Towards the end of my sojourn in Lyon I was reasonably confident that a takeover would go through before my return (early April) and that would pave the way for going to the Scunthorpe game. In the event no confirmed deal kept me ambivalent and as it happened other commitments got in the way. This time around? Assuming a fellow Addick has done the necessary, I will have a ticket and I’ll get to my first game of the season. Hopefully there will be at least one more, I still haven’t been to the new Wembley.
Lest there be any doubt, for me this doesn’t amount to an end to boycotting, as things stand it’s a one-off. If we get promoted and Duchatelet is still our owner come August, I will not be there. And while it’s every Addick’s decision when it comes to a season ticket for next year, I hope nobody has renewed and will not until a sale is confirmed. In that context, a bumper turnout tomorrow tells a new owner how things can be, provides a reminder to Duchatelet of the extent to which he’s screwed things up, and would amount to a fitting tribute to Johnnie Jackson, even though he’s not going to be on the pitch let alone running down the wing for us and it may not be his last game at The Valley. Hungry Ted penned a splendid tribute to the guy and I can only endorse it, can only add that the opportunity to join in the tribute is alone a good reason for going tomorrow.
Among the daft things that Duchatelet has said, the suggestion that protesting Addicks wanted to see the club fail is right up there. Rather we had reached the conclusion – based on evidence, after initially welcoming him - that our club could not succeed (however that is defined) with him at the helm – unless of course he changed his spots, which has never been on the cards. It must have been so much easier for him to believe his claim, given that the alternative was that there was something wrong with himself.
Equally, among the duplicitous and inane claims from Meire, one of the most insulting to fans’ intelligence was the one to the effect that (I can’t remember the exact words) most would accept the regime did a good job in its first season (remember that one: the sales in January and drafting in of utterly inadequate replacements, the sacking of Sir Chris ...). That season we stayed up despite the regime – and if we get promoted this season it will be a repeat performance.
Duchatelet hasn’t changed. If he had there would be an apology for his failed experiments with our club and for the insulting of the fans. All that has happened is that he’s convinced himself that he is far too busy to be bothered with us. The fact that his lack of interference, plus Meire’s jumping ship, have created better conditions for our success is no doubt lost on him. By the same token, if we get promoted and Duchatelet gets a better price, I really don’t care (of course if the prospect delays a sale I do). If he tells himself for the rest of his life that he was a success as our owner, I don’t care. Self-delusion is his problem. Like every other Addick I only want our club to succeed: promotion and new owners are not incompatible goals.
We all pretty much know the permutations for tomorrow: we win and the guarantee of a play-off place can only be denied us if Plymouth beat Rotherham and Scunthorpe also win (given that those two will play each other next week); we draw and it’s down to the other results and the final round of games; we lose and we really have to hope the other two screw up.
Does it help us that Blackburn are already promoted? Has to. Perhaps not materially, for sure it’s a tough game for us, but some impact at the margins. Sure they would like to be champions, but that’s just not the same motivation, especially so soon after promotion has been confirmed and as becoming champions is not in their own hands. Let’s hope – for our sakes – that Wigan move swiftly into a 6-0 lead at home to Northampton and the Blackburn players and fans can just sit back and celebrate their success.