Lee Bowyer - the man who has turned our club around in the most remarkable cricumstances.
Wow ! Just wow ! Where do you begin to describe the events of not just yesterday but our entire season ?
Since there's probably enought time to cover the season how about I try just yesterday instead !
Just as I was beginning to come to terms with the drama of '98 up pop The Addicks with another Wembley classic that does little for the stress levels.
Typical Charlton is an oft used phrase but it is so apt for our club. Things are never done the easy way and they put us through the ringer but we wouldn't have it any other way.
Charlton give you lows that are very low and highs that are very high !
In terms of the pre and post match events we managed to find a decent pub and the food and drink was very toothsome especially after the win ! Departing from Milton Keynes we encountered several Sunderland fans and didn't encounter any Charlton fans until we reached Wembley itself.
Our party had hoped to meet up with various friends and relatives but due to sitting in different parts and the sheer numbers around this largely didn't happen. No matter, it didn't spoil the day of course.
We were fortunate enough to have good seats just 10 rows from the front and near the halfway line where we like to be. Inside the stadium the atmosphere was unbelievable and I was struggling to recall if it was as good back in '98.
To see so many Addicks inside the gorund was breathtaking. I don't mind confessing to be quite emotional on the walk up to the ground and once inside. Can't really put my finger on it other than a mixture of emotions - remembering family, pride in our club and the sheer joy and astonishment of what our club has done this season.
We had the worst possible start and I'm so glad for Phillips that it didn't prove costly it the end. Since Steer's departure he has been such a rock and won us many points so it would have been if his one error had proved fatal to our promotion plans.
All you can say is that he simply took his eye off the ball. Sadly for keepers if they make mistakes it usually ends in a goal.
However, once we withstood a little pressure from Sunderland for about 5 to 10 minutes ( that included a wonderful save from Phillips ) we started to grow into the game. If there's any justice then we go into halftime at least level and so it proved.
A wonderfully worked goal saw Purrington score his first goal for the club thus maintaining a trend of debut goals being scored at Wembley started by Richard Rufus.
I felt we edged the fist half without creating too many clear cut chances other than Taylor's well struck effort that went just wide of the top left hand corner.
The corner count must have been massivley in our favour at that stage. I thought we played the better football and can't recall Phillips having any other saves to make.
The second half saw Pearce replace Sarr and it proved to be a good move. Sarr was on a yellow which despite the ref's reluctance to flash cards could have been a risk.
As the half wore on there was little of note and few chances for either side. We continued to waste the opportunites afforded by set pieces. I would like to have seen a bit more variety and better delivery but hey, it's probably not worth thinking about now !
Pratley had a good game and I was a bit concerned when he went off but Williams came on gave us a real shot in the arm and immediately we started to carry a greater attacking threat.
The game was deep into the 4 minutes of time added on when up popped the BFG, the man himself, Bauer, eventually got the ball into the back of the net ! Nothing better than scoring a late winner and it was a wonderful bit of symmetry to the first game of the season against the same opponents except that this late goal mattered more !
I don't think I've known a reaction like it to a Charlton goal. Personally I could hardly control myself cheering and jumping around and hugging my two lads ( 27 and 30 btw ! ). I don't know how I was able to speak after all the screaming and shouting.
The final whistle followed almost imiediately with Sunderland having no time to reply. There you go and the Addicks were back in the second tier ! What a game ! What a season !
The whole squad and coaching staff are heroes. Lee Bowyer, the staff and players have achieved the most incredible promotion against all the odds. There's too much to list almost........no real backing from the owner, lakc of new contracts and thus security, Grant sold with no direct replacement, an enormous injury list etc. etc.
All that aside pride and a real connect between the fans and the players and management has been restored.
We are a special club and our history is littered with set backs, triumphs & tribulations almost like no other. It has a special place in our hearts and we have a unique bond with it.
The club really gets you and that's further evidenced by the former players there yesterday. In addition, how good was it to see Curbs at the end.
One has to feel for the Sunderland fans who once again suffer the heartbreak of a Wembley defeat and again accepted with good grace.
We have to enjoy the moment and leave the wonder of what happens next with the club's future to another day.
What an finish to an amazing season ! We won't forget this in a hurry !
Come On You Reds !