|Photo by @MarcoCasualty|
Around a sparsely populated Valley the occasional protest banner was visible, but I would doubt Meire or her senior management team bothered to strain their eyes to read any of them. Many fans had put a great deal of effort into their critical creations, but sadly, in such an apathetic atmosphere, Free Speech Day came and went with only a tiny fraction of the impact of those foam pigs.
In a week when Meire claimed some ground back with those who will know no better, the protests needed a big impact. Instead, it looked a little like the wind had been taken out of our sails.
Earlier in the week I had screamed with every ounce of breath I had at the radio when Meire claimed relegation was the reason 4,000+ season ticket holders had not renewed and gates had fallen. No admission of her own breathtakingly poor mismanagement.
Sadly, today I could barely be bothered to cheer our winning goal.
Remarkably, yesterday's win lifts Charlton into 14th and to within 4 points of a Play-Off spot. Proof, if you need it, that the standard of League One is shockingly poor.
Next week we host Scunthorpe at the Valley in the FA Cup when only the lower sections of the North and West will be open. If the gate exceeds 3,500 I will be genuinely surprised, and for those hardy souls who do turn out we can expect the odd image posted on social media that may well be the vision of the Valley in the not-too-distant future. As Charlton continue to decline under this cancerous regime, you might even expect the upper tiers of both of those stands to be shut permanently.
I will not be attending, and beyond that I'm afraid I just can't say anymore. Yesterday was truly awful; entertainment value of zero. Other than the company of @MarcoCasualty and @Robontiod there was nothing whatsoever about yesterday that I enjoyed. The football under Slade is a glaring indictment of why he has never seen promotion in over two decades of management, and the atmosphere was as dead as I've ever know it for a league game in the same period.
Charlton's official attendance was given as 10,153, but the reality was nearer 7,500 at best, and this on the day that kids could get in for one singular pound! Compare that with the 22,151 that were in attendance the last time Chesterfield came to the Valley in 2011 (figures courtesy of a tweet posted by @JoeHallWords).
A loss of 12,000 fans in a relatively short period since Duchatelet bought our cub. Just let that sink in for a brief moment...
I know only too well that my attendance is nothing more than a sorry and pathetic attempt to cling to the very thinnest threads of hope, whilst all along I know in my heart I want them out so much more than I want Charlton to win. As the war of attrition continues, and in the absence of any direct or believable action from the club to halt the decline, it seems clear Meire will stubbornly hold out for a time when Charlton's fan base is a small and manageable group of clapping seals who'll 'back the boys' blissfully and will put up with any old shit.
Just imagine what level we'll be playing at by then?
I've resisted the thought to some degree, but yesterday confirmed to me that a full boycott may well be the only way forward. If not harmful to a club that doesn't care about it's fan base, it might be better for my own mind state...