A couple of weeks ago play in the League One match between Charlton Athletic and Coventry City was disrupted when the fans of both sides threw plastic pigs onto the pitch in protest at the way their owners are running the clubs. They had already staged a joint march from the railway station to the ground. Addicks fans have made repeated protests against owner Roland Duchatelet’s running of the club and in a similar protest last year threw beach balls on to the pitch.
(The Addicks is a nickname for Charlton by the way.)
I’m not going to explore the reasons behind the Charlton fans concerns in this post, but may return to the story later. I would just point out that in the past when the club were homeless and the local council were against plans for them to move back to The Valley, the fans formed a political party, one that transcended traditional political divisions, stood in local government elections. The Valley Party received a staggering 14,838 votes, representing 10.9% of the votes and the councillor who was the chair of the planning committee saw a 450 majority turn into a 300 deficit as he lost his seat. All this happened a few years before I started supporting Charlton, during my basketball era, but it is an indication of what the supporters feel for their club.
I went to a few matches, lured by cheap ticket promotions, more the next season and then got a season ticket. This was the Alan Curbishley era, the time of the incredible Play off final at Wembley where after a 4-4 draw Sunderland were finally beaten 7-6 on penalties, the years of Premier League football.
I don’t go now. Partly for footballing reasons: I realised it was time to think about giving up the tickets when in 2008 a Charlton side including a few players I actually disliked, were losing 1-2 to Colchester. The Colchester goals had been scored by a former Addick, Kevin Lisbie and it dawned on me that I wanted him to get a hat-trick past the detestable fat lump we had in goal, more than I wanted us to equalise.
Mostly it was the Parkinson’s (the disease not the manager Phil Parkinson Nov 2008 to Jan 2011). In the Championship there were a lot of midweek matches it was not possible to go to it even if we could have gone the Parkinson’s made the decision for us. In an attempt to keep warm – my tremor gets worse in the cold – I wore so many layers I looked like the Michelin tyre man and was about as mobile. I had begun to have balance issues and don’t cope well with very steep stairs – like the ones in the East Stand.
During the match if it was an exciting or stressful game my tremor would get worse. Even with so many layers on my tremor would be bad enough to make my much better half shake as much as me and I suspect the same was true of the bloke sitting on my right. I also involuntarily try to kick the ball.. So watching Charlton made my symptoms worse in multiple ways, so much so that we didn’t renew our season tickets.
Luckily satellite television fills the sporting void: there is usually a game on I can watch in our warm house, there is no long uphill walk after the game (although our stairs are quite steep) and no queue for the loo at half time. I can still get a bit shaky but I’m at home so it doesn’t matter… now where did I put the remote?