We were delighted to be able to welcome CAFC Head of Matchday Operations Mick Everett as guest speaker at our AGM on Wednesday. Mick generously offered us the benefit of his twenty five years’ experience at the club through a series of informative, entertaining and potentially explosive anecdotes, all delivered in his unique and inimitable style.
You had to be there to appreciate it to the full and we are not going to try to reproduce the experience here (impossible!) Having said that, here are a few of the issues he covered:
He explained his "retirement". The club recruited a replacement for him but had to wait for over four months for her to start. Mick was very impressed by her but, after three weeks, she decided that it was not the job for her and she left. The club asked Mick if he would carry on and, being Mick, he agreed. He said that he wasn't aware that currently "any great strides were being made to seek another replacement". He is now doing more hours than before he "retired".
One advantage, he noted, of being an "old sage" was that he was largely trusted "to get on and do my own thing" these days. "I get away with quite a lot - at least until I cock it up."
He talked about some of the stand up rows he had with Roland and Katrien when they came up with "wacky" ideas. He often found himself as the lone dissenting voice within the club which eventually led him to being kicked off the senior management team and to Katrien ignoring him. He couldn't explain the extraordinary attack of amnesia that came over him when he was asked to identify fans from photographs taken at a protest in Belgium. A lot of them looked vaguely familiar but for some reason their names just escaped him.
During the CARD days his heart was often with the protesters but his job was to protect the interests of the club. His primary role was to ensure everyone's safety, which he did very effectively.
His favourite seasons were 2011/12 when sometimes "we looked bloody awful but I knew we'd win" and, of course 1997/98 with the run to Wembley. He particularly relished the May 1987 play off game with Leeds at St Andrews. After the dramatic victory most Charlton fans were mindful of the nearby presence of 14,000 disappointed Leeds fans and elected to make a swift and strategic departure. Mick, to the consternation of the friends he had travelled with, was keen to stay on the terrace "to savour our moment of triumph". Later, in a traffic jam fifty miles south of Birmingham, they found themselves next to a coach full of London-based Leeds fans. Mick delighted in giving them a friendly smile and wave.
His worst season was the lockdown relegation in 2020, which was hard to take. He had never given Brentford much thought before that but, after the late goal they conceded to Barnsley, he has disliked them ever since.
He doesn't have as much contact with players as he used to have but he has of course met many over the years. Through a series of stories he explained to us why he prefers people like Matt Holland, Chris Powell and Hermann Hreidarsson to those like Alan Pardew and Danny Murphy.
He explained that it was on safety grounds that he had advised the Doncaster play-off referee that the penalty shoot out should be at The Covered End. The referee had initially been reluctant to comply but Mick had explained the likelihood of Charlton fans coming on the pitch if Charlton won and the difficulty of getting the referee and assistants safely off the pitch if they were at the other end. The referee had later apologised. Although Mick was pleased to have helped the team in this way he modestly pointed out that he had made the same argument for the Swindon penalties which hadn't worked out quite so well.
On the infamous Southall eviction night Mick had been asked to come to The Valley to serve on Southall a notice prepared by Chris Farnell. He brought a couple of faithful security colleagues with him, just in case. To cut a long story short the conversations became increasingly heated and Mick was amazed, when informed later of what he had said, how pumped up he had evidently become. Eventually, Southall demanded the police be called but, to his consternation, when they arrived they all knew Mick, greeted him warmly and asked him what he wanted. When a senior officer arrived from Lewisham under flashing blue light the same thing happened. Finally, Southall left the building but not before informing Mick he was sacked. When the senior officer told him that, if Mick was sacked, the forthcoming game with QPR would have to be postponed Southall was forced to reinstate him. Mick, as Safety Officer, was particularly solicitous that Southall made it down the stairs without stumbling............
Mick said that, when fans occupied the board room after the £1 protest, he offered to come up to The Valley to persuade them to leave. He was confident that they would have agreed to leave, as he knew them all. However, his assistance was over ruled and eventually the fans left of their own accord.
He said that he had faced disciplinary action under all the various club regimes over the years because he speaks his mind and "because I put the club first". He remembered a well-known previous Chelsea owner arriving with a retinue of burly security men who proceeded to block Mick's way through the corridors of his own club. He ordered them all out into the car park and a formal complaint followed. On another occasion he objected to a senior staff member taking a day off the day before a game and telling Mick "we're not all like you". Some choice language followed. As Mick put it: "my biggest Achilles heel was always my love for my football club".
He pointed out that he doesn't get to see Charlton actually play much as his job is to watch the crowd. He told us about some away games he has been to where he is usually recognised and where a space often opens up around him because people assume he is on a trouble spotting mission. He commented that we do have some "embarrassing" fans.
Finally Mick took us through the risk assessment process which will be needed to decide on how much of the stadium will be open for the forthcoming Brighton game and who will have access to which stands. He got us to look at it from a fans’ point of view and then from a safety and revenue point of view. It was clear that it is a complex process without a solution that will please everyone. Mick said that a date for the game had still to be agreed and that the price of tickets would be a crucial factor in how the crowd would be managed.
Throughout the evening Mick was very open to all the questions that were thrown at him and his frank, relaxed and entertaining delivery was much appreciated by all present. Many suggested that he should write a book but he said that some of the things he had seen were so "far-fetched" that no-one would believe them!
Some comments we received after the meeting:
"Mick you are a top man and a terrific storyteller, laughed out loud several times, shocked face several times #cafc legend."
"CAST, thank you for a brilliant evening and hearing all of Mick's fabulous stories. Shame it had to end.”
Once again we extend our heartfelt thanks to Mick for agreeing to join us and for being such an entertaining and informative guest. That senior staff member he mentioned told him: "We're not all like you.”
We say, "more's the pity".
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