Monday, January 31, 2005

Stuart joins Norwich

Midfielder Graham Stuart has joined Norwich until the end of the season on a free transfer. Stuart, 34, commented, 'The attraction for me was to continue to play in the Premiership.'

The speedway fan has made a considerable contribution to Charlton's success in recent years. He scored 24 goals in 164 league and cup appearances for the Addicks. Although his appearances recently have been limited, playing just six times this season, he always gave one hundred per cent in terms of commitment and dedication, although there were signs that he was starting to slow a little and tire more easily. Given the strength of the current Addicks midfield, his chances of making anything more than cameo appearances were limited.

He has been a respected and popular player at The Valley and we wish him well at Norwich.

Graham Stuart as an Addick. Photo credit: Roland Silcox collection

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Premier League - We're Having a Laugh

'Premier League, you're having a laugh' chanted the Yeovil fans during Charlton's 3-2 FA Cup victory at The Valley. The last laugh was, however, on Charlton who went through to the fifth round, but not without being seriously rattled by the Somerset side. It was evident that with Tuesday's key fixture against Liverpool in mind, Charlton were trying to play much of the game on cruise control with a strong side operating at around 75 per cent. Unfortunately, this didn't work against a skilled and determined Yeovil side but in the end Charlton showed just enough skill to get the result. The midfield seemed strangely unable to contain Yeovil attacks, which perhaps shows the case for generally playing with a 4-5-1 formation rather than the 4-4-2 used on this occasion.

On the Jubilee Line I was approached by one Glover who recognised me and another engaged me in conversation on the bus, asking if I thought they would score and I said that I was sure they would. The match attracted an encouraging crowd of 22,873, even without a Rickshaw service. However, there were some Glovers among the home crowd and in the second half some of them appeared to be escorted out of the East Stand corner of the Lower North.

Charlton started the game by applying some early pressure rather than being pinned down in their own half as is so often the case. Fortune went down and required treatment for a head injury. A throw in from the Herminator unsettled the defence of the team in green, but Jeffers was unable to connect with the ball in a way that would have made use of the opportunity. Terry won a corner for Yeovil but Deano had no difficulty in making the save.

Yeovil won another corner and then a free kick against the Herminator which was eventually saved. The visitors had a chance but were let down by poor finishing. Murphy turned provider for Jeffers but his angled ball went over. Luke Young provided a good tackle in a threatening two on one situation. Terry then collected the ball just inside his own half and as the Addicks defence retreated in some disarray, he forged through before putting in a drive from some twenty yards out which hit the post with Deano beaten. The follow up by Way was blocked.

Yeovil were awarded a free kick against Luke Young in a promising position on the West Stand touchline, but the effort was well over. El Karkouri nearly let Yeovil through in a rare moment of carelessness which epitomised the casual nature of some of Charlton's play. Young put in a good cross and Bartlett timed his run well as he had against Birmingham but somehow managed to put the ball over the bar from a few yards out. Good work by Murphy gave Hughes a chance but it was just over.

Then on 37 minutes an El Karkouri free kick from inside the Charlton half was headed down by the Herminator. Hughes seized the opportunity and volleyed the ball into the bottom corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Bartlett had a go but his effort was saved. Then on 44 minutes Gall forged forward, evading tackles by Hreidarsson and Fortune. Thomas tried to intervene, but he only helped the ball on to Terry who had no difficulty in putting the ball past a stranded Deano from two yards out.

Half-time: Addicks 1, Glovers 1

Repeated calls over the tannoy for the cleaning supervisor suggested that some teap cups had been broken. Certainly Curbs had looked more than usually agitated during the first half.

Charlton provided some early pressure with Weale having to punch the ball out in front of goal. On 51 minutes Murphy delivered a great ball in the form of a low cross and the fox in the box was there to tap it in and make it 2-1. Six minutes later Thomas turned provider for Bartlett and his shot went in off the post to make it 3-1.

Terry, who had gone down injuried in the goalmouth earlier, was pulled off in favour of Rose. Charlton won three corners in succession with Weale saving the last one. The Herminator got a yellow card for dissent. Murphy turned provider for Bartlett, but with an open goal in front of him the Springbok somehow missed. If he had made it 4-1, it would have been game over.

Instead Yeovil made it 3-2 on 66 minutes with substitute Davies delivering a thunderbolt of an angled shot which had Deano well beaten. Yeovil piled on the pressure and Charlton were often pinned back in front of goal. The visitors managed to hit the top of the cross bar with one effort.

On 75 minutes it looked as if it was going to be 3-3. Yeovil had managed to create an opportunity after a Jeffers error. Davies drew Deano from his goal line. Deano managed to block with his legs, but a scramble in the goalmouth continued, El Karkouri somehow managing to deny Jevons. Substitutions had been in preparation for some time, but Curbs now decided to act and withdrew Hughes for Konchesky and Jeffers for JJ.

Thomas won Charlton a corner, but it ended in a Yeovil free kick. Murphy was fouled by the advancing keeper as he bore down on goal. Under some interpretations that should have neen a red card. Murphy was clattered so badly that he had to be replaced by Euell.

Yeovil were unable to create any more chances. What the Addicks must now hope for is a favourable draw in the fifth round. At some point we are bound to meet one of the top three clubs, but let's hope it's not too soon. Blackburn at home would replicate our 1947 cup run.

Match analysis

Cup match analyst Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon awarded the Silver Bone to Danny Murphy for the consistent skill with which he played throughout the match. Deano could not do too much about the two goals that got past him. Fortune was solid most of the time, but suspect once or twice. El Karkouri seemed not to have brought his shooting boots with him today, but was stalwart in his defensive role. Young was once again one of the best Charlton players on the pitch, forging forward and putting in some quality crosses. Hreidarsson also tormented the Yeovil defence, but made one or two errors in his defensive role. Thomas did not have his best game, despite some inspired moves at times. Sometimes he is too inclined to showboat and try and beat the player rather than get a cross in. Holland played with his usual quiet efficiency and determination. Hughes put in another good performance, showing the ability to move forward in attack when the opportunity presented itself. Jeffers scored, but missed other opportunities. Bartlett could have scored three if he had been more accurate. Konchesky added solidity to Charlton when he came on.
Johansson in contrast added very little. Euell got a few touches during his cameo appearance.

Hiss of the Match The West Stand linesman was a model of inconsistency and wagged his finger in an officious way when the Yeovil manager came on the pitch to feed the ball to his keeper while the referee and the fourth official simply smiled which was the right way to react.

Crowd rating 'You're not singing any more' chanted the Glovers. But we weren't singing in the first place. Admittedly it's difficult to know how to react to the enthusiastic supporters of a lower division side (the CAFC Picks site suggested we were in danger of becoming 'Glover huggers'), but a bit more singing than one chorus of 'Valley Floyd Road' would have been welcome. However, the crowd's applause of the Yeovil players at the end was generous. 5/10

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Andersen should leave Charlton - Olsen

Denmark boss Morten Olsen has warned Charlton reserve keeper Stephan Andersen that he needs to get first-team action if he is to play for his nation and has advised him to find a new club.

Olsen commented, 'The risk is that Stephan will stop developing if he does not get action see. He is one of the most talented keepers in Denmark and he needs to get playing time to develop at this stage in his career. Additionally, it's important for a keeper to get experience and Stephan does not get that on the bench.'

This might seem unwarrantable interference in club affairs, but Olsen does have a point. There is a risk that Charlton will lose a talented keeper who could be the eventual replacement for Deano and would be able to step in if Deano was injured.

However with Deano playing so well it is difficult to see how Curbs could rest him for a game. Moreover, it would be against the nature of the cautious manager to upgrade the understudy.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Play Me or Sell Me - Euell

Jason Euell has pleaded with Charlton to play him or sell him. He told, 'I really am going frustrated at my future. I have been seeking assurances for my long-term future from the manager, but they have not been forthcoming. This does disappoint me as the last thing I want to do is to sit around and collect my money each week.'

The £4m signing has not started a league game since October and has been limited to appearances from the subs bench. One problem has been that the 4-5-1 formation favoured by the club recently does not leave an easy role for the Jamaican international who has typically been played as an advanced midfielder in the hole behind the strikers in a 4-4-2 formation. Euell has always seen himself as a striker, but Curbs sees him as being of more value supporting the strikers.

Opinions among fans about Euell are divided. A critic claimed that his second touch was excellent, but we never saw it because his first touch was so poor. However, the Bloke Beside Me is a great fan of Euell and is always heartened when he comes on. In my view he has not been at his best this season but perhaps this is because he has been unsettled and lost confidence.

Euell has been linked with Middlesbrough, but Charlton are unlikely to let him go.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

McCafferty Goes on Loan to Rushden

Midfielder and reserve team captain Neil McCafferty has gone on a month's loan to League Two side Rushden and Diamonds. The 20-year old who was a Republic of Ireland youth international will be in the squad when Rushden go to Rochdale on Saturday. Earlier in the transfer window, Rushden were talking of signing three Charlton players. However, although relations between the two clubs have been good, with Charlton playing a reserve friendly at Nene Park, that was a step too far.

Caretaker Rushden boss Barry Hunter, who recently replaced Ernie Who for his second stint in the dugout, watched McCafferty at Monday night's reserve fixture at The Valley. Hunter commented, 'He's not the biggest boy but he is a very good footballer in central midfield who will put his foot in. He will provide an extra body in our squad which is important when you looked at the bench on Saturday with four young players.'

The Evening Telegraph says that McCafferty has been tipped to follow in the footsteps of Scott Parker (not literally we hope). McCafferty had a long spell at Cambridge United so has experience of the lower end of League Two. Although Rushden have plummeted down the Football League after owner Max Griggs encountered problems with his business, McCafferty will find a superb modern training set up at Nene Park. I have had a comprehensive tour of the whole set up and it is very impressive and should assist his development as a player.

Local Addicks will be able to see him in action with nearby village Burton Latimer being a hotbed of Charlton support, the home of Weetabix often featuring on Charlton Live. Indeed, even Rushden's chaplain has been to The Valley. I have also learnt from Rushden's web board that McCafferty is the former long-term boy friend of Nadine from Girls Aloud which I confess means nothing to me.

McCafferty's temporary home

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Reserves continue championship run

The Addicks reserves beat the Foxes 2-0 at The Valley last night to continue their run for the championship for the second year in a row. Charlton Live presenter David 'Statto' Hatch was at the match and has provided the following report.

It was a pretty strong Charlton team, including Stuart, Perry, Lisbie and Fish. Perry was clattered in the first minute, hit the ground, rolled over and stood up as if nothing had happened. A moment or later he got in the way of a hefty shot and shrugged that off too, so I think we can say he's ready for a return to the first team.

Lisbie started brightly, looking fit and interested, almost taunting his full back by running at him and weaving from side to side. I even found myself writing, 'Lisbie fit and eager.' In the end the full back bundled him over in the area for a penalty and Stuart sent the goalie the wrong way with a simple, gentle shot to make it 1-0. By 20 minutes I was writing, 'Lisbie starting to let shoulders drop.' He kept getting fouled, though, which might explain what happened later. For most of the first half Charlton were firmly in control, and Leicester didn't look as if they'd put up much resistance.

Stuart was putting himself about quite actively, and looked really quite fit and well. At one point he was bundled over quite roughly but still got to his feet without delay. Within 30 seconds he'd hunted down and fouled his attacker, so he clearly still has motivation.

By 35 minutes Lisbie as limping, with an anxious trainer waiting on the touchline, but the chap clearly hadn't tuned into Lisbie's way of showing loss of interest by simulating an injury. So you're not a fan, David?

Andersen looked imposing in the first half, apart from a tangle over a back pass that made me wonder if he was getting a bit bored with little to do and was trying to psych himself up.

Half time: Addicks 1, Foxes 0

In the second half Leicester looked very much more up for it. Following a short pass from Lisbie, Lloyd Sam had a shot saved, but after this Charlton had a number of close shaves, with Andersen making several point blank reaction saves - all very encouraging for the longer term.

Fish looked back to his normal self and survived a heavy tackle that left his attacker needing treatment while Fish carried on as if nothing had happened. Stuart wen off about an hour, but still looked fairly fresh. He must have been a bit embarrassed to be accompanied to the dressing room by an absolutely ENORMOUS bloke in Charlton gear.

Lisbie was tackled from behind and completely lost it. He leapt to his feet and attacked the Leicester player, with his hands round his throat. The usual melée followed, after which Lisbie got his marching orders - straight red - his attacker was booked, as was Euell, seemingly for completely pointlessly arguing with the ref.

Peacock appeared in the dugout and shortly afterwards Perry was substituted, still looking fresh and enthusiastic, so I imagine he'll be in the squad on Saturday. With 15 minutes to go the Leicester player who'd tackled Lisbie went in on Andersen and injured him and got sent off. Andersen recovered quickly and before long was rushing off his line to palm away a cross in a way that Kiely doesn't seem comfortable with.

Fish was playing for the last part of the match with his socks around his ankles, but still had enough in the tank to storm goalwards as if bent on scoring himself. He got a few laughs for that! Just before the end Euell got held up close to goal and passed to Sam who scored from close range. He's a shadow of the player we spent over £4m for, and just doesn't seem comfortable in midfield at all. I really can't see him becoming central to Curbs' plans, unless there's an injury crisis, of course.

So Perry, Fish and Stuart look perfectly fit for Yeovil, and Lisbie's going to be cooling his heels for a few more weeks for his straight red. Andersen got several enthusiastic rounds of applause for his reaction saves, and Sam looked useful in bursts, but I can't see there's much more talent coming through, which must be a worry.

Monday, January 24, 2005

League Two Football

Every time a lower division club gets a result against a Premiership team (which we hope will not happen on Saturday), journos resort to their standard clichés about the gap between the Premiership and the lower divisions closing, if it ever existed at all. Never mind if the lower division club had to play in the Premiership every week. That would be a different story, but a less interesting one.

I watch League Two football from time to time and my view is that there is a big difference from the Premiership. Indeed, I also watch football at a low level in the non-league pyramid and the gap between that standard is smaller than the divide between League Two and the Premiership.

What is the nature of the difference? It doesn't have so much to do with the quality of finishing or even approach work, although chances are missed at a lower level would be finished off in the Premiership where there are fewer of them. Goalkeepers are not that much worse (this is a real difference in the lower levels of non-league football). Nor is the standard of midfield play all that different, although one often finds all the players within a few yards of the centre circle engaging in head tennis.

The biggest difference is in the quality of the defence. One has far more space to play even at a lower level because players are closed down less often and with less skill (there is more resort to the desperate foul). The other big difference is the amount of hoofing of the ball. This is often done as an agricultural clearance out of the goalmouth which often endangers passing aircraft as it spins into the atmosphere. Indeed, National Air Traffic Control would be a good replacement if LDV Vans ever pull out of the lower division trophy they sponsor.

There is a more general resort to the long ball, not just as an untargeted defensive clearance. This is where I think higher division teams often get into trouble. Hit and hope balls often come in from unexpected angles into unanticipated places. Very often they are so random that they can easily be dealt with, but occasionally they create a goal scoring opportunity.

I have not seen Yeovil play and, given their league position, they may be more of a passing side. However, the best formula to deal with them is well crafted attacks to break down their defence, but making sure we keep an eye on things at the back. No doubt Charlton have made a study of their particular weaknesses and strengths and will be well prepared.

An in form Charlton should win. There is the risk of a draw, but I think that if we went to Huish Park Charlton fans would seen an Addicks win from the appropriately named Bartlett stand. Quality would win through, but it would be a distraction we could do without.

It will be an odd experience having two blocks of away fans in the East Stand. Indeed I can't remember it happening before. The nearest parallel I can remember is a small group of Tranmere fans being placed in the West Stand so that we could have the Jimmy Seed towards the end of our first promotion season. Given the number of enthusiastic Glovers to be expected, it is more important than usual that the Addicked turn up and get behind their team.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

To the Londoners 1-0

Confounding pre-season predictions of a relegation struggle, Everton have consequentially been much hyped this season as they managed to lead the Premiership outside the big three. What we saw at The Valley was an efficient and well organised side who were not in the same class as Arsenal and Chelsea and whom we were able to demolish 2-0. Their one touch of creativity was provided by Gravesen who has now gone to Real Madrid. Much of their success has been achieved on the back of 1-0 wins at home and Charlton reversed the usual score at Goodison Park on Saturday thanks to a Matt Holland volley. This was in spite of the fact that Everton had the incentive of knowing that Liverpool had gone down at Southampton.

I wasn't able to be there because I had a meeting in Newcastle that finished at lunch time. Radio reception on the train on the way back was so intermittent that it was some time before I found that the Addicks had gone 1-0 ahead just before half time. The Herminator turned provider for the Charlton captain after Everton failed to clear a corner, allowing Holland to score the winning goal as he did at The Hawthorns.

It was evident that much of the credit for the final result goes to good defending with Danny Murphy clearing off the line in the first half. Fortune seems to have had a better game than usual and Young made an important contribution, but the television excerpts showed Deano making a number of crucial saves. Mention should also be made of our lucky referee Sir Cliff Richard (aka Harold Webb). We have not conceded a goal in the three matches in which he has officiated (although he has dished out some cards).

The headlines were supposed to be about Beattie and the Charlton win seemed to leave journos uncertain what to say, broadcasters resorting to the 'and elsewhere' formula. Certainly the small band of Addickted who made the journey enjoyed themselves, the television pictures showing Brian Cole among those celebrating. The question now for Charlton is whether they are simply going to head the mid-table league, which was effectively what they did last season, or make a real effort for a European place. At least we are getting good results at a time when we normally have a mid-season blip.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Rickshaw Riders' Delight

Some of them had not been to The Valley for over fifty years. Others were Manchester United followers looking for a day out. But these Men of Kent (and some women) poured off the coaches of the new 'Rickshaw' service parked up in the Woolwich Road. One coach had even been joined by Charlton supremo Peter Varney to add to the 'On the Buses' flavour of the day. No doubt some of the new fans were uncertain what awaited them at The Valley. Perhaps some of the older ones wondered if Sam Bartram would still be between the sticks.

What they did not know was that they were going to see one of the best Charlton performances this season and a convincing 3-1 victory over Birmingham City. Talal El Karkouri put Charlton after nine minutes with an amazing long distance goal from a free kick. Unfortunately the Addicks were not able to take advantage of some good chances to go further ahead before the break. The Blues had a purple spell after half time, equalising with a header from a corner by Melchiot. The substitution of Rommedahl by Jeffers brought a new sparkle to Charlton's play and it was Jeffers who turned provider for Bartlett, giving the Springbok a simple tap in to make it 2-1 and the Addickted the unusual sight of a goal scored by a striker. The third Charlton goal was simply superb. Thomas played the ball brilliantly out of defence, released it to Jeffers who passed it to Murphy who advanced on goal and scored with an excellent angled ball.

The new announcer has the irritating habit of proclaiming 'It's showtime at The Valley!' which seems to me would be more appropriate for an end of the pier show from the 1950s rather than a Premiership football match. On this occasion the proclamation was made and no one appeared, possibly because the officials were having a final fix of methane.

Both teams seemed to be somewhat hesitantly testing each other out in the opening minutes, although Murphy blasted in a shot from distance that was not far over. Then on nine minutes El Karkouri took a free kick from forty yards out and it bounced past a bemused Taylor in the Blues goal.

Hughes put in a good ball to Bartlett in front of goal but he was just unable to connect with it. The Addicks were using quite a lot of the long ball, but presumably this had been researched in advance and it seemed to unsettle the Blues defence.

Jerome Thomas won the Addicks a corner and Rommedahl's effort was not far wide. Blues won a free kick on the edge of the area, but it came off the wall and was then kicked off the line when it came out again. A subsequent mix up in front of Deano's goal was the result of poor communication among the defenders. Good work by Murphy won Charlton a corner. A header from El Karkouri had to be tipped over the bar by Taylor. From the second corner a header from Bartlett was straight at the keeper.

Upson was perhaps a little harshly yellow carded for a foul on Bartlett and the free kick was saved. On 37 minutes Clinton Morrison put the ball in the net from a clearly offside position. However, Deano was then tested by a fierce shot from Anderton. A good build up ended with Bartlett putting the ball out of play. Fortune conceded Birmingham's first corner of the game. Somehow or other two minutes of time added on was found and Blues were given a weird free kick by referee Foy who had clearly not got his methane-oxygen mix right.

Half time: Addicks 1, Blues 0

Bartlett played in Rommedahl who delivered a good cross but Hughes was unable to take advantage of the situation. Birmingham no doubt been given a 'remember you are the second team from the second city' pep talk at half time and staged a break which led to a throw in and then a corner. They were then given a second corner which I and those around me thought was a goal kick. However, it enabled Melchiot to make it 1-1 on 55 minutes with a header that left Deano with no chance.

Forging forward, El Karkouri turned provider for Rommedahl but his effort went straight to Taylor. Thomas was fouled by Johnson who received a yellow card. Murphy put the ball just over the top of the bar. However then a dangerous cross went across the front of Deano's goal. Clearly it had to be changed around and it was with the 62nd minute substitution of Rommedahl by Jeffers.

Deano had to parry a cross by Anderton, but then Jeffers collected the ball on the East Stand side of the Birmingham box. Evading Cunningham he put in a low cross along the goal line and Bartlett arrived at just the right time to put the ball into the back of the net and make it 2-1.

Tebily had been one of the more impressive Birmingham players but he nearly scored a spectacular own goal when under pressure he put the ball inches wide of the post. Konchesky replaced Hughes on 72 minutes. Clinton Morrison made a meal of a foul on him, staggering to the touchline in a dramatic fashion. One might almost say he was a dying swan if he wasn't so ugly. However, chaos enused in front of goal after the free kick with Fortune providing a vital interception.

On 75 minutes Thomas got the ball just outside the Charlton penalty area and powered up field, passing to Jeffers. He laid it off neatly to Murphy who found himself one on one with Taylor. He outfoxed the keeper and drove the ball into the far corner of the net.

A good chase back by Jeffers showed that, like Bartlett, he could contribute in defence when needed. Thomas was withdrawn on 80 minutes in favour of Kishishev. A Birmingham corner provided a moment of danger, but the final effort was way over. Paul Konchesky made a great run. Luke Young put in a great tackle to stop an attack that could have ended in a Blues goal.

After three minutes of time added on, Charlton had convincingly won the points. Heskey was having one of his off days and Birmingham lack something without Savage, but that should not be allowed to detract from the quality of Charlton's play.

It was good to see in the programme that efforts are being made to link up with the builders of new developments in the home boroughs and that some thought is being given to existing fans by pursuing the idea of a park and ride from the Dome. This would also benefit fans from north of the river who use the Jubilee line to North Greenwich.

Match Analysis

Awarding the Silver Bone was not an easy choice for Hooch the Pooch as there were so many candidates from an excellent team performance. In the end it was awarded to Danny Murphy not just for his superb goal but for his energetic and skilled contributions throughout the match. Although Deano was not tested that much by the Blues attack, he did make some good saves. Fortune made some good defensive interventions, but also looked suspect more than once. El Karkouri scored a superb goal and was also solid in his contributions in defence. Young was once again in contention for the Silver Bone. His defensive contribution was faultless and he was a real threat going forward. Hreidarsson is the latest target of the Bloke Behind Me on the grounds that he shouts for the ball too much and is too inclined to hoof it away. But there is nothing wrong with being hungry for the ball and he forged forward impressively more than once. And sometimes hoofing the ball away is the best solution to impending danger. Hughes made some good contributions, but also was error prone at times. Holland displayed his usual quiet authority. His efficiency sometimes conceals the contribution he makes. Rommedahl made some good moves, but he still looks like a luxury player. Sometimes he shows insufficient energy in going for the ball. Thomas is also in the bad books of the Bloke Behind Me for trying to do too much, but I thought that his contribution to the game was impressive and generally well judged. Bartlett was as tireless as ever, popping up all over the place and it was good to see him get the reward of a goal. Jeffers made a real positive difference after he came on. Bartlett can achieve much more with a strike partner. Konchesky was really up for it and added value to Charlton's play. Kishishev was full of energy and enthusiasm when he came on.

Hiss of the Match It is rumoured that the Titan space probe has found a colony of referees and linesmen on Titan who spend their days misunderstanding the offside rule. Unfortunately, one member of the Titan colony has already escaped and infiltrated the Premiership: the hapless and inconsistent Mr Foy who has great difficulty in getting any decision right.

Crowd rating: The Addickted were in fine form. 8/10.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Ten Years Ago: Charlton surrender half time lead

On 14th January 1995 Charlton threw away a 3-1 half-time lead to go down 3-4 at home to Derby County. David Whyte opened the scoring for the Addicks on 23 minutes and Short replied for Derby six minutes later. Pardew then scored one of only three goals all season to make it 2-1, Robson adding a third on 43 minutes.

My notes recall 'We then gave an easy goal away after the break. When ever anyone comes through the middle, the defence collapses. Chapple was hopeless.' By 75 minutes Derby had made it 3-3. Gabbiadini then scored his second three minutes from time to make it 3-4.

A measure of Charlton's desperation was that they brought on Norwegian substitute TomHovi on 82 minutes, one of only two appearances he made for the Addicks from the bench. I recently saw him nominated as Charlton's worst ever player. Hovi, who had played three games for the reserves earlier in the season, came from Norwegian club HamKam or Hamarkamerante to give them their full name.

The programme told us that the Target 10,000 committee was busy with the Greenwich and Bexley committee forming 'the engine room of the initiative'. The home boroughs seem to feature little in the current Target 40,000 campaign with coaches covering places in Kent I have never heard of it. Clearly one has to go beyond the home boroughs to attract new support, but is sufficient attention being given to potential supporters nearer The Valley?

The programme told us that it had been a 'frustrating season' for Shaun Newton, while the postponement of the away match at Burnley had denied Jamie Stuart his first team debut. A letter from the chairman of Barnsley Supporters Club apologised for racial abuse directed at Charlton's black players at the recent fixture there.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Even better than 1947!

Charlton exceeded their performance in their 1947 cup winning year by beating Rochdale 4-1 at The Valley in the 3rd round of the FA Cup on Saturday. Charlton started a little uncertainly, but their nerves were settled by a 19th minute goal from Bryan Hughes. Fortune made it 2-0 after 44 minutes, but Rochdale came back into the game with a goal from the impressive Grant Holt shortly after the break, but a second goal from Hughes and the first Charlton goal at The Valley from Murphy gave them a comfortable victory. To their credit Rochdale never gave up and often looked dangerous going forward.

The Addicks were pushed back in the opening phase of the game, but then lively Jerome Thomas had an attempt blocked. Good work by Thomas then saw the ball in the box, but keeper Matthew Gilks saved. A Rochdale free kick produced confusion in the Charlton area. Hughes played a ball into Jeffers which led to a Charlton corner but it was poorly taken by Thomas.

A cross by Hreidarsson put the Dale keeper under pressure. As the ball bounced awkwardly towards the Charlton goal, Luke Young calmly took command of the situation and cleared. After a long ball had been collected by Jeffers, he put in a low cross and Hughes was able to slot the ball into the net to make it 1-0 to Charlton on 19 minutes.

A Rochdale free kick could have led to an equaliser when Tait was given a free header, but he put it wide. Good work by Thomas won Charlton a corner. Holt looked dangerous, but it was possible to clear. Euell won the Addicks a free kick, but El Karkouri's effort came off the wall. A period of Rochdale pressure ended in a Charlton free kick. Rochdale won a corner (their tally in the game exceeded that of Charlton by eight to seven) and Luke Young had to head the ball over. As Bertos chased a long ball, Deano had to race out of his area to clear the ball. Rochdale, who were capable of launching dangerous attacks, were getting too much space.

JJ forced a corner for Charlton, but Gilks saved. JJ had a chance, but sent the ball well over. El Karkouri turned provider for Jeffers, but his effort was just wide. Then, after a succession of Charlton corners, the first of which was secured by Thomas, Matt Holland's corner was headed on by JJ and Fortune was available at the far post to volley the ball in the net to make it 2-0 just before the break. There was still time, however, for Deano to be called on to make a save.

Half time: Addicks 2, Dale 0

Euell was withdrawn in favour of Murphy who had an early chance that was wasted. (I subsequently learnt that Euell had a toe injury which may explain his lacklustre first half performance. Let's hope that he hasn't got ingrowing toenails as well. Perhaps we need a chiropodist at the training ground). Then six minutes into the half Fortune provided one of his unfortunate back headers, El Karkouri was unable to intercept and Holt was on hand to put the ball past Deano in a good finish. The Dale supporters, who had been vociferous throughout, went beserk, Deano being disliked by them because of his Bury connections.

After Jeffers was fouled when he went on a run, Murphy's free kick came off the Rochdale wall. However, Thomas provided an excellent cross for Hughes who headed the ball into the net to make it 3-1 on 57 minutes.

A move from a Rochdale throw in put Deano under pressure and he had to tip the ball over. Fortune made a good defensive header to clear from the subsequent corner. Matt Holland tried a thunderbolt from distance which was not too far over.

Daryl Burgess fouled Jerome Thomas and Murphy provided an inswinging free kick that found its way unerringly into the back of the net to make it 4-1. Rochdale, however, continued to pile on the pressure and Deano had to tip the ball over from a Dale corner.

Thomas put in a good cross but JJ was unable to take advantage. Rochdale won a corner but Fortune was down and had to be stretchered off from the touchline. Bryan Hughes had to clear from the corner. Feesh replaced Fortune. Following a Charlton corner that was saved, Konchesky replaced the largely ineffective JJ.

Bryan Hughes won Charlton a corner which was just saved. Thomas had a shot, but missed the target. Jeffers went on a great run, but should have fed Thomas rather than seeking glory himself.

Rochdale were given a free kick just outside the box after Feesh followed his usual policy of risky challenges in danger areas. Indeed, from where were sitting it looked as if it was inside the box, but there were no calls for a penalty from the Dale players. Feesh headed the ball over.

Paul Konchesky provided a good ball for Murphy, but his effort went over. Rochdale, who had now used up all their substitutes, forced a succession of corners. Deano had to make a late save from an excellent attempt by Holt.

Fortunately it was a day when the headlines about Premiership humiliation centred on the city of Manchester. Dale looked impressive going forward, but were far weaker in defence. As someone who watches some League 2 football, the two key differences between the divisions are far weaker defences that give you much more space to play at the lower level and much less good ball control, leading to a reliance on the hoofed long ball. Having made a good start, let's hope the Addicks get a favourable home draw in the fourth round and set out on something of a cup run.

Match analysis

The choice of the lounges for Man of the Match was Bryan Hughes so I was able both to receive the match ball from him and give him his first ever Silver Bone awarded by Hooch the Pooch not just for his two goals, but for his overall contribution. Let's hope he can show something against his old club Birmingham City next Saturday. Deano had to make a number of good saves. El Karkouri was solid at the back, but was not able to make anything of his free kicks. Fortune looked suspect at times, but it was a shame to see him stretchered off. Hreidarsson was less evident than in some games, but made a number of good contributions. Young was a real threat down the wing and attended to his defensive duties well. Indeed, one young lady from Dorset voted for him for Man of the Match. Holland performed with his usual efficiency giving neat touches when they were needed. Thomas skinned the Rochdale defence time after time. The reportedly unsettled Euell was given a start but failed to impress and was withdrawn at half time. JJ ran about a lot, but failed to make use of some of the opportunities he was given. One can understand why Jeffers was greedy with the ball when he went on his runs, but there was more than one occasion when a better opportunity could have been created if he had made a pass. Murphy added quality to the side when he came. Feesh had to come on for the injured Fortune, but displayed his tendency to make rash challenges in the area. Konchesky played with vigour, determination and skill.

Hiss of the Match We had such a nice day as ball sponsors thanks to the friendly and attentive staff that we have suspended the Hiss of the Match. Indeed, there was nothing that the officials did to complain about and the Rochdale players were vigorous but fair.

Crowd rating The depleted Charlton crowd was really quiet in the first half, even if they livened up in the second. No wonder they got chants of 'shall we sing a song for you?' 4/10

Thursday, January 06, 2005

58 Years Ago: Charlton on road to Wembley

On 11 January 1947 Charlton beat Rochdale 3-1 at The Valley and started on the road that led them to victory at Wembley. My father went to the match and then walked up to St.Alfege's Hospital where I was born at 7.30 p.m. So I wasn't quite in time to see Duffy score two for Charlton, the third coming from Lancelotte (who I believe is still with us). We will be commemorating the occasion on Saturday by sponsoring the match ball.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Big Night Out for Rochdale Squad

Rochdale's manager has been to see Charlton play and 'came away with the opinion that if they don't improve we have a chance' according to a report in the Daily Mirror.

Rochdale don't plan to put all the money from the tie in 'the old oak chest.' It's going to be a big night out in the Smoke for the lads from 'oop north. 'The players earn it for the club and we mean to spend some of it on them by combining work and play', said manager Ted Goodler. 'The boys will stay in a good hotel, see a couple of good shows and generally enjoy themselves in London.'

Who is Ted Goodler, you might ask? The report comes from the Daily Mirror of 11 January 1947.

Dawson offer rejected

Press reports suggest that Nottingham Forest have turned down an offer of £2.5m from Charlton for central defender Michael Dawson. They are valuing him at £6m which is clearly too much. He is now being linked with Liverpool.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Konchesky out and Dominguez in?

Southampton sources are suggesting a possible bid for Paul Konchesky whose principal role this season has been as a substitute. Saints would allow Konchesky to play in his favoured left back position where he is seen at The Valley as more of a left midfielder. Both positions are, however, well covered at Charlton. After an early start to his career with the Addicks, Konchesky has never secured a regular first team place and spent a long time out on loan at Spurs.

Given Southampton's limited budget, Konchesky would not attract a big fee but it might cover the rumoured signing of central defender Sebastian Dominguez from Newell's Old Boys who recently won the Apertura. Keith Peacock's recent visit to Argentina may have been to look at Dominguez rather than striker Lopez. The fee for Dominguez would be around £1.3m. I have asked my Argentine correspondent for more information, but he was noted for a bizarre own goal which he chested past his own keeper. He would presumably be seen as a replacement for Fortune who is never quite consistent enough.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Lacklustre Charlton slump to defeat at Blackburn

Those of you who have seen the film Reykjavik 101 will know that it's grim in Iceland in the winter, but my spirits were not greatly lifted by a visit to see Charlton lose 1-0 at Blackburn on Bank Holiday Monday writes No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson. It was a lacklustre performance by a tired Charlton side, despite bringing in Jonatan Johansson who replaced Shaun Bartlett as striker. Indeed, Bartlett, who was seen limping at the end of the Arsenal match, did not travel with the squad (although Lloyd Sams did). Charlton might have lost by a bigger margin if it had not been for a series of excellent saves by Dean Kiely.

Dickov put in a powerful shot after 20 minutes that was well saved by Deano at the expense of a corner. Dickov put in a volley from the corner, but it was stopped on the line by Murphy and then Deano prevented Stead from scoring from the rebound.

However, five minutes before the break Thompson found Emerton unmarked at the far post and he was able to head the ball in to make the score 1-0 to the home side. Pugilist Andy Todd then put in a downward header from a Thompson free kick only to see the ball bounce over the bar.

Thomas had been effective on the wings for the Addicks and as the half drew to a close he went on a good run finding JJ, but his effort was palmed away by Brad Friedel, the custodian of the Blackburn goal.

Charlton woke up from their post-festive torpor after the break and good build up work led to a curling shot by Kishishev which was just inches over the bar. The Addickted shouted for a penalty when Matteo impeded Rommedahl as the lively Dane burst into the box. On 60 minutes Kishishev was replaced by Euell and Konchesky replaced Thomas, a decision that did not go down well with the Addickted. Charlton seemed to be less effective after the youthful winger was withdrawn.

The small crowd of 19,819 anticipated the sort of contest it was going to be. Perhaps there can be a special collection on the new Kent coach services to help the Addicks buy a much needed striker. Let us hope that Keith Peacock's journey to the Argentine was not in vain and that Lopez joins us.

It was a very sad moment for an Icelandic person when my hero Mr Hreidarsson (who had been booked along with Young and Rommedahl) was replaced on 71 minutes by Hughes. Charlton put the Blackburn goal under siege towards the end of the match. Rommedahl put a shot into the side netting when he could have passed to better-placed Charlton players. One of the best final efforts came predictably from striker/defender Luke Young whose header was only inches over the bar.

Ten Years Ago: Charlton win away

Alan Curbishley has complained with some justification about the crowded schedule of fixtures over the holiday period, but on Bank Holiday Monday 1995 the Addicks had to face Luton away one day after playing Millwall. It was my first visit to Kenilworth Road so I was not prepared for the experience of going through a passageway in a terraced house and then up a flight of steps in the garden to reach a very cramped stand. Prefabricated executive 'boxes' lined one side of the pitch. There has been much talk over the years of Luton moving over the years either to a site near the M1 or to Milton Keynes (no longer an option with Franchise FC in place), but nothing has ever come of it, while Charlton has continued to develop its ground.

My notes recall 'Charlton played well. David Whyte scored in the first half and they held on to their lead. Steve Brown played well. One of the subs [but not used] was Jamie Stuart from the youth team.' (I think that he now plays for Grays, although I did see him play for Bury against Rushden last year).

The programme was very thin, but only cost a pound. The manager's notes seemed preoccupied with the question of the standard of refereeing in the Avon Insurance Combination.

It was a good start to 1995 for Charlton, but at the end of the season they were just one place ahead of the Hatters.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Charlton unfortunate

There was a real sense of disappointment among Charlton fans after the 1-3 defeat by Arsenal at The Valley on New Year's Day. Everyone knew that the champions would be formidable opponents, although they looked less impressive than Chelsea. However, the game turned on Arsenal's second goal just after half time which put them ahead again after El Karkhouri's stunning equaliser just before the break. Van Persie was clearly offside when he came back and put Ljungberg through. Alan Curbishley rarely complains about such decisions, but he did on this occasion and his views were subsequently confirmed by the Match of the Day team. Having said that, Charlton's defence was to some extent at fault for the other two goals and there was a lack of bite up front, although getting round Campbell was far from easy.

Very often a Charlton kick off quickly leads to pressure from the other side, but this time it was Charlton who piled on the pressure. Rommedahl drew a first minute save from Almunia, after he had been played in by Matt Holland. Rommedahl then burst through again and his effort was not far off target. However, Arsenal started to pile on the pressure and Thomas was called on in defence. Henry put in a tricky shot which Deano got down to save well.

The rain started to pour down, accompanied by a strong wind and Arsene Wenger was seen in a hooded anorak designed by a leading Paris fashion house. Kishishev forged through the Arsenal defence, but having done the hard work, gave the ball away easily. This led to an Arsenal corner, but Clichy sent the ball far wide.

As the halfway point of the half approached, El Karkhouri played a clever free kick to Thomas who was waiting unmarked down the wing. Rommedahl's strike was not far off target. The Herminator put in good defensive work to cover the ball.

Then Ljungberg burst through, was fed the ball by Viera and was given far too much time to turn and blast the ball in the back of the net on 34 minutes, aided by a slight deflection off Murphy which made Deano's job more difficult. Three Charlton players were in attendance, but Fortune, perhaps fearing a penaly decision, was most at fault for Charlton's misfortune.

Kishishev fairly won the ball but had a free kick awarded against him. Defender/striker El Karkhouri launched an attack on the right. A blatant Arsenal handball was ignored by the officials. Charlton pressure nearly lead to an own goal as Almunia had to make a reaction save from one of his own players. Then El Karkhouri took a free kick awarded to Charlton and blasted the ball into the back of the net from over thirty yards out. Referee Halsey was surrounded by protesting Arsenal players as he left the pitch as they sought to explain to him that their side was not supposed to go in on level terms.

HT: Addicks 1, Gooners 1

The hooded figure of Arsene Wenger had clearly said something to his players at half time as they dominated the play from the moment they kicked off. Van Persie went ahead of the statue like Fortune, but the real misfortune was the failure to apply the offside rule. Ljungberg put in an assured finish that left Deano with no chance and on 48 minutes it was 2-1 to the Gooners.

El Karkhouri put in some good defensive work. Charlton mounted a couple of good attacks, one started by El Karkhouri and both of them involving Thomas, but in both cases offside was readily detected by the lino. In the second case, Thomas placed a sweet strike in the back of the net. He was then given a yellow card, although whether this was for cheek was unclear. (A West Stand fan has explained that this was for a shirt tug which had been spotted by the eagle eyed lino).

Arsenal were then given a free kick in front of the D for a foul by El Karkhouri on Van Persie. Cameras flashed in the Arsenal end as they anticipated a Henri goal, but the well placed Bartlett cleared off the line.

Thomas was pulled off for Konchesky and Kishishev for Euell, the latter move giving Charlton more of an attacking emphasis. However, shortly afterwards, Arsenal made it 1-3. A dubious defensive header by Fortune placed the Addicks in danger, Deano failed to come forward and Young was unable to contain the attack with the other defenders stranded out of position. Indeed, the ball took a slight deflection off Young.

Charlton kept trying, but with more space opening up, Arsenal remained in control, even after Campbell had been substituted because of an injury. Bartlett was limping and was replaced by JJ. A late Charlton corner, their first of the game (but the Gooners only had two) was poor. Charlton had been far from disgraced, but the new year had not started well for them.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch once again presented the Silver Bone to the club's leading scorer, Talal El Karkhouri for a strike that must be in contention for the club's goal of the season and for a Premiership goal of the month. Deano might have positioned himself better in relation to the third goal. Fortune once again showed himself to be wanting and one wonders if another central defender will be on the transfer window shopping list for Curbs, given that Perry's return from injury seems to be prolonged. Young was much in evidence, but less impressive than in recent games. Hreidarsson had another excellent game, strong in defence and threatening going forward. In my view he is currently the best all round player in the squad. Opinions about Kishishev are currently divided. He does make some very good moves, but he is also capable of making some poor and potentially dangerous ones. I heard some criticism of Murphy after the game, but I thought that he put in a good performance. Holland was quietly effective. Rommedahl was impressive in the first half and faded in the second but at least he was left on for ninety minutes. Thomas looked a little out of his depth and perhaps a bit intimidated by playing against his former team, although he made some good moves. He has already fallen foul of the shrewd football brain of the Bloke Behind Me, his offence being that he 'tries to do too much'. Bartlett was more impressive in defence than up front, but the role he is given is a very difficult one. Konchesky failed to make much of a difference when he came on and much the same could be said of Euell.

Hiss of the Match

Angry with the standard of the officials: Juneau the Soccer Cat

Juneau the Soccer Cat wanted to know who was in charge of officials at the FA, but I must admit I didn't know (I have subsequently been told that it is Keith Hackett). Anyway, he now has a cat determined to hiss at him. He needs to do three things: (i) press for the controlled use of video technology; (ii) sort out the confusion over the offside rule; (iii) perhaps most important, ensure that linos understand the rule and also encourage them to assert themselves more in relation to their referees on matters like handballs, fouls etc., even if the referee has told them to keep their mouths shut.

Crowd rating Generally good, but inclined to fade more often than one would hope for in such a crucial match. Perhaps they were counting the 50p a minute some of them paid to see it. 7/10.