During the Huddersfield game, a group of friends and former colleagues gathered in an AbuDhabi watering hole to celebrate the life of Charlie Whebell just as his lifelong passion, West Ham United, registered a first league win of the season, 2-0 at home.
At the 64th minute, the cheering and applause for Charlie and his 64 years might have reached the Olympic Stadium all the way from the Blu Sky bar of the Southern Sun Hotel. Charlie, who should have been settling happily into the retirement to which he had looked forward so eagerly, had returned to the UK for treatment and fully intended to be at the game. He would have been cheering the goals from Pedro Obiang and André Ayew as loudly as his friends were cheering him eight minutes before the first of them hit the back of the net.
As Charlie was preparing to leave The National, the Abu Dhabi newspaper for which we worked together until my return to Europe, he received devastating news from a consultant about the results of a scan. When he knew time was short, but having no idea just how short, Charlie started to write a blog which, adopting the estimate he had been given, he called Fifteen Months.
There is plenty of sadness in the postings but also a great deal of wit and eloquent reminiscence amid the grim medical details. There is no trace of self-pity. Charlie was a proper football supporter, who passionately followed what is at heart as proper a football club as ours. He didn’t get his 15 months; he deserves to be remembered.