Tales of the Peruvian one man red army

If you are a glory-hunter following English football is fairly easy. Having never had Sky Sports in the UK I get to see more live Premier league football here in Peru than when I was in England. Alas, I support Charlton Athletic, and following League One is more of a challenge. A mixture of the BBC sports page, youtube highlights and fan blogs means that one is no longer reduced to trying to catch the score updates on BBC World Service and two week old copies of the Guardian Weekly (one traumatic memory from my childhood was listening to the wireless by a swimming pool in Campo Grande, Brazil and hearing the fateful words, Brighton Hove Albion 7 Charlton Athletic 1).

This season Charlton made it to the Playoff final against Sunderland, (a repeat 21 years later of the greatest ever playoff final in which a Clive Mendonca hat trick and Richard Rufus’s first goal in over 150 appearances led to a 4-4 draw and a penalty shootoff in which Sasa Illic, a Serbian immigrant who simply got off the train for a trial, became a folk hero).

However, the final was at 9 am on a Sunday when I was due to preach at Carabayllo, about an hour and a half from our home. Events unfold as follows:

9:00 Check team sheets.

9:15 Check score, Charlton 1-0 down due a freak own goal. Looks like it is not going to be my day.

9:35 After one more read through of my sermon check score, 1-1, hope is reborn.

9:50 check halftime score before leaving, still 1-1.

10:00-10:55 Phone doubles as a navigator and score updater. Car journey goes smoothly, match less so as few chances are created (just to be clear, Regiane did the driving)

10:56 check score, still 1-1 in injury time. Do mental arithmetic, match, especially if it goes to penalties will finish after service starts. Better to stop following the match, will have to wait until after the service to discover score.

10:58 get the following WhatsApp from my nephew:

10:59 Check BBC Sport App, Charlton have indeed won 2-1 with a goal with virtually the last kick of the match by Patrick Bauer. Almost forget to tell Regiane where to turn off for the church in my excitement, but fortunately remember in time.

11:00 Allez, Allez, Allez, the reds are going up…

11:30 Service starts, preach with a bit more of a spring in my step…

The rare sight of Charlton players with a trophy …