Friday, March 31, 2006

Club's plan to boost goals and entertainment

Charlton has come up with a dramatic new plan to boost goals and entertainment next season: the team will be going on horseback. A spokesman explained, 'It all started when one of the lads was on holiday on the Hungarian plains and went to watch some "horse football" while his wife was having a mud bath. This is not polo with some bunch of toffee nosed twits who think they are Chazza and humping a ball with a piece of stick. Of course, you have to use a larger football. But it really will be "showtime at The Valley"'

The spokesman continued, 'We phoned up equine magnate John Window at the Mount Marschal Stables and asked if he could send a few of his nags down to Sparrows Lane. The horse box duly arrived and some of the lads have really taken to it. Kish is already riding bareback, but unforunately Merv got thrown off his mount.'

The spokesman denied that donkeys featured in the plan. 'The only donkeys involved will be riding the horses.' In case a horse goes lame before a match the club plans to do a deal with the Met to borrow their horses as subs while the game is on. The club is also entering into an agreement with Greenwich Council to recycle any horse manure dropped on the pitch.

The spokesman denied that the plan would be unfair to opposing teams. 'It's up to them whether they go on horseback or not'. The first game planned under the new scheme will be launched with a horse drawn Rickshaw which will run from Welling.

Ten years ago: Leaburn's birthday celebration

Charlton celebrated Carl Leabourn's 27th birthday with a 1-0 win at Norwich on March 30th, but the winning goal was scored by Bradley Allen.

My notes recall, 'Norwich did not give us much trouble in the first half but we missed a couple of chances. Norwich put heavy pressure on us at the start of the second half, but we withstood it. After a Matt Jackson (loan player) shot had been punched out by the goalkeeper, Bradley Allen scored. Norwich came back with some pressure, but we held them off. Unfortunately, the other top teams also won.'

The pen portrait of birthday boy Leaburn in the programme said, 'the gian striker is a handful for any defence. Obviously strong in the air, he is unexpectedly nimble on the deck ... a great favourite with the fans.'

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gladys Dutton on Jimmy Seed

I have just finished reading Neil Carter's book The Football Manager: a History and I found it a good read, not least because of the Charlton content. It includes some reminiscences about Jimmy Seed by his daughter, Gladys Dutton.

She was sent to Brooklands County Preparatory School and from there to Bromley County School for Girls. 'Seed and his family lived in a detached house on an estate opposite a golf course in Bromley ... His house was fitted with consumer durables such as a washing machine and telephone, and they later owned a television. Seed had owned a car since the 1920s when he was a player.'

'Unsurprisingly Seed's home life took a back seat to the job and its demands. Even during the summer he was away on club tours to Sweden and the U.S.A. Gladys and her mother usually stayed with relatives in the north-east ... Christmas was also a difficult period for family gatherings as matches were played on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.'

'Furthermore, Seed hardly ever sat down with his family for meals or helped his wife with the housework. He never discussed football at home although Gladys did attend Charlton home games. Seed's interests outside of football seem to have included golf, gardening, bridge and sketching and he could also play the piano.'

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Victory over Hammers good omen for Sunday

Brakes beat the Hammers (aka Cradley Town) 4-1 at the New Windmill Ground tonight in what is hopefully a good omen for Charlton's visit to Upton Park on Sunday. Cradley is better known for speedway than football as in 'Ommer 'em Craid - ley'. Taking up my position on the Burger side, I found myself next to a small knot of fanatical Cradley supporters. Meanwhile, following complaints from a nearby farm about noise from chanting, the North Bank had gone into a chorus of 'Shall we make a noise for you?'

Cradley played with a determination that outshone their second from bottom position with some no nonsense defending and no little skill from No.5 shirt Mark Smith, formerly with Bromsgrove Rovers. Somewhat against the run of play they went 1-0 ahead and the score remained that way until half time.

It wasn't long into the second half before student and FA Cup 3rd qualifying round Footballer of the Round Alex Rodman equalised for Brakes. James Husband then made it 2-1 and it stayed that way until 87 minutes which was then the lights went out the first time this fixture was played. Then removal man Josh Blake, brought on as a substitute, forged through to score a peach of a goal to make it 3-1.

Almost immediately youth team product Ryan Howell, also brought on a sub, made it 4-1. Neil Stacey, sent off on Saturday, was brought on as a late sub and was greeted with a chant of 'Neil Stacey's an ace, he'll slap you in the face.'

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Parker, Parker, What's the Score?

This was the chant of the Addickted at the end of this afternoon's 3-1 victory over Newcastle at The Valley. Ironically, all three of the first half goals had come from Charlton or former Charlton players with Lee Boywer putting the Addicks ahead after a Newcastle equaliser with a superb own goal. Newcastle's defence looked weak all afternoon while Alan Shearer looked like a refugee from a veterans' team with no speed at all and little contribution apart from the occasional push in the back. The victory is a great boost for morale at The Valley, not least as it comes at the time of the traditional slump in form which has been a favourite theme of moaners. It's worth remembering that for the first time in years we have a nearly fully fit squad.

Ameobi put in a stinging shot from distance in the opening minutes of the game which was saved well by Myhre. Kishishev released Darren Bent with a long ball but Given saved at the expense of a Charlton corner. Newcastle were awarded a dubious free kick in the 'D' on the grounds that Shearer had fallen over, but the effort came off the Charlton wall. Bowyer put in an effort that was well wide. However, he then redeemd himself with a tricky looping ball which the alert Myhre had to tip over the bar. Bryan Hughes cleared the resultant corner.

Then Jerome Thomas was brought down in the area. Often such fouls have been ignored by referees on the big club rule but Halsey pointed to the spot, Darren Bent stepped up and drove the ball into the corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Thomas put in an effort that was just over the bar. Bryan Hughes was presented with a free header by the generous Barcodes defence, but his effort was well wide. Solano was presented with an open goal, but Myhre did enough to distract him to make him put his shot just wide. Bent had a try but his on target effort was saved by Given who is the only thing that stands between Newcastle and a real pasting.

Then on 35 minutes Parker put in a powerful shot from distance that no keeper could have saved. The Barcode supporters went delirious at the equaliser and anticiipated their next goal. It came within minutes. Confusion reigned in front of the Newcastle goal and Bowyer put the ball into his own net.

The resourceful Kishishev turned provider for Thomas whose attempt was just wide. Chris Powell, who earlier had had to change his boots after they split, provided good defensive cover. A Newcastle corner was cleared by Chris Powell.

Half time: Addicks 2, Barcodes 1

Some unusual half-time entertainment was provided by some pigeons who refused to leave the pitch. The match was evidently not going to plan for Newcastle as they took off Solano and brought on Dyer who did pose some problems for about ten minutes.

Young, Kishishev and Bent put together a good move which led to a Charlton corner from which Marcus Bent had a go. Chris Powell found himself out paced on the wing and Myhre had to save on the line. There was then a moment of panic in the Charlton defence when it was uncertain whether a ball was going off and it was put over the line for a Newcastle corner which was dealt with by Chris Powell.

Kishishev found himself in a promising position but was not quick enough in front of goal. Luke Young put in a good tackle. Marcus Bent found himself onside, the goal was there in front of him, but somehow he put his effort wide. Thomas was fouled by Carr and the talentless charm merchant received a yellow card.

Chris Perry was given a yellow card and Newcastle won a free kick. Ameobi was taken off and N'Zogbia came on (to little effect). Newcastle had a free kick in a dangerous position but Myhre made the save. Luke Young won the Addicks a corner, followed by Darren Bent.

Rommedahl was finally brought on in place of Thomas. A corner by Hughes was played in again and the much criticised midfielder put in a good ball which Given had to tip over the bar for a corner taken this time by Rommedahl.

Unusually, Chris Perry made a poor clearance and the Herminator had no option to put it out for a Newcastle corner but their effort went over the bar. Marcus Bent was taken off and replaced by Bothroyd. Using his pace down the wing, Rommedahl created a scoring opportunity for Bothroyd which he took to make it 3-1.

Although there was a Newcastle corner and a Charlton free kick to come, it was effectively game over and the Barcodes started to stream out of the ground pondering why they had been unable to defeat the little club from SE7.

Match analysis

With senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch settling into his new canal side home in Long Itchington, lucky labrador Homer the Cherry Hound selected Luke Young to receive the Silver Bone. The choice was not an easy one given a good all round team performance, but Homer was impressed by the captain's foraging runs forward, particularly in the second half. Myhre made his contribution with some excellent saves. Unlike Given he had a quality defence playing in front of him: the dependable Chris Perry, the master of the defensive header Hermann Hreidarsson and the tireless Valley hero Chris Powell. Kishishev was also tireless and played some excellent balls forward. Even his detractors had to admit that Hughes played well while Holland continued his recent improvement. Thomas was a menace on the wing and won Charlton their penalty, but sometimes he dwells too long on the ball and unnecessarily gets himself into some awkward positions. Steve from Sidcup thought that Marcus Bent was 'out of sorts' and I wonder if he is fully fit. He certainly missed a golden chance to score. Darren Bent
scored his 20th goal of the season, the best performance that we have seen at Charlton from a striker since Andy Hunt. Dennis Rommedahl was ready to come on relatively early in the second half, but then had to put his track suit on again. When he did come on his lightning run down the wing set up the goal scored by late substitute Jay Bothroyd and whatever else you say about him, he can find the net as a substitute.

Juneau the Soccer Cat awarded the Hiss of the Match to the whingeing Barcode defenders who tried to cover up their own inadequacies by complaining about perfectly reasonable decisions by the referee and lino.

Crowd rating: Not quite as good as against Boro, but lively, especially in the second half. 'One greedy bastard' was a favourite retort to the Barcodes lauding Parker. 7/10.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Jason Cadden's barmy army

This was the almost continuous chant kept up in the Harbury Lane end at the New Windmill Ground as hard core fans demonstrated their support for the beleaguered manager. His cause was helped by a 2-0 victory over Oldbury United. Oldbury share with Charlton the fact that they play in a ground constructed in a former quarry.

I thought my boat had come in when Brakes went ahead at what was initially announced at 3 minutes which was my golden goal ticket, but the time was corrected to two minutes. Martin Thompson ('Clunesy') scored decisively from an acute angle, producing chants of 'One shot, one goal' and 'There are only two Tommos'.

Before the ten minute mark was reached, Clunesy produced a great in swinging corner of a quality we rarely see at The Valley, allowing Stuart Herlihy to nod the ball into the back of the net.

However, Brakes seemed to lose their rhythm when Ryan Parisi was injured and required prolonged treatment. Ever since he signed from Sunday League team Central Ajax, his career has been dogged by injury.

Bouffant hair styled Liam Newall, Oldbury's No.5, collapsed in a heap for no reason, leading to chants of 'Bring on the hairspray'.

Half time: Brakes 2, Paper Boys 0

It was good to get out of the rain and into the vice-presidents' lounge and my satisfaction was increased when I won a good bottle of wine in the raffle.

The second half was a scrappy affair. Referee G S Stretton had handled a niggly match well, but he had to send off Oldbury charm merchant Lee Dimmock and Leamington's Neil Stacey, formerly with Kidderminster Harriers. The referee also rebuked Cadzy at length, threatening to send him off.

However, in the end it was gobby Paper Boys' manager Morton Bartlett who was shown the red card in the dugout. He made his way round to the tunnel, but refused to go down it, despite being remonstrated with by stewards.

Brakes had chances to increase their lead with Jon Adams hitting the post from an angle, but it was an important three points secured.

Barcodes preview

Tomorrow will be the last chance Charlton fans have to see Alan Shearer made judicious use of the elbow to secure victory for the Barcodes at The Valley. It is a vital clash in terms of sorting out positions in the Premiership's mid-table league. It has also acquired a new importance for Darren Bent given that Michael Owen had another operation yesterday and his fitness for Germany is still in doubt. Unfortunately, Bent has apparently been carrying an ankle injury recently.

The E-mail Bulletin talked of players being rested which could mean Spector in for the on form Chris Powell. If Spector is to be played, I would prefer to see him at centre back with the Herminator on the left. Bartlett was hardly inspiring against Boro, but Bothroyd was even worse. Assuming Marcus Bent is still not fit, I would play Euell in an attacking forward position.

In our home games against Newcastle in the Premiership we have drawn four, lost one and won one (each by a 2-0 margin). That might seem to point to a draw, but I don't think there will be another 0-0. The Fink Tank in The Times doesn't really know what to think, giving a 40% chance of a home win and 33% chance of an away win.

Remember that it is a 2 p.m. kick off and that clocks go forward tomorrow.

Managerial change imminent

Jason Cadden's days as manager at Leamington may be numbered if a coded editorial in the Leamington Spa Courier is to be believed. The hairdresser turned sports scientist took Brakes into the 1st round of the FA Cup this season, but a 3-2 defeat away last week to Westfields followed by a 0-0 draw at lowly Rocester have led to questions about whether he is the man to take the club to the next level.

Brakes have recently made a loan signing from Southern League Banbury United and signed Racing Club Warwick's captain from under their nose bags, but a top six finish is very much in doubt, while Brakes are only just above the Gee Gees in the table.

Remember that we will be the only Charlton blog providing coverage of this afternoon's clash against Oldbury Town at the New Windmill Ground.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ten Years Ago: Up the football league we go

Charlton beat Stoke at home 2-1 on March 23rd 1996 in a 4th versus 5th clash. My notes recall, 'Stoke were all over us in the first half and it was no surprise when they went ahead' [on 42 minutes].

'The second half was equally frustrating but, after being denied one penalty appeal, we got one and Mortimer scored.' A handball was noticed by the linesman but not by the referee. 'Then just before time David Whyte scored from an apparently impossible angle. So a very important victory.'

The programme featured 'A Day in the Life of The Public Address Announcers' with a photo illustrating Big Dave Lockwood deploying his skills by putting a disc in the CD equipment. We were told that he chose the music himself and that the records were supplied free by Ray Sams. Fans were promised that they would soon have a feature on a day in the life of a relief station announcer at London Bridge.

Deano criticises Curbs

Dean Kiely has hit out at Alan Curbishley for the circumstances that led to his switch to Portsmouth from Charlton in the transfer window. Deano felt he was consistent for The Addicks and is unhappy he made just three appearances this term prior to leaving.

Kiely broke a finger in pre-season, but barely had a sniff after returning to full fitness before calling time on his career at The Valley in January. 'I had six and a half years at Charlton and always felt I was playing consistently,' explained Kiely to the Sun. 'During this time the club was enjoying its most successful spell and I was proud to be part of it.'

'I could not have been doing that much wrong to be in the team for so long. So, what disapointed me was the way it all ended. It was clear to me that I could not get back into the team.'

'I don't think I did that much wrong and I am not sure it was for football reasons.' Quite what this last remark means is a mystery.

The fact is that Deano was a great servant to the club but when he left us he was past his best. In signing Myhre Curbs showed his talent for recruiting players who were unappreciated elsewhere (Luke Young being another example).

Charlton fight to play another day

Charlton's name will go into the semi-final draw for the FA Cup today, but alongside Middlesbrough after a 0-0 draw at The Valley. It was a pulsating, end-to-end match. I haven't read what the moaners have to say yet, but it would difficult to question the fighting spirit of the Charlton team, even if their skill sometimes let them down. Particularly in the first half, the Addicks had a number of chances to score, but the ball did not find the back of the net, although it should be noted that Boro's shooting was often very wayward.

Our journey to The Valley was marred by some sort of incident at Waterloo East which meant that a number of Charlton bound trains were cancelled. The train we were on was so crowded that it was difficult to shut the doors and several minutes were spent at each stop.

There was an early moment of danger when Boro were presented with a free header, but they were unable to make use of it. Luke Young was obliged to concede a corner to Boro. Boro looked dangerous on the break and won a corner that way.

Great work by Matt Holland allowed him to put in a shot from distance which was not far wide of the post. Darren Bent put in a good cross but it was gathered by Schwarzer in the Boro goal. Thomas fed Bent and the move resulted in the first corner for the Addicks.

Kishishev put in a good cross. Darren Bent was brought down on the edge of the D and the free kick was well struck by the Herminator but saved on the line by Schwarzer. A Boro free kick was punched out by Myhre leading to one of Boro's wild shots. Thomas and Bent continued to combine well. Kishishev had a chance in front of goal, but he blasted the ball over. Thomas won Charlton another corner.

Hughes fed Bartlett well, but the ball went just wide with Schwarzer requiring treatment. A Boro free kick was conceded in a dangerous position by Chris Powell.

Half time: Addicks 0, Boro 0

Hreidarsson was called on for good defensive work early in the half. A Boro free kick went over. Darren Bent burst forward but had no support. A good Charlton build up was wasted when Holland send the ball off. Kishishev was taken off and Rommedahl replaced him.

A free kick for a handball against Boro on the edge of the area was wasted. Rommedahl put in a shot that was just over the bar. Bartlett was taken off and replaced by Bothroyd. Schwarzer had to make a save from Hughes. The game continued to be played at a high pace and there were fewer early leavers than usual. However, it was increasingly evident that neither side was going to score even though Boro won two corners in the four minutes of added time.

Match analyst Monty Martin awarded the Silver Bone to Chris Powell. The former England international put in a performance that was both spirited and skilled, acknowledged by the crowd chanting his name during a break in play. Myhre kept another clean sheet, although he was rarely tested. Young forged forward well and nearly created a goal similar to that he scored against Liverpool. Perry was once again Mr Dependable in the heart of the defence. Hreidarrson provided his trademark defensive headers and was not far off scoring twice. Kishishev battled away with verve and determination, but sometimes his skill level let him down, not least in front of goal. Holland played above his usual level and also came close to scoring. Hughes played a sublime pass one minute and a dreadful one the next. Thomas was considered for the Silver Bone, showing great skill on the wing and often evading the Boro defence. Bartlett was competent and persistent, without ever really shining.
Bent got caught by the offside trap more than once and was not able to use his best chance. Rommedahl added his pace when he came on and put in a shot that was not far over the bar. In contrast Bothroyd did not really add all that much, lacking the pace to seize opportunities.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to charm merchant Downing for mouthing off at both the lino and the referee for no reason at all.

Crowd rating The crowd responded to the occasion and really got behind the team. 8/10.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Club's big six month loss

Charlton Athletic plc has announced a £5.1m loss in the six months to December 31st, 2005 against the background of stagnant turnover figures. As far as I recall, this is the biggest six month loss while Charlton has been in the Premiership. Making their annual half-yearly report to the Stock Exchange,the Addicks also revealed turnover has remained constant at £19.5m and the company's net assets had risen by £6m. The news follows a £5.5m share issue in July 2005.

'At the beginning of the season we made a conscious decision to use the money gained from an equity share issue to improve the quality of the squad and try to kick the club on to the next level,' Richard Murray told the club web site.

Murray admitted that the strategy of buying high quality players had not worked exactly as planned with the departure of Murphy and Smertin and the long-term injury to Sorondo.

Without a cup run, this does not bode well for funds available in the summer, although considerable sums in wages should be saved through the departure of a number of players.

Rick Everitt has challenged listers to say what they would do about season ticket prices. This is not the time for big increases, but small or selective increases would probably have little impact on renewals which will be driven more by a widespread feeling of disenchantment.

Monty reinstated

Monty Martin has been reinstated as match analyst for tonight's cup clash between the Addicks and Boro. A statement from Barking House, the headquarters of the Association of Canine Match Analysts said: 'We have considered a complaint from Homer the Cherry Hound that Monty is too inexperienced for such an occasion and that Homer himself has been a lucky labrador for Charlton. However, Monty was assigned to the cup matches to gain experience and it was not anticipated that Charlton would go so far. Indeed, our sniff of the result is that they will go no further and hence any problem will resolve itself.'

'We do not take seriously reports of misbehaviour on a training walk on Sunday as this is simply typical behaviour by an excitable spaniel.'

You can visit the website of the Association of Canine Match Analysts at Barking

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Just to clear up any confusion, I have checked the FA site and any 6th round games that are drawn will be replayed on 12 April 2006 regardless of any involvement of a club in European competitions. Otherwise, it clearly would not be a level playing field.

Build up to the big game

Thursday is undoubtedly one of the more important games that Charlton have played for some time. Go through to the semi-finals and the crescendo of moaning will die away for the time being, get knocked out and it will reach a new peak. It will be interesting to see how people react if it is a draw. In my view that is the most likely result, but I also think that Charlton would win the replay. Doing things the hard way would be typically Charlton.

Interestingly, I received an E mail from a Millwall fan the other day who said:

'Unfortunately it seems to me our club has been sucked dry by some rather slick city types, whilst your own has been able to benefit from a more sombre and patient kind of business acumen.'

I was also talking this morning to the Saints supporter who has his office next door who had sat in the cold last night to watch his team go down to the Conservative Party's new team, Watford. For so long a Premiership fixture, Saints are now in the lower reaches of the Championship. For those who think it would be good for Charlton to go down, just reflect on that fate. Take a look also at Derby County and Leicester City.

I think it was The Times that said that Charlton's problem was that Alan Curbishley had created unsustainable expectations at The Valley. Charlton are a medium-sized club in a very competitive London football market. There is a broad relationship between resources and performance and, if anything, Charlton are punching above their weight. Throughout our whole history we have had difficulty in holding on to quality players and it doesn't get any easier in the modern game.

That is not to say that there is nothing wrong at The Valley. The business side of the management often exudes, whether intentionally or not, an atmosphere of a certain self-satisfaction and complacency. Our tactics on the pitch are often too defensive and negative, although that in part is the consequence of a distribution of rewards in the Premiership that encourages avoiding relegation as an objective. Why won't we leave someone up the pitch at corners to provide an outlet instead of everyone getting in everyone's way in the box?

But the critics who argue that Curbs is part of the problem are never able to come up with a credible alternative, by which I mean someone with relevant experience (doing it in League 1 doesn't count) who would be able to manage at a club with Charlton's resources. I might add that I prefer the cool, technically proficient manager to the passionate jump up and down type.

In any event on Thursday I hope that the team will get rousing backing from the crowd and that they won't jump on the first player to make a mistake. It's going to be tense with Boro playing for a draw or a 1-0 on the break, but let's try and have a united Charlton response.

The attendance at the Massives last night suggests that we are not the only club having difficulty in getting a crowd. It is twenty years since we were shown live on terrestial television and there is no doubt that it has an impact.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Early market research at Charlton

As the debate rages on the list about whether the club should invest in smart cards in part as a marketing tool (my doctor who is a fanatical Massive is also in favour of them) it's interesting to look at an early attempt at primitive market research at Charlton. 12,000 questionnaires distributed at The Valley in the 1970-71 season got a 20% response from the Addickted. (This story comes courtesy of the West Sussex CASC Newsletter. As I live in Warwickshire, I am member of the branch).

The fans were clear that they preferred watching football on a Saturday afternoon. No change there then. Interestingly, the majority of the fans then lived in or near Charlton with the majority coming from neighbouring postal districts. And most of them got to the ground by car, though where they parked up is not known.

The majority of fans preferred to 'stay at hone when Charlton are playing away. Those who do watch a game prefer to follow a local semi-professional or amateur side rather than other League team.' No scope for ageist comments then about the flask brigade ruining the atmosphere at away games.

Half the fans were prepared to see the programme price increase from 5p to 7.5p for a bigger programme containing more photographs, but just as many (mainly older fans) wanted to keep it at the lower price.

Monty to be dropped as match analyst?

As third ranking match analyst, Monty Martin was given the task of covering Charlton's cup games this year in the anticipation that the Addicks would not go too far. The excitable spaniel has been given time off from his day job as meeter 'n' greeter at Didcot sign company Kingdom Signs for his big day on Thursday.

However, now second ranked match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound has objected. 'It's one thing running up and down the line yapping as Blewbury play in the North Berks league', objected the Chilton, Oxon based labrador. 'I can even see a role for him at Didcot Town, but this is Charlton's most vital match in recent years.'

Monty's case was not helped when he went for a training walk in Blewbury on Sunday afternoon. Last Thursday he was given a special grooming ready for the big match. But while on his walk he ran off and splashed around in a muddy stream leaving himself in a condition not fit for the press box at The Valley.

However, the decision rests with senior match analyst, Hooch the Pooch. 'I am going to take a bath and think about it', he said. No bad idea given that journos have alleged that he has a hygiene problem.

Hooch the Pooch takes a bath and ponders Monty's fate

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Kish: I was a scapegoat

Today's Sunday Times profiles Radostin Kishishev in the run up to Thursday's cup game against Boro. The paper notes, 'His unheralded qualities are always more appreciated by the club’s management than the Valley faithful. After a traumatic January, when Kishishev’s crucial mistakes contributed to Charlton’s malaise, the mob were baying.'

'It was just a small group,' Kish told the paper. 'But if they only support some players rather than all 11, it makes it difficult for the whole team. I was a scapegoat, but if we’d won 1-0 and I’d scored, nobody would have noticed if I’d been the worst player on the pitch.'

The team weathered the storm. A move on to the right of midfield and two assists in a swashbuckling victory over Liverpool reminded the crowd of Kishishev’s qualities. A further assist against Brentford last month set Charlton on course for the last eight.

'We’re always losing to lower division teams,' he notes, 'so to get this far is an achievement. But I would be unhappy to go out at home against a team next to us, nothing more, in the league.' The much-vaunted romance of the FA Cup, however, leaves him as cold as the minus 5C winters his home town of Bourgas, a Black Sea port, endures.

'Many teams can play in the cup final, but few go to the Premiership and win something there. That’s why I would be happier to finish in the Premiership top three than play in a cup final. But I know Charlton would never finish in the top three, so the FA Cup is the best I can see in my future.'

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Arsenal rampant as Charlton fall apart

Curbs responded to his critics by bringing both Thomas and Rommedahl, back from injury, into the Charlton side at Highbury thus giving it valuable additional width, reports Erith addick Paul May from Islington. Jason Euell also made a start (his first for over a year, but his 150th league appearance for the Addicks) while Spector swapped places with Chris Powell. Ambrose, Holland and Bothroyd were dropped, while Sorondo was available on the bench. A sunny day set the scene for Charlton's last ever game at Highbury presided over by Banbury's Dermot Gallagher equipped with a big yellow whistle.

Bent tried to spring the offside trap in the opening minute, but his shot went wide anyway. Perry was dispossessed, but Myhre was able to clutch the ball to his chest. Then the Gooners won a corner. Hughes headed away. Spector slipped and presented Arsenal with a chance, but he was able to recover enough to concede a corner which was unproductive for the Woolwich rejects.

Bent caught offside yet again, a risk with his style of play. Young won Charlton a free kick. Thomas won the ball in the penalty area, but was dispossessed. Arsenal forged forward and tore Charlton apart with their passing movement on the heavily watered surface with Pires putting the ball in the net to make it 1-0 after 13 minutes and virtually game over. Henry put in a shot that went over the bar. Hughes was bundled over by Spector and was left looking groggy.

With the relatively early goal, Charlton's defensive, counter attacking strategy based on the 4-5-1 was left in tatters. Balls up to the isolated Bent were easily dealt with by the Gooners defence. Arsenal threatened again with a header that went inches wide. Hughes was penalised for a hand ball about 25 yards out as the halfway point in the half was reached. Henry took the free kick which looped just over the bar.

Kishishev gave the ball away allowing Arsenal to mount an attack but fortunately it went out of play for a goal kick. Klebb broke through and the Gooners shouted for a free kick against Thomas. The Addicks were awarded a free kick for a foul against Young, but it ended in a free kick against the Herminator.

Arsenal broke after Hughes was dispossessed in a promising situation. Arsenal got a free kick level with the edge of the Charlton area, but it was gathered by Myhre. A marginal offside decision went against Romm. The flag was raised, but Gallagher overruled the linesman and Arsenal went 2-0 through Adebayor ahead just after the half hour mark, reflecting their domination of the game. Hreidarsson was to some extent at fault for the goal as he failed to control the ball.

Arsenal broke forward again, but Thomas put in a decent challenge. When Bent did get anywhere near the ball, he lacked support. Romm was flagged offside in a marginal decision. Charlton attempted an attack, but it was cleared and Arsenal counter attacked with their usual precision and pace. Charlton wers simply outplayed throughout the half.

Half time: Gooners 2, Addicks 0

Bryan Hughes was pulled off at half time for the second match in a row and was replaced by Shaun Bartlett. Luke Young got a yellow card for a foul on Flamini. Within minutes it was 3-0 to Arsenal, Hleb scoring to put the match beyond any doubt. Charlton had tried to go forward which left a gap in midfield which the Gooners were able to exploit.

Bartlett had a chance but failed to make use of it. Arsenal found space again with the Charlton defenders backing off, but somehow failed to use the opportunity to make it 4-0. Comfortably in control, Arsenal were able to use it as a training match to practice their passing. But then Pires put in a shot which was deflected and just went wide. With Chris Perry beaten Henry put in an effort that fortunately went about a yard wide.

Thomas worryingly pulled up with an injury and was replaced by Matt Holland. Arsenal made a double substitution with Bergkamp getting a warm reception from the Gooners. Bergkamp put in a shot that went over the angle of bar and post. Charlton won their first corner of the afternoon on 72 minutes as a result of good work by Kishishev. Before the kick was taken, Chris Powell came on to replace Luke Young so that he would be fresh for Thursday. Arsenal were able to clear the corner easily, but Powell defended on the halfway line.

Rommedahl put in an over powered attempt which went into the stand. Arsenal took off Fabregas and brought on the appropriately named Song. Although Arsenal were still in charge, the pace slowed. Under pressure Hreidarsson had to put the ball out for an Arsenal corner, but the Herminator cleared with a good header. Spector did enough to prevent Henry from getting to the ball. Myhre had to make a couple of saves, rebuking is defence for their negligence.

Perry had to concede a corner as Touré stormed forward from defence. Bent had a rare sight of the ball, but was forced back by Henry. Whenever Charlton got the ball, they couldn't hang on to it. Euell failed to make much of an impression on the game. Three minutes of time were added on as many of the Gooners left.

I was able to send the headline for this report to Wyn Grant after 15 minutes. I don't look forward to seeing the possession stats. A world class side overwhelmed a lower mid-table Premiership side. At least the scoreline was respectable. However, we shouldn't conclude that all is lost for the cup match against Boro who are not a world class side.

Easy three points for Arsenal?

This morning Arsene Wenger was declaring on Radio 5 that Arsenal must beat Charlton today to boost their campaign for a Champions League place. It shouldn't be too difficult according to the experts. The Fink Tank gives a 79% chance of a home win and a 8% chance of an away win. The odds on an away win are 8-1.

Of course, some time Charlton can pull something out of the hat against the odds, although less usually against Arsenal than Chelsea. I was at the match we won 4-2 and have the commemorative mug. But do we have a player today with the flair of Claus Jensen who scored a marvellous goal? He was much criticised when he was at Charlton for being a luxury player who couldn't tackle, but didn't he offer something that Holland and Hughes can't?

With Marcus Bent injured it looks like 4-5-1 with hopefully a start for Thomas. Let's hope he doesn't think the occasion is one for showboating at his former club and let's hope that Ambrose remembers that it's not the 19th century and you pass the ball rather than rushing at the goal.

The usual suspects have advocated all out attack, but that would probably lead to a 6-0 win for the Gooners and as I have one living at the bottom of my garden, I can do without that (I have a right of way through his garden so I can always jump up and down in front of his kitchen window if we win). I think we may well keep the scoreline down to 2-0 and might even sneak one if Darren Bent gets the service as Arsene Wenger makes a note to sign him in the summer. And quite frankly I would rather see Arsenal in the Champions League rather than Spudz, although not with Charlton's help.

With the end of the financial year approaching, I can't afford the time to go to the match, but a report will be provided by the capable if well fuelled Erith Addick, Paul May.

Curbs appeals to fans

Charlton have 6,300 tickets left for next Thursday's crucial home cup tie with Middlesbrough. Curbs has taken the unusual step of sending a circular letter to season ticket holders appealing to them to take up their entitlement.

I grew up in the days when the FA Cup final was the sporting event of the year, but I do think that it's glamour has faded in recent years. And perhaps rightly so. The European Cup Winners' Cup was scrapped because major continental teams do not take such a lottery competition seriously and often put out reserve sides. It's worth noting that West Ham, often offered as an example of how to get things right by Charlton's critics, got their second worst home attendance of the season for their home replay against Bolton. Even so, no doubt the Addickted will get excited if we get to the semi-finals.

Curbs say in his letter that 'A passionate atmosphere at The Valley next Thursday is absolutely vital to our chances ... a full and vibrant Valley could make all the difference.'

Cynics might say ok, we will come if you promise us a feast of football better than that in the home league game against Boro. Please don't play too defensively, leave a man up for corners and start Thomas and Romm. Charlton's way of playing has kept us in the Premiership, which is no mean achievement for a club of our size, but there is a time when even the most successful formula looks tired.

This is a vital match for the future of the club. Thursday evening isn't the easiest time for everyone and it is on terrestial television. But let's hope we get a crowd and one that shows some passion and enthusiasm. Pass me the thermos, Mavis.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Reg: 0-0 draws the symptom not the problem

It's usually Americans who complain that 'soccer' does not have enough goals and that something should be done about like making the goals larger. Fortunately, the United States does not enjoy hegemony over the world's most popular game. (Incidentally, if a very bright young academic in Manchester is reading this, and I know she does sometimes, this is a thought for your project on US hegemony).

But now the French have decided that the number of 0-0 draws in their top flight can no longer be met with a Gallic shrug. Among the ideas put forward in a review are giving two points for a score draw, giving an extra point for the team that scores first or having a penalty shootout after a draw. Whilst there is something in the first idea, my general view is that this is another example of the notion that nothing good ever comes out of France.

Charlton chief executive Peter Varney rightly points out that such measures would not solve the Premiership's underlying problems. He praised the French league for reexamining such a fundamental part of its game. But he doubted that introducing such changes in the Premiership would reduce the number of games that are either irrelevant to a team's title chances or are dominated by very defensive football. 'There's no magic answer to what to do about the fact that the majority of Premiership clubs know they have no chance of winning it, such as changing the points structure,' Varney said. 'It comes down to the way money is distributed in the game and the gap between the top few clubs and the rest. 'We need a wide-ranging debate on our future direction to ensure we remain among the best leagues in the world.' Quite.

Given that PV generally speaks good sense on such matters, why does he adopt a 'hear no evil, see no evil' approach to the current unrest among Charlton fans, expressing surprise that tickets for the Boro game are not selling like hot cakes? Even a well known coach operator has said that a lot hinges on the 'Boro game. 'More than a football club' is a nice slogan, and community activities are very worthwhile, but nothing can substitute for excitement on the pitch.

Ten years ago: Steve Brown in goal

A 1-1 away draw against the Shrimpers may not seem much to celebrate, but somehow supporting Charlton was more fun in those days, even though I was delayed on my long journey to Southend on 16th March 1996.

It was a long time since I had been to Roots Hall and somehow the ground was smaller than I remembered it. I estimated at the time that we had 2,000 supporters there which was probably an exaggeration in a crowd of 7,128, but we certainly took more away then.

We were also more inventive with our chants, even if they were adaptations of old favourites. Chris Whyte had a new chant: 'he's here, he's there, he's everywhere, he's bald without a hair, Chris Whyte, Chrissie Whyte.' Even Paul Linger, now a non-league player, got a 'there's only one Paul Linger.' Another good one was 'your fish and chips are ****.'

After a Southend player held Whyte in the area, we got a penalty which Morts slotted away. But Southend scored in three minutes bringing down Salmon and Sturgess who had to receive stitches.

With no substitute goalkeeper, Steve Brown had to go in goal and played superbly. We had a number of chances but because of mistakes by Grant (now at AFC Wimbledon) and Robson (now running the Academy) we didn't score. But, as I noted, 'a dramatic exciting match well worth going to.'

And now we are an established Premiership side and so enervated.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cypriot forward for Charlton?

Charlton are rumoured to be interested in signing Olympiakos forward Yiannis Okkas. The 29 year old Cyprus International is out of contract during Summer 2007 so this Summer could be the last chance that the Greek club get to cash in on their man. According to the players agent Kostas Botos, Charlton appear to be the most interested of a number of parties. He told Skysports 'I have contacts with Manchester City, Charlton, Wigan and Osasuna for Yannis.....[Charlton] have watched the player for months'.

We are contacting our Athens correspondent for more information.

Springsmen Overwhelm Brakes

I have some xerox copies of Jimmy Seed's match notes and sometimes he would label a particular referee in an away game a 'homer'. What is even worse is the referee who is determined to show that he will not favour the home side and hence tilts the balance in the other direction. Referee Mr Law fitted the bill perfectly in last night's clash at The New Windmill Ground between Leamington and Malvern Town, aided and abetted by a totally inept linesman. Three yellow cards were issued to Leamington players for trivial offences, but when wing back David Care was cynically challenged and had to be carried off and taken to hospital, the referee only awarded a free kick. No doubt he was looking forward to his free case of Malvern water at the end of the game.

The Springsmen won 2-0, thus completing the double over the Brakes begun at the Elizabeth the Queen Mother ground, but a draw would have been a fairer result, although one can see why they are six points clear at the top of the Midland Alliance. Their 19-year old keeper Humphries is simply brilliant and made some fantastic saves.

Chant of the night: You've only got one fan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Grounds for concern

In Sunday's programme Peter Varney celebrated the contribution of the Valley Express service to the attendance at the Villa game. The chief executive wrote: 'The service is a key part of our strategy to create sufficient demand to fill the planned increased capacity at The Valley, and these are all positive signs that everything is very much going to plan. We will not be complacent, however.'

I would be concerned rather than complacent. Of course, this is the time of the year when people declare that they are not going to renew their season ticket. One fan wrote to the Mercury saying that he would not enter the ground again because of the humane disposal of the foxes that were damaging the sprinkler system (after attempts to release them elsewhere had been thwarted). Others are saying they will not renew because of the smoking ban which the majority of non-smokers welcome and which legislation is going to require anyway.

However, I think that there are grounds for concern that go beyond the usual professional whingers and moaners. The attendance at Sunday's game was under 25,000.
That was boosted by our section of the Jimmy Seed being given over to schools, a good thing in itself, but hardly a sign of enthusiasm to buy tickets. Boro are, of course, hardly an exciting draw and bring relatively few away fans.

But then consider the match itself. In the first half we saw a display of aimless hoofing that would have disgraced a League 2 side. There is an argument that football is not about entertainment, but about suffering for the cause, but that can be pushed too far. Fans would probably prefer an exciting 3-4 defeat to a listless 0-0 draw, but the former is better for survival and the bank balance (given the amount of money tied up in an extra place in the table). Of course, as I have argued before, the structure of the Premiership encourages defensive, cautious football.

There are some warning signs that should lead the board to reflect on how well season ticket renewals will go next year. This is in spite of the competitive pricing at Charlton - which can, of course, attract those who wish to watch Premiership football rather than Charlton. They are hardly likely to be converted to Addicks by what The Times described as an 'astonishingly muted' home crowd.

Concerns about the new 0871 telephone system are growing and, much as I think that Matt Wright does an excellent job for the club, I wasn't convinced by the explanation in the programme. It seemed to be arguing that the system toppled over every time Merv tried to send out his pizza order. By all means get a new system but why can't it be a 0845 number and still offer options for information? I doubt whether the club is getting much of the 10p a minute charge. It all reminds one of Clubcall and paying for an interview between Mark Mansfield and the groundsman at Sparrows Lane: 'so you've seen a lot of grass growing, have you?'

A lot of hopes for the season and for the future of the club now ride on the home cup tie against Boro when they will put up a strengthened side. It's a fragile base to build on and the club needs to be aware that it is not just the usual suspects who are becoming disenchanted.

Finally, let me remind you that we will be the only Charlton blog covering tonight's key Midland Alliance game between Leamington and high flying Malvern Town, aka the Springsmen. We shall see some hoofing, but also some real spirit from the players and some amusing chants from the crowd.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Game of Two Halves

This cliché has to be brought out at least once a year and it was certainly justified at The Valley today when Charlton beat Middlesbrough 2-1. After an insipid first half in which Boro were the better team and were only denied because of some inspired saves by Thomas Myhre, Charlton's performance was greatly improved by the removal at the start of the second half of the lethargic Bothroyd and the introduction of the inspired Jerome Thomas. Although the score remained at 0-0 for some time, a pass from Chris Powell allowed Darren Bent to put the Addicks 1-0 ahead. Boro equalised with a great goal from Viduka but that man Bent made it 2-1 to give all three points to the Addicks.

Looking round at The Valley, it was evident that even a large block of school children occupying our end of the Jimmy Seed had not prevented a large number of empty seats. Indeed, it was interesting that the attendance was not announced later in the match.

Hughes picked up an early yellow card for fouling Tom McMahon who subsequently had to be substituted. The lack of creativity in the Charlton midfield was very evident and attempts to release Darren Bent simply triggered the offside trap. Following a somewhat dubious Boro free kick, Myjre had to save on the line. He then had to push another effort from distance over the bar.

Matt Holland contributed well in defence and won Charlton a free kick. After a break by Boro, Myhre had to make his third good save of the half. Luke Young conceded a free kick in a potentially dangerous position. Darren Ambrose put in Charlton's first shot on target after 25 minutes of play.

Young was then booked after he conceded another free kick which deflected off the wall and Myhre rushed to collect the ball just inside the area. Boro were awarded another free kick in front of the 'D' but Myhre made the save. At half time we heard that successful reserve team coach Glynn Snodin had gone to Southampton as first team coach, useful experience should his services one day be needed back at The Valley.

Half time: Addicks 0, Boro 0

Hughes and Bothroyd were taken off and Euell and Thomas came on forvthe second half. Parlour was booked by Wiley who pointed out his various offences 'there and there and there'. He was subsequently taken off and replaced by the hero of Boro fans, Lee Catermole. Chris Powell put in an excellent cross to Darren Bent who headed into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

Ambrose was replaced by Bartlett. Maccarone was replaced by Yakubu. Boro equalised through a strong strike from distance by Viduka, the shot from the Australian charm merchant dipping as it approached the goal. The celebrating Boro players deliberately sought to provoke the East Stand.

The Addicks forged down the right and Luke Young put an excellent pass across the front of goal which an unmarked Darren Bent was able to score from with ease. As Young struck his ball, the Bloke Behind Me commented, 'A good ball, I do not think.'
With three minutes of time added on, Myhre had to make another great save and Boro won a corner, Schwarzer coming up in attempt to score. However, the whistle blew, three points were secure and we had done the double over Boro.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch gave the Silver Bone to Darren Bent not just for two well taken goals, but also for a determined tackle he put in in midfield to halt a Boro attack in time added on. Myhre has another excellent game, making some great saves, and it is a shame that he was denied a clean sheet by Viduka's strike. Chris Powell had a great game, thoroughly enjoying himself, out foxing Boro in defence and on the wings and putting in the assist for the goal. Chris Perry was once again Mr Reliability in central defence. Hreidarsson provided his usual authoritative defensive headers, but also made one or two errors. Young helped to create the second goal and was generally alert and effective. Although I am one of Kishishev's defenders, I did not think this was one of his better games with too many misplaced passes. Holland displayed at best a solid competence, but was not involved that much. Hughes was having one of his journeyman days which happen all too often and it was good thinking to withdraw him at half time. Ambrose makes some good runs but he should lay the ball off before he is dispossessed. Bothroyd does not seem to be match fit, he simply failed to challenge for ball enough. Thomas displayed all his guile, determination and trickery once he came on. Euell showed plenty of commitment, but I do not think that he really altered the course of the match. At least he had more impact than Bartlett who seemed to do very little once he was on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to officious, whistle happy referee Alan Wiley who was clearly determined to book Luke Young once he had questioned one of his decisions.

Crowd rating: Fortunately there weren't many Boro fans and they weren't that loud otherwise they would have shown us up even more. The crowd wait for the team to perform rather than trying to urge them on. 3/10.

FA talks to Curbs about England job

The FA have issued a statement admitting that their chief executive Brian Barwick has spoken to Curbs about the England job after a Sunday newspaper published photographs of the two meeting.

'It is accurate that we have met with Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley as part of this process after obtaining permission from the club,' the FA said on its website. However, the FA emphasised that it would be talking to a number of individuals about the job.

I still think it unlikely that Curbs will be the successful candidate. However, one day he will leave and that will be an interesting test of whether he has taken the club as far as he can or whether Charlton have got as far as they realistically can.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Smerts departure rekindles ambition theme

Chelsea's Alexei Smertin has ended his loan period at Charlton by signing for Dinamo Moscow, saying that the choice for him was between London and Moscow and he wanted to return home. Fair enough.

What has interested some people is his apparent comment that 'I like the ambition of the Dinamo board. I saw a lack of that at Charlton after winning so often at Chelsea.'

Quite what does it mean for a club to be ambitious? One can go around saying one is ambitious and some of the ambitions that are proclaimed verge on the ludicrous, especially in the lower levels of football. So one has to walk the walk as well as talking the talk and that means money.

Despite all the successful efforts to bring in more fans over the years, the years of exile at Selhurst and Upton Park did mean that we didn't secure the loyalty of a generation of fans. In the 1950s attendances at The Valley fluctuated according to whether Arsenal were at home and the Islington club remain strong in South-East London. And next year it will be easier to get tickets in the new stadium to watch top class football (at a price). While the problem for Charlton is that performance has reached a plateau while the expectations of fans grow to unsustainable levels.

The one thing that could transform the club, but possibly in the wrong direction, is a massive foreign investment. This could come from the United States or, in the longer run, it could come from China. Sooner or later a wealthy businessman from China is going to buy a Premiership club, reflecting the country's emergence as a major world economic power. So we might have the Rickshaw bringing in the fans to watch the Red Dragons.

More likely, however, things will continue much as they are. For a medium-sized club, mid-table Premiership is as good as it gets. But a Cup run would hearten the fans.

All set for dress rehearsal

Middlesbrough continue to progress in the UEFA cup, but their domestic season now depends on success in the FA Cup and the same goes for Charlton. Tomorrow's league match serves as a dress rehearsal for the quarter final cup tie later in the month. However, win, lose or draw, one cannot read off tomorrow's result to the more vital cup game when much more is at stake and Boro may well play for the draw and a replay at the Riverside.

Until last year we had not been beaten at home by Boro in the Premiership. Otherwise we had won 1-0 three times and drawn twice. We have never scored more than one goal at home against Boro in the Premiership, although one of my early Valley memories is of their being beaten 8-1.

The Sub-Standard thinks that Boro will be tired by their match against Roma and the Fink Tank gives a 55% chance of a home win and only a 22% chance of a Boro victory. Much depends on which Boro side turns up on the day. However, Boro have now recovered from a slump that was in part the result of injuries. Yakubu can clearly find the back of the net, Hasselbaink can be mercurial but is often underrated and Downing is clearly a threat.

I wouldn't expect to see big changes in the Charlton line up, although hopefully Thomas might start. Whatever stattos and ultra whingers say, the Addicks are unlikely to be relegated as is shown by the 33-1 odds. However, each place further up in the table is worth a lot of money. Fans are understandably calling for more entertainment, those who run the business are necessarily more cautious. But surely a fourth 0-0 draw is not possible?

My participation in a trial of a new drug has given me some side effects, so Erith Addick Paul May is standing by if needed to do the match report.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Ten years ago: the ultimate up and down week

What an up and down week it was for the Addickted ten years ago. On Tuesday we played Southend at home (who were 7th compared with our 3rd place). My notes recall, 'A very hesitant start, no surprise when Southend went 1-0 up thanks to a defensive mistake by Jamie Stuart. Balmer had to be taken off at half time. Southend slammed in another two and all our frantic efforts could not redeem the situation. The worst Charlton performance I have seen, something was wrong.'

On Saturday we faced the Spanners at home. Curbs admitted in the programme, 'Recently we have been disrupted by injuries and suspensions and in some areas the cracks have started to appear.' He admitted, 'we certainly didn't deserve anything [against the Shrimpers]. When you take into account that we had eighteen corners, hit the post and bar ... it was all to no avail if you concede goals like we did and it is something we have got to rectify.'

The programme had a thrilling article on how it was produced, featuring the role of editor 'Scoop' Burrowes. Astonished readers were informed that the production process involved computers (illustrated by someone working on one) and the use of printers (cue photo of printing machinery). We hear quite a bit of grumbling about the programme, and many people won't buy it, but it has come on leaps and bounds over the years.

It was a cold, dank day for the match against Millwall. 'Charlton went ahead with an early Bowyer goal. Some Millwall fans were then detected in our stand. Chris Whyte, the new signing [a free from Birmingham] was a solid defender and Leaburn was always a target. Sturgess was a great replacement for Stuart.

Wyn Grant displays an exciting new Viglen shirt with Paul Sturgess for the benefit of photographer Tom Morris

'Only Newton seemed to be off form. Nevertheless, the whinger in the row behind me was in fine grumbling form. Leaburn scored a second goal on 89 minutes, a sign for Millwall fans to stream out into Floyd Road looking for ag.' So Charlton completed the double over Millwall, 4-0 in aggregate. There were 12 arrests and 15 ejections at the game.

Romm: Charlton has been good for me

Dennis Rommedahl feels that he has developed as a player during his time at Charlton, according to Sky Sports. He believes that the move has enabled him to develop his fitness and defensive skills.

'I have experienced a tremendous development,' he said. 'I have been become physically stronger and learnt to play defensively. [Cynics would say you do at Charlton]. I have got used to the English playing style. This has made me a more complete player compared to Holland where you just focus on the attacking play.'

Unfortunately it looks as if he will not be fit for Sunday's game with Boro.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Do Fleet's ambitious plans threaten the Rickshaw?

An important part of Charlton's current crowd boosting strategy is to bring in crowds from all over Kent using the Rickshaw service. Some of them will be lasped fans, some of them are existing season ticket holders and others are converts. The strategy received some criticism in the past from Scally at Gillingham, but the club has long roots in the county - and anyway the old distinctive S.E.London accent was a mixture of London and rural Kent.

Gravesend and Northfleet have a good relationship with Charlton, providing the location for our women's team. Some Charlton fans go there to watch matches, particularly if they live nearby, even though our official non-league partner is Welling United. But now Fleet have plans to make use of the Thames Gateway development, also a target for Charlton for new fans (whom we suggested in an April 1st story might be renamed Thames Gateway). The club is thinking of re-branding itself as Ebbsfleet, to reflect the name of the new station two hundred metres away, and is looking for money in the City to boost its hopes of becoming a league club.
Would such a new league club in the area be in Charlton's long-term interests?

Vast sums of money are going into non-league football as I noted when Racing Club Warwick received a £2m funding package (of which they contributed £30,000) to build among other things a double decker stand for their 80 or so regular supporters. In total the Footbal Stadium Improvement Fund and the Football Foundation have given £27,448,654 to non-league clubs since 2000. Now even the barmy Bardsmen are to get a new Southern League standard stadium with an artificial playing surface outside Stratford (which will mean the end of passing trade from bemused American and Japanese tourists looking for Shakespeare sites).

As a vice-president of a non-league club, I am all in favour of fostering the non-league club, although I am more sceptical of the 'healthy lifestyles' and 'social inclusion' buzz phrases. But we should remember that non-league is as much driven by money, albeit on a much smaller scale, than the Premiership.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Smertin on his way

Alexei Smertin is on the verge of signing a deal with Russian club Dinamo Moscow and hopes to play in the Russian Cup on March 13th. There is nothing that Charlton can do about this as he is a Chelsea player on loan to us who could be recalled at any time. Russia is a not a member of the European Union and is not bound by the deal on transfer windows that was struck to bring football into compliance with EU competition policy.

There have been broadly two reactions from the Addickted. One is that we started the season with the best midfield partnership we have ever had (Smertin and Spurphy) and what has gone wrong that has led to the departure of both of them?

The other view is that, as soon as Rommedahl is fully fit, this allows Curbs to place Thomas and Rommedahl on the wing and put Ambrose and Kish back in the centre where they belong. It might also provide an opportunity to use other players such as Lloyd Sam, once he is match fit.

I was full of admiration for Smertin earlier in the season, but felt that his performances had deteriorated, perhaps because he was 'unsettled'. He was great at keeping the ball, but poor at shooting. This does, of course, underline the need for strengthening the midfield in the summer and my view is that the odds on Lee Bowyer returning to the club have shortened.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Share price doing better than the team

The price of Charlton shares on the AIM market has risen by about 30 per cent since the beginning of the year. It's a bull market, but the shares have out performed the market in the last couple of months. Admittedly, they were somewhat higher last summer and they are still not that expensive at 35.5p. But there is quite a lot of volume for a relatively small company, 11,170 shares changing hands last Friday and 20,000 on February 28th. The shares went up by more than 1.5 per cent today, surely not a reaction to the women's victory in the league cup?

Performance on the pitch has certainly not improved by 30% since the start of the year, so what is going on? Is there a rich benefactor lurking in the wings? Probably not. But they are hardly shares in which one would speculate.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pauline Copes as Aluko Scores

Charlton picked up their first silverware of the season in front of a crowd of 3,506 at the Causeway Stadium, High Wycombe today when the women's team beat Arsenal 2-1 to lift the Women's Premier League Cup. Charlton's two goals were scored in the first half by Enioia Aluko, but former England keeper Pauline Cope also played a vital part with some great saves.

It was rather disconcerting to find ourselves in a stand largely full of Gooners who were in confident mood that the bigger club would lift the trophy. As the two Gooners next to Maggie lost their confidence as the game went on they charmingly berated their players as 'you silly cow'.

Arsenal came out storming in the first ten minutes, obviously seeking to kill the game off with an early goal and I was concerned that the Addicks were not marking their women well enough, but they weathered the storm. Then, as the half hour approached, Aluko used her pace to storm down the field, outpacing a pack of chasing Gooner defenders to put a clean strike past Emma Byrne in the Arsenal goal. Pauline Cope had to preserve the Charlton lead with two great saves, a one handed one even earning the grudging admiration of the Gooners.

As the game edged into the last minute of time added on, Aluko forged through again and struck a low ball into the corner of the net. A Gooner returning with his burger and chips enquired expectantly, 'Is it 1-1 then?', his look of disbelief being a joy to behold.

Charlton are always at risk with a 2-0 lead and they were pinned back by Arsenal for much of the second half. Cope continued to be alert in goal, ticking off the linesman for failing to give an offside decision. Some robust defending was called for and Eartha Pond received a yellow card. Then a quickly taken free kick caught the Addicks defence out, leaving Cope exposed and it was 2-1 as the 75th minute mark approached.

Charlton were now under the cosh and there were fears of a red rather than yellow when Casey Stoney put in a scything tackle that saw her opponent go off the pitch for treatment fighting back tears. Aluko had be to taken off as she had picked up a knock and she was still limping when she collected her woman of the match award.

In the closing minutes of the game, Charlton took the game to Arsenal, but then Arsenal burst through, executing a dramatic dive in the area. A ballistic Pauline Cope came towards the referee shouting at him, but although no penalty was awarded, no yellow card was given as the Charlton players made their feelings known with diving signals. But it was too late for the Gooners to force extra time and the victorious Charlton squad were able to go to the podium to receive their medals. They then paraded round the pitch and Pauline lifted the cup in triumph in response to my thumbs up sign. Let's hope that it acts as an inspiration to the men's team for the FA Cup.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Now is the winter of my discontent

Today's edition of the Leamington fanzine Windmill Wonderland had a special Shakespeare theme in honour of visitors Stratford Town, although what the Batman outfit of their manager has to do with the bard is another matter. Various scenes from Shakespeare were re-written with a football theme. What the crowd of 575 saw was a hard, physical battle with low entertainment value. Indeed one of the few moments of humour in what was designated as the Warwickshire No Smoking Derby was provided when the person in a cigarette costume was wrestled to the ground on the North Bank. When the Stratford keeper had to change his boots, he was greeted with a chant of 'I'm so *****, I blame my boots.'

Cadzy made an inspired substitution, bringing on former Inverness Caledonian Thistle ace Leon Morgan who has been out injured. He converted from a corner on 86 minutes to make it a case of 'now is the winter of my discontent' for the many Thespians in the crowd. Indeed, on a bitterly cold day, they truly went home as Stratford Blues.

There's only one Tommy Myhre

A snow storm before the 5.15 kick off provided an atmospheric prelude to the clash at Anfield between Liverpool and Charlton writes Erith Addick Paul May. It also left the playing surface quite damp and slippery. Kewell put in a threatening shot that went just wide of Myhre's post. Charlton battled quite well in the opening phase. Fowler put in a left footed strike that went just wide. The Addicks midfield was probably giving Liverpool too much room. Chris Perry had to head clear as Liverpool piled on the pressure. Hreidarsson almost put the ball into his own net. Myhre had to make a great save, tipping the ball out for a corner. Fowler had a chance from the corner, but was unable to get enough height.

Every time Charlton cleared the ball it seemed to come back in again. Spector gave the ball away and Liverpool won a corner which was unproductive. Marcus Bent was brought down and was writhing around on the floor and the referee had to halt the game. Some sleet started to fall as we reached the halfway point of the half.

Marcus Bent provided a good lay off, Young subsequently had the ball, but Darren Bent did not control the ball well and it went out for a Liverpool throw in. Spector ran forward well for some 50 yards and Charlton won their first corner in front of the Kop after 26 minutes. Holland's effort was cleared.

Darren Bent made a good pass to Marcus Bent, but Holland's run ended with a tame header. A good ball by Gerrard led to a Liverpool corner. The corner was half cleared. A good ball by Gerrard was dealt with by Hughes with a great header. A shot by Kewell was dealt with by Perry and the move ended with a free kick for the Addicks.

Kishishev put in a good ball to Darren Bent, but the build up play was not matched by the finish. Liverpool won a free kick 35 yards out. Gerrard put in a good ball, but Myhre made a comfortable save from Cisse. A Kish cross was headed away by Carragher. Liverpool shouted for a penalty, but the referee made the right call.

The referee decided that Ambrose had fouled Fowler, but it was rather dubious. Liverpool won a corner off a Holland deflection. The corner was taken short and was headed away by Charlton. Liverpool kept up the pressure as the end of the half approached. Darren Bent forged forward, but his pass to Ambrose was not good and the best Charlton opportunity of the half was wasted. Hreidarsson dealt well with Crouch.

Liverpool made a really dangerous attack with a great cross but Cisse's header was brilliantly saved by Myhre. Liverpool were not able to make anything of the corner. Kishishev fouled Traore and then pushed him. Perry had to head the ball behind for a Liverpool corner but it was caught by Myhre. Another shot by Cisse was well saved by Myhre who got his left hand to it. Gerrard shot wide in the minute of time added on, showing Liverpool's frustration. Charlton's defence had been solid and Myhre, the former Evertonian, was brilliant in goal.

Half time: Liverpool 0, Addicks 0

Riise replaced Hyypia after the break, presumably because of a knock. Crouch tried to creep in, but Myhre made the save. Darren Bent got caught by the offside flag for the third time in the match, something that is always a risk with his style of play. Liverpool won another corner, but they were unable to make anything of it.
Marcus Bent was struggling, possibly with a hamstring problem. He walked off very slowly and Jay Bothroyd came on for the Addicks.

Spector forged forward, trying to find Holland, but without success. Liverpool lacked the rhythm they had in the first half, being increasingly closed down by Charlton. The Addicks won a corner. It was taken by Ambrose but headed clear. As Gerrard broke forward, he was stopped by a sliding challenge from Young some 40 yards from goal, leading to a yellow card.

Kewell put in a right footed volley that went well wide. Crouch had a scoring opportunity, but he put in a weak header, failing to stoop enough and Myhre made a comfortable save. The home crowd was a lot quieter and was evidently becoming frustrated.

Liverpool won another corner off the Herminator. Fowler ran forward and found Gerrard, but Charlton were able to clear. Cisse got a yellow card for dissent for blaming the lino for an offside decision. Perry was under some pressure, but managed to get the ball back to Myhre. Kishishev put in a decent cross, but Carragher was able to trap it. Hreidarsson headed away well from Cisse.

Charlton were being penned back more. Kewell at last got the free kick he had been shouting for. The ball was fed to Cisse who put it wide. Kishishev put in another good cross that put Liverpool under pressure. Darren Bent was denied by Riise at the expense of a Charlton corner. Charlton's effort went over the bar.

Alonso came on for Hammann. Darren Bent moved forward well but the ball was gathered by the keeper. Perry put in a good tackle. Cisse had a free header but put in another wide attempt. Spector cleared the ball into the stands in something of a panic. Fowler had a half chance, but may have been offside. Liverpool won yet another corner, this time off Spector. Bothroyd made the clearance.

Kishishev was taken off and Jason Euell came on with thirteen minutes to go. Ambrose shifted into the centre with Jase on the left. Gerrard bellowed at the unimpressive Cisse. Myhre did very well to avert danger fifteen yards out lifting the ball over the oncoming forward. The ground trembled as Crouch went off and Morientes came on. Hughes and Euell combined well, but Jase's effort went past the post. Gerrard shot wide, but it took a deflection and Liverpool won a corner. Kewell headed at Myhre who saved well with Fowler right on top of him.

Liverpool won another corner, sending the Kop beserk. Perry put in an excellent diving header to clear. Riise put in a shot from distance that was high and wide. The Herminator put in a diving header to clear a cross. Cisse took on Spector who conceded the corner sending the Kop wild again. The corner was headed by Bothroyd and then cleared by Holland.

Alonso, who was proving to be a real danger man, put in a shot. Chris Powell came on to replace Ambrose to strengthen the defence and the battle for a point. Spector showed poor control once again. Liverpool continued to press and won a free kick in a good position 25 yards out after Euell fouled Alonso. Fowler thought he had scored the winner and his first goal back at Anfield, but it was offside because of Cisse.

Three minutes of time were added on. A key challenge was made on Kewell by Holland. Carragher made a wild and wasteful shot from 30 yards. Charlton made a nice move involving Holland and Euell, Carragher blocked and the Addicks won a corner which was cleared.

The 0-0 specialists overcame the 1-0 specialists, an excellent away point won through gritty determination. I'm not allowed to give out silver bones, but if I was Tommy Myhre would get it with a silver biscuit for Chris Perry.

Hard task at Anfield

The first match at The Valley that I have a clear memory of was 6-0 defeat of Liverpool in the 1953-4 when they were relegated. Later in that season we beat them 3-2 at Anfield and we didn't beat them again until 2003-4 with a goal scored by Bartlett. We did draw 3-3 in our first Premiership season and might well have won if the referee, a shopping mall manager on a day out (later shoved over by di Canio) had not called back Andy Hunt for a free kick when he was through on goal.

So it's a big task today with Gerrard back for Liverpool. They are a different side without him as we saw at The Valley. Hopefully, Darren Bent can score a goal at Anfield today, although some of the criticism he has taken in the media this week has been harsh. How many goals has Defoe scored this season? I just hope the man mountain doesn't score against us today as I still can't take him seriously as one of our best strikers.

It will be the old 4-5-1 I expect with Marcus Bent on the right. As far as I know, Romm is not available and probably not Thomas as well, denying us our most exciting combination. The Sub-Standard actually forecasts a draw, but I am going for 2-1 to 'Pool, hoping that it won't be worse than that.

Congratulations to the Addicks who are making the journey to the north-west where we have done so badly this season. Among them is Paul May for whom alcohol seems to produce lucidity in his match reports. I will be going to High Wycombe tomorrow to cover the women's league cup final, our first chance of silverware this season.

This afternoon, provided we don't have more snow, I am hoping to see Leamington v. Straford Town with the Bardsmen being led out by their barmy manager with his caped crusader outfit. Although a derby, Warwickshire Police will probably not deploy their mobile CCTV outfit as they do for all ticket matches against the Gee Gees (Racing Club Warwick). Granddaughter Clarissa Hands will be accompanying us and we will be the only Charlton blog providing a match report!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ten years ago: guess who we played?

I think it's the case that Charlton have played Portsmouth more than any other time which is a pretty dismal state of affairs when you think about it, even allowing the fact that Pompey were a stronger team historically than they are these days. Ten years ago Fratton Park was even more old fashioned than it is today which is saying something.

Keith Jones - stretchered off

My notes recall, 'We started well and went 1-0 up through an own goal. But then Keith Jones was stretchered off with what turned out later to be a fractured cheekbone. We then lost some of our cohesion and Pompey equalised just before half time.'

'Against the usual pattern, our play in the second half was worse and only some saves by Salmon kept the scoreline down to 2-1. Really only Balmer and Robinson had a decent game. We missed Bowyer and Morts was disappointing as was Newton who came on as a substitute.'

Luke Young

A story on the club website says that he is happy at Charlton and wants to stay. No one would be more delighted than me if that turns out to be the case. With time more has come to be understood about the events surrounding Danny Murphy's departure. But the way in which the matter was handled from a public relations perspective did not enhance confidence among fans. Hence, there tends to be less belief that what the club says is definitive.

Luke Young and the loyalty question

When the Currant Bun ran a story about Luke Young heading off to a bigger club in the summer, I dismissed as a piece of speculative journalism, perhaps based on the fact that Joanna Taylor claims to be friendly with Luke's partner, Jessica. Or perhaps an agent was trying to boost Luke's salary. (I'm not sure when his contract ends).

However, now I have been contacted by someone who has what, on the face of it, looks like quite convincing corroborative evidence that the Charlton captain will indeed be going to Spudz in the summer. He was even able to provide the salary that Luke earns now and claimed that it would be doubled when he returned to White Hart Lane (where, of course, he was a bench based utility player).

That intelligent footballer Andy Hunt once reminded us that footballers generally play for at least three or four clubs in the course of their career whereas the fans have one club all their life. (There is actually more churn in loyalties than generally admitted, but that is another story). Footballers have a (relatively short) career and need to make the most of it. Last week Richard Adams left Leamington to go to Redditch United. His salary went from £30 a week at the Brakes to probably over £100 a week at Redditch. Would any of us refuse a chance to double or triple our salaries?

Of course the usual suspects have used the Young story to claim that it shows a lack of 'ambition' at Charlton. I'm never quite sure what this means. Should we just go around largeing it or should we spend money we don't have? Comparisons have been made with Wigan and West Ham. But Wigan are a benefactor club and I would have more doubts about their long-term Premiership survival than the Addicks. West Ham are a bigger club than us. They have a bigger supporter base and a much larger income from boxes. We have the smallest ground or any Premiership club (and the lowest ticket prices).

Must be careful about this, though, as a friend who thinks that Charlton are a naff, down market club (and in a way I can see what she means) has sent me an E mail setting out a formidable critique of the 'economism' of my approach to football. Of course, one can't read off performances from resources but my view is that Charlton are above the regression line in terms of achievement rather than below it.

I was reminded of our relative size when I had a long medical check up yesterday and the doctor was a Manchester City season ticket (or rather, season card) holder. He was, of course, able to mention their double over us. A Massive supporter from the age of six, he had lived in South Africa for fifteen years before the age of the Internet and described how difficult it was to keep in touch with his team.

Good job blogs don't have a sub or the last two paragraphs would be cut out!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why do we get so few corners?

A correspondent writes, I'm not sure if you have seen the stats which appear in The Times Monday supplement "The Game" each week [no, I am too busy reading Joanna Taylor's effusions] but it shows that Charlton have had 93 corners this season which is the lowest in the Premiership. The next lowest being Sunderland [scarcely a Premiership team] with 113 and Liverpool the most with 183.

In the last two home Premiership games against Liverpool and Aston Villa I believe that we achieved one corner in each against 11 and 8 respectively to our opponents. Quite amazing statistics as we are the home team.

When you consider how many goals are scored from set pieces this is obviously an area where we are missing opportunities. Do you think it is the lack of attacking wingers, lack of attempts on goal or just one of those things?'

Well, nothing can be just 'one of those things' in a top flight club which has very sophisticated data at its disposal to analyse matches, far better than anything that is available to the public. I must admit my attention had been more drawn to how we defend corners, the box crowded and no one available as an outlet.

My impression is that our record of scoring from corners is not that good, but if you don't get many, your chances of scoring decline even further. What would be interesting to know is if we get more corners when Thomas and Romm are playing. Or is it another aspect of the fact that we don't get enough penalties, i.e., we don't get into advanced attacking positions enough? What do you think?

Will Darren go to Germany?

I must confess that I prefer club to international football. Of course, I will watch as much of the World Cup as work commitments allow and will support England. But I always have difficulty with the 'Judas Defoe' moment, as happened last night when he replaced Darren, the Spudz's players face grinning at the prospect of a trip to Germany. Darren showed last night that he is an intelligent footballer who can make good runs, but unfortunately he was not able to put the ball in the back of the net. The Chicago Addick and the New York Addick, among others, have just about said it all in terms of appraising his performance (not least slagging off ignorant Radio 5 callers from Bexhill).

SGE was complementary about him after the game, but he is an expert at damning with faint praise. The Torygraph raises an interesting possibility. Could England take five strikers? Rooney and Owen, of course, and then the man mountain about whom I remain unconvinced. (I missed his goal last night as I was recording an interview for Radio 5). But then could both Defoe and Bent go? Probably not, but it's an interesung scenario.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Does Luke Young want out?

Charlton fans have feared for some time that Darren Bent will be snapped up by a bigger club in the summer. Strikers are usually more sought out than defenders, but now there is a rumour that Luke Young wants to leave. The source, however, is the Currant Bun so a large pinch of salt is needed.

'Luke Young is the latest star wanting out of Charlton,' writes Andrew Dillon. 'The England right-back, 26, feels he has outgrown the club and will seek a move in the summer. Charlton’s captain, who has six caps, believes a fresh start at a bigger team will boost his chances of playing more regularly for his country ahead of current No 1 choice Gary Neville. Midfielder Danny Murphy recently made an acrimonious move to Tottenham.'

My initial reaction is that this is a load of rubbish written by a journo needing to find a story with an England link for today's paper. Our popular captain, who must be the first name on the team sheet in the way that Sam Bartram was, has showed no desire to leave. However, these reports are always slightly worrying because Charlton were a selling club in the 1950s and in many ways they still are.