Friday, 27 December 2013

Divine Intervention...

For me, going to the football on Boxing Day is as much part of Christmas as turkey, tinsel and Santa Claus. Of course, I know there is a much deeper meaning to Christmas, but although I'd like to think I live my life by good Christian values I can't claim to be a religious man. That said, I spent most of the car journey to the game yesterday chatting openly to Him upstairs. I don't ask for much. I expressed a desire to see a good performance and, if He was to grant me just one simple wish, I respectfully requested nothing more than a change of fortune for Charlton. Whether or not He considers my 'when it suits me' approach to religion worthy of Divine Intervention I do not know, but it had been 10 years since we last witnessed an Addicks victory at the Valley on Boxing Day and over two decades since the last time we beat Brighton at home.

Making my way to the Valley I felt the shameful excesses of the day before weighing heavy on my belly as the growing concern for Charlton's perilous league position and continuing bad fortune weighed even heavier on my mind. We needed a lift and thank God we got one via the one Charlton player who does a very good impression of Jesus Christ!

Lawrie Wilson; scorer of goals, right-back, right-midfield, right-wing dynamo, partner to the boy wonder Solly, full of effervescence...I salute you, Sir. A wonderful performance from a team player who is sadly under-appreciated and whom deserves the plaudits from that most welcome of phenomena; a rare Charlton home win!

Contrary to the awful song sung by a section of the Valley yesterday, whether banter or not, Wilson has never been 'shite' and to suggest he's now only 'alright' is disrespectful to his continued efforts. As fans, we need to come up with a better song than that. This is not reactionary because of his brace yesterday, but if the POTY award was to be considered today, Wilson would be up there for me.  

But it all could have been so different. Brighton, with their attractive, neat passing game dominated possession throughout the entire match. The BBC website suggest they enjoyed 65% of the ball, which seemed a little generous to me, but also serves only to make the 3-2 scoreline even sweeter. Ulloa deservedly opened the scoring for the visitors after just 22 mins. Our friends and allies from the south coast celebrated wildly in the Jimmy Seed. They'd have made the journey up fully expecting 3 points.

The rampant Wilson was having none of it. This was his day. 10 mins after Brighton scored, he equalised with a net bulging shot having been cued up by Kermorgant. On the hour mark he scored again to complete the most unlikely of braces.

Even Saint Yann of Brittany could not upstage Wilson today, although heaven only knows he tried. With 15 mins to go he floated in a glorious free-kick that had the keeper rooted to the spot. The Valley erupted! The big Frenchman is back on form. The beast had returned. Charlton's survival hopes lifted.

But it just wouldn't be Charlton if it was going to end comfortably and Ulloa's second of the game in stoppage time set up a tense, nervy finish. We held on.

Considering the uncertainty off the pitch, lack of new contracts for our beloved manager and numerous key players, yesterday's performance was hugely encouraging. No matter how idiotic some fans can be in those low moments, nobody can question the work rate and commitment of this group of players. The fight will keep us up where technical ability or squad depth may be lacking.

The league table makes for better reading this morning. My smile remains and will do until Sunday at least, when Sheffield Wednesday visit the Valley. If Charlton can produce a performance like yesterday, we may be able to enjoy another Charlton home win.

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