Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Life begins at 40

I'm not so sure about that, but with my 40th birthday coming up (on Friday) I thought this would be a good time to review my first 30 years as a Charlton fan.

It's interesting how consistent a football club is in one's life once it is 'adopted'. Clearly my parents and my sister have been ever present in my life (my sister is there years my senior) but they are the only survivors from before I attended a Charlton game when I was 10.

My best friend (ignoring my family) I met at senior school and despite being friends now for 29 years, I was already a Charlton fan by the time I met him.

In fact, it wasn't until I started writing this post that it occurred to me just how many of my current friends (and family) have come along since I started going to The Valley. My son, who is my best friend and fills most of my waking thoughts has only been here for six years (nearly seven actually) which is a fifth of the time I've been an Addick.

To be fair my association with Charlton has changed over the years. A new girlfriend tends to reduce interest (obsession) for a week or two, and University and certain jobs have been very demanding on my time and thoughts. Being a parent is also a massive life changing event (not something I intend to get into here) but the ever present has been my football club.

I would say that my obsession has grown significantly in recent years for two reasons. Firstly we have been in the Premier League and that has increased interest and coverage. It has also been responsible for the major changes around The Valley - which is unrecognisable from the tired and tatty stadium that I first attended in 1981. In fact I wonder what on earth made me want to go back then. The second cause of my obsession in Charlton has been the advancements in technology. This is both the advancement in the Internet and television coverage and the new array of devices that mean that I can stand outside the women's toilets at Bluewater while Mrs KHA has a pit stop and check for news or views on my mobile phone.

It is this latter development that I think has made the biggest difference to me. Not only do I write a blog, but I also read many others. This is before you add up the amount of time I spend on Charlton Life. In fact, one of the main reasons I wanted an iPad (which I writing this post on) was so that I could always just check on the latest without having to boot up the laptop or faff about with the mobile phone which is ok for the odd bit of browsing, but it's very small.

This season has seen my interest wane a little as has been discussed elsewhere, but when I first came to The Valley in 1981 we were in this division, and if you'd told me then that when I turned 40 the last game at The Valley would have been in an all seater stadium (at 10 I might not have even known what this was) in front of 24,767 fans playing Exeter I would probably have just laughed at you.

The fact that I have seen us play at Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea, Villa, Leeds, Forrest, Blackburn, Man City, Derby and Wembley twice - and win at all those places during the 30 years is also testament to our success during my Charlton following. That list is all the more impressive when you take into account that fact that all but two of that list have been the English Champions during that time. Actually we have beaten them all home and away during my first 30 years following them. Interestingly the only other team that has won the league since I started going was Everton, and we have beaten them home and away, I just haven't been Goodison Park.

Interestingly we are on Sky on my birthday. What makes that interesting is that my Dad was celebrating his 60th birthday in 2001 when we won 4-2 at Highbury in front of the Sky cameras. Maybe I'm clutching at straws, but I do have another one for you. My 18th birthday was on a Saturday, and we won at Villa Park with Carl Leaburn scoring his second goal in two years, and bearing in mind he scored on his debut, this was a significant event.

Overall the last 30 years have seen some real disappointments, but also some real highs. I can't believe it was really 30 years ago that it all started. Back then I used to remember how many times I'd seen us play, now I have no idea. I don't know when I stopped counting, but clearly I did at some point.

Despite the fact that we are where we were when I started going the club is much bigger now than it was then. I really believe that we are on the way up again too.

Let's hope that the next 30 years are as good as the last 30 - even if we end up here again when I turn 70 it will have been a great ride, again.

Up the Addicks!


Anonymous said...

Nice post KH. Have a damned fine birthday. My missus is 40 tomorrow - the romantic meal for two in the evening is in fact a surprise birthday party. reckon I could get ii in the neck though..

To view my Charlton supporting life I think about 37 years prior to when I first started supporting them in 1975 - that equates to 1938. i don't think about this too long as I feel depressed!

happy birthday

Pembury addick

Phil said...

Happy bithday for Friday KHA. I hope the Addicks mark the occasion with a win.
Like you, as a youngster, I could only dream of Charlton in the top flight and a Wembley appearance. However, dreams do sometimes come true and we've managed it of course.
Have a great day !

Newyorkaddick said...

Happy birthday! Christian Dailly said you make him feel like a kid again

Ketts said...

Have a great day fella & let's hope the boys do the business for you.

Keep on blogging & entertaining us.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday KHA, having just celebrated my 50th in Greece, the greeks say you now start counting the years down. I also share many similarities with you, but was born into it, my late Dad having first gone in the thirties and he was at all the record games.

One thing is certain, it is a way of life now. Apart from my elder brother they are the only current theme, so no turning back. One things for sure, they certainly keep your feet on the ground!

Enjoy the next 40 years.

Crowborough Addick

Dave said...

Happy Birthday KHA - keep on blogging! Dave.

Wyn Grant said...

Happy birthday

Wyn Grant said...

Happy birthday

Wyn Grant said...

Happy birthday

Marco. said...

Not long to go now....... Start waving goodbye to your 30's!
Happy Birthday tomorrow & enjoy your day.