Sunday, 31 October 2010

Irrational Hatred Of Symmetry

I have always had an irrational hatred of symmetry. It irritates me immensely and if I'm subjected to the 'harmonious aesthetically pleasing proportionality' of symmetry (as defined by Wikipedia) I can very quickly get cross. For obvious reasons I don't tend to publicise this grievance with geometry, but given that when writing this blog I hide behind a meaningless and ridiculous alias and remain faceless it doesn't really matter that much. 

There is a point to may well be totally worthless, but it's a point none the less!

Before Saturday, Charlton's season was in danger of becoming a bit too symmetrical for my liking: winning as many games as we loose, scoring as many as we concede. Winning a game, loosing a game, winning a game, loosing a game. Happy.....sad.....happy......sad...

It's taken a while to understand my emotion, but I'm not angry at Charlton's indifferent or regretfully well-balanced form; I find it bloody irritating...just like I'm staring at a fireplace with two equally proportioned candles at either end and a clock dead-centre.

But in reality I realise the symmetry link is not really in the aesthetic sense but more to do with balance. Ironically, Charlton seem to have found some balance and I'm very pleased to see it! 

What a load of nonsense!

I'm going to bed now...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Nicky Weaver...

Saturday's visit of Sheffield Wednesday will see a return of ex-Addicks keeper, Nicky Weaver, and inevitably this will lead to some very interesting thoughts regarding the reception he will get from the Charlton fans. Weaver - a self-confessed Wednesday fan - became a hate-figure at Charlton following a number of run-ins with the Addicks supporters down the years, notably with those within the Covered End. I always felt there was an element of humour to the banter - albeit very dark at times - rather than anything truly sinister, and this was in part down to Weaver's ability to take the stick like a man, often giving as good as he got.

At the time Pardew signed Weaver he would have easily featured in a top-10 list of players least likely to ever play for Charlton and so I can remember being totally dumfounded when he signed given his history with our supporters. In a way, I instantly admired Weaver for having the balls to move to Charlton and face the hostility (he would hardly hit the ground with the fans behind him after all). Furthermore, I saw it as a positive sign of his character and determination to help us back to the top flight. I wasn't entirely won over, but the big lumbering keeper with the scruffy beard seemed the sort of bloke you could have an argument with down the pub and he'd end up shaking your hand, offering you a pint and a lift home!

Following a decent start to the campaign the relationship between player and supporter soon grew to such a level that Weaver became a bit of a cult hero...a villain turned good. Ok, perhaps the term 'hero' is not really the best, but you know what I mean. His form was mixed throughout his stay and ultimately he wasn't able to lift us back to the Premiership and following our relegation from the Championship he left: just two years after arriving.

So I'll give a gentle clap when his name is called out on Saturday, but for one overriding reason that goes beyond his relationship with Charlton. For me, Weaver represents a rare bread of pro-footballers who don't take themselves too seriously, and I like that.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

This Is All Very Confusing!!!

Yet again the Addicks teeter on that immeasurably fine line between success and failure. What should have been a comfortable victory after an excellent first half became an unacceptably tense ending. This may well be 3 points gained (when nobody, including me, predicted anything other than a defeat) but I don't feel convinced I should be celebrating too keenly. In fact, I think I feel more angry than happy that yet again we showed a complete inability to perform consistently over an entire 90 mins.

I take my hat off to the travelling Addicks who deserved the late winner more than anyone.

Benson may well have given Parkinson  a stay-of-execution, but if I was him I wouldn't be sleeping too comfortably tonight. 

I will be very interested to hear how we managed to throw a 3 goal lead away, with further questions raised on the teams mental resolve and Parkinson's ability to influence the pattern of the game, especially when things are not going well. 

On a plus note, we did manage to score 4 goals away from home. Furthermore, we have a very healthy habit of scoring late goals, which in part contradicts my concerns about mental resolve and lasting 90 mins!

This is all very confusing!

In fact, this is a very testing time to be an Addick, perhaps the most testing in the 16 odd years I've been regularly watching Charlton.

I just don't know what to make of it all. 

Friday, 22 October 2010

Today It Became Obvious...

Sometime towards the end of the Brighton game, with the scoreline at zero - three, the chap I have sat next to for many years turns towards me, leans in and whispers in my ear "today it became obvious" before turning and slumping back in his seat. I nodded. I have sat next to him for long enough to know I'm likely to have agreed with him regardless of exactly what had 'became obvious' at that point. He never gave me the impression he wanted to discuss further anyway.

Such is the way my mind works (I would rather it didn't, I can promise you) I have thought about that throw-away comment a lot this week.

So what did become obvious?

He would not have been surprised by an indifferent performance that lacked direction, conviction and verve, but perhaps the sheer gulf in difference between us and Brighton became undeniably obvious. Even the most partisan Addick couldn't fail to accept that. Even if you take the view that Brighton had a good day - after all, despite the huge disappointment of the result, I don't think they were four goals better than us - it still was a shocking spectacle to watch. Furthermore, a good number of fellow bloggers have rightly pointed out that man-for-man Brighton did not have a stronger team of individual players, which serves only to make the failings of the Charlton management even more obvious. It was one thing watching the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea et al run rings around us at The Valley but not a side from League One. A long-term fall from grace became embarrassing on Saturday. Obviously so.

Perhaps Saturday was the tipping point that finally made my companion recognise that we are an average side in League One. Despite still having an enviable squad of players when compared with most in this division, we are not one of the better footballing sides by a long stretch...not even close. We have tried to guard against it, maybe even deny it, but if we're honest, we all secretly hoped to challenge for a Play-Off place this season at least. Now even that is looking unlikely. What next, talk of relegation? Maybe my man thinks that's inevitable...or obvious...given our current unconvincing form.

Perhaps the much-maligned Parkinson's failures as a manager became shovel-in-the-face-obvious to my fellow Addick. Once again, the limitations of Parkinson has been well discussed throughout the fans forums and the like, but never has one man's leadership, tactical know-how and organisation seemed so lacking when compared with that of another, in this case, Gus Poyet. He may well be a likable sort of chap, but can Parkinson lift this club back to it's arguably rightful level in the second tier of English football? The signs aren't good. If Parkinson is not to loose the limited fan base he has, then he must find a way to maximise the attributes of this group of players...this League One group of players. At the moment that seems beyond him. There will be some that will want to see Parkinson (and therefore Charlton) fail over the next few games to speed up his exit. I am not amongst them. I would love nothing more than to see an Addicks team successful under his management.

But maybe the flippant statement runs deeper...

We are a League One side: how more obvious did it need to get Saturday? Maybe the descent into football's backwaters are not over yet. How we all want to say that we have seen the lowest point and we are on our way back...however slow a process that may be, but maybe not. Obviously not yet, at least.

For what it's worth I expect us to get beat again this Saturday. I don't have this fixture down as an away win at any time, least of all at the minute.

But then obviously I could be wrong...this is Charlton after all!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Devoid Of Direction

Another hugely disappointing Saturday afternoon at The Valley. Outclassed and outplayed by a team far better organised by a very talented young Manager with an idea of how he wants his team to play. Direction, dedication, decisiveness: everything we lack.

Worryingly, there were too many occasions today, particularly in the second half, when our players were staring at the ground and shaking their heads following yet another misplaced pass or mistake. Hardly the signs of unity.

I can't believe Brighton fans boo'd their team last week for not getting the ball forward quick enough. Top of the league and still not happy!

I'd love to be as unhappy as a Brighton fan!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Spirit Of The Adventure - Part Two

I returned home late afternoon Sunday from my trekking weekend in the Southern Lakes as physically shattered as I've ever felt, but hugely content in what was a truly awesome experience. The opportunity to walk for three days in this breathtaking natural wilderness left me feeling completely privileged and humbled. Setting out from Great Langdale, our overall aim was to climb England's highest peak, Scafell Pike, by mid-afternoon on the Saturday. It was a tough and testing route we had set ourselves, especially for me as I am a novice amongst more experienced trekkers. Thankfully, whilst I'm not the most physically strong person you will meet, I have the stamina of an Ethiopian runner (I road-run regularly) so I coped far better than I thought (especially with nearly 20kg on my back!).

Reaching up to just over 3,200ft, the summit of Scafell was visible in the far distance from where we camped on the first night. It was an incredible incentive to rise early and push on but it's huge ominous bulk never seemed to get any closer to us the next day as we climbed the peaks and then dropped down in to the valleys. None the less, slightly ahead of schedule, at 13.40 I was officially the tallest person in England. To some that will not mean an awful lot, and it's not the greatest achievement a man could have, but I was thoroughly proud of myself!

The descent downwards from this monumental giant showed us the dangers of complacency in this unforgiving environment as a fellow trekker within another party had fallen and cracked his head so badly we were forced to call Mountain Rescue when we reached a point we could gain the merest of mobile signal. As we continued our trek to our proposed camping spot for the night, we could hear the helicopter droning away in the valley just passed: I don't think a word was spoken between us for some time.

The second night we camped at a truly beautiful place called Angle Tarn (pictured above). My overriding memory of this place will forever be the 5 of us laying on our backs staring up at a clear night sky for two hours watching the most amazing light show courtesy of a million and more bright stars. They are always there, of course, but so rarely do you get an opportunity to experience their splendour in an area unspoilt by light pollution. No TV could provide such entertainment and we were very luck the early-October weather was so kind to us.

The whole experience was, for me, enhanced by the fact that a year ago my four fellow trekkers would have been total strangers to me. Our relationships have grown out of the school playground as our young children frequent the same primary school. We are all different, and in any other situation we may never have been drawn together as a group, but the camaraderie shown over the weekend leaves me with some very cherished memories.

And for once, Charlton never mattered! I learnt of our draw with Plymouth when my Mum's text finally found it's way to my phone some time just after we joined the M6. It would have topped my weekend off to have seen an Addicks win, but then again, for once, even a defeat would not have bought me down!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Spirit Of The Adventure...

For the next few days I will be fulfilling a long-term dream by heading out into the hills and getting as far away from civilisation as is possible in this country. Granted it is not quite like climbing Everest or walking the length of the Andes, but my three day trekking weekend to the Lakes represents a challenge that will take me well and truly outside my comfort zone. I'll be carrying a pack that weighs more than my 4 year old son for three days (which will test my less-than-muscular frame), doing a bit of wild camping and facing the prospect of having to locate our own drinking water (which shouldn't be too difficult in the Lakes!). None the less, I've never found myself in that position before and I can't deny being a tad nervous. But then that's the point of it all: if it was going to be a 'walk in the park' (pardon the pun) I wouldn't do it. When my 4 companions and I conceived the idea we wanted it to be as challenging as possible. Our unofficial team leader, Rich, is as well-drilled in trekking as you could hope: he's the opposite end of the spectrum to me with regards to experience. His attention to detail is hugely reassuring.

Just as Charlton kick-off against Plymouth, I'll hopefully be edging my way to the summit of Scafell Pike (pictured). At just over 3,200ft it is visually not as imposing as Ben Nevis, for example, but it is England's highest point after all. I will be hoping that I can get a signal up there so my Mum can text me the result of the game...I know I said I wanted to get away from civilisation, but there are always exceptions!

One thing that you can be assured of is that there will be an Addick looking down on the entire nation on Saturday often can we say that!