I recall the night I watched Ricky Hatton lose his unbeaten record to Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Michael Buffer introduced Sir Tom Jones to sing the national anthem with the line “There are greats, and there are legends”.
These words returned to me on Friday when I had the pleasure of attending and doing the auction at Charlie Oatway’s testimonial lunch at the Brighton Metropole.
To be an Albion legend, you don’t have to necessarily be a great player, and that’s not doing Chas a disservice. While some of his detractors would say he was limited, in my opinion and that of many Albion bosses, he was one of the first names on the team sheet.
He typifies everything that is good about football and sport in general. Yes, he has had his red mist moments, I can recall a game at Darlington when he was sent off for biting an opponent. Passion or hunger, you decide? Clearly the ref did.
But strip everything away and you get a loyal team-mate on the field, a true friend off of it, and someone who deserves everything they get in their testimonial year.
Such is the measure of the man that his benefit year will see half of the money going to football-based charity “Albion in the Community” which promotes the beautiful game in places where it might not have necessarily been before.
From the first time I met him in July, 1999, I’ve been lucky enough to count him as a friend. None more so than when I had my own problems on the radio four years ago.
I made a serious mistake, but I was overwhelmed by the support I received from people who really showed their true colours to me when the chips were down. One of the first calls was from Charlie and it wasn’t just one, it was constant. At a time when I knew he had other issues in his life, that’s something I won’t forget and is why I hope his benefit surpasses all others, because it truly is deserved.
One thing Chas, though, don’t ever become manager of Crystal Palace, some things just cant be forgiven . . .
The morning after the night before and sadly Worthing under-18s FA Youth Cup journey is over for another year.
Tuesday night’s 4-2 defeat at Carshalton was a bitter pill to swallow, given the home team’s goal times of two, five, 87 and 90 minutes. And the fact that even their manager conceded that we were the better side for 80 minutes.