Sunday, April 30, 2006

As bad as it gets

Yesterday's home display against Blackburn was as bad a one as I have seen in a season which has seen so many dismal performances after promising so much. No doubt the team were unsettled by being told 15 minutes before the start of the game that Curbs was leaving. But Charlton's difficulty in retaining possession and the fact that they conceded two soft goals illustrated some of the challenges to be faced by the new manager.

To celebrate the fact that 3,800 fans were coming to the match by Rickshaw, a small group of Addickted travelled down the Thames from Westminster on the M.V.Pride of Welling which was designated the first water Rickshaw. On arrival at The Valley, we bought a Charlton sleeping garment for our first grandson born on Friday.

Blackburn looked up for it and Sorondo was soon called into action to put in a good tackle. However with Andersen out of his goal, Blackburn somehow managed to put the ball across the front of goal rather than into it. A free kick taken by Pedersen was saved by Andersen. Sankofa provided some good defensive work.

Charlton managed a spell of pressure and Matt Holland won the ball well in defence. Ambrose put in a good shot which Friedel fumbled before he saved it. Blackburn won a free kick on the edge of the area which went through the Charlton wall and Andersen had to react quickly to make a good save at the expense of a corner. Styles went over to rebuke the Blackburn manager who was going beserk on the touchline. Andersen soon had to make another good save and Chris Perry had to make a good tackle on Bellamy. Matt Holland drew a save from Friedel.

Card happy referee Styles gave the first of a number of yellow cards to Powell for holding back a Blackburn player. Pedersen was then given a yellow card for an amateurish dive. Bryan Hughes put in a good ball to Darren Bent who was deemed to be offside in a very marginal decision. Blackburn were awarded a free kick for obstruction by Kishishev but Andersen made the save.

Ambrose won Charlton a corner, but Blackburn put in a shot that was just over the bar. After Neill got a yellow for Blackburn, Styles booked Kishishev and Savage, the latter presumably for dissent as the charm merchant protested vociferously about something.

From the Blackburn free kick, the visitors were able to find space on the left and the ball was slotted in from the cross by Reid with the Charlton defence failing to mark properly. It was a clumsy goal to concede and coming just before half time it was deflating for Charlton.

Half time: Addicks 1, Rovers 0

A short way into the second half Bentley was brought on for Nelsen in an attacking substitution for the visitors. Sorondo was given a yellow card. Chris Perry had to provide good defensive cover.

Curbs decided to change things round and the anonymous Bartlett was replaced by Lisbie, while Lloyd Sam took over from Kish. Then from a Charlton corner Blackburn burst up the pitch and with Bellamy applying pressure, Chris Powell put the ball into his own net to make it 0-2. After that, Blackburn increasingly dominated the game with Charlton finding it difficult to get hold of the ball or certainly to keep it.

Fortune was brought on in place of Sorondo. Charm merchant Bellamy finally received a deserved yellow card. As the match drew to a close, a crescendo of sound rose around The Valley in tribute to Alan Curbishley.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch presented a special commemorative Silver Bone to Alan Curbishley after the match. The match Silver Bone went to Chris Perry for a stalwart performance in defence. With Myhre off form there was a case for using Andersen in goal, but he was not that impressive. When Chris Powell went round the pitch after the match, I realised that this was the last time we would see him as a player at The Valley, although I hope that some kind of coaching role can be found for him. It wasn't the best of games for him as he was at fault to some extent for the first goal as well as the second one. Sorondo had a good tussle with Bellamy and it will be interesting to see if the new manager thinks he has a future at The Valley. Sankofa clearly has potential and gave us some width that otherwise was sadly lacking, but his lack of experience sometimes shows. Kishishev battled away, although was less prominent than he sometimes is. Holland had a decent game and made a couple of attempts on goal. Ambrose was reasonable, but often seems to be out of position. Hughes made a few good contributions, but was not very prominent. Bartlett made very little contribution and is well past his best. Bent was roving alone up front much of the time and simply didn't get the service. How many goals could he score with a creative midfield? Lloyd Sam was given a difficult task and did his best, but I remain to be convinced that he should be a first term regular. Lisbie ran around a lot, but to no great effect. Fortune was solid and competent, but his future may be in the Championship.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to mouthy Craig Bellamy who should have been given a yellow card earlier and possibly a second one.

Crowd rating: 9/10 for the send off for Curbs.

Where now for Curbs?

Memories of Curbs

Yesterday's home defeat by Blackburn, the first since Arsenal, was almost a footnote to the news of Alan Curbishley's departure and the closing minutes were marked by a standing ovation for the long-serving manager. But I will write a report soon. Incidentally, one interesting appraisal is to be found in the Sunday Times:


The line taken by the Sunday Times is that Curbs is on his way to Boro but I would have thought the Barcodes would be a more attractive northern destination than the Smoggies. Mrs Curbs would not be keen to move north, which is why I have always thought that Villa was a possibility because he could keep his pad in Essex and live in the 'Second City' a few days a week. However, having gone straight from playing to management, Curbs thinks that he needs a break and he certainly deserves one.

The Bloke Behind Me was saying that the press would be saying that Charlton fans had hounded Curbs out, but there is no sign of such commentary in the press today with the sports news being dominated by the injury to Rooney in any case. The Bloke Behind Me's view is that slagging off the manager is done by all fans anywhere and is part of the game.

No doubt that's true to an extent, although I suppose one thing I don't like about football is the negativity and the tendency to slag off one's own club. Managers (usually) have substantial experience of the game, they are observing the players at the training ground all week, and they have sophisticated ProZone analyses to give them all the hard information they need.

Even given that, they all make mistakes, even Sir Alex or Wenger. But the recorded tendency for a shorter and shorter tenure for managers is not good for the game and reflects unrealistic expectations. So let's hope that we don't have a succession of short term managers at The Valley as happened after Jimmy Seed departed, but give the new manager enough time to develop and put into place his strategy.

I remain doubtful whether he will be able to push us much beyond mid-table without a substantial injection of funds. There is a downside risk that we could do worse. But equally we could finish up in mid-table by a more exciting route with fewer goalless draws.

It's going to be an interesting summer. And one difference from the Jimmy Seed days is that we have a much better board, not interested in recouping their investment but in putting into place a strategic vision for the club.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

End of an era

Alan Curbishley's resignation announced on the pitch at Charlton today marks the end of an era for the Addicks. Let's hope it marks the start of a new chapter for the club. Curbs, after next week, will have managed one less game than Jimmy Seed. Older supporters will remember what followed Seed's sacking: relegation and a succession of managers who failed to deliver.

The news that Curbs was to go was not a surprise to me. I have been his kit sponsor for many years and he wrote me a letter in December which could be interpreted as a hint that he was thinking of leaving. Yesterday one source told me that Richard Murray would be addressing the fans today while another told me that Curbs was to go. That's why I dropped a hint at the end of my preview, 'Not a match to get to late.'

Curbs said on the radio tonight that his preference was to be clapped out of the front door rather than having to leave through the back door. His departure today was handled with dignity and his remarks about the club were heartfelt. By leaving now, he has given time for a new manager to settle in and make the signings he wants over the summer.

Now we have to look to the future. I have two wishes. First, that whoever the new manager is, he will have senior level experience by which I mean Premiership, Championship or SPL. I think that it would be a mistake to appoint a manager from League 1 because:

1. The pressures are much less intense at that level.
2. League 1 teams often favour kick and rush football.
3. Don't regard passion as a key requirement. It is the job of the fans to be passionate and the manager to be technically proficient.
4. Most importantly, we need to retain top players (Darren Bent and Young) and attract new ones of a high calibre. One therefore needs a manager who will command respect with such players.

I also hope that the new manager will be given the time necessary to establish his own way of doing things before the moaning starts. Fans need to realise that, given the budget constraints, mid-table Premiership may be as good as it gets.

Curbs said that it was best for the club and him that he went now. He will no doubt have a future in football. But this season, after the failure of the expensive gamble with Murphy and Smertin, there were signs that things were getting stale. Caution was a strength for Curbs, given the club's limited funds, but it was also a potential weakness. Our play was becoming too defensive and lacking in confidence.

So let's thank Curbs for establishing us as a Premiership club. And let's look forward to a future that will be uncertain, exciting, but hopefully successful.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Blackburn preview

Gloomsters have been predicting Charlton's first home defeat since Boxing Day, when they lost 0-1 to the European championship finalists, Arsenal. Blackburn haven't been doing so well recently, so how do people arrive at this result, other than a casual reading off of the Bolton result?

Injuries and suspensions are clearly a big problem with Jerome Thomas the latest player in the treatment room. For all the calls for Sankofa to be given a chance, he doesn't seem to have impressed that much at Bolton. And Thomas Myhre seems to have hit a bad patch. The choice of Bothroyd or Bartlett to partner Darren Bent up front is not an exciting one, although Super Kevin Lisbie will be on the bench.

Form wise we have a good record against Blackburn at home at The Valley in the Premiership, having won three, drawn two and lost one, although admittedly one victory was a last minute one after Brad Friedel had scored against us. Looks as if Charlton's season might fizzle out in the spring sunshine, although there may be one or two surprises in store. Not a match to get to late.


Apparently there will be a record Rickshaw attendance tomorrow with fans from deepest Kent as well as further afield. Rick Everitt and his team have built this service up way beyond what I would have thought possible.

Unfortunately the Rickshaw does not yet run in Warwickshire. We thought there might be a solution when Warwick District Council bought three new taxis for Racing Club Warwick for a new Racing To Get You There service. We thought Charlton could borrow these vehicles on match day, but so far the idea hasn't been taken up.

So in order to commemorate the success of the Valley Express we are operating the first water borne Rickshaw tomorrow, the Thames being a facility that has not yet been fully exploited by the club. A group of the Addickted will travel down the river from Westminster Pier to Greenwich tomorrow before the match. And, unlike the charas that operate the land Rickshaw, we will be able to enjoy a drink.

Ten years ago: Valiant Victory

On 27th April 1996 Charlton faced Burslem Port Vale who were 9th in the league at Vale Park. It was my first visit to what was once vaunted as the 'Wembley of the North' and I noted a 'strange ground with huts dotted around.'

My notes recall, 'We didn't start well and when we 0-1 down because of a defensive error my worst fears were realised. But Sweaty Balmer made it 1-1 before half time. Then Nelson scored just after half time and Allen made it 3-1.'

'Vale supporters started to congregate round the touchline and invaded the pitch when the whistle went and a charge of mounted police appeared from the left. Lots of police, including mounted ones, in Burslem.'

In the Valiants programme, chairman W.T.Bell stated his ambition for the club 'to stay in the First Division for many years to come', although admitted this was difficult on average gates of 8,000. Charlton's average attendance that season was 11,076, placing them 5th in the league. Curiously in the programme they referred to Charlton as 'The Addicks or Valiants' using the top down nickname that never caught on.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lisbie's back!

Kevin Lisbie has been called back to The Valley because of a shortage of strikers. The news was greeting with dancing in the streets of SE7 while wailing and gnashing of teeth was reported from Derby. To be fair, the Derby manager did say that Lisbie, who has scored one goal in seven games, had done well for the Rams and would be missed.

I suppose one can hope that Lisbie will repeat his hat trick against Liverpool or the goal he scored to win us three points at Ipswich, but somehow the words 'Lisbie' and 'striker' do not fit well together. Gislasson on the bench might have been more interesting.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Curbs in Dublin scouting mission

Alan Curbishley will be flying to Dublin on Friday for a scouting mission (this being a Charlton no doubt on a cheap Ryanair ticket). His targets are Republic of Ireland under 21 trio Stephen Ward, Gary Dicker and goalkeeper Darren Quigley.

All three could be involved as Bohemians take on UCD at Dalymount Park on Friday night and Curbishley is planning a flying visit to Dublin to watch the game before Charlton’s Premiership clash with Blackburn Rovers on Saturday evening.

Charlton have been watching Bohemians striker Ward - who was also watched by former Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy - and UCD midfielder Dicker since both impressed for Ireland at the Madeira International Tournament in February.

Other Premiership clubs are reported to showing interest with newly promoted Reading interested in Dicker and Quigley.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Kins in the Saddle

Former Charlton captain and legend Mark Kinsella has taken charge at Walsall for the last two games of the season following the sacking of manager Kevan Broadhurst after the Saddlers were relegated to League 2. Officially the search is on for a new manager, but the office with a view of the elevated section of the M6 may yet go to Kins.

He was described on one of the web sites as Walsall's 'forgotten man'. He left Charlton after his knees started to give way, spent a while in Villa and when he left there turned up at Walsall's training ground with his boots in the hope of getting a game.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Lacklustre performance by Addicks

Charlton were defeated 4-1 by Bolton at the Reebok after a lacklustre performance, reports Erith Addick Paul May. It was the same score as last season, the only difference being that this time it came at the end of the season. And, quite frankly, it looked as if a lot of the Charlton players couldn't be bothered. Above all, we were overwhelmed in midfield were we desperately need strengthening in the summer. I know people moan about his errors, but we missed the battling qualities of Kish who was warming the bench.

The game was all but over by half-time when Bolton were 3-0 ahead. Bolton had looked dangerous from the off with a strike from Nakata after three minutes going narrowly wide of Myhre's left post. On 14 minutes he put in a great cross which was headed in the net by the teenage Portuguese striker Vaz Te who chalked up his first Premiership goal.

On 21 minutes Myhre parried a shot by Borgetti, but Davies was able to make the tap in to make it 2-0. Then on 31 minutes Borgetti, who was only marginally onside, got through to make it 3-0 with a shot inside Myhre's near post.

Dennis Rommedahl had been disappointingly anonymous (Thomas, of course, was not playing) and Curbs withdrew him and Ambrose at half time, bringing on Bothroyd and Fortune. Bothroyd was fouled in the area by Tal Ben Heim which at least gave Darren Bent the opportunity to score from the spot with a well taken penalty.

But the Addicks were unable to build on this goal and Bolton piled on the pressure again. Myhre, who had been having a mare of a game, made an error on 90 minutes that allowed Davies to head home from close range to make it 4-1.

We have not won away on the road since October and it is a real sickener for blokes like me who regularly make long journeys to support the club. Have we become too stale and predictable, as Rick Everitt has been hinting on the list, and do we need a new approach at the top?

Walking in a Windmill Wonderland

Looking towards the North Bank at the New Windmill Ground

It was a tightly fought contest between the Brakes and the Ravens at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon as would expect between teams placed 6th and 5th in the Harvey World Travel Midland Alliance. The towering presence of Tyrone Mintus in Coalville's defence broke up many promising attacks. But the magical deftness of Josh Blake allowed the crowd to break into the Windmill Wonderland song when he scored a cracking goal in the 44th minute.

Referee S J Cook had to go off with a calf injury at half time and one of the Hancock brothers had to retrieve his lino's kit from his car and officiate on the Sheepside to chants of 'dodgy lino'.

Brakes seemed a bit casual in the second half and needed some stiffening which was provided by the arrival of veteran Paul Eden and former Coventry City and Inverness Caledonian Thistle ace Leon Morgan from the bench. They combined to outwit Mintus in the defence with Morgan making it 2-0 to the Brakes in the 84th minute.

Bolton/Coalville previews

It has been said that there will be no more than a taxi load of Addicks going to the Reebok stadium, but fortunately Erith Addick Paul May is among them and will reporting on the match later today.

Leaving aside last year's start of season 4-1 defeat, Charlton's record at the Reebok has not been that bad with two draws and one win. Bolton, however, have a defence strengthened by returns from injury while Charlton are weakened by injury and suspension. Bolton have had a bad run, but Sam Allerdyce hailed the away point against mighty West Brom as a turning point.

With Luke Young probably out for the rest of the season, and Jonathan Spector having gone back to Manchester for an operation, Osei Sankofa will start on the right with Chris Powell on the left. With the Herminator suspended and Sorondo possibly still troubled by a groin injury, it is possible that Fortune and Perry will provide the central defence.

With Marcus Bent probably out for the rest of the season with a back injury, Darren Bent will probably roam alone up front in a 4-5-1 formation that will hopefully include both Romm and Thomas. The balance would then be made up by Kishishev, Hughes and Ambrose.

The Fink Tank in The Times gives an approximate 50-50 chance of a home win with a slightly better than 1 in 4 chance of a draw and a slightly worse than 1 in 4 chance of a Charlton win. That sounds about right to me.

Brakes v Ravens

There are only two Tommos!

Leamington take on Coalville Town this afternoon in a crucial 6th v 5th clash in the Harvey World Travel Midland Alliance at the New Windmill Ground. Brakes won 4-1 at a depleted Alvechurch on Thursday and have the magical Josh Blake back from injury.
David Care is a major contributor as wing back and even club captain Tommo had an excellent game on Thursday.

Even if Leamington get a top six finish place, they will not qualify for Step 4 football until the new Sheepside stand is built, hopefully over the summer. The new Step 4 Midlands league does not look like starting until 2007-8 in any case. Step 3 will require direct access from a lounge to a directors' box requiring another stand on the Burger Side.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ten years ago: Charlton break draw record

The week started with a mid-week away game at Stoke's old Victoria Ground where I was able to park up just a few streets away. About 400 of the Addickted made the trip north.

My notes recall, 'Stoke started with great pace and determination while we looked slow and uninterested. No surprise then when Stoke scored in the 29th minute. We missed a chance to score just before half time. We only really got going in the last ten minutes' which was too late to retrieve anything from this important match which Charlton started in an automatic promotion place.

On Saturday I went to Reading where our middle daughter was then living. Reading were just three points off a relegation position. Although described as a 'mouth watering encounter' in the programme, the crowd on a nice day was below 10,000. My notes recall, 'An end-to-end game on a very bumpy pitch. We made some scoring opportunities but were unable to take them. So another 0-0. Petterson did his stuff in goal again. Substituting Whyte for Allen didn't do anything.'

This was Charlton's 18th drawn match in the League, a new club record. So it's not just this year that we've shown a taste for the goalless draw.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Where's your grass gone?

Spring has arrived at last in the Midlands

I had a shock when I arrived at Lye Meadow, the home of former Southern League club Alvechurch this evening. Set among the rolling hills of Worcestershire, what stretched out in front of me was a ploughed field and certainly the worst pitch I have seen since Charlton played at Dagenham and Redridge. An early theme for the travelling Brakesmen was 'You fat cows. Who ate all your grass?'

The travelling choir were in good form, chanting 'Go and watch Coventry? You're having a laugh. We're watching Leamington FC'. When they found out that one of th Church players was called Timmy, he came in for some sustained barracking. However, as is the case with hardcore away fans, their language became a little fruity, leading an elderly lady in front of us to turn round and shout 'I am reporting you to the committee'.

Meanwhile the Brakes struggled to find a blade of grass to play on, but went ahead with a superb strike from 30 yards out. However, Church equalised with a goal from a corner and although Brakes hit the post the score remained 1-1 at the break when we took advantage of the burger bar.

As the second half wore on, a weakened Brakes side, with many players playing out of position, slowly started to assert their superiority while Church were reduced to ten men because of a shortage of subs. Brakes went ahead and then Josh Blake came
on to score a third, while a final goal made it 4-1 to the Warwickshire side. By this time we had gone to the clubhouse to collect the raffle prize which Maggie had won, making it a splendid evening.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ban threat for Herminator

Temporary Addicks captain Hermann Hreidarsson could be forced to sit out the rest of Charlton Athletic's season for an elbowing offence that went undetected last weekend. The Icelandic defender faces a three-match ban, the number of Charlton's remaining fixtures, following an incident in their 2-1 defeat at Fulham on Saturday.
TV replays showed Hreidarsson elbowing Luis Boa Morte as players jostled for a set piece.

The referee, Martin Atkinson, appeared not to see the exchange, which left Boa Morte on the turf (although he seemed to spend quite a lot of the match prostate for various reasons), and has been asked to check replays. It should be noted that both players seemed to be on good terms at the end of the match. If Atkinson feels Hreidarsson should have been sent off, the FA will bring a charge of violent conduct which carries a three-match ban.

Should this happen, Chris Powell would fill the left back slot with Sorondo and Perry (or even the forgotten Fortune) in central defence.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Curbs linked with Villa

A report in today's Sub-Standard links Curbs with a possible managerial vacancy at Villa. Although Villa may be the only West Midlands side to escape relegation this season, they are rooted in the bottom half of the Premiership. For years Villa has been more comatose than sleeping giant.

Anyone taking the job would have to deal with the dross accumulated over the years by O'Leary, although he might leave behind a copy of his book of excuses which is one of the biggest in football. Rather than Richard Murray, Curbs would have to deal with 'Deadly' Doug Ellis. There have been rumours of takeovers at Villa for years, but they have yet to come to fruition.

And then there are the fans. They suffer from a bad case of 'Big Club Delusion Syndrome', probably the worst south of Newcastle.

Still, Curbs is a former Villa player (although he was also at Blews). He could probably keep on his home at Essex, staying in Britain's so-called 'Second City' for a few nights a week. Watch this space.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Deano, Deano, What's the Score?

This was the chant of the Addickted as Charlton went from 1-0 behind at The Valley against Portsmouth to score two goals in the last fifteen minutes and win three points that took them above Everton in the Premiership. So-called journeyman Bryan Hughes scored the first goal, his fifth of the season, making use of an assist from Darren Bent and then new forward Hermann Hreidarsson released Darren Bent to enable him to score his 17th league goal of the season.

Although neither side dominated the first half, Portsmouth had the edge and at one time look threatening with three corners in succession. Holland found himself in a promising position as a result of a good build up but put in a tame shot which did not test Kiely.

Marcus Bent pulled up having clearly injured his leg and had to be taken off and replaced by Bothroyd. While trying to stop Portsmouth winning a corner, Spector went down injured and had to be stretchered off, Sankofa replacing him (or 'Os' as he is known to the Charlton bench).

Portsmouth applied pressure with two corners, one of which had to be cleared off the line. But then D'Allesandro found himself unmarked and, although seemingly carrying some weight, the Argentinian put in a stinging shot that found the back of the net to make it 0-1 to Pompey.

Charlton seemed short of ideas about how to respond, although Sankofa put in a good cross but there was no one there to take advantage of it.

Half time: Addicks 0, Pompey 1

Ambrose was brought on for Thomas at the start of the second half, but Charlton still seemed disjointed. However, Bryan Hughes signalled his intentions with an effort that was not far off.

Charlton won two corners in succession, but then Kish tried to do a dummy that didn't work and Pompey were able to launch a counter attack. Ambrose won the Addicks a free kick, but Deano was able to make the save.

Then just as the Addickted were losing all hope of getting even a point, Hughes scored his goal. At the other end of the pitch, the Herminator was injured.

This led to Curbs losing it with the crowd, as reported by our West Stand correspondent. It was decided to use the Herminator to make a nuisance of himself up front, a role he performed admirably. However, one idiot spectator behind the dugout bellowed out, 'Why's he playing up front?' Curbs turned round and retorted, 'Because he's ****ing injured'. 'Why don't you sub him?', yelled the genius supporter. 'Because then we'd be playing with ten men'.

Chris Powell was unnecessarily fouled off the ball by substitute Azar Karadas, the charm merchant receiving a yellow card. Then, released by the Herminator, Darren Bent burst through to make it 2-1.

Deano had to make a save from Ambrose. Deano's kicking out seem to have miraculously improved, but he did manage to kick one out of play. Portsmouth continued to show an ability to threaten, with one shot going just over the crossbar. Ambrose broke through and should have scored, but Deano made the save.

Portsmouth continued to threaten in the three minutes of time added on, winning a corner. However, Bothroyd put in a shot that was just wide. Some would think Charlton fortunate to get the three points, but we haven't had much luck recently so I'm not complaining.

Match analysis

It was a novel experience for match analyst Hooch the Pooch when he awarded the Silver Bone to the first Uruguyan ever to win it, Gonzalo Sorondo for a faultless defensive performance which included some excellent headers. The Uruguyan, who has expressed a wish to remain at The Valley, described the award as 'a charming ceremony'.

Myhre was caught out by the Portsmouth goal, but it was not easy to defend. Spector was as disappointing as ever until he succumbed to a broken collar bone. Chris Powell was his usual bright and confident self. Hreidarsson played well, but had his most impressive spell when he was moved up to a forward position. Kishishev made one bad error, but generally contributed well. Holland was relatively anonymous. Hughes took his goal well. Thomas was clearly out of sorts for whatever reason before he was taken off at half time. We didn't see much of Marcus Bent before he went off injured, but what we did see was not impressive.
Darren Bent lacked service for much of the game, but seized his chance to score when it came. Bothroyd is basically a bit of a lump who tries to get into the game but not to any great effect. Sankofa did not disappoint his many admirers when he came on and, although understandably a little nervous at first, soon gained in confidence. Ambrose hustled and bustled, but missed a great chance to score.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to Harry Redknapp who had to be spoken to by the referee and then later restrained as he ran along the touchline out of his technical area.

Crowd rating: Portsmouth have a strong reputation for noisy, mindless chanting but we could have done better to counter them even if the fare served up was disappointing for much of the match. 3/10.

Curbs to get second interview

Alan Curbishley is to get a second interview for the job of England manager, probably tomorrow. Martin O'Neill now appears to be out of the running and may replace McClaren at Boro when the latter takes the England job. Boro's recent run of form appears to have made him front runner, although that seems a remarkably short-term way of taking an important decision.

Even so, uncertainty faces Curbishley's future at Charlton. He wants to reflect over the summer about his future, given that a contract extension would mean spending twenty years at the club. He hinted that he would like to try his hand on a bigger stage, with Newcastle United and Aston Villa both being possibilities.

The club is already actively considering who might replace him. I still think it's going to be a re-run of the departure of Jimmy Seed with the club seeing a succession of short-term managers as Charlton slump. I am relatively indifferent between the various candidates, although I quite like the idea of Mark Bowen. What I do not want is some gobby third division manager who displays 'passion' by jumping up and down on the touchline and screaming at players.

There is a world of difference between the Premiership and League 1 and the biggest single difference is the quality of the defences. That affects tactics. Kick and rush may work at the lower level, but it won't do in the Premiership.

I was watching an old Moving Magazine from the 1991-2 season yesterday (kindly donated by Dave Lockwood) and what struck one was the acres of space the players had to operate in. Even Sweaty Balmer was able to make a powerful run from the back without being challenged.

Mid-table Premiership is clearly boring many Charlton supporters, but it's better than mid-table Championship. I doubt whether the club can go to the much vaunted next level without a really big injection of funds which would enable us to buy top quality players. I don't think the problem with our players is a lack of commitment, it's a lack of sufficient skill among many of them with an injury to someone like Luke Young leaving a big hole in the side.

In the words of Peter Varney, enjoy the game.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The problem with Portsmouth

In the non-league there is a strict system of ground grading. If you get promoted, but your ground doesn't match up to the standards for the next level, you don't go up. So how is it that Portsmouth is able to get away in the Premiership with an open terrace with seats bolted on buffeted by winds from the Solent? Colchester United has one of the poorest grounds in League 1 but even they have cover over their away ends.

We're constantly told that Portsmouth are going to rotate their ground by ninety degrees. But a lot of money went on boosting the squad during the January transfer window. And at last it seems like they're playing together effectively. Pompey are 3rd in the form league and look likely to escape relegation, so we shall have to put up with their away terrace for another season.

With Portsmouth on song and Charlton faltering, it might seem that the script is written for an away win tomorrow. If so, it will be the first time that the Addicks have been defeated at The Valley since Boxing Day.

The signs don't look good. Myhre seems to have hit a bad patch. Darren Bent seems to have mislaid his shooting boots: is he carrying a slight injury? And Spector is a failure at right back, although there is no real alternative. I remain unconvinced that Sankofa would be any better. The sad fact is that our Academy has not been producing players of Premiership quality for some time with the possible exception of Sam who needs to regain match fitness after a long time out with an injury.

Nevertheless, I don't believe that the match is a foregone conclusion. We shall, of course, have to put with Pompey's fanantical support. There is certainly quite a contrast between the noise they make and the quietness of the home crowd at The Valley much of the time. However, I am not sure that I would want the Addickted to adopt their style of undiscerning support.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Defensive weaknesses back again

The final scoreline of 2-1 had been recorded by the half hour mark when Boa Morte scored his second goal for Fulham and after that Charlton were chasing a game once again, writes Erith Addick Paul May. We thought that the defensive weaknesses that had plagued us mid-season had been eradicated, but they have returned to haunt us.

Charlton started brightly enough and did not look too haunted by their mid-week cup exit. It was a free kick that caught us out at Boro. Boa Morte took a free kick from wide on the right and Myhre, whose form suddenly seemes to be slipping, stayed rooted to the near post as the low strike found the back of the net to make it 1-0 after 15 minites.

Charlton equalised 11 minutes later. Ambrose had put in a decent inswinging corner which Niemi in the Cottagers goal managed to palm away. However, the Herminator diverted the rebound straight into the path of Euell and Jase scored his first goal of the season with a clever header that left Niemi looking into Finn air.

The Addicks then nearly went ahead straight from the restart when an effort by Darren Bent was blocked by the feet of Niemi who had finally woken up to the fact that JJ wasn't in the side.

It was a shame that this chance was missed as within minutes Fulham were ahaed again. A flick on by Heiguson was picked up by Boa Morte who ran at the Charlton defence. He was able to find enough space to put in a shot across the face of goal and past Myhre's arm.

Darren Bent nearly got Charlton back in it, but his looping header bounced twice on top of the bar, suggesting to me that Charlton aren't getting a lot of luck.

The Addicks still looked up for it as the second half opened and Holland put in a decent attempt from the edge of the area which was headed clear. Kish was pulled off for Thomas on 60 minutes. The Addicks had lacked width throughout with Rommedahl not even on the bench, although he was not an unqualified success at Boro. Bothroyd replaced Holland on 80 minutes in a last desperate effort to even the score.

The Addicks came close in the closing minutes. Niemi had to make a first class save to deal with a right footed shot by Marcus Bent, already written off by many of the Addickted. Then Hreidarsson had a close range header, but once again Niemi was able to make the save.

Cryptic remarks by Curbs on Radio 5 after the game suggested that, with the England job now out of the reckoning, he is going to give serious thought to his future over the summer.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fulham preview

This year I put Fulham down as one of my relegation forecasts. But although Fulham often end not far away from the bottom of the Premiership, somehow they always manage to avoid getting sucked into a serious relegation struggle.

Our outings to Craven Cottage in the Premiership have seen two goalless draws, including one last season when the now departed Van der Sar made sure that the Addicks didn't score and two defeats. Some might ask what the point of the match is from a Charlton point of view, but each Premiership place is worth half a million and we will need funds in the summer to strengthen the squad, not least in midfield.

This blog has been critical of Spector, apart from one or two good games, all season and the experience generally calls into question whether we really get value from loan players. Either they are disgruntled players from elsewhere who think they are better than they are (Carthorse Cole) or hopefuls from bigger clubs who never seem to ascend the learning curve (Spector). Or they go back home to mother Russia like Smertin.

Unfortunately we haven't got many options at right back as pulling Kish back would weaken the midfield. I would like to see Sorondo start as I think that he looked effective against Everton, contributing to forward moves as well as being solid in defence. I would also favour a 4-5-1 using both Romm and Thomas, but we are quite likely to see Marcus Bent doing his imitation of Carl Leaburn on an off day.

Either it will be a draw or we will get a hammering from Fulham. Difficult to see a Charlton away win.

I will be away in Wales riding on the footplate of a GWR Hall class locomotive I have been paying to restore for many years. Although I am no steam buff, this seemed too good an experience to turn down. Paul May will be there to report on the match.

Ten years ago: promotion campaign falters

Charlton's promotion campaign continued to falter in April 1996. After a 0-0 draw away at Sunderland (where Andy Petterson won Man of the Match from the Sunderland sponsors), Charlton drew 0-0 at home with Derby County in front of the television cameras on 14th April 1996. It was also the day of the Auto Windscreens final and I encountered a lot of cars and coaches with Rotherham banners on the M1.

My notes recall, 'Charlton played with vigour and determination, but despite a number of chances, could not find the back of the net. Petterson good in goal. An exciting game, but not the result we wanted.' Rufus and Bowyer were both missing because of suspensions. Charlton were 4th in the table coming into the game.

The programme revealed that midfielder Peter Garland had left the club 'by mutual consent'. It also mentioned that Kevin Nicholls and goalkeeper Robert Wright had been brought into help carry the kit at Sunderland. Nicholls is now Luton captain, but what happened to Wright?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The dream is over

The dream of Charlton getting to the FA Cup semi-final or even the final is over, reports Erith addick Paul May as he heads back on the long train journey to London. A failure to take some early chances, poor defending in the absence of the much missed Luke Young and, it has to be admitted, some fluent passing and great play by Boro saw the Addicks go down to a 4-2 defeat at the Riverside.

Early in the game Rommedahl turned provider for Bartlett and the Springbok saw his header turned round the post by Schwarzer in the Boro goal. Then Rommedahl put in a great cross and Bent should perhaps have done better with Schwarzer making a point blank save with his legs from the striker.

Boro were awarded a free kick against Chris Perry. Myhre saw Hasselbank's effort, which took a slight bounce, late and it found the back of the net to make it 1-0 to the home side. However, within two minutes the Addicks had equalised. A long throw in from Spector found Bryan Hughes who has a great record of scoring cup goals and he found the back of the net with an incisive strike.

Schwarzer saved again from Bent and the striker should have perhaps done better with his second touch. Boro were awarded a free kick against Spector, but Boateng's effort went wide. A Boro corner was conceded by Spector, a free kick by Bent and this led to another Boro corner, but Myhre was eventually able to save.

Then a muddle in the Charlton defence for which the captain Hreidarsson was at fault allowed Morrison to burst through and make it 2-1. This was really the decisive moment in the match as after that the Addicks were chasing the game. It would have been 3-1 if it hadn't been for a superb save from Hasselbank by Myhre.

Perry, who looked good all evening, put in an effective challenge on Viduka. Kishishev had a go, but his effort was easily saved by Schwarzer. Charlton managed to apply some pressure, but then Viduka put in an effort that was just wide. Rommedahl made a good run forward, but slipped at the vital moment.

Half time: Boro 2, Addicks 1

Myhre had to make a save from Hasselbank. Perry got a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Hasselbank. Charlton were not inspiring in the opening phase of the second half and the anonymous Holland was withdrawn in favour of Thomas. Shortly afterwards, Bothroyd replaced Bartlett who had been too inclined to drift back in defence. Hasselbank was given a yellow card. Downing put in an effort that was just over.

Boro attacked three on three and Chris Powell was outmanoeuvred, allowing Hasselbank to make it 3-1. However, once again Charlton were soon back in it. From an Addicks free kick, the ball found the back of the net. It was attributed as an own goal by Southgate, but Bothroyd was heavily involved. Game on?

However, Viduka completely out maneouvred the Charlton defence to make it 4-2. When Viduka and Hasselbank are playing at their best, as was the case tonight, Boro are tough opponents.

Schwarzer lost the ball, but a free kick was awarded anyway. Kish was taken off and Euell came on, too late to make a difference. Boro had a call for a penalty, but it was denied, just as it had been when Bent was brought down earlier.

Charlton won a late corner, but Rommedahl's effort was too high. Spector was injured and went down off the pitch and was seen hobbling away, but one thing that was clear is how much we missed Luke Young. However, it's doubtful whether any Charlton line up could have beaten Boro tonight.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Big matches preview

The build up to tomorrow's FA cup replay at Middlesbrough has been fantastic and has re-captured some of the spirit that surrounded the play-off final at Wembley. Of course, the letdown if Charlton lose will also be considerable. Our original forecast was that Charlton would draw at home and win at the Smoggies and we are sticking to that. However, it is most likely to be achieved by a 0-0 or 1-1 after 120 minutes with Myhre the hero of the hour in the penalty shoot outs.

In their last ten matches, Charlton have only conceded six goals, but have also only scored eight. Over a comparable number of games, Boro have scored 15 and let in 15.
Darren Bent is obviously the most likely prospect to score for the Addicks. However, he will be closely marked and it is difficult to see anyone taking advantage of the space opened up elsewhere. That is why it is important to have both Thomas and Rommedahl on the wings. A good cross from either of them could create a scoring opportunity for Bent (D) whose runs forward on his own often fall foul of the offside rule.

The other big match is tonight in the semi-final 2nd leg of the Polymac Services League Cup when Leamington face Chasetown. I have splashed out £30 on sponsoring the match ball, hoping that the Brakes can make it to the final at Walsall's Bescot Stadium. Brakes, who beat the Gee Gees 2-1 on Saturday, carry forward a 3-1 lead from the first leg. However, Chasetown are a formidable side as they showed when they held Oldham Athletic to a 0-0 draw in the first round of the FA Cup.

As far as tomorrow's match is concerned, Erith Addick Paul May is booked on the train and will be reporting on the match.

Monday, April 10, 2006

International Addicks

I owe this insight to a lister, but on Saturday we finished the match with nine overseas players in the Charlton eleven with ten countries represented in the side over 90 minutes.

We started with Myhre from Norway; Spector from the USA; Hreidarsson from Iceland; Sorondo from Uruguay; Kish from Bulgaria; Holland from the Irish Republic; and Euell who plays for Jamaica. Perry, Bothroyd and M. Bent represented England. Later Rommedahl from Denmark and Bartlett from South Africa were brought on.

Of course, the management team is entirely English. And the debate about a successor to Curbs stimulated by some ambivalent remarks he made over the weekend rarely features a foreign manager. However, at least we are getting some sensible suggestions at last, e.g., Mark Bowen. Nevertheless, some people still seem to prefer a manager who is gobby and jumps up and down a lot (this being called 'passion') to proven technical coaching proficiency at a high level.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Kings of the goalless draw

That was Steve from Sidcup's verdict after the Addicks recorded a 0-0 draw against Everton in the mid-table Premiership clash at The Valley. Partly because of injuries and partly to rest players for next week's club replay at Boro, Charlton fielded a less than full strength side. A defence that has only conceded two goals at The Valley this year was once again solid with Sorondo fitting in well, but with Darren Bent absent, Charlton could not find the back of the net. Everton adopted a very physical approach, but fussy referee P Walton contented himself with two yellow cards.

The first half can be disposed of pretty quickly, although one feature was constant whingeing at decisions by charm merchant Beattie. A moment of real humour came when Holland almost lobbed the hapless Wright when he was out of his goal, the hapless keeper running back frantically to divert the ball for a corner,

Excellent work by Thomas allowed him to advance down the wing and put in a cross which Wright was quite fortunate to save. As half time approached, Beattie put in a strong shot from distance which Myhre was able to tip over and avert what would otherwise have been a certain goal.

Half time: Addicks 0, Toffeemen 0

Bothroyd had a try from distance. Thomas won Charlton a corner and, as confusion reigned in front of the Everton goal, the well poistioned Sorondo almost managed to pounce on the ball.

A cynical and unnecessary foul on Thomas by Hibbert was rewarded with a yellow card. Almost immediately Thomas was fouled again as he advanced down the wing, but this time it led to nothing more than a Charlton free kick.

Euell advanced well and won Charlton a corner, but it was unproductive. The three minutes of time added on saw almost as much meaningful action as the whole second half. Marcus Bent tried a snap shot that was saved. Another cynical foul led to a yellow card for McFadden. Ambrose had an attempt that was just wide.

Given the lack of goalmouth incident, both halves passed remarkably quickly. I did wonder if such a long journey was worthwhile for a rather disappointing match and perhaps I should have stayed at home to watch Leamington's derby with Racing Club Warwick, but at least Brakes beat the Gee Gees 2-1.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch awarded the Silver Bone to Jerome Thomas for his inspired performance on the wing. Myhre who received a warm welcome from the Everton supporters was once again on top form, stopping a fierce shot from Beattie from finding the back of the net. Perry was not noticeable because he was so efficient, although there was a great moment when he swerved round an Everton player, taking the ball away from him. Sorondo had an excellent game, defending vigorously and forging forward well. Standing in as captain Hreidarsson switched to left back and was an important presence in a number of attacks. Spector had probably what was his best game for Charlton standing in for the injured Young at right back. Kishishev put in some excellent long passes, but tends to be a bit of a headless chicken when he seeks to retrive an error. Holland was competent and effective and came close to scoring with an audacious lob. Euell passed neatly enough, but lacks the pace he had in the past and generally fails to convince. Marcus Bent still has to prove himself to the Valley faithful. Bothroyd also seems to be lacking in pace and skill. Bartlett did very little after he came on. Rommedahl made some threatening and quite effective runs. Ambrose has been mysteriously absent from the team for some time, but looked lively when he came on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded the Hiss of the Match to fussy referee P Walton who confirms the adage that nothing good ever came out of Northamptonshire (which also serves as the site for Premiership referee get togethers).

Crowd rating Disappointingly subduded, but hopefully saving it up for Boro. 3/10.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Toffeemen overshadowed

Tomorrow's visit of Everton to The Valley, yet another fixture in the Premiership Mid-Table League, has been overshadowed by the excitement surrounding next week's cup replay against Boro. This blog originally forecast a draw at home and a win away and we're sticking to that, although the most likely route to a win is a penalty shoot out following a draw after 120 minutes with Myhre at his very best.

Meanhwile the league continues to matter with half a million pounds at stake for every place so a win against the Toffeemen tomorrow remains essential to hopes of continued progress and a top ten finish. Any idea of putting out a weakened team is out of the question.

Our record at home against Everton in the Premiership has been quite good with three wins, two defeats and a draw. We haven't lost at home to them since 2001/2. We are forecasting a 2-1 home win.

Book on Sam Bartram

I now have my copy of Mike Blake's Sam Bartram: the Story of a Goalkeeping Legend. I haven't had time to read it yet, but one thing is that immediately clear is that it is lavishly illustrated with photos, most of which have never been seen before as they are taken from the family collection. You can buy this book through the Forever Charlton site. It's not expensive either: I got mine for just over £9 before delivery charges.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ten years ago: sell out at The Valley

It was a sell out crowd on Friday 5th April 1996 at The Valley when Charlton Athletic entertained Luton. Cheap tickets offered as part of the Target 10,000 initiative produced a crowd of 14,515 for this televised Good Friday fixture, the biggest since the return to The Valley. Lennie Lawrence returned to The Valley for the first time as a visiting manager, the match ending in 1-1 draw.

In the Midlands, Good Friday is a normal working day, but is usually observed as a holiday in the south. My notes recall, 'We started brightly enough, but errors by Stuart, Robson and Rufus gave Luton a goal. (There was some controversy about whether this was a Rufus own goal). We missed Mortimer, although Jones was good. We got back through a rather lucky penalty (taken by Bradley Allen).

[In goal] 'Petterson did quite well, but makes the whole team nervous.' With Ammann and Salmon both injured, Petterson had been recalled from Colchester where he was on loan earlier in the week for the 0-1 home defeat by Leicester. Petterson featured in the programme in a jersey that was a monument to bad taste as he stared with nervous confusion from the goal.

The Leicester defeat meant that the Addicks had had recorded eight wins, seven draws and four defeats both at home and on their travels

Monday, April 03, 2006

Big demand for Boro tickets

There has been a big demand for tickets for Charlton's FA Cup replay at Middlesbrough. The club's new phone system has been swamped and earlier in the day there were reports of long queues at The Valley.

Charlton's special projects director Rick Everitt reported, 'As at 1.45 there had been 13,433 phone calls today (obviously including repeats) and five minutes ago 2,600 tickets had been sold.' The Rickster later reported that by 5 p.m. sales had reached 3,500. 5,000 are available in total.

The trains and the planes have now sold out and it is not possible to provide more, but coach travel is still available.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Myhre tears up the headlines

Thomas Myhre tore up the headlines by denying birthday boy Teddy Sherringham a goal with a tremedous save at the Boleyn Ground. Charlton will be pleased to have got the away point through resolute defending while the Irons will feel they did not make use of the chances they had.

A torrential downpour of rain just before kick off was followed by the sun breaking through at Upton Park, writes Erith Addick Paul May. But whether a rainbow in the distance was a good omen for either side remained to be seen. Rommedahl came in for Thomas with Bryan Hughes starting on the left allowing Romm to play on the right.

Neither side established dominance in the opening minutes. Rommedahl put a good ball down the line but only Darren Bent was there to receive it and it drifted out for a throw in. A shot by Harewood took a deflection and led to an Irons corner. Charlton were under pressure for a short while before they cleared the ball. Ashton was unable to make use of an opportunity created by a run. Curbs came out from the dugout to the edge of his technical area.

The Addicks put on the pressure after a free kick, keeping possession well, while the Irons had problems in clearing their lines. The first quarter hour was generally rather scrappy, however.

Young won the ball well off Konchesky, Rommedahl tried to turn provider for Darren Bent, but the move didn't work. As the halfway point in the half was reached, the game had not really taken fire with two evenly matched sides playing quite cautiously. Darren Bent seemed a little below par failing to take advantage of a good ball from Chris Powell. Hislop did not look at ease with his defence and needed to be pressurised more.

Luke Young got an important tackle in but conceded a corner kick in the process. Myhre gathered comfortably. Referee Styles had to come across and calm Pardew down, the fourth official having failed in his efforts. Rommedahl put in an effort, but the Irons defence were able to head it away. Young got a yellow card for a late tackle on Mullings, in effect retaliating when Styles failed to recognise a foul on him by Harewood.

A warm up by Sherringham produced the most enthusiastic response of the afternoon so far from the home support. Etherington won a free kick after he was tackled by Kish.
Konchesky's free kick failed to create anything for the Irons. Hughes got past Ferdinand well and Konchesky had to put the ball out for Charlton's first corner.

West Ham broke forward but Konchesky's final ball went straight into Myhre's arms. The ball broke well for Ferdinand, Darren Bent failing to track him back all the way, and he shot into the side netting.

Kishishev's first touch was poor and he then just hooked the ball into the box. Bent was caught offside. Harewood had an effort with his right foot and the alert Myhre had to make a low save to his right. Darren Bent had a try from 20 yards which drifted wide but the attempt was worth making.

Half time: Irons 0, Addicks 0

Sherringham was brought on in place of Ashton to try and provide a story for the Monday papers. Charlton won an early corner, the Irons conceding a second from Romm's effort. This time the Irons cleared.

The Irons won a corner which was taken short and headed away. Konchesky put a ball across the front of goal which may have been a shot but no one connected. A move started by Rommedahl led to a Charlton corner, but it was unproductive. Rommedahl won the Addicks another corner. The ball came back to him and he won another corner.
then a third as the Addicks kept up the pressure. This time a Charlton throw in was the result.

Perry blocked a run by Harewood who tried to muscle past him. A quickly taken free kick from 35 yards out by Collins was not far over the bar. Charlton had a moment of pressure, but the Irons were able to clear and then win a corner off Luke Young.
The Herminator cleared comfortably with a header. Luke Young was limping from the encounter with Konchesky and Spector got ready as Young received treatment.

A sliced clearance from Perry gave the Irons another corner. Darren Bent got a header on it but the Irons won a second corner. Spector was able to clear after some initial confusion. Sherringham was penalised for pushing.

Matt Holland won a corner kick following a good passing movement. Hughes tried to get contact off a Perry flick on but failed to score the opening goal. Hughes conceded a corner. Thomas was brought on and somewhat surprisingly, given his contribution, Rommedahl was taken off. Marcus Bent made a poor snap shot when he should have laid the ball off to Thomas.

A counter attack down the right led to an Irons corner. Marcus Bent made a poor clearance. Holland made an attempt but it went wide and he was furious with himself.
Spector looked under pressure. The Irons brought on Zamora withdrawing Reo Coker.

Etherington won a corner off Kish. It was cleared off the line by Kish as Zamora threatened to score from a powerful header. The Irons won yet another corner with the match in its last ten minutes, but the ball was cleared. Spector defended well to deny Etherington a corner.

A ball from Harewood was well read by Hreidarsson with Zamora threatening. Myhre made a tremendous save to deny Sherringham a birthday goal from the corner. Konchesky put in a good ball but fortunately he ended up on the roof of the net. Harewood was taken off for the Irons and a second Israeli international brought on while Bothroyd replaced the unimpressive Marcus Bent.

Hreidarsson read Zamora well. Charlton were defending deep in the closing minutes. Three minutes of time were added on. Kishishev made a great last ditch tackle to ease the pressure. Thomas was closed down by three West Ham players. Spector closed down a Konchesky cross at the expense of a corner, but the Irons failed to make use of a free header. Charlton confirmed that they are away goalless draw specialists.

West Ham preview

Charlton face another crucial game in the Premiership mid-table league away at the Boleyn Ground today. Victory would take the Addicks into the top half of the table above the Toffeemen whom they face next week, but it would need a substantial win to get above the Irons on goal difference. The Times Fink Tank didn't know what to make of the match yesterday being effectively unable to distinguish between the prospects for a home win, away win or a draw. Form isn't much help as the Addicks have won two and lost two there in the Premiership, although that includes a 5-0 tonking.

Morale among Charlton fans is suddenly much higher as a result of the club's imaginative arrangements to get fans to the replay at Boro, thus reviving the old Charlton spirit. All credit to those involved at the club, including chief executive Peter Varney. However, only about a thousand fans are going to Upton Park today, including Erith's Paul May who will be providing his usual well oiled but nevertheless incisive match report.

Much of the media comments has focused on the chances of a 40th birthday goal by Teddy Sherringham. I find this a difficult match to call, but I am going for a 2-2 draw.

Rickster faces re-election bid

The official residence of the Mayor of Welling was the location for much of the groundwork on the highly successful Rickshaw service

Elsewhere we have been reminded that former Valley Party stalwart Cllr. Rick Everitt will be seeking re-election in the New Labour interest to Bexley Council. The Rickster only just won election last time round and his potential Rickshaw supporters are widely scattered throughout rural and coastal Kent. The Reading politics graduate is a shrewd political operator and an assiduous ward councillor, but it may be that the Mayor of Welling's official residence will have a new tenant come May.

Myhre: Curbs is what a modern manager is

Goalkeeper Thomas Myhre is the subject of a major interview in the Independent on Sunday today. There are not many keepers who would admit that they have spent 13 hours in the Louvre, although Calamity James at Manchester City has presented art criticism programmes on television and is a proficient artist. Myhre is simply a major collector.

On football Myhre marvels at the 'enthusiasm and motivation' his manager shows even though he has been at Charlton so long. He is not surprised that Curbishley has been interviewed for the England job. 'I would have been surprised if Alan wasn't approached as one of the candidates,' he says. 'He's as good as anyone. He's very modern, he's out there all the time, taking sessions, technically and tactically. He's what a modern manager is. He's very passionate.'

Read the whole interview at:


Curbs still in running for England job

Curbs gets a full page feature in the Sunday Times today and, although the interview mentions today's clash with the Irons, the real focus is on him as a possible England manager. The article reckons that it is now a choice between him and Martin O'Neill.

Curbs discusses a lot of his topics including his time as a roadie, when he sold confiscated beer at The Who concert at The Valley and his problems with Paul Konchesky.

Read the article at: