Sunday 30 October 2016

Free Speech Day...

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.  
Photo by @MarcoCasualty
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...    

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Repressive, Despotic, Paranoid...

The author of the tweets above posted them openly on twitter last night (remember, on twitter the posts read bottom up chronologically) around the time that Russell Slade was taking a page out of Katrien Meire's 'Book of Successful Public Speaking' with a harsh and inappropriate dig at the 250 odd hardy souls who travelled up to Vale Park to witness another defensive tactical disaster.
I doff my cap to the author of those tweets, who by way of action, resigned from a very well respected Charlton supporter group rather than conform to the sycophants and flunkies. A man of obvious principles - something not found within the senior management of this once-proud football club. His actions leave him free to protest.
Oh dear, Charlton, what on earth have you become?
In the space of a few days a young fan is set-upon outside the Valley (ironically, for waving a North Korean flag during Saturdays game) by the Regime's heavy-handed covert security team, the manager has a dig at loyal fans to disguise his own failings, and now indisputable proof that censorship is at large.
Roland, Katrien, Tony...if you don't like the comparisons to a repressive, despotic, paranoid regime, then don't do things to make you out to be acting like a repressive, despotic, paranoid regime.
Pretty simple really, even for you lot...
I'm not flattering myself to assume the critical words wrote by myself regularly on this blog are known to the club, but on the off-chance they are, I have a simple message. Please go now. You are killing this club. My club. The demise of Charlton is way beyond any heartbreak you will ever understand not being fans of the club. Be under no illusions that your mismanagement is the reason we are in this mess, and the situation is non-recoverable. Progression can only happen when you have gone.
This is a war of attrition you will not win.   

Sunday 16 October 2016

Pigs Do Fly...

It remains symptomatic of the sad times we're in that for a great many of us what is happening off the pitch has taken a greater significance to matters on it.

It's likely that had CARD not announced the protest action would recommence from today, I may not have even attended, such is my apathy and immense disillusionment for the current state of Charlton.
I'm glad I did bother. Adding my voice to the crowd offered a cathartic release that I needed.  
Many would have broken their self-imposed boycotts to stand shoulder to shoulder with Coventry City fans for the short walk from the Lib Club down Floyd Road to The Valley.
It would ordinarily be a story in itself that two sets of rival fans can mix freely and openly work together for a common cause, but the big headline was stolen by Porky, Wilbur, Percy, Rasher, Peppa, Pinky, Perky and a few thousand of their little squishy mates!  
No sooner had the game started, for 7 glorious minutes, whilst ground staff and players cleared the pitch of piles of foam pigs, social media was working on overdrive to spread the word. In no time at all, sympathetic approval poured in from everywhere. The exposure reminds people of the shocking nature of our demise, and embarrasses two failing regimes nationally.
I have no idea if Katrien held on to her trademark smirk throughout the break in play, but even with such arrogance it cannot have been a comfortable time sat in the directors box surrounded by so many people who want the regime she leads with such inglorious ineptitude gone forever. 
Of course we all long for a time this sort of action isn't required, and hopefully days like today push us a few steps closer to the conclusion we dream about. Two clubs on their knees due to the staggering incompetence of their owners. Two sets of fans that care so much more than the unwanted custodians of their clubs. Two sets of fans that will not allow their clubs to die.
And somewhere mixed up in all this drama was a game of football, which, despite plenty of nervy moments, Charlton won 3 zero, if not as convincingly as the scoreline would suggest. The win was the first I'd seen since we beat Birmingham way back in early April, when, coincidentally, there was major protest action. Post match Chris Solly joked that perhaps we should 'bring pigs to every game if that's the result', which will really upset the protest naysayers and Roland apologists who prefer to have us all believe that those poor players are suffering terribly under the grey clouds of the protests.
As switched on as Solly clearly is, I was disappointed to hear Slade refer to the protests in a post match interview alongside comments on our league position. I was left wondering if he actually gets what the protests are for. Internal censorship at work, perhaps? Maybe Meire has convinced him that a few wins and we'll all calm down.
For Charlton it was a good result on the pitch but arguably more importantly for both sets of fans it was a very decent result off it. The fight continues...

UPDATE: Since writing this post late Saturday night I've picked up on the story of the young fan who, by all accounts, was needlessly and heavily man-handled by what appears to be members of a private, plain clothed security firm whilst leaving the Valley. It would appear his 'crime' was waving a North Korean flag throughout the game. I saw him with it plenty of times, notably behind the visitor dugout area. Of all Saturday's protest action it appears this act has upset someone of high importance enough for the young lad to be tracked and followed to the exits before being set upon. A cheeky dig at the running of Roland's regime, perhaps, instantly censored by heavy-handed minions.

Very Kim Jong-un! How laughably ironic! 

Quite what rule he's broken remains to be seen, and I would fully expect the club to make a very swift public statement to clarify their precarious position on this. Setting about your own fans is not a smart move at all. It's also worth noting that one of the two gentlemen identified by many as the perpetrators of the assault appeared in an image (see Kyle' post here) sat in the director box during the game. Perhaps somebody expected trouble that never materialised, but the high-leader's henchmen had a bit of pent up energy they wanted to burn?

Friday 7 October 2016

Meeting Cancelled...

So Katrien want's a cosy chat with the CARD, eh? Well I'll admit I never saw that one coming. Duchatelet and Meire have chosen to ignore the growing discontent amongst Charlton's fan base for far too long and thankfully, and unsurprisingly, CARD have declined the meeting through the release of this statement, which ends with this blunt appraisal.
"CARD therefore endorses the view previously put forward by the supporters' trust that the situation is irretrievable under your management and under Roland Duchatelet's ownership. You had two years to talk and you declined to do so. Now it is time for you to go"
Bravo, CARD. Superbly put.
I've always felt that Meire's approach is not all about arrogance, but as much about that child-like approach of thinking that if you ignore a problem for long enough it will eventually go away. Perhaps, finally, Meire has realised that the dark clouds will not disperse on their own, although it's more likely her outsourced PR machine has failed in an attempt to save face with the protests about to resume. Every time she's created a PR disaster for herself or the club, or has made decisions that have proven to be undeniably wrong, I get the impression she hopes a few wins on the pitch will calm everyone down and we'll all move on. Regardless of whether she's managed to surround herself with a close circle of sycophants, even Katrien must begin to wonder if she's in the right job. Money aside, quite what she's getting out of it beggars belief.
I expect the club to now make public their disappointment that attempts to reach out to fans have been rebuffed and what a shame that is, blah, blah, blah. Don't worry, Target20k, I'm sure Meire still loves you...  
I can't deny it, I'm struggling massively with Charlton at the moment. Of the three home games I've watched this season I've yet to be inspired by anything I've seen on the pitch and the falling attendances are beyond depressing. This is the lowest the club has been in terms of league position since I've been a regular supporter, and there are no signs it will improve.  
Of the games I've attended, I felt absolutely no emotion whatsoever whenever we've scored or even when Johnnie missed that penalty. I'd hoped things might be different under Slade, but his cautious and unattractive style of football is a depressing appendage of Roland's dark and depressing regime. I get now why Slade has never seen promotion as a manager.
I've also come to realise that I cannot easily coexist with those fellow Addicks who want me to ignore the immense harm caused by Duchatelet and Meire and to simply 'back the boys' in a na├»ve belief that success on the pitch is even achievable, let alone would lift the gloom. I'm also growing quite resentful of those who actually think the protest action is the reason Charlton are shit. I'm a fair-minded man and I can understand, even if I don't agree, with those folk who just want to turn up and blindly watch the football, just as they've always done, clapping like seals, but I just can't do it anymore.
Because of that, I came away from the Rochdale defeat convinced I was done with Charlton until this regime has gone. In the space of 7 months (which, by coincidence, is around the time I last saw Charlton win) I've gone from a loyal season ticket holder of some 20 years, who's missed little more than a half dozen home games in that time, to a man more than capable of completely walking away.
But with CARD resuming their protest action, I now have an undeniable incentive to attend the Coventry game. I've got a ticket for the Lower West (coincidentally that's where I've been sitting this year anyway, now I have the freedom to choose a seat anywhere) and I will voice my discontent with everything I have.
What happens on the pitch is largely irrelevant to me now, sadly my only motivation is to fight for the future of my club in the slim hope I can get back to those days I miss so much, when winning felt wonderful and losing really hurt.