Just before Christmas 2020 I recorded a series of three informal interviews with Peter Varney, the former CEO of Charlton Athletic on behalf of the Axis Foundation, the charitable arm of Axis Europe Plc, which Peter is the Chairman of.
The Axis Foundation – whose Patron is former Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley – was created by John Hayes, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Axis Europe Plc and is dedicated to funding causes that help improve lives from the underprivileged, vulnerable and disabled, to those who just need a hand to realise their potential. The Foundation is committed to supporting local communities through company and staff donations, as well as charitable events. The main event organised by the Axis Foundation is the annual Christmas Charity Ball, which is held at the London Park Lane Hilton every December and which I have had the honour of emceeing since 2015. Last year’s Christmas Ball raised a staggering £150,000 but, like all such events in 2020, it was not possible to hold the Dinner this year. More information about the work of the Axis Foundation can be found here.
The three podcasts cover Peter’s career in football and include his early memories of supporting Charlton Athletic, meeting Keith Peacock for the first time, organising Steve Gritt’s fundraising activities for the British Brain and Spine Foundation and how that ultimately led to Peter joining Charlton in 1997, the challenges faced at The Valley, the iconic 1997/98 Play-Off Final at Wembley, the Premier League days, raising the funds to develop The Valley, Sir Maurice Hatter and his importance in the launch of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, Alan Curbishley’s departure and the managerial changes that followed, the decline of the Club, ownership changes, bringing in Chris Powell as manager, the difficult Roland Duchatelet era, the ill-fated ESI period, his involvement with Andrew Barclay and coming right up to date, Charlton’s future being secured by Thomas Sandgaard’s timely takeover.
Along the way Peter and I also discuss some of the great players who have played for Charlton such as Clive Mendonca, Claus Jensen, Scott Parker, Darren Bent, John Robinson, Hermann Hreidarsson, Yann Kermorgant and Paulo Di Canio.
Podcast One – ‘Keith was the perfect host, he ordered my dinner for me – without asking me what I wanted!’
Podcast two – ‘Hermann picked me up, carried me 50 yards and dumped me, fully suited, in an ice-bath!’
Podcast Three – ‘Enzo, I’m sending a player up for lunch, I need you to tell him how wonderful the Club is….’