I had to think hard to remember a result - and by the sound of it a performance - that left us feeling so deflated. Of course with a little effort they do come back to mind (Operation Ewood back in 2007, the failure to get past Swindon at The Valley in the third-tier play-offs in 2010 ...), those games/results that you just prefer to leave in their long-buried box. I can't comment on the match itself (although a fellow Addick was more forgiving than some of the reports I read, suggesting that Bristol City deserved more credit than they've been given for a very disciplined performance - perhaps they still had a bee in their bonnet over our equaliser at their place); but perhaps there was a general feeling after Rotherham that with the return of Riga and with two more faces coming in that with better organisation we had enough ability and character, plus gathering momentum, to get out of the bottom three and stay out.
I wouldn't call it complacency but would guess that a straw poll of supporters before the game would have seen most predicting a win or draw at worst. Instead no Vetokele, no sign of the new guys, a depressing home defeat which can't be explained away simply as the result of a ref's decision (what mattered was how we reacted to going behind), seemingly a bad reaction from the crowd, and Bolton leaving us on the bottom. Now, instead of being on something of a roll we (and the players) have to draw another line in the sand (after the one following the rout at Hull) and hope: that the loan window produces further strengthening, that all those already with us are match-fit and available asap, that the players show the necessary commitment, that Cardiff turn up on Saturday already on their summer hols .... (and of course that our owner puts us up for sale and in the interim - or in conjunction - Ms Meire really does head off to pastures new).
I'm not a lawyer and have no idea whether or not filing a false director's resignation, presumably one involving the forging of a signature, actually breaks any laws. If it does - and I notice the BBC's report suggests that "an individual found guilty of filing false documents to Companies House could receive a prison term of up to two years, a fine, or both" - I hope that in this instance good sense prevails, even if the person responsible is identified (CARD say not them). It's a good principle in law that for a crime to have been committed there needs to be a victim and some tangible ill-effects, some damage, to merit recompense. In this case, while nobody condones breaking any laws, there is no such harm, no real attempt to deceive or mislead (I occasionally say something to my partner Suzanne that clearly isn't true but deny that it's a lie as there isn't a bat in hell's chance of her falling for it) . If the board had any collective sense of humour it would take a step back and treat it for the (good) jape that was, I assume, the intention. This is after all the regime that tarred us with the tawdry 'score on the pitch' episode, which had no wit and just left us embarrassed. The fact that the club takes the matter "seriously" means nothing; it was funny. Perhaps the perpetrator is a potential investor who was looking to establish some means of communication.
That said, for what it's worth I didn't really favour the nature of the 'banner protest' for Saturday's game. I back the campaign, accept that it's not easy to keep the protests novel and the board off balance, and can see the appeal of responding to the club's heavy-handed approach towards visible expressions of discontent inside the ground. But this was a bloody important match and the nature of the protest couldn't help but divert attention from the game while it was going on, with the players no doubt aware of it all. It worked against the idea of giving the team full support while games are being played. Nobody can say if there was an adverse effect on the pitch, but equally nobody can say with certainty that there wasn't one. Why take the chance?
With hindsight might have been better to have had fans with the posters outside the ground before and after the game, with the other focus of the day's protest being the excellent poster in Anchor & Hope Lane. Or perhaps something that might have fitted better with the planned demonstration by Liverpool fans against their rise in some prices, emphasising the theme of 'supporters not customers' (admission prices is probably the one area where the regime deserves credit).
After all, while the level of unrest has clearly gone up markedly and there is now a focal point for it in the form of CARD, we shouldn't pretend that every Addick is fully on board (ahem, it is above 2%). Let's leave distortions and half-truths to the regime. I've walked to the ground for post-match protests outside the West Stand twice now and on both occasions was a bit struck by supporters - quite often ones wearing black and white scarves - leaving early (and given that both games were draws not because of events on the pitch). Sure some people have good reason not to wait behind, even not to wait for the end of the match; but I think this and other comments following the call to boycott purchases inside the ground suggests there is still work to be done to convince some supporters that our club will only have a decent chance to prosper with new owners (and of course that there are such people out there). In the interim, doing anything that might be labelled as increasing the chances of us being relegated, before the outcome is decided, can sow seeds of disunity when all Addicks want us to stay up.
Our owner and CEO apparently don't care about our club's history, and they are ignorant of most things football. So perhaps we need to emphasise some truths from time to time: League One is horrible and we desperately don't want to go back there. If we do go down, there will be no shrugging of shoulders, acceptance of our lot etc. We might feel inclined to attribute 5-10% of the blame on the Slater/Jiminez regime, for obvious reasons (including who they sold us on to). But relegation this season would be seen as an unnecessary failure laid squarely at our owner's door.
Like many other Addicks I've seen us relegated to the third flight three times. First time around was a shock (we'd been in the Second Division all my life until then) but was ultimately manageable; I was young and we got back up in the third season, before life in the third division became entrenched. Second time around I was away at university for the most part. Third time was pretty bad but in essence a hangover from relegation from the Premiership and an inability to adjust. And just when despair might have set in after two failed campaigns along came Sir Chris and the team that he put together. Never more than three consecutive seasons in the third flight but also an awareness of just what a miserable slog that division is.