Sometimes there are more important things than the result of a football match and yesterday was a rare occasion in which everything I hoped for never directly involved 3 points for the Addicks. Of course, a Charlton win would have been nice, but that alone would not have guaranteed the success or failure of the day for me. I took my young 6 year old son, Thomas, for only his second ever Charlton game and what I wanted more than anything was for my boy to enjoy his day out at the football. Regular readers of this blog may recall from a previous post that his first visit to the Valley, back in September last year, never went entirely as I'd hoped, although, ironically, Charlton won that day.
Back then the general culture shock of a big and noisy crowd was too much for the young lad and it's taken me over a year to gently persuade the boy that he needs to give it another go. To his credit, he's slowly come round as his love of the game has grown slowly and naturally.
I am a real sentimentalist and the small things matter to me. I can pinpoint and recall so many small milestones in my evolution as a football fan and I'd love my boy to appreciate those moments too. I made a point of stopping with the lad by the entrance to Ransom Walk, pointing out when the Valley first comes into view through the trees just beyond the railway arches. A big grin ran across his face. I encouraged him to smell the air to take in the eclectic aromas that are synonymous with football stadiums; hot dogs, burgers, cigarettes and the smell of the print in the matchday programme!
We walked together through the crowd, weaving in and out of fellow Addicks on-route to the East Stand.
I took the time to introduce the boy to all the blokes who sit around me in Block E: many of whom I've celebrated good times and been through so many dark days with over the years. The new generation shaking hands with the old...
He watched the game like a hawk, even turning down a bag of sweets midway through the second half. Haynes was confirmed as his new favourite player. I constantly encouraged the lad to 'keep on hoping'. God knows he'll need that if he becomes an Addick!
With a few moments left I looked down at him and saw the first sad face of the day. "We're not going to win are we, Dad?" he said. "No...not today, son" I replied. "Maybe next time".
On the way home I told him how lonely some of these journeys have been for me down the years and how I'd hoped he'll be with me more often. "Yeah, when can I come again?" he answered cheerfully.
A sense of victory ran through me...