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Top football club makes a rousing tribute

PUBLISHED: 16:24 16 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:27 01 July 2010

A FOOTBALL club paid a moving tribute last Saturday to more than 100 fans, former players and ex-officials who have died in the past year. Charlton Athletic staged its first-ever 60-second standing ovation while displaying the names of the deceased prior

A FOOTBALL club paid a moving tribute last Saturday to more than 100 fans, former players and ex-officials who have died in the past year.

Charlton Athletic staged its first-ever 60-second standing ovation while displaying the names of the deceased prior to kick-off in last weekend's match against Blackpool at The Valley.

An emotional 21,412 strong crowd took part in the unique remembrance - and the sombre occasion didn't have a negative impact on the team as they recorded a comprehensive 4-1 victory over their visitors.

Among the fans included on the list were former Welling United general manager Graham Hobbins and former Kentish Times' sports reporter Raj Johal.

The commemoration was the brainchild of Addicks' supporters' director and Times columnist Ben Hayes, who first proposed the idea to the club's board last season.

However, because of Charlton's troubled campaign in 2006/7, which ultimately ended with relegation, the tribute was shelved until last Saturday.

Mr Hayes said: "It started as something smaller and just grew and grew. In the beginning we were just thinking about remembering a fan who'd died and then there was the fact a couple of former players had passed on as well, and it continued from there.

"It's part of what Charlton Athletic is; we are more than just a football club. This is about reminding people that we are a club in which a lot of the fans know each other. Individual fans matter. It's easy with the glamour of the Premier League to lose sight of what's important. We are part of one big family, a community."

The visiting team also took part in the tribute, with the name of a Blackpool fan who had recently passed away included among the list.

It is now set to be staged every season and Charlton press officer Marc Harrington, who was responsible for compiling the names, sees no reason why it shouldn't continue to prove popular among the Addicks' faithful.

He added: "We have been quite surprised at just how many people have contacted us and have had some great feedback, so maybe in future years it can get even bigger. Hopefully it will be successful for many years to come."

j.shackley@archant.co.uk

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