Thursday 14 March 2013

I Don't Care...

If I was to bother my arse to list the top 5 football teams I like the least, Millwall would not even get close. History would dictate plenty of other teams or fans that have got under my skin over the years for a myriad of many different reasons. Some irritations pass and some still remain. The fact is, I don't come from Charlton or even South London, and so recognising Millwall as my bitter neighbour is something that doesn't come naturally to me. Because I'm not a lost sheep and I have my own mind, I don't have it in me to hate something or someone just because I'm supposed to.

So in advance of the fierce local derby this Saturday, I can say without any doubts, bravado, bullshit or otherwise that I genuinely couldn't give a flying toss about Millwall, no more than I do about any other team that comes to the the Valley. Anything less than a victory and I won't feel anymore disappointed just because it's them.

Of course, I'm well aware of what it might mean to the fans of both sides linked geographically who cling to hopes of winning bragging rights with friends, work colleagues or perhaps even family. Last time we met back in early December Charlton fans seemed to enjoy 'lording it' on their manor. Social media sites were full of mocking Addicks and I trust those individuals will stand equally as tall this Saturday afternoon as we can expect a full blown reaction from 3,000 Millwall fans heading out of London Bridge to the Valley, bringing their usual boring intimidating tactics and Burberry hats with them.  
I'll just be hoping for a long overdue home victory and 3 points for Charlton. Simple as that.

'No one likes us, we don't care...'. No, neither do I.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

£440 Lighter...

It certainly doesn't feel like 12 months ago since I last parted with my hard earned savings to renew my Charlton season ticket. Doesn't time fly? Here we are at the 'business end' of the season, once again. A year back we was quietly optimistic that we would finally be making a return to the Championship, and having secured that, this time around I've renewed ever hopeful we can consolidate our place in football's 2nd tier. Hopefully by the time next years renewal date comes around, we've pushed on upwards further still! 
Charlton's poor home form this season will do little to encourage those who perhaps have tougher personal choices to make about where to spend their cash. There's no doubt about it, the Valley hasn't been the greatest place to watch Charlton this season. In fact, with only 4 home victories so far, we've got the worst home points tally in the whole league.
But I'm convinced I've been watching this game and Charlton long enough to recognise effort when I see it, and I'm fair-minded enough to understand the difference between a player who makes an honest mistake rather than a chap who doesn't give a toss. There is little debate that this playing side needs investment to improve technically, but lead by Johnnie Jackson, I cannot remember a time I've been more convinced my team are playing for the shirt.
Hopefully my £440 will go some small way in ensuring we never drop to the 3rd division ever again!

Wednesday 6 March 2013

A View From The Moy's End Terrace...

I must confess, it was probably the lure of standing on a terrace that convinced me to head up to Peterborough last night. I'm old enough to remember watching football matches from packed, swaying terraces (mainly Arsenal's North Bank with my Gooner supporting mates) that moved like troubled waters tormented by forceful winds. Not that I was expecting anything quite like that yesterday, but a healthy following of around 800 Addicks, lead by the Covered End drummers, certainly created a fantastic atmosphere under the gable roof covering the Moy's End at London Road. Boro' will need to loose this terrace very soon to comply with league regulations (assuming they remain in the Championship), and I can't help thinking it will be a shame.
In my last post I'd written that it had been 28 years since I last stood on this terrace, and the truth is that little, if anything, has changed. Not that I'm complaining: football nostalgia is too often ignored in this era of modern football. Or perhaps I'm just too much of an old sentimentalist!
To the game itself then. Er...I don't do match reports. Quite frankly, I'm rubbish at them. Plenty of very good ones can be found here over the next day or so.
Given that I sit overlooking the half-way line at the Valley, I always find the perspective of watching football from behind the goal so distorting. I loose track of players and a sense of positioning. I find myself worrying about just two things: has the ball gone into our goal or have we scored.
Yesterday, both of those things happened that enough of a match report for you?
All I would add is that I thought young Harriot grew in to the game, which is encouraging as our obvious lack of finances mean Powell is forced to look for that spark from within. Once again Johnnie Jackson puffed out his chest and lead the fightback in typical fashion and Haynes looked dangerous throughout. I know it might be harsh, but I'm not convinced Button has improved the goalkeeping position, and I can't help but wonder whether Hamer may have got to their long-range equaliser. All irrelevant in the end, and I suppose a draw was a fair result.
What all this means is Charlton consolidate their position mid-table, jumping over Millwall in the process to move up to 14th (which is always nice, of course). On the face of it, with results elsewhere falling kindly, it was a good night's work and a good point gained. A quick glance at the league table and things look pretty comfortable, but the reality is a little darker if you study the form table, where only 3 teams sit below us.
With just 6 points seperating us with Barnsley in 22nd, a win from anywhere very soon would certainly make us feel a lot better. 

Sunday 3 March 2013

28 Years Later...

So another disappointing home defeat followed by yet more bickering between fair-minded Addicks hopeful of consolidation in the Championship and those who seem to believe we have thrown away certain promotion to the Premier League. The truth of the situation may sit somewhere in between, but one thing is for certain, booing the team off at half time was an absolute disgrace and those who done so must understand they are adding to the problem.

It is little wonder Charlton are struggling to find form at the Valley when sections of the home support seem so eager to get on the backs of what is essentially a League One team trying to hold it's own in the Championship. Brian of the excellent 'Stickleback' blog sums this up perfectly here.

You need only to remember this glorious evening at the Valley to understand how important backing the team is...

It is plainly obvious that significant funding to the playing staff is required, but with the greatest of respects, Johnnie Jackson, for example, is not going to turn into Lionel Messi just because he's stepped up a division. Where technical quality is lacking, we can only ask for 100% commitment.

By the way, if you're going to loose a game of football, let it be to a goal like that! Austin, take a bow.

So we move on to Tuesday's game at Peterborough, when, given our rather more impressive away form, we should be confident of getting some form of result. P'Bro had a great victory at Blackburn yesterday, but as hard as it is to believe, their home form is actually marginally worse than ours!

I'll be joining the travelling Addicks at London Road tomorrow, some 28 years since I last made the same trip. Back then, I was a young and impressionable lad of 11 years old, dreaming of a giant killing when my local non-league side, Bishop's Stortford, took Boro' to a 1st round FA Cup Replay. My Dad and me headed north on a freezing cold November evening (thinking back, it must have been a school night - thanks Mum & Dad for letting me go!) but I would be left heartbroken when Boro' scored two goals in the last 5 mins to run out 3-1 winners. Bishop's Stortford's scorer that night was a chap called Tony Flynn, who I met a few years ago when I worked on the construction of Colchester United's new stadium. Tony is the current physio at Colchester United. We shared a conversation over a cup of tea one day as he was moving his operations in to the new ground, and all the while I knew I'd seen his face before. As soon as he said he played amature-pro football my mind flashed back to a moment frozen in my mind and noted in the black and white image below. Tony had scored Bishop's Stortford's only goal that night.

Tony was hugely embarrassed when I told him I'd spent weeks recreating that goal in my back garden and he asked for a copy of that image (which appeared in the local paper) so he could prove to his family he was 'once a player'. A real lovely fella.

Further links to Bishop Stortford are in the shape of current Boro' forward, Dwight Gayle, who was prolific for 'the Blues' during a loan spell in the 2011-12 season. I saw him a few times and knew he'd be moving on to bigger things soon enough. Dwight's father, Devon, used to play for Bishop's Stortford as well, and he was a decent centre forward himself back in the day. Dwight scored a first half hatrick yesterday, so hopefully he has a quieter night Tuesday!