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NEW ARTICLE: Proud and UPBEAT Despite Defeat

“Guys….guys…come back. Come back guys….guys….GUYS”

Carl (CACTs Mental Health Manager) puts his hand to his head. It’s all going wrong.

Having milked the applause on the pitch, the group are steadily making their way past the home dugout back to their seats by the tunnel. “Don’t forget to give the North Upper a clap” I said pointing up as we approached the tunnel.

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Bad move.

One of the group breaks through a gap in the advertising hoardings and is heading for the North Upper goal. Now two are through the gap, three, four, and the rest are eagerly climbing over the hoardings. They’re off. Energetic sprints with arms aloft are once again occurring in all directions, with the occasional face-first slide in the turf for good measure. It’s all going wrong.

Except it isn’t going wrong at all.

It is so brilliantly going right.

Sandwiched between a disappointing game, the Valley crowd are getting exposure to the sheer joy being experienced by a fantastic group of boys and girls. The cheer and applause as the second pitch invasion breaks out is loud and prolonged. The Upbeats are showing their unbridled joy, and the crowd are loving it.

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When we met at the Sam Bartram statue before the game, I don’t think any of us lucky enough to be representing Charlton Life really had much of an inkling on how the day would unfold. Charlton Life has a long history now with the Upbeats Programme, and many of us have met the guys a few times before. But I don’t think any of us suspected we would come away from the day with the lasting memories we undoubtedly now hold.

A lounge had been set aside for the Upbeats Xmas party; it would be fair to assume this was not to be the usual pre-match entertainment that this room would normally see. Tables and silver service packed away, nuggets and chips were being served up and the music was pumping out. Andy Hughes and Joe Piggott were being swamped with autograph hunters,

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With kids dancing and running around in every direction, John Humphrey and Theo Foley looked in to see what all the commotion was. Steve Bradshaw from the club pops in to say hello. Jason Morgan and Matt Parish from CACT were circulating thanking us and other sponsors for our efforts. @PeteF and @Killersbeard whisked a few of the group away to the recording studio to become radio stars.

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We chatted to parents who wanted to express gratitude, explaining to us just how important schemes like this are that give both their kids enjoyment and them a break. I’m trying to hold a serious conversation with Josh’s mum but we are both finding it difficult with a breakdancing competition going on around our feet. Our chats with youngsters who so enthusiastically just wanted to say thank you is impossible to describe how humble and rewarding it felt.

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Excitement levels were literally going through the roof, but before going through to the stands, Carl somehow managed to get every kids attention to set out what was to happen at half time and some rules (nice try), and also to thank us (CL) and Regular Cleaning Services for our support. Collectively our Charlton Life members had raised £2,500 to buy the group new kit and tracksuits to the same quality as what the first team have, and they wanted to do a presentation to thank us. I had the honour of collecting a framed shirt signed by all the Upbeats, and (family aside), it was the proudest moment of my life.

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We settled in the seats, and the game was sadly a disappointing affair. Aside from naturally wanting us to win, we desperately wanted a good first half to provide a positive backdrop for the Upbeats at half time, yet the reverse happened as Derby scored a deflected goal. We shouldn’t have worried though. With a couple of minutes until half time, the guys and girls were led down to the tunnel, while we were ushered to the front. Half time come, and @BDL showed what a consummate pro he is by reading his lines perfectly despite me pinching his bum and Brenda threatening to “do a Delia”. I don’t think she was planning to bake a cake.

While Dave introduced, The Red Robin played again and the Upbeats run out the tunnel to tepid applause as people were chatting or flicking the programme. As each one run out with what appeared to be enhanced enthusiasm, so with it the interest and applause in the crowd seemed to grow. ‘What’s going on here?’. Programmes are down, and people are taking an interest. A trip to the Jimmy Seed saw the Derby fans brilliantly respond to the guys and girls as dives and slides are going on all over the place. Everyone is loving this except Paddy I would suspect.

We huddle together for a photo. “That’s blinding” the official photographer said to me, “Absolutely blinding”. I suppose this was all a bit different to the Valley Gold draw.

We made our way back down the touchline as the applause was ringing in our ears. “Don’t forget to give the North Upper a clap”, and within seconds a roar broke out as the mayhem continued.

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Fifty minutes later, I’m battling through the crowds down Floyd Road carrying a Framed shirt. There’s no buzz in the air, the crowd are despondent, head down shuffling away. We’d lost, again, and I’ve done this dark, miserable wintery walk hundreds of times after defeat before. But today my head is not down as I walk away. Our club is experiencing a real difficult period at the moment and there are genuine concerns over the short and medium term future. But despite all the change and the fears, today gave a sharp reminder on not just what is important, but also that at its core there are still some people doing things in the name of Charlton that make this a proud club.

While Hughesy and Piggott were signing a way, a kid brought his programme over to Carl open on the page he had wrote for the programme about the Upbeats. “can I have your autograph” he asked Carl, who laughed and said “don’t be silly you don’t want me autograph”. “yes I do” the boy replied. Perhaps they just don’t see it by being so heavily involved. But having been to their training sessions and their party, its clear to see just what an amazing impact and bond Carl, Terry, Dino, Matt, Tony, Gavin and Ally amongst others at CACT have with these guys and the friendships they have helped nurture. They are their role models and heroes, and their ‘work’ is amazing.

We should all want their autograph.

Over the years, hundreds of our members have (financially or by other means) contributed to continue Charlton Life’s support and involvement with the Upbeats (read more here). Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for allowing us to associate with such an amazing group. If you witnessed the excitement seen by the group at HT, you’ll know how worthwhile it is.

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Comments

  • Sums up the day pretty well. A great read.
  • Brilliant. Well done all.
  • nice job, well done again all
  • I couldn't be there on Saturday so even more special to read this and see the video. Thanks, and very, very well done all concerned.
  • Lovely piece, AFKA.

  • Spot on. Saturday's highlight by a long long way.
  • By far the best thing that happened on Saturday. Upbeats and even this forum highlight the positives of supporting Charlton regardless of things happening on the pitch. Superb effort from everyone involved.
  • Brilliant stuff and great to see,
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  • Wonderful and fantastic ...halftime was a joy to watch ...and your article has brought it all back ...well done AFKA and everyone else
  • Be proud Charlton Life, you we are the best Charlton community on the Internet, despite our differences. This is what makes this place special. Long may it reign.
  • Incredible. Can deal with any result as long as the club and people associated with it are doing things like this
  • edited December 2013
    A wonderful article AFKA. Thanks AFKA and thanks to the marvellous Upbeats
  • Brilliant article, was great to meet the team, such an inspirational group, the interview went out in the show last night, but here is the interview on its own, their character shines through, it was a joy to have them in the studio. https://audioboo.fm/boos/1800518-the-charlton-upbeats-on-charlton-live
  • Thanks for adding a coaches perspective Terry, have a lovely Christmas mate.
  • Absolutely brilliant day - and so well written up by AFKA.
  • Great article AFKA, well done and congrats to all the coaches and all involved, special people.
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  • Great report, AFKA, brilliantly describing a most joyful occasion. I have posted a message on the Derby fans' forum, thanking them for their generous applause.
  • thanks AFKA and always remember this is why CL is special.
  • It was fantastic to watch on Saturday, and great to read your article AFKA.

    Very well done to all involved, these things remind me of why I am always so proud to be CAFC.
  • Great article, enjoyed the Upbeats exuberance. Well done to all involved.
  • The Upbeats were the undoubted stars on an otherwise dreary day. Well done everyone involved.
  • Great article,exactly what I need to cheer myself up after reading all the latest posts in the Takeover thread.I feel really lucky to be a fan of such a special club,a pioneer in community projects/schemes.Not only those who work in the club but also all the supporters are truly great people. Again,well done everyone.
  • Tears to eyes ..... That's all
  • AFKA, thank you so much for showing us this, you have reminded me of the most enjoyment that I have experienced at a game of football for years. Well done to the Derby fans who joined in with the applause, somehow the whole thing re-enforced my firm views about what are the important things in life. Well done to all of you who made the day possible, almost certainly the best day of their lives for the Upbeats. Next time can we have 90 minutes of the Upbeats, and 15 minutes of watching the team ?
  • Brilliant stuff - well done to everybody involved.
  • Activities like this allied to the love and devotion shown to these children puts mere football into perspective. Whatever happens 'on the field', whatever division we find ourselves in, however good or bad the FL results, days like this show that CAFC is quite simply a GREAT club.
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