Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Development plans for rust bucket?

Why did property developer Peter de Savary who has shown no prior interest in football decide to acquire Millwall and the rust bucket known as the New Den? From Land's End to League's End hardly makes sense.

The Times thinks it has the answer:

'A property expert has a suggestion. Millwall is conveniently placed in an area of South East London that could benefit from the coming of the Olympic Games. There is already a stadium, often half-full, and lots of development potential near by.'

“I’m going to buy the shares cheap because the shares are grossly undervalued,” PDS tells me. “I shall invest significantly in the company. I shall bring other investors who are friends of mine.”

What about property development? “I’m going to look at all the assets that Millwall has,” he says. “If we are able to work those assets sensibly and we’re able to play good football, [sic] I think the market capitalisation of the company will go up significantly.” We’ll take that as a yes, then.'

So it's from the den of iniquity to the den of equity. Anyone know the scrap metal value of the rust bucket?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Blackburn: an attacking strategy?

A Charlton fan and I were discussing over lunch on Monday why Charlton have lost four matches in a row, given that much the same side was doing well at the beginning of the season. His explanation was that teams haven't quite got the measure of Darren Bent at the beginning of the season. But now they are familiar with the strategy of passes along the ground from Murphy to Bent and know how to counter.

Blackburn will be coming to The Valley in confident mood after their 4-1 defeat of us at Ewood Park. They will probably attack from the first minute of the game, with Robbie Savage clutching his face in agony every time his face is struck by a stray divot. So, let's counter attack with attack and get the crowd behind the side.

The strategy of Bent wandering lonely as a cloud 30 yards in front of the rest of the team isn't working, so why not give him support in a 4-4-2. The problem is with whom? Despite his lacklustre performances before his injury, Bartlett is still a reasonable player and he might do what is required. But he is not available.

Euell is back with the reserves at Coventry tonight (I would have gone but had to be in London today for a presentation to the prime minister who then only materialised via video link. At least Gordon turned up last year). He could play in the hole behind Bent, but would not be match fit.

Lisbie? Don't make me laugh. Bothroyd might seem the obvious choice, but he seemed decidedly out of sorts against Bolton and has a tendency to get himself booked - or perhaps even sent off.

JJ? Well the one thing he can do is put in a decent cross. But I would throw caution to the winds and play Ambrose up alongside Bent in a 4-4-2 with Rommedahl and Thomas in close support. None of this will happen, of course, although we are once again promised some changes.

I am not one of those who thinks that Andersen is 'for the future', because he will soon decide that his future lies elsewhere. But his confidence has been hit by recent defeats and high balls remain a problem for him. So, Myhre in goal, the effective HH out on the left with Perry and El K in the centre, Young on the right and then Kish out in front. Murphy to complete the midfield.

Having pulled off an unexpected victory against Chelsea, and given Charlton's cup record, it would be just like them to go down against Blackburn. But I am going for extra time and penalties with Myhre the hero of the hour.

I don't mind how we win, as long as I don't have to write a fifth explanation of why we lost. It was never easy being a Charlton fan, which is why I understand that some fans will be turning up tomorrow wearing 'Deportivo di Wanka' shirts (they're a Peruvian second division team).

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Charlton's slump continues

Charlton's slump continued today with a 1-0 defeat away at Villa today. What was particularly worrying was that it was a defeat against a side who were themselves poor and won victory with a snatched goal. Charlton's first half performance was particularly insipid and the Addicks only really came to life after they went 1-0 down, but at the cost of losing their shape.

The side missed Rommedahl, presumably injured or ill, who would have tormented the Villa defence while Murphy had to start on the bench, presumably because he was carrying an injury.

My notes on this game are less extensive than usual, because there was so little that was worth writing about. Villa won a succession of early corners and Darren Bent put a cross in across the face of the Villa goal, but there was no one there to connect with it. When Charlton did win a corner, Thomas's effort was poor. The Herminator put in a good tackle. A Villa free kick led to a Villa corner which Andersen punched out. Chris Powell put in a good block. A Villa corner was cleared by Holland. Andersen made a great save at close range.

Villa won a free kick in a dangerous position which led to a corner. Andersen punched the ball out. A Charlton error led to another Villa corner, but their effort went over. Villa's shooting was woeful, but they were more in control of the game than Charlton.

Half-time: Villa 0, Addicks 0

Lisbie came on in place of Ambrose. Two Villa free kicks in succession went way over. A Holland error placed Charlton in danger. A free kick against the Herminator was caught by Andersen. A Charlton corner was wasted.

Murphy was brought on in place of Kishishev. After some frantic action in front of the goal, with the ball coming off the upright, Andersen was left exposed and Davis scored for the home side. After that Charlton were chasing the game and were often placed in danger by Villa counter attacks. This was one of those matches where there was very little that was positive to take away from a Charlton perspective.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch considered not awarding the Silver Bone at all, but in the end it went to Alexi Smertin who showed real skill in running with the ball. The critics of Andersen will no doubt have a field day, but he made an excellent save in the first half. Unfortunately for the goal he seemed too preoccupied with the fact that he thought he had been fouled just beforehand, leading to a yellow card for dissent. [Apparently I got the yellow card wrong, but the referee was certainly not happy with him. It's not always easy to see the other end through a net]. Young was one of the better Charlton players, getting forward in attack and covering well in defence. Powell sometimes lacks the necessary pace to deal with a threat, although he did make some good interventions. El Karkouri was competent enough without really imposing himself on the game. Hreidarsson was again one of the better Charlton players, thinking about what he did with the ball which many Charlton players failed to do. Kishishev harried the Villa players, breaking up their attacks. OK, he made the occasional error, like giving away a free kick, and he could have showed more confidence in front of goal, but he did contribute. [Having accumulated five yellow cards, he will now be out for a match anyway, giving us a chance to see if someone else - El K? - can fill his boots].Holland was poor, giving the ball away more than once. Ambrose was creative and was missed when he had to be withdrawn at half time. Thomas had flashes of inspiration, but his crossing was poor for a winger. Bent had relatively few chances to shine and when he did often lacked support. Lisbie made a few decent flick ons, but lacks sufficient physical presence to impose himself on the game as a striker. Murphy did his best when he came on, but almost tried too hard. Perry had a cameo, it is a shame he was not on from the beginning.

Hiss of the Match This was given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the diving cheater Baros who eventually even tried the referee's patience and got a yellow card.

Crowd rating The Addickted were very subdued which is not surprising given the fare provided for them. At least there were a couple of attempts at humour: 'Twenty-eight quid? You're having a laugh' and 'Will you sing a song for us?' 3/10

Support your local team

The club of choice where I live is Aston Villa. There are a few unfortunates who support Coventry City, no one supports the Blews and there are a few Baggies. I know that most of the local Charlton are going with Villains today and I will be joining them on Christmas Eve for a party.

After three defeats in a row, this is a vital match for Charlton if we are to revive our season. Our record at Villa in the Premiership has not been good: a battling 4-3 win in our relegation season with Steve Brown making a vital save at the end a 0-0 last year. Otherwise, a string of defeats. However, Warwick University's Fink Tank has us down for a win. Our forecast is 3-2 to the Addicks.

The team should be pretty much unchanged, although I would bring Perry back and have Powell rather than Spector. Rommedahl should be effective against the somewhat static Villa defence. Ambrose should be included, probably at the expense of Thomas.

The local Villa are in despondent mood. Let's hope they still are at 5 p.m. this evening. Come on you Reds!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Ten Year Ago: Late Goals Bring Pain and Pleasure

Ten years ago Charlton had a mid-week home game against Reading and then one on Saturday against Port Vale. The Tuesday home game against Reading attracted the smallest home league attendance for eighteen months, just 7,849.

My notes recall, 'Charlton started brightly and Chapple - good work rate - scored, but then they let things slip a little so that Reading scored just before half time. Much of the second half was very frustrating, but then Mortimer came on after Shaun Newton had lost a contact lens and within thirty seconds created a goal [scored by Robinson on 78 minutes]. Up to then, as Steve from Sidcup put it, it was the same old Charlton, making bad teams look good.'

On Saturday I travelled via Reading to collect our youngest daughter and take her to the match. Her immediate reaction was that SE7 was 'not a very nice area.'

Opponents Port Vale had a record of giving us some trouble at The Valley and 'Charlton dominated the play in the first half but were not able to make anything of it. We started well in the second half and got a penalty with the aid of the lineswoman (Mrs Wendy Toms). But then we seemed to sit back and Port Vale scored a good goal. We came back again and Bowyer scored a crisp goal. But again Port Vale came back and scored a second goal which Ammann fumbled. A very frustrating result against the bottom club.'

'Jones was very disappointing, Whyte was good when he was allowed on, but Grant was useless and Leaburn did very little.' Nevertheless, Milly was interested in coming again.

The programme proclaimed, 'Charlton Athletic seem to have unearthed a new goalscoring start in striker Kevin Lisbie who scored his third hat trick of the season when the colts beat Leyton Orient in the South East Counties League.' It was added that Lisbie had already made his reserve debut - and ten years later he was still there scoring this week.

From Land's End to League's End

New Millwall chairman Peter de Savary used to own Land's End. Now he's at League's End.

Theo Paphitis told the Daily Telegraph: 'So what if he has no previous interest in football? He's incredibly passionate, larger than life character and very successful.' Up to now, that is.

As the Telegraph went on to comment, 'The problem for Millwall this season has been the wrong kind of excitement. They are bottom of the Coca-Cola Championship and a boardroom row has left them without a chairman since the start of the season. Jeff Burnige, who had taken over from Paphitis, resigned before a ball was kicked.'

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Reserves slump at home

It looks like Charlton's hold on the reserve championship has gone after a defeat at home last night by Ipswich. Our reserves correspondent, Clive Richardson, reports 'It really wasn't worth getting so cold for.'

Of the senior pro's in our lot, Sorondo was solid if not safe, Lisbie lacked pace, inclination and vision, so often getting caught in possession in promising areas, Bothroyd showed lack of both inclination and ability, missed two good chances before converting well from JJ's rebounded interception, then missed a sitter on the stroke of half time- the website report has the Ipswich keeper making a diving save, which is cobblers, as JB sent a free header straight into his arms standing by the back post. For a tall man, JB showed a remarkable inability to win headers, apart from one good flick-on to JJ early in the 2nd half, from which Johansson shot wide. In fact JJ was the only senior to look like making an impact (until Lisbie's goal, by which time I'd left to thaw out in the car on the way home)

We were a goal down in 7 minutes, a good drive from the edge of the box across the diving 'keeper, then almost 2 down soon after, but Elliot did well to save at his near-post.. The back four looked/played like strangers, Cottrell and Ashton far from being our future saviours at full back. Not sure whether Wilson or Brandao was supposed to be helping Sorondo, but neither did much, and there was no bite in midfield- John and Phillips are clever players, but relative midgets, and it was never clear whether JJ or Lis was partnering Bothroyd or linking from midfield.

1-1 at the break, 1-2 soon after, Sorondo subbed by the young, languid, ineffective Clifford, and two attacks within minutes of the re-start resulted in 1 goal.
The Addicks resorted to banging high balls towards the hapless Bothroyd or losing possession trying to run the ball through midfield. Ashton beaten in possession too often, or giving the ball away- resulting in more Ipswich attacks and another goal.

Our (rare)attacking forays were not helped by the west stand lino, who deemed that two defenders between our front man and their goal constituted 'offside'- I counted three instances, though there were more when Bothroyd couldn't be bothered to jog back or look along the line. The lure of hot dinner and coffee meant that I missed our 2nd and their 4th, but on tonight's display, 2-4 was flattering. The seniors mainly weren't much bothered, the juniors, just not good enough!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hayes puts his hat in the ring

Lifelong Addick Ben Hayes is the first to put his hat in the ring in the campaign for supporters' director at The Valley. Chairman of the Bromley branch of CASC, Hayes has set out a full manifesto which can be found at his website: Hayes

The post last time went to a CASC activist. However, the contest is far from over with at least one other candidate rumoured to be limbering up in the wings. All candidates have to be interviewed and approved by the board and at least one person fell foul of this rule last time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Here come the rumours

Like Christmas, the transfer window is still some way off, but it's not too early for rumours to start, with the source often being agents trying to create interest in a player and bid up the price.

Charlton have been linked with Swansea City striker Lee Trundle. Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday have also been named as interested, and perhaps he could make the switch to the Championship. But getting 15 goals at his level cannot be reproduced against Premiership defences.

Personally, I'd rather sign Cyril the Swan, the madcap Swansea mascot. Even if he does pick up the occasional red card, he would be a bit more lively than our current somewhat bland mascots.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Welcome back, Les Reed

Good news that Les Reed is re-joining the club, albeit in an international consultancy role in relation to Charlton's worldwide youth development programmes. Les played a vital role in my view in the transformation of the club into the established Premiership operation it is today. One of my memories of him is seeing him on the pitch before the match trying to explain to Kim Grant where the goal was!

Here in Philadelphia, Pa, it's just past breakfast time, but I am aware that the gates are about to open at The Valley for a vital game. The match is being shown on a delayed basis in the States at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Salford Red Sox

Work takes me to the States for the rest of the week so I am going to miss the game against Manchester United. Probably be the first time we beat them, although I'm not too optimistic. Meanwhile I see the club has reported a decent profit which offers hope for the transfer window.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Feesh robbed by men with South London accents

Four burly men wearing balaclavas and gloves overpowered and robbed contracted Charlton defender Mark Fish at his home in Chislehurst just after midnight on Saturday morning. The only robber who spoke during the act is described by South Africa's as having 'a typical south-London accent.'

Former Premiership defender Mark Fish was tied up and robbed after his home appeared on TV show Footballers' Cribs. The 31-year-old has became the second victim of raiders following an appearance on the MTV show, hosted by the England manager's
girlfriend Nancy Dell'Olio. He was bound by the men who burst into his £1.5m mansion and stole jewellery worth £200,000.

Feesh had gone to bed, while in another room his wife Loui tried to get their two young sons to sleep. Fish said: "Suddenly this guy jumped on my back. He said, 'For the sake of your children you'd better co-operate with us'. "Then they stuffed a sock in my mouth and tied my hands behind my back."

Feesh continues to battle with a long-term knee injury which has effectively ended his playing career. The poet and red wine enthusiast has considered entering politics in his native South Africa.

Curbs given 48 hours to decide on Rangers job

Curbs has been given 48 hours to decide whether he wants to go to Glasgow Rangers, according to the Daily Mirror. He would be paid about £2 million a year and given cash for players.

If Curbs turns the Glasgow club down, which seems likely to me, the next Rangers target is Everton manager David Moyes, who comes from a Rangers-supporting family, despite having played for Celtic.

Manager Alex McLeish is, of course, still in place, but it seems that his removal will take place once a replacement is found.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Charlton could black out all:sports logo

Charlton are ready to black out the name of sponsors all:sports on their shirts for the live televised match against Manchester City on December 4, according to the Sunday Mirror. They could even remove or cover any advertising of the firm around The Valley.

It is feared that the recent takeover of the struggling sports retailers will leave the Addicks without payment of an outstanding debt said to be somewhere between £700,000 and a million. This is in spite of the fact that all:sports will continue to trade under its existing name.

When you think of it, a number of recent Charlton sponsors have encountered difficulties or disappeared from view: Viglen, Redbus, Mesh. Bring back the Woolwich?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Ten years ago: curse of Charlton strikes

Ten years ago Charlton had a Sunday fixture away at Molineux. My notes recall, 'Charlton withstood Wolves pressure in the first half and could have been in with a chance until Leaburn was sent off. But they continued to play well and secured a 0-0 draw.'

The Addicks could have gone ahead. A press report states, 'Paul Jones, well off his goal line, directed his clearance straight to Kim Grant. With a modicum of composure, Grant could have chipped the keeper as he back pedalled, but he elected to drive the ball, which went hopelessly wide.'

A satisfactory result for Charlton, but not for the Wolves board. About a thousand Wolves fans demonstrated after the match, calling for the head of manager Graham Taylor. They got their wish because he resigned the following day.

The programme featured Mike Salmon who was labelled as a 'PR man's nightmare'. Described as 'a man of action and few words', Salmon proclaimed, 'We will not go up this year to the Premiership.' He went on, 'Wolves set-up has to be the best in the league.' Now, where are Wolves now?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Myhre may leave in January

Third choice Addicks goalkeeper Thomas Myhre says he will consider leaving The Valley in January unless he is handed a chance to impress in the first time. With Deano now back in contention, the third choice keeper's chances look bleak.

The Norway international admits that he can see why Curbs has persisted with the impressive Andersen, but Myhre indicated that if Kiely is favoured above of him, he may have to leave.

Myhre stated, 'If the change comes now and [Deano] gets the chance, I am finished. On this level you can't earn a place unless the other keeper plays himself out of the team. [Andersen] was there a couple of years before me, for that reason I can understand Alan Curbishley's choice. Although, it was not what he told me in advance and of course I personally feel I should stand.'

If Myhre did leave and one of the other two keepers was injured, the substitute would be Darren Randolph, currently on loan at conference side Accrington Stanley.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Brakes beat the Boro

Leamington beat Southern League Solihull Borough 3-2 in the Birmingham Senior Cup at Harbury Lane last night. Played in torrential rain, most of the goals were scored in extra time after it was 1-1 at 90 minutes. Despite the conditions, it was a competitive match with some good football. Bring on the Baggies!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Danny got cross with Joanna after defeat

Dannyh Murphy's wife Joanna Taylor reveals in the latest of her excellent footballer's wife columns in The Times that there were ructions in the Murphy household after the home defeat by Bolton. She writes:

'It is good to be honest and open, but you have to pick your moments. I knew this was the case after Charlton Athletic lost to Bolton Wanderers last weekend. As I have previously explained, I am something of a jinx on Charlton, so I had intended to buy a ticket and go to the game in secret with Jess, Luke Young’s fiancée. Danny saw through that, though, and realised I was going. Sure enough, it was a boring game and Charlton lost.

Afterwards Danny was in a foul mood. He didn’t feel he had played as well as he sometimes does and I knew it was not the time to talk about the match. But there was no need to take it out on me. He was snapping, so I said, “Right, I’m going home with my sister.” I refused to get in the car with him and left him there.

By the time we both got home things were fine and he apologised. We were laughing about his mood by the end of the night, but I think the Charlton fans should appreciate how seriously he takes it.'

I'm sure we do. Let's hope the long journey home from Blackburn gave Danny plenty of time to calm down.

Read Joanna's article in full at Joanna

Sunday, November 06, 2005

13-2 slump

Having seen Leamington thrashed 9-1 at Colchester, I had hopes that the Addicks might get something at Blackburn, the home side's 2-1 half-time lead seeming to be far from irreversible, but it ended up with a 4-1 hammering.

Erith Addick Paul May was supposed to provide a report, but has ended up drowning his sorrows. From what I saw on television, good saves by Freidel to deny Hreidarsson and Bothroyd meant that the final scoreline could have been more respectable, although Blackburn were also denied a penalty appeal against the Herminator.

It seemed to me that we lost our shape at times. Spector also seemed to be found wanting once again. There is no doubt that he has potential, but it is far from fully realised and surely Chris Powell could be tried again after his excellent performance at Chelsea.

The usual suspects are calling for Curbs to get on the next plane to Edinburgh. I think there has to be some adjustment of expectations, but a Uefa cup place is still a realistic possibility. We do, however, need another striker - if we can find one - in the January transfer window. Also, we need ideas (now that Bowyer is ruled out for his off pitch conduct) about a midfielder who would give the team a bit of edge and bite.

Brakes burn out

Colchester is a curious mix of prosperous commuter town, shopping centre, university town, garrison town and chavtastic paradise. However, the home fans were very welcoming to the 1,000 townsmen who had made the journey from the Midlands. The stadium is somewhat ramshackle to say the least and a prominent banner called for a new one.

The team had enjoyed specially made suits, a night in a hotel and a meal in an Italian restaurant. The excellent programme gave generous coverage to the Brakes, including a special feature on student and player of the 3rd qualifying round, Alex Rodman. It was noted that Brakes had won 148 matches since their re-formation with only 19 defeats.

The Midland Alliance side managed to hold out for 38 minutes and if it had been 2-0 at half time, it might have been a different story. Darren Tank, meanwhile, had been regaled with chants of 'You fat bastard' by the home supporters, while the away supporters have kept up chants of 'Leamington Spa, ooh-ah' and 'Warwickshire'. However, a goal from a free kick, followed by a second, put paid to those hopes. The home side then scored a third just after the break, starting the rout. The only consolation was a superb 25 yard strike by Richard Adams for the Brakes which will cost me £1 as that is the payment I make for each goal he scores. This was followed by the second pitch invasion of the match which ended up with a tailor's dummy in the Colchester goal.

The gap between League 1 and Step 5 of the non-league showed in every department: getting to the ball, tackling, passing, shooting, and, above all, fitness. Now Brakes have to pick themselves up to face Solihull Borough in the Birmingham Senior Cup on Tuesday and Biddulph Victoria away in the Vase.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Brakes to park their Tank on Colchester's pitch

While the Addickted head north to Blackburn tomorrow, we will be putting on our Brakes vice-presidents tops and heading south and east to support Leamington in their FA Cup game at Colchester United. There is a big gap between Step 5 of the non-league pyramid represented by the World Travel Midland Alliance and League 1, but hopefully the Brakes will give a good account of themselves at Layer Road. The players, some of whom are rumoured to be on £30 a week, have been bought a suit for the occasion and will stay overnight in a hotel.

We are particularly pleased that our sponsored player, Darran Tank, looks likely to feature. The solidly built 34-year old central defender lives up to his name and was wrongly credited with a 90th minute goal in the fourth qualifying round game because of his enthusiastic celebrations when the whistle blew.

Erith Addick Paul May will be reporting from Ewood Park.

Ten years ago: Telly Addicks

Charlton played Sunderland in front of the cameras on Bonfire Night (a Sunday) 1995, but 11,366 still made it to The Valley to see a 1-1 draw. Liz Searl described it as 'an end-to-end game [that] was enough to take the chill off an ice-cold Valley' but the CASC website report described it as 'sporadically entertaining'.

Sunderland came out attacking and were within our penalty area in ten seconds. Newton scored on our first attack (11 minutes), but Sunderland soon made it 1-1 and we were glad to keep it at that. Walsh was particularly ineffective and Robson wasn't much better, Newton deservedly man of the match. Salmon had to be substituted (thigh strain) by Ammann on 26 minutes.

Newton (No.7) wore No.9 shorts and Robson (No.9) wore No.7 shirts. The suspended Robinson normally wore the No.9 shorts, but they were too long for Robson.

The programme highlighted the first Rugby League game at The Valley featuring the Broncos. Dean Chandler was the featured player and said that his worst characteristic was his laziness which perhaps explains why he is now playing in the lower reaches of the non-league.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

What have you done today, Mervyn Day?

Unbelievably this is the title of a new film being premiered tonight at the Barbican by pop trio Saint Etienne, followed by a mini gig.

BB6 reports: 'The 50-minute docu-film follows the day in the life of a fictional paperboy, Mervyn Day, named after the much-loved 70s West Ham footballer who came from the area. As the teenager goes about his day on his bike delivering papers, the camera pans across the various derelict industrial land, overgrown open spaces and waterways.'

Veteran singer David Essex and Birds of a Feather actress Linda Robson provide the voices to Mervyn's mother and grandad in the film. No information is provided about whether Merv's gesticulations are reproduced.

The film is supposed to pay homage to the industrial wasteland of East London's Lea Valley, although it should be noted that Merv went to my old secondary school, King Edward VIth Chelmsford, which is somewhat more up market than the town in which it is situated.

Indeed, both forty years ago and today it would all go off over nothing in a Chelmsford pub. When I visited the town to talk at my old school last year, I was put up in a B and B run by a shaven headed Hammer from Stepney. When he asked me what I was talking about and I said 'The Politics of Protest', his response was 'Yeah, I'm always up for a ruck' and went and got a photo of himself in one.

Only in Chelmsford. And of everyone at Charlton, it has to be Merv who gives his name to a post-modernist film.

Curbs to don kilt stories stretch credulity

It must be a depressing business being a football journalist in Scotland, endlessly writing stories about Celtic and Rangers. And if you get a story about a signing at Arbroath or Cowdenbeath, who is going to be interested? Hence, the apparent emergence of Hearts at last as the much vaunted 'third force' in Scottish football must be manna to the Edinbugh based The Scotsman and its chief sports writer, Stuart Bathgate.

With Sir Bobby Robson apparently ruling himself out of the race to succeed George Burley, Scottish punters (who had perhaps had a few too many drams) raced yesterday to betting shops in the Scottish capital to back Curbishley for the Tynecastle post. William Hill were forced to suspend the book and the odds on the Charlton manager have now been cut from 80/1 to 16/1.

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe commented, 'It seems very unlikely that a manager who reportedly turned down a move to West Ham, just a couple of miles down the road, would move hundreds of miles for a different club in a different league in a different country and apperently in off-the-field crisis.' Quite. One might add that Hearts are hardly a bigger club than Charlton.

Having lived in Glasgow for a year, my Scottish club is first division Clyde who, of course, no longer play in the city.