I was unsure whether I wanted to write this or not, as the subject has already received enough attention to make me feel a little embarrassed, but I thought attempting to provide some positive words after yesterday’s debacle would be welcomed.
As many of you may have seen already, I received an incredible gift from Johnnie Jackson in the week. The skipper, responding to a post I wrote recently about how I currently feel, sending his support and best wishes on a signed shirt. No shame in admitting that I’ve done a reasonable amount of crying since opening the package on Wednesday evening.
It not just the incredibly meaningful words, that felt so personal and will be treasured for the rest of my days, that mean so much to me, but the gesture itself. The captain of my football club, our football club, going out of his way to send something so wonderful directly to me. Just thinking about it overwhelms me.
As is the case for so many, Jackson is a player I adore and idolise. The perfect captain of this football club, whose efforts in over 200 appearances have earned him hero status.
But so too, as a consequence of how I feel, have I felt a very strong emotional attachment to the skipper in previous years. His ability to provide moments of joy with important goals when I’ve felt incredibly low, his attitude that suggests he cares about this club as much as anyone in the stands, and his general character that makes him a figure that belongs to the Charlton I once was, and want to be, distracted by. He’s an important figure to me.
And to know that this important figure, who exists somewhat in the distance as any footballer or personal hero does, genuinely cares about me, at a time when I struggle to care about myself, is simply incredible. I just can’t get over the fact he’s gone out of his way, without any sort of suggestion from anyone else, to send this wonderful gift my way.
And it not just the skipper who warrants thanks, but those of you who have gone out of your way to say incredibly lovely things in the previous few days. Complete strangers offering support, and providing words than challenge my non-existent sense of self-worth and value. It really has been overwhelming, and I can’t justify just how much it means to me.
Of course, for every kind word sent my way, there has been 2,000 sent the way of Jackson, and there no question that that is completely deserved. A gesture that has reaffirmed his hero status in SE7.
In fact, as many have pointed out, not only is Jackson a figure that represents our Charlton, but so to a reminder of the sense of community and connection that has seemingly been lost in previous years. That it still exists, in however small a way, is heartwarming, particularly in the sense that it provides hope that the full extent of that community and connection might return in time.
A return to what many perceive to be the real Charlton, or even just a Charlton that supporters can connect with, possible once the required change at the club has occurred.
In the meantime, there are still figures that provide some sense of community, and offer some break from the isolation I feel. I can’t say enough how appreciative I am of both Jackson, and every kind word I’ve received from fellow supporters.
An immediate fix? To think so, given the extent to which I’m suffering and the length of time that I’ve felt like this, would be incredibly naïve. In the days that have followed opening the package, I’ve returned to feeling incredibly low. A sense of guilt existing, as if feeling like this shows I’m not grateful, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
For Jackson’s incredible gesture, his wonderful words, and the way in which the words of Charlton supporters have given me a sense of value in myself in the past few days has provided me with brief moments of wonderful and unrestricted joy.
The sort of moments of joy, however temporary, that I have rarely been able to experience over the previous three or four years.
I plan to have the shirt framed, and surround it with some of the photos I’ve taken of Jackson. The knee slides, the fist pumps, and the crowd-directed applause. The ones that show his use of the phrase “our club” is not misguided.
I really hope a quick look up to it when I’m feeling overwhelmed by how I feel, in those periods where I feel like I simply can’t cope, is going to have some kind of impact on me. This really does mean so much to me.