Friday 29 January 2016

Chris Powell on Talksport...

Following on from Kyle's typically excellent piece reflecting on Chris Powell's interview yesterday evening on TalkSPORT, I have recorded and posted up the audio. I apologies in advance for the sound quality, but I think it should be heard none the less. Whatever your personal view on the current state of Charlton Athletic, the ownership of Roland Duchatelet and the direction he and Katrien Meire appear to be taking us, some things can no longer be denied.

Click here for the interview with Andy Goldstein and Jason Cundy on The Sports Bar.

The first part of the clip covers Chris' brief time at Charlton following Mr. Duchatelet's takeover. It is shocking, but everything we suspected, and our suspicions finally confirmed by a man of whom Charlton fans can have no higher respect for.

As if we really needed it, this, of course, casts further serious doubts about Mr. Duchatelet's true intentions, and the manor in which he and Meire are executing them. If there are people out there still willing to give this regime the benefit of the doubt they must be rapidly decreasing, and with it, the weight of opposition against the owner grows. 

Sunday 24 January 2016

Growing Numbers...

Walking to the Valley yesterday I was met by CARD volunteers handing out anti-RD stickers and flyers detailing the flash protest. This involved not spending a single penny on official club merchandise or refreshments. It underwhelmed some who clearly wanted something more dramatic (that may come in time, of course), but it was clearly effective with programme sellers standing idol and the kiosks on the concourses distinctly quiet. Nearer the ground more volunteers were handing out black and white scarfs (750, I believe), and the effect inside the Valley would be clear for Meire to see later that afternoon. Well done to all those people behind CARD.     
I bumped into one of Charlton's brightest young wordsmiths outside the media entrance pre-match and as we lamented the demise of our club one of the main protagonist, Katrien Meire, breezed past us and into the media suite. She was flanked by a few goons heavies, but even so, she showed no signs of being intimidated by walking freely amongst the peasants. It's hard to tell if her ever-present grin is a nervous front to the immense pressure she must be feeling, or blatant arrogance. In hindsight, I wish I would have grasped the moment and challenged her myself (not in a confrontational way, you understand). One finger-waging fan who invited her to 'get out, get out' was simply told to 'have a nice day' by our smirking CEO.
The game itself was pretty dull. Sadly, for me at least, football has almost become secondary to a greater battle. The crowd played their part as our skipper had requested, and the team at least looked more organised and solid, particularly at the back where new signing, Jorge Teixeira, made an impressive, immediate improvement to an otherwise leaking defence. Tony Watt was back and lifted the Valley with a few driving dribbles, particularly in the second half, but chances were scarce once again. Creativity and verve remains as illusive to the team as the owner. Reinforcements need, but will they arrive?
In the first half, Charlton's public relations took a further hit when a fan displaying a non-offensive banner was ejected from the crowd. It was an incident clearly picked up by many in the stadium and the Club would do well to put out a statement explain exactly what happened. Some have suggested the banner (simply suggesting 'we want our club back') was removed because it covered sponsorship boards, which, however ridiculous this policy appears in isolation, does not explain why the fan was forcefully ejected. 
At half time I couldn't help but notice the irony of seeing a few chaps clad in their black and white scarfs ordering their half-time beers. Even those opposed to the regime were unable to abstain for 90 mins.   
Jordan Rhodes got his customary goal for Blackburn to cancel out Lennon's deflected strike, so a draw the fair result in the end. Charlton's winless run extends to 11 and the home attendances continue to drop (just 13,500 yesterday). The battle to stay up looks increasingly unlikely, but at least a tiny glimmer of hope returned when Riga replaced Fraeye. Hope is all we have left at the moment.
Just another thought; didn't Roland say after Fraeye's departure that the club had taken steps to address the mistakes by bringing in reinforcements early in this transfer window? Are those the same reinforcements that were left on the bench yesterday, presumably not fancied by Riga?
Remember, every decision better than the last one...
After the game it was a short walk to join the protests behind the West Stand. The numbers are growing dramatically, that much is undeniable, and this time around the Club had taken steps to curtail the encroaching mass with barriers, extra security and police. Shame they address the effects of the protests but not the cause. My best estimate is around 2,500, but it could have been much higher; it was very hard to gauge numbers when amongst it. The excellent image below shows the sheer depth of fans, young and old, male and female, stood together for a common cause that means everything.  
Photo credit: @pedwards72
My own video of the protests yesterday can be found here.
I sincerely hope that it won't be long before I can enjoy my Saturday afternoons at the Valley and go home to enjoy my early-evenings with the family rather than spending some of it stood at the rear of the West Stand in the cold. But for now, it is a cathartic release, and one I will repeat again and again with thousands of like-minded fans until we force change.

Friday 22 January 2016

Looking Forward For Once...

It's been some time since I actually looked forward to going to watch Charlton. For 18 months or more my regular trips to The Valley have been endured rather than enjoyed. It's a long-standing habit that would be heart-breaking to stop, but I've never felt closer to doing so. If you read this blog regularly enough, you will know I rest the blame for my apathy and disappointment firmly at the door of Duchatelet and Meire.
But I'm looking forward to tomorrow; tomorrow already feels different. The turmoil off the pitch continues and with it my desire to stand up and make my voice heard against the ownership could not be greater. On the pitch there's no expectancy on my part of an up-turn in fortunes, but the arrival of Riga (or perhaps more so the departure of the hapless Fraeye) has given me a greater faith in what the team can achieve. I do expect, however, a Charlton side desperate to restore some pride. 
As early as his post-Hull interview, Riga was clever enough to realise the importance of the fans, something Meire in particular just cannot grasp despite her misguided attempts to have us believe otherwise. Riga understand the emotional side of being a fan, Meire, of course, does not. Riga spoke well in his press conference yesterday, taking numerous opportunities to blatantly distance himself from claims that he is just another 'network' flunky (I imagine Duchatelet's furrowed brow deepening as Jose spoke). Riga is a good man, I'm convinced of that. Earlier in the week, our talismanic skipper wrote a note to Charlton fans urging us to be the 12th man tomorrow. He suggested the time for talking is over. He's right. He can be assured of our support, he knows that, but in return all we ask for is 100% effort.
This agonising shambles has gone on for long enough now to leave me completely baffled as to what is going on inside Meire's head. Does she think a couple of positive results (no matter how unlikely that seems) will take the heat off her and Mr. Duchatelet? Is she really na├»ve enough to think that a few weeks of laying low will take the focus off her glaring ineptitude? She appears to have adopted a siege mentality of late; failing to make any form of public address despite a disastrous period in the clubs recent history. I imagine a scene where she keeps the door to her office firmly shut, listening only to a few close sycophants telling her how much the concerned football community at large has got it all wrong.
Thankfully, the weight of pressure continues to grow. Another great article by Guardian journalist and sympathiser, Owen Gibson, appeared yesterday, perfectly summing up the mood. Thank you, Owen for your efforts. In the article Meire suggests her comments at that now-infamous Irish web summit have been 'taken out of context', which will add more fuel to an already raging fire. Outside of football, I would have her down as being very intelligent, but does she not realise the video leaves very little chance of misinterpretation? And in any case, why take over a month to claim she didn't mean it how it very clearly sounded. 
So tomorrow I will head to he Valley to support Jose Riga's attempts to bring some pride back to the team. In doing so I will give everything I have to be that 12th man Johnnie has asked for. 
After that I will be taking the short walk to the west stand car park to continue the peaceful protest. I expect I won't be alone. Like the constant lies and mismanagement of my club, this cycle will continue until us fans force change. On to tomorrow then.   

Monday 18 January 2016

Where's Meire?

All things considered, a sacked interim Head Coach and the appointment of a new one, large-scale unrest amongst the customers supporters, growing national press criticism of a failing regime heading for self-destruction and the small matter of a woefully under-performing team, you might have imagined our CEO would have been a bit more visible lately, and, dare I say it, embracing her accountability for the utter mess we're in.
That's what good leaders do, isn't it?
When I took a very quick look over the club's official website I had to go all the way back to the 13th of December to find the last news story with a direct quote attributed to Katrien Meire. Interestingly, the story was about the ludicrously ambitious Target 20,000 and announced the names of the 10 supporters who will sit on the task panel, one of whom was the Voice of the Valley editor, Rick Everitt. I found it very odd at the time and since then I believe Rick has distanced himself from the panel, suggesting he never sought to be involved and his name was used without his permission. Rick, of course, is a leading name amongst the protestors and the new CARD imitative.
It's also the last time Target 20,000 has been mentioned officially...hardly a driving initiative then.
Since leaving Colchester in the kit mini-bus with the hapless and doomed, Karel Fraeye, it's just gone from bad to worse. I don't believe Meire bothered to attend the heavy, embarrassing defeats at Huddersfield or Hull this week, leaving the support dwindling in the directors box as well as in the stands. One could forgive the fans, of course, but not the leader of our club...   
I would like to think that Meire's continued absence is a sign that she knows her time is up, and nothing she can say or do will recover the complete loss of faith. After the turbulence of last week, above all else, I will be hoping for the announcement that she has left the club, preferably today.
Whether she actually means it or not, she has regularly displayed a shocking level of arrogance and has completely failed to empathise with fans on the emotional element of supporting Charlton Athletic. All of this has long-since made her position as CEO untenable.
If we are to 'get our Charlton back' we know enough to know it will be a long road, but Meire's departure would be a step forward. Whomever comes in to replace her could do no worse.    

Thursday 14 January 2016

Red CARD To The Regime...

Full credit to all those involved in the CARD (Coalition against Roland Duchatelet) initiative that was announced yesterday. I first noticed it on Rick Everitt's twitter account, and this morning The Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust issued this: CARD Statement
CARD has been organised to bring together various fan groups and campaigners that have already had significant roles in the recent protests, notably Anti Roland Demos, Spell It Out and Rick's own Voice of The Valley, and this initiative should serve to unify and strengthen the on-going actions of fans who are justifiably dismayed at the running our club by Mr. Duchatelet and Katrien Meire.
Back in late October I wrote this small piece that suggested Meire may be relying on the dilution effects of numerous anti-regime fan groups on social media, and alluded to the fact that without a single leader, we will be a far weaker opposition to her. Something, by the way, I believe Meire is well aware of, hence her continued arrogance and disregard of the protests to date. This train of thought is obviously shared by many, and I welcome CARD's involvement in this 'battle' to get our Charlton back.
Let's hope Duchatelet and Meire rue the day they underestimated the power in unity of the disgruntled natives!
Rick, in particular, of course, has history in battling for the good of this club, and as a well know figure, his leadership will be vital. If this blog, with it's modest but much appreciated readership, can assist in any way, then I will...    

Wednesday 13 January 2016

When Will This Madness End?

A little over 12 months ago I witnessed this utterly disgraceful performance at Watford and lamented on an all-time low following this club. The decline since then has been steady and constant, and last night our fortunes reached the bottom of a very dark abyss.
In reality, the result of the football match was irrelevant - we're going down regardless - but what manifested itself out on that pitch as an excuse for a football team was the perfect depiction of a failed experiment that is imploding publicly in the most inglorious fashion imaginable.
The gutless Fraeye was unable to muster the self-respect required to stage a post-match interview. It's true his inevitable apologies would have been worthless, but I wanted to hear him suffer like we had. Instead, it took Henderson to show the correct level of balls and respect to front up to the reporters. Listening to this interview is very, very hard.  
It's impossible to make sense of what is happening to my club, other than to face the reality that it is dying in front of me. The murderers stand above it with blood on their hands. 
For me, the most insulting thing about Mr. Duchatelet's regime is the complete lack of accountability and the assumption we will continue to put up with it. The siege mentality shown by the patronising, ever-smirking, inept, Katrien Meire, masks what should be total embarrassment and shame in light of such obvious and continual errors, and yet, nothing, not even an attempt to calm the natives with bullshit. 
I can't even begin to imagine the level of sheer bloody-mindedness required to keep up this farcical, absurd, illogical model on how to run a football club, especially when even the football community is so unanimously critical. To me, Duchatelet's regime manifests itself as a stubborn, child-like ignorance where the more you try and tell someone their ideas are not working (and is proven by the actions) the more they persevere, cupping their ears and shouting like the crazed fools they are. 
To have an owner so neglectful of something that means so much to me is truly heart breaking.
Much of the damage that Duchatelet and Meire continue to inflict on this great club is already irreversible. Fans, young and old, are giving up; inevitably some will not return even after Duchatelet has long-since got bored of his ludicrous personal experiment and moved on.
I've said it before, but when will this insanity end and what will be left behind when it does?
Surely there can be nobody left willing to give the regime any credence? Even the idea Roland 'saved us from bankruptcy' has fallen flat in the face of our alarming demise.
I can only hope this Valley Gold statement is backed up with threats of action from club sponsors and business associates. 

Fraeye must be sacked this morning, and that includes his involvement in any other 'network' role related to matters at Charlton. Katrien Meire must resign immediately so her departure can be announced at the same time as Fraeye's. Murray must come clean about his motives and follow Meire out of the door if he can't come to his senses and tackle the immense problems he's advocated by association. Mr. Duchatelet must make a dramatic and unquestionable U-turn if he wants to retain ownership as a bare-arsed minimum, or sell-up if not (preferably the latter).
As for the protests, they must and will continue on the 23rd. They will get more intense and this regime will only have themselves to blame if some find it impossible to control their anger at what is happening.
I have never felt more able to walk away from Charlton in over two decades, but I won't. I will not boycott as I want my voice heard. I will not give up. 
Force in Unity! Forever Charlton!    

Thursday 7 January 2016

Candid? No, Pointless...

Hopes were raised. Reports suggested Charlton were about to make a Board level statement. Like everyone else, I dared to dream that recent events may have bought about a positive change; Fraeye replaced with a manager with the correct level of competence and experience of my wish list...Meire was leaving her position with immediate effect.
Instead, the hapless media team were forced to put out this piece of rhetoric from regime puppet Mr. Murray: Club strategy and the future of Charlton
One tweet from the club promoting the piece suggested Murray "candidly addresses errors made by the ownership", except nowhere in the piece does this actually happen. He makes reference to certain things, agreed, the underestimation of the Championship to name one (didn't Katrien Meire admit that last season?), but nowhere are they actually 'addressed'.
There was also nothing whatsoever on the protests and widespread fan unrest beyond  "patently there are some supporters who don’t like the ownership, but...". In itself, an address so brief and flippant that it could be taken as pretty dismissive of the good reasons behind it. Nothing, either, on the extensive criticism of the club's ownership from media sources and the football community as a whole.
Nothing on the untenable position of our CEO, Katrien Meire and the recent comments made in that seminar video, all of which contradict the idea that we're a club "who can be competitive in the Championship, but has Premier League ambitions". Murray clearly didn't feel a need to clarify the "customer" comments or the fact Meire feels it's weird we feel a sense of ownership to our club. In fact, the piece doesn't mention Meire at all as if to try and deflect us stupid people away from thinking about her insulting ineptitude.
Nothing on Peter Varney, but I guess that's the least surprising.
What's happened to Richard Murray? Go now whilst you still have a small amount of my respect left for better days long past.  
All of this is a million miles away from being good enough. Insulting is an understatement. When will this nonsense end, and what will be lft behind when it does?

Doodle of Death...

I had a pretty lengthy phone conversation yesterday afternoon for work. Armed with a pencil and pad to make notes, I clearly got a bit distracted. I'm a doodler; always have been. The quality isn't great (image and cartoon) but I thought I'd share my scribbles with you. Seems my mind wasn't entirely focused on my job! 

In hindsight, I wish I'd made Katrien Meire's nose longer, much, much longer...
You can enlarge the image by clicking on it.

Monday 4 January 2016

Call Collymore...

I've never had the inclination to call into a radio show before, but when Stan Collymore requested Charlton fans ring his TalkSPORT show to discuss the on-going protests, I grabbed my mobile straight away. It is so important for us to take every single opportunity to get the issues at Charlton out to a wider audience.
I was half way through preparing our Sunday dinner at the time and I actually hung up after around 10 mins of waiting as I was naturally conscious of the bill (13p per min blah, blah, blah...) and getting grief from two very hungry kids! To their credit, TalkSPORT called me back immediately and said Stan really wanted to talk about it, and as no other Charlton fan had called in would I hold. I couldn't say no...
The link to the conversation I eventually had with Stan on-air can be found here: Call Collymore
Hopefully I done our cause some level of justice. To his immense credit, Stan is clearly very knowledgeable on our problems and I was very pleased he'd seen the recent shocking seminar video footage of Meire as I was very conscious of appearing to be one of those fans who spread false rumour to whip-up ill-feeling. Sadly, that's not required here.
There have been others who have taken the chance to get our thoughts and feelings across on air, and the guys behind the Spell It Out campaign have compiled them here: Spell It Out
By the way, I'm sure I confused many with the name I spoke under. I think I've explained this before, but my name is actually Rod; Ted is just an alias that has followed me around for years and years and the name I used when I first set up this blog...