Charlton AthleticSport

Andy Petterson: I never had a play-off final grudge over Ilic getting chance to star in Charlton’s play-off final win


Andy Petterson said that he carried on supporting rival Sasa Ilic although he dislodged him as Charlton’s first-choice goalkeeper throughout the 1997-1998 promotion-winning campaign.

Ilic wrote his name indelibly in Charlton Athletic history after crucially keeping out Michael Gray’s penalty kick to send the Addicks to the Premier League for the first time in eight years following a thrilling 4-4 draw against Sunderland after 120 minutes.

Petterson claimed he was “not jealous” to see his Australian compatriot take centre stage in front of a sold-out Wembley Stadium, although he confessed that he felt despondent to sit out and watch on from the bench as his team-mates made history.

He said: “There was no jealousy towards Ilic but just euphoria of getting promotion to the Premiership the way the game went. There was no animosity but for me to miss out was very disappointing. And although we got promotion, that day at Wembley wasn’t quite as special for me as if I had played in the game.

“At the time when Sasa saved the penalty we had just won at Wembley in such dramatic fashion and it was fantastic for me. But a few days later it sort of sank in that I missed another opportunity to play at Wembley, like when I was at Luton and we got to an FA Cup semi-final that was played at Wembley.”

Petterson lifted the lid on his relationship with Ilic and said that the pair got on well. He even talked up his seemingly ‘easy-looking’ penalty save which made him a hero in SE7.

“People say his save was easy? He picked the right way, the ball wasn’t hit really strong and he’s made the save. As a goalkeeper if you make the save in a penalty shootout you are the hero, if you don’t make the save nobody expects it anyway.

“But you have to be there, you have to make the right decision and go the right way and Sasa did it and made the save.

“I think Sasa did really well when he came in the side after I was left out. Me and him never really had a rivalry or that sort of attitude towards each other. We both worked hard and tried to motivate each other.”

Petterson was given the nod in goal at the start of the season in the wake of an impressive second part of the previous campaign after which he had been voted the club’s Player of the Year, but was dropped by manager Alan Curbishley after a string of shaky displays in March 1998.

The 50-year old said he never dared interfere with Curbishley’s decisions and accepted them, but after doing the math at the time, he realised that a few things just didn’t quite add up. He had just kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 home victory, yet it would be a long time until he would start a game again. And he was neither injured nor suspended.

“I was never happy after being dropped and there was probably a few words said after Curbishley left me out.

“It was a strange one for me because when he left me out we were still in the top six in the table. We played Swindon on a Friday night at home and won 3-0.

“Okay, in the Swindon game I came for a couple of crosses that I didn’t quite get to and maybe didn’t look as confident as I should have done. But we won 3-0! And I kept a clean sheet.

“For some reason Curbs decided there needed to be a change and Mike Salmon came in. Then he got injured and I went back into the side for another two or three games.

“Then we played Stoke away in midweek and Curbs called me before the team meeting telling me: ‘I am gonna leave you out’.

“I wasn’t happy with it at all. Sasa went in, did well, there were a lot of clean sheets and the rest is history – play-offs and promotion to the Premiership.”

And it wasn’t to be the first and last time Curbishley’s actions baffled the Australian goalie and tested his nerve.

Because for some unfathomable and unknown reason to him a third goalkeeper was brought in during the summer.

“I was pleased that we were going to the Premiership but what disappointed me more was when Alan signed Simon Royce. That decision made me start to think ’is he trying to force me out?’

A season later, history repeated itself and Petterson was left out despite doing “okay” from an individual point of view in a ruthless Premier League victory over West Ham.

“I thought I did okay when we beat West Ham 4-2 but then Sasa was back after a concussion and Curbs obviously was gonna go back to his number one goalkeeper.

“That probably sort of made the decision easier when Portsmouth came in around November time. I needed to go and get games. Curbishley told me that if for some reason Sasa got injured he would recall me as the number one goalkeeper.

“But I didn’t think it worked out that way and I was basically relegated to number three goalkeeper when I came back at the beginning.

“It was disappointing and an anti-climax at first. And it was only after Royce injured his knee against Blackburn that I came on and stayed in the side until the rest of the season with Sasa out injured.”

Once relegation was confirmed, the club decided against offering Petterson a contract extension to bring in Dean Kiely, who is widely regarded as the club’s greatest-ever goalkeeper today and was inducted to the club’s Hall of Fame recently.

“After relegation, Curbishey said to me: ‘Look we decided to get another goalkeeper in and we are prepared to let you go’.

“But it had dawned on me that maybe it was time to move on and try to get myself established as a number one somewhere.”

And despite the fact that Petterson didn’t always get his way under Curbishley and was occasionally left licking his wounds, he has profound admiration for the man and the manager.

“Looking back, I always accepted Curbishley’s decision to play Ilic and obviously he got his thinking right and got the promotion in the end, which was the goal all along.

“He was a really good coach and a really good guy who treated players really well and he wasn’t like other managers who come across as being a bit of a bully sort of thing.

“He looked after his players, did his job well but I just don’t know whether he had the ability to get the best out of the big-name players when Charlton got to the Premiership the second time. But as a manager he has been very successful and gave Charlton continuity and I don’t think it’s a coincidence (they declined) after he left.

“There have been quite a few managers since he left that just couldn’t click and fill his boots.”

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

One thought on “Andy Petterson: I never had a play-off final grudge over Ilic getting chance to star in Charlton’s play-off final win

  • “Dean Kiely, who is widely regarded as the club’s greatest-ever goalkeeper” – maybe it’s a long time ago, but I was always told that accolade belonged to Sam Bartram 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.