It was something of a bitter-sweet afternoon for Charlton fans on Sunday (March 14) when the Sky cameras came calling for the clash with Middlesbrough.
Protesters had laid on elaborate fare to press home their case that the current regime – under Belgian owner Roland Duchatelet – was killing the club.
There were beach balls on the pitch to delay the start, a pitch invasion, referees whistles from the crowd, a planned walk-out after 74 minutes, more vocal protests in the car park and a funeral procession with a coffin containing, said the protesters, the soul of the club.
While all this caught the attention of the thousands watching at home, their case was somewhat undermined by two unexpected events, one linked to the other.
Firstly, Charlton won. Against a team vying for automatic promotion. Those who left the ground at 74 minutes – marking 74 goals the team had conceded this season – missed Callum Harriott’s 80th minute goal that built on the advantage built on Jorge Teixeira’s header in the 57th.
The win means seven points from three games. Not exactly the hapless display that, perhaps, some protesters were hoping for.
Secondly, Middlesbrough had their own headline-stealing dressing room woes although not as long-lived as Charlton’s. The Teesside club remain in limbo after head coach Aitor Karanka decided to mull over his future elsewhere, leaving assistant Steve Agnew in charge on the touchline.
This followed a stormy meeting with players on Friday, for which the Spaniard apologised. There will be conciliatory meetings planned for this week, according to reports.
All of which meant that, in the early spring sunshine, the protests by Charlton appeared to have more of a carnival atmosphere.
Even forlorn Charlton head coach Jose Riga was more upbeat than in recent weeks. He said: “It’s not only about the results, it’s the way we got this result.
“All the sectors of the team, the defence, midfield, goalkeeper and strikers did a great job, and we need it against a team like Middlesbrough.
“It’s never easy for players in that atmosphere, but it’s the same for the staff and the players – just be focused on our job.”
After the embarrassing and very public disruptions, Charlton released a statement: “The club is extremely saddened by the situation which has led to supporters demonstrating ahead of, and during, the match against Middlesbrough.
“Every supporter has the right to voice their opinion and we are determined to do everything we can to work together with supporters to build our relationship with them and make sure they remain at the heart of this club.
“We would like to thank supporters for getting behind the team today as we picked up a valuable three points in our fight to stay in the Championship.”
Follow The Wharf on Twitter @the_wharf .
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook .