Sunday, 15 April 2012

Jubilation for Charlton as Hat-trick of Brunton Park Promotions sealed

The whole week was one where the prospect of clinching promotion at Carlisle crossed all of our minds. Could we do it for the third time at Brunton Park? There was a chance, but one few dared dream of as the game approached. It required a Charlton victory and Sheffield Wednesday to drop points at Colchester to confirm a return to the Championship. By the end of the afternoon, those dreams had become a wonderful reality.

I'll cut to the chase, and avoid talking through the long journey north. All I'll say on that matter is the Lake District provided excellent scenery, as opposed to the other rather gloomy towns we passed on the way up. Brunton Park reminded me of the Memorial Stadium, where Bristol Rovers play, in that it was a mix of standing and seated areas that didn't quite fit together properly. 930 Charlton fans made the trip, and were in good voice, ably assisted by the drum at the back of the stand. When kick-off arrived, the extended wait for the game was over.

The first half performance was a nervy one. A scramble in the Carlisle box allowed N'Guessan a clear shot at goal, but he blasted the ball wildly over the bar. As it was at the far end, it was hard to figure whether a free-kick had been given or not, but it was a great chance that went begging. Carlisle were the better side for most of the half, keeping hold of the ball well and using it effectively. They also created more chances, including one shot that flashed past the far post. The Addicks' haste was shown by numerous long balls hit forward unsuccessfully. The odd chance here and there, but no reward for either side. Half time arrived, and news from elsewhere was great. Neither Sheffield team was winning. It was almost the perfect situation, but just needed a Charlton goal...

The second half started with much of the same. Again Carlisle looked threatening, keeping the ball and playing incisive passes forward. They were almost rewarded with a goal, though the post came to our rescue. Then from 60 minutes Charlton started to dominate. Pressure was applied. A glorious one-on-one chance was spurned by Wright-Phillips, and a string of corners were dealt with by the defence, with one bullet header from Kermorgant expertly pushed over the bar from goalkeeper Collin, who had an excellent game. Powell swapped N'Guessan for Wagstaff, a sensible move given that the loanee often was lost in the formation and Waggy would be more comfortable in the wide role.

The ball finds the back of the net. Cue jubilant scenes.
Image © Jon Laysell 2012 
On 76 minutes, another Johnnie Jackson corner, taken right in front of the travelling support, floated over to the back post, where Stephens nodded it towards goal. Wright-Phillips got a touch on it, and the ball gloriously crossed the line and hit the back of the net. We went mental. The players flooded over to us, Wright-Phillips fired up, Jackson and Wagstaff hugging him to bits. He jumped into the crowd, was mobbed by fans. Pritchard joined in, and was loving it. Other players came over. And still we were going mental. It was a joyous moment. The pressure Carlisle had resisted and the situation elsewhere meant that when the moment finally arrived it was something special. By no means the greatest goal that's ever been scored, but in terms of meaning, you'll have to go far to find one bigger than that.

Powell quickly moved to secure the lead. With 5 minutes to go the goalscorer was replaced by Matt Taylor. We invited the pressure, and managed to deal with it. Four minutes were added. The crowd was signing the repertoire of songs magnificently. Two minutes in, with the defence holding out, news of a goal filtered through. It appeared Wednesday had won it. Silence almost descended in the away section. They couldn't have ruined it now. Thankfully, the goal was disallowed, and once again everyone started dreaming. The perfect situation for all those that had travelled. A free-kick won by Kermorgant just outside the Carlisle box - no intention of going for goal. A throw in was won, and the ref blew for full time. Victory was secured.

A pitch invasion ensued, with a number of fans running over to congratulate the heroic players that had made promotion possible this season. For two minutes, we cheered and applauded, waiting the news from Colchester. And then, the final score came through. 1-1. There was an explosion of noise, and outpouring of joy. The dream had become a reality. Another surge of fans graced the Brunton Park turf. For one it was too much, as he knelt by the penalty spot and kissed the turf. Pritchard, Hamer, Kermorgant and Wagstaff all came over amid the invasion, cheering and celebrating with the jubilant fans. Nobody knew what to do, but nobody cared. All the players were embraced, including Yann who was mobbed by many and kissed by some. Pritchard managed to find the drummer, and orchestrated a chant. There was utter joy everywhere.

The players were called off. Graciously they were applauded by the home fans, showing great appreciation despite having just experienced defeat. Stewards attempted to inform the away support that the pitch invasion meant the players would not re-emerge. As you can imagine, this was not accepted by us. Nobody left. The songs kept coming, "We want Chrissy Powell" among them. The stewards pressed the invaders back into the stand, and a cordon of police enabled the promoted Charlton Athletic squad to emerge. They sprinted over and slid towards the fans. Then a wonderful moment of togetherness as the players bounced Chris Powell in the air. Celebrations and hugs galore. The team gathered for a photo. Still we celebrated. The same man that knelt before the goal was in tears, and hugged a steward for a good 30 seconds. Chants continued to reverberate about the rickety old ground. As the players finally returned to the dressing room, Powell walked towards the fans, holding aloft the "We Are Going Up" flag. He was overcome with emotion. The club that means so much to us also means so much to him. The sense of achievement was enormous. Calling him a club legend would not do him justice. even as the last players disappeared down the tunnel, Powell was interviewed. He had a congratulatory hug with Alex Dyer and Damian Matthew before taking a moment to let the whole thing sink in. He wandered the turf, occasionally brushing away tears. The fans cheered. He waved back. Not only our dreams, but his own dream, had become a reality. He had led Charlton Athletic to promotion.

Years of pain have been endured. For those there yesterday, it almost seemed worth it. The journey has just begun. Chris Powell has led this club from the wilderness, and for that alone, we love him to bits.


  1. I enjoyed your report of a momentous day. UP the addicks!

  2. An enjoyable read. UP the addicks!

  3. Really enjoyed reading this. Great report. What a day?!?!

  4. Great report, great day, makes you proud to be an Addick
    Bring on the palarse

  5. Love the report - I have goosebumps looking at the photos and yet I'm in Australia on the other side of the world. That is what this club does to you I guess. COYR.........

  6. Great report. Brought the day alive for those who could not be there. Brought the tears to my eyes too.

  7. I was looking for a more in-depth report on Saturday's game and this is the only blog that does it justice. Thank you for this article of what sounds a fantastic day. It made a grown man reduce to tears. Amazing pics. I look forward to reading your comments next season.

  8. Great report. Love the final photo of Chrissy.