Friday, 27 April 2012

Home & Away...

Al Gordon, from the excellent God, Charlton & Punk Rock has posted a couple of features recently about the League of Blogs from The Football Attic, who, in their own words "thought it would be a cracking idea to create an e-wallchart (tipping our hat specifically in the direction of those previously sold by Subbuteo) featuring team strips created specifically to represent football blogsites".

Al has his designs noted at numbers 7 & 8 on the chart with fellow Addick, Charlton Casual, also letting go of his creative side with a couple of kits at numbers 75 & 76. I've jumped on the bandwagon rather late...but my home & away kits have now been include at numbers 82 and 83, which I'm pretty chuffed about. Cheers Al; I had great fun with the kids colouring pencils!

My home strip (above) has been styled in part on a good, honest British real ale (fruity, amber body with a good quality head). The yellow represents a tasty cheeseboard to accompany said pint. I've gone for the more traditional collar to signify many hundreds of years of British brewing. You will note the homage to the Addicks in the club badge. I've given my man the number 3 jersey as that's the number I played in and I'm obsessive about it's magical qualities (you may have noticed)

My away kit (above) is a rather tenuous reference to my alter ego, Hungry Ted, and has been styled on a hot dog! Simple as that! The red and yellow vertical bands are tomato sauce and mustard, by the way. The red and white bands on the socks and base of the sleeves are homage to Charlton Athletic.

I was rather handy at Subbuteo when I was a lad, so I'd be pleased to go in to battle with a team wearing either of these dandy-looking kits, and furthermore, I'd win.

The wall chart can be found here.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

League One Champions!!!

Sir Chris's charges had done their bit by beating a spirited Wycombe, but just like last week, we was left waiting for results elsewhere. A nervy minute or two passed; the players congregated in the centre circle. The Valley collectively held it's breath... 

Charlton's stadium announcer, Big Dave Lockwood, could not have captured the moment any better when he simply screamed one glorious word... 'CHAMPIONS!!!'

That moment will resonate inside my head for some time to come!

The quality's not great, but here's some footage I took for those who were unable to be at The Valley today or who may want to enjoy reliving the moment...

The Final Whistle

We Are The Champions

Valley Floyd Road

Sir Chris speaks

Unbelievable day. Unbelievable season. Forever Charlton.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Returning Heroes...

Even the predicted rain will not dampen the atmosphere in SE7 tomorrow as the joyous Valley faithful turn out in numbers to show their appreciation to Chris Powell and his newly-promoted team. As if that's not enough to look forward to, there could be more! If the Addicks can gain all 3 points and Sheff United fail to win, Charlton will be crowned League One Champions! What a week it's been; but it could get even better!

With the weight of expectancy lifted now promotion is assured, I expect Charlton to play with verve and a level of freedom that should ensure Wycombe are in for a very uncomfortable afternoon. It's tough on Wycombe - a club I have no ill feeling towards - as an unfortunate sequence of results could see them relegated tomorrow. It's likely there will be contrasting emotions from both sets of fans come 5pm.

I just can't stop smiling at that image of Sir Chris with his fists clenched (top right of this site). It has already become an iconic image and will no doubt be printed on T-shirts and tea cups alike before you know it. Whatever it's on, I'll have one! I can't deny having the odd glassy-eyed moment to myself this week as I relived the events of Saturday over and over in my head. Reading other Addick's accounts of the day has been a real pleasure. I'm still blown away by it all, if I'm honest.

Never a truer adage than 'you need to experience the lows to appreciate the highs'.

I'm looking forward to any further indications as to the likely recipient of the Player of The Year award. For those who may be interested, my thoughts are here. I suspect things are pretty close for the front-runners. A surprise could yet be on the cards.   

I would imagine subscriptions to CAFC Player have gone through the roof this week as fans attempted to catch up with the footage of the monumental trip to Carlisle, which included behind the scenes post-match celebrations. I am not a subscriber myself so I remain a little frustrated and disappointed that the footage has remained entirely exclusive to CAFC Player alone. 

Of course, from a marketing and money-making venture I completely understand why the footage has remained exclusive, but I don't agree with it. If your reasons for not subscribing are cash flow, then it must be a bitter blow being isolated from the celebrations, especially if your financial constraints may also hinder you from attending matches home or away. My reasons for not signing up are nothing to do with money, and, thankfully, as a season ticket holder I can look forward to Saturday knowing I'll be there in person. In fact, it's partly because I go to games regularly that CAFC Player has never really appealed to me.

Anyway, I wouldn't wish to end on a sour point, so onwards and upwards to tomorrow. I'll be heading up-town tonight for a few beers, so for me, the promotion celebration starts then.

All together now...'The Red's Are Going Up, The Red's Are Going Up...'  

Monday, 16 April 2012

Three & Easy...

Chris Powell - Charlton Legend

Back in January 2011 I wrote this post about Chris Powell's third arrival at Charlton, this time to manage the team. In it, I tried to link my own personal favourite number with my all-time favourite Addick. I'm proud of that post and it's in the top 5 of my 'most read' since I started writing this number 3, to be exact!

It would appear the magical number 3 has struck again, with Charlton winning promotion at Brunton Park, home of Carlisle United, for the third time. A quite amazing coincidence if you was to analyse the odds of that happening, which, as I'm not clever enough, I won't do (over to you, New York Addick). Some Addicks said it was destiny that the fixture list threw up this lengthy away game at this stage of the season.

1981, 1986 and now in 2012 all saw Charlton secure promotion in this most northern of footballing towns. As someone joked on Twitter on Saturday, we've won promotion at Brunton Park more times than Carlisle have.  

Charlton have 3 games left to win the league title, and I won't be betting against it!  

Sunday, 15 April 2012

O.M.G, We've Done It...!

I'd stayed pretty calm for the first 45, even when I'd seen Colchester were in front v's Wednesday. I was even pretty reserved when BWP scored, after all, I was slap-bang in the centre of Bath, right outside the Abbey to be exact, amongst hundreds of fellow tourists and shoppers.

I could have been anywhere. I couldn't have cared. My heart was much, much further North. I'd entered that dream-like state that meant nothing around me was registering. Nothing else mattered.

I'd spent four years wishing for better fortunes for Charlton; hoping for better days. Was this the day? It certainly wasn't quite how I imagined it would be.

Those last ten minutes were total and utter agony. It reminded me so vividly of those moments just before the penalty shoot-out back in 98. Such fine lines between success and failure. 

My missus had began to give me that look midway through the 2nd half. To her credit, not a look of anger or annoyance (we were away for our 10 year wedding anniversary break, after all), but that puzzled look of someone who, by her own admission, just couldn't understand the emotion. None the less, it was a glare that still carried an element of sympathy and she knew she had lost me. Bless her, she told me to sit down whilst she smooched around a few nearby shops.

I was sat down, hunched over my phone, fidgeting like a madman. My hands were shaking so much it was an effort to keep refreshing Twitter. My heart was pounding so much I'm sure you could have heard it if you sat next to me. So close...

Those closing minutes took an absolute lifetime. I just couldn't help myself, the emotion of year's of disappointment began to to slowly lift and my eyes began to fill up. So close, but all with that agonising feeling of knowing football well enough to know how it can change in a flash.

When promotion was confirmed, I'm not in any way embarrassed to say I cried like a baby...right there in the most public place imaginable! But this time around it would be tears of sheer joy. I just can't describe how happy I was.

My Mum sent over a text that said "O.M.G, we've done it". We certainly had! Before long there was a big fat 'P' next to our name in the league table. The next few hours were a blur.

For the first time this season I stayed up to watch the Football League Show and had another tearful moment watching the team celebrate with the travelling fans and then listening to Sir Chris's emotional post-match interview. I love that man!

On to The Valley next week, and boy will it be emotional?!? I just can't wait.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

And The Winner Is...

Surprisingly, I've not seen much written about this year's Player of The Year award. New Charlton blogger Albury Addick has touched upon it here but I thought I'd add my own thoughts. There can't be many seasons past with such a level of credible contenders vying for the accolade. The clipboards were out at The Valley last Monday and the Addickted ensured pens scribbled busily ahead of the game. I wouldn't have been alone in taking a cheeky glance over the shoulders of those collating the figures, but the spread of votes made it difficult to get a real feel for a potential winner. 

It really has been an exceptional season and the commitment, focus and determination of the players has gone some way to heal the immense disappointment of recent years. Of course, we are yet to cross the finishing line, but I remain confident rather than complacent that this will happen shortly.

It looks likely that the front-runners for the award may well be defenders, with Solly (above), Wiggins and Morrison all enjoying fantastic seasons. I feel a little for Taylor at this point, as asides from loosing his place at the 11th hour to an in-form Cort recently, he has slipped under the radar to some degree with excellent but selfless performances throughout the season. Hamer can be very pleased with his contribution, too. His confident reaction when things haven't gone to plan on the odd occasion has impressed me. It's easy to forget he's still a young goalie and his best years are ahead.

In the midfield we have two stand-out contenders, in my opinion. Skipper Johnnie Jackson has once again lead by example with quality performances and chipped in with an impressive tally of goals to boot. It says a lot about Jackson's overall contribution to the team that we clearly miss him so much when he's been out of the side through injury. Hollands is an outside bet, I would guess, but has gained huge credit for performing so consistently throughout the season and offering some stability to an area sadly lacking in recent years. A word for Stephens at this point, of whom I'm a big fan. He's had a mixed season with touches of classy brilliance mixed with some games where things just never quite worked out. He could well be some player in the future, and it's very easy to forget he's only 22. And who'll forget that wonder strike v's Bury that may still prove so crucial at the end of this season?

Up top BWP has scored a credible amount of goals...but...overall contribution and spells where things haven't gone so well mean he's out the running for me. And then there's King Kermorgant (pictured above)! What more can I say than 'merveilleux'! He appears indestructible: a real battering ram of a Frenchman that would run through brick walls for Charlton but can play football as well. I love him to bits. He looks the sort of bloke you'd want as your big brother!

But despite my jingoistic plaudits for our Breton Battler, my vote went to former youth product Chris Solly, who, for me, epitomises the Charlton spirit as I want to recognise it. In this respect, Big Yann and Solly can't be separated, but I went for our ever-dependable right back purely as he's come from an uncertain position at the start of the season when few would have assumed he'd be first choice, to being hyped up as a potential full England international! Too small? Not a chance. Quick feet, quick mind and no small amount of skill, this terrier of a player does not know how to give up.

Well done to all the squad collectively. Even those on the fringes have played their part in pushing those with the shirt, showing great patience and performing well when called upon (Sullivan and Cort spring to mind). This group of players have carried my hopes and dreams forward brilliantly, under the guidance of Powell and his management team.

Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Live, Love, Laugh & Be Happy...

Sadly, I won't be amongst the travelling Addicks this weekend for the long trip to Carlisle. My wife and I have been married 10 years tomorrow and some months back I booked us an all-to-rare weekend away without the kids to celebrate our anniversary. I knew it would be risky given the way the season was gearing up, especially as a good number of Addicks had already predicted this could be the fixture to get the champagne popping. I'd give anything to be there, but this is one commitment that I wouldn't dare try and get out of. You may have worked this out already, but I'm not the most romantic chap in the world, and I've already pre-warned my missus that I may well be poor company for a couple of hours Saturday afternoon (and yes, to her credit she quipped back with the obvious). 

I never got too involved in the preparation for my wedding back in 2003. Other than very strongly insisting the DJ never played Mariah Carey or Celine Dion (much to the annoyance of said DJ), I also insisted we got married on a Friday to avoid any possibility of a clash with a Charlton home fixture. It was a good call; the day after my wedding we played Southampton at The Valley and I shrugged off the odd raised eyebrow to ensure I was in my usual seat come 3pm. I remember the game being a rather dull 1-1 draw and I actually nodded off very briefly during the second half as the events of the day before began to catch up with me. I even managed to mention Charlton in my speech when I opened with the line "you may have heard of the saying 'love me, love my football team'..." much to the merriment / groans of our guests.

In truth, I've got the best wife in the world. She's not a Charlton fan but she knows how I feel about The Addicks and has never once made any attempts to change me. I honestly admire her for that. I'm not sure she'd admit it, but I'd hazard a fair guess that she'll actually be quietly relieved herself if results go Charlton's way this weekend. Charlton's demise in recent years has been really tough to take and I don't doubt I've been very difficult to be around on more than the odd occasion. In reality, my missus deserves a change in fortune as much as I do!

So, in the words of Billy Cotton...Live, Love, Laugh & Be Happy! Fingers crossed for all those things this weekend.

Safe journey to all of you that are heading north: I will be with you in spirit. Enjoy your day. As much as I'd want to be there in person when we finally cross the finishing line, I hope we don't have to wait too much longer. Sadly, I think a score draw is likely this weekend, which would delay the impending celebrations for a week. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Home Straight...

Sir Chris and his battle-weary charges return to The Valley this afternoon for a crucial but tricky looking game against Walsall. This really is a fixture that has so much at stake at both ends of the table and it won't be quite the forgone conclusion some Addicks are predicting. Once again, I'm gearing up for a nervy afternoon. I hope the Addickted remain patient: I expect Walsall to be a very stubborn obstacle to overcome and I'd take a scrappy 1-0 all day long.

With Sheffield Wed in action at home against Oldham in the early afternoon kick off, Charlton may once again feel the added pressure of their 8 point lead being reduced before they take on The Saddlers. Sheffield United don't play until tomorrow evening, and by then, I hope we will not need to pass more than a cursory glance at the result.

Elsewhere in the footballing world Charlton have slipped under the radar with almost all the focus on the battle of the Steel City teams. I couldn't care less; in fact, I think it's been beneficial to us. You have to assume one of the Sheffield clubs will self destruct under the pressure, which can only be good for Charlton.

On Saturday Charlton fans were left in no doubt this team has the desire and bottle to get over the finishing line. Down to 9 men and up against a very harsh referee (3rd on the spin?), the team remained  strong and focused enough to get all 3 points. It was total agony listening to the game on BBC Radio London. My body ached as if I had taken a good few hits myself in what appeared a brusing encounter. The relief at the final whistle was immense.  

For the first time in years I feel my hopes and dreams are being represented out there on the pitch by a group of 'real' Charlton players managed by a legend of the highest order. This is a side on the verge of writing themselves into the history books and one or two will emerge as legends to be filed alongside messrs. Mendonca, Kinsella and Powell of recent(ish) times. I've always been so, but at this time I can't be more proud to be an Addick!

Three points today and we are within touching distance of the finishing line; to within a slight extension of Sir Chris's puffed out pigeon chest. I simply can't wait to see Chris's smile stretch wider than usual across his face.

Come on you Addicks!!!