a modern, all-seater stadium with a 27,111 capacity. There are currently plans in place to increase the ground's capacity to approximately 31,000 and even around 40,000 in the future.
Charlton's most common nickname is The Addicks. Among the theories on the origin of the Addicks name are that it was the south-east London pronunciation of either 'addict' or 'athletic'. However, the most likely origin of name is from a local fishmonger, Arthur 'Ikey' Bryan, who rewarded the team with meals of haddock and chips. The progression of the nickname can be seen in the book The Addicks Cartoons: An Affectionate Look into the Early History of Charlton Athletic, which covers the pre-First World War history of Charlton through a narrative based on 56 cartoons which appeared in the now defunct Kentish Independent. The very first cartoon, from 31 October 1908, calls the team the Haddocks. By 1910, the name had changed to Addicks although it also appeared as Haddick. The club has had two other nicknames, the Robins, adopted in 1931, and the Valiants, chosen in a fan competition in the 1960s which also led to the adoption of the sword badge which is still in use. The Addicks nickname never went away and was revived by fans after the club lost its Valley home in 1985 and went into exile at Crystal Palace. It is now once again the official nickname of the club.
The fans' favourite chant is entitled "Valley, Floyd Road" (Floyd Road being the address of the stadium) and is sung to the tune of Paul McCartney's "Mull of Kintyre". The team run out to "The Red, Red Robin" and the version played is one by the Billy Cotton band first recorded in the 1950s. A number of versions have been recorded, however this version is now well established.
Charlton have used a number of crests and badges during their history, though the current design has not been changed since 1968. The first known badge, from the 1930s, consisted of the letters CAF in the shape of a club from a pack of cards. In the 1940s, Charlton used a design featuring a robin sitting in a football within a shield, sometimes with the letters CAFC in the four quarters of the shield, which was worn for the 1946 FA Cup final. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the crest of the former metropolitan borough of Greenwich was used as a symbol for the club but this was not used on the team’s shirts.
In 1963, a competition was held to find a new badge for the club, and the winning entry was a hand holding a sword, which complied with Charlton’s nickname of the time, the Valiants. Over the next five years modifications were made to this design, such as the addition of a circle surrounding the hand and sword and including the club’s name in the badge. By 1968, the design had reached the one known today, and has been used continuously from this year, apart from a period in the 1970s when the just the letters ‘CAFC’ appeared on the team’s shirts.
With the exception of one season, Charlton have always played in red and white. The colours had been chosen by the group of boys who had founded Charlton Athletic in 1905. The exception came during the 1923–24 season when Charlton wore the colours of Catford Southend as part of the proposed move to Catford, which were light and dark blue stripes. However, after the move fell through, Charlton returned to wearing red and white as their home colours.
|Year||Kit Manufacturer||Shirt Sponsor|
|1998–00||Le Coq Sportif||MESH|
22 Stuart Fleetwood on loan with Cheltenham Town in League 1
Club officials as of 16 June 2008
|1995–2008||Richard Murray (plc)|
|2008–||Derek Chappell (plc)|
Charlton Athletic Football Company Limited
|Assistant Manager||Phil Parkinson|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Andy Woodman|
|Reserve-team Manager||Mark Kinsella|
|Youth Academy Manager||Steve Gritt|
|U18 Youth Coach||Damian Matthew|
|Chief Scout||Phil Chapple|
|Club Doctor||John Fraser|
|Walter Rayner||June 1920 – May 1925|
|Alex 'Sandy' MacFarlane||May 1925 – January 1928|
|Albert Lindon||January 1928 – June 1928|
|Alex 'Sandy' MacFarlane||June 1928 – December 1932||Division Three Champions (1929)|
|Albert Lindon||December 1932 – May 1933|
|Jimmy Seed||May 1933 – September 1956|| Division Three Champions (1935);|
Division Two runners up (1936);
Football League runners up (1937);
FA Cup runners up 1946; FA Cup winners 1947
|David Clark (caretaker)||September 1956|
|Jimmy Trotter||September 1956 – October 1961|
|David Clark (caretaker)||October 1961 – November 1961|
|Frank Hill||November 1961 – August 1965|
|Bob Stokoe||August 1965 – September 1967|
|Eddie Firmani||September 1967 – March 1970|
|Theo Foley||March 1970 – April 1974|
|Les Gore (caretaker)||April 1974 – May 1974|
|Andy Nelson||May 1974 – March 1980||Division Three 3rd place (promoted - 1975)|
|Mike Bailey||March 1980 – June 1981||Division Three 3rd place (promoted - 1981)|
|Alan Mullery||June 1981 – June 1982|
|Ken Craggs||June 1982 – November 1982|
|Lennie Lawrence||November 1982 – July 1991|| Division Two runners up (1986);|
Full Members Cup runners up (1987)
| Alan Curbishley &|
|July 1991 – June 1995|
|Alan Curbishley||June 1995 – May 2006|| Division One play-off winners (1998);|
Football League Champions (2000)
|Iain Dowie||May 2006 – November 2006|
|Les Reed||November 2006 - December 2006|
|Alan Pardew||December 2006 – Present|
|Division One Play-Off||Champions||1998|
|Division Three South||Champions||1929|
|Division Three South||Champions||1935|
|Full Members Cup||Finalists||1987|
Goalkeeper Sam Bartram is Charlton's record appearance maker, having played a total of 623 times between 1934 and 1956. But for six years lost to World War Two, when no league football was played, this tally would be far higher. Keith Peacock is the club's second highest appearance maker with 591 games between 1961 and 1979. Charlton's record goalscorer is Derek Hales, who scored 168 times in all competitions in 368 matches, during two spells, for the club. Counting only league goals, Stuart Leary is the club's record scorer with 153 goals between 1951 and 1962. The record number of goals scored in one season is 33, scored by Ralph Allen in the 1934–35 season.
Charlton's record home attendance is 75,031 which was set on 12 February 1938 for an FA Cup match against . The record all-seated attendance is 27,111, The Valley's current capacity. This record was first set in September 2005 in a Premier League match against and has since been equalled several times.