Sunday, 13 March 2016

Charlton Athletic 2 v Middlesbrough 0

A day that will live long in the memory and be remembered as another of the great supporter victories on the road to forcing Roland Douchatelet to sell up.

After a couple of pints in the Royal Oak, I helped distribute black and white beach balls to fellow fans before kick-off. Along with a couple of mates we handed out several hundred on the junction of Charlton Lane and Harvey Gardens and were done in time to head back towards Floyd Road for the mock funeral procession. For an hour we had been commented on "where is everyone." The streets were deserted and the Royal Oak had been half-empty.

Well, it was clear when we turned the corner by the Club Shop that a couple of thousand of them were following the soul of Charlton Athletic as it made it's way down down Floyd Road. It really was a stirring sight and was evidence that the supporters will not be beaten and that Duchatelet and Meire will be forced out.

After that we made our way into the ground and prepared for the match, although the sight of the empty home areas was a big disappointment, even after the couple of thousand protesting had made their way in. I reckon there were around 7,000 Charlton fans in attendance today and just shy of 3,000 visitors. 

Prior to kick-off a number of beach balls had made their way onto the pitch and were cleared in time to start but within a minute of kick-off, the referee had to halt the game as hundreds more poured out of the Covered End and the East Stand. Rousing choruses of "stand-up if you want them out" and "we want our Charlton back" punctuated the first-half, during which Boro largely bossed the match. They should have gone ahead moments before the break but Nicky Pope pulled out a stunning reflex save to somehow clear off his line.

Into the second-half and within minutes a cacophony of whistles from home fans  were blown in an effort to further delay the match. However, there were so many it was possible for the match to continue as the collective sound was a loud humming rather than the shrill of a single whistle.

We were getting more men forward and Harriott and Lookman were seeing more of the ball. Boro were suddenly defending and then on 57 minutes, we scored. Jorge Teixeira got the nod from a corner. It was the signal for a couple of fans to invade the pitch. They may have jumped the gun as dozens of others at the front wavered and the massed Police and Stewards held the line. The match was stopped again for a few minutes. One of the invaders made it back to the stand but the other held firm until he was frogmarched off by five or six Stewards. I hope we make a collection for the gentlemen in question towards his fine. I will certainly put my hand in my pocket.

After that the focus for many was the 74th minute walkout to begin the post-match protest early. Katrien Meire was ready for it though and a message warning supporters of the consequences of invading the pitch was put up on the screen so we didn't have the satisfaction off seeing the 74th minute appear - it really sums the woman up - petty and spite-filled. Nonetheless, hundreds headed for the exits and the protest began anyway. 

Roland Rat made an appearance behind the West to huge cheers and the protest was orderly and well-behaved. We heard the cheer for the second Charlton goal and we joined in moments later when it was confirmed that it was us that had scored and not Boro. However, when the match finished and those who hadn't joined the protest filed out they were met with choruses of "where were you when we walked out?" This was unfortunate as it lead to name calling and hand gestures between some fans. Protestors need to realise that there are some fellow fans who can't bring themselves to protest and others who still believe Duchatelet saved the club yet still don't understand that he has loaded the club up to £46m in debt. He takes a modest 3% interest on the £36m portion of this that he has provided. Yes, he won't get all his money back but he's shrinking the size of the club to minimise his losses and you can be sure he will pocket the millions he can cash in on with player sales to recoup any future losses. You know, the ones groomed for the Premier League that we are fortunate enough to see play their first matches in a Charlton shirt.

One other thing was very visible today after the walkout. The number of those left will probably represent the home gate at many matches next year following the season ticket boycott and what will be another huge drop in paying customers. It was bad enough before the walkout as this photo testifies...

My God, what have they done to our club?


Cafca said...

Much as I support the protests, I didn't walk out because I still think it's important to stay behind the team. They are demoralised enough & this situation is clearly unsettling for them. Equally I couldn't see the point of the 2 who made their way onto the pitch. I think the protests have been well organised &, if you read the club statement today, are getting their point across albeit slowly, but I think we came close (literally & metaphorically)to crossing the line today.

Bill said...

CAFCA, i agree with you, but would have walked out. i rest grazed the Valley in 1960. Unfortunatly i haven't been last 7 games. i sit top row N.W, have cateracts so cant see players on pitch. If Roland Rat. leave's. I will buy a seson ticket even if its in league 1.keep up the blogs DAve

Hungry Ted said...

In response to Cafca's comment above, I would respectfully disagree that the protest are 'unsettling' for the players. I think they are clever enough to know it's not directed at them and the support for them remains, as it has all season (despite some woeful performances). It is also worth noting that the last two home wins came after arguably the biggest protests (Sheffield Wed and yesterday) so it sort of dispels the myth that the protests are having an adverse effect. I personally think they would have enjoyed the electric atmosphere, and if they didn't, then they should chose another profession.

Further more, I think we should be careful not to provide the players with an excuse. Yesterday they were brilliant and showed the desire required but on Tuesday the opposite was true, when, ironically, there was very little focus from the anti-RD brigade (I don't recall one single "stand up if you want them out" chant, for example). The protests are an easy target, but to be fair, I haven't heard one player blame them.

What is true was that the two fellas who ran on the pitch done far more harm than good. I feel a bit sorry for them, actually. They will pay a very heavy price for many of their friends 'bottling it' on the day. I don't condone a pitch invasion but I can understand the depth of frustration and anger that is leading some to think it's the next action we should take. I don't, as I prefer the clever options that are gaining national support. Pitch invasions could lose that.

Geoff said...

It's two years ago last week that Jose Riga stepped into Sir CP's shoes and brought off a remarkable avoidance of relegation, so I thought I'd look at the 'then and now' situations. He had 16 matches in 2014, won 7 drew 3 and lost 6 = 24 pts, of which 11 at home and 13 away. 1.5pts per game precisely. In 2016, it's played 10 won 3 drawn 3 lost 4, 1.2pts per game.

I did this because recent performances, including the one lost at Preston, had me thinking that the Fat Lady might be disturbed in her gargling. Unfortunately, even if Jose and the team could press the throttle and get to 1.5 pts per game, it would need Fulham or MK Dons to get no more than 10 further pts or one of those above them to fall like a stone. In 2014 there were such teams and one of them, Donnie, managed against the odds to go down. Not happening this season - the opposite in fact, Bristol City and Rotherham in particular. So, despite the good work currently, la signora grassa can carry on with her vocal exercises, and the uneasy lady in yesterday's Sky pictures can carry on with her deception of self and attempted deception of us and the general public.

Thought yesterday's pre-match demo moving and brilliantly handled. Ditto the beach balls. Running on the pitch is for nutters; an empty ground says far, far more. And, by the way, does anyone believe the official attendance? Yesterday, I could have chosen from 20 empty seats around me which are usually occupied.

Sad that there should be disputes between protesters, as you report, but it's been the way of revolutions down the years. I even got a reprimand from someone who no doubt thinks he is the only True Believer for stopping in my 74th minute tracks to see if the assault on JBG by the corner flag would lead to a card. Pathetic.