After the league and Cup success of the 1930s and 40s, the 50s, 60s and 70s were decades of slow decline. Many cite the death of Director Albert Gliksten in 1951 as a turning point but his brother Stanley and later his nephew Michael would retain control of the club throughout this period.
The 5th place finish in Division 1 in 1953 with players such as Eddie Firmani, Stuart Leary, Derek Ufton and Sid O’Linn gave false hope but the Jimmy Seed was sacked in 1956/7 and the team was relegated the same season. Under Jimmy Trotter the team were one goal away from an instant return but that was as close as Charlton would come to Division 1 for a long time.
Not that this period was ever boring. Charlton scored plenty of goals but often let plenty at the other end. The 7- 6 win over Huddersfield in 1957 with five goals from Johnny Summers epitomised the Addicks of this era. This wasn’t a one -off as the 6 -6 draw with Middlesbrough and 7 – 4 victory over Portsmouth in the same era proved.
The 60s saw a long run in the 2nd tier and promising young players such as England International Mike Bailey and local boy Billy Bonds sold to pay the bills. Marvin Hinton and Len Glover were other fan favourites who had successful top flight careers but with other clubs.
Firmani’s return as a player and then manager nearly saw promotion back to the top flight with the 1969 team of Ray Treacy, Matt Tees, Paul Went, Charlie Wright and Graham Moore but when that team broke up relegation to Division 3, in 1972, was the first time since 1935 that the side had dropped so low.
With Theo Foley as boss and the likes of Derek Hales, Mike Flanagan, Keith Peacock and Colin Powell Charlton were still a good team to watch but it took the organisation of Andy Nelson to get the side back to the 2nd Division in 1972.
The promotion season and derby victories over Chelsea and Spurs showed that there was still a lot of potential support for Charlton if a consistently successful side could be built but without that crowds dropped alarmingly and the Valley fell into disrepair. Charlton entered the new decade of the 1980s again dropping into Division 3 but with former player Mike Bailey no in charge.