There is part of me that feels the need to complain about the cheap tickets when I have paid for a season ticket, and there is part of me that finds it aggravating when I end up sitting next to someone that annoys me in some way when I know they are only there as it's cheap.
However, there is, absolutely nothing like a full house (or close to it) at The Valley and it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up with the sound and the colour of a full stadium.
I also like the idea that many children are there for a rare treat or their first ever visit - to the Valley or a football ground. A full Valley is, in my opinion, as good an atmosphere as almost any other ground in the country and if children can't get excited about what they'll witness on Saturday then maybe football is not for them - at least not yet, anyway.
Since I last got off my backside and wrote something on here there has been a lot to talk about. We have settled (I think and hope) into am established level of performance and results. Two years ago we were a little unknown in this division and, to most of us, the division was a little unknown too. Now I am much more confident of what the division has to offer and, indeed, how able we are to cope with it.
Parkinson's first season for us in the third division it took a few months for the other sides to know how to cope/deal with us. Shelvey was outstanding, yet underrated. his form dipped a little and the results dried up. There were a few outstanding players (at this level) in our squad that season, but our midfield was our real (and probably only) strength. Certainly once Youga disappeared with injury, and Richardson started falling in and out of the side (also due to injury) we were never the same. We managed some notable performances and results against the top sides, but the autumn start was never recaptured and proved to be a false dawn.
Last season Parkinson has much, much fewer resources at his disposal, and he managed to keep us in the hunt for a few months, but I suspect that the fall down the table was always coming irrespective as to who was managing the side. After the initial run under Powell we looked more and more like a poor side that had benefited from a purple patch at just the right time in the run up to Christmas.
This season we look like a side, with a little cover in key areas, that is winning the games that it deserves to. This is always a good sign. It's ok, and sometimes more enjoyable, to win games against the run of play, but results without performances, like luck, run out in the end. I've always said that I'd rather have a lucky manager (and goalkeeper, for that manager) but if you have the choice it is better to have a good one.
Form is temporary but class is permanent is a nice way of saying that a rubbish team can only get away with it for a while.
So I am quietly confident that we have what it takes to win a significant proportion of our games this season and with a bit of luck (some of the other sides close to us have to have a bad run at some point) that should be enough to take us up - hopefully without the need for the playoffs.
All this leads me on nicely to our recent results and, more importantly this Saturday's clash. I don't want to take anything away from the squad, but the results haven't impressed me massively so far. Don't get me wrong I am more than happy with where we are, and the performances have been great - especially coming from behind at Bury and losing a two goal lead but still winning at Rochdale, but I believe that the squad is good enough to expect these results.
I'm not raising expectations for the sake of it, I just believe that we are good enough to expect these results, and we are getting them. There will, no doubt, be a period when our form tales a dip, and I was by no means certain we would be where we are at the start of the season, but I've seen enough to be convinced.
With this in mind I fully expect (and I mean predict not demand) a comfortable win on Saturday. Sure Chesterfield have had a few decent results in the last couple of weeks, but I fully expect us to be too good for them. I also think that the new squad will be lifted by the atmosphere at The Valley on Saturday, rather than be in fear of it, which is what seemed to happen last time.
Assuming we get an early goal it could well be a party atmosphere for two hours. Last year my Dad was away for the Exeter game so this will be his first big crowd since we lost to Swindon in the playoffs semi-final in May 2009, and the atmosphere that night was filled with the kind of tension that I don't expect to feel on Saturday.
I have been looking forward to games much more this season that I was last season, especially towards the end, but I'm really quite excited about this one.
I predict a 3-0 win.
Up the Addicks!