Under a cloak of darkness 20 Charlton fans made their way to Belgium tonight and took the Anti Duchatelet to his homeland and demonstrated at the St Truiden home game against Zulte Waregem.
The 20 Addicks paid for the trip themselves and planned their journey meticulously. They met up before the game to work out how their protest could get both maximum impact, and buy-in from STVV supporters. The group also looked at various scenarios, perhaps expecting that their arrival in the small town had already peeked some unwanted interest.
The 20 Addicks handed out flyers in both English and Dutch before the game and then in the ground and after 15 minutes of the game unveiled a huge banner (photo) along one side of the ground.
Within 5 minutes stewards came down to the Charlton fans to force them to take down the banner. Stragically placed in the stand opposite were two other Addicks who took photos and at the time of the steward kerfuffle opposite starting doing a massive flyer drop to as many fans around them as possible.
Across on the other side stewards initially but then supported by police got the Charlton fans up and escorted them out to loud boos from around the ground. All of the Addicks in that stand were arrested and the ‘Roland and Katrien Time To Go’ banner was confiscated. The two Addicks on the other side were met by suited security and were asked for personal details and threatened with arrest. Plain clothes officers also joined the fray, and there are questions as to how quickly security, stewards and police reacted to Addicks being in the stadium.
It is important to reinforce that the protests were peaceful and friendly but the aim was achieved and more than backed by local STVV fans.
The Charlton fans on the other side were each arrested and later released without charge. But whilst not a particularly nice situation for those involved to find themselves in, those arrested have caused maximum exposure with the BBC, the Guardian and Talksport all carrying the story tonight as well as the story running across all streams of social media. Vitally the Belgium media jumped on it as well.
I have said for a long time that we need to take our fight to Belgium. This was brilliant and my heartfelt congratulations and respect to the 20 Addicks who took the time, spent their own money and put themselves through a potentially difficult situation. I trust they enjoyed plenty of Belgium beers tonight. They are well deserved. Proper Charlton.