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.