Monday, 28 November 2011

This Is The One...

In the words of Ian Brown and the Stone Roses, 'this is the one...I've waited for'! I've very deliberately tried to avoid thinking about tonight's game too much in the last week or so (for my own sanity), but it dominated my thoughts on my usual Sunday morning run yesterday and the twisted, nervy feeling inside the belly since then is a constant reminder of what's to come. There's no getting away from it now!

I love the anticipation of big nights at The Valley. Under the shrouded, magical glow of the floodlights, night games seem to rise up a notch or two in atmosphere and importance: like nothing else matters anywhere else in the world.

Despite the prospect of a chilly night ahead and the game being live on Sky, I still expect a decent gate, and hopefully the Covered End will be on form tonight, relentlessly driving the team on. There will understandably be fewer Terrier fans present than if it were a Saturday game, which I guess offers us a slight advantage in having the game switched to midweek.

The sizable loss of Johnny Jackson aside, it has been some considerable time since I've felt so confident of a Charlton side going into a big game. No weak underbelly now: confidence high.

My Mum will be coming along with me tonight. Traditionally, when I've bought my Mum along in the past it has generally been for lower-profile games (for ticketing reasons, as much as anything). This, by contrast, will easily be the biggest Charlton game she will have been to and I hope with all my heart she gets to see the Valley roof lifted high into the night sky, because if it turns out to be 'one of those nights', she will have no idea what's in store!

In reality, we all know that in terms of promotion, nothing whatsoever will be decided tonight, win, lose or draw. But the Addicked also know that to overcome the challenge of Huddersfield will prove hugely significant in our quest to escape the 3rd Division. For what it's worth, I predict a 1-0 win to Charlton, with BWP netting late on.

Come on you Addicks!!!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

God Speed, Garry...

Like everyone else today I was left totally stunned by the sudden news of Gary Speed's death. It is perhaps all the more tragic that he clearly had a troubled mind that few, if anyone, knew about. I just hope and pray that as more becomes know, the good name of Garry Speed holds firm.

In every respect, Garry Speed represented the type of footballer I always wanted to be. Left foot, right foot, excellent in the air, strong, fit and most of all, reassuringly consistent.

What a terrible and tragic waste.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cometh...and Gone!

Simple question. What's happened to Arthur and his Cometh The Haddock blog?

I miss his alternative take on all things Addicted!

Thursday, 10 November 2011


I took advantage of an early finish at work on Tuesday to watch my young son play football. He's only 5, so it's football in the loosest sense of the word, but even so, he's come on a lot since I watched him last. I should make more effort to do it more often as he seemed to really respond to me being there.

As always, the young lad was decked out in his Charlton home kit, which i'll confess made my eyes glaze over when I saw him stood alongside his little pals. Apparently, so my missus says, he's never once asked for anything different despite being the odd one out. Of the 12 young lads at the club, there was pretty much an equal split of Arsenal and Spurs kits on show, with Liverpool and Chelsea making up the remainder. I wonder sometimes if he'll succumb to the lure of the more 'popular and glamorous' clubs around him. I doubt any of his teammates would have heard of Charlton.

But it wasn't all bad. I'll confess I liked the fact he was put with the Arsenal boys when the session demanded teams (reds together). I spent many a happy Saturday afternoon swaying back and forth on the North Bank watching Arsenal with my mates when I was a young teenager, so I'll always hold a strong affection for the Gunners. 

Regular readers of this blog may recall that earlier this season my Mum and me took my son to his first ever Charlton game. It wasn't the resounding success I'd hoped for (he was unnerved by the crowd noise) and since then I've taken a bit of a step back from pushing football or Charlton on to him. I still favour the thought that he'll make his own mind up and it will be all the better feeling (for me) if he does become an Addick. I take it as a good omen that he seems quite happy to be in the minority amongst his peers. I'm not really one for conforming with the standard, so if he takes on my personality in this regard, he may cope perfectly well with being unique.

At one stage my boy ran through and drilled a wonderful shot passed the goalie (who was staring off into space at the time) before spinning away and celebrating in the outstretched-arm style favoured by David Beckham (apparently, they are encouraged to celebrate their goals, which I think is a nice touch). Just for the briefest of moments, I was transported to the East Stand and found myself cheering an Addick's goal with all the usual passion, before recoiling back down on my seat slightly embarrassed by my wild overreaction!

I don't do high 5's - it's an annoying Americanism that I detest with a passion and I actively work against it. My boy well knows this (I'm not particularly proud of this fact, by the way, but a man must hold firm his principles) so when at the end of the session the coach instructed the lads to 'high 5 everyone', my son and me simply indulged in a good, honest firm handshake, whilst I ruffled his hair and told him Chris Powell may well have been watching the goal he scored. He smiled.

I wish!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Happy Feelings...

Putting it simply, there is no place on this entire planet I'd rather be than at The Valley when Charlton are putting on a performance as they did on Saturday. The Covered End lead relentlessly throughout in what was a fantastic, upbeat atmosphere. The returning soles lost to darker times made up an encouraging 17,500 gate, and if they came wanting entertainment, they got far more than they could ever have expected. If you're a regular at the Valley on matchdays then you will be able to sense the change in mood building up nicely as each game passes. Chris Powell's infectious enthusiasm resonates around The Valley and the nervous tension has given way to confident optimism.

Collectively and individually this is a Charlton team that is improving with each match. Perhaps most importantly, we finally appear to have a group of players that we can believe in. Without exception, they look like Charlton players: and by the fact that you're reading this, I know you'll know exactly what I mean by that. The Manager and his players have set the standard, and given our points tally and league position to date, I now expect us to stay the distance and challenge for promotion...perhaps I could even dare to dream of us winning the title. To let the wheels fall off now would perhaps be the biggest and most hardest blow of all in recent years.

I thought Preston started quite brightly on Saturday, albeit without creating anything too threatening. Perhaps they are suffering the same hang-up that we had when we came down from the Championship. It could be that their players are making all the right sounds publicly, but inwardly they are not particularly up for the sizable battle to get out of this less-than-glamorous league (some will think they are too good for League 1, I suppose). I can't stand Phil Brown, either. I used to think he was one of the most exciting managers in the game when he took Hull to the Premiership, but I lost all respect for him when he made the worst decision he will ever make throughout his entire managerial career when he gave his players a teamtalk on the pitch at the City of Manchester Stadium in December 2008. I literally can't look at him now without laughing.

Isn't it nice to have a warm feeling inside rather than the gut-wrenching sense of despair? There has been so many times down the years that I have genuinely wished it all never meant so much to me: that I could care when I wanted. Even my missus has noticed an improvement in my mood (bless her, she's even started asking how we got on again). There will be set backs, and we should guard against complacency (I don't think this will be an issue, mind), but as was proved post-Stevenage, this Charlton side can respond. For now though, at least, the naysayer's remain quiet.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Shank's Pony...

I've always preferred to use my own legs for transport whenever possible, especially when trying to get around London. I'm not one for hopping on buses and I hate the hustle and bustle of the tube only marginally more than the mindless boredom of the vista (or rather, lack of it). Asides from those reasons, taking the 'Shank's Pony' method gives you a great chance to experience our great city in a manor that public transport just wouldn't allow. I love plugging in the headphones and getting lost in my own little world whilst people watching and exploring new sights.

I had a couple of meetings yesterday afternoon which meant I didn't need to rush into town, and as I'd planned to meet a mate for a cheeky after-work beer, I had no reason to rush straight home after. Taking advantage of my leisurely day, I kicked things off with a 4 mile run in the morning before deciding upon a brisk walk to the train station soon after.

With plenty of time to kill I took a route down from Liverpool Street Station via Moorgate and Poultry to St. Paul's so I could take a look at how the Occupy London protests were progressing, before heading south over the Millennium Bridge and back along Bankside to a building just off Southwark Bridge, the destination of my first meeting. From there, I ambled east through Borough Market before following the Thames past HMS Belfast and returned north over Tower Bridge. The destination of my next meeting was Thomas More Square, near St. Katherine's Dock: a 5 min walk from The Tower of London.

Finishing up there around 3pm, I then decided that as I had a couple hours to kill I may as well walk to Euston Station, where I was due to meet my mate for a beer in the craft beer venue, The Euston Tap (a drinking spot I can highly recommend, by the way). Despite the pouring rain my legs kept on walking...via Cannon Street, back up past St. Paul's, past Holborn Viaduct (where I followed a chap for 10 mins who was having an almighty row with someone who I assume may have been his wife), turning right at High Holborn, up Southampton Row and past Tavistock Square before finally arriving on Euston Rd almost dead on our meet time.

After a few drinks, I compromised my principles with a tube ride to Tottenham Hale where I caught the train back to Bishop's Stortford. I was briefly tempted to jump in a cab, but decided I'd walk home instead. The rain had stopped by then and I fancied a stroll.

I never really gave it much thought throughout the day, but I become curious on the walk from the station of just how far I'd travelled using only the power of 'Shank's Pony'. I was sad enough to track my route via View Ranger Maps this morning and if I include my run at the start of the day, I'd done just shy of 17 miles!

I was pretty pleased with that.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Pause For Thought...

My Mum alerted me to this story this morning: her cousin is a Doncaster fan.

It's worth a read and a momentary pause for thought for a very brave man and his family. It beggars belief how he could have managed to find the courage to play in the game, but Doncaster striker, Billy Sharp (wearing No.10 in the image above), played and scored in his sides 1-3 defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough last night, just two days after the death of his newborn son.

It certainly puts football in to perspective, but also shows the intense unity that can be found in the game as well.