From the age of 8 to my mid 30’s I scarcely missed a Charlton home game and went to hundreds of aways. Other than maybe a late consolation in a stuffing, and there were a fair few of those, the feeling of a Charlton goal would without fail every time drive me to the edge of frenzy.
My brother had a phrase for it. Bro, he would say, when we scored I just didn’t know what to do. I could not celebrate enough. It’s a beautiful thing and something all true fans of football clubs can relate to. My euphoria of a Charlton goal felt no different to me as an 8-year old as it did to me as 35-year old.
14 years ago I moved abroad. My life changed forever in many more ways than one. Not being a regular at The Valley was and is still hard to fathom. I do get back to see a fair amount of games (not this season though), but for all of those years whenever Charlton are playing I am glued to the commentary, updates or at the very least the score. Unless for example I am on a plane, but then I am just distracted for 90 minutes wondering what the hell is going on with my team playing somewhere else in the universe.
It is not, by any measure, the same as being there. But when we score that feeing is the same. I have been caught running around the room, around the shops, down the street, around friend’s houses. Or pumping my fist like a demented loon at my desk, a school play or in the car. You cannot beat that feeling of elation. You cannot.
However, on Saturday I was still following the game, by phone driving along Alligator Alley in Florida. Yet when Lee Novak scored late, I felt unmoved, I felt nothing.
42 years of being apart of something so so important to me, and there I was feeling empty. No sense of elation, no short scream of “yes,” no fist pumping, no smile. Nothing.
I am confident that one day we will rid ourselves of Roland Duchâtelet and Katrien Meire, who are trying to murder the community football club as I know it. Their legacy is the thousand of empty rows and blocks of Valley seats, and those of us sat at home who are starting to care less about something that used to mean almost everything.
They don’t want me or you as supporters. They want a Charlton fan, a football fan, that hasn’t ever existed. They want some apathetic, passionless sports follower, who has no emotional attachment. Just a game, just a result. Nothing.