I’m 55 now and there are still lots of things I’d like to do before I die , – see the Northern Lights from a Norwegian Fiord, look down on Rio from Sugarloaf Mountain, bathe in the Icelandic hot springs, indeed the list is lengthy.
Being honest I’d never considered being Kettled at Crystal Palace away as one of those. I had parked my car less than half a mile away , courtesy of parkmycarinsomeoneelsesdriveanewbusinessinventedsincetheinternet.com ( £10) , only to emerge from the game faced with a ‘mobile’ steel cordon blocking the road to keep the Charlton fans from maiming the Nigels post match. I explained to the constables my predicament that at my age and kindly disposition , I could hardly represent a threat to anyone , even a Nigel and that my warm car was sitting only 500 yards away through the steel cordon. All to no avail , I was to be kettled with the hordes . At one point , because I was near the front of the crowd , I fancy I got my face on the Police camera surveillance team – I was hardly looking my best, if only I’d brought a comb .
I’m no expert on crowd control and being middle aged, middle class and white , I am a generally a big fan of our police , but yesterday did make me think that the senior plod don’t really know what they are doing . It is a tactic almost entirely designed to frustrate , annoy and enrage . After 15 or 20 minutes or so of being cooped up like this , the surge started to come from behind and before you know it the police line started to wobble and then broke and then there were bobbies and Charlton fans rolling around in gardens along the street.
I saw quite a few sensible middle aged fans , some with their kids in tow, arguing with the police and getting very red faced indeed.
Although , I sensibly hung back and obviously did not participate in any unseemly shenanigans , when the police cordon broke it was quite difficult not to hark back to my recent trip to the cinema to see Les Miserables and fancy that maybe this was a heroic charge from the barricades that we were all engaged upon. I was very tempted to join in and start singing the hit songs from the show at the same time.
I think the policing post match yesterday was downright silly and just inflamed the situation . Anyway, as I continued to berate the nearest constable to me in a thoroughly decent and irritating way, he was watching his colleagues flailing about on the floor nearby, he finally decided he’d had enough of my moaning and he let me sneak through the big metal door to the steel cordon with a disabled fan , whose wheelchair I helped to carry.
Anyway, I don’t suppose we will get a series from Michael Portillo on ‘Great Kettlings I have been caught in’ , but to be honest , it was quite fun .
Finally I wanted to mention yesterdays chanting . When I was a spotty teenager , tearing round the country from Plymouth to Carlisle , drinking huge amounts of beer supporting CAFC and narrowly avoiding fisticuffs wherever possible – we used to sing songs like ‘ We hate Benny Fenton and the Millwall Den , we took on united and we beat up the kop , because we are the Charltom Aggro’ Now believe it or not and I guess most of the opposition fans sensibly didn’t , it was at least mildly inventive and descriptive of our supposed prowess .
I’m really not sure why and how one of the principal chants at away games became ‘ you take it up the ar*e’ , sung in a lilting and haunting ballad format.
i really can’t work out who this is directed at ? Is it the away team players , the referee and his assistants or the opposition fans – indeed perhaps its all of them in a kind of conspiracy of potential sexual deviancy aimed at us normal Charlton fans. Anyway, I’m baffled.
I guess when I was 15 or 16 , I probably wouldn’t have really known that those sorts of things went on , apparently now ( or at least according to about 2,000 Charlton fans) the practise is particularly widespread in the Selhurst area. – Who’d have thought it ? , I blame the internet.