It’s probably an act that’s scorned at by some, but I felt compelled to do it.
Shortly after Chris Powell was appointed as manager of Huddersfield Town, I sent the former Charlton boss a handwritten letter that went into a second A4 side.
Given the manner of his sacking, the only opportunities I had had to thank him for his considerable efforts at The Valley were indirect ones. Tweets, blog posts and the third minute applause, but there’s limitations to all three.
So with there now being a way to contact him, I saw it fit to not only congratulate Powell on what I felt was a very good appointment for him, but directly give him my thanks.
My main motivation behind going through the effort to send him a letter was to inform him just how much I appreciated him and his side, and how I probably always will do.
For it’s not the case that I simply share the sort of appreciation that almost every other Addicks has for Powell. The vast, vast majority are thankful for his successes in digging the club out of a mire. At best, he created and developed a side that brought smiles back to the faces of Charlton supporters; at worst, he was a dignified leader in difficult circumstances.
But, for me, Powell and his side provided something a bit extra. They provided something to believe in, and find solace in, during difficult personal periods. Frequently I could escape from the frustrations of real life and emerge myself in this side that was determined, spirited and, for the most part, successful.
My personal attachment to Powell would be strong without it, but that he created an antidote to my personal difficulties means my appreciation of the man is unrelenting.
Informing of the impact he and his side had on me was incredibly rewarding, but I didn’t really expect the 21st century’s most stylish wearer of a flat cap to take time out to reply to, or even read, my waffle. He’s undoubtedly got more important things to be doing, especially right at the start of his tenure as boss of the Terriers.
Nonetheless, writing and sending the letter provided a rather irrational good feeling, even without taking into consideration that Powell may lay his eyes on it.
While I couldn’t give you an exact date, that letter was sent in September’s final third. I had reached the back end of November without response, which wasn’t surprising at all. I did, however, hope that he had read it. I told myself he did, because I so desperately wished for him to be aware of just how much I appreciated him as a person and what he had done at Charlton.
So it isn’t to say I had forgotten about sending the letter, it’s just that it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind on the back of a few hours’ sleep as I walked down Floyd Road before the early kick-off yesterday.
My old man regularly brings post for me from the week to games, and 104% of it is junk. He handed me an envelope as we walked to the ground, and I opened it with the sort of disdain that junk post deserves.
However, the way in which I opened the envelope meant the first thing I saw on the inside was a rather easy-on-the-eye signature above ‘Chris Powell’.
I should probably apologise here just in case any of you were walking down Floyd Road at the same time as me. I don’t make a habit of screaming like a teenage girl at a One Direction concert.
But, to use a masculine phrase, I was absolutely buzzing. Uncontrollably so.
It was just a short letter but, even so, it meant an incredible amount to me that Powell had first of all read my original letter, and then, whether he wrote it himself or not, got a response sent back to me. At the very least, he’s hand signed it, and that’s more than enough for me.
It’s confirmation, if it was needed, that the whole of English football are not misguided. Their belief that Chris Powell is one of the nicest men, and easiest to respect, in the game is correct. His cult hero status at several clubs, not least Charlton, deserved.
Few warrant success more than him, and I really hope he can turn the promising start at Huddersfield into something more serious. I can’t pretend a win for Powell doesn’t make me smile.
Cheers, Chris. You’re a top, top man.