Though my mind was perfectly in tune with the idea of walking out of a game with 74 minutes played, having long convinced myself of the benefits of departing early as part of the planned protest during the Middlesbrough game, my body was seemingly not.
For having made my way towards the exit, fully expecting my next destination to be the West Stand car park, I suddenly found myself somewhere in the bowels of The Valley, lying in a hospital-type bed and completely confused as to what was going on.
It emerged that I had had a seizure before I’d even made it to the concourse. Not a totally unusual occurrence, given that I’ve suffered from epilepsy for over two years, but the first time I’d had one at any sort of football, let alone in SE7.
I must thank the excellent paramedics that treated me, as well as those supporters that apparently helped in the immediate aftermath. I even had a black and white scarf wrapped around me, which was most kind.
The confusion, bitten tongue and bloody nose aside, it was particularly frustrating given what an incredible day this was to be an Addick. An incredible day, when we have been so starved of moments to enjoy and feel proud of in recent months. Frustrating, too, that I have not been able to record it in the lengthy form I usually do.
Thankfully, though minor details of the game have been lost, my memory bank was strong enough to hold onto the main events of the day when most of my previous seizures have seen the preceding few hours almost completely lost.
Not only, therefore, did the seizure fail to taint my memory of Jordan Cousins battling superbly in midfield, Nick Pope’s marvellous reaction stop to prevent a Rod Fanni own goal, and the unpredicted sense of joy as Jorge Teixeira turned in Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s corner, but so too can I recall the pride felt throughout the excellent protests.
Above anything else, it was the almost stadium-wide chant of “we want Roland out” as the black and white beach balls prevented play from properly getting underway that felt particularly special. A simple protest that has spread the damage Roland Duchatelet’s regime is doing to the club, and our discontent, around the world, and a strong and united front in the stands that was so passionately demanding his departure.
Equally as simple, and equally as effective, was the whistle-blowing at the start of the second half. No statement or message in that one, but an event that embarrasses Duchatelet’s regime.
So too was the amount of people that took to the streets around The Valley to pay their respects to the death of Charlton Athletic in a very visually striking mock funeral an excellent form of protest that the media have lapped up. Whether it be Sky Sports or Fox, the press are on the side of Charlton supporters, and the pressure on Duchatelet and Katrien Meire to depart is mounting. The protests, sometimes criticised for being nothing more than a weak gimmick, are doing their job.
Of course, their stubbornness is so that they won’t be defeated just yet, but there is only so many more times this regime can suggest they want to work on building relationships with supporters and continue to fail to deliver.
The media, unsurprisingly, took the bait that was the statement Charlton provided, but those closer to the club are fully aware that this is something that has been promised countless times before, and not happened. Turning down meetings with supporter groups, the ignoring of communications, and our treatment as “weird customers” not really signs that suggest a desire to unify.
It means, obviously, that protests will need to continue at a similar pace, maintaining on and building this momentum that grew impressively on Sunday.
Useful, then, that the myth that the protests hurt player performance to an extent that winning at home is impossible has been crushed. Collectively, the Addicks were strong and determined, only allowing Jordan Rhodes the occasional sniff, while individually, Cousins’ performance was his best of a somewhat underwhelming campaign by quite some margin.
And it’s a win that, while not really providing any genuine hope that relegation can be avoided, suggests there is enough fight left in this side to mean the remaining nine games of the season won’t simply be meaningless slogs as the draw with MK Dons implied.
At the very least, the 74 minutes I saw were very enjoyable. An unexpected treat to see us compete so well with, albeit an out of sorts, Middlesbrough, and ultimately battle onto victory. Boro too slow and indecisive, possibly something to do with Aitor Karanka’s absence, and the Addicks were able to repel their threat with relative ease.
A good day to be an Addick, at least until my body decided it had had enough. I’d appreciate it if Duchatelet could also decide he’s had enough as soon as possible.