Tuesday, May 08, 2007
They call it Britain's most watched drama series. It is English Premiership football, followed avidly around the world. I am a fan, watching live matches as they are played in far away England on a regular basis.
Last Monday, I watched as Charlton Athletic Football club was relegated for the first time in 7 years after losing to Tottenham Hotspur. As the game drew to an end, Charlton supporters rose to their feet as one; men, women and children singing the club's anthem, waving scarves that read, "we'll be back", father's wiping the tears off the painted-on-beards of their little boys as their team went down. It showed the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Charlton will lose an automatic income of 16 million pounds payable to each team in the top flight, jobs will be lost by the staff of the club as costs run high without a corresponding increase in income. Still the supporters sang, as boys and young men cried, struggling to clap, supporting their team to the very end.
There were no fair-weather friends at the stadium that night and even if Charlton returns to the top flight in a year, 10 years or never again, I shall always remember in my mind's eye, the pictures of fathers and their sons, shown around the whole stadium, bound in adversity and lending strength, one to another.