As the rain and wind went horizontal, the first part of clothing to give up on providing any water protection was my trousers. My shins became cold and wet, quickly followed by the rest of my legs. The coat initially remained resolute against the onslaught, but then I started to feel dampness in the pockets and round my wrists. I could no longer see, as the driving rain had rendered my glasses more of a hinderance than a help. In the end I took them off, and scanned the field in front of me.
After what seemed like a cold and increasingly wet eternity, there he was. A slight, blonde haired lad of 12, running for his county for the very first time, and wearing only a vest and shorts against the elements came into view, the county name of Surrey emblazoned in black against the yellow vest. His finishing position wasn't great, but then again the majority of boys running were a year older than himself.
As we attempted to get dry afterwards, before getting into the car for the near 300 mile return journey home from Staffordshire, he quietly asked, "How are we doing at Yeovil?" Had it not been for the call up to run for Surrey, the Roon and I had marked Yeovil in the calendar as our one away trip of the season. "Well" I replied, "they can't have had weather as miserable as this".
Well I got that wrong didn't I? What is it about sport that makes normally sane people do this sort of stuff? Major respect to the travelling Charlton faithful that made the long trip down to the West Country, as all the reports I have seen tell me that my discomfort in a muddy field in Staffordshire was being shared in equal measure at Huish Park. As Roon and I made our way down the M6 in silence, the news came through on Five Live that Sodje had been sent off, and then that Yeovil were 1-0 up at half time. Spirits rose on news that Sodje Jnr. had equalised, and reading the reports later, we were unlucky not to have come away with all three points. Two points dropped rather than one gained seemed to be a common take on things, but satisfaction nevertheless that the team had fought well in appalling conditions.
Much like the Roon, Charlton fought the elements well yesterday, so who cares that I had driven 600 miles to see a race that lasted for 17 minutes, it was worth it. I get the feeling 1,500 Charlton fans will know exactly what I mean.