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NEW ARTICLE: Report on Charlton Lifers visit to the boardroom at Barnsley

Some of you may not know, but me and my son David won an auction on Charlton life's Academy fundraising initiative for a very special package; a trip to any away game with the added benefit of a pass to the board room and a seat in the directors box.

For my sins i had to leave Dave in charge of the bidding. We thought the bidding process was exciting, but as you all know this was nothing compared to what occurred on the actual day. I am so pleased that Dave followed my instruction to the letter, as initially i put a limit for the maximum bid of £200. This limit seemed good as we lead the bidding until the final fateful day, when he pleaded it to be raised to £300 which i duly agreed to.

Suddenly in the last few minutes some of you rotten lifers decided that we were getting it cheap and we were quiet rightly out bid. Panic phone call again received from Dave, the discussion was "ok, no higher then £400". At close of play i believe we got the package for £410, shows how much notice he takes of his dad :-). To be fair, i can honestly say after the event we got it cheap, it really deserved to go for a lot more than this.

Initially we both wanted to go to Huddersfield away but because of their cup run and my work commitments, this unfortunately didn't work out so Dave's birthday is on the 15th April, the obvious game to choose would be Barnsley.

What a great decision.

Everything was totally fantastic, I left home at 8:15 picking Dave up around 8:30, traffic was non-existent going up the A1 and even the light breakfast in the Little (thieving) Chef was nice. Eventually we arrived too early at around 12:15, the man on the gate of the directors car park doffed his peak cap and pointed us to our allotted parking space along with the other Charlton directors. We sat in the car for half hour, i got bored and we then wandered over to the magical Gate 40 to collect our passes.

After duly being led to the board room, we entered with a trepidation unsure about what to expect. We shouldn't have worried as no one was there! So we wandered in, Dave all smartly suited and booted along with old Dad similarly attired. After a couple of minutes a waitress came along and coffee and tea where provided. After a few minutes Mrs Lynne Rowing (Barnsley managing directors wife) made herself known to us. What a lovely woman, a true northerner who not only could talk for England but in true northern tradition, was i think you might say 'blunt' and called a spade a spade. Some of the stories she told us about how tight her husband was and her feelings about Marlon Harwood where not only extremely funny but probably libelous as well. We will not be relaying any tit-bits we where told as these where spoken in confidence and not for publications on an internet forum.

Soon our club secretary Chris Parkes arrived along with his wife Sue and introduced themselves, they where obviously friendly with Lynne and her husband Don. Free drinks where offered and you could have had anything you wanted so coke for me as Dave drove up and it was my chore to drive home, Dave had a couple of lagers. We then went and had a meal with Chris on and Sue, Chris was extremely forthcoming and answered all our question and adding to these with additional information and i had the impression that he would have honestly answered any question you cared to put to him. We discussed loads of topics including our mutual love of cruising, the police action at Palace and the Millwall fiasco of which i am now utterly convinced that neither the met police or the club knew that the transport police where going to shut the railway crossing. Other topic discussed where the training ground and the recent sale of the young player to Chelsea. Whilst i feel it would be very inappropriate to put any meat on any these subjects as they where private conversations, i just wanted to highlight the openness and range of subjects discussed, we never where informed that anything was not possible to discuss.

Martin Porthero again was very approachable but he was on a different table entertaining Sue Townsend and her husband David. We also got a great insight to the Wembley play off final. We chatted so long to Chris and his lovely wife Sue, that we didn't leave the board room to 2:50. Thought i just add there was surprisingly no minute silence prior to the game, you lot in the cheap seat probably couldn't see it, put from the posh seats there was a solidity pit head just to the right of your stand, sort of sad but extremely meaningful in its own way.

I won't go into the details of the game as this has been covered by many other thread, in case you didn't realise we won 6-0, and both Martin and Chris were impressed with our arrival into the life of a director, suggesting that with our record that they might like to offer us a permanent position as honorary away directors! They both had a good laugh at that and from their expression, i don't think we will have to cancel any weekend appointments in the near future.

Just before the start of the game Chris was informed that the under 18's had won there league, this really made an impression on both Martin and Chris and i think you can say they where impressed. After the fifth goal went in i finally got the hang of not celebrating. From our position the 3rd goal was a thing of beauty want a wonderful cross and what a great leaping header, 4th well i think the keeper won't be watching the football league show. At the end of the game it was nice to see Chris Powell and his bench turn to us directors (see i knew i would eventually overstate my position) and celebrate before going over to the cheap seats.

At half time we went back to the board room, where tea and coffee (with whisky if required) was offered along with cake, chocolate, and my favourite cheese and biscuits; the stilton was extremely nice. After the game similar fare was on order and more talking went on, however not surprisingly it was a subdued atmosphere in there, my impression (but wrongly) was that Barnsley whilst disappointed at the lose of 3 points, the scoring of 6 goals was equivalent of them dropping a fourth point as it devastated their goal difference. I really hope they will survive as I would love it for Lynne and all the other great people who for those few hours made me and Dave fell like millionaires rather than the snotty nose twits we really are. The journey home was unexceptional apart from poor old Morro' being hijacked by Sue Townsend and Dave for the normal photo and autograph session, when to be far to him all he really wanted to do was get on the coach and go home.

To sum up, i think you will realise from the above we enjoyed every single moment, if this comes up for auction again then assuming you are luckily enough to be in a position to, make a bid, you won't regret it, its a fabulous day out, you are treated as an equal, you can ask any question you want on any subject and assuming they know the answer you will get a reply, although you must also in my opinion find other subjects to discuss as well. Finally I would like to thank all those involved in the auction and especially Chis Parkes for his time and input yesterday. These fundraising efforts of ours a genuinely appreciated by the club and the directors. Hopefully David will repost the photos of our day out, and i apologise if i bored you.

Thanks again
Kerry and David


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