Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Riots and Football do not mix

The best laid plans of mice and men
often go awry

A poetic introduction seems civilised. The actions of many this week do not.

The 'best laid plan' was to follow up my debut post, written having watched the game on TV, with a report on the Charlton vs Reading Carling Cup match on Tuesday evening. It would have helped me shape how I write this blog in future, as the whole match day experience would require a different style of writing.

I was eager for the game. An exciting chance to see the new Charlton play competitively for the first time. I really thought that our side would be able to challenge a Reading team one league above (we still can, when the game finally takes place in two weeks time). But events outside of football on Monday were beginning to overshadow sport, and shaking the very foundations of our society.

Smoke from the furniture store blaze, seen from home
I will not dwell on the subject. Everyone has their opinions as to how things should have been dealt with, and everyone (with a brain) will rightly agree that this rioting was unjustifiable and disgraceful. Monday evening was when the situation became very real for me. It is one thing to see events unfolding on a TV screen, but to actually hear, see, smell and feel the problem close to home made things very unpleasant. As my house is on a hill, we can see across to Crystal Palace, with Croydon situated round to the left. When images of the burning sofa store appeared on TV, a glance out of the window certified things had become very real. The smoke from the blaze could clearly be seen, and smelt. Not only did this instil a sense of fear, but Bromley, to the East, was also under threat. It was an awful new experience, being surrounded by such despicable vandalism.

I appreciate that many hundreds, thousands, of people experienced these events much more close at hand. But the point is that the entire south London area no longer felt safe. To reduce police presence on the street (and the 16,000 last night were magnificent) in order to stage football in the capital would have been suicidal. So rightly, the games were off.

The riots put sport into perspective. It seems insignificant. But it provides people with solace , a place they can escape everyday life and enjoy. Reading FourFourTwo magazine earlier, Terry Venables was making the point that football has a great role in taking people's minds away from their financial position, housing problems. It is an escape. It is therefore not as insignificant as many would think.

And so here is where I try and move on from those problems, and refocus on my football. The violence denied me an opportunity to watch a good game of football. Damn. Unable to watch on Saturdays (and Sundays) thanks to my role in a Club Cricket team, I must resort to sporadic and hastily cobbled together reports of televised matches, whoever the participants.

Jason Euell playing in a recent pre-season friendly whilst on trial
The good news of today, not just that the admirable police services (as well as groups of football fans!) did a superb job of defending London's streets last night, but that Charlton have signed Jason Euell on a one year deal. This excellent news means that our squad now looks even stronger than before, bolstered by 16 men who, this time, actually look like they want to be here. What a long time since I've been able to think that... He seems genuinely happy to be back, which is lovely. Hopefully he plays against Reading.

So there we are. My best laid plans went, slightly, awry, thanks to some youths who didn't feel like ascertaining some new trainers in the usual manner. Hopefully the end of these problems is nigh, and that the rebels can get out of the way of what is shaping up to be an excellent football season. If last night's Carling Cup results are anything to go by, this should be a good one.

Thank you for reading. I hope my attempt at a thoughtful blog was adequate. I did my best!

No comments:

Post a Comment