There seems to be no logic or consistency as to why clubs decide to honour a former player or manager by naming a stand after them, but the reality is that a club is to some extent defined by its history and the manner in which it represents that history.
This week marks 61 years of my support for Charlton Athletic. In that time only former manager Jimmy Seed has been honoured by having a stand named after him. The vast majority of modern-day Charlton fans will have never seen a game in which Jimmy Seed was involved which is not to diminish his incredible achievements in any way.
25 clubs in the top four divisions have at least one stand named after a player or manager. Some argue that they don’t bestow the honour so they can negotiate a stadium rights deal, but the reality is that naming rights is only effective with a new stadium. Those that have tried it at existing stadia like Mike Ashley with the Sports Direct Arena at Newcastle have never received either supporter or media acceptance.
On average it takes a club 37 years from a player’s last game to being honoured with a named stand. In the case of managers, it is 19 years from the date of their last game. In many cases the naming takes place after the death of the relevant individual.
I have never understood that, and I believe that Manchester United with Sir Alex Ferguson and West Ham United with Billy Bonds have got it spot on. Don’t wait until someone dies to let them take their place in the history of a club I say. In Ferguson’s case the unveiling of his named stand was on the 25th anniversary of his appointment as Manchester United manager.
Well, this July is 30 years since the appointment of Alan Curbishley as the Charlton manager (joint initially) and this is the time to honour him with the naming of a stand in my view.
Curbs gave Charlton fans what must be their greatest ever day out and their finest hour when they defeated Sunderland at Wembley in 1998 in the greatest ever Football League Championship Play Off Final and he brought Premier League football to The Valley. Beating teams of the quality of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool was no longer a pipe dream. Curbs made it happen.
He gave us the best team ever in my time of supporting the club and he became synonymous with Charlton and to some extent still is.
Since Curbs left the club, there has never been an owner that would have sanctioned a stand being named after him for differing reasons, but I would like to think that Thomas Sandgaard is different and will respond positively.
The iconic fanzine Voice of the Valley has launched a petition so Charlton fans can show their support for the Alan Curbishley Stand. I hope as many fans as possible support this campaign. Curbs deserves nothing less.
Peter Varney – Chairman Integral Sports Management
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