As you walk up Floyd Road towards the Valley on a matchday, it’s hard not to hear Rick Everitt standing on the pavement shouting “Voice of the Valley, Two Pounds!”
However, after 34 years of publishing Charlton Athletic’s most reputed independent fanzine, issue 176 will be its last, marking an end of an era.
The monthly fanzine was synonymous with providing comprehensive coverage, accounts of Charlton’s matches and a ‘Fan in the Know’ column where Everitt used his experience and contacts to give readers an insight into what truly went on behind-the-scenes.
It was born during Charlton’s exile from the Valley and an outlet for the supporters’ campaign to bring Charlton home as well as give opportunities to fans and up-and-coming writers to see their name in print, expressing their opinion on issues concerning Charlton’s past, present and future.
Speaking exclusively to London Football Scene, Rick Everitt said: “I was caught up in the beginning of the campaign to get back to the Valley and it was a bit slow to get off the mark.
“One of the main instigators was a guy called Peter Cordwell who was the sports editor of the Mercury – the main local newspaper at the time.
“In October 1986 he started a petition (to return the club to the Valley) which within a fortnight had accrued 15,000 names.
“I got involved in that as I advised him on what he should do with the petition and how he should present it to the club.
“From then on the campaign gathered momentum and found some expression through the Supporters’ Club newsletter which was started in 1987.
“But as soon as people who were involved with that started criticising the board, the club and the situation at Selhurst Park, the club tried to shut them down.
“That’s how ‘Voice of the Valley’ began – with the realisation we needed an independent publication which they couldn’t control or influence, to give the campaign a real voice.”
Although Everitt went on to become the Charlton reporter for the Mercury for nine years before running Charlton’s communications department while in the Premier League, ‘Voice of the Valley’ (VOTV) continued to be published intermittently over the years – even when Everitt was employed by the club.
Yet despite growing discontentment at the current running of the club and the need for an independent outlet to hold the hierarchy to account, Everitt has decided to make September’s issue the last.
“I think it’s time for me to do something else – or to do what I do differently,” Everitt explained.
“I could very easily continue producing ‘Voice of the Valley’ in the same format for another five or ten years, and I know the readership is incredibly loyal.
“I’ve really been touched by the number of people who’ve approached me and said how disappointed they are at the announcement, a lot of the readers have been reading the fanzine since it began.
“This means it has quite an old readership. When it started, the readership was quite young but people including the editor have grown old doing it!”
Although Everitt may be walking away from the fanzine, he’s certainly not walking away from the club – aiming to take the opportunity to produce more publications around Charlton alongside his role as a Labour leader on his local council.
Everitt remains as vocal on the club as ever, expressing his view on Thomas Sandgaard’s regime as well as Johnnie Jackson’s abrupt sacking to be replaced by Ben Garner at the end of last season.
“Johnnie Jackson wasn’t going to be successful as a manager under Thomas Sandgaard, so I think from Jackson’s perspective the job at Wimbledon is a chance to prove himself,” Everitt said.
“In terms of Ben Garner, I think he’s less irritating than some previous managers we’ve had such as Karl Robinson and I wasn’t a big fan of Nigel Adkins either.”
The VOTV editor also has reservations over Sandgaard’s commercial running of the club, saying: “My biggest concern about Thomas Sandagaard is that he has unrealistic ideas about the club’s commercial potential.
“He openly states he wants to double or treble revenue and sell out the ground in League One – he’s simply not going to be able to do that.
“Anyone who’s been around the business for any length of time could tell him that.
“Whilst I’m in favour of optimism and trying new things, if his revenue model is based on unrealistic revenue projections, then the chances are he’s either going to run out of money or enthusiasm.
“I haven’t seen any evidence of a strategy which will develop the support in League One, in the way that he says is going to happen.
“His matchday prices this season are a serious mistake if he wants to increase attendance. Even if the team is successful this season, he’s not going to see people pay £29-£34 to get in to watch League One football against the likes of Forest Green and Exeter.”
While the club may have safely returned to The Valley, Rick Everitt’s expert insight and obvious passion for the club will be sorely missed – especially at a time when an independent platform like ‘Voice of the Valley’ is arguably needed more than ever.
The final print issue of ‘Voice of The Valley’ will be sold for the first time at Charlton’s home game with Oxford on Saturday October 1st and for more information or to purchase online, visit votvonline.