Sunday, October 31, 2004

Disappointment again at The Valley

Days after the debacle of playing Crystal Palarse reserves the Addicks had the chance to redeem themselves and maintain their strong home record, writes Kap Varma. However, the faithful in the Rose of Denmark pre match were not too optimistic. There were only two predictions of a win and these were out of loyalty to the club. Hasselbank and Viduka were thought to be potential harbingers of doom and a heavy goals against defeat. Wyn Grant had chosen a good day to be called away to work in Leeds.

Prior to the game Alan Curbishley, in both the notes in the programme and in his pre match interview, had expressed the need for the fans to get behind the team and his disappointment at the reaction of the fans to the Crystal Palarse defeat showed a certain amount of naivety regarding the relationship between the former tenants and landlords.

This year's Red, White and Black day was to be a celebration of Charlton's efforts in the community and the pre match entertainment consisted of a gospel choir in front of the West Stand, followed by some chants eight minutes into the match for a certain Mr Brian Cole from the North Stand.

That aside, the ceowd started very quietly, subdued in the anticipation of a hard game. JJ and Kish both returned to the team along with Bartlett, Thomas and El K, at the expense of Jeffers/Lisbie, the latter being on the bench, Murphy, the injured Rom and Fortune.

Both sides exchanged early corners, with Thomas shwoing some good touches and being able to take corners, in the absence of anyone else to assume responsibility. Deano made a competent save after fourteen minutes from a free kick. This was followed by El K taking a free kick from around forty yards out and the pile driver being tipped round the post for a corner, to be taken again by the impressive Thomas. Soon after a poor clearance from Kiely was returned with interest into the Charlton box. Amidst wide swings to clear the threat, the ball pinged around Perry and Hasselbank and came off El K, who was having an eventful game, and into the Charlton net: 1-0 to Boro. Boro are an improved side from the dour team we have played in recent years, strong up front, and a well marshalled midfield, led by ex Palarse and England centre half Southgate.

The next few minutes were fast and furious with both sides having chances. Thomas notably had a shot blocked just inside the area and Hasselbank put over the bar. Again Euell was guilty of losing control of the ball in the middle of the park, resulting in a shot. Euell has an excellent second touch, the problem is his first: he rarely has the chance to show the second. El K was booked for trying to give Boateng a close up view of the Upper West. In the 32nd minute JJ was bundled over in the penalty box, but claims for a penalty were muted. By this time Boro players seemed to be plagued by some degree of physical sensitivity as each time a player got near to them they collapsed in a heap on the floor requiring extensive treatment, although this was not reflected in the two minutes added on at the end of the half. Kish was fouled on the edge of the area and HH hit the resulting free kick just over the bar.

HT: Addicks 0, Boro 1

Charlton started brightly after the re start and were soon on level terms, a ball directly through the centre from Euell, his only decent touch of the afternoon, reached JJ, who rounded the keeper, seemingly pushing the ball too far, but getting to it first and steering it past two defenders into the net, his first goal for some months. Charlton then looked more up for the fight. However, Hasselbank broke free and with only Kiely to beat, saw his shot well saved, but in the 59th minute a fast interchange of passes saw Zenden relased in the area and curl his shot round Kiely into the net.

Perry was booked for a trip on Viduka, Lisbie came on for Bartlett, who had a reasonable not outstanding game, and Murphy replaced Kishishev. In the 70th minute Thomas put in a fine cross, but Lisbie failed to make decent contact and the ball went wide. Five minutes later, Euell had a 35 yard shot but failed to put on any power and the ball tamely went to Schwarzer. JJ put in a cross that turned into a shot that went just over the bar, then Euell turned and shot inside the area, but this was easily saved. Thomas was replaced by Konchesky, the forgotten man of The Valley, but to no avail and at the final whistle The Valley echoed to boos and most of the players and Curbishely quickly removed themselves from the scene of the crime. Fair does to Keily and Holland who trudged off slowly and, despite the boos, acknowledged the crowd.

This was a disappointing game. Although an improvement on Wednesday's affair, the players at least tried and their shortcomings were not about effort, but maybe more worryingly about skill. Again passes went short. Boro were able to pick the ball up midfield almost at will and return it to the danger area. If the initial attempt to reach the front line failed, then all hope was lost because Plan A, Plan B and Plan C were all the same.

The next few weeks are looking worrying. Spuds away next week, Norwich at home no longer looks like a guaranteed three points, then Man Ure away, and finally Chel$ski at home. One point from twelve will not be good enough.

Analysis - Kish 'a Jack Russell' says Bracken

Kiely a reasonable game, a couple of good saves, but his poor clearance let to the first goal. Young played well in patches, made some good forays up field and showing his increased confidence as an attacking defender. HH still not up to the form of last season, was caught out of position and was turned a few times by the speed of the Boro attacks. Perry cited as our worst buy by one of the papers, just goes to show that you cannot believe everything you read in the press. However, he was at fault with a poor clearance for the first goal and made another soft clearance during the match, otherwise steady. El Karkouri, his first start at centre half, the role he was bought for, looked solid and dependable, more assured than Fortune and was unfortunate with the goal, although the booking was more than warranted. Kish, you know what you are going to get with Kish. Providing you accept that he is a Jack Russell type of player, running around and yapping, he won't disappoint, made a reasonable return to the team. Holland was tight in midfield and plays the holding role well, but needs creativity next to him which is why Euell played today, but his first touch is real hindrance to him, his only real contribution going forward was the pass to JJ. He will always win the hearts of some Charlton fans for his endless running, but he has to be more than that. We have lots of runners, it is creativity we need. Thomas has been a revelation in the two games he has played this week, tricky on the ball, he is not easily knocked off as Romm appears to be and knows his defensive duties, was the best Addick on the pitch today. Bartlett well marshalled by Southgate, did ok, but did not have the dominance in the game he had against Newcastle. JJ had a good game and took his goal well when it looked like he had allowed it to run away from him. Lisbie, apart from one half chance, was fairly anonymoys. Murphy I thought made some good passes but also gave the ball away. He has got too used to players making runs and his colleagues showing movement, welcome to the real world of football, pass to where the player is, not where you expect him to run to. Konch, poor old Konch, too little time to make any sort of mark.

Guest match analyst, Bracken from Forest Hill

For the second time in a week, guest match analyst Bracken from Forest Hill has awarded the Silver Bone to Jerome Thomas.

Hiss of the Match referee Halsey allowing Boro to get away with awful play acting.

Crowd rating tried to get going but were undermined by the team every time, considering Wednesday's result did not do badly. 6/10

Footnote from Wyn Grant

When someone left the meeting I was chairing in Leeds early to watch the Super Hoops, I knew that he was in for more of a treat than what would be available at The Valley (they won 3-0). While I thought Charlton might scrape a draw against a much improved Boro, as I struggled with my radio to get reception on a Virgin train, I was not surprised to learn that they had lost 1-2. On Match of the Day Curbs referred to letting too many goals in and failing to score enough which I guess about sums it up. What we really need in the transfer window is a reliable striker which Jeffers has unfortunately turned out not to be. But where can such a person be found? Going to the Championship is not really the answer as Earnshaw has not so far impressed at West Brom.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Big Brian Cole sacked

Pitchside announcer Big Brian Cole has been sacked by Charlton after remarks he made before last night's game against Palace. Cole pronounced the name of the distinguished South London club as 'Palarse' and also referred to 'Charlton Athletic versus that lot'. The club was placed in a difficult position after Palace directors (who would seem to be in need of a humour transplant) complained. There might also have been a complaint to the Premiership who have had enough on their hands with accusations of flying pizza and thrown soup at Old Trafford. Brian has accepted the club's decision and apologised to the directors of both clubs. Nevertheless, I shall be sad to see him go. It could be another step in the direction of a blander, more corporate Charlton. Later It has emerged that TalkSport is now running a 'Bring Back Brian' campaign and is claiming that they will talk to the horizontally challenged sacked announcer tomorrow, although he has no knowledge of this.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Charlton surrender to Palace

Charlton continued their appalling Carling Cup form with an abject 1-2 surrender to Crystal Palace at The Valley on Wednesday night. Perhaps the only consolation was that the Glaziers found themselves with an away draw at Old Trafford which would also have undoubtedly ended any run for the Addicks. Although the Nigels were chanting 'Bring on United' at London Bridge, even they must realise that there are limits to what their team can do. At Charlton Station they were chanting their current favourite 'Bounce-back-ablility slogan', but it will be interesting to see the relative position of the two teams in the end of the season in the competition that matters. Nevertheless, it will take some time to expunge this humiliation from the minds of Charlton supporters. Defensive errors and an inept strike force combined with a shapeless midfield, with the exception of Jerome Thomas, to produce a catastrophic performance. And it had all started so well with a fifth minute goal from the Herminator.

In his opening remarks, despite an E mail distributed by 'Reg' Varney on how to handle the occasion, pitch announcer Brian Cole managed to make his pronounciation of Palace sound like the popular colloquial version. As the Addickted chanted 'Scum of South London' at the assembled Nigels, Charlton won a corner. It was poor, but led to a second and the Herminator put a decisive header in the back of the net on five minutes.

A foul on Lisbie gave Charlton a free kick, but Matt Holland wasted the opportunity created by putting the ball over. Jeffers powered through and won Charlton a corner. Palace managed to break, but the impressive Thomas intercepted effectively. Palace were demonstrating that they were exponents of the gentle art of hoofing, although Charlton did their bit as the game went on. Palace had some pace and following a break, Derry managed to get a shot at Deano which he had to tip behind. The corner ended in a Charlton goal kick.

Palace were, however, stepping up the pressure and one effort went just past the post. Kevin Lisbie powered through on the wing by the East Stand and put in a good ball to Holland. This was a great opportunity to increase the lead, but his ball went just wide in what was probably a turning point in the match. Instead Palace equalised through Freedman who managed to burst through the Addicks defence without difficulty.

Half time: Addicks 1, Glaziers 1

Jerome Thomas made a great break on the left, but the resulting corner produced nothing more than a Charlton throw in. Torghelle picked up a yellow card for a foul. He then put in an angled shot on the Charlton goal which required a good save from Deano. Palace were keeping up the pressure and Chris Perry was called on for good defensive work. Then, with the Charlton defence once again not in evidence, Torghelle put Palace ahead.

Crisp attacking play was now called from the Addicks, but their efforts became increasingly frantic as the game wore on. Lisbie set the tone with a shot straight at the Palace keeper. As Charlton won a corner, Murphy was replaced by Euell. It was now up to Jerome Thomas to take the corners and good corners they were. From his first effort, Peroni had to tip over his bar and the same action was required after the second. As tensions rose in front of goal, the Herminator was booked. The fading Stuart was taken off and replaced by JJ.

Palace had missed no opportunity to commit fouls and Leigertwood was booked for a trip. Then Torghelle, who has been spending some time on Croydon baths, decided to demonstrate his diving skills in the area, but instead of awarding him a penalty, referee Styles (who had a good game) sent him down the tunnel. However, Charlton proved unable to take advantage of their numerical supremacy.

Palace continued to look dangerous with a shot flashing past Deano's post. Luke Young won Charlton a corner Palace made their first substitution to demonstrate the wealth of household names on the bench as well as on the pitch with Darren Powell replacing Ben Watson. The Herminator drew a diving save from the keeper. Luke Young was taken off and replaced by Hughes. JJ put in an effort that was very poor, although shortly afterwards he did draw a save having made use of a Charlton free kick.

As the game went into three minutes added on, Charlton had an opportunity from a free kick in front of goal. But Holland's free kick was hopelessly wide which about summed the evening up. There was some frantic pinball in front of the Palace goal, but the ball didn't go in. The Addicks were loudly booed as they left the pitch and one wonders if we will look back and see this as the end of Alan Curbishley's reign at Charlton? On the other hand, there's another and more important game on Saturday when there will be everything to play for, not least the chance of restoring some pride. As for Palace, taking six points off them in the league is more important.

Match analysis His first ever Silver Bone was awarded by Hooch the Pooch to Jerome Thomas for a skilled and enthuisatic performance on the wing on a night when such qualities were generally lacking. Deano was let down by his defence for the two goals, but where those who suggested that this was a chance for Andersen to show what he could do right? Both Perry and Fortune put in some good defensive work, but where were they when the Palarse goals were scored? I also thought that Young had quite a good game and was disappointed to see him substituted. Apart from scoring the goal Hreidarsson was capable. Stuart was enthusiastic and dedicated but gave the ball away more than once. Once again Murphy failed to impress. Holland had a mare of a game, missing a chance to score. Lisbie did his best, but was hustled off the ball too often. Jeffers was anonymous throughout. Euell showed some skill when he came on, but never looked threatening. JJ showed that we have few alternatives in the strike force. Hughes added little value.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to the whole team for such a poor performance.

Crowd rating The Addickted did their best to get behind their team and were more innovative in their chants than usual. One can hardly blame them for their reaction at the end. 7/10.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Stormy weather ahead

The forecast for Wednesday evening is for heavy rain and high winds. This creates very unpredictable conditions which do not favour the more skilled side. Plus I will not be sitting in my usual seat and stand to get wet! We need to beat Palarse (and not on penalties after extra time) to boost the morale of the team and the supporters, plus the thought of all those Nigels from the Greenhouse crowing is just too much. One thing I can't work is why the Glaziers call the Addicketd 'pikeys'. The Millwall accusation of being 'trainspotters' or 'anoarks' is close to the mark. After all, the typical Charlton supporter lives in a semi in Bexleyheath and has a middle management job in IT.

Anyway, I'm getting warmed up tonight by watching Leamington at home to Feckenham of 'Feck Off' fame. Actually, they're really Redditch United Reserves and play at The Valley Stadium which is the best in the league. Later - 'And where the feck is Feckenham' echoed round the ground as Brakes triumphed 6-0

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Charlton collapse away again

Liverpool posed early danger with a header by Garcia after Finnan had turned provider against an unchanged Charlton side. The weather here is almost as bad as in Iceland, pouring with rain and the wind getting up. Luke Young was called on for good defensive work against Risse at the expense of a corner, headed away by Young. The pressure continued but Lisbie took the ball away to the half way line. Chris Perry had to play the ball back to Deano who cleared under pressure. Fortune provided good defensive cover. Kiely dealt with the ball on a greasy pitch after Murphy had needlessly given the ball away. There was danger following the corner but eventually the ball went away for a goal kick. Bartlett put in an effort from twenty yards which was on target but Kirkland was able to get down behind it. Then Lisbie and Bartlett combined for another half chance for the Addicks.

Liverpool got another corner after a ball from Baros hit the shins of Rommedahl. The corner was well blocked on the line by Murphy to stop a certain goal from Hypia. Liverpool forged forward again as they kept up the pressure. With Liverpool attacking again, Fortune had to loop the ball away. Liverpool won a free kick 30 yards out. Cissé hit the post after the ball was rolled to him from the kick with Deano not well positioned and the ball was cleared by Young. Baros put a header wide from six yards out. After Young made a mistake on the right, Liverpool burst through but Risse was unable to take advantage. Luke Young challenged Risse well, but soon Liverpool were advancing again. But the header from Baros was straight at Deano to the fury of the Liverpool player.

Charlton mounted an attack but it fizzled out in an offside decision. Baros advanced again through the centre but it was well defended by Chris Perry. Stuart did well to stop Risse. Chris Perry had to receive treatment. The Herminator put in a robust challenge on Garcia. The service to Lisbie and Bartlett up front was poor with the midfield not contributing well. Luke Young burst through, but d'Urso gave Liverpool a free kick on the basis of a little push by Bartlett. The home crowd was becoming more subdued as the half hour mark approached with no score.

Rommedahl approached the Kop end, but the lino gave a marginal offside decision against Bartlett. Charlton were coming into the match more. The Herminator turned the ball behind for a corner which was unproductive for 'Pool. Perry still seemed to be suffering from the earlier knock. Murphy gave the ball away, but fortunately Baros was badly off target. Young and Stuart combined well. Rommedahl forged through and Kirkland dropped the ball, but the lino flagged for a foul. The game became rather scrappy as the last five minutes of the half approached. Lisbie was playing in more of an advanced midfield position. Cissé got a good cross in, but the Addicks were able to clear. Charlton had been under the cosh, but they managed to ride out the storm.

Half-time: Liverpool 0, Charlton 0

I expected Liverpool to come out on fire at the start of the second half determined to get a winning goal, but it was hardly a storming start. But then Kiely had to palm the ball behind from an attempt by Baros. Following a corner, an Alonso header was blocked inside the six yard box, but then six minutes into the second half Risse scored for Liverpool. Charlton were sluggish in closing Risse down. Perry had to deal with a Liverpool counter attack as the home crowd came to life. Lisbie forged down the left, but Hyypia took the ball off him.

Charlton won a free kick in a promising position for a foul on Lisbie. Murphy's effort was over hit. Fortune put the ball behind for an unnecessary corner. Kiely punched away, then after some play, an unnecessary corner was conceded by Perry. Boos rang round Anfield as former Everton player Jeffers came on the pitch to replace Rommedahl after an ineffectual game on his second start of the season away from home. Lisbie moved left side to fill the position vacated by Rommedahl. Risse went off in favour of Kewell. Perry slipped letting Baros through but Finnan put it wide. D'Urso had a word with Jeffers after a hand ball which sent the home crowd into paroxysms of anger. Perhaps Jeffers was desperate for a touch.

Jeffers was booked for a tackle on Carragher. The Herminator did well to deal with Baros who fouled him. Bartlett was pulled off for Euell. The 40,000+ crowd was silent again. Euell put the ball high and wide. Garcia then scored from 30 yards out into the roof of the net in front of the Kop. Liverpool won another corner and then a second, followed by a third. Baros was taken off. Lisbie was replaced by Hughes. Perhaps it would have been better to have El Karkouri on earlier in his defensive midfield role. Euell went forward, but either Young or Jeffers was offside. Perry did well to get the ball back to Deano and frustrate a Liverpool attack. Holland gave the ball away to Cissé.

Liverpool won yet another corner with Kewell unhappy about the challenge from Young.
Alonso's corner was easily cleared. Charlton won a corner off a Murphy free kick. Liverpool brought on Academy product Warner. Garcia almost scored for Liverpool from an acute angle. 'You'll never walk alone' rang round the ground.

Charlton looked more out of their depth than a whale stranded on an Icelandic beach. At least they halved the number of goals customarily scored against them away.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Brakes go marching in as prodigal son returns

Despite the driving rain there was a buzz around Harbury Lane as news spread of the return of prodigal son Paul Nicholls. The Scott Parker of Leamington had been unable to break into the Stratford Town team and decided to return to his roots at a lower level. Coventry Marconi were unbeaten so far this season and had only conceded ten goals, but they were 4-0 down by the half hour. Then they got a goal back just before half time after there had been a mass brawl which resulted in only one player being booked. It almost all went off in the vice-presidents' hut at half time when one person confessed that he had joined 57 other saddos at Racing Club Warwick last week. Marconi got more into the match in the second half, assisted by a linesman constantly flagging against Brakes for offside leading to chants of 'He's got a spring loaded arm', interspersed by 'The Brakes Go Marching In' and 'Jason Cadden's barmy army'. As Brakes went 5-1 ahead, there was a chant of 'Are you [Coventry] City in disguise?' You get more variety in the chants at Harbury Lane than at The Valley and a late appearance for Dazza replacing the formidable bulk of Darren Tank led to the chant of 'He's fat, he's round, he scores at every ground: Darren Timms, Darren Timms.' The Marconi keeper was injured and verbal started between Marconi players and the crowd, one spectator being told he was a *****. The still far from recovered keeper could not keep out a late strike that made it 6-1 for the Brakes.

Olafur's on Merseyside

Our reporter for this evening's match, Olafur Johansson, has arrived on Merseyside. 'Anfield is always a special place to come for a match', declared the No.1 Iceland Addick. And, of course, it is the last place where the travel sick Addicks got an historic away win. Will Shaun Bartlett be in the team today to repeat his goal scoring feat? Will Jeffers replace Lisbie?

A special place for football

Olafur was intrigued by the Thai bid for Liverpool earlier in the year which has faded from the news. However, he found practical evidence of the problems Thai fans might face around the ground.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Ten Years Ago: no Fortress Valley

There was still a mood of euphoria at The Valley after the 2-0 away defeat of Port Fail the preceding week hailed by Steve Gritt in the programme as 'our best away performance'. Fans were informed that a video of the win 'can be ordered if anyone is interested in purchasing it.'

Hopes were high against 'struggling' Burnley who who had come up through the play offs. These hopes were soon to be dissipated, even though the Addicks got off to a good start when the irrepressible David Whyte hit the post. However, my notes recall, 'Charlton only played well in the first and last quarter of an hour. The rest of the time they were half hearted, marked poorly, Burnley dominated the midfield and Petterson let in an easy goal.' This came from a move from a corner on 52 minutes with Petterson leaving acres of space by standing next to the near post. Nine minutes later a break by Burnley from one end of the pitch to the other could not be stopped by Phil Chapple, while Petterson made an easy target as he stood rooted to the spot. Charlton got back into the game on 81 minutes with another neat goal by David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte but were unable to force a draw.

I had had to rush to the ground from a Foreign Office conference in a country house location in Sussex, the sort of place where people wear EU socks. I only made it with quarter of an hour to spare and did not realise that Neil Kinnock was in the crowd, although the former Labour leader's motive for attending was unclear: I certainly never thought of him as an Addick.

The programme featured Paul Linger whose career was later cruelly interrupted by a broken leg at Port Fail. The Addickted were told that 'Paul's versatility allows him to play in a number of positions including as an orthodox winger, an attacking midfield player, or the free man just behind the front two.' In other words, a classic utility player but programme editor Peter 'Scoop' Burrowes was able to reveal that 'He doesn't really mind where he fits in as long as he is playing in the team.'

He's back

Self-proclaimed No.1 Addick in Iceland, Olafur Johnasson, is returning to England to cover Saturday's match at Liverpool for this blog. Olafur's stay in England came to an end when a deal with some 'young entrepreneurs' in Aigburth turned sour and he lost not only his load of fish but the van as well. His company recalled him to Grindavik where one of the few social delights in this gale lashed fishing port is the Mama Mia pizza parlour. Undaunted, Olafur is returning to the site of his nemesis to see the Addicks and in particular the Herminator.

Monday, October 18, 2004

That's the way to do it!

Although Charlton earned only a 1-1 draw with Newcastle at The Valley on Sunday afternoon, I felt that this was their best performance of the season, even better than the 3-0 home defeat of Villa. The team really seemed to be knitting together and the ability to pass fluently but also battle for the ball had returned. Both sides went out to win in an exciting, pulsating Centenary celebration match but this was probably one of those occasions when a draw was a fair result.

The visitors enjoyed some early possession, but Fortune coped well with Craig Bellamy. Some seven minutes in the Barcodes had two corners in succession. Lisbie played in a good ball to Stuart. His effort was on target, but was tipped over the bar by Given in the Newcastle goal. The more involved Murphy powered through the centre of the Newcastle defence in S*ott P**ker style. A Lisbie run won the Addicks a corner, but the subsequent attack ended in an offside decision. The lively Bartlett played in a good ball to Lisbie, but his effort went across the face of goal and was unproductive. A Newcastle free kick came off the Charlton wall and went to the other end of the ground. A second Magpies free kick also came off the Charlton wall.

Charlton were awarded a free kick leading to protests from Shearer to the referee that would have attracted a booking for any other player. Charm merchant Craig Bellamy put a shot well over to the accompaniment of loud whistles from the Addickted. Good work by Graham Stuart set up Murphy for a cross and the move resulted in an unproductive Charlton corner. The reliable Chris Perry was providing good defensive work for Charlton. Newcastle thought they had gone ahead when they got the ball in the back of the net, but the observant lino had already raised his flag for an infringement. Rommedahl won the Addicks a corner and played the ball back in again.

With the Addicks looking impressive, it was a blow when a Newcastle goal came from nowhere (well, from a move on the West Stand side actually) on 39 minutes with Bellamy putting the Barcodes 1-0 ahead. Bernard provided an impressive cross from the left allowing Bellamy to head the ball into the net.

HT: Addicks 0, Magpies 1

Charlton came out for the second half determined to get back into the game and within six minutes had made it 1-1. Kevin Lisbie had powered through, taking advantage of a neat header from Bartlett. Lisbie made it clear that he will seek to claim the goal, but his shot received an assist from O'Brien. They all count and Owen Goal is usually up among the leading scorers most seasons for the Addicks.

Almost immediately after the equaliser Deano was called on to make a good save. Good work by the impressive Luke Young won Charlton a corner, but Rommedahl's shot went over. Kevin Lisbie put in a good ball to Bartlett and I thought that the Springbok was going to score but his short went fractionally wide and ended up in the side netting.

Sourness decided that the time had come to change things around and pulled off Ambrose for Robert and Bellamy for Ameobi. Bellamy was roundly booed by the Addickted as he left the field, but his anger was focused on his own manager as he gave Sourness a piece of his mind in colourful language.

The Barcodes won two corners in succession. Matt Holland went down in a clash and had to go off the pitch for some minutes, returning with an impressively large bandage around his forehead. Referee Walton had had a good game up until then, barring not seeing the odd elbow from Shearer which no one ever does, but he ignored a blatant obstruction on Murphy and gave Stuart his third yellow card of the season when he sought to protest. Meanwhile, Newcastle had taken advantage of the situation to win a corner.

Sourness pulled off Butt and brought on the promising Milner. On 79 minutes Curbs made his first change, bringing Jeffers on in place of Lisbie. A Newcastle corner produced a moment of danger and the ball almost went in, Murphy having to clear off the line. Another Newcastle corner produced a good stop at the expense of the second, but the referee blew up for a Charlton free kick.

As the rain poured down it was an end to end stuff and Bartlett drew a save from Given with a strike. Making use of a Charlton corner, Rommedahl put in a shot that was deflected and hit the bar. Given had to stretch to just tip it over. There was then an incredible scene of mayhem in the Newcastle goal. Shearer cleared off the line from Fortune and then Holland put in an effort from distance that had Given beaten, but came off the post.

Amoebi received a yellow card. This was way down at the Jimmy Seed end of the West Stand, but I understand that a judicious use of the elbow may have been involved. With three minutes added on, Charlton won a final corner, but the winner was not going to come. The point put the Addicks back in the top half of the table again.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch thought that this was a case of an all round team effort in which all the players had contributed. Nevertheless, he singled out Matt Holland to receive the Silver Bone which came wrapped in a special presentation bandage. We have missed Holland in midfield and he had an inspirational game as captain. Deano played his part well and could not have stopped Bellamy's goal. Fortune made a couple of errors, but was generally strong in defence and came close to scoring. Perry did well and we have to thank Inspector Sands for putting out his missing persons appeal earlier in the season which appears to have found the rock solid defender in an obscure part of Sparrows Lane. Talking of missing persons, where is Konchesky? Hreidarsson had a good game, although he was perhaps not as prominent as he sometimes is. Young
had a really excellent game, forging forward impressively and doing his work in defence. Stuart had another blinder of a game, displaying energy, skill and determination. Murphy is at last showing what he can provide, while Rommedhal is also fulfilling his promise, making some good runs down the wing. Lisbie and Bartlett
combined well up front. Bartlett also made his contribution in midfield and defence, being particularly good at trapping the ball and making use of it. Jeffers did not have enough time to shine and according to the interview with Curbs in the Sunday Times is already feeling unsettled.

Juneau the Soccer Cat did think of giving the Hiss of the Match to Shearer and Bellamy but instead settled for presenting them with commemorative charm bracelets to wear on their elbows. The Hiss went to the people in the flats overlooking the ground who displayed Newcastle and Shearer banners. Someone should have gone up and given them the elbow.

Crowd rating The crowd responded to the standard of play on the pitch and really got behind the team. 8/10

Friday, October 15, 2004

Ten Years Ago: a celebration video

Ten years ago Charlton went to the Potteries and the 2-0 victory over Port Vale caused such excitement that a limited edition of a special video was issued. Does anyone still have it? Midlands TV were so miffed by the result that they described Charlton as 'anything but Athletic'. It was 0-0 at half time but then captain Phil Chapple took advantage of a corner to head into the back of the net on 48 minutes. On 71 minutes a long ball broke up a Port Fail attack and found Kim Grant who laid it off to David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte. The striker had no difficulty in finding the back of the net.

With the game against Newcastle coming up it is worth remembering the fixture on 1 December 2001 when an equaliser in the 83rd minute from substitute Charlie MacDonald saved a point for Charlton. Alan Shearer was sent off in the 87th minute, much to his disgust and the decision was rescinded the next day.

Charlie MacDonald, who spent six years with the Addicks, is currently hitting them in for Crawley in the Conference, but is rumoured to be the possible object of a £50,000 bid from Hornchurch.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Ten years ago: Charlton lose top six place

Charlton were in the top six of Division 1 on 8th October 1994, but they weren't there at the end of the afternoon having gone down 1-2 at home to Reading in a front of a crowd that broke through the 10,000 barrier at 10,602. Despite fighting a cold and a temperature, I made my way to The Valley but was not pleased by what I saw. A Norwegian band was playing at the ground and one old guy said to me, 'It's just like the old days with the Royal Artillery Band.' Charlton started very uncertainly and were a goal down after five minutes. My notes say 'Their play was bad in the first half - poor passing, poor finishing and, above all, poor defence.' Mark Robson equalised after 56 minutes but an error by goalkeeper Andy Petterson put Reading ahead again. After that the Reading defence played well while Charlton were often hesitant.

The programme reported that there had been minor vandalism in the East Stand gents. 'If you see anybody acting suspiciously, tell a steward.'

Saturday, October 02, 2004

'We're the champions, that's why'

That was the chant of the Arsenal faithful as Charlton went down to a 4-0 defeat at Highbury. Charlton had started brightly enough, playing some neat, passing football, although they never really threatened the Arsenal goal throughout the whole match. Then a foolish back pass by Euell created unnecessary danger, Deano rushed out of his goal and Arsenal were 1-0 ahead not long before half time. Within minutes of the re-start they were 2-0 ahead and after that it was downhill all the way for the Addicks with Arsenal increasingly dominating the match.

Charlton started brightly and won what was to be their only corner of their match. Their build up play was looking promising and the lively Graham Stuart put in a good ball to Euell but he was able to do nothing with it. Perry provided some good defensive work. An effort by Bergkamp went wide. Henry advanced on goal, but Deano outwitted him with some smart work. After a break by Arsenal, Deano could only push out an attempt on goal by Henry, but Cliché's effort went well over. Then it was Henry's turn to put a shot over and an Arsenal free kick was wasted. Deano made a comfortable save. Deano came out to make a save from Viera.

So far, so good. But then Euell lost possession with his unnecesary back pass, Henry pounced and sent Bergkamp clear. Deano came out of his goal along the line in an attempt to deny Bergkamp, but he cut the ball back for Ljungberg who had no difficulty in evading an apparently motionless Perry and putting the ball in the back of the net on 33 minutes. Deano then had to make a good save from Henry. Viera was booked for a foul on Stuart and then Stuart was booked for a foul on Lauren. Lungeberg then decided to trip an advancing Herminator and received a yellow card for his troubles. An effort from El Karkhouri soared over the Gooners goal, prompting chants of 'Johnny Wilkinson' from the home fans.

Half time: Gooners 1, Addicks 0

Luke Young provided some good defensive work with a header to Deano. Then Reyes turned provided for Henry. Fortune thought he had him covered, but Henry displayed his sheer brilliance with a strong back heel that went through Fortune's leg and evaded Deano to go into the far corner of the net. 2-0 on 48 minutes. Arsenal felt able to withdraw Lungeberg and bring on Pennant.

From now on Arsenal very much in command, but Stuart had a chance to put Charlton back in the match when he was fed the ball by Euell, but Stuart's shot went just wide. Arsenal won a succession of corners, then Lisbie won Charlton a free kick in a promising position not far from the 'D', but Murphy's effort went over. Stuart gave Lehmann some practice with a shot that was straight at him.

The calls of the Addickted for substitutions were met on 66 minutes when the hapless Kishishev was replaced by Rommedahl while the off form Euell was replaced by JJ. Cliché was booked but the resultant free kick ended in an offside decision. Fluent passing by Arsenal then allowed Henry to make it 3-0 with a shot that left Deano with no chance. As the rain lashed down and many of the Addickted headed for the exit, Reyes made it 4-0. The fading Stuart was replaced by the returning Holland.

By now Arsenal were completely dominating the match in terms of possession. Charlton failed to take the chance offered by a free kick with El Karkhouri sending the ball well over the goal. Reyes having missed a chance to make it 5-0 with a shot that he blazed over with only Deano to beat, Arsenal thought they had done it when a shot from van Persie went into the back of the net but the assistant referee's flag was already up for offside. Deano then had to make a superb save to keep the scoreline down. At least it wasn't the 6-0 defeat that Charlton suffered here in 1947.

On arriving at Marylebone on the way back to Leamington there was a large police presence and I was stopped and asked to assist with their enquiries into the daylight robbery at Highbury and Charlton's 4-0 defeat. So at last I got to meet one of the Charlton bobbies!

Match analysis

It was one of those rare occasions when Hooch the Pooch decided to withhold the Silver Bone. Deano made one superb save which stopped an even bigger defeat, was partly at fault for the first goal, but was generally left exposed by a Charlton defence that had no answer to Charlton's pace. Parry and Fortune both seemed unable to cope with a rampant Arsenal. Luke Young did make some good contributions to defence and forged forward once or twice. Hreidarsson did his job competently enough. Kishishev was having another of his off days and simply couldn't match Arsenal. El Karkouri made some useful contributions in midfield, but his free kicks were woeful. Stuart was one of the best Charlton players in the first half, harrying Arsenal and displaying good ball control. But he faded as the match went on. Murphy still doesn't seem to be slotting into the team very well and it has been suggested that he will be signed by Everton in the transfer window, the cover story being that his wife (rather than him) hasn't settled down south. Euell had a poor game and it was no surprise when he was substituted. Lisbie did his best to use his pace, but was out muscled by the Gooners defence. JJ was simply outclassed when he came on. There were calls from the Addickted for Rommedahl to come on, but it can't be said he had made much of a difference. Likewise for Holland but it was good to see him back.

Hiss of the Match I thought that referee Mike Dean had a good game, calming players down but not being afraid to dish out the yellow cards when necessary. The Hiss of the Match goes to Transport for London for failing to provide a service after the game and to the bus driver who lost his rag with the crowds as they surged across the road at Finsbury Park after the game.

Crowd Rating The Addickted were in good heart and tried to keep their spirits up as Charlton fell to pieces, but I was not impressed with the mass exodus after the scoreline went to 3-0. 6/10. The award for the most inventive chant goes to the Gooners for their 'Johnny Wilkinson' chant which the used to serenade players whose shots went well over the bar.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Ten years ago: welcome Lee Bowyer

Lee Bowyer made what was I think his first appearance for Charlton in the 3-0 defeat of Watford at The Valley. He certainly attracted the attention of the Watford players, being fouled in the 40th and then the 42nd minute. Steve Brown was booked for fouling Hessenthaler, but the complement was returned later. The goals were scored by Gary Nelson, Kim Grant and David Whyte and at least one of them was, I recall, shown on BBC television news. The attendance was just 8,417, but I recall that Watford rarely brought much away support with them.