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Why Wednesday in Woolwich is so important

Charlton Athletic has stood for community and togetherness ever since I stood for the first time on the huge East Terrace 40 years ago. The crowds were sparsely populated in those days, but we stood together.

We were together in 1984 when we were minutes from never seeing us play again. We were on The Valley pitch bemused and angry, but together in 1985. At St Andrews in 1987 those brave enough stood proud together to witness a captain marvel performance from one Peter Shirtliff.

In the dark days, months and years following our move to Selhurst Park, Addicks never lost their identity, no one was able to sell us down the river and we were together, when others would have given up the ghost, on returning to our spiritual home.

In 1990 we stood together as a political party, and made a difference, when no one gave us a second glance.

On a mild evening in April 1991 many of us stood outside together waiting on news from those in the committee room and many hundreds more crammed in the public gallery of the Woolwich Town Hall.

On that emotional day in December 1992 when Colin Walsh carved his name into Charlton folklore we cried and cheered in equal measures. Together.

At Wembley, 1998, for one of the iconic stadium’s greatest ever games we witnessed together a dream like beginning of a new chapter for the team that a lot of us had long fallen in love with, but many were just finding out what it meant to be a Charlton Athletic fan.

When relegation from the Premier League was confirmed in 2007 against Tottenham, The Valley stood and sung together to remind us that we still had our identity and when in 2012 Chris Powell gave us our Charlton back, our togetherness was rewarded with a team, and an achievement to be proud off.

Today we are again being tested. 110 years of identity, history, generations of families, friends and neighbours being disrespected by someone who thinks he knows better. He has breached our trust, belittled our community and fails to communicate to us, the supporters, the heart and soul of a club that may have his name over the door, but it will have long faded when me, you and our children and their children are still proud to be Charlton fans.

This is not an over-reaction, this meeting has been called due to the irrational behaviour of our owner. We have lived with poor results and poor management before but there is no evidence that Roland Duchatelet won’t on a whim make another decision to unstable our club. Who is to say that he won’t sack Guy Luzon again, sell Joe Gomez in the summer, move Igor Vetokele to Standard Liege, insist on Marko Dmitrovic starting?

Roland Duchatelet refuses to engage with us to share his vision, strategy or plan. The apathetic way in which the Belgian brushes us off, and the unhinged strategy of his network, that we have somehow become wrapped up in all needs to be confronted together.

Apparently Duchatelet is a visionary and many fans have been impressed by Meire’s hard work and sincerity, I am having trouble believing it, and we are right to question that vision and sincerity, especially after the Luzon ‘affair’ and the frankly embarrassing PR stunt yesterday.

History tells us that together we can prevail. Come on you Addicks.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jonathan Bangs #

    Many thanks for your article.
    Difficult times at present, in all sorts of ways.
    Let us hope that our collective spirit and creativity may win the day.

    Jonathan Bangs

    Board Member, Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust
    Valley Party candidate, New Eltham,1990

    February 17, 2015
  2. Whilst there is much here that I agree with no amount of criticism or anger directed towards the owner will have any effect on his will to see the network model succeed. Unfortunately, quite what success means in his terms nobody knows and the diluting of FFP must surely have blown a big hole in the network ideology. That said, there is a choice for supporters and that choice is either to adopt a wholly hostile attitude towards the owner with all that might follow from that, or reluctantly accept that the network model is, at least for now, the reality and somehow try to engage with it with the aim of improving its effectiveness for CAFC. Thus far being part of the network model has been largely shambolic, destructive even for CAFC and the evidence for this well aired, but a way must be sought for making it work more favourably.
    I’m not of the opinion that RD can do exactly what he wants purely because he owns the club as the principle of ownership does not confer free licence but the fact that he is funding a large annual deficit gives does give him the right to try and improve things as he sees fit. I think the network model could work better for CAFC but not without a huge upgrade of football nous directing matters from within it. .

    February 17, 2015
  3. Blackheath Addick #

    Well said CA. Also hope that those not around for/too young for the events you mention feel involved too. It’s a response to an unacceptable situation, not an attempt (as some have suggested) to revive old campaigns.

    February 17, 2015
  4. Spot on CA. As I said in reply to a comment from Dave following my last piece, it all has Life Of Brian overtones. Many still think he’s the Messiah…….he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy !

    February 17, 2015
  5. a2c #

    The board are doin a great job dahn our gaff n rather than join the moanin minnies n groanin grunters on ere I’d rather support the team, players, the Board n gaffer dahn our gaff. I thought Katrien did great in them interviews n am appy for er to manager our club.

    February 18, 2015

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