Monday, October 31, 2005

Diouf charged after post-match celebrations

El Hadj Diouf has been charged with drink driving after what would appear to be over enthusiastic celebrations following Saturday's victory over Charlton. The striker was stopped by police in Blackburn Road, Bolton at 4.20 a.m. on Sunday morning. Following a breath test, he was arrested. He will appear at Bolton Magistrates' Court on 21 November.

He already has to appear at Teeside Magistrates' Court on December 8 charged with with disorderly conduct, a Section 5 Public Order offence. Following last November's Premiership clash at Middlesbrough, a home fan alleged that Diouf spat at him while leaving the pitch.

Allsports purchased

The BBC reports that he owner of sportswear retailer JD Sports has bought troubled rival Allsports in an £18m deal. Under the purchase, John David Sports will takeover Allsports 177 stores across the UK.

The new owners think that Allsports is a viable business, but what will happen to the sponsorship deal remains to be seen. The money could come in useful during the transfer window.

Rangers want Curbs claim

Glasgow Rangers are fourth in the Scottish Premiership and ten points behind the leaders, so it is no surprise that the patience of chairman David Murray with Alex McLeish is running thin. The club does not have a lot of money to soend and the chairman has been impressed by Alan Curbishley's ability to organise sides against the odds and bring out the best in teams on a sensible budget. Rangers could offer Curbs a big contract and more regular European football.

Nevertheless, this is probably one of the silliest stories since the 'Super Hoops' came in for Curbs. The thought of Curbs going north of the border and his cool style fitting in with the 'See you Jimmy' fanaticism of Rangers fans is almost laughable.

Curbs is an East London/Essex lad, who is prepared to come south of the river for Charlton. The England job would be certainly tempt him as would Arsenal, and possibly Spurs, but not the high expectations but dreary grind of beating Kilmarnock and Dunfermline at Rangers.

Step forward, George Burley.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bentless Charlton can't straighten it out

Charlton's appalling home record in the Premiership against Bolton Wanderers continued at The Valley on Saturday with a 0-1 defeat. My optimism about finally breaking the jinx was shattered in the pub beforehand when I heard that Bent was out ill. The point has been made by many of the Addickted that we have no adequate back up for our star striker and so it proved with a performance by replacement Bothroyd that suggested he is not match fit. However, with both Lisbie and Bartlett (who can at least hold the ball up) unfit, the options were limited.

In the first half the two sides were evenly matched. After the break Bolton came out far more determined and the balance of the game went into their direction. When Nolan's goal came in the 72nd minute it was the result of an error and bad fortune, but it had a certain inevitability about it.

I was not happy when the sides changed ends at the beginning of the game as this has been a bad omen for Charlton in recent matches. In the opening minutes, the Addicks twice found themselves in danger in front of their own goal.

When Kevin Davies fouled Spector yet again, referee Clattenburg decided it was time for a word. His refereeing performance throughout the game was not helpful to Charlton. I think that was because he is one of those referees who in order to demonstrate that he is not a 'homer' (a constant source of complaint in Jimmy Seed's notes on away games) ends up actually favouring the away team in his efforts to be scrupulously fair. One also suspects that he is a bit like a Battenburg cake, quite nice to look at, but crumbles into pieces very quickly.

Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal went down and required a long period of treatment. A good move was started by Kishishev and Ambrose turned provider for Bothroyd, but the striker, described by one Addick as Carthorse Cole without the skill, was unable to control the ball in front of goal.

Charlton were in combative mood and edging the game, but an Ambrose goal was disallowed by a handball by Bothroyd in the build up. Ambrose was looking lively on the left.

The first half hour passed without a corner for either side. When Charlton won one on 32 minutes, Murphy's effort was caught by the keeper. Then a sharp move released Ambrose and I thought for a moment that he was going to score but his effort went into the side netting, a golden opportunity missed.

Spector showed that he can contribute by putting in a good tackle. A Bolton corner was only partially cleared and Charlton were in trouble, but eventually were awarded a free kick. Danny Murphy was given a yellow card for nothing in particular, certainly nothing more serious than had been done by Bolton, but Clattenburg probably realised that it was nearly half time and he hadn't booked anyone.

Half time: Addicks 0, Wanderers 0

Charlton seemed to be very casual at the start of the second half and Bolton piled on the pressure. The visitors were awarded a free kick in a promising position and Andersen had to make a good save from it. The Herminator had to put a good defensive header over the bar to avert danger and the resultant corner was caught by Andersen.

Rommedahl won the Addicks a corner, but it was taken short (which hardly ever pays off) and Murphy's eventual effort went over. Smertin was replaced by Hughes, the former having presumably picked up a knock. Smertin went off and Hughes was not allowed on immediately. To the puzzlement of the Addickted, Rommedahl was replaced by JJ on 63 minutes. It might have been better to get Rommedahl forward more to test Bolton's far from mobile defence.

Taking advantage of a long ball from Bothroyd, JJ evaded N'Gotty and put in a fierce shot which drew an excellent save from the keeper. Then a shot by Faye took a wicked deflection off Spector. Steffie reacted well and made a one handed save, but the ball went to Nakata who moved it across to Nolan who put it past the stranded Andersen. Kishishev was pulled off in favour of Holland.

Charlton were awarded a free kick on the left after Bothroyd was fouled and Murphy's effort found the head of the 'journeyman' Hughes. His header was powerful, but once again the keeper made an outstanding save to put the ball over the bar.

There were only three minutes of time added on (and only two in the first) which seemed well short of the time there was no play. Luke Young burst through, but there was no one to connect with the cross he put across the goal.

Results elsewhere saw Charlton slump to 5th, but it is still very tight among the teams below Chelsea and the next game is away from home.

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Hermann Hreidarsson who showed passion, skill and commitment throughout the match. Andersen was not really at fault for the goal and otherwise played well. Perry had another good game, providing reliable cover at the back. Young was one of the most effective players, forging forward well. The left back position remains an issue. Spector simply isn't the finished article and some of the other players seem to lack confidence in him. He tried his best and did do some things well, but consistency was lacking. Kishishev did make some mistakes, but, on the whole, he had one of his better games. Ambrose didn't really do enough to retain a starting place in the side. Smertin showed some moments of sublime skill. Murphy was not at his best, although there were moments of influence. Rommedahl did contribute, but not at his highest level.
Bothroyd is no Bent, at times he seemed to come to a complete halt and in the second half he spent far too much time defending. JJ did at least draw a save from his fellow Finn Jaaskelinanen. Hughes was not much in evidence after he came on, apart from the header from which he nearly scored an equaliser. Holland seemed uncertain what to do when he came on, but played competently and reliably after that.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match for the first time to the fourth official, M Russell, for messing up the substitutions and also for obstructing the view of fans in the front rows of the lower west.

Crowd rating: Rather poor for much of the match. OK, the team didn't give the fans much to shout about, but this is when you need an atmosphere. It might help our home performances. 5/10.

A vital match

Every match in the Premiership is important. But if our form does fade away towards the end of the season (although with a stronger squad, I do not think we will see the decline of earlier seasons), we could well be competing with Bolton for a Uefa cup place.

Our record at home against Bolton in the Premiership has not been good. Three times we lost 1-2 and once we managed a draw. Part of the story is that they are a clogging side. One can just hear all the clichés, 'it's a man's game', 'it's a contact sport' as a key Charlton player limps off the pitch.

Wednesday night was fantastic. Indeed, I now rate it next to the Wembley final. Winning the championship at Blackburn was a great day out, but not a great match. But there was something special about humbling Chelski at the bridge, even if Mourinho insists it was a draw. So I suppose in the Carling Cup draw today it will be 'Chelsea or Charlton'.

Will the players be exhausted by their efforts on Wednesday, both physically and psychologically? The usual retort is that they are professional athletes, but 120+ minutes in a very competitive match can be very draining.

Although Chris Powell performed miracles on Wednesday, some of our correspondents still think we have a problem on the left and that the answer is to move the Herminator there, bringing in El K alongside Perry. Perhaps.

I am irrationally optimistic about today's game which is probably a bad sign, but this could be the first time we take three Premiership points off Bolton at The Valley.

Times spotlight on Bryan Hughes

If one had said at the beginning of this week that Friday's Times would carry a special feature article on Bryan Hughes, most of the Addickted would have fallen about laughing. But the taker of the decisive penalty against Chelsea has received such billing and here are some extracts from the article where he talks about his role at Charlton:

“I’m prepared to take that pressure [not being in the side] and deal with it. Last night it was nice to get the glory. I’ve been in the dark for the past 18 months, really. I’ve been part of the squad and not established myself as I would have liked.”

The 29-year-old Liverpudlian joined Charlton from Birmingham on a free transfer in the summer of 2004, but made only ten Barclays Premiership starts last season and only one in the present campaign, during which Danny Murphy, Alexei Smertin and Radostin Kishishev have claimed the central midfield places.

“I didn’t expect to walk into the team, but always believed that I would manage to get in. But it’s taking a long time — two or three games here, two or three there,” he said.

“You want to play every game but you have to stay focused and prepared to get in there. I was disappointed at the start of the first game because I thought I was going to be in the first XI, but the manager (Alan Curbishley) went a certain way and we’ve had the results since then. I’m a professional and I’ve got to be able to take it, and I know that sooner or later my chance will come. I have had a word with him and see where he’s coming from.”

Hughes will probably be back on the bench for tomorrow’s match at home to Bolton Wanderers, although he can expect to come on at some point, as he has done in seven of the team’s nine games so far. “Alan knows what I’m capable of. Often I’ve come on away from home when we’ve been protecting a lead but I like to get forward and hope that when I do get called on I can chip in with a goal,” he said.

I met Hughes when he was man of the match after the cup game against Rochdale. Whether he will be confined to such second string events remains to be seen, although ITV actually described him as a 'journeyman' when he took the penalty. One thing that occurred to me after reading the article is that he is a potential alternative to Kishishev.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ten Years Ago: three points off the Hatters

Charlton were away at Luton on Sunday 29th October 1995. My notes recall, 'Drove down to Luton for match: nice, clear day. Nelson scored in the 16th minute, a simple tap into the goal I was behind. As always, a Charlton victory gave me an inner glow, although our performance against a weak team was not that great.'

The programme contained a picture of a hirusite Derek Hales, recalling that he had left part-time Dartford and a job in the Post Office (!?) to go full time at Kenilworth Road. After five full appearances, he was allowed to go to the Addicks on loan, finally signing for them for £4,000.

The programme also salivated over the signing of striker Vidar Riseth for £100,000 from Norway's Kongsvinger. He joined giant but hesitant American keeper Ian Feuer, Australian David Oldfield and Bulgarian Bontcho Geuntchev. All names to conjure with.

Charlton find themselves in more illustrious company today. What's that Villa fan doing in a Charlton shirt? It's the heir to the throne.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

We Sent the Chelsea Out!

This was the chant of jubilant Charlton fans as they adapted the Palace down chant following the penalty shoot out victory by the Addicks over Chelsea in the Carling Cup, thus ending the club's jinx in the competition. Who knows, we might go on and win it! It was a joy to see the stunned and glum faces of the Blue boys on the tube afterwards, with only Russian supporters managing to sound animated. For me, this was one of the most exciting games I have seen since, well, since we beat Chelsea at home in the Premiership.

I had been in London for a meeting earlier and after delivering a spare ticket to a government building in Central London (a good job a friend doing the Knowledge had told me where it was as it had no identifiers), I enjoyed a ride on the top of a double decker bus down to Fulham. I met friends at the White Horse at Parsons Green with its very posh landlady. A number of them were honouring the occasion with their 'Deportivo di Wanka' shirts (it's a Peruvian 2nd division team). Chants such as 'Who needs Mourinho? We've got Mervyn Day' were heard. It was a very warm evening for late October.

Chelsea made seven changes in their side, but still played ten full internationals. For Charlton, Perry was rested. Ferreira hit the post for Chelsea early on, but Robben had the ball taken off him by El K. Bridge provided a good ball to Crespo, but he put the chance wide. Charlton were under pressure, but they dealt with it well. Rommedahl put in a good ball to Ambrose whose effort was just over.

In the last five minutes of the first half, Robben evaded the Herminator to win Chelsea a corner. Terry was unmarked and the two Charlton players in the goalmouth only made Andersen's job harder, allowing the central defender to put a bullet header into the back of the net.

Within four minutes, Huth made a casual 'It's only Charlton' back pass to his keeper, Bent seized the ball and put it decisively into the back of net to make it 1-1 just before the break.

Half time: Chelski 1, Charlton 1

The Herminator and Robben had a confrontation in the second half which left Robben clutching his face to the fury of Hreidarsson. The Chelsea free kick hit the wall and the return shot flew up in the air and missed the target. Nevertheless, Andersen was soon called on to make a good save from Gudjohnsen. Lampard and Cole were brought on on 60 minutes to bolster Chelsea and Lampard hit the post but had already been ruled offside by the alert lino. As the 90 minutes drew to a close, Bothroyd hit the post.

Charlton continued to battle in extra time. Robben was denied by Chris Powell and then the Herminator got the ball away. Andersen saved the ball on the line from Drogba, but then he was bundled over the line by Terry and required treatment. The conduct of the charm merchant could have been deemed violent, but referee Wiley settled for a yellow card.

Chris Powell reacted well to impending danger by conceding a corner. For some time the game looked as if it had been going to penalties with the odds favouring Charlton. From Bent onwards, all the Addicks penalty takers found the back of the net, but Andersen saved from the hapless Huth. Curbs admitted afterwards that they had not even practised penalties and had not decided on a running order for who would take them. No matter, the Addicks are good at penalties for the big occasion.
Even referee Wiley look pleased at the outcome.

Misery guts Mourinho did not take the defeat well. He said, 'I'm very disappointed, but we played a proper game, everyone did their best and we deserved to win.' Moaninio continued, 'Charlton fought a lot and they fought for that luck which they got. They were just lucky.' It was the first time he had been defeated at the Bridge, although he claimed it was not a defeat as it was by penalties!

And what happened to the programmes? I would have liked one as a souvenir. One is supposed to be able to get them via the Chelsea website if one has a ticket stub, but presumably that will only work for Blues and we will end up paying £15 on E Bay.

Match analysis

Given the odds against Charlton winning, third string Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon, was brought in as match analyst and the excitable spaniel presented the Silver Bone to Stefan Andersen for the penalty save which clinched the win, along with some stunning saves in the game itself. His throwing out was also excellent, in one case going the heads of their cehtre backs to release Bent for a run on goal. Chris Powell has been the subject of some criticism about his fitness recently, but he lasted the 120+ minutes (probably near 130) without flagging and dealt with Wright-Phillips much better than some people anticipated.El Karkouri failed to mark his man for the Terry goal and some of his long distance free kicks didn't work, but he made a substantial contribution. Young had a sparkling game, showing once again how much he has developed as a player. Hreidarsson had a great game, showing his passion, determination and skill. Holland was competent rather than outstanding, but he did his job well and you knew that you could rely on him for a penalty. Murphy probably had less of a chance to shine than in some games, but still performed well. Rommedahl was below his best and eventually substituted. The name of Hughes on the team sheet caused some hearts to sink, and he did mess up one great chance in the box, but he scored the decisive penalty. Ambrose came close to scoring, but otherwise was relatively quiet. Bent's goal was well taken, although he could have scored again towards the end of the match.Thomas was solid without being inspiring when he came on. Despite the fears of some, Kishishev was competent as a sub. Bothroyd hustled and bustled and although his penalty was not the best, he scored.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Drogba for his diving antics which justifiably earned Andersen's contempt.

Crowd rating: This is the first time I have given 10/10 but it was storming performance by the Addickted throughout the match. Among the new chants heard were 'That's why were second' and 'you're not invincible.'

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Chelsea preview

Along with some 3,000 other Addicks I will be going along to the Bridge tomorrow night to see Charlton play Chelsea in the Carling Cup. 1st v 2nd in the Premiership but we all know that the odds are on a Chelsea victory, even if they don't field their full first team, their second string containing players who would be regular starters at The Valley.

So why I am going? Fortunately, I have to be in London anyway tomorrow. I suppose there is always the possibility of a Charlton win. We have beaten Chelsea in the Premiership at the Bridge, but that was in the days of Ken Bates before their Russian benefactor came along. His plan is to make Chelsea No.1 in the world for one hundred years. Us? We're happy to be No.1 in South London.

With Smertin watching from the stands, who will take his slot (assuming that Ambrose continues to replace Thomas)? The estimable E mail Bulletin says:

'Bryan Hughes and Matt Holland would be the most likely to battle it out for the midfield position'. Well, that hardly sets my pulse racing, but I think Holland would have more to offer. As a transatlantic Addick remarked earlier today, what he has seen of Hughes in his ten minute cameos gives him no grounds for optimism. He's a decent enough player who would shine in the Championship, but is always going to be a bench warmer in the Premiership. Having said that, he'll probably go and score tomorrow night.

The Bloke Behind Me is always screaming for an all out attack strategy when Charlton are behind. 'You might as well lose 4-0 as 2-0'. Well, not quite, because the deterioration in our goal difference could lose us a vital place at the end of the season.

But in this sort of game, why not have a go? Put Bothroyd up front in a 4-4-2 with Darren Bent. Bothroyd might just be able to handle Terry. At least it would make for an entertaining match, rather than a solid defensive performance brought to an end when Chelsea score in the 52nd minute.

I'm not impressed by Spector and would bring Powell back in, with Spector on the bench for when he tires. El Karkouri should also be on the bench and I suppose JJ will get his usual slot, allowing him to come on for the last few minutes.

And when you think about it, Charlton probably have more chance of beating Chelsea, if only in a penalty shoot out, than Leamington do of drawing at Colchester. Only 1,050 tickets for the Brakes fans, so there's already an argument about who gets what. The players, meantime, are going to stay overnight in a hotel
before the match, while manager Cadzy has promised the Sun he will not cut his much criticised barnet while the Brakes are still in the FA Cup. At least at Colchester there will be no pitch invasion by fans in wheelchairs as there was after the win at Ossett Town!

Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm no trophy wife - Joanna

The intelligent footballer's wife, Joanna Taylor, tackles a number of topics in her latest regular column in The Times. Discussing husband Danny Murphy's trophy room, she says, 'I could never be called a trophy wife. Danny has two cabinets to display all sorts of different trophies, but I am sadly lacking in that department.' (But possibly not in others?)

There seem to be fairly traditional gender roles in the Murphy/Taylor household. An earlier column found Joanna shopping in Waitrose and she reveals that the only time she goes into Danny's trophy room is to clean it.

Joanna tackles the issue of rape allegations against footballers. 'Let's be honest, there are men all over the country having one-night stands. Most do not end up with rape claims because they are not footballers and there is no possibility of an out-of-court settlement.'

'The fact is that most footballers I have met are normal, decent people who just happen to earn more money than the normal person and have more cars than is strictly necessary.

Joanna's next comment is one that many fans could bear in mind: 'Football is just a job and it has its bad points like any other.' She concludes, 'The game may have taken another knock this week, but Danny's reputation is on a high.'

To read more of this sensible article, go to:

Well done you Brakes

There is a bigger report in today's Times on Leamington's game at the weekend than there is about Charlton. The step five non-league club (their players fortified by the infamous 'Brakes Fluid') have won their way through to the 1st round proper of the FA Cup and face League 1's Colchester United away. They may not be as easy meat as Colchester supporters expect as Leamington have a number of players with league experience.

Leamington's story has similarities with that of Charlton. At one time AP Leamington was a conference club in what was then known as the brake and clutch capital of Britain. Thousands worked at the AP. But as the motor components industry declined, AP sold off the ground for housing and the club went out of business.

It took thirteen years to re-start the club, involving years of effort by a small band of volunteers. Now there is a well drained pitch, floodlights, an excellent clubhouse and a squad of 33. The club fought its way up through the Midland Combination leagues into the Travel World Midland Alliance. Crowds are in four figures for top games which is a lot for that level of the non-league.

As a Leamington vice-president, I shall be going to Colchester rather than Blackburn on the first weekend in November.

Read the match report at:


Smertin: too early to say if I'll stay

Alexi Smertin is the subject of a special feature spread over two pages in The Times today as part of the build up to Wednesday's No.1 v No.2 clash at Stamford Bridge which the Chelsea and Charlton midfielder will be watching from the stands.

Alexi talks about his upbringing in Siberia where he played every day in temperatures of minus 30 degrees centigrade. His wife doesn't like football and is surprised by the contrast between his aggression on the pitch and the person he is at home.

He says that getting into the top five and Europe is a realistic ambition for the Addicks: 'I know about the history, and someone on the team told me, "You'll see, the last two months are going to be difficult." I asked why but they didn't know. We have to change that situation.'

Asked whether he would like to stay at Charlton rather than fight for a place at Chelsea, he replied, 'I don't know - it's too early for that question. I want to do my best until the end. And then we will see.'

Read the full article at:

Sunday, October 23, 2005

All's well that end's well

Sorry for the lateness of this report, but we decided to make a weekend of it on the south coast, although taking care not to stay on Portsea Island itself. We had a nightmare journey down because of the resurfacing on the A34 and feared at one time that we might not make the match. However, we managed to park up by Portsmouth Prison and got to the ground to hear that Leamington, a step 5 non-league club, are through to the first round proper and have an away tie against Colchester.

In fact we got to the ground in time to see such Charlton stalwarts as a jovial Councillor Rick Everitt; Pam from Sidcup who had dyed her hair red for the occasion; and Brian Cole attempting to wave a large 'Pompey Addicks' banner.

The news about the Brakes boosted our spirits, but Charlton's performance in the first half did not. Pompey celebrated Trafalgar weekend by coming at us with all guns blazing and we did not seem to be able to out manouevre them. However, as Curbs later pointed out, no team could sustain such a ferocious attack and, although the self-styled Miracle of Montevideo, Dario Silva, put them ahead with an excellent angled strike that went through Andersen's legs, there were signs of the Addicks getting back into the game as half time approached.

The Silva goal revealed shortcomings in the Charlton defence. Admittedly, it was set up by an incredibly precise long ball and, although Hreidarsson pounded after Silva as if he was being followed by a stream of molten lava, he was unable to catch up with him. But where was our left back, Spector? The defence may have been subdued by early bookings to Kishishev and Hreidarsson who protested strongly.

Half time gave us a chance to appreciate our surroundings. Rumours circulated through the crowd that the 'rotation' of the Fratton Park pitch was to start in November, but it was evident from the programme that it was going to be delayed at least until the end of the season. Many Championship grounds, and even some lower down the leagues, offer better accommodation to away fans.

Ambrose had already been testing former Rushden and Diamonds keeper Ashdown and it was pure Ambrosia when Murphy, fed by Kishishev, put in a perfect ball to the recalled player who struck a low shot into the back of the net.

Some of the confidence drained out of Pompey after the equaliser and in 77 minutes Rommedahl put in a great shot from an angle to make it 2-1. Luke Young almost knocked him off his feet with a rugby tackle style celebration.

Referee Howard Webb had been spraying cards to all and sundry. He sent Ambrose off at Sunderland and gave him a yellow for diving when Ashdown rushed out of his goal and collided with him. JJ also mannaged to drive a ball across the front of goal to the corner flag rather than passing or scoring. It was ever thus, but the 2-1 victory put us 2nd in the table.

Match analysis

Match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound enjoyed a morning walk in the New Forest while his master and Joe the Saint went to watch the Saints defeat Millwall 2-0. The lucky labrador selected Dennis Rommedahl as his man of the match, awarding him the Silver Bone in particular for his superb match winning goal. Rommedahl has really started to show this season why it was worth buying him. His Danish counterpart Andersen made some excellent saves and was let down by the defence for his goal. Chris Perry once again had an excellent game, but Homer lost his cool and was almost thrown out of the press box for wild barking when Perry floored Robert without getting a yellow card, paying him back for his diving antics while playing for Newcastle. It was a superb piece of professional gamesmanship. Those doubters who have suggested he is too short to do a proper job at centre back should have witnessed this performance. Young was somewhat off the pace against Fulham, but had a really excellent game, forging forward very effectively. Hreidarsson had to spend a lot of time looking after Spector, but otherwise had a good game. Chris Powell does tire and does then make mistakes, but is this not a justification for having a substitute ready, rather than replacing him? Or moving the Herminator to left back? As we said in our preview, this blog remains unconvinced by Spector. Addicks in the USA have come strongly to his defence and I don't doubt that he has potential, but is our first priority to develop players for the Salford Red Sox? Kishishev is now in the unfortunate position of being the scapegoat for moaners. This means that every mistake is magnified and every good move receives no praise. He is error prone, and, like much of the team, his first half performance was poor. But he made some superb interventions and passes in the second half. Indeed, it is the best he has played for some time. Smertin lacked some of his usual sparkle. Leaving aside a couple of very average corner kicks, Murphy performed well and contributed substantially to the final result. Bent was not as involved as in some games, although in some ways it is good to have someone other than him and Murphy score. He did turn provider for Luke Young whose effort was only just over and won Charlton a corner. Surprisingly, there was no cameo appearance for Hughes but JJ got the opportunity to remind us why he doesn't start while El Karkouri
had just a few minutes on the pitch.

The Hiss of the Match goes to the chavtastic Charlton supporters behind us who seemed to be auditioning for their ASBOs. Their conduct also offended a number of people around me. One expects some bad language at football matches, but not two four letter words in every sentence (most often applied to Kishishev). On a day when Charlton players had thrown their anti-racism t-shirts into the crowd, one doesn't expect racist comments about opposition players or Charlton supporters. No doubt they would say that they are the 'real' supporters, but if the club wants to know why some people don't go away, here is another reason.

Crowd rating It's always difficult against the Pompey crowd who are really fanantical about their team. Indeed, I'm glad we don't have the same monotonous chanting at Charlton. However, Charlton fans are too quiet, particularly when their team is under the cosh. 6/10.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pompey preview

Charlton have won all their away games and Portsmouth have not won at home this season, so it looks all set for a draw at Fratton Park this early evening. 2-2 is this page's prediction.

Last season we went to Portsmouth full of confidence to face Reggie Perrin's first match in charge and went down 4-2. Perrin hasn't exactly set the naval town alight since there, but he has kept the Portsea Island club in the Premiership which rivals Saints have turned into score draw specialists in the Championship.

Two years ago we were behind until Paolo di Canio came on and inspired a revival that led to a 2-1 victory. I can still remember him firing up the crowd as he went to take what proved to be a vital corner.

Fans by their nature always want changes in the side, but Curbs is not likely to make many. Deano's many fans seize on any mistake by Andersen asserting that 'Deano would have saved that', forgetting that he was not perfect. His performance in the reserves earlier in the week did not inspire confidence.

Kishishev is unpopular with many fans because of his error prone tendency to give the ball away in dangerous positions. But who else has his battling qualities? El Karkouri could play in the position, but might well get himself sent off.

Chris Powell increasingly tires towards the end of games and makes dangerous errors as a mistake. However, I am far from convinced that Spector is the finished article.
The Herminator could be moved to left back and El Karkouri brought into central defence. I'm not sure what Sorondo's injury position is, but he seems to have been written off by some fans already. There is always Fortune, the joker of the dressing room, but I'm not sure I find him quite so amusing in front of the Charlton goal.

All but two of Charlton's league goals have been scored by Bent and Murphy and there is a real need for someone else to get on the score sheet. Hopefully, Bothroyd will be on the bench, but he has yet to show that he can score against Premiership opposition.

It's going to be a nervous evening in Portsmouth and I shall feel relieved if we come away with a point.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Condi may have to watch Charlton

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice may be forced to watch Charlton play as part of a British counterpart to an American initiative to build personal relations between her and her opposite number Jack Straw. Straw is about to undertake a personal tour of Alabama with Condi which will include her flipping a coin to decide who kicks off the (American) football game between Alabama and Tennesse.

A Foreign Office aide stated, 'Apparently she is a genuine [American] football fan. In return we may inflict on her Blackburn Rovers versus Charlton Athletic.'

Condi was formerly an international relations academic at Stanford University, subsequently becoming provost (a senior management post). As provost, she was certainly known for playing hard ball, according to local sources.

This is the not the first time that Charlton has been involved in high diplomacy in the recent past (leaving aside pre-war episodes). When Charlton signed an Iranian player, Karim Bhageri, who only appeared once as a substitute, it was suggested that the club was seeking supporters among the prosperous Iranian community in London (not completely far fetched).

However, unconfirmed reports suggested that the Foreign Office had considered getting Charlton to play a match in Iran as part of an initiative to improve relations. Stranger things have happened.

Bad weather, trafffic forecast for Pompey

Last night I stayed in North Greenwich at the Holiday Express in Bugsby's Way as I had an early morning meeting at the Royal Society. It started to rain as I walked up to North Greenwich tube and when I came out at Trafalgar Square, the water was literally cascading down the steps.

Tomorrow we will be in what is laughingly called the Intercash Stand at Pompey which is, of course, an open terrace with seating. And the weather forecast is not good:
Sailors' weather

It is also the 200th Trafalgar Day anniversary celebrations in Portsmouth tomorrow. Indeed, we have had to establish our base camp in nearby Emsworth. We are also advised by local residents that a bridge is closed leading to diversions and increased traffic congestion.

The match analyst will be local dog made good Homer the Cherry Hound who returns to his old walking grounds in the New Forest. Hooch the Pooch has been suspended by the Association of Canine Match Analysts while he addresses personal hygiene problems.

Ten Years Ago: a 1-1 draw at home

There was an early frost in the Midlands on 21st October 1995, something now less common in October, but it was a beautiful sunny day afterwards. I was at The Valley by 1.45 to chat with Steve from Sidcup.

My notes recall: 'Norwich played very well, Ashley Ward was particularly impressive. They closed us down in the first half. In the second half, Lee Bowyer scored a brilliant goal from thirty yards out. Unfortunately, Norwich came straight back and equalised.'

'Humphrey, who was injured last week, had a poor game for us. No sign of Kim Grant, fortunately, with Paul Williams playing.'

'A good game was spoilt by the ref [Paul Rejer from chavtastic Tipton who did not go on to greater things] who was booking like mad and sent John Robinson off for a second bookable offence after a Norwich player had shopped him.' In all, six other players were booked, three in the last two minutes of the first half. Dean Chandler, who now plays for Leyton, was an unused substitute.

The programme featured Paul Linger who was mentioned in the E Mail Bulletin this week after he was spotted playing for Wingate at Billericay Town (for whom he once played and where I lived for many years after moving from Plumstead Common). Wingate lost 1-0.

Paul said that his biggest disappointment in his career so far was not making the first team regularly and that he hadn't thought about what he would do when he finished playing. Welling was his least favourite ground, but I think that he may have subsequently played for them. His career was interrupted by, as I recall, a broken leg at Port Fail.

Looking at the sponsorship section of the programme, I notice that I was now sponsoring the training kit of Keith Jones (to whom I later dedicated a book), but also (as a job lot) the shirt, boots, trainers and tracksuit of Mike Ammann. I still have the Keith Jones training shirt, but I don't think that I even got one half of Ammann's track suit.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Where the real Brits go to watch soccer

A nice story about Charlton from a relatively obscure American source:


Reserves win in the rain

The reserves beat Pompey 3-1 at The Valley yesterday evening in what we hope will be a curtain raiser for Saturday's match on Portsea Island, although without the rain which would leave us soaked in Portsmouth's 19th century stadium. Our reserve correspondent, Clive Richardson, was there for the first half and filed this report:

Deano- Nothing changes- finger may be healed, but distribution remains total crap- unchallenged clearance kicks going straight into touch, fly-kicks from back-passes going straight to opposition forwards. His only save of the first half was the result of an attack after his kick went straight into the East Stand.

Lisbie and JJ, definitely 'yesterday men', the former a yard short of being useful, no chasing a ball unless 70-30 chance of winning. JJ almost invisible. 40 minutes in, great cross from Bothroyd wide left, Lis and JJ both in goal-area, BOTH missed connecting. Hughes has found his level- commanding performance in pouring drizzle v. Pompey reserves!! Fuller strong at right back, Ricketts impressive in central defence with Brandao, Ashton adequate at left wingback.

The goal came from a good run by Ashton, pushed inside to Lis who got a fortunate rebound before curling sidefoot shot past keeper- most of us thought he'd missed until the ball was picked from the net. Bothroyd strong, couple of rasping left foot shots, happy drifting wide. Ambrose always available, good distribution, good going forward in possession.

Holland a bit in-and-out, eclipsed by Hughes. Only one shot on target by either side first half. We had about a dozen corners, never forced a save!!!
So 1-0 h/t, and home to a nice hot dinner!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ambrose, Kiely in reserve line up

Darren Ambrose continues his path back from injury in tonight's reserve game against Portsmouth at The Valley. If all goes well, hopefully he will be on the bench for the real fixture against Pompey on Saturday.

Deano is in goal for the third reserve game in succession. The Anders v. Deano debate continues among fans. Those who favour Anders argue 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. Others have been asserting that Deano would have saved this or that goal, although my recollection is that he wasn't perfect. The real risk is that either of them doesn't like being in the No.2 role and decides to leave. Myrhe is, of course, a quality goalkeeper, but I would still like to keep both Kiely and Andersen.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Inscrutables No Match for Brakes

The Tony Allden Memorial Trophy was first played in 1970 to commemorate a six foot plus central defender killed by lightning in a FA Amateur Cup tie between Highgate United and Enfield Town. Both Coventry Sphinx and Leamington have been finalists before, but neither have won the trophy, Brakes losing to Romulus in 2004. Tonight Leamington won a convincing 5-1 victory against the Midland Combination Premiership leaders at Harbury Lane.

With a squad of 33, there has been much debate about whether Leamington need a reserve side as well as a youth team, but there have been fears that attendances might not reach triple figures. Tonight a weakened Leamington side attracted a crowd of 215 to the New Windmill Ground on a wet night with the Champions League on the box.

Long serving Paul Eden opened the scoring for Brakes on 11 minutes. Later as 'Sniffer' used his pace to win a corner, we shouted 'Now use your height' to the vertically challenged player who appropriately once played for the Jockeys. Ryan Howells scored a hat trick for Brakes to take the score to 4-1 with Jon Adams getting the fifth.

We often urge linos to go to Specsavers, but the Sheepside lino was wearing what looked like a brand new pair of glasses. After last night's disappointment against Fulham, seen by many Townsmen on Sky, it was a fun evening at Harbury Lane - and the wind wasn't blowing from the chicken farm.

Disappointing derby draw

My predictions records has not been good this season but I did forecast a 1-1 draw for this match on a list based on regulars at a Woolwich Road pub. My reasons for doing so were that I thought fans were underestimating Fulham, whose performances have been better than their results, and overestimating Charlton, who are not suddenly a potential Champions League side. The old mistake of reading results off the table was made.

Fulham's strong midfield was a bit too much for Charlton, although Bothroyd added a new edge when he came on. Nevertheless, the last ten minutes of the game saw what Curbs later described as 'kamikaze' tactics by the Addicks as they defended desperately to hang on to their share of the points. The standard of play by the home side was disappointing with slipshod passes and missed opportunities. One does wonder if the international break led to a number of players becoming less familiar with what was required at Charlton or whether the effort and excitement had simply tired them.

It's a slightly odd business writing up your full match report nearly 24 hours after the event. By then you have been able to read everyone's comments on the lists, some of them having had the chance to re-watch the match on DVD. You then realise that you got some things wrong and your scrawled notes are even more difficult to read anyway.

So what I'll just do is try and draw a few comments together, looking at attack, midfield and defence. What is evident is that Bent was having an off night and messed up some chances to score. But the game might have been very different if Rommedahl, having been given a superb pass by Murphy early in the game, and one-on-one with the keeper, had put the ball in the net instead of hitting the post. It's one of those incidents that change the course of the game.

When we did get a goal it came from Danny Murphy again, the product of a good cross from Chris Powell which needs to be borne in mind when we look at the negatives of his performance.

Apparently Kishishev was booed when he came off which I think is hard on a player who really battles away. However, he gives the ball away too easily, both in open play and through free kicks in dangerous positions, which led to the Fulham goal, although all credit to Collins John for his strike. We can't afford a Makelele, who in my view is a key player for Chelsea, but can we do better?

Bowyer is still in the frame for the club and I think that what he would add in footballing terms is some real bite and edge when we are up against it. He would scare the other side. I know there are a lot of off pitch issues, but even Luke Young has had his problems and got through them.

For all his many qualities, I think that Chris Powell is becoming a liability, at least for the full 90 minutes. He just makes too many errors which allow the opposition to break through and score. The Herminator came close to scoring more than once last night (e.g., using a pass from Smertin just before half time) and I would put him back into the left back role and use El K in central defence. Those around me thought he was going to get sent off last night, but those who have looked at in more detail say that it was not that serious.

I thought that the whole match was a bit of a reality check. Talking of which, the train we were hoping to catch at Baker Street for Marylebone was halted because of a suspect package. We decided to walk and as we exited Baker Street armed police rushed in, fingering their guns.

There are bigger issues out there than football, but I always want more. That's why I am off to see the Brakes versus the Inscrutables tonight as Leamington take on Coventry Sphinx in the 1st v 2nd clash from last year's Midland Combination.

Match analysis

A somewhat subdued Hooch the Pooch who is under investigation by the Association of Canine Match Analysts for an alleged personal hygiene problem thought that no Charlton player was beyond criticism. However, rather than take the Silver Bone back up the M40 he awarded it to Danny Murphy for a well taken equaliser and a superb pass that Rommedahl should have put in the back of the net rather than hitting the woodwork. Nevertheless, some of his other play was below par. But, having looked through my notes, he did make more serious attempts on goal than anyone and some of them were not far off. Andersen has his critics, although in part that may be based on affection for Deano who was not even on the bench. He could hardly have stopped the Fulham goal, but he did seem to lack confidence out of occasion and to be out of position for some Fulham attempts that came close to finding the back of the net. Perry was generally stalwart in defence, but missed a golden opportunity to score at the end of the game. It took me some time to realise that Hreidarsson was on the pitch and he made some uncharacteristic errors in defence, but he was strong forging forward and came as close as anyone to equalising in the first half. Young seemed out of sorts after his heroics for England and had an uncharacteristically poor game. Powell made some dangerous mistakes through dithering on the ball and I would like to see someone else start at Portsmouth. Kishishev was the usual curate's egg: giving the ball away, once through falling over (although a number of plays did that - do they have the right studs?) but also displayed his battling qualities, snuffing out Fulham moves. Thomas had a poor game and was back to his showboating and deserved to be substituted. Rommedahl is an incredibly frustrating player. In many ways this was one of his best performances, his pace troubling the weak Fulham defence, but he messed up a succession of opportunities to score (or at least pass effectively). Smertin was neat and effective, taking the ball off Fulham a number of times. Bent was well below his best, his freshly awarded silver studs doing nothing for him. Perhaps the period on the England bench did not help him. Bothroyd looked impressive when he came on, his height being an advantage in making use of long balls which had previously failed to find Bent. But can he score against Premiership opposition? El Karkouri nearly got himself sent off just after coming on with a scything tackle. Hughes came on towards the end for his usual exhibition of the art of the journeyman, connecting with the ball once, although he did win a corner right at the end.

Hiss of the Match When Juneau the Soccer Cat heard that the referee was Reilly she started to hiss even before the game began. He gives Charlton no favours, but he disrupts the flow of the game by blowing up for every minor infringement.

Crowd rating A good crowd for a Monday night on Sky, and they did their best to get behind the team, not being daunted in any way by the massed ranks of Harrods shoppers (even Leamington take more away). 7/10.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Curbs in new contract talks

Although he has two years to run on his current contract, Alan Curbishley has started new contract talks with the club. He has been linked with moves to various 'big' clubs over the year, starting with Queen's Park Rangers when the Super Hoops thought they were bigger than us.

Although he thought about standing down after the 0-4 home defeat by Manchester United last season, Curbs has been happy at Charlton and probably only something like the England club or a top London club could tempt him away. As his kit sponsor for something approaching ten years, I have got to know him reasonably well. He is clearly a person who has qualities of great native intelligence, footballing judgement and intuition about people. His cool temperament (although he can express himself very firmly) allows him to cope well with pressure.

As it is an evening game and I will not be back home until 1 a.m., this factor, together with work commitments tomorrow, may delay publication of the usual match report. Senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch will be on duty for this important game which could see the Addicks reclaim 2nd place.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Warm article on Young

The Sunday Times has a major feature today on Charlton captain and England international Luke Young. You can read the full article at: Young

Luke reveals how the level of ambition has changed at The Valley. 'When I first came to Charlton we'd sit down at the start of each season in a meeting and the talk would be all about survival, getting to 40 points as quickly as we can, then we'd have another look. For the last two seasons we've been looking at getting into the Uefa Cup, that's been the ambition.'

Luke talks about how he had to turn his life round after he went to a bar after a defeat by Leeds, was caught driving at more than three times over the limit and banned for two-and-a-half years. Meeting Jessica and having a baby daughter have calmed the Surrey resident down.

Luke sees a lot of similarities between the management styles of Curbs and Sven. 'Curbs likes his starting XI to know what they're going to do, every player. But he can be forceful, too, when he wants to be. I remember playing against Blackpool in the FA Cup in my first season here and I ran up with my hand in the air to play offside ... well I haven't done that again.'

The article is a fitting tribute to a player who has turned out to be one of Curbs's most astute signings.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A hard match to call: Fulham preview

Fans who have fallen into the trap of reading results off the table think it should be an easy three points for the Addicks against Fulham on Monday night. But although Fulham no longer have Van der Sar, who prevented us from winning at Craven Cottage last season, they still have some good players. And it would be just our luck for Claus Jensen, whose removal to the big riverside club has never been fully explained, to score against us. Fulham's recent results have not perhaps reflected their performance.

Hence, Warwick University's Decision Technology Group is stumped about whether to call for a home win (39% chance) or away win (36% chance), although they think a draw is the least likely outcome. For me that seems the most likely result in this London derby but my predictions record this season has been awful.

I would anticipate a 4-5-1 and no changes in the midfield with Thomas and Murphy on song down the wings. The defence raises more interesting questions. Young is an obvious pick and I would keep Perry and the Herminator in central defence, although Powell on the left has more of a question mark over him. He has been excellent, but tends to tire and make errors towards the end of the game. Spector, having played his first full international for the USA, should at least be on the bench. Bothroyd has only really excelled against lower division teams, but given the alternatives, might deserve a cameo role.

The big question is who will be in goal? Anders or Deano? Curbs said he would have to do some hard thinking about that over the weekend and reports suggest that neither Tracy Kiely nor Deano's dad know, indicating that the decision will not be taken until Monday. Anders did make a mistake at West Brom, but Deano is not perfect. However, he is a firm favourite with the fans. I'm glad it's not a decision I have to make.

However, I do think it is important we don't lose Anders, even though Myhre is clearly an excellent back up. Andersen has shown that he is good enough for the Premiership and could attract interest elsewhere.

Recalling his days as a non-league footballer, my father always used to say that there was something odd about works teams and they were always hard to play against in the sense that their level of performance was more unpredictable than other sides. The Harrods works team has always been a bit of a bogey side for us and the officials often seem to be anticipating a Christmas hamper in some of their decisions. It's going to be a tense 94 minutes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Danny Murphy is player of the month

Danny Murphy is Player of the Month in the Premiership. The panel noted that Charlton players are making a habit of winning the award. Just as long as it doesn't carry the same curse as Manager of the Month (that went to Paul Jewel). I wonder what Joanna will have to say in her column on Monday?

Ten Years Ago: in the home end at Leicester

I did once sit in the Jimmy Seed at The Valley in order to get into a match when there was no East Stand, but I don't like sitting among home spectators at away matches. But ten years ago, on 14 October 1995, I had to sit on my hands at Filbert Street. A friend who was a Leicester City supporter had invited me to take the short ride with him up the M69 to the city where I went to university. Sadly, he is now too ill to watch football.

My notes recall: 'We had good seats behind one of the goals - a nice, sunny afternoon after earlier fog. Excellent stand on one side, two others very old fashioned. Good view of Leicester skyline [in so far as that is not a contradiction in terms]. One Charlton fan in row behind.'

'Programme notes said the manager [Mark McGhee] wanted an intimidating atmosphere and Charlton were booed as they came out. Leicester were all over us in the first half and we were lucky to be only 0-1 down at half time.'

'But after (as I learned later) a telling off in the dressing room, Charlton stormed back and, after many near misses, Leaburn scored an equaliser. Lee Bowyer had some nice touches, but Jamie Stuart [now with Grays] looked very nervous. Rufus played well and Newts was outstanding.'

'The draw was a good result and I heard Leicester fans saying that Charlton had played well.'

The programme featured McGhee posing with a ludicrous graph which was supposed to demonstrate Leicester's inevitable progress to the Premiership, although it didn't seem to take account of eventual promotion through the play offs, Leicester finishing in 5th place just ahead of Charlton.

There were five pages on Charlton including a feature on Mark Robson. He warned, 'A lot of kids come into soccer thinking it's a great glamorous life but I can tell them football can be very hard.' Advice he can now pass on at the Academy.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Youga joins Sankofa in Bristol

Recent Addicks signing Kelly Youga has joined Osei Sankofa on loan at Bristol City in an attempt to shore up the struggling club in Britain's least successful soccer city (for its size).

Charlton has long followed a strategy of loaning out fringe players to lower league clubs and sometimes they end up there, e.g., Michael Turner at Brentford and Neil McCafferty at Rushden and Diamonds. I saw McCafferty play in the 0-2 defeat by Bury at Nene Park on Friday night and he looked completely at sea among the sinking Irthlingborough side. I don't think he was ever taught at Charlton how to deal with hoofing or agricultural clearances that sail into the surrounding fields.

Charlton's strength in depth may not be as real as it seems, but there will be time to add players in the January transfer window with Lee Bowyer still being tipped, as well as rumours about a striker at Walsall.

Luke to fight for England place

Luke Young has warned Gary Neville that he faces a fight to reclaim his starting place in the England side. The Charlton captain told Sky Sports News who described him as 'the former Spurs man', 'Gary Neville is a great player and he's England's number two - but if I'm in the squad I want to do the best I can and put some pressure on him.'

'I'm really enjoying it at the moment. I've got my chance to play on the summer tour and in some of the qualifiers. It seems amazing because I've only been involved for a short space of time; it's a bit daunting. Your club form gets you into the squad so every time you go out there I want to catch the eye of the manager and do my best.'

The general view of the media seems to have been that Young's performance last night was 'solid', both The Times and the BBC giving him a rating of 7. BBC Sport said, 'Solid, aside from the goal when he lost his man, and also provided a threat on the overlap.'

Some of the Addickted have attempted to defend Young over the goal, arguing that he couldn't be covering two places at once and had been let down by the midfield. However, I have seen him contribute to goals conceded at Charlton through being caught out when tracking back. Nevertheless, I am confident that he will be in the squad for Germany, although whether he will displace Neville remains to be seen.

Sven showed his enthusiasm for Gulliver's Travels by bringing on man mountain Peter Crouch again. In so doing he saved Charlton a £500,000 payment to the Tractors. Some of the Addickted say they're not bothered about that, but how would they feel if they had to cough up £25 each for a ten minute cameo? Bent is still eligible for Under-21 action and may be used in the playoffs for that competition.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Curbs hopes Bent will play tonight

Alan Curbishley has expressed his surprise that Darren Bent did not feature for England against Austria. He told Sky Sports: 'I thought he had'd have got a chance at the weekend to be fair. He's on top of his game at the moment and fully, fully, fit but wasn't used.'

The Addicks supremo continued, 'I hope he'll be involved tonight and I hope he gets used. It's all a bonus to him at the moment. He's so happy with the first couple of months of life in the Premiership and long may it continue.'

Curbs also spoke up for Sven Goran Eriksson, stating his fear that there is an agenda within the media to depose him. He believes that the English team manager is being unfairly treated in the press.

'Since Sven has been in charge, he's qualified for the World Cup in Japan, which we didn't think we were going to do when he took over. He's qualified for the Euros and now he's qualified for the World Cup. On the face of it, every competition he's been involved in, and asked to qualify for, he's done.'

'We're there again with a group of players that fancy their chances, I think they really do. If everyone stays fit, and there's a long way to go, then who knows?'

The fact that four Charlton players are seriously mentioned in connection with the World Cup squad (Darren Bent, Danny Murphy, Jerome Thomas and Luke Young) shows the progress made by Charlton under Curbs. Perhaps one day he will have the chance to do the same for England.

Holland linked with Tractors loan

Republic of Ireland international Matt Holland is willing to go out on loan to get first team football and full match fitness and his preferred move would be to his old club, Ipswich Town.

Questions have been raised about whether the Tractors could afford his wages, but in fact a club loaning a player does not necessarily have to meet the full wage bill as this is a matter for mutual agreement. The Suffolk club could also benefit from a half a million pound handout from the Addicks if Sven allows Darren Bent to get off the bench for even five minutes in tonight's international.

Holland told the Daily Mirror 'The team have been doing exceptionally well and it is hard to get back in, so I will speak to the manager about it. But I would also want to look at coming back to Charlton, I am no spring chicken but I want to start playing in the Premiership as soon as possible.'

Of course, the midfielder could find himself playing in another Premier League, that in Scotland. There have been rumours that his old manager at Ipswich, George Burley, could be interested in recruiting him to join high flying Hearts.

Holland is a decent guy and a methodical player, but there is a sense that in last year's indifferent performances by the Addicks he was as much a part of the problem as part of the solution.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Nice one Jerome!

Jerome Thomas scored his first goal for England tonight in the 4-1 victory for the Under 21's against Poland at Hillsborough. He made it 2-0 for his country with a side footed shot after Carthorse Cole had opened the scoring. He subsequently missed a chance in a three-on-two situation, but not so many chances as the Carthorse.

Before the game I was listening to Radio 5 and heard the Charlton winger discussed as a serious option for the World Cup in Germany.

Late scare for Brakes

It is eighteen years since Leamington have played in the Birmingham Senior Cup but they went through 3-2 against Oldbury United at Harbury Lane tonight against a team that had beaten them 4-1 in the Travel World Midland Alliance earlier in the season.

Just like their FA Cup victory on Saturday, the match was played in torrential rain, but despite this there was a decent crowd of 300+ for a Tuesday night fixture. Some of them may have been there to see new signing Morton Titteron, but the former Southern League player disappointed with a tendency to play passes to the opposition. Brakes put out a somewhat weakened side with veteran Paul Eden making a rare start, although he had to receive treatment for back pain during the match.

Martin Thompson has been out on loan at Alveston (the No.2 club in Stratford on Avon), but the spell away from the New Windmill Ground seems to have done him good. Last year it cost more to produce a framed and signed commemorative photo for his sponsor than the £1 per goal scored (whereas I had to pay £38 for the top scorer), but tonight Thompson delivered with one goal in the first half and another immediately after the break.

Meanwhile we had had great fun with Oldbury's gobby goalkeeper whose shouts of 'stand up!' were greeted with replies of 'sit down!'

Brakes scored a third and we thought it was game over but the visitors scored two late goals playing downhill to raise fears of extra time in the awful weather conditions. But we went home soaked but happy.

What do Oldbury and Charlton have in common? Both built their grounds in an old quarry.

Alex Rodman, who scored both of the Brakes goals in the FA Cup victory against Woodford Town, is one of five players nominated for Player of the Round with the chance of an appearance at the FA Cup Final. Vote for him at: Super Alex

Monday, October 10, 2005

Danny would have had England place at big club

Joanna Taylor, Danny Murphy's wife, thinks that he would have been in the England team if he was still playing for Liverpool and that other players would not have been if they had not been at bigger clubs.

In her 'Footballer's Wife' column in The Times she notes:

There we were at our local cinema, watching David Cronenberg’s A History Of Violence, when the text came through from a loyal friend. “It’s f***ing s***!” was the pithy message. Danny just shrugged his shoulders. “I guess I’m not in then,” he said. This was eight days ago, when the England squad was announced for the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Poland. My first reaction was to be furious, but I had to suffer in silence as people shot each other on the screen.

Danny had been laughing at me all along, saying that there was no way he was going to be called up, but I was convinced he would be. I know I am biased, but he had been playing so well this season, getting man-of-the-match awards and scoring goals. But the fact that we were at the cinema that night showed how little chance he thought he had of being selected.

It had been a big weekend of football. Danny came home after the home defeat by Tottenham and said he felt he had played as well as he could. On the Sunday, there were three games live on TV. I watched the first two and was waxing my legs in the bedroom by the time Chelsea played Liverpool — there’s only so much football I can take in one day.

Luke Young, the Charlton and England defender, rang Danny and asked if he had got his text. The way the players get told if they are in the squad is by getting a text message about 15 minutes before it is announced on Sky. Danny said: “No, I’m not going to be in.”

To me this seems a strange way of letting people know. It is so last-minute. I find it frustrating, but I am more opinionated than Danny. To me it’s like an office worker bringing in loads of new clients only to find it’s everybody else who is getting the bonus.

Danny plays primarily to do well for Charlton, and England is a bonus.

The difference between Danny and me is I don't know ho much I love my job. Footballets, on the other hand, are doing a job they do love. So many men around the country are out on a Saturday morning [?] playing football for fun and fpr the love of the game, with no financial reward. It made me realise that, for all the disappointments that come along, professional footballers are privileged.

Luke Young

He has not been training with England today because of a dead leg picked up in the match against Austria but he should be fit enough to train tomorrow.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Media less lukewarm about Young

Luke Young has been portrayed as a make weight stop gap from an unfashionable club who will have no long-term role in the England side. It took a while for Charlton fans to appreciate what a good buy he was by Curbs and now the media are at last starting to acknowledge what he has to offer. The Sunday Times this morning gave him 7 saying that accusations of him not being international class are unfounded, noting that he played well after Beckham was sent off.

This is their detailed appraisal of the Addicks right back:

'With Gary Neville and Ashley Cole injured, the full-back positions went to Charlton’s Luke Young and Liverpool’s Jamie Carragher. Carragher is essentially a resilient centre-back and a right-footed player, but he was seldom under any kind of pressure on the left and predictably coped well enough. Young, by contrast, was pleasingly willing and able to surge into attacking positions.

He may have been given confidence by the fact that at the start of the game, Austria’s experienced captain, Andreas Ivanschitz, wandering frequently from the centre to the flanks in midfield, tried to beat him down the left but Young matched him for pace and put the ball into touch.

His most spectacular moment, however, came 18 minutes into the first half when, receiving a pass from Peter Crouch, he made an ambitious run worthy of any striker and was only just beaten to the ball by Austria’s resilient goalkeeper Jurgen Macho.

When briefly caught out of position late in the first half, Young was quick to race back, intercept the ball and play it to a defender behind him.

In the second half, he continued looking for opportunities to attack and was present and effective when needed in defence. Early in that half, he did well to head away a potentially dangerous cross from the right by Rene Aufhauser.

Subsequently, receiving from Frank Lampard when overlapping vigorously, he put in a good cross that the Austrian defence cleared. In the 83rd minute, he was overlapping yet again after once more receiving an inviting, angled ball from Crouch. This time his low cross was also cleared but he had done well.'

The Independent on Sunday made Luke the 'star performer' with the highest rating, along with Owen, of 7.

They said, 'The Charlton right-back had a positive impact on the right side of defence in Gary Neville's berth and broke forward at every opportunity. Defensively his best moment was a brave diving header to clear a dangerous cross. Occasionally caught upfield, but Andreas Ivanschitz failed to capitalise'

Both the News of the World and the Mail on Sunday were less complimentary about Luke, rating him at 6/10 and 4/10 respectively. Some of the Addickted have also used words like 'competent' and 'workmanlike' to describe his performance. I think that he displayed a new confidence as an international player, a sense that he was where he rightfully belonged. Let's have a real chant of 'England's No.2' against Fulham.

Crouch versus Bent

'What is this man for?' is a question that might reasonably be asked of the man mountain. The Addickted were disappointed that Darren Bent did not get a chance to show what he could do. However, with the club having a lost a rumoured £650,000 through all:sports going into receivership, Sven saved the club £500,000 that would have had to go to the Tractors if he had made an England appearance. Now if he comes on for five minutes against Poland, that will work out at £100,000 a minute ...

Ten Years Ago: a home defeat by Grimsby

With Luke Young getting his sixth cap for England yesterday, allowing Sven to patronisingly claim that he wasn't being unfair to Darren Bent as he had one Charlton player in the team, it is salutary to recall what we were doing ten years ago: losing 0-1 at home to Grimsby in front of a crowd of 8,997.

In pre-match discussions with the Bloke Beside Me (not the current one) we agreed that Salmon couldn't cope in the air or under pressure from forwards.

My notes on the match recall, 'Grimsby played a very tight midfield, forcing Charlton into a long ball game. Grimsby scored in the 29th minute after Balmer was injured - later taken to hospital.' [He had a punctured lung and a cracked rib after a collision with Dobbin].

'Charlton were terrible - by far their worst performance this season. The passing was awful, there was no pace, they didn't move forward quickly enough. Steve thought they missed Keith Jones in midfield.'

The Bloke Beside Me walked out before the end, but Steve was more philosophical - you get the highs and the lows and maybe the expectations are too high.' Given my own negative comments, it's interesting that The Observer reported that 'Charlton had the bulk of the possession, although Grimsby always carried a threat on the break.' Apparently, Chapple failed to take advantage of a free header in the 11th minute. Rick Everitt though that Charlton look tired after their marathon mid-week cup tie with Wimbledon and draining draw with Barnsley the previous weekend.

Keith Jones - missed in midfield?

The programme featured a 'day in the life of' club shop manager Chris Tugwell, although his full title was 'retail and lottery manager'. The club shop then was like a large broom cupboard and reference was made to plans to build a new shop under a new West Stand. There was a lavish photo shoot of Tugwell selling an unfortunate customer a green and purple shirt, hanging up the same shirt and sitting at his desk.

The article contained the shock revelation that the shop was busiest on match days, but then programme editor Peter Burrowes was also known as 'Scoop'. The article noted, 'There have been criticisms of the shop in the past but Chris feels he has taken them on board: "We try and cater for what the supporter wants and I accept that we don't always succeed"'.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Brakes Through In FA Cup

Torrential rain and an officious Conference referee could not prevent Leamington from securing a 2-0 victory over Woodford Town in front of a crowd of 1,017 at The New Windmill Ground this afternoon. Brakes win £5,000 and go through to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup with the chance of Conference opposition.

It was not business as usual at Harbury Lane. Despite arriving 45 minutes before kick off, there was a long queue to get in, a BBC radio car was parked by the pitch and three of Warwickshire's finest were there to ensure did it not all go off with the visitors coming from a town with a reputation as a rough house. I heard one steward say, 'Can you get a member of the board, there's one of our fans drunk as a lord.' Perhaps he had been sampling the special Brakes Beer bottled for the occasion by the New Warwickshire Brewery.

The first half was evenly matched but play was continuously interrupted by referee M Cairns blowing his whistle for every infringement. He even found time to warn Woodford manager Phil Mason that he could be sent off. Arran Parkinson for the Northants side had to be helped off by physio Trudy Thornton and was substituted. Ex Northampton Town and Oklahoma [sic] danger man Neil Champlelovier [sic] did not prove as great a threat as had been feared.

From the re-start Brakes put Woodford under the pressure, while the former Great Central Railway works side hung on for a replay at Byfield Road. However, the game turned when formed Aylesbury player Kai Ridley did not adapt like a duck to the conditions and was sent off for a second bookable offence. From the free kick awarded against Ridley, Alex Rodman drove the ball home and as the game ebbed to a close he scored a second to put the outcome beyond doubt.

Defiant Jordan charged by FA

Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan has been charged with improper conduct by the FA for remarks in his column in The Observer. The charge does not relate to his regular attacks on Charlton and their fans, but his criticisms of referee Brian Curson over Palace's 3-2 defeat at Reading.

Jordan seems to have anticipated a charge. In the article, he stated, 'When the FA read this column, this attempt to be constructive, they'll probably charge me with bringing the game into disrepute.' Since being charged, Jordan has said, 'If they want me to explain my comments, I'm not going to. They're there to read in the paper.'

Jordan claims that it's about free speech, but free speech is limited by laws and rules about unfair comment that could be seen as defamatory of institutions or individuals.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lisbie recalled

Curbs has recalled Kevin Lisbie to The Valley, deciding not to extend his one month loan spell at Norwich. He made four starts and two substitute appearances for the Canaries, scoring in a 2-1 defeat at Watford.

Norwich City assistant manager told the Canaries web site, 'We would very much like to have kept Kevin longer, but at the same time we understand and respect Charlton's position.'

The Norwich Evening News states that Lisbie has been recalled because of 'mounting injuries' in the Charlton squad. However, the lacklustre performances of Shaun Bartlett in recent appearances may be a consideration.

The fact of the matter is that we have three relatively uninspiring back up strikers (although JJ can cause some trouble with his pace) with a reputation for missing sitters. Bothroyd is injured and clearly has a short fuse which could get him in trouble. Failing all else, I would use Sam on the bench as an attacking midfielder or even take a risk with Gislasson.


Following his recent appearance on Match of the Day 2 Deano did a long interview on Radio 5 this morning about Ireland's World Cup qualification prospects. It's interesting to listen to Deano's accent. Although he was brought up in Warwick and Leamington, playing at one time for the Hibernians, and I bump into his dad now and then, his accent sounds more like an 'estuary' one. Indeed, there is no trace of the Leamington accent that one hears 'townsmen' speaking.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Darren Bent: 'my confidence is sky-high'

An interview with Darren Bent in The Guardian points out that he has scored more goals in the Premiership this season than the combined amount of the three other strikers available to Eriksson on Saturday: Michael Owen, the man mountain and Judas Defoe.

If he is lucky, the Charlton striker may get a cameo appearance towards the end of the match. But if he does appear, Ipswich will be able to send Charlton an invoice for £500,000 which will buy them more than a few tractors.

Bent says, 'my confidence is sky-high at the moment. Alan Curbishley has worked on my all-round game and I feel a better player already.' The article concedes that he has probably moved above Crystal Palace's Andy Johnson in the pecking order. One should think so: a player for a Championship side who is best known for the diving skills he has perfected at Norwood Baths.

Read the full interview at:


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Charlie's praise for Curbs

Charlie Macdonald left Charlton four years ago and is currently trying to rebuild his career at Gravesend and Northfleet, but he has plenty of praise for Curbs in a column in the Non-League Paper.

He writes, 'Having a good manager can make or break you. I should know - I've had a few. Even though he let go of me at Charlton, Alan Curbishley's record speaks for itself. He's top drawer. When I left he wrote a letter thanking me for what I had done and telling me I would be welcome any time.'

'Compare that to the way I was treated in the end at Stevenage. I went back to the Charlton training ground the other day to sign some cards for a club scrapbook and spoke to Curbs again. He told me that if I needed anything like treatment for an injury, I only have to ask. You don't forget things like that, which is why I'm so pleased they made a good start to the season.'

Charlie reveals that he lost a stone in weight in the summer because he wanted to look good in his wedding photos. He and his wife Hayley are expecting another baby in March.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ten years ago: 8-7 victory

Ten years ago on 3rd October 1995 the Addicks drew 3-3 with Wimbledon at The Valley to go through 8-7 in the Coca Cola Cup. It's another match commemorated on a special video. Unfortunately, I have no time to watch it. I think this was the first match for which I have a printed report from the CASC web site, written by Rick Everitt.

My notes recall, 'Charlton went 1-0 up from the ever improving Nelson, but Wimbledon equalised. Wimbledon got several bookings, including Vinny Jones. After half time Wimbledon scored almost immediately in a goalmouth scramble, but then Charlton pulled one back through Leaburn. Robinson pulled down a Wimbledon player clumsily and Wimbledon converted the penalty. The 2-3 score meant extra time, but Robinson scored to make it 3-3 and through some super saves by Salmon, Charlton held on to go through.'

After the game Curbs revealed that John Robinson had signed a new contract after nine months on the transfer list.

The programme revealed that Steve Brown would be out for two months after a knee operation, a harbinger of future troubles that would see him leave the game. The twenty questions feature was Peter Garland who made a number of references to his weight. There was a photo of a very young looking Luton captain Kevin Nicholls who 'made a very impressive debut in midfield for the reserves' in defence. Andy Larkin got fainter praise for 'another steady performance in defence'. I wonder what happened to him?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rumours link Addicks with Hornets striker

Saturday's match shows that the biggest deficiency in our squad is strikers who can find the back of the net on a regular basis if Darren Bent is injured or otherwise available.

Hence there may be something in reports that Watford's Ashley Young is being tracked by the Addicks, although he is an attacking midfielder rather than a striker (remember Jason Euell who was given a role in the hole?) He has scored six goals for the Hornets this season and might have a million pound price tag.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Only two Charlton players in England squad

Only two players are in the England squad for the World Cup qualifiers, Darren Bent and Luke Young. There is no call up for Danny Murphy who was at least one of those considered. Jermaine Jenas is, however, called up, although he hardly impressed at The Valley yesterday, although Murphy was perhaps not at his very best. At least the hapless Owen Hargreaves is out, but only because of injury.

Of course, ten years ago the whole idea of the Addicks being represented at England level would have been absurd, so we shouldn't complain about being limited to two. Now we will have fifteen players on international duty next week.

Man mountain Peter Crouch has been called up and is likely to start in a 4-4-2 formation with Michael Owen who is expected to recover from a dead leg which meant that he could not play for Newcastle on Saturday. With Wayne Rooney suspended, Darren Bent will have to compete for a place as a sub with Judas Defoe. Luke Young is, however, likely to start against Austria.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Casual Charlton throw points away

The Addickted had the disappointment of a 2-0 lead against Spurs being turned into a 2-3 defeat at The Valley on Saturday October 1st. Darren Bent put the Addicks ahead in the first half and scored a second after the break. Immediately one sensed that the Charlton players thought the match was won and started to lose their concentration. Spurs then secured a very soft goal from King and followed it up with a second one that was poorly defended to equalise. Their third goal from Keane was a screamer, but Charlton still had chances to level the score in the remaining minutes, but failed to capitalise on them, just as they had not taken advantage of an open goal in the first half. The withdrawal of Darren Bent after a clash of heads also emphasised how short the Addicks are of quality strikers with Bartlett serving up a lacklustre performance.

The weekend edition of the Financial Times carried a feature on the successful Valley Express service with quotes from Rick Everitt and Peter Varney. We make our own small contribution with the Warwickshire Rickshaw and are thinking of getting magnetics from our sponsors Kingdom Signs to designate the service. However, road works at Redbridge Island meant we were quite seriously delayed and were not able to park in the Rose of Denmark. We did not take up the suggestion of using a valet service being offered by a Dickensian pub up the road: the car would certainly be taken away, but whether it would return is another matter.

The game started with the sides changing ends which always makes me uneasy. Our subsequent 2-0 lead perhaps led people to forget that Spurs dominated for the first twenty minutes or so. Equally, reports on Murphy have accentuated the many positive aspects of his play and overlooked the more negative aspects. Murphy was dispossessed early in the game at the price of a Spurs corner. Bent cleared with a header and the ball was played back to Robinson in the Spurs goal.

El Karkouri put in an excellent long ball to Thomas, but the inspired move didn't quite come off as the ball was hit just a little bit too strongly for Thomas to connect. Thomas fell down when being pursued in the area, but referee Dowd rightly judged that it was not a penalty.

After Powell gave the ball away, Stalteri was brought down and Spurs were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. Kishishev managed to get the ball away, but it was played in again and Spurs won a corner which showed Andersen at his most indecisive.

Given the amount of criticism that Kishishev gets, it is worth noting that he successfully broke up a Spurs attack. Good work by Charlton on the wing involving Rommedahl and Smertin presented Kishishev with an opportunity as he ran in, but he put the shot wide. El Karkouri broke up a Spurs attack with a good tackle. Kishishev showed his more negative side when he gave the ball away. Bent received a good through ball but Robinson saved. A corner was nearly given away when the ball bounced off Powell, but all Spurs got was a throw in by the corner flag.

Thomas put in a superb lofted cross from near the touchline which put the Spurs defence under pressure and led to a Charlton corner that was unproductive. Given later developments, what I noted at this stage of the game was significant: 'some confusion in defence'.

Charlton were, however, getting into the game more, although Spurs were awarded another free kick in a dangerous position. Then on 25 minutes Murphy provided an excellent through ball. The Spurs defence, as is typical with so-called big clubs, looked for the offside flag, but Stalteri played Bent onside. As the Spurs defence parted as if for Moses, Bent charged through and slotted the ball past Robinson to make it 1-0.

A Spurs free kick led to a Spurs corner. In a quite extraordinary piece of play, Murphy dallied around with it in front of goal in a way that could have easily presented an opportunity to the Haringey side. Although it was cleared, Spurs then won another two corners, suggesting that they were still very much in the game.

Davids fouled Smertin by kicking him in the goolies, but as Inspector Sands has already noted, Dowd treated Davids like an ancient monument and had a few consoling words with him about his vision problems. However, when Luke Young fouled Davids, his name immediately went in the book. In general, Rommedahl was getting the better of Davids, but referee Dowd lost no opportunity to give the visitors a helping hand. When Chris Powell was fouled, the free kick went to the visitors. The Addicks then had an excellent chance to make it 2-0. Brilliant work by Smertin led to an excellent ball played to the unmarked Bent, but somehow he managed to put his shot wide from six yards out.

When El Karkouri was fouled, Defoe got a yellow card leading to chants of 'one greedy bastard'. Charlton had a free kick in a promising position after charm merchant Davids fouled Murphy, but it was cleared. Andersen had to make a save at the near post after Mido managed to break through. With Charlton needing to preserve their lead, Luke Young made a great stop.

Half time: Addicks 1, Spurs 0

Our mascots are hardly inspiring or exciting figures, but it was noticed that the dog (Floyd?) was absent, but apparently he was down the vets. Monty Martin would be more exciting, but he was told to stay in the press box. The computerised system which is supposed to reveal the Valley Gold results in an 'exciting' format malfunctioned leading to shouts of 'Computer say no'. It almost made one wish for the return of the camels that were featured in the centenary DVD shown on the 'big' screen before the match.

Within three minutes of the start Bent had put Charlton 2-0 ahead. Advancing on goal with one of his typical runs, and evading King, he put a really superb curling shot into the top corner of the net.

In their wins at Birmingham and West Brom, the Addicks have put themselves under pressure in the second half and this time their lack of steel led to a defeat. Three minutes after Bent's goal, Smertin was judged to have fouled Davids after he lost his boot, the referee making sure that he would get his signed shirt after the game. A free kick by Mendes was headed on and King stuck a leg out to put the ball past Andersen. It was a fluke goal, although the keeper could have been more alert.

Mendes was given a yellow card for a foul on Rommedahl. The morale of the Addickted was boosted when Young denied Judas Defoe. Mendes was taken off and replaced by Tainio. Good work gave Smertin a chance, but he shot at the keeper. We had heard before the game that it was raining in Kent (Bexleyheath, Kent that is) and with a dark cloud looming over The Valley, the heavens opened and even a couple of rumbles of thunder were heard. Was an old testament deity coming to the aid of the visitors?

The match was starting to get a bit scrappy and Kishishev obligingly passed to a Spurs player. With the Charlton defence seemingly motionless (and Luke Young particularly at fault) Tainio found Mido unmarked. He put in a good angled shot which went through Andersen's legs, although again I felt that the keeper could have reacted more quickly. 2-2: the score my wife had forecast in the jackpot.

Spurs were now going for victory and Carrick was replaced by Robbie Keane. Murphy sent Luke Young through with an excellent pass but the captain missed but was offside anyway. This move produced a clash of heads between Bent and Stalteri. As Bent lay on the ground, Spurs fans, who had been clearly wound up by the striker's success, showed their by biblical knowledge by accusing him of being an Onanist. Stalteri returned with a big bandage on his head and wearing a 49 shirt. Bent, with a swollen eye, had to be taken into the dressing room. Bartlett came on, his body language suggesting someone who had just been told by his wife that he was going to spend the rest of the afternoon shopping for a new sofa.

Judas fell over and Spurs were awarded a free kick by the obliging Mr Dowd who then booked Kishishev for a foul. The resultant free kick was sent high and wide into the Covered End by Davids who is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is. Rommedahl won the ball well and got Charlton a throw in by the flag.

On 79 minutes Thomas was replaced by Hughes. As Steve from Sidcup remarked, Hughes is a journeyman, the sort of player who used to figure in the first eleven ten years ago. If there had to be a change, I would rather have had Holland on the bench (Ambrose is apparently not fit).

On 81 minutes Powell was on the attack but was dispossessed by Lennon. Mido was down at this point which may have been a distraction and it would have been better with hindsight if the ball had been played out (Mido was taken off and replaced by Dawson). With Defore and Keane playing a one-two, Keane then hammered an excellent strike past Andersen. Keane then came and celebrated with his fellow Spudz in front of the East Stand.

Kishishev was taken off and replaced by Spector who seemed almost to be playing as a striker. Bartlett had a great chance, but managed to put the ball past the post, vainly claiming a deflection. Murphy received a yellow card after giving Davids a well deserved couple of kicks. Hughes put in a shot from the left which had to be palmed out in a great save by Robinson. Then, as the final minutes of the four minutes added on, Luke Young had a great chance to secure revenge against his old club, but put his shot over.

Post match comment from the Addickted has understandably focused on the lack of a decent back up striker. I would rather have seen JJ on the bench today than Bartlett and I never thought I would find myself saying that. Jeffers and Lisbie are fortunately elsewhere and the discontented Euell is still injured. Bothroyd did not do well against the Baggies. It would have been good to have had Sam on the bench who would have added more than Bartlett. Olafur Johansson has suggested that the day for young Icelandic striker Gislason may come sooner than later and he could well be right. But it shouldn't be forgotten that the real problem in this match was poor defending.

Anyway, no one who saw that match could say the Premiership was boring. It's just a shame that the joke was on us, although I feel that the score draw I originally predicted would have been a fair result. And we will beat them at White Hart Lane.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch was dropped as match analyst after he was found to have broken open and eaten a bag of chocolates and toffees on Saturday morning and with his deputy, Homer the Cherry Hound, settling into his new home it was perhaps a bad omen when third string analyst Monty Martin was summoned at short notice from Blewbury, Oxon. The spaniel reacted in a typically excitable way to the goals scored by Darren Bent, perhaps overlooking his misses and awarded him the Silver Bone, although whether it did much for Bent's headache is another matter. Andersen lent support to those who favour a return for Kiely by letting in three and was arguably partially to blame for the first and second goals. Young missed two chances to score, perhaps overawed by the presence of the England manager. Powell was confident and involved, but sometimes perhaps lacked the extra yard of pace to deal with Spurs. El Karkouri is a favourite with the Addickted and made a strong return. Perry seemed to play well enough, but one would want to look at his positioning for the goals. Kishishev is a favourite scapegoat at the moment, but he battled away and gave the ball away less often than usual. Curbs expressed worries that England expectations would get to Murphy and he was certainly sometimes below his usual standard, his frustration showing by the end of the game, although he won plenty of plaudits from the media. Smertin contributed through his skill and had a very good match, but will he ever score a goal? Thomas was not too prominent, but did put in one excellent lofted cross. Rommedahl used his pace to good effect.
Bartlett was poor when he came on, I would not say disappointing because I don't expect too much. Hughes is the eternal substitute, but he drew one good save from Robinson. Spector showed plenty of energy and enthusiasm, but made little impact.

Juneau the Soccer Cat considered giving the Hiss of the Match to referee Dowd, who is one of those refs who thinks he can enjoy a joke with the players, but instead gave it to Edgar Davids who thinks he is the greatest, but he is past his best and was continually protesting to the referee about every decision.

Crowd rating I know that the Jimmy Seed Stand has excellent acoustics and the most fanatical away fans come away, but it is worrying the extent to which the Addickted are out shouted and out sung by the visitors, although 'Judas' Defoe was given a roasting. 6/10.