Thursday, 28 October 2010
Saturday's visit of Sheffield Wednesday will see a return of ex-Addicks keeper, Nicky Weaver, and inevitably this will lead to some very interesting thoughts regarding the reception he will get from the Charlton fans. Weaver - a self-confessed Wednesday fan - became a hate-figure at Charlton following a number of run-ins with the Addicks supporters down the years, notably with those within the Covered End. I always felt there was an element of humour to the banter - albeit very dark at times - rather than anything truly sinister, and this was in part down to Weaver's ability to take the stick like a man, often giving as good as he got.
At the time Pardew signed Weaver he would have easily featured in a top-10 list of players least likely to ever play for Charlton and so I can remember being totally dumfounded when he signed given his history with our supporters. In a way, I instantly admired Weaver for having the balls to move to Charlton and face the hostility (he would hardly hit the ground with the fans behind him after all). Furthermore, I saw it as a positive sign of his character and determination to help us back to the top flight. I wasn't entirely won over, but the big lumbering keeper with the scruffy beard seemed the sort of bloke you could have an argument with down the pub and he'd end up shaking your hand, offering you a pint and a lift home!
Following a decent start to the campaign the relationship between player and supporter soon grew to such a level that Weaver became a bit of a cult hero...a villain turned good. Ok, perhaps the term 'hero' is not really the best, but you know what I mean. His form was mixed throughout his stay and ultimately he wasn't able to lift us back to the Premiership and following our relegation from the Championship he left: just two years after arriving.
So I'll give a gentle clap when his name is called out on Saturday, but for one overriding reason that goes beyond his relationship with Charlton. For me, Weaver represents a rare bread of pro-footballers who don't take themselves too seriously, and I like that.