06 May 2012

Charlton 3 Hartlepool 2

My posts are usually quite short. It's not because I have a poet's gift for concision, the haikuist's ability to summarise a mood, a sight and a season in 17 syllables. Nope, it's because I'm lazy. But I think it might tax even the great Matsuo Bashō to summarise yesterday's sights and moods, never mind the season, in a short space. Just use the word "parachutists" and four of your syllables have gone. So, prepare for a long post. Make a cup of tea, if you like, and comfort yourself with the fact it's going to be the last for three months.

During the morning, I'd seen updates of the travelling Hartlepool smurf army. One general theme of the day was that one thing we'll miss about League One is the fans. There may not be many of them, but they have a honest dedication that you don't always find among the bigger teams. The best photo was this one, from Kings Cross station, and what's best about it is the people on the right, acting as if this is a normal sight on the Underground. Just ignore it, like the Football League Show was certain to do.

I got to the Valley over an hour before the game began. So did a lot of other people. There was a buzz in Floyd Road that hasn't been there for many years, with a huge queue outside the shop. I thought about going to the pub, but the afternoon's events were about to begin, and I didn't want to miss a thing.

The first of many of the day's delights was reading, in the excellent programme, that one of Chris Powell's musical choices would be Kate Bush. He said "People may laugh at me but I absolutely love Kate Bush. It doesn't suit me at all, but I do."  And there was me thinking I couldn't love the man any more than I already did.

The pre-match sequence got underway with some pitchside interviews, and then some operaoke from Martin Toal and Rose Jang. I'd be really interested to know how Rose Jang came to be there. She's a Korean American from Princeton and although she apparently studied at Goldsmith's for a time, she's not previously shown any Charlton affiliation. Their performances were rousing, in their way, but with a few too many truck driver's gear changes for my liking. I'd have been happier with more Victoria Stanyon, not least, I must admit, because she was looking stunning. If I were to describe in detail what was so attractive about her, people might form an unfortunately accurate opinion of me.

Then the special surprise. There'd been loads of rumours that it would involve Pixie Lott and a helicopter, but the real giveaway had been that someone had seen the Red Devils parachutists were booked for a function at Charlton on Saturday. A man in red was on the pitch earlier, apparently mending a tear in the turf with duct tape. And at about 2:50 five of his mates staged the only kind of pitch invasion you can get away with these days.

By this time, all the smurfs had arrived, and were greeted with a standing ovation from the home fans.

All this, and the football hasn't even started yet.

The first half was a bit flat, to be honest. Johnnie Jackson was subbed quite early, and with Scott Wagstaff moving to the left, Charlton didn't have the shape they needed. Hartlepool didn't threaten much but scored the only goal of the half from a corner. No-one cared that much.

At half-time a thunderous ovation for Alan Curbishley.

The football really started after half-time, particularly after Bradley Pritchard came on after 65 minutes. Let's just stop and consider him for a while. A year ago he was playing for Hayes and Yeading. Next year he'll be in the Championship, another example of Charlton's superb recruitment drive last summer. Three goals in ten minutes - the last an exquisite volley by Kermorgant - saw the game won, and no-one could have begrudged Hartlepool their second when there were about five minutes remaining.

In some ways the result didn't matter. But it meant Charlton had 101 points. We all know how good they've been this season, but now it's typographically obvious for ever, as they are one of only 8 teams to need three digits in their points total. (Actually, it looks even better in binary: 1100101).

The final whistle ushered in the only shambolic moments of the day. There was some confusion over the erection of the display stand, and the "lap of honour" was more like a disorganised stroll in a park. Understandable, really, it's not as if Charlton have much experience of organising victory celebrations. Again, nobody cared. By this stage Pixie Lott could have jetpacked naked into the stadium and no-one would have noticed.

Chris Powell made a moving speech. The North Stand sang "we've got our Charlton back" and everyone finally drifted away, dreaming of what next year might bring.

Yesterday was a wonderful climax to a wonderful season. THANK YOU, CHARLTON! THANK YOU, THE BOARD, THE STAFF, THE TEAM! THANK YOU, CHRIS POWELL!


Nikki said...

This is exactly how yesterday was.

I was sadly too late to get my hands on a programme, so I'm glad you've relayed the important Kate Bush news - I, too, now love Chris Powell more than ever.

ChicagoAddick said...

Superb post Brian. The attraction of Kate and Victoria? Surely their voices?

No Pixie Lott or Glen Tilbrook although I thought the two Daves did a fine job of compering.

A memorable day.