It’s an absolutely glorious sunny morning, feels very much like spring is in the air. No idea what the weather’s like back in London, but in Lyon, aside from a little haze still to be burnt off, it’s a day when you question the sanity of having set off a week ago wearing a very warm but slightly cumbersome flying jacket; if I venture out in that (and I brought no alternative) I’m dafter than a Spanners fan.
I’ve sacrificed the game against Blackburn for an extra Saturday with Suzanne and a bit more French culture – having last Saturday toured the Jean Moulin memorial and house (where he was arrested) plus the prison in which he was subsequently held, we are attempting something which I haven’t managed in all the years of coming here, namely getting up early and visiting the traboules – followed by a football match of a different nature, one with a lot riding on it. Lyon Duchere, hovering just above the relegation zone in CFA Groupe C, will be taking on Beziers, who sit proudly at the top of the league, having lost just once in 21 games. It could be a cracker.
The formbook obviously favours Beziers. Duchere haven’t won for four games and lie fourth from bottom (three go down), with just a couple of points breathing space (in truth it’s at least three as they have a game in hand and you get a point for turning up in this league). Just 23 goals scored in 20 games (only 24 conceded) and just four wins all season, compared with 13 wins out of 21 and 30 scored (it’s not exactly a free-scoring league this time around) for Beziers. Time to turn it all on its head and send the few hundred of us that will turn out home happy, with tales to tell of victory against the odds as we sip our Liqueur de Chataigne on the balcony (Suzanne has of late been trying to fob me off with Chartreuse or cognac but I found the bottle she’d been keeping quiet about).
Of course, if Duchere had the misfortune to be part of the Duchatelet network they might have Igor or Tony Watt (more likely the waste of space Rezza or Polish Pete, who might shine at this level) parachuted in to help the cause. Fortunately for them I have no reason to believe that they are on his radar and are in the happy position of standing or falling on their own merits, which for me is an integral, essential part of the rationale for a football club (if this sounds like resistance to change so be it, if a consortium model is some sort of future for football I want no part of it).
I’d intended to leave any decisions regarding next season until what just a few weeks ago was looking like a real fight against relegation was resolved (not that whatever division we found ourselves in would have a bearing on the outcome). The splendid turnaround since then means that battle has been fought and won, with Luzon entitled to his share of the credit for it, along with the players (and the board/owner for the necessary strengthening of the squad). With the season ticket renewals details having been publicised (fortunately in a fashion which didn’t involve a squalid attempt at free publicity), and having read Kings Hill Addick’s depressing account of Katrien Miere’s visit to East Kent Addicks, there’s no good reason to wait longer.
I shall have to get used to Saturday afternoons away from The Valley as, barring some unexpected development and/or real change of heart, I shall not be renewing my season ticket or attending games next season. That the Trust’s renewed appeals for meaningful consultation with the club/board have fallen on deaf ears is disappointing but hardly comes as a surprise. It merely reinforces my impression that the board/owner have no intention to deliver on what they say regarding engagement with supporters but instead pay lip-service to the notion. Fair enough, that’s their decision, they own the club. Just leaves us to make ours – and it feels like I’ve made mine.
Hey, it’s one supporter and one season ticket. Nobody’s going to lose any sleep. I don’t expect my attitude to in any way influence anybody else – and do fully appreciate that others (including fellow Addicks I go to games with) feel differently, putting perhaps a higher value than me on purely results/performances etc. To those whose immediate reaction is ‘good riddance, we don’t need supporters like you’, I can’t say much other than good luck, keep enjoying it, just that for a number of reasons - there will be time enough to repeat them but they all boil down to a combination of a board that has no respect for supporters (including a CEO who dislikes being labelled a liar, a term which I have never used, but is then happy to effectively brand ‘former employees’ as liars) and an owner with a dreadful strategy for his football clubs - I no longer do.