The final home game of the season should be enjoyed, right? Wonderful weather, the glory of a promotion push or the relaxation of knowing you're safe. Instead, what Charlton fans had to endure yesterday was one of the darkest days ever witnessed at the Valley. The discontent and anger is nothing to do with relegation, we all know that. Duchatelet has destroyed a once proud club and the fight to win it back is just getting uglier and uglier.
It is a regrettable means to an end, but we can't and won't relent.
Pre-match a large group of Addicks had staged a sit-in protest by the entrance of the West stand car park, which, although perhaps not as visually striking as some of the bigger car park protests, was actually very effective. Food for thought, perhaps, if the fight extends beyond the closed-season.
Under the full glare of the Sky cameras, the club were obviously keen to ensure the
guaranteed anticipated disruption was kept to a minimum, and had taken the step of installing a 20ft net across the full length of the Covered End. In reality, the fact it was required was hugely embarrassing for a club more intent on battling the fans than healing wounds. In 20 years time when all of this will be a distant memory, I suspect we'll look back on images of that net as one of many symbols of the desperation.
You are in the wrong place if you're after a match report, but what I can say is towards the end of the first half came the moment of the match. Two heroic Addicks breached the press gantry to unfurl a huge banner (left) above the directors box. Chants of 'Liar, Liar, Liar' rang around the Valley. Neither Meire or the gutless Murray re-emerged for the second half. Wishful thinking maybe, but perhaps they've both finally got the message. I want them both out of my club.
Charlton's loss completely irrelevant, Burnley's victory handed them the title. For the second year running Charlton fans had salt rubbed into their gapping wounds by having to witness the rapture of a victorious club with ambition. I don't begrudge Burnley anything. I wish them well.
At the full time whistle Burnley fans stormed the pitch, completely unchallenged, to embrace their heroes, sparking the same reaction from Charlton fans determined to take their demonstrations onto the hallowed turf. The emotions between the two sets of fans could not have been more contrasting, and yet, respectful of our desperate situation, the Burnley fans took time out from their delirium to applaud the Covered End en-masse. It was a sight I will never forget, and emotions got the better of me for a few brief moments. I've seen three Charlton promotions in 20 years, two of which took us to the Premiership, but this was the first time I'd seen Charlton fans on the pitch, and for all the wrong reasons.
How I despise Meire and Roland for what they have done to my club...
At one stage, the infamous and unwanted 'Fans Sofa' that Katrien is so unjustifiably proud of became the target for the angry Addicks, who, like a pack of hungry lions on the savanna, dragged it onto the pitch and began ripping it apart. Pieces of foam and fabric hurled into the air to the delight of the baying crowd. It was a hugely symbolic gesture against this awful regime.
Eventually I left the Valley, feeling as numb as I've ever felt. I made my way to the rear of the West where, alongside many others, I left my season ticket at the feet of Big Sam. The juxtaposition of Sam's huge grin and the sad faces of Addicks below him could not have been more stark. I've held the same East Stand seat for nearly two decades, through occasional highs but many, many lows, and yesterday I gave it up. I walked away heartbroken. I should have met with friends at the pub for an end of season beer, but I just couldn't face anyone. I drove home an emotional wreck, all the while hoping my young son wouldn't see me like that.
To see my club reduced to this level is beyond heart-breaking. Never has the gulf between club and fans been wider: never has it been more evident that under the current regime it is unfixable. Instead of dreaming about days like yesterday from a Burnley perspective, I am reduced to dreaming about the day I hear that Roland has gone. That's all I have left, and I resent Duchatelet and Meire more than I can explain in words.
Their cancerous regime must be driven out of Charlton before it becomes terminal, and metaphorically speaking the doctor has just sat down in front of the Addicted, sullen faced, bracing himself before delivering some very bad news.