Tuesday 28 September 2010

Benson Bags To Break Down Dons

It wasn't faultless, but one thing I could not ask anymore of tonight was effort. With the memories of Saturday's frustrating and disappointing draw still fresh in everyones minds, we needed a performance and a win tonight to get our season back on course and thankfully we got both.

The defence held firm all game, with the most welcome sight of Jon Fortune back in an Addick's shirt once again. The midfielders ran their socks off to close down any available space for the ball-playing Dons (I thought tonight was Racon's best game for some time). The front men worked tirelessly throughout - on and off the ball - with Benson getting his reward late on. A special mention for Reid, who changed the game when he came on. He may not like the tag, but as an impact super-sub, there can't be many better options at this level. An honest performance if not spectacular, but good enough to lift us into a credible League One position after 9 games.

Thankfully I can say this without sounding like sour-grapes, but can anyone recall a referee being so bias towards an opposition? I have never seen an official appear so reluctant to award anything, even a simple throw-on to a home side. Normally you'd expect to get your share of 50-50's, but not tonight! A very bizarre refereeing performance! Thankfully, in the end it never mattered.

Onward to the league's basement team, and a chance to improve our recent poor form against the lower league sides. We must take the opportunity.  

Pre-Match Musings...

I already feel a little apprehensive about tonight’s game as I’ll confess I’m finding the sparsely populated Valley on a matchday a difficult sight to accept (the walk from my usual parking spot seems a very lonely affair these days). I suppose it could prove a real blessing to have another game at home so soon after Saturday’s disappointment, but it could also work the other way if fate, luck, inevitability or whatever you want to call it decides to stick another hefty studded boot in where it hurts. And all this drama played out in a stadium that will struggle to be half full tonight: the occasional supporters uninspired to venture out and part with their hard-earned cash. For me, there are few things better than a floodlit game at The Valley. The atmosphere always seems more intense under the dark cover of night as if there’s nothing else going on in the world around you (certainly not more important, anyway). The players need to put a performance in tonight to avoid further apathy and a drop in home gates. As fickle as we football fans are, momentum can be built as quickly as it’s lost, so a win tonight, coupled with a decent performance, will change the complexion in a flash.

Upon further reflection, within the first 30 mins on Saturday there were some decent enough signs of hope from a newly-constructed team that is still work-in-progress. It was far from perfect, but that sort of play could well be good enough to win matches in this division. On the downside, our inability to keep a steady and consistent momentum throughout the full 90 is worrying, especially when we’re at home and so dominant and untroubled against a poor team. It’s Parky’s prerogative to believe that the ref changed the course of the match on Saturday, but I’m disappointed with that view as I believe this Charlton team should be mentally strong enough to overcome a setback (as Sunderland showed on Saturday after that bizarrely conceded goal). Whatever Parky said at half time clearly wasn’t anywhere near good enough motivation or direction, but then the players themselves shouldn’t really need it.

From what I’ve seen this season, the one over-ridding criticism I do have of the new-look Addicks is that nobody appears to be sticking their chest out and taking the responsibility on the pitch when things are not going to plan. Take Racon, for example: for all his obvious promise he must start to dominate the midfield, particularly at home.

Anyway, I’ll be heading down to The Valley tonight full of hope as usual…

Saturday 25 September 2010

Totally Uninspiring

What a disappointing afternoon of football: totally and utterly uninspiring. A draw that feels like a defeat. 3 points well and truly thrown away against a very, very average side who have their work cut out to stay in this division. 

There is no obvious sign of a Plan A, let alone any Plan B if things aren't working out.

Worst still, after such an awful performance, we face the very real prospect of a home gate on Tuesday that will struggle to get too far in to 5 figures.

Dark days ahead...

Wednesday 22 September 2010

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

In every respect my own recollection of the loss of the Valley in ‘85 and indeed the return in December 1992 means nothing as I was at neither game. None the less, I remember both periods very well. It will forever be a regret of mine that I never stood in the ‘old Valley’ (I was 9 when we left, with no family history of following the Addicks). I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to watch Charlton ‘at home’ from inside the stadium of one of our greatest rivals.

One thing I can empathise with – and you will have to respect my perspective on this - was the loss of the stadium. Just as the Addicks were all set for a highly emotional return home, my local non-league side, Bishop’s Stortford, lost their ground to the determined developers who exploited the financial plight of the club at the time. It was an indescribable and monumental blow to me, not least of all as the heart-breaking demolition of the George Wilson Stadium was the last tangible link to the memory of my beloved and dearly-missed Granddad, who had introduced me to football in the first place and with whom I had spent countless games cheering on our local team. The day before the bulldozers turned up I stood on an empty terrace that would never see action again and cried my heart out until I was asked to leave (with a souvenir if I wished!). Bishop’s Stortford never had the opportunity to move ‘back home’. I miss it to this day.

I have wrote within my postings a few times previous that as a very young lad I had a deep-routed fascination with football stadia after my Mum & Dad gave me Simon Inglis’s book ‘The Football Grounds of England and Wales’ for Christmas in 1983. I was 9 years old at the time. From within these pages I first fell in love with the lumbering, suffering and neglected bulk that was The Valley. The name itself conjured up images in my young and impressionable head. Why that stadium in particular, especially given it’s desperate state, I will truly never understand. Destiny? Maybe it was. Simon Inglis was naturally and understandably far from complimentary, but even at such a young age I picked up on the melancholy in those words reflecting on the glorious past when The Valley regularly had gates amongst the biggest in England. I read The Valley enrty over and over and it may well be an unusual admission, but it is almost entirely down to this one book as to why I first began to follow Charlton’s results and later became a supporter.

Chicago Addick lamented in his blog today that “8,858 were left to mourn a 66-year old friend alone. No one else gave a shit”. Our Bermudan connection has earned the right to say such things and I urge you to read his post at (http://chicagoaddick.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/25-years-ago-today/). CA also rightly points out the value of Rick Everitt’s book ‘Battle For The Valley’. I have a copy, and out of respect I intend to read it once again over the next few weeks.

But none the less, this unforgettable and unforgivable chapter in the history of our club is the reason why I’m a supporter today and perhaps in my son and daughter a new generation will follow. Furthermore, perhaps the solidarity and resolve that came from it has shaped the character of the club that I’m proud to support. For anyone involved in the return to the Valley, I extend my genuine heartfelt thanks. This football club has broken my heart far more times than it’s made me happy, but I wouldn’t change a single thing.

To quote from Friedrich Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”.

Wednesday 15 September 2010

Rodney 'Charlton' Trotter

There have been a few posts in the last week noting the recent appearance on TV of anything Charlton related. It started with the gorgeous Gemma Arteron’s very public show of allegiance on daytime tele, to the appearance of a CAFC flag on ‘Albert’s Memorial’ starring David Jason. It kind of reminds me of when I first started to follow the Addicks (long before the glorious Premiership years) when there was a real novelty factor to seeing Charlton appearing on TV. Similarly, if I happened to be wearing my colours around my home town, it would prompt comment as if I’d just dropped in from a spacecraft (I ignored the looks of pity!!).

But the David Jason connection interests me, as I find it coincidental that his most notable piece of TV, Only Fools & Horses, also featured a tenuous link to the Addicks in the character of Rodney. I’m not sure on his influence with the writers, but is David Jason a secret Addick?

According to the sometimes-questionable Wikipedia…

“Rodney's middle name, "Charlton", was revealed to the world during his wedding in 1989. The registrar officiating wisely decided to leave it out and refer to him as simply "Rodney Trotter" when the guests from the Nag's Head could not contain their laughter. According to Del, Rodney's mother gave him the name because she was a fan of Charlton Athletic F.C”.

Up the Addicks!!!

Wednesday 1 September 2010

Room For 22,481 More…!

I can’t honestly say I enjoyed the game last night. It’s hard to get excited when looking out across the empty expanse of the Valley, whilst packed like sardines in the Lower West (the only section of the ground open for home support on the night)! In years gone by I used cup games such as this to move around the Valley to view a game from a different perspective to my usual East Stand seat. Nowadays, the demise into mediocrity has taken even that away from me.

My seat towards the southern end of the stand was traded for one in the northern end as my patience grew weaker and weaker with the unnecessary over-aggression and language that was being banded about by the minority group of youngsters who had taken up residence at that end. This was a game one notch up from reserve football, and yet you would have thought this was CAFC v’s Millwall. I had had the briefest of thoughts that a low-key game of this type may be a good opportunity to introduce my young son to the wonderments of supporting the Addicks. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m all for trying to create an atmosphere and, to coin a well known phrase, “make some noise for the boys” but Mr. Murray must have been squirming in his seat knowing his family fortune is on the line so some questionable idiots have a team to 'support'.

None the less, on a slightly more positive note, we won. Well done Racon for a well taken goal; why does/did it not happen more often? Better still, I am really pleased with the ‘new look’ Charlton this season. It is clear that Parkinson has patiently put together a group of players who both want to play for the Addicks, and who look hungry for the challenge. Having 6ft+ players across the team – and in particular, across the back four – bodes well in this division (and, of course, to get out of it). Benson looked useful up front, and certainly placed himself in decent positions inside the box. Once the understanding is there with his new teammates, I’m confident he will get goals.

Dare I mention Super Clive…?