With Charlton not in action last Saturday I took advantage of a rare opportunity to go and watch my local no-league side, Bishop's Stortford, play. The rather prestigious visitors were the once football league side, Chester, who dropped the 'City' part of their name as the supporter-owned club reformed after going out of business back in 2010. With the infrastructure of a league club, some of their players reportedly on a grand a week and an enviable away following (some 450 estimated on Saturday), it's inevitable that Chester continue to rapidly climb the football pyramid as they are aiming for their third successive promotion.
My earliest footballing memories as a very young lad was following Bishop's Stortford, attending games home and away with my Granddad Thomas, my Dad and occasionally my Mum. I always feel a strong sense of guilt whenever I watch The Blues. I know I've let them down badly in the last 20 years. I really should go more often.
My young son, Thomas, came along too. It was his first game watching 'The Blues' and only his second ever *proper* football match (he came to Charlton with me and my Mum last season, but was a bit bewildered by it all as my before and after posts at the time recalled). I'm so conscious of pushing him into anything he doesn't want to do but I'll admit I am inwardly desperate for the lad to want to spend Saturday afternoons watching football with me. I was as nervous as anything taking him along. He complained about being cold at one stage (and ended up with my hat on as a result) but other than that he was brilliant.
I cling desperately to signs he may have a spark inside of him ignited by watching football, just as I did when I was his age. On 78 mins I had one of those magic moments that will live with me forever. The Blues had just gone a goal down when our left back popped up out of nowhere and unleashed an unlikely shot from fully 25 yards out that nearly took the net off as it powered into the goal. It's the sort of moment that comes out of nothing. Blink and you miss it. I looked down at Thomo, immediately praying he never missed the moment and there he was, both fists clenched, teeth gritted, eyes wide open. He then let out a massive YYYYEEEEEESSSSS!!!
This post will forever mark the first *proper* goal he ever *properly* celebrated at a live game. I'm a very sentimental sort of chap and that was a great moment. I ruffled the hat on his head and even the chap standing next to us looked pleased at my boy's response.
Chester went on to grab a winner late on, but the real victory for me was Thomo asking when he's coming to football next. Charlton v's Middlesbro in a few weeks, I said, and I can't wait.