Strangers have rolled into SE7 and already caused a storm in light of today’s events. Whilst on a humane level I feel great sympathy for Phil Parkinson I see this as the definitive line under an often stale and remarkably unhappy era at the club.
We have tried doing things the “Charlton” way building up slowly from scratch, hoping to develop upon new found stability with a prudish approach that has seen us right in the past. After the knee- jerk hirings and firings post- Curbishley, our descent down the leagues and the associated financial pressures inherent with this the ship needed to be steadied and the floundering stopped.
Arguably no one more than Richard Murray and Phil Parkinson have wanted it to work this way, striving to do the best with the resources available and all credit to them. Dignity and integrity are two qualities very rare in today’s game and they have both displayed them in abundance.
And fair play to the section of our ever loyal support who have kept good faith in the management of the club on and off the field through what have been difficult times in our painful adjustment from Premiership contenders to 3rd Division promotion hopefuls. And fair play to those of us who have alternatively questioned that faith with equally well- meaning passion and conviction.
Aside from the emotive debates that this strategy has invoked particularly in the past couple of seasons I feel more optimistic today about the future of this club than I have done since just before Scott Parker left and we were seriously challenging for European football.
Whether it be positive thinking, blind optimism or just sheer hope, my gut instinct tonight is that the events since New Year are the start of a new fruitful path for Charlton. The takeover shrouded in secrecy has seen two characters emerge whom have signalled an intention to make big changes.
Whilst the unknown is always daunting and no one other than those individuals involved truly know their intentions it is a least a change in direction (and oft directionless) way the club has found its running in recent years.
Eternal gratitude will always be due to Charlton people like Murray who have invested the time and money that most of us can only dream of. Obviously an astute businessman in his own right but perhaps it was his passion and love for the club that may have often clouded his better judgement in recent times.
Murray’s continued involvement and Varney’s return provide me with the security of familiarity and the trust that nothing bad will happen on their watch and I find their presence at board level invaluably comforting at such a transitional time.
I believe that much to the dismay of many of us true football fans that the game has sadly changed beyond recognition of the purer more innocent form it took when most of us fell in love with it many years ago. It’s a business nowdays where the bottom line seems almost to supersede the scoreline in terms of importance.
Murray et al are possibly (and thankfully) from a different age where honour, dedication and a firm handshake were enough to stay afloat as a successful football club and a going concern.
Nowdays it appears to be an industry controlled by sharp- suited slick operators with one eye one the pitch and the other on the next deal. From the little I know of our new owners (and the faceless money men behind them) I see them more cut out for this new world of modern football business.
I recall that I was initially strongly against the Zabeelification of “our” club i after enjoying the success of doing things the Charlton way for so many years. I didn’t want anything to do with the Chelski model of doing things. I suppose I hoped with naivety that one day football would implode and return to the more level playing field of my youth and teams in the lower divisions could cut the mustard. Whilst football has imploded it has mainly impacted the smaller clubs and barely a week has gone past recently without news of a long established club facing possible extinction. It hasn’t really touched the big boys and nothing will change until it does.
Regretfully it is with resignation to the “Can’t beat them join them” philosophy that I find myself feeling as I watch affairs unfolding at the club I have always loved and will always love.
None of us know with any real conviction what else will emerge from the shadows in the coming weeks, months and years regarding the club we all hold so dear but I feel a weird sense of relief tonight....as if today is a weight of our shoulders with the responsibility of guiding the club in the hands of the unknown people who aren’t Charlton and whose immediate actions show they have their own plans of what is best for them (and hopefully us).
Whilst the ruthlessness shown is somewhat alarming it is also refreshing after the stagnant situation we have found ourselves in the past few years. Whilst the stability may have been comforting that same familiarity appeared to also be breeding contempt and the increasing negativity and discord between fans, players and management echoed this.
It appears that we are going to be dragged kicking and screaming into the age of 21st Century football whether we like it or not and perhaps that is the only way to survive and be viable in the modern game.
We are a small club with a small but very loyal and dedicated following who have endured a lot of bad times and may well see more and we really deserve to see good times as do many clubs and supporters of our statue and for some unbeknownst reason I truly believe that this past week has sown the seeds for a return to good times at The Valley.
It is time to get that unity back throughout the whole club. It has been missing for a while but it is one of the things tat makes us a such a special and unique club.
Time for us to forget the past and look to the future which from my point of view appears a lot brighter now than it has for a long time.