Sunday 30 December 2012

Tough Decisions...

It seemed the big talking point amongst the Addickted post-match yesterday was not so much whether it was a penalty conceded by Charlton, but whether Morrison should have been on the pitch to make the costly challenge in the first place. In doing so, Morrison received his second yellow of the game and an early bath. After a first half yellow and numerous fouls later, Morrison was on very thin ice and the common consensus was that he should have been substituted in favour of Dervite; some feeling as early as half time. In fairness, Powell couldn't win on this point. Should he have removed the talismanic defender early and we had gone on to concede a couple of silly goals he would have been hammered for that as well. None the less, more question marks surface about Powell's tactical nouse or the ability to make tough decisions at the right time.   
Either way, the penalty effectively cost Charlton a much needed victory and although the run of defeats have been halted, the Addicks are still without a win since the end of November, 7 games ago. In all fairness, Derby controlled long spells of the game with some very neat passing, but after Danny Haynes wonderful solo effort and Hamer's man-of-the-match performance between the sticks, Charlton never really deserved to loose. A point was probably about right. 
Those present at the Valley would have witnessed an improved performance from the defeat to Ipswich a few days earlier. Out went the under performers and loan players and in came the trusty Champions of League One! Whether that group of players will be enough to consolidate in the Championship only time will tell, but one thing's for sure, they have desire and spirit in abundance, and none more so than the effervescent Bradley Pritchard, who was immense all over the park. That lad is fast becoming my favourite Addick.
And before there's a chance to digest the league table, another game comes around: Watford on New Years Day. I'll be there for what is sadly an all-too-rare away day and I'm very much looking forward to it. Bizarrely, despite living in Hertfordshire I've never been to Vicarage Road. Watford are on a good run of form so it won't be easy, but then what game is?
All that's left is to thank anyone who has taken the time to read anything I've written this year. And what a year it's been? Charlton Athletic crowned Champions and holding their own in the Championship. Have a great New Year, fellow Addicks! 

Thursday 27 December 2012

Maybe Next Time...

Sometimes there are more important things than the result of a football match and yesterday was a rare occasion in which everything I hoped for never directly involved 3 points for the Addicks. Of course, a Charlton win would have been nice, but that alone would not have guaranteed the success or failure of the day for me. I took my young 6 year old son, Thomas, for only his second ever Charlton game and what I wanted more than anything was for my boy to enjoy his day out at the football. Regular readers of this blog may recall from a previous post that his first visit to the Valley, back in September last year, never went entirely as I'd hoped, although, ironically, Charlton won that day.
Back then the general culture shock of a big and noisy crowd was too much for the young lad and it's taken me over a year to gently persuade the boy that he needs to give it another go. To his credit, he's slowly come round as his love of the game has grown slowly and naturally.
I am a real sentimentalist and the small things matter to me. I can pinpoint and recall so many small milestones in my evolution as a football fan and I'd love my boy to appreciate those moments too. I made a point of stopping with the lad by the entrance to Ransom Walk, pointing out when the Valley first comes into view through the trees just beyond the railway arches. A big grin ran across his face. I encouraged him to smell the air to take in the eclectic aromas that are synonymous with football stadiums; hot dogs, burgers, cigarettes and the smell of the print in the matchday programme!
We walked together through the crowd, weaving in and out of fellow Addicks on-route to the East Stand.
I took the time to introduce the boy to all the blokes who sit around me in Block E: many of whom I've celebrated good times and been through so many dark days with over the years. The new generation shaking hands with the old... 
He watched the game like a hawk, even turning down a bag of sweets midway through the second half. Haynes was confirmed as his new favourite player. I constantly encouraged the lad to 'keep on hoping'. God knows he'll need that if he becomes an Addick!
With a few moments left I looked down at him and saw the first sad face of the day. "We're not going to win are we, Dad?" he said. "No...not today, son" I replied. "Maybe next time". 
On the way home I told him how lonely some of these journeys have been for me down the years and how I'd hoped he'll be with me more often. "Yeah, when can I come again?" he answered cheerfully.
A sense of victory ran through me...

Sunday 23 December 2012

Managing Expectations...

I left Charlton off my betting coupon yesterday. I just couldn't see any other result than a defeat and no matter the possible rewards, I will never bet on Charlton to loose. As it was, the £14 I did win (I know, but every little helps) was scant consolation for a disappointing Saturday of football.
By all accounts, we were unlucky to have a first half goal chalked off for offside and a stonewall penalty turned down. But as disheartening as it is, these things happen and it is pointless to dwell on them. The result has been and gone and Charlton head off into the busy Christmas period on the back of two defeats. Perhaps more worryingly, we are struggling to find the net; we've only scored 2 goals in the last 4 games.
And all the while, Sir Chris continues to tinker with the starting line-up, but, ironically, remains consistent in making late and often ineffective substitutions, much to the frustration of the Addickted.
Ipswich at home on Boxing Day looks like another potential banana skin. For me, that's got a low scoring draw written all over it. Knowing Charlton, we'll score first, squander numerous chances and then concede a late equaliser. I was at Portman Road earlier this season when we grabbed a decent victory courtesy of the tricky skills of Fuller. Ipswich were very poor that day but I expect them to be a different side on Wednesday under new Manager, Mick McCarthy.
Earlier in the week I picked up on a good few Addicks who clearly thought Sheff Wed and Ipswich would be easy meat, so if my prediction for Boxing Day comes true, there will be a lot of doom and gloom around late next week. One point from a possible six is not ideal, of course, but I know football well enough to know that there will be peaks and troughs in a tough and unpredictable league. Remaining 100% behind the manager and the team is hugely important.   
With Derby visiting SE7 next Saturday and then Watford away on New Year's Day, personally I'd settle for 5 points from the next 3 games. That should keep us in mid-table, where I expect us to be come May. I'm keeping my expectations realistic. For me, success this season will be to consolidate in this league.
Seasons greetings to one and all. See you at The Valley on Wednesday...     

Sunday 9 December 2012

20 Years on...

With the draw a fair result yesterday, perhaps the only disappointment from an emotional afternoon in SE7 was the absence of Alan Curbishley from the pre-match celebrations as Charlton marked 20 years since the club returned to the Valley.
In his programme notes, Chris Powell urged us to "take a moment to look around this afternoon", before stating our return was an 'amazing story'. He is quite correct, of course. The good thing about Charlton fans is they make no attempts to forget the dark days. In life you have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs and surviving through tough times does make you stronger. Charlton fans will never forget those who fought so hard against all odds for us to go home. 
How nice it was to hear Richard Murray address the Valley faithful. What a man. 
Last weekend I had began to circulate via twitter the idea of fans standing to applaud at 3:07pm, which was the time of Colin Walsh's goal in the first game back at the Valley 20 years ago. Before the week was out the idea had gathered momentum to such an extent that the club had taken up the idea and even Sir Chris himself pledged to join in from his dugout! You'll have to excuse me if this seems a little self indulgent, but I was totally blown away when Walsh's image appeared on the big screen and 19,000 fans on all 4 sides of the Valley stood in unison to cheer a goal scored two decades earlier. Soon enough, the Covered End started a rousing rendition of 'Valley Floyd Road' to top off the moment. On Saturday morning I had received numerous messages from Brighton fans promising they would join in, and to a man, they did. Full credit to them. My idea was a simple one, and I am certain someone would have came up with it soon enough, but to all those who sent me messages of support whilst the idea built, thank you. I greatly appreciate it.  
And whilst we're on supporting ideas, I noticed a tweet from Louis Mendez just before the game stating that 'The words "The Covered End" should be written on the front of the stand, like the Jimmy Seed End'. That is an idea that needs to happen...
As far as the game goes, I don't really do match reports. Sorry. If you want that, go here.
What I will say is that there was some considerable criticism around me yesterday of the performance of referee, D. Sheldrake. He wasn't great (but then what ref is?), but I still remember him fondly for that amazing decision he made a couple of years back verses Colchester. Remember this?  

Monday 3 December 2012

Heaven & The Valley...

Wednesday will mark the 20 anniversary since the club came back from the dead, reemerged from exile and returned to it's spiritual home, The Valley. The club will be marking the occasion when Brighton visit SE7 this coming Saturday. The opponents couldn't be more appropriate, having themselves faced a couple of desperate years of exile towards the late 90's before finally settling back in the city and then winning the right to build a much-needed new stadium. Empathising with their plight, Charlton fans offered support to the Seagulls in those dark days and that support has never been forgotten from our friends on the south coast.  
It is a great personal disappointment that I never attended the 'old' Valley, especially when I consider the irony that it was that crumbling, neglected old stadium that I fell in love with as a very young lad that ultimately lead to me becoming an Addick. Falling for a club that was on it's knees and heading for an agonising death is something that I've never quite been able to explain but I wouldn't change a single thing. I wasn't at The Valley on the day Charlton returned home, but I can remember the excitement leading up to the occasion. I was a teenager working for an electrical wholesalers at the time and had deliveries around Plumstead and Erith in the week before the game. Charlton fans were instantly recognisable as they were walking a foot taller than anyone else! I was so jealous of those privileged few who had a ticket.

Below is an extract from Garry Nelson's 'Left Foot Forward' that describes the moment Colin Walsh scored that first goal back at The Valley on the 5th of December 1992 that ultimately proved to be the winner. Of course, Garry actually got the time of the goal wrong (it was 3:07pm), but he can easily be forgiven for that as he played his part on the day. Reading it always brings a lump to my throat...

'Heaven and the Valley were one and the same place'. Wonderful words.
I had a thought that I've been trying to promote via Twitter. Wouldn't it be nice if Charlton fans stood and cheered Walsh's goal at 3:07pm against Brighton? Steven Mummery (aka @CAFC_Toilet) took the idea a stage further and suggested we then roll into a rousing rendition of 'Valley Floyd Road'. I just feel it would be a fitting way to mark the occasion. 

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Momentary Reminders...

For reasons known only to technology, every single time I open my Sky Sports football app on my iPhone I am momentarily greeted by the screen shot noted above. Every single time! You will recall, of course, that wonderful scoreline dates back to November 2010 when Johnnie Jackson and Lee Martin both scored a brace and Racon chipped in with an all-too-rare goal to give us the 3 points at London Road. That victory lifted us into second place in League One and kept our unbeaten run going for the 6th consecutive game. Unfortunately, you may also recall that just 6 games after that the wheels had firmly fallen off Charlton's promotion push and Phil Parkinson got the sack from the new club owners after an appalling 2-4 home defeat to Swindon.
Funny how things can change so quickly in football.
Tonight (and in a different division) the Addicks entertain a struggling Peterborough at The Valley and all the signs would hint to a Charlton victory. Certainly, even after the disappointment of the late equaliser from Huddersfield on Saturday, thus denying Chris Powell's men a 4th straight victory, Charlton should be confident and in good spirits. P'Bro, on the other hand, have been poor all season and continue to leak goals. A few weeks back this could easily have been a relegation 6-pointer, but our recent good form has taken us to mid-table and rightly eying the Play-Off places rather than the bottom 3.
Question is, what Charlton will turn up tonight? 
I never sit comfortable on nights like this! Every time I read a comment on Twitter assuming this is a 'home banker' or 'guarenteed 3 points' I cringe. I've seen so many nights at The Valley when expectations are crushed. It always seems to be raining on those nights as well!
We need the Covered End in good form tonight, that's for sure. Anything like the awesome atmosphere against Cardiff 3 weeks back and Charlton should be inspired to go for the kill.
Come on you Addicks! 

Friday 9 November 2012

Time For A Change...

Sometimes it's small details that can have a big impact, and I wonder whether I'm the only one who feels that Charlton's No. 1, Ben Hamer, should spare a few moments to consider his apparel if we are to improve our 'goals against' tally? He won't need me to point out that 8 goals conceded in 2 games is hardly ideal, and although it would be harsh to say the least for Ben to take the blame, I think there is something he can do to improve matters.
In short...ditch the awful white 'keepers kit and go for one of those garish colours you associate with an office highlighting pen!
Before I go on, I'll point out that (like you) I detest those luminescent colours as much as Hamer hates the 'Millwall scum' (allegedly!) but they do have a significant impact on the appearance of a man's size. In essence, they make you look bigger: much, much bigger.
I was bought up in an era when goalkeepers filled their goals with bulk, facial hair and hot air (think Neville Southall), whereas our much-loved Ben, with his racing-snake physique and wispy beard, needs to exude a greater physical presence. He's OK on the anger bit, from what I see.
I've drawn an image of how Ben might look below from the view of an oncoming striker.
Admit it...if you was tearing down on goal, you'd be terrified...and ultimately miss the onion miles...much to the merriment of The Valley faithful.   

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Relentless Noise...

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why football is the best sport in the world! Charton 5 Cardiff City 4. What an unbelievable scoreline. What an unbelievable night.
Better bloggers than I will make sense of how the game unfolded, and they can all be found here. All I know is it was up there with all those other unforgettable nights I've witnessed at The Valley. I left the ground shaking my head in disbelief at what I'd just seen. No chance of sleeping! 
So much of Charlton's performance was disjointed due to the crippling injury list and mistakes were evident on both sides (you don't get scorlines like that without them), but yet again, Sir Chris and his battle-weary charges gave everything they had and more. Our talismanic Skipper, Johnnie Jackson lead by example and, as the picture above proved, quite literally rolled up his sleeves and dragged us back in the game when we was 0-2 down and looking dead and buried. Bradley Pritchard was immense. Stephens looked class in the midfield and deserved his goal. Hulse and Haynes looked dangerous. Elsewhere, everyone else played their part.
And if there was any doubt whatsoever that the real fans are behind Sir Chris, then the Covered End put on a power show as impressive as I can remember in support of our manager. The relentless volume from the North Upper was quite something. Even when Cardiff scored after just 3 minutes the Covered End, lead by two drummers, simply upped the volume (you could barely hear the Cardiff fans celebrating the goal) with a rousing rendition of 'Chrissy Powell's Red & White Army' that continued without a break for most of the first half. If ever there was a fine example of the 12th man it was last night. Within hours of the final whistle, a number of Charlton players had taken to Twitter to praise the support. Proof that backing the team gets results. To the idiotic minority: please take note.

Oh, go on then...let's indulge in at least one of the 9 goals scored, courtesy of jipscentral on YouTube. Dale Stephens puts us in front to the delight of the Valley faithful.

It was easy to forget that this was just another game in a long season; just 3 valuable points and a couple of places gained in the league table. But it means much more deep down. Everything about last night represents every reason why I am so proud to be an Addick. I love this club! Highs & lows, forever Charlton!

Monday 5 November 2012

Five Years On...

Almost exactly 5 years ago Charlton played Cardiff under the lights at The Valley, winning by an impressive 3-0 scorline after two first half goals from Sam Sodje and Chris Iwelumo plus another in the second half from Zheng Zhi. Pardew purred in typical smarmy fashion after the game as Charlton moved up into an automatic promotion position and Cardiff's then-manager, Dave Jones, lamented that they were "all in it together" following yet another disappointing result. Only goal difference kept Cardiff out of the relegation zone after that defeat. How the roles have been reversed since then? Ironically, Charlton could be the ones heading for the relegation zone after 90 mins tomorrow.  
I remember that night fondly as I won nearly £800 after correctly predicting the first goal scorer and final score! I'm no gambler, and I placed the bet on a whim with small change in my pocket.
How I'd love a repeat of that night tomorrow when table-topping Cardiff visit the Valley once again!
Last Saturday was always going to be tough against an in-form Boro, but after a decent enough 30 mins in which we took the lead, Charlton steadily fell apart, handing possession away far too freely with unforced errors and poor desision-making that cost us dearly against an impressive looking Boro. We have the sort of injury list that would hurt any team in any division, but we are looking strangely disorganised and seriously low on quality and confidence at the moment, which is a big worry. The league table does not look good despite some recent encouraging away performances and I can't recall a time when Charlton so desperately need a home win to halt the decline. Powell's lack of experience as a manager shows sometimes, but he will need to find a system that can grind out results with the players that are available to him now.
One things for sure, unlike the idiots calling for his head, I remain with the majority of fair-minded Addicks that are 100% behind Sir Chris and his ability to turn this poor form around.

I was due to take my 6 year old lad for what would have been only his second ever Charlton game on Saturday, but the grim weather and the lure of watching Madagascar 3 at the cinema with his sister and Nan meant I sensed his heart wasn't in it and I made a late substitution with my Mum coming along instead. I was gutted my boy didn't seem up for it, but I'm not going to force him. Probably for the best given the result. My Mum has seen enough dark times to not give up.
I've said so many times that The Valley under floodlights is a magical place and we need it to be tomorrow night. It's still a bit early for sleepless nights but I'd swap a large win at the bookies for 3 points for Charlton.  Come on you Addicks!   

Monday 22 October 2012

Stay Strong Kish...

It's quite normal for me to pen a few words on the Monday morning after a weekend game, but I'd be embarrassed to harp on about the disappointments of Saturday's performance and result after the news broke last night that our former midfielder, Radostin Kishishev, has lost his young wife to cancer. Krasimira was just 38 years old and leaves behind two young sons. News like this certainly puts things into perspective. So desperately sad.
I can recall some years back watching a League Cup match at The Valley and, as is my habit on such occasions, I decided to get a seat in the West Stand for a change. It never took me long to realise that sat directly behind me was Kish's wife and I will always remember just how vocal and passionate she was every time Kish went anywhere near the ball. She seemed to take as much pleasure in a strong challenge as you might imagine Kish would have! I can't even remember anything else about that game, not even the result, but I do remember Kish's wife.
In every respect Kish epitomised the Charlton spirit in a glorious period for the club and he was hugely popular with those fans who could recognise his role in the team. He will need every ounce of that fighting spirit now.
Stay strong for your two boys, Kish. Our thoughts are with you.    

Sunday 21 October 2012

The Long Road Ahead...6 Months To Go

It's been nearly a month since I secured a place in next years London Marathon and my training preperations gently build towards the biggest physical challenge I'm ever likely to undertake. Perhaps more importantly, despite having some early doubts as to whether I was passionate enough about running that sort of distance, I have finally got my head around the idea and I'm really up for the challenge now.

As I already run approx. 16 miles over 3 runs per week I've not really felt a huge hit in the training regime as yet. I've taken advice from runners (Charlton's own @strayslacks amongst them via Twitter) and the common theme has been to add around 10% in distance to one of those runs each week. So far, I'm up to 8.7m and feeling really good. In fact, it is obvious to me that my biggest challenge at this early stage is to reduce my pace to something suitable for 26 odd miles as I'm currently running 8 miles in a similar pace to that which I'd normally do 4 or 5 miles in.

Mentally I'm in my element with the thought of those long runs alone! I've had so many offers of people willing to act as a training partner, but I've happily turned them all down! Running this marathon will be the most selfish thing I ever do. From the moment I got the acceptance letter to the moment I (hopefully) cross the finishing line I will be on my own: alone with my own thoughts.

I've not set any finishing time targets for myself just yet, but I will over time. Nor have I given any deep thoughts to what charity I may run for. I'm really not good with the whole 'please sponsor me' thing. On the other hand, my incentive for running is easy. I shall complete this challenge out of respect for my Granddad and what he and his companions went through in the Far East during the second world war. My Granddad Thomas was taken by the Japanese in Garoet, Java (Indonesia) on the 9th of March 1942 and was held in appalling conditions for nearly 4 years. The death rate was around 30% for those British soldiers captured, but my Granddad somehow held firm and came home to his family. Having researched what they went through, I will never have any idea how he never gave up.

Trust me, 7 months of training and 26 odd miles will be completed without a single complaint.  

Thursday 18 October 2012

Shown The Door...

Whilst nothing has been confirmed by the club to my knowledge, Rick Everitt used the Charlton Life forum yesterday to publicly announce that he has been sacked by Charlton. Sadly, the rumours have been circulating for a while, but it is still very sad that another true Charlton man has been shown the door. It's ironic that the club have timed his departure just before the 'Football For A Fiver' game this weekend, which was a scheme conceived by Rick Everitt.
One of the very first purchases I ever made from Charlton's club shop in late 94 was a copy of Rick's book 'Battle For The Valley' and it is truly inspiring stuff. It cannot be overplayed just how important that fight was in securing not only a return to The Valley but ensuring we all have a club to support today. In that respect, I will forever owe Rick and those that fought alongside him a huge debt of gratitude. If you've not read the book, you should do so.
I regularly see Rick milling about outside the Valley or in the East Stand on a matchday, and although I've never actually met him I always have a strong urge to walk up to him and shake his hand. I suppose I've never done it as he strikes me as the sort of chap who doesn't seek out adulation.
As many have commented already, it's hard to see this move in a positive light and yet again the new owners have come under scrutiny. Once again, I would suggest we won't get much of an explanation from the club any time soon. Perhaps this is quite simply a case of Rick Everitt being too strong a character to ever act as a 'yes man' in the new regime. This is business, after all, and if you don't 'shape up' you don't tend to last long.

I'll be honest, I did find it rather odd that there was a few quotes attributed to Rick Everitt (under a well-known alias) on Charlton Life just before the start of the season when the negative rumours of a financial meltdown were in full swing (much to the annoyance of the club, it appeared). Those quotes never really gave much away, but it was the lack of a denial that problems existed that resonated deeper with Charlton fans. I remember at the time thinking that it was odd that even writing under an alias, he allowed his name to be drawn into the scaremongering at the time. It just never seemed particularly wise unless he had another motive for doing so.

Perhaps that motive was the fact that Rick had already had visibility of things at Boardroom level he couldn't accept and has, once again, put the club and it's fans first at a personal cost to himself.
The one puzzling thing to all of this - and if I play devils advocate for just a small moment - is that if you take away those rumours (and that's all they are until proven as fact) I would struggle to criticise Jimenez and Slater. Don't forget it was us, the fans, who sang in unison 'We've Got Our Charlton Back' at the end of last season and I'd hate to think where we'd be had they not taken over the club and had the foresight to install Sir Chris as manager. Whilst the rumours of unrest continue, I have to deal with the facts.

Rick hinted yesterday that he may be about to resurrect the Charlton fanzine 'The Voice of The Valley', although as welcome as that would be to all those who enjoyed reading it (I had a few letters published myself), I do wonder what place a paper fanzine has in today's age of social media.
Anyway, chairman, managers and even players will come and go but thankfully chaps like Rick Everitt will always be Charlton. Next time I see him I will ask to shake him by the hand.  

Monday 15 October 2012

Clenched Fists, Wide Eyed...

With Charlton not in action last Saturday I took advantage of a rare opportunity to go and watch my local no-league side, Bishop's Stortford, play. The rather prestigious visitors were the once football league side, Chester, who dropped the 'City' part of their name as the supporter-owned club reformed after going out of business back in 2010. With the infrastructure of a league club, some of their players reportedly on a grand a week and an enviable away following (some 450 estimated on Saturday), it's inevitable that Chester continue to rapidly climb the football pyramid as they are aiming for their third successive promotion.
My earliest footballing memories as a very young lad was following Bishop's Stortford, attending games home and away with my Granddad Thomas, my Dad and occasionally my Mum. I always feel a strong sense of guilt whenever I watch The Blues. I know I've let them down badly in the last 20 years. I really should go more often. 
My young son, Thomas, came along too. It was his first game watching 'The Blues' and only his second ever *proper* football match (he came to Charlton with me and my Mum last season, but was a bit bewildered by it all as my before and after posts at the time recalled). I'm so conscious of pushing him into anything he doesn't want to do but I'll admit I am inwardly desperate for the lad to want to spend Saturday afternoons watching football with me. I was as nervous as anything taking him along. He complained about being cold at one stage (and ended up with my hat on as a result) but other than that he was brilliant.
I cling desperately to signs he may have a spark inside of him ignited by watching football, just as I did when I was his age. On 78 mins I had one of those magic moments that will live with me forever. The Blues had just gone a goal down when our left back popped up out of nowhere and unleashed an unlikely shot from fully 25 yards out that nearly took the net off as it powered into the goal. It's the sort of moment that comes out of nothing. Blink and you miss it. I looked down at Thomo, immediately praying he never missed the moment and there he was, both fists clenched, teeth gritted, eyes wide open. He then let out a massive YYYYEEEEEESSSSS!!!
This post will forever mark the first *proper* goal he ever *properly* celebrated at a live game. I'm a very sentimental sort of chap and that was a great moment. I ruffled the hat on his head and even the chap standing next to us looked pleased at my boy's response.
Chester went on to grab a winner late on, but the real victory for me was Thomo asking when he's coming to football next. Charlton v's Middlesbro in a few weeks, I said, and I can't wait.

Sunday 7 October 2012

Coasting To A Win...

Football is a funny old game. After two disappointing home games which heralded just a single point when it could and perhaps should have been 6, we go and grab an unlikely away win at Blackpool. The dark clouds lift and the naysayers crawl back under their stones...for now, at least. They should rightly be embarrassed that their over-reactions after Tuesday look pretty foolish now.
This really is a division in which anyone can beat anyone.
I wasn't able to follow the action much yesterday (save a few quick glances at Twitter) as I was flying by the seat of my pants driving back home from work in Islington to meet friends for an evening out in The O2. Not being quite so obsessed about matters I can't control felt quite good and I certainly felt more relaxed for it. My Mum sent me a text proclaiming Solly had bagged our second and a huge grin reached across my face. His long-awaited goal was an absolute stunner and just rewards for the travelling Addicks who made the long trip north. 
The result makes the league table (right) look a little more respectable, and for the record, it's about this position that I expect us to finish this season. We now have a break for the internationals before we face Barnsley at The Valley on the 20th. With the club selling all tickets for a fiver, it's looking to be a bumber crowd. Hopefully Charlton do not freeze under the curse that seems to follow these sort of promotional days.
I saw a tweet from the author and Charlton fan, Charlie Connelly yesterday which made me laugh, and pretty much sums up life as an Addick. He wrote "I love been a Charlton fan - 2-0 up in injury time and even the official club twitter feed is praying we can hang on" Brilliant! We can all relate to that feeling.
If you want some light Sunday afternoon reading, the best place to find the collective thoughts of yesterday's game by my fellow bloggers is here.
Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Fair-Minded Perspective...

Sometimes I do have to wonder about some people. I'm not sure what niggled me more last night when I got home from the Valley and caught up with the fallout from the defeat via Twitter; the harsh nature of the loss or the reaction from some so-called 'fans'. A great example last night of social media at it's very worst. It was still rumbling on this morning. People are entitled to their opinions, of course, but when that opinion is so wide of any reasonable mark I will always struggle with you. 
Emotions run high and I was as disappointed as any fair-minded Addick would be to see us loose to 10 very average men after having so many chances to win the game twice over, but the fact is, some people really need to look at themselves in the mirror and get a reality check. Abusing the players and calling for Chris Powell to be sacked is moronic at best. It beggars belief. There are some very shallow people out there with very short memories.
Such are the fine lines, the reaction would have almost certainly been different if we'd grabbed an equaliser. Brilliant! So we'd have been a point better off. 
Before I go on, let me tell you my standpoint, and it makes for pretty simple reading...
Charlton have a number of players that are looking increasingly like they are struggling to make the required impact in the Championship. Fact! But the harsh reality is the club doesn't appear to have the finances to go out and buy the level of quality we may require, even if it was readily available. Where this leaves us is that without serious investment we will do well to finish towards the bottom of mid-table this season. All of this I can accept as I can see genuine effort and commitment. I support those players representing my club. I don't question the desire of one of them. 
If you set your standards higher than a mid-table (at best) finish this season, you're a fool.
Not being quite good enough does not mean you don't give a shit.
Ironically, if you've bothered to read this (and I do not hide the fact that this was posted simply to get something off my chest) then I know 100% you will agree with me. But please use the comment section below if you don't.
Through thick and thin. Highs and lows. I've seen so many frustrating, heart-wrenching nights like last night and I know I will face many, many more down the years. But it's all about perspective. I've also seen the highs and value it so much more as a result.
I wonder how many of those idiots kept up their 'support' through those recent dark years. As someone who never gave up I am proud to be amongst my fellow fair-minded Addicks who defended the team on Twitter. Thankfully, I'm amongst the majority. 

Monday 1 October 2012

Looking Up...

youth against experience
Can't say as I've taken much notice of the league table this season, but after an encouraging and spirited performance on Saturday (against a side I fully expect to be challenging for promotion), I was a little disappointed to see us in 20th place this morning (table to right). Yes, I know the league table doesn't lie, but from what I've seen, we may well have deserved a little better return from our opening 8 games. No panic, of course, but the longer you stay close to the bottom, the harder it can be to get away from it.
I've always said there's a fine line between success and failure and perhaps we've not had a fair balance of luck so far. Birmingham's heartbreaking last gasp equaliser on the opening day and BWP's wrongly disallowed goal v's Palace spring to mind and could well have given us 3 more points than our current total of 9 and that would have propelled us into the top half.
Thankfully, it would appear this really is an open division and as Derby proved yesterday after an away win at Forest, the rewards of 3 points can make a significant difference to your standing.
Nothing more I can add to the quality observations of Saturday's game by my fellow bloggers Stickleback, Wyn Grant, Blackheath Addicted, Dr. Kish, Drinking During The Game, Deepest Darkest, Chicago AddickGod, Charlton & Punk RockAnd Nothing Else Matters, Charlton Casualty and At The End Of The Day other than to agree with the common consensus that we were good for the point and perhaps a tad unlucky not to get all three. The performance was especially encouraging considering the absentees. This is a Charlton side that play with a great deal of heart and I'm particularly impressed with how well they deal with blows. It may have been easy for heads to drop after conceding first to a strong Blackburn side, but Powell has instilled a fantastic mental strength to this group of players.
So it's on to Tuesday when we face Watford at The Valley. Watford grabbed a surprising win away at Huddersfield on Saturday, so they'll be full of confidence.
A win for the Addicks and then we'll view 4 points from the two home games as a decent return. Anything less than that and we'll start to worry about missed chances. 

Thursday 27 September 2012

The Long Road Ahead...

As if life isn't hard enough, I've only gone and got myself a place in the London Marathon next April! It would appear I'm one of the lucky 1 in 5 who have secured a ballot place for the gruelling 26.3m 'race'. The news could not have been more of a surprise and I don't think I gave it a second thought since I rather half-heartedly applied all those months back, expecting nothing in the process.
At the moment I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. There's no doubting it's something I've always wanted to do and as I'm 40 next July it would be a really memorable year to take part, but I feel a genuine sense of guilt that I'm a tad underwhelmed about the whole thing at present, especially whilst a couple of my friends who were desperate to take part are gutted to have been rejected. This could take a few days to sink in...
I'm not fazed by the time-consuming training regime I will need to undertake (and that's not saying I think it will be anything other than very hard work, by the way) as I'm no stranger to running. I started doing regular jogs to get in shape for my wedding over 10 years ago and like Forest Gump I've not stopped. I do around 16 miles a week and run 4.2m in around 31 mins which is a pace I'm more than happy with. I love running. It's always been a great time for me to grab a small piece of solitude and think things through. I will train alone for the marathon as I've always run alone. My MP3 player will be my only companion: there is nothing better than falling deep inside the music whilst pounding the streets in all weathers.
There's so many things to consider, not least of all what charity I will run for. Of course, by getting a place via the ballot I can chose things like this rather than 'buying' a place for a charity that no matter it's worthiness, may not be dear to my heart.
Over the next 7 months I will use this blog to occasionally update my marathon preparations as, purely from a selfish point of view, its the closest thing I have to a diary and it will be good to look back on in years to come.
One things for sure, I'm already looking forward to the prospect of running past The valley! 

Saturday 22 September 2012

A View From The Cobbold Stand...

There could not have been a more contrasting view of two managers after the final whistle at Portman Road today. Our much-loved Sir Chris waved to his adoring travelling Addicks wearing his typical toothy grin whilst Paul Jewell trudged off to boo's knowing he was on very, very thin ice.
Charlton played for their manager throughout and got the result. Ipswich need a new manager quick or they're in big trouble.
After a very busy few weeks at work this long awaited (and long overdue) away day came at a very good time for me. The journey driving up to Suffolk went like a dream, I had a raft of new music to listen to en-route and I even had a chance to have a cheeky pre-match beer on the waterfront which was shimmering gloriously in the sunshine (below). I felt really confident. We may have lost three on the spin, but I just couldn't see us loosing today.
The team was set up to be more attacking with Jackson moving in to the middle and Kerkar starting out on the left. Fuller was the natural replacement for Kermorgant, who it would appear has picked up an injury in training. Charlton created a number of good chances first half and could, maybe should, have gone in at half time in front. Ipswich offered nothing.  
I enjoyed the second half in the company of Marco and some of his Rose of Denmark crowd, which made for a very welcome change to my normal lonely existence as an Addick! Within 10 mins we'd scored two goals via our Skipper, Jackson and the tricky Fuller. We should stand together more often!
Ipswich got lucky with a deflected goal midway through the 2nd half, but never really looked like equalising. Not that it made the 5 mins of added time any easier. If you want a match report, it can be found here.
Walking back to the car I couldn't help but think of how cross this chap must have been (left) who was pacing up and down Portman Road prior to kick off with a megaphone chanting his displeasure at Town's poor form. I got a few tweets from Town fans who suggest he's at it most home games.
I got home to the smell of home made chilli con carne wafting throughout the house and a couple of beers already chilling in the fridge. What more could a man ask for?
Only downside was my missus was a little frosty after reading that I'd dedicated my 1000th 'tweet' to proclaim my love, not her or the kids...but Sir Chris!
What did she expect?

Wednesday 12 September 2012

15th of April, 1989...

On the 15th of April 1989 I stood, packed like a sardine, on the North Bank at Highbury alongside my mates. I say stood, but as anyone of a certain age would know if they watched football matches from open terraces, you never really stood, you swayed gently back and forth, then violently so when a moment of excitement came around. I was just 15 years old and loved football and the atmosphere, but only now do I realise just how vulnerable I was.
If a goal went in the pressure of the crowd movement would carry you many meters away in a flash and there was nothing whatsoever you could do about it. I recall blokes holding young kids up in the air before their fathers would reclaim them from some distance away. Looking back, it was a very vulnerable time to be a football fan. Safety was clearly not the priority and who exactly was responsible anyway: the club, the police, local authorities, the government? Football fans were well and truly treated like second class citizens.
I recall that date so clearly because in South Yorkshire a disaster was unfolding that would change football stadia forever. Hillsborough. Without the social media and mobile phones we take for granted today news spread relatively slowly. I recall a small announcement over the tannoy at half-time that the Liverpool match had been called off after an 'incident', but as news of the disaster headed south, so did the rumours.
Somewhere in London, Kelvin MacKenzie, the then-Editor of the Sun, was sharpening his knife and his newspaper would dig it firmly in the heart of those who had suffered so badly. Sadly, he was not alone. From the outset, Liverpool fans were blamed for the disaster. But clearly those trying to cover the truth were wrong.
I recall a hideous full centre page spread in the Sun, similar to those they'd happily produce for Grand National Day or similar, a few days after the event showing a panoramic image of the crushed, dead bodies alongside those clinging desperately to their lives; faces as recognisable as if it was a picture of your own child on your own mantelpiece. Heartless Bastards!
Hang your head in shame, MacKenzie.
Today, thanks to the determined efforts of those who refused to give up the fight, 96 Liverpool fans who died as a result of Hillsborough finally have justice. The Hillsborough papers have finally been released and the truth is out there for all to read. It makes me feel sick to think so many could have been saved.
You'll Never Walk Alone!

Monday 10 September 2012


The Mist Rolling In...
On Thursday I return to the Lake District for another hotly anticipated weekend of fell walking and wild camping. Along with five mates we are planning a 3 day route out of Grasmere that will see us 'bag' around 9 of Wainwright's fells including the 2nd highest mountain in England, Hellvelyn, which stands at 3,117ft. I've come to greatly value these annual jaunts into the wilderness and I can't wait.

But on the downside, all this means I'll be missing Palace at The Valley on Friday night and as the game gets closer and the anticipation builds, I have to admit I'm absolutely gutted to be doing so. It's a real bittersweet feeling, if I'm honest.

It will be the second home game I've missed this season; the first being Orient in the cup when I was on the Costa Blanca, and only the 8th home game in over 18 years. Of course, there's little you can do when life needs to be planned in advance of new seasons fixtures, but I remember thinking that in organising our return to Lakeland I risked missing a Charlton home game. Fingers firmly crossed then...but to no avail! 

But of all the games? Of all the matches I could have missed it had to be against our fiercest rivals! All in all, over the years I've been so lucky with planning holidays and social events that my luck had to turn some time. Not that it makes me feel any better at this point!

To make matters worse I very much doubt my Mum will be able to keep me up to date with the action as phone signals don't travel too well in the Lakeland wilderness. Actually, perhaps that's not a bad thing if there's any bad news!

When the game kicks off I'll probably be setting up my tent and preparing my dinner at Grisedale Tarn (pictured below). It will be a glorious location to sit and shoot the breeze with my mates whilst enjoying the odd sip of dark rum from my hip flask. My heart will be in SE7 for a couple of hours at least. It is likely to be Sunday afternoon before I find out the score!

To make me feel better about my appalling lack of support I've taken out a second mortgage and got a ticket for Ipswich away on the 22nd. I realise I've not been to Portman Road since 1998 when, if memory serves me correct, I seem to recall going 3 times in one season as we met them in the league, league cup and that all-important play-off semi final. I seem to remember we done quite well that year!!!
Oh well, I won't be missed but I will certainly miss taking up my usual seat on the night. Let's hope the atmosphere is everything it was the last time we met at The Valley back in 2009 when Matt Spring fired home that glorious match winning volley to send The Valley into ecstasy (pic left). Nights like that are too few and far in between.
With the game on a Friday night and in front of the Sky cameras I'm sure it will be an electric atmosphere. What a great way to show Charlton are back on the up.
Enjoy the game. Get behind the lads. Come on you Addicks!

Monday 3 September 2012

Facing Up To Defeat...

It seemed like I spent the whole of last week fearful of an update from Charlton informing us that one of our prize possessions was leaving the club. Defender, Chris Solly, was 'apparently' targeted by both West Ham and Bolton and promising midfielder, Dale Stephens, was the subject of a pretty substantial bid from Aston Villa. In the end, neither left the club and the Addickted breathed out an almighty sigh of relief. I like Dale a lot, but 2m for a player who has yet to prove his worth in the Championship is bizarre to say the least. Lets hope his head is right following the speculation. 
Perhaps equally as significant was that by Charlton turning down that offer for Stephens, rumours of the club being on it's knees financially looked far less credible. The doom and gloom stories of impending administration and financial meltdown was not something I enjoyed reading about over the summer and I'll welcome any sign that the speculation is some way off the truth (which was always my gut reaction anyway).  
But in the cold light of day, Charlton's failure to bring new faces into the club will need to be addressed, albeit via the loan market or those footballer currently unattached (but not Emile Heskey!). Powell will be well aware of this, of course, and I suspect a couple of signings before the week is out. On Saturday Charlton never lacked heart but looked very much second best to an impressive Nottingham Forest side who perhaps should have made the 2-1 scoreline look more convincing. From the outset we were chasing shadows and only the late introduction of Fuller appeared to give us some sort of cutting edge. There's little doubt the overall squad lacks the depth required to get a foothold in this division and despite initially being pleased we never lost anyone last week, we may need to accept that sacrifices may need to be made to shake things up a little. 
For me, an experienced central midfielder is a must and it pains me to say it, but perhaps there are question marks over Skipper Jackson's ability to step up to the Championship. His form has been indifferent this season and he's looked slow. Perhaps in League One his unquestionable quality on the ball overcome his lack of pace on the left, but that asset may hold less weight in this higher division.  
I wasn't at the match but I did get to watch it on a very dodgy internet link from Al Jazeera, complete with a very passionate commentator who sounded like he was delivering a highly-charged religious tirade. Despite me not understanding his Arabic tongue it was worth listening to for the occasional mention in good, plain English of 'Christopher Powell'.
No great drama to the loss although it's always very frustrating to hear some Charlton fans immediately criticising the team and the Board. There really are some idiots out there with very short memories and I very much doubt one of them was amongst the 1000 or so travelling Addicks at the City Ground. Our opening fixtures have been really tough and 5 points from 4 games is 3 more points than I predicted at this stage! Anyone who has set their sights on back-to-back promotion is kidding themselves.
It says something that I couldn't recall after the game the last time I faced up to a Saturday night after a Charlton loss. 
No game now for the Addicks until Palace at The Valley on the 14th as England kick off their World Cup campaign this Friday night. Of course, if we was still in League One we may well have had a disheartening Johnstone Paint trophy game Tuesday night as well as a league game on Saturday. Personally I'm happy we haven't!

Wednesday 22 August 2012

The Perfect Storm...

 Dark clouds over The Valley but smiles inside!

I like to think of myself as a pretty good judge of character and it's been some considerable time since I have felt this proud of a Charlton team who look and act like they are giving their all for my club. As a football fan in this day and age you are made to feel a bit foolish and naive, not least of all embarrassed, in believing your players give a shit, but I'm happy to lay myself bare. I trust Chris Powell 100%. I can't love the man more and I can't be more proud of his charges.
Last night was a great example of why I know in my heart I could never give up on football. The Valley at night is pure magic. Ever since my Grandad introduced this game to me as a very young lad I have never tired of those magic moments that make you rise to your feet in utter delirium. I lost count of the times I stood to applaud the efforts of my team throughout the game. Charlton's return to the Championship has started with all the momentum and spirit that was generated in last seasons title winning season. Just how far can this group of players go?
Just like a perfect storm, Sir Chris has bought together a group of hungry young players and one or two older heads to guide them along. They have collided in the most dramatic fashion. Johnnie Jackson is as good a leader as I can recall since Kinsella.  
All across the park Charlton worked their socks off so I could go home happy. Leicester showed why they're one of the favourites to go up, particularly in the second half, but we got our noses in front and held on to the lead. BWP played his best game for the club and was my MOM, narrowly beating Morrison, who was an absolute rock. Effervescent Pritchard continues to rise and gain popularity with the Addicted. Hamer was always steady and assured. Holland and Stephens looked comfortable and confident in midfield. And then there was Yann. What more can be said about our French warrior? He will never again play for a football club that will take him to their hearts as the Addickted have.

Further positives for Charlton saw Ricardo Fuller paraded in front of the Valley faithful at half time. Signed on a years contract, he could well be a very handy acquisition. Moreover, it also serves to poor more cold water on the doom and gloom rumours that we're skint. 
There will be plenty of tough games ahead, starting with Hull this Saturday, but already Charlton have proved they can compete in this division. Where all this will end up I just don't know. But I intend to savour every single minute of it! 

Monday 20 August 2012

3 Months On...

Blimey! Has it really been over 3 months since my last Charlton related post at the very end of last season? Actually, upon reflection, I shouldn't be entirely surprised. I do make a concerted effort to switch off from Charlton and enjoy the close season as much as possible. I definitely think we, the fans, deserve the summer break as much as the players. Even so, I have been randomly breaking out in spontaneous grins most of the summer as my mind flashes back to memories of an amazing campaign that will last with me forever.

Thankfully, there's been one or two decent sporting events to occupy my mind over the summer, and more than the odd tear shed in pride along the way, too. Following on from our stylish escape from League One, I feel pretty spoilt in a sporting sense this year.

Surely it would be too much to expect it to continue?

But even I couldn't escape the doom and gloom stories doing the rounds a month or so back about Charlton's financial backer allegedly pulling his money out of the club and leaving us skint. Some predicted administration whilst others were not so optimistic!!! I believe the facts as I see them, and whilst some very well respected supporters of this club (who, without question, have links within it) didn't sound too opptimistic that all was well, I also think there has been enough signs that there is a sensible long-term plan being stuck to. I have no desire to add to the debate here, only to say that my gut feeling is the rumours may well have some truth, but the situation may not be quite as catastrophic as some predicted. If SCP was forced to offload some of his bigger stars I'd have been really worried, but that's not the case just yet so I live in hope that new investors have been found, albeit short term and with considerably shallower pockets...possibly. 

I sadly missed the Orient cup game as I was sunning myself with the family on the Costa Blanca. I tried my hardest to follow it on Twitter but gave up in favour of my Mum's excellent 'matchday text service'. I was gutted. Not because we lost (no surprise), but my absence from The Valley was for only the 7th game in 18 years. Considering our recent demise in particular, I'm proud of my home attendance record. Hopefully I'll get to a few more away this season.

And so the real football started on Saturday and I, like all Addicks, would have bit your hand off for a point before the game. Full credit to the 1,600 or so Addicks who made the journey to Brum. So nearly rewarded with a win, they got right behind the players who had earned the right to play in the Championship. As much as it comes as a relief not to have to worry about results come the close season, I do miss those moments when a goal goes in and you find yourself dancing around in delight. In my case, I had a Hoover in my hand! It may well have been the first game, but my belly was already twisting nervously throughout the match. As my Mum said in a text just before kick-off...'here we go again'!

Unsurprisingly I can't wait to get down the Valley tomorrow night. See you down there!

Monday 2 July 2012

Campeones de Europa...

Viva España! Campeones de Europa.

You may not have supported them on the night, but it would have been impossible not to have been totally blown away by the Spanish. In winning Euro 2012 they became the first footballing nation to win three major tournaments back to back and the smart money would be on them to become the first European side to win a world cup on the Americas when Brazil host the tournament in 2014. Led by Pele, the Brazilians' themselves had a glorious team in the 70's that mesmorised and amazed the footballing world, but for me, this group of Spaniards has to rate as the best football side of all time. It's frightening to think that the majority of the team is so young; Busquets, for example, has won countless domestic and European honours, a World Cup Final medal and now a European Championship...and all at the age of 23! 

The Spanish are light-years ahead of England and I stand by my comments that even if we changed our coaching techniques today, it will take a generation to get anywhere close. Mentalities and techniques have to change if we are ever to hold any hope of matching the sort of football played by Spain. I have long since accepted that I am unlikely to see an England side win a major tournament. 

I recorded the game for my young son and before I went to bed I even took the time to edit it down to 45mins or so. I will look forward to watching it with him when I get home from work today. He will not have seen scenes like those that followed the final whistle and I hope he will be as wide-eyed as I was when the footballing penny dropped for me during España 82. I still get those wide-eyed moments even at the age of 38! The beautiful game indeed. 

And so the tournament passed without the negative element that many had predicted. Sol Campbell's comments that fans would be arriving home in body bags looks pretty stupid now. Naive and lazy social commentary at it's worst, it would appear. Considering my interest in the tournament was almost nil until the week beforehand, I have really enjoyed it. Well done to Poland & Ukraine. There have been some great moments and some fantastic goals. In the end, the best team won. Viva España. 

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Honest Approach...

England just cannot win! They have, for as long as I can recall, got criticised for underachieving in major tournaments and yet even now they are still getting stick despite overachieving in Euro 2012! Expectations are typically set too high, but even the hardiest of England supporters surely wouldn't have predicted we'd win Group D without defeat. Roy's Boys are through to the Quarter Finals and I'm really beginning to wonder whether this tournament could be different. Time to get behind England.

I'll confess that with so few likable personalities in the England squad I've not been anywhere near as partisan as I have in years past, but there does seem a refreshingly honest and hungry approach to this tournament from the players. I even found myself tipping my hat to John Terry, who, say what you will about certain aspects of his persona, would walk through walls for his country. Gerrard looks in every respect the role model you'd expect from an England captain and his performances so far have been impressive. Parker continues to throw himself, quite literally, head first for the cause and I hope he manages to stay fit. I will always view him as Charlton. It would appear Roy has done well to suppress the ego's and create a unified England national side that's working hard for each other. Good on him. I really like Roy and I'd love to see him successful. Like our very own Sir Chris, Roy demands respect by simply being a decent bloke. 

Stylish, tippy-toe, one-touch football is not going to happen in an England shirt. Fact! We're not Spain but we can be as machine-like as the Germans over time. I'd be happy with that approach if we shared the same level of success that the German's have over the years. Tactically astute Roy Hodgson has got us well organised if not particularly pleasant on the eye and we are proving hard to beat, which is a fantastic trait to have. Roll on Sunday.  

JT picks the ball out the net... 

Karma was restored yesterday following Ukraine's goal that never was. Lets see how FIFA & Uefa clamour over themselves to justify how the goal line official (or whatever they are called) that stood 8 yards away never saw the ball cross the line. Personally, the very sight of the officials behind the goal humours me greatly. I'd be embarrassed to stand there if I was them. Their very presence represent how poorly the beautiful game is being run and those arrogant and ignorant fools, Blater & Platini, should hang their heads once again.

Come on England!