I've had far better days at The Valley, but today was up there for an experience that will be remembered for many years to come. Just like that time the fans threw those merchandise brochures onto the pitch in protest at Steve Brown's red card whilst being carried off on a stretcher, or that incredible rendition of 'Floyd Road' soon after we were condemned to relegation by Spurs' second goal in '07, today will be remembered for the actions of the fans more than the action on the pitch. Sometimes wonderfully spontaneous, sometimes choreographed superbly, Addicks should be rightfully proud of themselves tonight. Support and protest delivered effectively, decisively and with relentless passion.
Before the game CARD had set the tone with a superbly executed mock funeral procession that was observed by hundreds if not thousands along the route to The Valley. I followed it down Floyd Road alongside a group of Boro fans who looked genuinely somber at the emotion of it all. They're having a mini-crisis themselves, although I'd settle for their problems right now.
Within seconds of the kick off a barrage of black and white beach balls rained down on the pitch and bought the proceedings to a sudden halt. As the ground staff frantically tried to clear the pitch the Charlton fans stood as one to sing anti-Duchatelet songs in front of a live TV audience. Unsurprisingly, Sky images showed Meire sniggering away, presumably finding the customer unrest weird. The chasm between her and the fans cannot get wider. Her position long-since became untenable and totally unacceptable. Unbelievably there are people out there willing to give Roland the benefit of doubt, but can there be anyone who thinks Meire is doing a worthy job?
The first half came and went without drama other than a mischievous rogue whistler based somewhere in the Covered End. On one occasion, the unofficial referee appeared to stop a dangerous looking Boro attack by blowing up, confusing everyone but Teixeira who cleared the ball away.
And on 57 minutes the most rarest of sights: a Charlton goal! Teixeira scoring a powerful header from a corner. The Valley erupted and for the first time in a very long time I found myself celebrating passionately like the old days. A couple of guys ran on the pitch and eagerly beckoned their fellow Addicks on with them. Nobody followed, thankfully. Meire would have loved it if they did, if only to provide an opportunity to discredit the otherwise peaceful protests.
The clock ticked towards the 74th minute, although we had to guess as much after a suspiciously-timed warning about invading the pitch appeared on the big screen just beforehand as if to distract or confuse the masses. I'm not going to lie, getting up and walking out was very, very hard. Every single bit of me wished I didn't feel the need to make a stand, but I do, so I did. Even if we agree on the harmful effects of Duchatelet and Meire, I know opinion is split on the walkout, just as it will be on the boycott of season tickets. I don't blame people for staying put. Not one bit. The whole thing still doesn't sit comfortably with me even now, and I hate Meire and Duchatelet for putting this on me.
Just as I turned into the West Stand car park, Harriott doubled our lead. Rest assured, despite what some might believe, missing our second goal meant absolutely nothing to me. I won't lose any sleep over that. I'd have happily missed 2 or 3 goals safe in the knowledge they were going to Charlton.
My reluctant early departure was not a sign I cared less about the result, but all about my grave concerns for the future.