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Lawrie Wilson: Thanks for Being Alright

The nature of Lawrie Wilson’s success during his time at Charlton can be seen in the reaction to his departure.

For few, if any, have celebrated his loan move to Rotherham United that, with the curly-haired hero out of contract in the summer, probably signals the end of his career as an Addick.

Instead there was an almost universal sense of disappointment.

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Disappointment that a player who was arguably Charlton’s most consistent performer last season hasn’t been able to hold down a starting place during this campaign, has looked short of confidence when brought into the side and ultimately been moved on for his benefit.

Disappointment that, regardless of his recent struggles and it probably being a good move for Wilson, another long-serving player has been moved on ruthlessly and quickly. Despite his dip in form, most fans were fully aware he still had plenty to give.

Disappointment that a crowd favourite who has excellent rapport with supporters will no longer represent the Addicks. In many of the Tweets sent to Wilson, a wish of good luck is followed by an admission that they are gutted to see him leave.

And that he leaves as a crowd favourite is one half of his biggest achievement as a Charlton player.

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The other half is that he was far from it to begin with. His efforts and endeavour were such that someone who was originally heckled and treated as a scapegoat become a bit of a Covered End favourite.

It’s some achievement to turn those who grumbled at the sight of Wilson’s name appearing on the teamsheet into ardent admirers.

Personally, I thought the treatment he received at times during the 12/13 season was incredibly harsh. There were, of course, a few poor performances and a few criminal errors, but his hard work seemed to go unnoticed even at the best of times.

Many will point towards his two goal-performance against Brighton and Hove Albion on Boxing Day 2013 as the turnaround for Wilson, and with good reason.

His overall display was excellent, the strikes clinical, and it produced a chant of “he used to be shite, but now he’s alright”, for the first time. Something that the smile on Wilson’s face each time it was sung after that day suggested he rather enjoyed.

And it was probably that chant that created a very strong rapport between player and fans. He became adored very quickly thereafter.

But Wilson had been in excellent form long before that Brighton performance. Supporters who had previously unfairly criticised him had already been won over.

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Chris Solly, of course, was a huge miss last season, but Wilson’s performances at right-back were consistently of such a standard that his fellow academy graduate’s absence was rarely noticed.

From early season games, such as in the win over Blackburn, to his outstanding displays of defensive brilliance, fight and determination against QPR and Sheffield Wednesday in the space of three days, and his gritty efforts as Charlton confirmed their survival in the final months of the campaign, Wilson was outstanding.

And it’s the knowing how well he played last season in addition to the connection he had with supporters that means I’m gutted he’s off.

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You could argue he isn’t that player anymore. The Wilson of last season would not have struggled so much against Michail Antonio as he did in the recent victory over Nottingham Forest, but I’d suggest that’s a more a lack of confidence, game time and form rather than a loss of quality.

Nonetheless, it’s so disappointing that it just hasn’t quite worked out this season for someone who was so committed to Charlton’s cause.

I’d be delighted if Wilson’s time isn’t completely up, but the evidence suggests it is.

Good luck, and thanks for being bloody brilliant, Lawrie.

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