Football is a shared experience, and yet the feelings it creates are deeply personal. Sometimes these feelings can be explained with facts and stats; at other times they seem irrational. Arguments can be had over statistics, and whether they accurately portray what you believe to be true, but you can't argue about how an individual feels deep inside.
There used to be a time when I was completely and utterly absorbed by every aspect of Charlton Athletic. Everything mattered. I was hooked. The club drew me in, made me care, gave me something I could believe in - a common goal which we were pursuing together.
I had complete and utter faith in what Charlton were building. But then everything changed. The faith was broken; my resolve was smashed.
The result of this change was bitterness and cynicism. Watching Charlton became bereft of enjoyment. The passion that had once run deep had been stolen.
I tried to accept change, I tried to rekindle the passion which I once felt. I failed.
My crime was that I cared too much. I was so bound up in what we stood for that as soon as it was challenged and destroyed, it felt personal. I felt alienated by the decisions that had been made, and condemned for what I had stood for. People I cared for and loved had been emotionlessly discarded without warning. A lot of what had made Charlton feel so special had gone, and it had altered my frame of mind irreversibly.
I didn't take it well, and I still haven't recovered.
My enthusiasm for football hasn't disappeared, but my ability to feel consumed by it has disappeared. Watching football at the Valley now leaves me feeling detached. I don't feel a part of it anymore. No matter how hard I try, I can't change that.
I'm still a Charlton supporter; I'm still attending games. But that personal vision of what Charlton is and what it stands for is no longer what I see out on the pitch. My crime is that I don't share the ideology of those in charge these days. The Charlton I cared for appears to me to have been lost.
Most will be able to read between these lines and understand what I'm referring to. This isn't an invitation to criticise why I feel the way I do, but equally not an attack questioning why people feel the way they do about the current state of affairs. Football is a personal experience - each to their own.
I have lots of questions, lots of criticisms, and lots of bitterness. I no longer feel that they are welcome. People have moved on, but I haven't. What I believe in and what I stood for belongs in a history book, already consigned to a shelf to gather dust. So be it.
It feels right, therefore, to retire this blog. It is a part of that history book - the time that I was consumed by Charlton Athletic. Who knows, that time might come again. But presently it seems a long, long way away.
Thank you to everyone who has read what I've had to say over the years. Maybe one day you'll read my thoughts again.
Don't let anyone tell you how you should feel about football. View the facts, stick to your principles, and feel the emotions for yourself.