I bumped in to an old friend yesterday evening. It must have been over 20 years since I last saw him. Mid-conversation he turned to my boy and asked whether he was obsessed with football like his 'old man'. My lad nodded and smiled. He then asked whether he was an Addick. Without hesitation my boy answered "yes, but I also like Arsenal as Charlton aren't very good at the moment". My friend laughed but then told him quite forcefully that he needs to stick with Charlton as "they are a proper football club with good values". My lad smiled again. Inwardly my heart sank.
We used to be. Doesn't quite seem it at the moment.
I was instantly reminded of a link I saw in Twitter a few days ago (apologies for not crediting whomever posted it - I've tried to find you on my stream but couldn't). This article from December 2002 harps back to better days when Charlton Athletic was the 'model' club that appeared to have a blueprint for success that everyone with dreams of progression against-all-odds wanted to emulate: Britain's Best Run Club?
That BBC report came after a two-zero home victory against Liverpool and a week later we'd draw two-two at the Valley against Manchester City. Seems light years away now. Good times. Memories I hold dear.
I've tried very, very hard to keep my powder dry and remain open minded on what Roland Duchatelet is doing with my club, which has been especially hard in the absence of any credible dialogue between himself, Meire and us fans, but it seems his 'model' goes against everything you read in that article and everything that makes sense to me. Nothing at all is making sense to me at the moment.
A proven ethos discarded for one that, when you weigh up the evidence, appears destined to fail.
I read last night that the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust are calling for a public meeting to discuss the 'growing anxiety amongst supporters about the direction of the club'. Follow this link to their site here. I have to wonder about the up-hill task they face trying to get our concerns heard by the club, let alone getting Mr. Duchatelet to accept the grounds for the unease and act upon it. One thing is for certain, we cannot just sit back and let Roland do as he pleases. He doesn't care, but we do.
I do not support the idea of a boycott matches (I might cover that in greater detail at some point) as I firmly believe that in union there is force. Not least of all, this is my club and I will not allow Roland to drive me away as he won't notice I've gone. I may well endure dark times ahead rather than enjoy, but then what's different than the last two decades? You can question my sanity, but I will hold firm on this.
Surprisingly, there appears to be people out there that are actually happy enough with the way things are, almost entirely based on (from what I have seen) the argument that Duchatelet saved us from certain administration. That may well be true, and rightfully deserves recognition, but that does not give him the right to treat this club as he pleases and certainly not as an on-going, weird personal experiment. Charlton Casualty's latest post summed up this sentiment perfectly: After The Love Has Gone.