Monday, November 29, 2004

Dowie starts mind games

Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie has already started the mind games ahead of next Sunday's clash between the Addicks and their Croydon rivals. He told Football First that any one of ten teams could be relegated from the Barclays Premiership, going on to name Charlton as one possibility. 'I don't think there is a cut-off point. Charlton were looking good but they have lost the last two games and it makes a difference. I think anybody from ninth, maybe 10th, has got to be concerned about going down - there will be a lot of teams involved.'

This is just the sort of remark that will prey on the minds of Charlton supporters who think that defeats by Chelsea and Manchester United indicate a relegation struggle, forgetting that we dispatched Norwich by the same score that Chelsea dispatched us. I am sticking to the prediction of a 12th place finish for the Addicks I made at the beginning of the season.

This is going to sound like one of Peter Varney's 'why we must be nice to the boys from our neighbouring school' homilies, but Palace do have some things going for them. One of them is Iain Dowie who is clearly an astute manager, proving that he can turn 'rubbish into power' to quote the slogan that used to be on the waste recycling facility near the New Den. In Andy Johnson, who has scored nine goals, this season, Palace have one of the more impressive strikers in the Premiership. JJ is our top scorer in the league with three goals, followed by a disparate group that include Jeffers (when he was let out), striker manqué Luke Young and that famous Welsh international, Owen Goal. So it's not going to be straightforward at Selhurst Park.

Special competition

It has been reported that the club has decided not to go ahead with a special 'Why I respect Crystal Palace competition' to commemorate the happy years spent at Selhurst Park. It's not that the promised prize of a replica wooden bench from the Arthur Wait stand put people off, but rather that no one could work out the answer to the tie breaker question 'In which part of London is Crystal Palace football club located?' Croydon was rejected as too general and Norbury and Thornton Heath as too imprecise. This page is prepared to offer a small prize for anyone prepared to come up with an answer that is both accurate and amusing. Keep it clean please: any offensive answers will be reported to Peter Varney.

Fans' spirits have been lifted by the news that the tone of the match will be raised by the presence of His Worship the Mayor of Welling, Councillor Rick Everitt. The Rickster has had a low profile recently, no doubt because he has been working on helping to write Keith Peacock's autobiography which was selling well in the club shop on Saturday.

The official residence of the Mayor of Welling: bet you haven't got anything like that in Norbury

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Billion boys crush Charlton

It was no contest at The Valley when Chelsea's lavishly funded side crushed the Addicks 4-0 on Saturday. Charlton had conceded an avoidable goal after four minutes, but had then fought back. With Chelsea's back line looking far from secure, there were still hopes of an equaliser when Chel$ki went in 1-0 ahead at the break. However, according to a later radio interview with John Terry, they were given a telling off at half time for allowing Charlton back into the game and they went 2-0 ahead shortly after the break. By the time Gudjohnsen had put them 4-0 ahead on 59 minutes, it was looking like a possible 6-0 defeat, but the Addicks rallied enough to contain them for the last half hour, although they were not able to produce a consolation goal. Before the game I had predicted a 0-2 result, so the outcome was worse than I had expected.

When I opened my E mail on Saturday morning, I had one from a friend currently working in Mexico City who said that she was going to Acapulco for the weekend. I couldn't help drawing the contrast with my likely day. A long and difficult journey to and from a grey SE7; defeat by Chelsea; and constant abuse of Curbishley and the team from the Bloke Behind Me, delivered in a shower of spittle. All my forebodings came true.

As I missed the Boro match, I only saw the programme yesterday, to read Peter Varney's headmasterly rebuke of Big Brian Cole. Is his replacement auditioning to advertise a 'before and after' sinusitis cure?

In the wake of the defeat, it is difficult to recall that we had a chance in the first minute. John Terry managed to give the ball away and JJ played it into Thomas in front of goal, but the youngster did not react quickly enough and Cech was able to deal with the ball.

On four minutes Gudjohnsen advanced into the centre circle, leaving our star defensive midfielder Kishishev stranded (would Keith Jones have been so easily outwitted?) Duff was running down the East Stand side and Gudjohnsen gave the ball to him. Konchesky, filling the left back role in place of the Herminator, was no match for the Irishman's pace. Kiely moved to his near post, giving Duff the opportunity to skim the ball in at the far post.

Charlton won a corner shortly afterwards, but it was taken short and wasted. Konchesky won the Addicks a corner, but Bartlett's effort went over. Chelsea won a corner that led to some pinball in front of the Covered End goal. Charlton were giving the ball away too easily, but El Karkouri delivered an impressive defensive block. The ball was played in to Deano who gave it a weak shot which sent it out for a Chelsea throw in.

Not all of the decisions made by the East Stand linesman were to the liking of charm merchant Duff who felt that Chelsea were not being given the number of corners their status deserved. Referee Clattenburg smiled benevolently as more than once Duff gave the lino his views about his parentage.

An excellent Luke Young cross won Charlton a corner. Chelsea won a corner at the other end and the unmarked Carvalho was given a free header, but he managed to put it just inches over the bar. A dubious free kick awarded against JJ gave Chelsea another corner.

Kishishev turned provider for JJ and his cross had to be pushed away by Cech. Charlton's best chance in the half came on 37 minutes. After Thomas had won a free kick, El Karkouri won Charlton a corner. Bartlett headed the ball into the goalmouth and Carvalho somehow managed to head it against his own post.

Robben drew a two fisted save from Deano. Terry committed a fierce foul on Thomas, but the referee consulted his list of England players and confined the punishment to a yellow. The feeling at half time was that Charlton had fought their way back into the game, even the Bloke Behind Me confessing that the Addicks had not been as humiliated as he had expected.

Half time: Addicks 0, Chel$ki 1

Chelsea came out in the second half determined to show that they were prospective champions. Robben won Chelsea an early corner and there was a scramble in the Addicks goalmouth involving a clever Chelsea back flick that won the visitors a second corner. Terry intercepted Duff's kick unchallenged by the Charlton defenders and put a head in the back of the net.

Chelsea continued in rampant mood and Deano had to make a good save from a shot from distance by Lampard. Within three minutes of the first goal of the half, the match was put beyond doubt. Another corner kick from Duff was headed across the front of goal by Carvalho. Kishishev made an attempt at clearance of the kind more usually seen in parks football. Deano is not at his best at close range and Terry was able to use his foot to put the ball in the back of the net and make it 0-3.

Charlton now completely lost their shape. The midfield, which had not been a source of strength all game, seemed to have disappeared in a secret cavern left over from the days when The Valley was a quarry. On 59 minutes Chelsea completed a flowing move which showed why they are championship contenders. Robben played a ball to Lampard who passed it to Gudjohnsen. With the Charlton defence seemingly standing by in admiration, the Herminator's compatriot advanced on a stranded Kiely to make it 0-4. A few minutes later Gudjohnsen was replaced by Drogba.

The Bloke Behind Me had been screaming for Curbishley to make changes, but when he made a triple substitution on 63 minutes it was denounced as a panic measure. Hreidarsson came on for Thomas, whose inexperience had shown at times. The lacklustre Murphy was replaced by Euell and the hapless Kishishev was replaced by Rommedahl. The measures did have a hint of desperation about them, but at least they stopped the rot.

El Karkhouri put in a shot from distance that just went over and drew warm applause from the dejected Addickted. Rommedahl put in a good ball to Euell, but although his shot was on target, the keeper went down to save it. As the match drew to a close, the ball went into the East Stand and the crowd refused to return it, the referee blowing the final whistle. Someone said that was the best point of the match.

Where do we go from here?

On the way back on the train, I was pressed by Chalfont St.Peter Addick, Dick the Statto, to give my views on what we should do now. I'm not the manager and one of the most irritating aspects of football management must be the fans thinking they know more than you do. How would a surgeon react if he was told 'You shouldn't try that procedure, your tactics are all wrong', 'Why did you choose this team of nurses?' and 'Why did you make the incision there?' Still, like all fans, I have my opinions, but they are just that.

Charlton now have a series of matches against teams they should be able to take points from: Pal****, the Baggies and Fulham. The first encounter has, of course, a particular significance. Some fans complain that the players lack commitment, but I think the problem is more a lack of skill relative to teams like Chelsea. As always, there are those who are not satisfied with a mid-table position in the Premmiership and would like Curbs to go. Names that have been mentioned include Gordon Strachan and Harry Redknap. It is not clear why Strachan would want to come to Charlton, while Redknapp's ducking and diving on the transfer market is hardly the Charlton style. My position is quite clear. Before I left on Saturday I called my wine merchant to send Curbs his usual Christmas gift of champagne. The wine merchant commented, 'He's doing well, isn't he?' The fact is that in terms of attendance and wage bill, Charlton are higher in the Premiership than they should be, but fan expectations are starting to outrun what is possible.

One favoured solution among the fans is to use more players coming through from the Academy. It must be frustrating for them when they don't get a chance, but we are not in the Championship. Some fans would argue 'they couldn't do any worse'. But they could, through lack of experience. The failure of Thomas to take advantage of an opportunity in the first minute shows that experience still counts.

A broader issue is how attractive the Premiership is when some matches are so unbalanced. Would the domestic competition be more interesting if the biggest clubs went into a European super league? These and other related issues are discussed on our political economy of football web site (see link below). Listen out for our advert on Charlton Live on Sunday evening.

Football Economy

Match analysis

It was the turn of Homer the Cherry Hound from Harwell, Oxon, on the Association of Canine Match Analysts duty rota, but the usually lucky labrador was unable to produce the goods for Charlton. He did, however, award the Silver Bone to Talal El Karkouri who is starting to build up quite a collection. The Moroccan was stalwart in defence and impressive in attack and is looking like the best of the summer signings. When a side is shipping so many goals, questions must be asked about Deano. In fairness, he was probably only at fault for one of the goals. He is a good shot stopper, but he stays rooted to his line too much. He also fails sometimes to give a call to the defence, leading to a row with the Herminator after the volcanic defender felt that he had not been given a clear instruction by the keeper and played the ball into trouble. If Stephan Andersen is as promising as he appears to be, he won't stay at Charlton if he is kept on the bench. And then we will have no clear successor for Deano. We clearly missed the experience of Chris Perry, possibly out for as long as a month with a groin strain, at the back. Fortune was evident for his lack of an effective contribution to the match. Luke Young was one of the better Charlton players, helping to set up some of the few attacking moves. Press reports suggest that Paul Konchesky is miffed because he does not get a chance to develop his skills at left back. I think that Konchesky has lot to offer, but on the basis of this performance left back is not his best position. Before the match, Mourinho had lavished praise on Kishishev. Perhaps this was some sort of sophisticated mind game because this was a woeful performance by the Bulgarian. Once again Murphy left questions in the minds of a number of supporters about why we had bought him, although perhaps he is used to playing with a better team. Holland was running about all over the place, but made little positive impact. Thomas did his best and is a clear favourite with the supporters, but he is shown up by teams of Chelsea's calibre. JJ is now engaged in contract renewal negotiations, but I remain unconvinced about his qualities, particularly against the top sides. Bartlett did his best, but he was often left completely isolated up front. The omission of Hreidarsson from the line up was a suprise given that he was one of our most consistent and committed players. Apparently, he had a back injury but it didn't show very much when he came on. If he had been in his usual position, would the first goal have been conceded so easily? Euell did his best, but one feels that his best is no longer good enough, that he is not the player he was in previous seasons. But the Bloke Beside Me is a great fan and perhaps Euell has suffered from not being given more starts. Rommedahl clearly saw this as his chance to impress and his pace is impressive, but it is a question of what he does with it. At one point he took a long run with the ball from the East to the West Stand, but inevitably he was eventually dispossessed.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Durham's M Clattenburg. To judge from the standard of his refereeing, he must have been promoted straight from the North East Counties League. As one wag suggested, he should be called Battenburg because he was soft and crumbly. Goodness knows what he would have done if it had all gone off.

Crowd rating The Addickted did their best to keep in good heart, but it's not surprising that so many left before the end. When Chelsea started up a chant of 'One Scott Parker' the Covered End was quick with a response of 'What a waste of money.' It was pleasing that those that were left applauded the team at the end, recognising that they had done their best in very difficult circumstances. It also means we will be spared another rebuke by Peter Varney in the programme. 6/10.

Friday, November 26, 2004

So, farewell then, Jamal Campbell-Ryce

The news that Jamal Campbell-Ryce is to go to Rotherham has come as a shock to many of the Addickted, following the departure of Michael Turner to Brentford. However, the fleet of foot winger wants a chance to play regular first team football which the lowly Millers are likely to be able to offer in him. I saw him playing for Orient against Rushden some while ago and he looked impressive at that level. But there is a wide gulf between League One/League Two and the Premiership. Indeed, on the basis of the matches I go to, I would argue that the lower levels of non-league are nearer to the bottom divisions of the Football League than they are to the Prmemiership.

There was little prospect of Campbell-Ryce breaking into the first team at The Valley. The costs of not surviving in the Premiership are so high that it is difficult to take risks. As I recall, the only two former Academy players in the first team squad at the moment are Fortune and Lisbie. Fortune just about cuts it in the Premiership most of the time. Lisbie is, well, Lisbie. More talented players such as Samuel, Defoe and Parker have gone elsewhere.

What is the future of Academy football in Premiership clubs? Not very good, according to a feature in Thursday's Times. After fourteen rounds of matches in the Barclay Premiership, only twenty-four former trainees have made the starting line-up in at least half of their side's league fixtures. Given that there are twenty clubs in the Premiership, that is about one regular player per team from the youth ranks.

There is concern among Premiership clubs about how cost effective training programmes are. One Premiership club is reported to have wanted to scrap its academy, only to be talked out of the idea by their manager who said it would be a public relations mistake.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Ten Years Ago: Charlton outclassed

Charlton were simply outclassed by eventual champions Middlesbrough (managed by Bryan Robson) on 26 November 1994 at The Valley. The Addicks conceded their first goal after four minutes and went 0-2 down at 54 minutes. Shaun Newton replaced Walsh after 54 minutes and Kim Grant was withdrawn in favour of David Whyte after 64 minutes. When Leaburn left the field injured after 87 minutes, only Salmon was left on the bench so he was not replaced. There were four yellow cards in the game, including one on charm merchant Craig Hignett for pulling Leaburn's shirt.

Rather unusually, I travelled to the game with a Warwickshire Addick, Steve and his children. Soon afterwards he emigrated to Canada, but he flew back for the Wembley final and we got his ticket for him. He is now a member of the group that meet at a bar in Hamilton, Ontario for Charlton games.

The programme cover contained a photograph of keeper Ammann in a lurid green, white and yellow speckled top. He would be designated a fashion victim even in Florida. Substitute reserves keeper Dean Lee suffered a similar fate to judge from the picture inside. Curbs confessed that 'Everyone at the club has been disappointed with our recent run of results.' Nothing new there, then.

Will Charlton be outclassed by Chel$ki on Saturday? Our record against them in the Premiership is much better than against other top teams, but they have superb defensive record and we have difficulty scoring. Scott Parker played in the lacklustre draw against Paris St. Germain so is unlikely to appear to receive the thanks of the Addickted for his loyalty.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Brakes go marching on

I am not looking forward to what I fear could be a hammering by Chel$ki on Saturday, but my football spirits were lifted by last night's FA Vase Replay at Harbury Lane. Leamington convincingly beat Loughborough Dynamo 3-0, starting with a superb Josh Blake goal in the third minute. My man of the match was, however, vertically challenged wing back Ben Adams. The crowd of 524 took great pleasure in chanting at the side from higher up the non-league pyramid, 'Midland Alliance, you're having a laugh'. The Brakes are now the only Midland Combination side left in the Vase, having won £1,000 for their victory and go on to face Bedlington Terriers at home in the next round (unfortunately it clashes with our away fixture at the Baggies). Bring on the dogs!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Tactics for Saturday

Time to put the lacklustre performance at Manchester United behind us and focus on one of the key fixtures of the year against Chel$ski on Saturday. One last thought about Old Trafford: we had 49% of the possession but only two shots on target, although less possession and the same number of shots was enough to get the Baggies a draw at Highbury.

Which links to the problem we face against the Beach Boys. Chelsea have only let in three goals away from home all season. Is our strike force really going to penetrate their defence? Actually, I think that if anyone does score it will be someone like the Herminator making his towering presence felt at a set piece.

There was an interesting discussion about tactics on the excellent internet radio programme Charlton Live last night hosted by Big Brian Cole and Kevin 'The Knowledge' Portch. The clear preference of the fans contacting the programme was for an attacking strategy, even if it invited a heavy defeat. However, we are unlikely to get such an approach. Curbs is nothing if not cautious which is both a strength and a weakness.

Who should we play up front? Not Lisbie who has an unfortunate difficulty in scoring goals. JJ looked good against Norwich but they are essentially a Division 1 side. Bartlett, yes, and probably Jeffers. He hasn't played much because he hasn't impressed except against Villa, but this is the match to give him a chance. I would then drop Holland and bring in Euell as an attacking midfielder. I also thought that Jerome Thomas had problems at Old Trafford and a difficult choice is whether to use him at The Valley. Will he be able to create as much space against Chel$ki as he did against Norwich? Rommedahl must have a role at least on the bench. Kishishev will no doubt feature and is favoured by fans for his commitment. Let's hope he avoids any errors.

I'm not sure I agree with the popular diagnosis that the team lacks commitment and passion. I think that they lack skill compared to the players from better resourced clubs. This is most evident in the lack of a clear first choice striker.

What is important is that the crowd really gets behind the team on Saturday and tries to lift them. Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, I have a genuinely unpredictable match to go to: the FA Vase replay between Leamington and Loughborough Dynamo following Saturday's dramatic 1-1 draw.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Liverpool all over again

Charlton's 2-0 defeat by Manchester United was reminiscent of the recent 2-0 defeat by Liverpool. Charlton defended doggedly enough for much of the match, but showed little threat or inspiration in going forward. Indeed, the United keeper did not have to make a save all match. Charlton have never beaten United in the Premiership. The tactics in this game were evidently to play for the draw, but there was no Plan B when United went ahead shortly before half time.

In the second minute of the match Wes Brown managed to break through on the right and turn provider for van Nistelroy. However, the off form Dutchman's header lacked power and Deano had no difficulty in dealing with it. One of the few chances Charlton had was when a long ball was played into JJ, but he slipped and failed to make use of the opportunity. Indeed, the much capped Finn looked much less impressive than when he had been playing against essentially lower division opposition at The Valley the previous month.

Charlton continued to defend effectively with El Karkouri looking comfortable on the ball. On 33 minutes Scholes was presented with an opportunity from a Giggs corner, but Deano made a good save at the near post. With their nerves already frayed by an early start from the Surrey commuter belt, the United faithful were starting to become restive.

Unfortunately, just when it looked as if the Addicks would reach half time on 0-0, and Ferguson might be dialling 999 instead of celebrating that number of matches at the Salford club, he was saved by a Fergie fledgling turned veteran. Giggs advanced on goal and the otherwise reliable Perry slipped to give the Welsh international a clear sight of goal. His shot unfortunately deflected off Luke Young, leaving Deano with no chance.

Fortune replaced Perry after the break, presumably because of an injury to the older player. The youngster slotted in well alongside El Karkouri. However, five minutes into the half it was game over. Poor defending by the Addicks left Scholes unmarked at the far post and Deano was once again left with no chance from his scissor kick.

The Addickted were left fearing the scale of defeat they had suffered earlier in the season at the other Manchester club. However, they were saved by Rooney's inability to take advantage of golden chances. The teenage wonder managed to find the side netting and Row Z, but not the back of the net.

The new hope of the Addickted, Jerome Thomas, had been having a torrid time against top class opposition, failing to make much impression on the match. He was pulled off in favour of Konchesky. Jeffers was brought on in the 76th minute, but with insufficient time to make an impression. United supporters meanwhile consoled themselves by booing Danny Murphy every time he got the ball.

Perhaps the best day was had by those Charlton supporters whose coach was directed to the players' entrance in the mistaken belief that it was the team coach. 'Not bad for a tenner, innit?' said one wag. Certainly better value than what followed.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Goal bonanza for record crowd

Charlton beat Norwich 4-0 at The Valley on Saturday in front of a record crowd since the return to the ground of 27,057. The victory was achieved against an admittedly poor Norwich side, but was pleasing nonetheless. JJ put the Addicks 2-0 ahead before the break. His first goal came after the visiting support had just started a chant of 'You're supposed to be at home.' The Canaries provided some presure after the break, but they lacked penetration while their defence was always suspect. So it proved when substitute Paul Konchesky made it 3-0 to his delight and that of the fans just after he came on. Jason Euell then made it 4-0 and it could easily have been five.

I walked to the ground with unfrocked match analyst Brian Cole who was still adjusting to the unusual experience of walking to the ground among crowds of Addickted. The comment he made about Palace was recalled when two ladies returning from a shopping trip in a Ford Focus where surrounded by a crowd of turnip lifters and advised where they could stick their Focus. It's also interesting to note that the announcer at Cardiff when the Irons visited asked if the owner of a horse could return to the car park and attach it to the rag and bone cart there.

When I bought my match programme, Brian queried why I was bothering. Certainly, many of the fans in a well known hostelry I frequent have stopped buying it. Before opening it, I predicted that Curbs would be forecasting a 'tough game' and so it turned out to be. The ghost writer had also managed to include the cliché about it being a long season. Peter Varney's contributions increasingly read as they were written from the headmaster's study of some old fashioned grammar school. Abuse of players is totally unacceptable, but one can understood fans being negative about a home defeat by Crystal Palace reserves. Much of the rest of the publication is full of hype and boosterism of the 'Community programme arrives in Isle of Sheppey' or 'New coach service from Dungeness' type. One interesting article was about Matt Svensson who anticipated a friendly reception from the Addickted. He did receive it, but also showed that he is a committed and energetic player who lacks that extra something needed at Premiership level.

Norwich won a corner after fourteen seconds sending the Bloke Behind Me into whingeing overdrive where he remained for the rest of the match finally forecasting a mauling by Chelski. Norwich won a series of throw ins down the East Stand side which I suppose is how you make progress in the lower division. However, after five minutes there was encouragment for the Addickted when Jerome Thomas made space for himself on the left and sent in a sizzling cross which England's No.3 had to tip away. Green went down shortly afterwards and it may have been then that he received the injury that led to his substitution in the second half.

Jonson was one of the more impressive Norwich players and he advanced on the right to feed McKenzie. He provided a good ball for Holt, but the effort of the Scottish ace lacked power and Deano was able to make the save.

On 15 minutes El Karkouri sent a long and accurate free kick into the danger zone and the Herminator was well placed to flick it on for JJ who headed it into the top corner of the net. On 21 minutes Jerome Thomas once again created some space for himself and put a good ball into Murphy. Green saved his powerful header, but the loose ball was picked up by JJ who put an excellent ball into the net.

There was a moment of danger when Svensson turned provider for McKenzie in front of goal, but the towering presence of the Herminator was nearby and he put the ball wide. Luke Young managed to concede a completely unnecessary corner. The Norwich defence managed to give the ball away in front of goal and it was the inappropriately named Charlton who managed to block Murphy's effort. JJ tried one of his trademark bicycle kicks, but it was the wrong cathedral city, Norwich not Exeter. Nevertheless, it was good to see shots being attempted: sometimes they do go in.

Half time: Addicks 2, Canaries 0

Norwich brought on Bentley in place of Jonson after the break, hoping that the young Arsenal loan player could turn their game around. Norwich won a free kick on the edge of the area, but it came off the wall. Norwich won another free kick after minimal contact, but their effort went over the bar. When the Addicks forged forward, they fell foul of the offside trap. Huckerby broke free on the left and McKenzie put the ball in the net but the alert line on the West Stand side had already raised his flag for offside.

Kishishev put in a good ball to Murphy but his effort lacked power. Lisbie powered through but should have passed the ball so the chance was wasted. Norwich had to pull off Green and bring on Darren Ward. When he was at Notts County, he was thought of as a keeper with a Premiership future who might also play at Wales. His career suffered when County were relegated and Steve from Sidcup thought that he might have played for Bristol City.

Kishishev put in an effort that was just wide. Norwich replaced Holt by Mulryne. Lisbie was brought down by former Palace player Edworthy who received a yellow card. The free kick caused some trouble for Norwich with Murphy driving the ball into a box and I thought it might go in from the scramble in front of goal. Norwich won a corner and Deano failed to hold on it, but Kishishev was on hand to clear it off the line. Murphy placed Charlton under pressure by failing to get rid of the ball. A Norwich corner was taken short. A hand ball by the Canaries was ignored by the referee who awarded them a free kick.

On 74 minutes Lisbie was pulled off in favour of Konchesky. Thomas and Kishishev combined well and Boris fed Young. His excellent cross was met by Konchesky who made it 3-0. Murphy was pulled off in favour of Euell. He quickly tried a shot from just outside the 'D' which was only just past the post.

Huckerby put an effort into Deano's net which was only just offside, but the West Stand lino made the right call to the indignation of the visiting support. Damien Francis received a yellow card for a foul on Thomas. Thomas had had to receive treatment shortly before this and was replaced by Jeffers. With three minutes to go, Euell made it 4-0 taking advantage of a cross from JJ. As I remarked to the Bloke Beside Me, we were now safe for a point. Indeed, it could have been 5-0 if Konchesky had not headed JJ's cross over the bar. There was still time for Bentley to receive a yellow card. The win had got Charlton back into the top half of the table and helped to improve their goal difference.

We were invited to applaud the Norwich fans at the end of the game and did so. 'We hope to see you back next year' was the message from Dave Lockwood. 'Yes, in the cup', commented Steve from Sidcup. As Inspector Sands has commented, it was curiously like a cup game against lower league opposition.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch awarded the Silver Bone to JJ. His second goal was particularly good and it seems that he is coming back into form again just as the club strengthens its links with his home country. Deano had the satisfaction of keeping another clean sheet, boosting his charity fund raising. Perry was solid and reliable at the heart of defence, making decisive clearances seem so easy.Hreidarsson did his job well, proving a formidable obstacle at times to the Norwich attack. El Karkouri made a couple of curious errors, but was otherwise effective enough with his free kick setting up the first goal. Young made a couple of good sweeps forward in the second half, providing the assist for Konchesky's goal and otherwise did his job competently. Perhaps the opposition flattered him, but Kishishev had a good game free of errors in which he made some important contributions. Holland was roundly booed by the Canaries at the beginning of the game because of his Tractor connections. It would have been great to see him score, but he had a relatively quiet game. Murphy is really getting into his stride, slotting comfortably into a central midfield position. He made intelligent use of the ball, laying it off when that was the best thing to do, but also surging forward when the opportunity presented itself. Thomas continues to be a revelation with his skill outwitting an admittedly lumbering Norwich defence. Lisbie was described afterwards as a team player who was not greedy, but his desire to score seems to stop him passing the ball to a better placed colleague when he should. Konchesky displayed total commitment when he came on and I would like to see more of him. Jeffers showed some nice touches in his short appearance.

Hiss of the Match There were a number of candidates for this accolade including charm merchants Huckerby and Edworthy but it was eventually decided that novice referee A Marriner need to get used to being confronted after the match by a cross cat. He made a good job of refereeing our cup match at Grimsby and he was good in the first half against Norwich. But for some reason in the second half he decided he wanted to even the game up by giving every marginal decision to the vistors.

Crowd rating 'You're the worst support we have ever seen' chanted the dedicated Canaries. The difficulty is that the Addickted are so nervous about their team's performance that it is difficult for them to get going. Once we were 3-0 ahead they were able to relax, but a bit more enthusiasm earlier on would have been welcome. 6/10.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Ten Years Ago: Addicks live on tv

Charlton's home match against the Baggies was switched to a Sunday so that it could be shown live on television. Charlton played very well in the first half and went ahead with a goal in the 14th minute from Kim Grant. But they failed to build on their lead, squandering other scoring opportunities (sound familiar?) The Baggies fought back in the second half and after the Addicks had a goal disallowed equalised through Taylor. Naylor in the Baggies goal kept out some good shots while Ammann played well for the Addicks. Among those playing for the Baggies was Andy Hunt who was recently pictured with a fetching green snake in his Belize hideaway to accompany a story about the upcoming fixture against the Canaries.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Charlton hold on to take three points

Charlton withstood a late onslaught by Spurs to take all three points in a 3-2 victory at White Hart Lane. Charlton have not been beaten there since 1990 and the Addicks went 3-0 ahead with two goals by Shaun Bartlett and a third by Jerome Thomas. It was Thomas who was provider for Bartlett's first goal after 19 minutes while his second, seven minutes before the break, resulted from a good long ball by former Spurs player Luke Young who is looking increasingly good value for the Addicks. Thomas benefited from a deflection from King when he got Charlton's ball after the break. After Bartlett hand balled on the line he was sent off and Keane for Spurs made it 1-3 from the penalty spot. The Springbox later admitted it was a red card offence. Deano had come off his line and got stranded in a clutch of players. Defoe then made it 2-3 and in the last quarter of an hour Spurs hurled everything they could at Deano's goal, Spurs keeper Paul Robinson even coming up for a late corner. How long before Curbs is linked with the manager less North London side?

I was doing my vice-presidential bit at Harbury Lane where visitors Highgate United went beserk after 10-man Leamington finally beat the visitor's midget keeper in the 90th minute, but Geoff from Dartford writes, 'Terrific game, fabulous result. Spurs woke up when Carrick came on for Redknapp and could have won if they had been able to shoot straight. But we held them off and won the points we deserved. JJ was rubbish and lazy. Don't start him again. Terrific wing play from Thomas and Young, genuine width and effective too. Murphy played well.'

Friday, November 05, 2004

Santini latest victim of Charlton curse

A number of distinguished managers have ended their careers after their teams have performed poorly against Charlton, but Spurs manager Jacques Santini has set a new record by resigning before his team faces the Addicks. The Spurs manager says that his resignation is for 'personal' reasons, but perhaps the curse of Charlton has struck again? Dutchman Martin Jol will take charge of tomorrow's game against the Addicks. Given that Spurs are reportedly 'shell shocked' and that the Addicks have never lost away in the Premiership at White Hart Lane, one might think this was good news. But we are talking about Charlton who have a habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory ...

Ten Years Ago: Rufus wins award on full league debut

On 5 November 1994 Charlton went down 1-2 to Bolton Wanderers who were eventually promoted to the Premiership from 3rd position. It was raining hard in SE7 that day. My notes recall, 'Bolton played vigorously from the start and scored an outstanding goal with a run from the halfway line [Sneekes after 23 minutes]. They got a second goal after half time with a deflection [off Chapple] from a long range free kick. Charlton fought back much harder than in the Burnley game, but could only pull one back from a late penalty' [handball decision on 88 minutes with Steve Brown scoring].

The programme celebrated the return from injury of Carl Leaburn in a reserve game. The progress of 17-year old Lee Bowyer was noted. Richard Rufus had received the Man of the Match award after his first full league appearance in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland earlier in the week. The bottle of champagne was awarded to him by Sunderland executive club members. Mention was made of the fact that Ruf's brother, Marvin, had found it hard going at Charlton and had gone out on trial to Leyton Orient.