As anyone who has tried it would know, finding different and ingenious ways to motivate the average Sunday League footballer can be a real challenge. When I ran a side I always found it a lot easier to incentify players to go that extra mile and give everything they had if we had a good run in a cup. At my standard, winning the league was great but it was nothing more than a brief mention in the local rag, maybe a team picture if you was lucky, but everyone wanted that glory night in front of a few hundred people, friends and family in a decent stadium under floodlights.
Going on a cup run meant I could get players to turn up on time, put up the nets, warm up properly (as opposed to shaking each leg a few times and finishing off a fag) and best of all, even accept being on the bench. The club fees would all be paid up on time and finding volunteers to wash the kit was no effort. Nobody wanted to do anything to miss out on the chance for glory. It was a very different sort of incentive, but without the ability to offer a financial one, it was as good as it got.
No matter whatever level, more often than not a good cup run can lift confidence and improve the all-important league form.
Addicks everywhere will be hoping that tomorrows 5th Round FA Cup game can finally inject some spark in to what has been a truly awful season. Perhaps the incentive of glory in the cup will drive Chris Powell's men to the improved league form we are all hoping for before time runs out. A win Saturday and Charlton will be 90mins away from a trip to Wembley. As a player, it's hard to imagine what better incentive you would need.
I believe close to 2,000 hardy Addicks will head up to Hillsborough to support the lads. There can be no question the fans are sticking with Powell and the team but we are long-overdue something to cheer about. With two home games coming up next, Charlton will be praying for an up-turn in form (and an improvement on the weather front, no doubt).
Sadly, as much as I'd like to, I won't be heading north; I'd planned to take the family away to Centre Parcs for the weekend some time back. For those who are going, enjoy your day out and keep the faith.
Come on you Addicks!