Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Road To......Where?

I set my alarm at 5.50am every morning in order to beat the traffic in to London. I like getting up early; I find the early morning solitude a good time to think - my phone never rings that early and I’m under no pressure to respond to emails. Today my alarm was not required because at 5.15am I was wide awake, staring up at the ceiling in the half-light of morning, thinking of Charlton Athletic V’s Colchester United. I can’t help but worry that Colchester United have become a bit of a bogey side for us. The importance and magnitude of the game means I face one of those days where I struggle to focus. Worst still, even if victorious tonight, I face numerous more days like this before the seasons end.

I have always found the best way to level-out my mind state is to run. So, at the time I’d normally be rising from my bed and heading downstairs to fire up the kettle and feed the cat, I was pounding the streets like Forest Gump, unusually, without my MP3 player offering a welcome distraction. Today, I need total focus! As always, I pass the very graveyard my dear old Granddad rests within and as always I look up at the sky and say a few words. Today, I asked him for a bit of luck tonight. He’s not an Addick, he spent his whole life following his local non-league team, but he may know people up there who can pull some strings. Coincidentally, I recalled a time in the early 80’s, when I’d have been 8 or 9, when we were watching our local side play an FA Cup 1st round game V’s tonight’s opposition, Colchester United, when a scuffle broke out in front of us. My Granddad stood in front of me (with my Dad in front of him) in what felt like an impenetrable protective barrier. I’ll never forget that brief moment in my life. I joked with my Granddad as I passed the graveyard that I’d give anything to feel the same feeling tonight regarding our back 4!

The chaps I work with know this mood only too well, and unless I speak, they leave me alone. I’m running a construction site in the shadows of Upton Park, deep in West Ham territory, where, despite this, the on-site support is split 50-50 Arsenal and Spurs. One things for sure, with tomorrows North London derby approaching, they couldn’t care less about my worries! I find the juxtaposition of our respective concerns interesting.

For me, Dave has summed things up perfectly in his 'Drinking During The Game' blog (http://drinkingduringthegame.blogspot.com/2010/04/this-is-it-now.html). We are capable of victory, no question. But what Charlton side will we see tonight? In the away fixture earlier in the season, in which we suffered a hugely disappointing 3-0 lose (our first defeat of the season), we never matched Colchester physically, particularly in the air. Their two lumbering strikers ran riot and had a field day with Llera, which cost the cultured Spaniard his place in the team. Sodje will start this game and will be a better guarantee for the physical requirements. Thankfully, his form has looked far more assured of late after his horror-show V’s Bristol Rovers. Shelvey was totally nullified by a workman-like Colchester midfield. I think we’ll see the 5 man midfield deployed once again. I’d prefer that not to be the case, especially at home, but with Racon and Semedo unmovable in the centre of the midfield, Parkinson will want to find somewhere for Bailey (and so, I guess, he should).

I’ve read from various sources that we were unlucky not to grab a point on Saturday. That may prove costly, but as difficult a task as it clearly is, I think two wins from the next two home games will put us in a very decent position. Those obstacles need to be overcome, but once again, we ARE capable. You can if you think you can!

I predict a long day ahead, an ever-present nervy and twisted feeling in my belly, texts floating back and forth between me and my Addick-converted Mum, but despite this tension, I can see a 2-1 victory.

I wonder if my Granddad has had a word with Him upstairs yet?

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