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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 13:15 GMT
Charlton bounce back in style
Charlton celebrations
Charlton celebrate their return
Charlton Athletic bounced back from the disappointment of relegation with an instant return to the Premiership.

Alan Curbishley swiftly marshalled his forces after a previous one-season stint in the top flight - and promotion was rarely in doubt.

Charlton set the pace with the leading pack early on, and stayed the course impressively, even allowing themselves the luxury of seven games without a win at the end of the campaign and still running out as champions.

Manchester City posed the biggest early threat, but once Charlton marksman Andy Hunt found his range, Curbishley's side were never placed in serious danger.

Hunt scored 24 league goals, and aided and abetted by the experienced Graham Stuart, gave Charlton the spearhead to go alongside their defensive solidity.

Off course

And even an injury to Clive Mendonca, the main goalscorer in their last promotion campaign, failed to knock the bandwagon off course.

The championship was finally clinched with a 1-1 draw at Blackburn with two games to go, a deserved accolade at the end of a season which saw Charlton emerge as the division's best example of quality and consistency.

Alan Curbishley
Curbishley led Charlton back at the first attempt
Mendonca's season was curtailed by fitness problems, but he signalled the way ahead with a hat-trick in the 3-1 win at home to Barnsley in August.

Charlton displayed supreme professionalism throughout the season, even embarking on an FA Cup run that threatened to add further lustre to their season.

The highlight of that assault on Wembley came away to Coventry City in the FA Cup fifth round, when Charlton came back from 2-1 down to win with a late decider from Hunt.

Charlton deserved at least a draw in the quarter-final against Bolton Wanderers at The Reebok Stadium, but failed to get the good fortune their performance merited.


It did little to deflect Charlton from the promotion trail, and they showed enough reserves of resilience, as well as a cultured style of football, to suggest they will not suffer a similar fate as on their last brief visit to the Premiership.

Mark Kinsella
Mark Kinsella celebrates the title

Curbishley's efforts as manager last season also confirmed his reputation as one of the country's most astute young bosses.

He ensured his side stayed together and made the necessary changes to accommodate the differing demands of the first division.

Charlton's end of season slump was almost understandable, given the relative comfort with which promotion had been achieved.

And it was a tribute to Curbishley's motivational and organisational prowess that Charlton did not suffer the fate of many relegated clubs, bouncing back with a style that was a credit to manager and players.

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