Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Exaggeration Game

Charlton Athletic 3 - Brentford 0.

Football supporters are fond of a massive dollop of hyperbole. 
We aren't born liars, we just like to lay it on a bit thick.

Only a few weeks ago, the less than massed ranks of the Rotherham support were announcing to whoever would listen that they are, 
"By far the Greatest Team, the World has ever seen!"

It's all just a verbal game. 
Nobody believes it for a second yet still it continues. 
"We're a fairly average second tier team who nobody outside our own postcode cares about," 
is closer to the truth for most sides but I can't see that particular verse catching on. 

Pre game yesterday, all I could foresee was a heavy spanking for the Addicks and yet more reasons to go home feeling totally despondent. 

Given just one of my companions agreeing with the suggestion, I'd quite happily have stayed in the pub for a few extra pints rather than heading over to the Valley.
I was comfy, why would I want to put myself through it?

The game on Tuesday against Norwich may have had a short spell when we scored two goals but nobody could argue the Canaries weren't streets ahead of our woeful bunch.

They deserved to win easily, even if the final score didn't reflect that. They were surely more than one goal better than us?

Fast forward a couple of hours yesterday and as far as any eavesdroppers are concerned, I'm piling on the superlatives, laden with dollops of exaggeration myself.

Asked by a Charlton supporting friend who wasn't at the game- and in all honesty hasn't been to the Valley since October, "What was it like?", my response was brief and to the point.

"Hundreds of times better than anything we've seen recently".

Those of us who were present at the Valley yesterday are the ones who know that just this once, that statement really is underplaying it.

Monday, 2 February 2015

After The Love Has Gone

My favourite book is probably shared by many people who 'discovered' reading in their early to mid teens.
I don't mean I couldn't read until then, I'd mastered the mechanics of it, just not much pleasure.

A particularly inspiring teacher sent me on my merry way with a few Steinbeck novels, notably The Pearl and Of Mice and Men, which lead me away from the flimsy copies of Shoot and Mad which along with Look and Learn littered my bedroom.

My favourite book is On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I couldn't say how many times I've read it but I revisit it fairly frequently so it's definitely at least 12+ times.
It never disappoints.

I found myself thinking of Jack Kerouac yesterday after the visit of Rotherham to the Valley.

Kerouac was one of the writers famous for chucking down his thoughts in one long (often punctuation free) stream of consciousness.

I found I was doing much the same while messaging friends post game, - long rambling missives just getting everything out.

I wasn't alone.

I tried my best to move away from Charlton chat and Charlton supporters by avoiding twitter for most of the evening but it was plain to see I wasn't alone with my verbal diarrhoea.

I've pretty much fallen out of love with Charlton Athletic.

There, I've said it.

I sat in the freezing East stand yesterday, watching what was masquerading as entertainment, nursing a barely hidden simmering rage.
I was hating every sodding minute of it.

The morning had gone well.
I'd had a few pints in Greenwich pre game and eaten some excellent street food from the market but once I got to the Valley I really didn't want to be there.
My sour outlook wasn't helped by Crispy deciding he was giving it a miss so once in my place, I had an empty seat next to me, mocking the fact that I'd been too weak willed to stay away, despite nobody forcing me to turn up.

Being without someone to talk to made me realise that actually the football isn't very important to me. Without the football as a reason to get together, it's unlikely I'd be meeting up with Crispy sometimes up to twice a week and that goes for all my other 'football friends'.

I value the company, the shared interest, the exchanging of views and of course the communal aspect of being at the Valley but not the way the soul has been removed from our club.

I hate what's happened to Charlton Athletic.

When we left the Premier league I still loved following the club.
The football was less good but there was a feeling of togetherness and the majority of the players you could tell were proud to wear our shirt.
Even in League one I loved it, though the football was even worse, there was still a collective feeling of who we were and what we stood for.

Now we have a situation where I look at the team and other than a few notable exceptions, it's a load of foreign 'not quite good enoughs' who are just passing through, with no empathy for the club or the area.

Yesterday was a massive turning point for me.
I realised I'm only at Charlton games out of habit.
This season I've been to fewer away games than ever since I started going. I don't feel any affection for the team or club anymore.
It's gone.

Guy Luzon surely broke a record when he had much of the home crowd booing him, only an hour into his first home game.
Our crowd are not stupid. We know we are being taken on a journey we don't want to take.
The highlight of the whole miserable afternoon was the North Upper chanting at Guy Luzon for Roland to sanction a substitution.

Nearly everyone I know who supports Charlton, is seriously contemplating whether to bother with next season. These are not your Johnny come lately supporters. They are all supporters who caught the Valley bug in years preceding the time in the Premiership so they've been around the block a few times.

Now, my circle of friends might not be representative of the fan base as a whole but surely it's a pointer that all is not well.

I have said many times that just because Roland bought the club, we are not obliged to agree with everything he does from that point on.

"But if he hadn't bought us we'd have been broke".

So what? I'm now watching him while he wrecks our club.
 It doesn't make you a 'better' supporter because you blindly follow some crackpot as he's in charge.
It makes you a moronic sheep.

I was pleased when Roland paid out for the club but his first major decisions were to sack Chris Powell and to wave off Yann Kermorgant, who went (unwillingly) to Bournemouth.
It was going to take something pretty spectacular to come back from those black marks and as yet he's not even come close.
He's actually made things worse with the transparent fibs surrounding the employment of Guy Luzon.

I want to feel something for Charlton but at the moment it's like watching a team as a tourist.
Sure I jump up and down when we score, (rarely nowadays- cheers Roland), but then I do that when I go and watch NY Rangers ice hockey or the NY Knicks basketball. They aren't my teams, I have no history with them beyond the annual visits and it's no more of an event than a trip to see a film.

I think Dave from Drinking During the Game managed to put what I feel into words so I suggest you look at this if you haven't already.