Sunday, 12 January 2014

Judgement Call...

Many years ago, when I was a young lad finding my way after leaving school I took a job as a white van driver for an electrical wholesalers. Occasionally  my route to a big cable manufacturer in Erith would take me past the sorry and derelict Valley and I would lament having never seen a game there (Charlton were at Selhurst Park at the time).

Yesterday I was sadly reminded of just what it felt like to drive to the Valley and not see a game of football...

As news of the postponement spread, the finger of blame began pointing in every direction; the ref for being too anal, the on-going inclement weather and unsurprisingly the old regime in Jimenez and Slater for not investing in new drainage for the pitch. All of these points may well be valid criticisms in their own right but, just as I suspected at the time, not one of them was the real reason the game was called off.

No, whether you like it or not, this avoidable mess was caused by a series of very bad judgement calls by Charlton Athletic. Simple as that.  
One read of the embarrassingly inadequate attempt of an apology on the postponement and it looks like the blame is being placed firmly at the door of groundsman Paddy Powell and his staff. It would appear they massively underestimated just how bad the pitch still was and to have deemed a referee's inspection on Friday unnecessary was a monumental error of judgement that has wasted a lot of peoples valuable time and furthermore, would have cost Charlton a fortune in lost gate revenues and associated matchday costs.

I'm told the programme sellers were still wheeling out their stalls when the news broke...

Apparently the ball wouldn't bounce in certain areas and there was concerns about how 'sticky' the pitch was and the danger of fragile limbs being dragged into the quicksand, never to return. And yet, despite all this being picked up by the referee within moments of his arrival at the Valley, we were lead to believe there was 'no issues' leading up to the game! *collective mass groan*
You have to feel for those hardy fans who'd made the journey south from Barnsley, many of whom would have already been in London when the game was called off. 
Mr Duch√Ętelet must have been searching frantically within his small print to see whether there is a 28 day, no questions asked return policy on his purchase... 
But as hard as it is to offer a case for the defense, I just wonder what sort of pressure poor Paddy was under to ensure nothing stopped the game going ahead. Playing Devils Advocate for a moment (and I do so as I have nothing but respect for Paddy and his long association with our club), let's just say he did raise concerns to the management but was told to keep quiet for fear of the fixture being lost. Of course, the club wouldn't admit this, senior management never does, so unfortunately Paddy will carry the can. I just hope he recovers.
I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the corridors of the Valley come Monday morning when the inquest will begin.
So if Charlton did gamble on this fixture going ahead, they have lost out big time. Within moments of the postponement we were being ripped apart by everyone on radio, TV and social media. We are a laughing stock and rightly so. The club have some work to do to regain some respect, let alone be in apposition to stage a football match.
I don't have any ideas what sanctions the league can impose on a club in this situation, but lets hope we don't get to that stage. With the rearranged FAC game under threat on Tuesday, this may not be an issue that will quietly go away.   
But from adversity comes strength, and the afternoon was not entirely lost for me. My journey to SE7 gave me the chance to enjoy an unexpected but enjoyable few hours in the company of fellow bloggers, Marco and Al in the Rose of Denmark. And if I continue on a positive, just remember this club is under brand new ownership with plans to 'make us proud again' so hopefully, over time, problems like this will be a thing of the past.  


  1. Good to see you yesterday.
    Now is probably the time to clarify you weren't drinking and driving.

  2. It's a fair point well made! I've never made a pint of Fullers London Pride last so long!