Normally a Saturday at the football is what gets me through the week. I say normally, it's been that way for as long as I can remember, up until early October of last year when I first began to accept things felt very different. Instead of counting down the days to get behind my team I was dreading it. I still went: enduring matches rather than enjoying them. Having a season ticket made me go.
Fast forward nearly 12 months and my lack of enthusiasm feels worryingly normal. I could have not bothered on Saturday even as late as when I was tying my shoelaces by the front door, wondering what I was doing with my life. No longer a season ticket holder, and with my home-printed ticket in hand, I reluctantly made my way to The Valley.
As documented in my previous couple of posts, Saturday was my first game of the season, so my first chance to take a look at Slade's new-look Charlton. I wasn't impressed. A serious lack of positive intention, verve and creativity continues to blight the team. Remember, this was AFC Wimbledon at home (with all due respect, blah, blah, blah...) and a game Charlton have to be expected to win if we are to believe there's any chance of a quick escape from League One. The effort appeared there, but the application was embarrassingly predictable and tactically basic at best.
Our two most creative players, Lookman and Holmes, looked frustrated at times, surrounded by players more likely to destroy the momentum they were trying to build. Ulvestad and Crofts worked hard enough but neither appeared willing, or perhaps capable, to play anything other than the easiest option sideways. Ajose was non-existent, whilst at the back I struggled to understand how young Konsa is picked ahead of Bauer if the latter is fully fit and willing. I don't know if it's typical of Slade's style or not, but people will not be flocking back to The Valley to see our defence lump long balls forward to the sizable figure that is Megennis, that's for sure.
Mind you, perhaps I'm no longer the right person to judge...
Talking of crowds, Charlton announced an attendance of 11,927 for Saturday's game. I'm genuinely curious about this. Whilst it is obvious that inflating the true attendance will help hide the embarrassment of falling gates, surely there is an issue with gate revenue and what has to be declared in relation to the true attendance? I'd love to know the finer details of what clubs are allowed to manipulate to suit their own agendas (clearly they can, as I'm not suggesting anything illegal). CARD have announced they will provide a more realistic figure going forward, but I'm not quite sure how they will achieve this as their agenda (to which I obviously back 100%) is the polar opposite of the club. My own estimate puts Saturday's gate at around 9,500-10,000 at best, and this, remember, a London derby.
My own son didn't want to come, and I attempted to give his ticket away for free via Twitter. No takers, unsurprisingly.
On the plus side, I sat with Paul, who I was very pleased to bump into on the East Stand concourse. We both gave up our old ST seats last season, and I wondered if I'd see him much going forward. It's good, honest chaps like him, and others who cannot bring themselves to attend just yet, that are the last remaining incentive to go...
The only positive thing about my continual Charlton apathy is Wimbledon's late winner was never going to spoil my evening, let alone my weekend as it would have in the past. I don't thank Meire or Duchatelet for that, though. I want to have the hump in defeat because I want it to mean everything again. Sadly, the one thing Saturday confirmed to me is that it doesn't.