I hope that, like me, everyone this week has been enjoying basking in the glory of a job well done. But it’s not over yet, here or abroad. I don’t just mean the two remaining goals for us – the formal title of champions and 100 points – or even the personal challenges awaiting those contemplating a little jog around London on Sunday. Things have been rather hectic and I hope I can be excused for taking my eye off the ball of late, but while we’ve been storming to promotion it seems that the connected neutrons have been working to the same end for Lyon Duchere, my adopted French team.
Duchere have been on a fine run of their own in recent weeks. When I last looked in early March they were doing pretty well, tucked in in third spot in CFA Groupe B, the regional equivalent of the French fourth division. Since then they’ve rattled off six straight victories to move to the top. They’re even moving in on our points total, with 79 from 26 games played (OK, in this league you get an extra point for turning up). They are four points above second-placed Lyon B (ie Olympique Lyonnais’ reserves) but they have two games in hand and, with 32 matches in the season are still favourites to finish top. I am informed (perhaps not reliably but it’s the best I can do) that the winner of each of the four CFA divisions would be promoted, to National (indeed, a national third division), with the chance of promotion for a fourth team from one of the groups (the one with the highest number of points, best goals scored etc). It also seems that there are some financial conditions to be met before a team can go up to a nationwide league.
What I don’t yet know – and there is another Duchere-supporting Addick out there who may – is whether Lyon B would be able to, or want to, go up as it is a reserves team; and if they decline, would the place go automatically to the second-placed team? If it does, Duchere are handily placed, currently six points above third-placed Bourg-Peronnas but having played one game more (so the lead would be cut to two if B-P win that one).
The season runs to 2 June and I’ll be tracking developments. I don’t go to Lyon until after the conclusion, so to my shame I won’t have managed a Duchere league game this season (I did manage a reserves match). Come to think of it, my partner Suzanne hasn’t been to a Charlton game this campaign either. Are those connected neutrons trying to tell us both something? I can’t say whether Duchere would be allowed to move up if they qualify as their resources/finances may be deficient; it would be a bit like Millwall getting a sniff at the Premiership. It happened before that their elevation was controversially blocked, carrying unpleasant connotations for a team/district associated with the pied noir. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and will ask Suzanne to bring with her my Duchere scarf when she visits London in May, to be with them in spirit, just as she will be at The Valley on Saturday.
I confess to feeling a little guilty for wanting a stonking victory over a desperate Wycombe on Saturday, but I’ll live with it. We have earned the title of champions and hopefully will go out and prove it, while MK Dons do us a small favour. Then we can notch the further win at Preston to get the 100 points – and have a massive love-in at home to Hartlepool with the trophy. For once I’m determined to leave the pub in time to take up seats to give the team the reception they deserve when they come out. Should also give me time to belatedly cast my vote for player of the season. All number would be worthy winners, with a shortlist including Wiggins, Solly, Morrison, Hollands, Jackson, Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant. It’s a tough choice, but for me the defining aspect of our success has been the determination to keep clean sheets in crucial games (Huddersfield at home, the two Sheffield games, and the last three matches). That’s a team effort as well, but you only get one vote and mine goes to Morrison.