Sunday 24 April 2016

Even They Want Him Out...

At 2pm I stood close to the front of the huge crowd gathered outside the Liberal Club ready to march to The Valley. A huge helium balloon with Roland's face on it was bouncing around in the breeze above me. As proud as I am of the protest efforts to date, I long for a time we can all return to our former pre-match routines; the one's forged over many, many years of supporting our club. Let's face it, this protesting thing is an essential means to an end, but it isn't fun. It isn't what any of us want to do with our time. The incentive to rattle Duchatelet and Meire enough that they might leave could not be greater, but I dream of a time it will all be over.
I may not be able to judge the business acumen of a man who's accumulated millions, but certainly in a football sense Roland will never succeed. It's not that 'Roland doesn't do failure' it's that he simply doesn't recognise what failure is. His stubborn, selfish vision of football is fundamentally flawed and Charlton are dying a painful death because of it. 

Rough estimates suggest there was over 5,000 people who joined the pre-match procession. The images shared around on social media portrayed an impressive, unified mass supporting a change in ownership. Within seconds of the match starting, the game was bought to a halt for some 7mins whilst black and white beach balls and balloons swirled around the edges of the pitch. Albeit poor quality, my own footage can be found below.

No sooner did the football start again, Brighton scored. Who cared?
The football yesterday was completely irrelevant for me. I felt no joy whatsoever at JBG's equaliser, nor pain at Brighton's 2nd and 3rd strikes. I can appreciate there are still some people who came to support the team and enjoy a day at the football, and I respect their view, but I'm afraid I can't share their ability to ignore the catastrophic effects of Roland's ownership. My attendance at The Valley was to add weight to the protest and nothing to do with supporting a group of players I feel little or no attachment to.

Many of them I won't miss when they jump ship after this disastrous season...

According to CAST, Meire and Murray have finally offered to meet with them. The Trust has openly asked both members and non-members how they feel about that before responding. I was pleased to read comments on Twitter overwhelmingly encouraging them to decline the meeting completely on the grounds that the regime / fan relationship is completely irreconcilable.

It's impossible for me to put into words just how much I deeply resent what Duchatelet and Meire has done to my club. Nothing they will ever say or do can heal those wounds. I want a time when I can completely forget about them even existing.  
Last word to the fans of Brighton who were hugely supportive all afternoon. There is already a strong history of fan unity between our two clubs, born out of similar desperate times and fuelled further by a shared dislike of Crystal Palace!  Hundreds of Seagulls joined the pre-match walk to The Valley and anti-Roland chants rang out of the Jimmy Seed all afternoon. Many delayed their journeys home to add weight to the post-match protest behind the West Stand. Their support was appreciated. The truth of the matter is, knowing how deeply hurt I feel, I wouldn't wish this destruction of a football club on even our fiercest rivals, and the empathy those Brighton fans showed will not be forgotten. I came across this YouTube footage below this morning: emotional stuff.
The Seagulls will get my full support as they attempt to secure promotion to the Premier League. Meanwhile, what exactly do I have to look forward to? The long-awaited end of the Duchatelet ownership is all I have to dream about now!

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Avoidable. Heartbreaking. Unacceptable.

I doesn't matter how much I'd braced myself for it, pretty much since the turn of the year, the confirmation that Charlton will drop into League One still hit like a sledgehammer. The feeling of relegation is not something you get used to, after all. Last night Charlton were relegated for the 9th time in their long and proud history and I've had the misfortune of witnessing first hand four of those. Some have been easier than others to swallow, but this is by a country mile the hardest to accept. In fact, it is totally unacceptable.
If ever a relegation was avoidable it was this one.
Avoidable but for Roland's stubborn and selfish ownership that has ignored the most obvious signs of a serious and aggressive cancer that has ripped through my club. Obvious at least to everyone with an ounce of care and consideration for Charlton Athletic, but brushed off  repeatedly by Duchatelet and Meire. If left the cancer will become terminal.
The official site published this statement soon after relegation was confirmed, attributed to Katrien Meire, but more likely penned by one of her minions whilst she was sunning herself in Dubai. Much like the statement post-Middleborough, I suspect it's sole intention is divert the gaze of the national press who would have expected something. In reality, it is about as hollow, insincere and meaningless as a statement can get, full of relegation response clich├ęs, and only adds insult to the heartbreak.
"This is not the time for excuses. We apologise for our mistakes and now need to learn from them", says our hapless CEO. I assume she refers to the same 'mistakes' that have been made time and time again in shameless and arrogant fashion under Mr. Duchatelet's ownership? The same 'mistakes' that have been pointed out to this regime by Charlton fans and the wider football and journalistic community. Those mistakes. Never ending mistakes.
And I'm supposed to have faith next season will be different...
Actions speak far louder than words, Ms. Meire, and your actions to date are embarrassing, insulting and breathtakingly inadequate. I wish to God Charlton showed the same level of consistency in winning football matches as you do in getting things wrong. Your position has been completely untenable for far too long and I will celebrate the day you and your boss are no longer associated with my club. In fact, I dream of that day.
Yesterday I spent the money I'd set aside for next year's season tickets on a new set of garden furniture. I've never done something like that before and it hurts deep inside so much more than I can ever articulate on this blog. There has been absolutely no effort made by the club to convince me (or anyone else) to renew, which leads me to draw the conclusion they arrogantly think I will out of tradition or that they don't care. Both are perfectly believable. I will not be taken for a mug and will not support this flawed regime by providing Roland with a vital, guaranteed up-front income. He'll have to find that shortfall himself over the summer, along with the financial implications associated with the relegation he's caused.
But I will not walk away either, and next season I will revert to a pay-on-the-day 'customer'. I will continue to add my voice to the on-going protests, which I expect to be very well supported this Saturday for the visit of Brighton.
If I had just one wish right now it would be Duchatelet's immediate departure over instant promotion for next season. The former more important for the long-term future of my club.

Sunday 3 April 2016

Delaying The Inevitable...

"I know that there are two stories from today's game and I want only to be involved in the sporting one, but we really felt that the fans were pushing us today for the whole 90 minutes" - Jose Riga
It might well be delaying the inevitable, but in a season as woeful as ours, Teixeira's stoppage time winner was rightfully celebrated as if it was the goal that kept us up. And it did matter; regardless of whether it realistically gives us any sensible cause to hope. We, as fans, deserve those all-too-rare moments of delirium. After the game Charlton's other goal scorer, Gudmundsson, stated on Twitter 'what a win this could be for us'. Could being the operative word. Charlton's attempts to pull themselves clear of danger, if judged on an upturn in form and commitment alone, would be encouraging, perhaps even worth getting excited about. Regrettably, determining our own fate seems a million miles away, and requires the collapse of two out of MK Dons, Fulham or Rotherham.
I just can't see it happening, even if we won all of our remaining games. It's the hope that kills you...
Before an actual Charlton goal had been scored, Addicks metaphorically scored one themselves with another well-executed and well-supported protest. Well played CARD. For nearly 5 minutes the ref was forced to stop the game so ground staff, stewards and even the players themselves could clear away hundreds of small foam stress balls from the pitch. I found this excellent video below of the entire event courtesy of Cameron Walker.
My own view of the protest action can be found here
Special mention to the older chap in the East who very deliberately returned the match ball as slow and carefully as he could after catching it in the crowd. Walking along the isle and down the steps, cradling the ball like a baby, he gently pushed it under the gate next to a bemused steward. His literal interpretation of the club's recent warnings against the 'throwing of any objects in the ground' was met with rapturous applause, and the chap duly lifted his cap and bowed to soak up the adulation thereafter.
A serious underlying issue it might be, but thankfully humour and no small amount of irony have featured heavily in these on-going protests.  
Once again, Katrien, I urge you to take a long hard look at any footage you can find of the 'disruption' yesterday (including the 'excellent CCTV' you boast about in this recent threat statement) . This is not the work of a few young and impressionable lost sheep following the flock. No, the demographic is across the board; young and old, established fans and would-be next generation.
You have managed to upset everyone.   
Let's hope that another delayed 'inevitable' is the departure of Meire and Duchatelet. Quite how either see a future at a club they have destroyed in such inglorious fashion in little over two years beggars belief.
Poor old Birmingham (did I really just write that?) who have the very unwelcome distinction of being the only club Charlton will have completed the double over this season. Yesterday's victory coming after a one-zero reverse last November. On to Ipswich on Tuesday night. Bizarrely, I'm very tempted to make the trip. It's a ground I've always enjoyed going to, despite our mixed fortunes there. Nothing short of a win will be enough, but if Riga is brave, then just maybe...
OK, I admit, no matter how unlikely it is, I am dreaming of a miracle! Despite what Roland thinks, I don't want this club to fail.