Very sad to learn last night of the death of my-generation Addick, Mark Pitts who was the proverbial "larger-than-life" character. He was an old-school football hooligan (in the same way I was) and there are those who won't want to acknowledge his demise in relation to Charlton Athletic Football Club.
I have to speak of him as I found and I have nothing but the utmost respect for a man who had massive personal integrity and was prepared to stand up for himself and those he saw as his comrades. Mark was the "Leader" for my generation and was always ready to put himself on the line for other Charlton supporters and our reputation. He was no angel and I don't attempt to sanctify him here. However, make no mistake, he was a real football fan like the rest of us and loved Charlton Athletic.
I can tell plenty of stories about Mark but I will tell one that sums him up for me. We were at Derby County in a night match 25-ish years ago. We had a small turnout and by the time the coach fans made it back to the edge of the car park, we were 70 strong on two coaches. Very few "lads" among us but plenty of Derby Herbert's looking to attack us and no police. Mark was upfront and was first past the flashpoint and could have moved on (I think everyone else present would have). He didn't. He knew there were more vulnerable Charlton fans behind and he waited and encouraged some of us to do the same so we could all pass. We were well outnumbered and he was the focal point. We took the brief brunt of it but we all got away when I believe a more innocent Charlton fan(s) would have become a victim otherwise.
Mark was always there, never had any excuses and provided a much welcome diversion on many occasions for many of us. Sad day.