Coming up to the weekend and I feel like I have a decision to make. Almost a month since I last watched a game, at Bramall Lane, unless you include the first five minutes of the home game against Huddersfield for the tribute to Sir Chris (after which I took my leave). I was away in Lyon for the Millwall trip and the home game against Bournemouth (which I might have gone to just to applaud Kermorgant), passed on the Burnley home game (despite having scheduled the return from France to be able to make it), and had no inclination to make trips to Nottingham, Derby or Leeds. Now we have two home games coming up and I’m torn.
I appreciate that many people, true Addicks, will not understand this (which is a polite way of suggesting that some may draw some rather unflattering conclusions). I’m not that sure I fully understand it myself. Fact is I’ve never watched us, or wanted to watch us, feeling in any way ambivalent or indifferent. Perhaps I shouldn’t ask for so much (‘hey, why not ask for more?’). What I know is that late winners against Bournemouth, Forest and Leeds not long ago would have had me howling with delight, haring around whichever place I was in (for the record these were Lyon, a Nepalese restaurant in Greenwich, and Blackheath respectively). Instead they left me cold. ‘One of us is changing, or maybe we just stopped trying’. It isn’t too late baby, not yet, but it does all seem to be fading like the Beatles on Hey Jude.
The reason I’m torn about whether to turn up for Reading and Yeovil is that my disgust at the actions of our owner, and what these say about his motivations/intentions, is at least partially balanced by admiration for the way that players such as Hamer, Wilson, Wiggins, Morrison and Jackson have maintained their commitment and determination despite what has happened (which is not intended as any slur on others, including the newcomers). Sure, they’re professionals and they’re paid to play. But it does seem to me a testimony to their character that in a game of fine margins, where just a small drop-off in attitude can swing games, they have kept the faith. They do deserve our support. Strangely the fact that we are out of the bottom three makes that seem less of an imperative (obviously not least with games against Yeovil and Barnsley coming up it’s still a scrap with an uncertain outcome).
This is where ambivalence comes in. Hamer makes a great penalty save in stoppage time to secure us two points. Marvellous. Only problem is the last time a keeper of ours made a vital penalty save was Alnwick away at Ipswich, only for him to be shamefully pushed out of the club against the wishes of the manager (the fact that his move to Orient has ended badly is irrelevant to the circumstances of his departure). Bringing back Obika on loan is clearly welcome. But let’s not forget him picking his Championship X1 early this season and choosing Kermorgant up front, singing his praises and saying how much he enjoyed playing alongside him. Or overlook our new head coach saying we were trying to get in another forward before the loan window closed (despite an abundance of actual numbers now) and our being linked with any available ‘target man’ before recalling Pigott. And the utterly predictable but equally moronic sacking of Powell, motivated by reasons other than the best interests of the club (except as perceived by one man) still makes my blood boil.
So what decision? I just don’t know yet. One of my useful but occasionally annoying (for all concerned) habits is to put off decisions that don’t have to be taken until they do. It may come down to a choice on Saturday morning, or at least over a pre-match glass.
What I do know is that the deadline for the early renewal of my season ticket will pass with nothing from me. Whether one for next season is eventually purchased will have nothing to do with what division we end up in but will be down to what we learn in the months ahead about our owner’s real motivations for buying us, sufficient to move me away from the feeling that it will all end in tears (mine, not Duchatelet’s). The acknowledgement in the recent club statement of the desire for consultations with supporters groups (including I trust the Royal Oak group) is appreciated; the reasons given for them to be put off are insufficient. Of course there is time for them to be held now if they are viewed as any sort of priority, which would mean making the time. I may end up renewing my season ticket but right now I just can’t lay my hands on a pen or a stamp.
In the interim, think of me as one that lov’d not wisely but too well (oh come on, if I can’t filch a bit of Shakespeare to end with you’re a hard bunch).