Friday, December 31, 2004

Club to jet in Manx fans

Fellow Charlton blogster Inspector Sands has been at the forefront of breaking news about the club's exciting Target 40,000 transport plans. He scooped news of the parting of the Channel waters through the club's new coach service from French ports. A recent story on his blog highlights the Flask Express that will bring in Saga louts from obscure Kent seaside resorts (although he failed to mention the feeder service on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch which will be a great boon to Dungeness fans).

However, the good Inspector has been so mesmerised by the Oxford Street Christmas lights that he can see from his luxury minimalist Charlton Village apartment that he has missed the biggest scoop of them all: the club's plans to jet in supporters from the Isle of Man.

Insular marketing coordinator Abby Wood (also working on plans for fans in the Scilly Ieles) stated: 'We have discovered a gap in the market for Premiership football in the Isle of Man. Admittedly, some fans have gone over on the ferry to Liverpool. But it is a long journey that can encounter rough weather which can spoil subsequent enjoyment of the match. There is a lot of interest in football on the island which is evidenced by the annual football tournament which regularly attracts top flight League One sides like Port Fail and was won last summer by Rushden and Diamonds.'

Fans will fly in less than a hour from Douglas to City Airport. 'It's here that the problems start', admitted ground transport coordinator Slade Green. 'The Blackwall Tunnel can be a problem on match days. But we have built in a Woolwich Ferry option for those fans who want to recapture the spirit of the crossing to Liverpool.'

Once they arrive at the ground, fans will encounter a real Manx atmosphere. The Trie Cassyn the famous three legged symbol of the Irish Sea island will be on display. Models of the Laxey Wheel in club colours will be on sale in the club shop. The Premiership anthem at the start of the match will be replaced by the Manx anthem O Halloo nyn Ghooie a move that will please many fans. And Floyd will be re-styled as a Manx cat. 'This will not involve any great expense to the club' explained purchasing manager Petra Wood 'as all we have to do is cut off his tail.'

Fans can fly back to the island after the match or stay on for a special weekend package at the Swallow Hotel, Bexleyheath (a budget version is available in rooms above the Antigallican). There will be dancing to Dave Lockwood's disco and negotiations are in progress for live music provided by local band Headstrong. Well-known Welling councillors may drop in to provide the occasion with a touch of civic dignity.

This is only the start of exciting plans to bring in new fans from far and wide. The recent installation of methane breathing appartus along the East and West Stand touchlines to help linos to understand the offside rule opens up new possibilities of accommodating fans from Mars. However outer space marketing manager Avrill Hill admitted that there were some problems: 'Fans will have to start out before we know the fixture list for the relevant season, so although they may hope to see a top side they may have to settle for Birmingham City.'

Slade Green dismissed suggestions that the club might provide a shuttle service for fans who use the Jubilee Line at North Greenwich on match days and have difficulties with the inadequate bus service, particularly at evening games when the buses are full of yuppies making the short trip to the Millennium Village. 'We have looked into this and have found that no more than several hundred fans use this route. Moreover, The Valley is no more than a forty minute walk from the station through an innovative urban landscape.'

Happy New Year to all readers of this blog and here's hoping for continued success on and off the pitch. I'm off to a party hosted by the local St.Mirren tonight, but I will be at The Valley tomorrow. As far as the Palace fans who have been having a go at me on one of their notice boards are concerned, we'll see who the clowns are at the end of the season.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Ten Years Ago: Millwall enter The Valley of Dearth

Only one senior match took place in Britain on 1 January 1995 and it was a 12 noon kick off between Charlton and Millwall. 130 police were on duty in the ground, a police helicopter hovered overhead and a fire engine was standing by. It was a cold day with a bitter wind.

Headline writers in the press had nicknamed Charlton 'The Valley of Dearth' because of the number of injuries to the squad. Millwall had experienced a startling series of victories that had moved them from the fringes of the relegation battle to a position in sight of a play off place. (They ended the season mid-table, a few places ahead of Charlton).

Charlton's first chance fell to Leaburn in the 16th minute. However, as he told the programme 'There is more to my game than scoring goals.' Keith Jones had started a good move with a cross from the right with Bennett turning provider but Leaburn headed straight at Kasey Keller. It was Alex Rae, always a popular figure with the Valley crowd, that put the visitors ahead after 33 minutes with a shot from 30 yards out.

In the second half Mark Robson broke free on the left. His diagonal cross eluded Leaburn, but Robinson was forging in behind the lanky striker in case he failed to connect and headed the ball into the net to make it 1-1.

Mortimer was brought down in the penalty area on 88 minutes by Danny Chapman, but referee Mr Leach decided he wanted to get back home to Wolverhampton in safety and waved play on. Charlton had played well but were unable to make it three home wins in a row.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

'Champions League? You're having a laugh'

This was the chant of the Addickted as Charlton recorded a convincing 2-0 victory over third placed Everton at The Valley on Bank Holiday Tuesday. The Addicks more than contained the threat of the Toffeemen in the first half. Indeed, Deano had relatively little to do for most of the match. In the second half, Charlton became more dominant and two goals from defender/strikers Talal El Karkouri and Hermann Hreidarsson sealed the points for the home side. At the end of the first half, Everton keeper Nigel Martyn had to give way to Richard Wright, the man with a great future behind him. In the second half former Bairlinnie inmate Duncan Ferguson was red carded for giving Hreidarsson an elbow in the face.

The match got off to a relatively quiet start with both sides trying to get the measure of each other. Bartlett won a corner after three minutes, but Murphy's effort was poor. Perhaps there should be some alternation of corner takers. Thomas made a break down the left, but was fouled and Charlton were unable to make anything of the free kick.

Fortune put in a long angled ball to Thomas, but it all ended in an Everton throw in. A real battle was developing in midfield and Matt Holland made an error that could have been costly. With the East Stand lino adopting his own interpretation of the offside rule, Everton were able to put in a fierce shot which Deano deflected for a corner for the visitors.

A spell of Charlton pressure in which Thomas was prominent led to nothing more than Bartlett putting the ball over the bar. Matt Holland, who seemed to be having a bit of an off day, put a useless ball into a space empty of any players. A promising Charlton free kick was wasted by being played sideways. Good work by Kishishev opened up an opportunity, but Bartlett's cross was poor. Having excelled, Kishishev then managed to play Deano into danger.

Just before half time, Martyn threw the ball out, having suffered a calf injury. His replacement by Richard Wright, who provided an excellent own goal for the Addicks in their 4-2 win at Highbury, boosted the morale of the Addickted. The 38-year Cornish keeper received generous applause from the Addickted as he left the pitch.

Half time: Addicks 0, Toffees 0

There were a few signs of nervousness by the Addicks immediately after the break, but Rommedahl won Charlton a corner which led to a free kick for Everton. Charlton then won another corner from which Everton made a dangerous break but this was well defended. Bartlett made an attempt on goal from distance which Wright had to block. A great run by Luke Young down the wing won Charlton a corner. The ball was played out and then Thomas put in an effort which was not far over.

Charlton were in real danger following an Everton corner. A corner from Gravesen went over the head of popular ex-Millwall player Cahill, but Matt Holland, continuing his off day, managed to chest the ball towards his own goal. Deano did not seem to be in command of the situation and a clearance by El Karkouri bounced off the Herminator and back towards the goal. Eventually the ball was cleared off the line.

Rommedahl put in a superb long angled free kick to Thomas, but for some reason a free kick was given to Everton when I thought it should have gone Charlton's way. A shot from Kishishev troubled Wright who had to dive to his left to deal with it. Jerome Thomas was replaced on 70 minutes by Euell, the view in the crowd being thatr Rommedahl should have been taken off, but perhaps Thomas was showing signs of tiring. Bent was removed in favour of Ferguson on 74 minutes.

With fifteen minutes of play left, Charlton won a corner which was taken short. It was followed by a second which was poor, but the Herminator managed to get a shot in.
On 79 minutes Konchesky came on in place of Rommedahl. Luke Young advanced on goal but shot with his left foot and his effort went over.

On 82 minutes Alan Stubbs conceded a corner with a strange miskick. Konchesky sent the ball back to the far post from where El Karkouri was able to deliver a bullet header to make it 1-0.

A minute later Ferguson elbowed the Herminator in the face and referee Reilly showed not a moment's hesitation in displaying the red card. The latest issue of 4-4-2 includes Duncan Disorderly in its list of one hundred all time football nutters. The story claims that the charm merchant once walloped a man on crutches who was waiting in a taxi queue, but it was putting the heed on Raith's John McStay that earned him a three month stretch in Barlinnie. The suspension should allow him more time with his pigeons, although when he moved to Newcastle, he couldn't understand why they didn't return when he released them.

Everton fans were already streaming out when the Herminator put the match beyond doubt. Konchesky won Charlton a corner, Wright could only punch the ball out and the Herminator was on hand, unusually scoring with a half volley to make it 2-0.

Everton are an efficient and well organised side and manager Moyes had done a good job to get them where they are. But they are no Chelsea or Arsenal and the real test for the revived Addicks awaits on New Year's Day.

Match analysis

This was a real team effort and match analyst Hooch the Pooch had to take the unusual step of phoning a friend, ringing his No.2 Homer the Cherry Hound to seek his opinion. After the press room had been subjected to a cacophany of barking, the award went to Talal El Karkouri for his well taken vital goal which made him joint top scorer for the Addicks and for his stalwart contributions in defence throughout the game. Deano had little to do, but was generally in command of his goal, apart from perhaps one moment. Fortune had some uncertain moments, creating dangerous situations now and then. Hreidarsson was generally impressive apart from his goal, but some of his moves with Thomas did not come off, the ball going out of play for Everton throw ins. Luke Young had a superb game, posing a real threat down the wings. The improving Kishishev impressed in a role which seems to give him the licence to range all over the pitch, making only one error. Holland was not involved that much but what he did he did well. (I wrote this before reading back through my notes which suggested he had a bit of a 'mare). Murphy is an increasingly commanding presence in midfield. Rommedahl was something of a disappointment. His pace allows him to create something out of nothing, but his crosses lack accuracy. Thomas had another good game. Bartlett never came close to scoring, but provided some vital crosses and was a key player in defence. He covers a lot of the pitch and often draws two defenders on to him, often creating opportunities for others. However, as is clear from his comments in the programme, he is not really happy in a lone striker role. He really needs someone to play with. Euell showed lots of commitment and enthusiasm, but didn't make much of a difference. Konchesky put in his usual effective performance, providing a key cross.

Hiss of the Match Juneau the Soccer Cat had no hesitation in selecting the vertically challenged East Stand lino who had a very poor understanding of the offside rule and also had difficulty in distinguishing between a corner and a goal kick.

Crowd rating The Addickted were in good form, really getting behind the team. Let's hope that the El Karkouri 'hokey cokey' chant catches on. 9/10

Monday, December 27, 2004

Ten Years Ago: Wolves devour Addicks

On 28 December 1994 the Addicks faced their biggest crowd of the season at Molineux, 26,738. Wolves were second in the table (they eventually finished 4th) and were too strong for the Addicks who were defeated 2-0. I noted. 'Molineux is very impressive, in a totally different class from The Valley.' Not any more.

Charlton had a chance to go ahead after one minute of play but Steve Brown was unable to convert a penalty, his shot hitting the legs of keeper Paul Jones. According to a feature in the programme, Jones started work as a tractor driver on an organic farm while his wife was working evenings in customer service at Sainsbury's.

Wolves hero Steve Bull put them ahead on 38 minutes and four minutes later the match was effectively over when Phil Chapple scored an own goal. Wolves fans were to the left of us and there was quite a bit of aggravation between the two camps. I noted, 'Charlton, as usual, play better in the second half' but even a consolation goal evaded them.

The Wolves programme noted, 'Charlton ... were expected to be among the main challengers for promotion this term. But they have never really recovered from a poor start and now - following a run of 9 games with only one win in the pre-holiday period they are beginning to find themselves embroiled in the relegation issue.' Charlton had, in fact, become score draw specialists with eight draws (five away), seven defeats and six wins up until the Wolves match.

One problem for them had been an ankle injury to David Whyte. He had set himself a 25 goal target for the season, but eventually fell four short. He said that he felt more relaxed playing at Charlton compared with his former club Palace: 'Crystal Palace was a much bigger club and the pressure was much greater there.'

Sunday, December 26, 2004

South Coast Stalemate Again

Looking at the results of Saints v. Charlton games in today's programme, it should perhaps be no surprise that today's game finished 0-0, writes guest reporter Daisy the Saint. It was the third time in the last six fixtures between the two clubs that has ended goalless on the south coast. The entertainment value was unfortunately on a par with the previous meeting between the two sides back in September, although the Addicks present must be wondering how they failed to score.

The game kicked off with a very bright sun shining into the eys of the Charlton defence. The first notable attempt on goal came when Matt Holland turned and fired a left foot shot at goal that was deflected for the first of several Charlton corners. The impressive Jerome Thomas then went past two defenders who were left standing but his drive was put out for another corner.

The Charlton pressure continued and Shaun Bartlett found himself totally unmarked ten yards out before sending a looping header in to Niemo's bar. Despite appearing to be five yards offside there was no flag and play continued. Hreidarsson was unluckly not to put the Addicks 1-0 up when his header went inches wide of the post. A fierce drive by Murphy went off a Saints defender for yet another corner to Charlton.

The half hour mark had been reached before Saints gained their first corner and as half time approached Kiely did well to save at his near post. Saints almost went in front when Matt Oakley, playing his first game in over a year due to injury, sent a low drive through a crowded penalty area and just past Dean Kiely's left hand post.

HT: Saints 0, Addicks 0

The second half began with Charlton pressing forward again as they had done for much of the first half. A high ball in the area fell kindly for Rommedahl whose powerful volley from an acute angle was well saved by Niemi. Jerome Thomas continued to cause problems down the Saints' right and it was only a rugby tackle that stopped him from a free run on goal. Referee Steve Dunn did not even brandish a yellow card when reds have been given for less, much to the relief of the home fans.

On 73 minutes James Beattie was replaced and it could be his last appearance in a Saints shirt at St Marys, although it seems more likely he'll end up on Merseyside or Tyneside rather than at The Valley of the rumours are to believed.

As the game drew to a close Dean Kiely made a clearance from a back pass that has potential for ending up on the 'Taxi' section of Soccer AM next Saturday.

The final whistle brought some booing from the home fans but it's the 1500 or so Addicks preesnt who should perhaps feel more aggrieved that they weren't returning home with all three points.

FT: Saints 0, Addicks 0

The atmosphere throughout the game was strangely subdued and both sets of fans were rather quiet apart from a small group of Charlton fans at the back of their section who stood throughout the game and at one point sounded like they were singing a song about a parrot. The game itself didn't exactly fire the fans up so it's perhaps no surprise the atmosphere was lacking.

If guest felines are permitted to award Silver Bones then Jerome Thomas gets today's vote for his pace and trickery that caused the Saints defence problems throughout the game.

Today's game was apparently the 50th league meeting between the two clubs but unless Saints get their act together soon the 51st could be a few years away ...

Friday, December 24, 2004

It's The Pantomime Season!

Unfortunately the Saints panto started back in August writes Daisy the Saint along with the traditional giving of gifts normally associated with the festive period. Most Saints fans are already hoarse from shouting 'Behind you' at our defence, but its made no difference as the opposition baddies always seem to disappear only to reappear with the ball in our net.

The panto tradition of booing was also clearly evident at The Valley back in September when the Addicks and Saints played out what must be the worst game of the season so far. Even the neutrals were subjected to 90 minutes of torture courtesy of Sky, assuming of course that anyone was still watching at the end. Hopefully Sundau will be a repeat of last season's game at St.Mary's [well not exactly - Wyn] and not a repeat of that Monday night horror show.

Prediction? A rare Saints win but Addicks should note that both Newcastle and Blackburn have recently recorded their first wins at Southampton since the 1970's and 1930's respectively and it's been a long time since the Addicks have won in Southampton. An omen perhaps? Merry Xmas Addicks.

Ten Years Ago: Leaburn brace brings festive cheer

On Boxing Day 1994 I set out from Leamington at 8.15 with my Christmas present, a half year season ticket for Charlton. Having seen my first Addick on the M11, I was parked up in Canberra Road by 10.15 in good time for the match against the Shrimpers. I took my seat alongside the person I was to come to know as Steve from Sidcup and in front of the Bloke Behind Me.

My notes state, 'Charlton started badly, lacking pace and concentration. Defensive weakness (Mortimer in particular) led to a penalty. [Southend went ahead 1-0 on 32 minutes]. But in the second half Charlton played much better and an equaliser by Whyte [from a header] was followed by two goals by Leaburn [the first of these from a header]. They still lack pace when there is a break on and there are still defensive weaknesses.' The video commentary of the match dubs Carl 'lethal Leaburn'.

The programme had a picture of 'Sweaty' Balmer on the front in a 'What me ref?' pose. In the programme Curbs stated that 'the underlying current in the club is very strong.' Roger Alwen looked into his crystal ball and predicted that within a few years Charlton would be involved in a £3 million transfer. He wasn't far out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas Cheer at The Valley

The Addickted had a good start to their Christmas when Charlton beat Fulham 2-1 at The Valley to take the Addicks to 7th place in the Premiership. However, it was not just the victory itself that gave satisfaction, but the way in which it was achieved. The Addicks played fluent and flowing football with Danny Murphy accomplished in the role of midfield general.

Charlton made a competent enough start to the game, but they were worrying the Bloke Beside Me who thought that the Addicks were not posing a sufficient threat. Certainly, there was little worth reporting in the opening minutes. However, a superb tackle by Matt Holland on the East Stand side freed up Luke Young to make an attacking run by the West Stand which produced a Charlton corner. Van der Sar had to save on the line from a header from the Herminator.

Fulham were indulging in a lot of niggling fouls and referee Steve Bennett showed what he thought of their tactics by giving Papa Diop a yellow card for a push on Shaun Bartlett. Unfortunately, he lacked the courage of his convictions later in the game when the Sengalese man mountain should have been given a second yellow and sent off.

A Fulham free kick posed momentary danger, but came off the Charlton wall. Throughout the game, Fulham only really looked like scoring from a set piece. Then the action switched to the other end. Good work between Bartlett and Murphy allowed the Springbok to put in a dangerous cross. Diop was unable to make contact and the ball found Thomas unmarked at the far post. Taking his time, he calmly slotted past Van der Sar into the corner of the net to make it 1-0 on 27 minutes.

Deano made a good stop from a fierce Fulham shot, although it was probably going just wide. After pushing a Fulham player out of the way, Thomas won Charlton a corner, but the effort ended in a goalmouth scramble and a goal kick. In time added on, Fulham won a corner, but Kishishev cleared and went on a great run which unfortunately ended in a poor pass.

Half time: Addicks 1, Cottagers 0

After a poor Fulham cross was followed by a dangerous one, Deano had to make a save along the crossbar. There was yet another foul on Thomas, but no yellow card was produced. Charlton won a corner and had two opportunities to score in the follow up, but it was not to be. Having been issued with the discount vouchers for their Harrods Christmas hampers at half time, the Fulham fans woke up and started to sing.

A throw in from the Herminator won Charlton a corner, but Van der Sar was judged to have been fouled. Danny Murphy launched on a teasing run, evading one defender after another, and it was disappointing to see his effort come off the post. Malbranque was pulled off in favour of Radzinski as the Welsh wizard tried to weave his magic.

Thomas was fouled on the edge of the penalty area. Murphy send his free kick towards El Karkouri who evaded Brian McBride to make it 2-0 for the Addicks on 66 minutes.

Diop had to be warned once again by the referee about his fouls. Cole managed to evade the Herminator but with Deano stranded he could only put the ball into the side netting. On 79 minutes Jeffers replaced Bartlett. Fulham won a free kick on the edge of the 'D' and Diop's effort hit the Charlton crossbar.

Kishishev won the ball fairly, but referee Bennett explained to him that his new aggressive haircut would mean a yellow card. With eight minutes to go Fulham won a corner. Murphy managed to block a header from McBride, but in the ensuing scramble Radzinski scored from close range to make it 2-1. It turned out to be only a consolation, but for a few minutes there were signs of panic in the Charlton ranks. Konchesky was brought on in place of Rommedahl to steady the ship.

Charlton won a corner but the Herminator's effort was off target. Euell had a half chance, but missed. After a Fulham corner had been cleared, Jeffers fumbled an opportunity when he should have shot or passed. Three well won points for the Addicks and the realistic prospect that the home games against Everton and Arsenal will be real contests.

Match analyst Monty Martin is an excitable spaniel at the best of times, but he had two reasons for additional excitement on Monday. First, he moved into a new home in Blewbury, Oxon. Then, invited to The Valley as guest match analyst, he was able to present the first ever Silver Bone to Danny Murphy for his overall contribution to the game. Only the post stopped Murphy from scoring. Deano was not put under a great deal of pressure by the Harrods attack, but did what he had to do well. He can hardly be blamed for the Fulham goal which was rather fortunate. Fortune was not prominent, but did what he had to do he did competently. El Karkouri is fast becoming a Valley favourite. He was stalwart in defence, his trademark long-range free kicks can be a real threat to the opposition, and he scored a crisply taken goal. Young was particularly threatening in attack down the wings, but also performed his defensive duties well. Hreidarsson also contributed considerably to Charlton's attacking moves, as well as performing his defensive duties well. He also demonstrated a traditional Icelandic Christmas greeting when he grabbed Malbranque round the neck. Kishishev showed some touches of real genius and anchored the midfield well. In a night when there were many contenders for the Silver Bone, Jerome Thomas was very much in the running, his name chanted by the Addickted as he left the pitch at the end of the game. Perhaps he should have had it, but he has received so many recently that perhaps he deserves a special issue golden bone. Matt Holland was also in commanding form, making some key interventions in the match. Rommedahl showed plenty of pace and determination, but some of his inspired moves didn't succeed. Playing the lone striker role is not easy, but Bartlett fulfilled it with his usual professionalism, also providing the assist for the first goal. Konchesky came on towards the end and steadied any last minute nerves. Once again Jeffers did not have much time to show what he can do, but fluffed his best chance. Euell was granted a cameo role and the unsettled player was greeted with chants of his name by the Covered End.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to persistent fouler Papa Diop.

Crowd rating Fulham fans were taunting the Addickted with 'can we sing a song for you?' at Charlton Station after the game. There were times when the ground was very quiet in the first half, but as the superiority of the Addicks became more evident, the crowd started to become more animated. 7/10.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Air ambulance halts match

Leamington maintained their leadership of the Midland Combination Premiership with a convincing 4-1 victory over Massey Ferguson at the New Windmill Ground, but only after the match had been suspended for some ten minutes. Useless referee Mr Lethbridge turned out to be deaf as well as blind as the Northants and Warwicks air ambulance hovered over the pitch seeking to land. Eventually it had to land in the field by the Sheepside and the hapless referee eventually brought proceedings to a halt after being flagged by his lino. It was learnt that a fan had slipped down the North Bank and injured himself on the concrete path at the bottom.

By that time Brakes had already gone 1-0 ahead with a Richard Adams strike. After the resumption, referee Lethbridge gave the Tractormen a penalty after Brakes had won the ball in the area making it 1-1. However, a bullet header by Andy Gregory converting a corner made it 2-1 on 26 minutes. The useless ref had to reverse a free kick decision about screams from the crowd and from the alert lino, raising his arms and shouting out 'my mistake'.

With the crowd depleted by Christmas shopping we were unusually able to find standing space on the popular side after we had gone to the Vice-Presidents' lounge for our half time cuppa. Josh Blake had been making sizzling runs all match and made it 3-1 on 54 minutes. Richard Adams then got his second after 58 minutes to make it 4-1.

Brakes then put their foot on the wrong pedal and eased off their speed, the best chance falling to Clunes look alike Martin Thompson who had come on as a sub, giving the crowd a chance to chant 'There are only two Tommos' followed by 'Leamington Spa - ooh aah!' The Tractormen had a couple of chances to get one back, stressing out manager and Christmas tree entrepreneur Jason Cadden in the dugout.

Josh Blake in front of the North Bank

More champagne for Curbs?

Curbs wrote to me during the week to tell me that he had enjoyed one of the bottles of champagne I sent him for Christmas after the victory over West Brom. Will he be opening the champagne again after Monday's visit by Fulham to The Valley?

Drawing on his experience of playing non-league football, my father always said that there was 'something funny' about works teams. I think that what he meant by that was that they got time for training at the expense of the firm, as well as a nice job in it. One of the last matches we saw together was when he had retired to Cornwall. Falmouth ran away with the Rothman's Western League championship three years in succession, but one Christmas Westland Yeovil helicoptered in and held them to a surprise 2-2 draw, whereas the 10-0 defeat they inflicted on Mousehole in the Cornwall Senior Cup was a more usual home scoreline.

So what about the works team from Harrods? When they were playing at Loftus Road, it was always hilarious to see Mohammed al Fayed scoring 'penalties' at half time. He claimed to have been a footballer in his youth, but when asked which position he played, he replied, 'Captain, always captain'. Al Fayed seems to have become disllusioned when his injection of cash (not to mention Christmas hampers for the officals) failed to bring as much success as he wanted. (Note to lurking lawyers: the reference to Christmas hampers is a joke). Now he is a tax exile in Switzerland.

Indeed, the Fulham crowd had to be seen to be believed. In an effort to boost numbers, seats were offered as part of a package deal to Japanese tourists near the away end who then took delight in photographing the Addickted. One Addick who got a ticket in the home end reported that a woman sunbathed throughout the game.

One of the current issues about Fulham is whether they are a mid-table club or a relegation league club. Manager Chris Coleman has admitted, 'we're always looking over our shoulder.' Although they are capable of scoring some spectacular goals, their defensive record is poor. They have conceded 28 goals this morning, one more than the Addicks. And Charlton have only let eight goals at home, four of those against Chelsea.

So champagne for Curbs? More like a nice glass of white wine. This London derby looks like a good bet for a draw.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Ten Years Ago: 'your dinner is in the dog'

The Addicks inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Oldham at The Valley in the pre-Christmas match in 1994. My notes state, 'Oldham were the worst side I had seen all season but they held Charlton in the first half. They might have scored from a succession of corners. What exhiliration when Whyte scored for Charlton, followed by Jones.' In fact, it was the only goal that Keith Jones scored all season. With the Addicks having slumped to 19th in the table, it was an important win, providing more reassurance for supporters than the programme's injunction 'No time for panic.'

One incident I did not note, but which is mentioned in Colin Cameron's Home and Away is that Oldham player-coach Andy Holden was making his first senior appearance for four years. He had to have two stitches inserted in an eye wound after a first half clash with Carl Leaburn.

The programme recorded (twice) that keeper Andy Petterson had gone out on loan to Bradford City, no doubt thereby saving a few bob on wages. 'Young midfield player Lee Bowyer' was the subject of a profile, 'Scoop' Burrowes advising his readers that 'he knows he still has a lot to learn before he becomes the complete player.'

An attempt was made to persuade fans to acquire a 'Charlton pager' for a monthly fee. This would enable you to receive 'Charlton news' (i.e., phone Clubcall to hear about signing of new journeyman). It could also be borrowed by family members to send messages such as 'Your dinner is in the dog' (this was really given as an example).

Finally, given that Inspector Sands faithfully records current scenes on the underground, my notes recall that on the way home the Bakerloo Line train advanced a few yards at a time between Charing Cross and Piccadilly Circus.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Murphy gets on top of weight problem

One of the pleasing aspects of the win at West Brom was the key role played by Danny Murphy. His free kick led to Matt Holland's goal, he provided a vital clearance off the goal line and he generally performed the kind of role in midfield all the Addickted had been hoping for since his arrival from Liverpool.

Murphy has now admitted he was overweight at the beginning of the season. Indeed, the Sun cheekily suggested he was in danger of joining the Celebrity Fat Club. He had the message rammed home when Curbs showed videos of him huffing and puffing his way through games.

Murphy said: 'I feel much stronger now and I have to give a lot of credit to the fitness guys at Charlton for the way my form has picked up.' Things are better not just physically, but also psychologically: 'Because I'm right physically and I'm a bit more settled with my family having moved down from Liverpool, it's showing on the pitch.'


Murphy has backed the adoption of the 4-5-1 system that has brought the Addicks success away from home. Indeed, at the top end of the Premiership only Middlesbrough and Villa are now using the once dominant 4-4-2 formation.

The system does require great athleticism from midfield players prepared to break regularly and rotate their duties. Indeed, the Charlton system relies a great deal on the anchorage provided by unsung hero Radostin Kishishev. It is much like the role formerly provided by defensive midfielder Keith Jones who was constantly berated by the Bloke Behind Me for playing the ball sideways, but in fact played a key part in Charlton's early Premiership successes.

Murphy noted, 'It's a different kind of game and the centre of midfield is really tight and congested. You have to be on top of your game.' He admitted, 'It is a bit annoying for the other forwards at the club who are trying to play, like Francis Jeffers who is a top-quality player. But at the moment it is suiting us and away from home we are looking quite comfortable.'

The way things are going, Murphy is on track to win his first Silver Bone. 'The lads have told me about this tradition', he said, 'in fact, I understand that Deano has a whole shed full of them.'

OK, we made this last bit up, but we are pleased that Danny is now becoming fully intregrated into the Charlton set up.

Robbo's poignant farewell

Former Charlton midfielder John Robinson has given a poignant farewell to football in a long interview with The Independent. The former Welsh player of the year has not given up on the game he loves, but he feels it gave up on him.

The interview reveals that his family gave up on a prosperous life in South Africa so that Robbo would have to chance to develop his football talent in England. The death of his father two-and-a-half years ago was clearly a blow and his mother has been unwell.

Robbo explains, 'I haven't fallen out of love with football, it's the politics of football and becoming a commodity I don't like.' He added, 'I was probably shielded from the real world at Charlton. There you were give the chance to be the best footballer possible and not worry about anything else.'

We all have our special memories of Robbo. There was the goal at The Valley against Manchester United. My own favourite memory was a super goal he scored from distance at Huddersfield one Christmas time when they were a big side. It was a turning point in the season that led to our first promotion to the Premiership. We will also remember Robbo arguing with linos, but also giving them the thumbs up when they made the right call.

Robbo is now going to concentrate on his family, a property business and his soccer school. He will always be welcome at The Valley or anywhere in the world where Charlton fans can be found.

The full story is at:


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Three points but it should have been easier

Charlton won another three points on the road against a relegation threatened club, beating West Bromwich Albion 1-0 with a first half strike from captain Matt Holland. The Addicks dominated the first half and Danny Murphy had a chance to make it 2-0 just before the break, but his shot was inches wide. A rejuvenated Albion put the Addicks under pressure in the second half, although that pressure could have been relieved if Shaun Bartlett had not shot wide when he had the chance to put the ball into an open goal. The Addicks defence held firm, and although they were forced back into their own half, they eventually came back into the game more to hold on for the three points.

As no doubt it will have been noticed anyway, it has to be admitted that we accepted a lift to the ground with B*ian C*le who is regarded in some club circles as being 'unmutual'. Visiting England's highest ground, we had hoped to enjoy the purity of the air, but where we parked was surrounded by factories belching out steam and smoke in an area that was a cradle of the industrial revolution. Various signs warned of poison and corrosive substances, some of which seem to have permeated the Baggies squad to judge from their standard of play.

When we got to the Hawthorns, the Baggies were having some difficulty with their hi tech turnstiles, no doubt installed by some local metal bashing company. The turnstiles would not accept concessionary tickets, but we were assured that it would soon be 'all reet'. Supervisors had to override the swipe system.

It was a pleasure to meet Boston sports reporter Doug Chapman who was also acting as mace bearer for the day for the Mayor of Welling, Rick Everitt. Doug is now writing a book on American soccer and is also expecting to accept a position teaching two courses on sports management at a Massachusetts university.

The Baggies announcer had great difficulty with the names of some of our squad. Hreidarsson was rendered as something like 'Herbertson'. Even more amusing were the various attempts to pronounce El Karkouri's name which was rendered either as 'Croakery' or 'Kerkerey'.

The Baggies won an early free kick which burst through the wall, but Deano went down to save the ball comfortably. Thomas then won two corners for the Addicks and was then brought down in the box, but it was probably not a penalty. Charlton seemed to be up for it and were really fighting for the ball. A dangerous cross came in from Deano's left but the keeper gathered the ball in very well.

An Albion free kick in front of the 'D' came off the Charlton wall. Thomas was fouled again and then Luke Young won Charlton a corner. There was a moment of danger when Deano was stranded at his near post, but Murphy was well positioned at the far post to stop the ball rolling into the net and to clear it away from danger.

Charlton continued to threaten with Thomas a danger man. Luke Young won the Addicks a free kick and Matt Holland was well positioned in front of goal to take advantage of the opportunity subsequent play offered. As the half hour approached, the captain made no mistake with a forceful strike into the centre of the net.

The Baggies tried to score a quick equaliser, but Kishishev went in went to snuff out the danger. Deano was called on to make a good save. Thomas won the Addicks another corner. Kishishev put in a totally wild shot which went well wide of the Albion goal.

The Herminator provided some good defensive work, but he was pushed to allow the Baggies to win a rare corner. Kishishev was on hand to dispose of the ball. The Baggies were booed off at half time by their own supporters.

Half time: Baggies 0, Addicks 1

Early Charlton pressure once again involved Jerome Thomas. After a Charlton free kick, there was a period of pinball in front of the home goal with the ball going all over the place, Murphy eventually putting it into the side netting. Another chance to give the Addicks a decisive lead had slipped away.

Then good work in which Thomas displayed his sublime skills once again set up Bartlett in front of goal with Hoult stranded at the near post. Somehow the Springbok managed to send it wide of the far post.

This setback gave the Baggies some of a psychological boost and they won a free kick in a promising position which they managed to convert into a corner. Before and after the corner the ball was up in the air and could have landed anywhere. While air traffic controllers issued warnings to aircraft using Birmingham Airport, Charlton eventually managed to clear it with a free kick.

Charlton were now losing the ball far too easily and playing far too deep. They might have been in more trouble if so many of the West Brom players were not what the local radio station called 'show ponies' after the game. Cosmin Contra was pulled off and replaced by Koumas.

However the Baggies were still unable to put together a really decisive move which is why I think that gloomsters around me were too pessimistic when they forecast an imminent Albion goal followed by another to secure a 2-1 defeat. I had told Charlton Live before the match that I expected a 0-1. Although it was edge of the seat stuff for the Addickted, and not very exciting to watch, my sense was that Charlton knew what they were doing.

Rommedahl was not really suited to this kind of rugged play and Konchesky was brought on in his place. Deano had to punch the ball out from an Albion corner. Bartlett threw away a chance with a useless cross, instead of holding the ball up and awaiting for support to arrive. Konchesky won the Addicks a corner.

With West Brom winning another corner, Curbs decided to pull off Thomas and steady the ship with the expertise of Hughes. As the 90 minute mark was reached, Robson deployed his tactical master stroke and brought on Horsfield in place of Gera. With three minutes of time added on, 'Croakery' displayed his defensive skills, but Charlton were running the match again. As the Addickted celebrated, frustrated Baggies booed their team off.

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Jerome Thomas for another skilled and committed performance. Deano was not put under tremendous pressure from the Baggies strike force, but what he had to do he did well and with calm authority. Fortune had a tendency to hoof the ball, but at least he put it out of danger. El Karkouri is a rock at the heart of the defence and also has the potential to cause trouble with his long distance free kicks. Hrediarsson was once again impressive, snuffing out a number of attacks by the Baggies. Luke Young continues to be an increasingly impressive player, surging forward in a number of threatening attacks. Kishishev made only one significant error and displayed some good ball control. Murphy is increasingly doing the business, both in terms of assists and defence. Holland showed strength and determination in midfield. His goal was well taken. Rommedahl did not shine. A question remains about whether the Charlton team has enough quality to bring out the best in him, a point made before the match by an Addick who is involved with Eastbourne Borough. Bartlett had a poor game. Is he really the right person to be up front in a 4-5-1 formation? Konchesky has the right qualities when a sub needs to be brought on to battle hard and control the ball and this is what he did. Hughes had a cameo role in the closing minutes of the game, but managed to win a useful free kick.

Juneau the Soccer Cat was originally going to give the Hiss of the Match to the Baggies crowd who whinged at every decision by referee Foy who managed to control the match well and keep it flowing without awarding a single card. However, it all kicked off outside the ground afterwards and later reports by Radio WM suggested that it had started in the Smethwick End with Albion fans fighting among themselves about the performance of their team, bringing a flavour of the 1970s outside afterwards.

Crowd rating Although it was difficult to match their performance at Palace, the Addickted were in good voice. It's always a good sign when there is a chorus of 'Goodbye Horse'. However, a Black Country Addick had to be restrained from singing 'jingle bells' before the points were in the bag. 7/10/

Friday, December 10, 2004

Bring back the Yellow Jersey Award

I have been reading Keith Peacock's autobiography No Substitute and a very good read it is too (available from a club shop near you). Keith has a very interesting football story to tell and, as one would expect, it has been well crafted by Rick Everitt who has a way with words (although one does 'defuse' rather than 'diffuse' a situation, p.59, but, hey, everyone makes a proof reading mistake).

In the triumphant days after 1998 when we were relegated after our Wembley victory but fought our way back to the Premiership, Charlton players and the management team had something called the Yellow Jersey Award which was given to the person who had dropped the biggest clanger the previous week. Even Curbs had to wear it once and it seemed to be a great morale builder. Keith notes, 'It is a pity that as we developed as a Premiership club this particular ritual came to an end, but until 2000 it helped maintain team spirit and humility among the whole squad.'

Although I don't accept the view that the current Charlton team lacks effort or commitment to playing well (professionals in any walk of life all have off days when they are below par), something of the old Charlton spirit does seem to have disappeared. Jests like that with the yellow jersey helped to build solidarity in the squad and it is a shame that they are seen as incompatible with a professional Premiership image.

Needless to say, Keith is very interesting on his early days at Charlton. He notes, 'whenever the club had a good side they never followed up with the crucial next step.'

Village idiots

Keith Peacock's account of the managerial reign of Andy Nelson borders on the hilarious. More recent fans may not know that he once denounced his critics among the supporters as 'village idiots'. Apparently, one of Nelson's idiosyncracies was to address all players as 'sir'. He also insisted that they play to a rigid plan from which there was to be no variation, even if their innovations won the game. When Colin Powell scored a good goal from the wing at Palace, Nelson rebuked him: 'You don't shoot from there, sir. If you do it again, you'll be off.'

When Charlton won 4-1 at The Valley against Spurs with a Flanagan hat-track, Nelson bawled him out afterwards. With Flanagan clutching the match ball, Nelson declared, 'You won't score goals if you carry on like that, sir! You were shooting when you should have passed.' When Peacock was dropped from the team, Nelson told him with his usual subtletly, 'Your little legs have gone, sir.'


I am looking forward to the Baggies tomorrow in the hope that the Addicks will not suffer from altitude sickness at England's highest ground and will start to string a little run together. There are rumours that Jeffers may start which would certainly enliven proceedings. It looks as if JJ will be out for about a month after the injury he picked up at Palace and Kevin Lisbie is also injured. So there is every hope of a Bartlett/Jeffers combination up front.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Communication from Peter Varney

This blog has received a communication from Charlton chief executive, Peter Varney, in relation to recent comments on this blog. I do not intend to reproduce his comments here as I regard them as a private communication. In addition, I think it best that the controversy surrounding Brian Cole's dismissal is left to come naturally to a close (our piece was commenting on a 4-4-2 story which brought it back into the limelight).

We did not approach Peter Varney for his account of events because this is only a fan's blog (of which there are many) and we did not think he would have the time to respond. It is clear, however, that he believes that there is an alternative account of events to those presented here.

This blog has deplored attacks on players and club employees before and reiterates that position again. The club is entitled to take any necessary security measures to prevent a repetition of such attacks.

Peter Varney considers that criticisms of the programme made in this blog are ill founded given the fact that it has one of the highest sales ratios in the country and has received high levels of approval in fan surveys. This is not, however, grounds for complacency.

What I would say is that the reputation that Charlton has built up for being a listening club that has good communications with its supporters could easily be lost. Of course, a Premiership club has to adopt a different style and become more of a business. Whilst I do not doubt the dedication and sincerity of Peter Varney or any of the board, I am not the only fan to perceive a growing gulf between the club's leadership and its supporters.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Deano and Rommedah win three glorious points

It's quite a shock when you come back from working in the Algarve and the first game you find yourself at is at Selhurst Park, writes Paul May. It was also a special day for such a game, twelve years after our glorious return to The Valley, having escaped from the clutches of Palace and the threat of a takeover by them.

I was therefore particularly interested to see in the crowd (which was 6,000 short of capacity at this world class stadium) someone who played such a big role in our return to The Valley, Rick Everitt. Accompanying him on his usual pre-Yuletide visit to the UK was American sports and soccer reporter Doug Chapman. There are a number of Addicks in the Boston metropolitan area, but few are as knowledgeable about football as the indirect descendant of the famous Arsenal manager.

The geezer next to me also pointed out to me a short bloke you wouldn't look at twice if you passed him in the street. Apparently, he is a great football statto, but also a neighbour in Chalfont St. Peter of Ozzy Osbourne who got turned over recently. Perhaps this geezer could spend some of his millions helping us out. He was talking to another guy who might have been his bodyguard, except that he didn't really look like a minder. Maybe he was another millionaire incognito in the Arthur Waite.

Word filtered through of our home draw against Rochdale in the FA Cup. This will please the editor of this page, Wyn Grant. On 11 January 1947 Charlton played Rochdale at home in the cup. Wyn's father went to the game and then to Greenwich hospital where Wyn was born in the early evening.

Despite promises of change in the Charlton line up, it was just a case of the Herminator replacing Konchesky. Crystal Palace put plenty of early pressure on Charlton with Routledge getting in behind the Addicks' defence in a fast and furious start. After five minutes the Glaziers won a corner but it was unproductive for them. A shot from Murphy was easily saved.

Johnson was causing trouble for the Addicks' defence and Fortune had to bring him down at the expense of a free kick. Holland advanced into the Palace penalty area and for a moment it looked as if he might have a chance. Palace continued to look dangerous down the wings.

JJ put in a good header but it was easily saved. The game became a bit scrappy. JJ went off after 19 minutes, having taking a knock, and Rommedahl came on. Kishishev had a go from thirty yards and was just wide of the post. Routledge caused more trouble for the Addicks defence. The Hungarian Palace keeper had to smother the ball at the feet of Bartlett and needed treatment. Good play by Thomas allowed him to put in a good cross and Holland put in a powerful header which went just wide of the post.

Palace got a free kick 25 yards out after a challenge on Johnson, but the rehearsed move was anticipated by Charlton and a waste for the Glaziers. Luke Young got spoken to for a little push by fussy whistle happy referee Matthias. He then booked Murphy for dissent after the referee from St.Dunstan's ignored the lino who was flagging for a foul. Palace piled on the pressure with Routledge prominent but it all ended in a free kick for the Addicks.

Thomas and Routledge were having a bit of a duel on the line. Palace got a lucky corner. The Herminator played a risky back pass to Deano with Johnson bearing down.
Palace then had a great chance but the header came off the crossbar with Deano beaten. Palace won a corner off Luke Young in time added on. The Herminator dealt with the ball from Routledge and then Thomas was fouled, Watson receiving a yellow card. Thomas forged forward and hammered the ball in left footed, requiring the Palace keeper to make a good save. The Charlton corner was wasted.

Half-time: Glaziers 0, Addicks 0

We all have our own visions of hell, but the gents at Palace and the access to them must be what the washrooms are like in Hades. Thomas went down holding the back of his head and play stopped. The match was very scrappy again. Popovic tried a 'strike' from 40 yards. Murphy had a shooting chance after good work by Thomas, but the effort was blocked.

Deano saves penalty

Charlton were looking better in the second half, starting to put some moves together. But then Johnson broke through and after contact with Luke Young, referee Matthias pointed to the spot. El Karkouri was booked for dissent. [Paul, please get your eyesight tested now that you are back in the UK. El Karkouri put in a sliding tackle that led to the penalty - Wyn]. Deano made a superb save to his left from Johnson who failed to get his tenth Premiership goal, palming the ball away. So much for recent criticism of Deano.

Murphy made space for himself but scuffed the shot as he was pressured by Watson. Murphy was looking increasingly threatening as he found space among the Palace defence. Deano then had to make a comfortable but important save with Johnson lurking nearby. Johnson broke through, but El Karkouri did superbly with a tackle to deny him a clear sight of goal at the expense of a Palace corner.

Kiraly made a fumbling save from Rommedahl after Kishishev had turned provider for the Dane. Johnson bore down on the Addicks' goal, but he had no Glaziers in support. Charlton were starting to give the ball away a little too much as they sought to preserve the point.

Palace took off Kolkka and brought on their Greek midfielder who featured as a substitute in Euro 2004 but had to leave AEK Athens because of their financial problems. Jeffers came on in place of Bartlett. Routledge was stopped by the Herminator and the referee gave Palace a free kick, the first of a number in succession awarded by Matthias, the advocate of free flowing football. Deano had to make a save from Johnson who is too good a player for Palace. Deano had come off his line and need to retreat and use his left arm.

The referee turned a Charlton free kick for a foul into a Palace one for offside. Thomas was brought down and Riihilahti received a yellow card. Palace brought him off and replaced him by Freedman in an effort to get a winning goal and deny Charlton their share of the points. Their formation looked like changing from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2. The Herminator was doing well in defence.

Matt Holland went down after a kick to the head from a Palace boot. The lino had to come on to deal with a bit of handbags at six paces. A threatening Routledge cross was headed behind by Matt Holland in the last minute of normal time. Routledge's corner was claimed well by Deano. Freedman tangled with Murphy and the Addicks got a free kick. Charlton won a corner from a long Hreidarsson throw in. Murphy's corner was headed away by Watson. Palace broke forward, but Kishishev was there to head the ball away.

Dennis ROMME-DAHL picked up the ball on the edge of the box and scored in the second minute of stoppage time to give the Addicks three points. What a victory! Deano deserves great praise for his save, but what a sting in the tail and what a return for me to the UK! It was worth waiting 25 minutes to get out of the Waite Enclosure.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Police get three point penalty

A nice curtain raiser to the big match at Selhurst tomorrow when Leamington defeated West Midlands Police 5-1 at Harbury Lane to maintain their lead in the Midlands Combination Premiership. The attendance was depressed by Christmas shopping to a disappointing 318 but one joker placed himself behind the Police goal wearing a helmet with a flashing blue light on top. Police have a reputation as the dirtiest team in the Combination, but got away with blue murder thanks to the incompetence of referee Mr Kitchen who was rumoured to be a special.

The visitors went 0-1 ahead against the run of play when keeper Richard Morris unusually lost custody of the ball and saw it banged to rights in the back of his net. It wasn't long before Richard Adams, himself a former Police player equalised for Brakes. But he was then cruelly brought down in the area and left writhing on the ground, the obese linesman on the Popular Side admitting that it was a penalty but explaining to enraged fans that he had 'forgotten' to raise his flag. The ref eventually stopped the game, Adams was stretchered off and the emergency ambulance summoned. He is likely to be out for some time. 'Let's get these animals', screamed the Bloke Beside Me.

Brakes made it 2-1 by the break, the same lino being told 'You're nicked' for failing to raise his offside flag. When the interrogation resumed, Brakes camped out in the Police's half and the visitors had difficulty in holding their lines. With the formidable bulk of Darran Tank stopping any attacks by the Police, Leamington kept hitting the post, seemingly unable to bring the case to a conclusion despite intense probing of Police's hapless defence. Eventually they made the breakthrough and soon got it up to 5-1, with ex Coventry City and Inverness Caledonian Thistle ace Leon Morgan scoring a particularly good goal. Meanwhile, Police's play became even dirtier to shouts of 'If you want to beat him up, take him down the cells.' Referee Kitchen smiled beningly on the mayhem, ignoring obscene gestures from the boys in blue.

It's now a case of 'bring on the dogs' as Brakes face Bedlington Terriers at home in the 3rd round of the FA Vase.

Chelsea result depresses players

According to The Times Curbs feels that some of his players were 'psychologically affected' by the defeat by Chelsea, confirming the view that there is not much relationship between big pay packets and motivation. He has promised a number of changes for the match at Selhurst Park. What this seems to amount is a 4-5-1 formation with Bartlett up front, Rommedahl on the right (rather than JJ) and the Herminator back in place of Paul Konchesky. Not much change there, then. Will Jon Fortune have to mark Palace number one threat Andy Johnson? Deano's place seems secure, although perhaps the derby at Selhurst would hardly be the place to test out Stefan Andersen.

No sign of Jeffers. Let's hope he's not 'psychologically flawed' rather than just 'psychologically affected'. (The former remark was, of course, first applied to Gordon Brown with whom I had lunch on Tuesday and is anything but).

What we can be sure of is that Charlton will have no outlet when defending corners. My sources tell me that the real fan of 'crowding the box', which in my view confuses defenders as much as it confounds attackers, is Keith Peacock.

Sue Townsend is alive and well

We are pleased to report that a reply to our E mail has been recieved from supporters' director Sue Townsend who has said that she will pass on my remarks to 'those concerned'. My general point, which is unlikely to penetrate the corporate hierarchy, is that the club should revert to its old style of listening to the fans rather than talking at them.

Friday, December 03, 2004

'Crystal Balls'

This is the heading on a story in the January issue of 4-4-2 about the sacking of Charlton pitch announcer Brian Cole. Following a complaint from a member of the Crystal Palace board, he was fired the next day via the club website. I had the impression that he had been given the tin tack when an emissary of Charlton supremo Peter Varney had appeared in the stands to tell him not to come back on the pitch at half time. In fact, he had nothing to do at half time and therefore never had any need to go pitchside. However, at this stage he apparently believed it would all be forgiven if he apologised the next morning, but instead he learnt the news of his dismissal on the web site, followed up by a stern lecture on the subject by Varney in the programme for the 'Boro game.

For Brian's account of the sequence of events go to: Brian Cole

Horse and cart

As Cole points out in 4-4-2, it was hardly a hanging offence. Indeed, on the opposite page Cardiff City PA announcer Ali Yassin is reported to have made the following announcement before the game against the Irons: 'Will the owner of a horse attached to a rag and bone cart in the visitors' car park please return to his vehicle?' He also played Steptoe and Son, whereas requests to play 'Living Next Door to Alice' at Charlton were turned down. Yassin apparently remains in his job.

Brian Cole believes that his remarks were no more inflammatory than those made by his Palace counterpart. 'They announced that there was a caravan causing an obstruction outside the stadium with a Charlton sticker and the registration P1KEY. We laughed - like their fans did when I said "Palarse". The difference is that no one got sacked.'

The article is given an extra edge by the description of Brian as being 'from Croydon'. He was born in Lewisham and now lives on Portsea Island, among a dense concentration of Pompey fans who have 'passion' as their middle name (indeed, one has changed his name to that of the club). However, he was brought up in the suburban wasteland that is known as Croydon. It happens to the best of us. My wife grew up in Thornton Heath and her father was a Palace supporter, but she started work in Woolwich and soon saw the light.

No passion please - we're Charlton

4-4-2 quote one incensed fan who said 'Maybe next time Palace visit the Valley we won't be allowed to sing anything, just in case it hurts their feelings.' My understanding is that there were some people behind the scenes at The Valley who thought that Cole's style and body image did not 'fit in' with the 'family' corporate image that Charlton wanted to promote, i.e., bland and passionless. Indeed, judging by the way the crowd behaves at The Valley, they have got what they wanted.

I have no idea what Peter Varney's stand is on this. I had thought of him as someone who was accessible to the fans and understood their concerns. Now his main interest seems to be delivering magisterial lectures to them in the programme. Indeed, being in the Premiership seems to have gone to our Reg's head, as he is always dropping the names of people at 'big clubs' that he has talked to (it was David Gill at Manchester United in the Chelsea programme).

The programme itself is a monument to the blandness of the club. When the Rickster was staying up all night to produce it, it did have a bit more of a fan friendly feel. I have E mailed our almost invisible supporters' director on the subject of the programme and it will be interesting to see if she replies and what she says.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Lowdown on Lopez

Charlton have been linked with the Argentinian league's top scorer Lisandro Lopez. A £3.5m offer is said to be in prospect for the striker who has scored 11 goals in 17 games for Racing Club in the Apertura. (No, not Racing Club Warwick).

Our BA correspondent writes: 'He's supposed to be very good and promising. His team hasn't had such a good goaler [sic] since 1969.

You can visit his web site at:

It is in Spanish and attempts to translate it on the web produced the following:

The title paragraph: 'I do not feel like goleador. In spite of being the maximum artilleryman of the match, Lisandro Lopez, in exclusive right with Olé, was self-critical like always: "I need sense of smell"'. Well at the New Den or Selhurst, maybe.

Another paragraph says: 'To what country you would like to go? Hopefully that if it occurs me, is in a pretty place and an equipment with possibility of being champion.' Doesn't sound like SE7 or Charlton.'

To try and clarify the situation, we have sent Lopez the following E mail (thanks to my Argentine colleague, Marcelo): 'Vas a venir a Charlton? Seras muy bienvenido'

Paul May returns

Long-term readers of this page may remember Paul May who provided some of our away match reports. Although he enjoyed a drink before the game, his reports were a model of promptness, lucidity and crispness. Paul went to Euro 2004 in Portugal and liked it so much he stayed on working in a bar on the Algarve. However, the bar work dried up, and Paul wanted to see his children at Christmas. He gave up his basement flat in Westcombe Park and his job in IT and is currently staying with his parents in Blackfen while he looks for work.

I'm not going to Selhurst because I don't like paying money to Palace for poor facilities. Paul is going to see the Addicks for the first time this year. 'It may not be pretty', he admits. 'But if the Palace fans call us "pikeys" and "clowns", I'm sure I can think of a response.'