Monday, 22 October 2012

Stay Strong Kish...

It's quite normal for me to pen a few words on the Monday morning after a weekend game, but I'd be embarrassed to harp on about the disappointments of Saturday's performance and result after the news broke last night that our former midfielder, Radostin Kishishev, has lost his young wife to cancer. Krasimira was just 38 years old and leaves behind two young sons. News like this certainly puts things into perspective. So desperately sad.
I can recall some years back watching a League Cup match at The Valley and, as is my habit on such occasions, I decided to get a seat in the West Stand for a change. It never took me long to realise that sat directly behind me was Kish's wife and I will always remember just how vocal and passionate she was every time Kish went anywhere near the ball. She seemed to take as much pleasure in a strong challenge as you might imagine Kish would have! I can't even remember anything else about that game, not even the result, but I do remember Kish's wife.
In every respect Kish epitomised the Charlton spirit in a glorious period for the club and he was hugely popular with those fans who could recognise his role in the team. He will need every ounce of that fighting spirit now.
Stay strong for your two boys, Kish. Our thoughts are with you.    

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Long Road Ahead...6 Months To Go

It's been nearly a month since I secured a place in next years London Marathon and my training preperations gently build towards the biggest physical challenge I'm ever likely to undertake. Perhaps more importantly, despite having some early doubts as to whether I was passionate enough about running that sort of distance, I have finally got my head around the idea and I'm really up for the challenge now.

As I already run approx. 16 miles over 3 runs per week I've not really felt a huge hit in the training regime as yet. I've taken advice from runners (Charlton's own @strayslacks amongst them via Twitter) and the common theme has been to add around 10% in distance to one of those runs each week. So far, I'm up to 8.7m and feeling really good. In fact, it is obvious to me that my biggest challenge at this early stage is to reduce my pace to something suitable for 26 odd miles as I'm currently running 8 miles in a similar pace to that which I'd normally do 4 or 5 miles in.

Mentally I'm in my element with the thought of those long runs alone! I've had so many offers of people willing to act as a training partner, but I've happily turned them all down! Running this marathon will be the most selfish thing I ever do. From the moment I got the acceptance letter to the moment I (hopefully) cross the finishing line I will be on my own: alone with my own thoughts.

I've not set any finishing time targets for myself just yet, but I will over time. Nor have I given any deep thoughts to what charity I may run for. I'm really not good with the whole 'please sponsor me' thing. On the other hand, my incentive for running is easy. I shall complete this challenge out of respect for my Granddad and what he and his companions went through in the Far East during the second world war. My Granddad Thomas was taken by the Japanese in Garoet, Java (Indonesia) on the 9th of March 1942 and was held in appalling conditions for nearly 4 years. The death rate was around 30% for those British soldiers captured, but my Granddad somehow held firm and came home to his family. Having researched what they went through, I will never have any idea how he never gave up.

Trust me, 7 months of training and 26 odd miles will be completed without a single complaint.  

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Shown The Door...

Whilst nothing has been confirmed by the club to my knowledge, Rick Everitt used the Charlton Life forum yesterday to publicly announce that he has been sacked by Charlton. Sadly, the rumours have been circulating for a while, but it is still very sad that another true Charlton man has been shown the door. It's ironic that the club have timed his departure just before the 'Football For A Fiver' game this weekend, which was a scheme conceived by Rick Everitt.
One of the very first purchases I ever made from Charlton's club shop in late 94 was a copy of Rick's book 'Battle For The Valley' and it is truly inspiring stuff. It cannot be overplayed just how important that fight was in securing not only a return to The Valley but ensuring we all have a club to support today. In that respect, I will forever owe Rick and those that fought alongside him a huge debt of gratitude. If you've not read the book, you should do so.
I regularly see Rick milling about outside the Valley or in the East Stand on a matchday, and although I've never actually met him I always have a strong urge to walk up to him and shake his hand. I suppose I've never done it as he strikes me as the sort of chap who doesn't seek out adulation.
As many have commented already, it's hard to see this move in a positive light and yet again the new owners have come under scrutiny. Once again, I would suggest we won't get much of an explanation from the club any time soon. Perhaps this is quite simply a case of Rick Everitt being too strong a character to ever act as a 'yes man' in the new regime. This is business, after all, and if you don't 'shape up' you don't tend to last long.

I'll be honest, I did find it rather odd that there was a few quotes attributed to Rick Everitt (under a well-known alias) on Charlton Life just before the start of the season when the negative rumours of a financial meltdown were in full swing (much to the annoyance of the club, it appeared). Those quotes never really gave much away, but it was the lack of a denial that problems existed that resonated deeper with Charlton fans. I remember at the time thinking that it was odd that even writing under an alias, he allowed his name to be drawn into the scaremongering at the time. It just never seemed particularly wise unless he had another motive for doing so.

Perhaps that motive was the fact that Rick had already had visibility of things at Boardroom level he couldn't accept and has, once again, put the club and it's fans first at a personal cost to himself.
The one puzzling thing to all of this - and if I play devils advocate for just a small moment - is that if you take away those rumours (and that's all they are until proven as fact) I would struggle to criticise Jimenez and Slater. Don't forget it was us, the fans, who sang in unison 'We've Got Our Charlton Back' at the end of last season and I'd hate to think where we'd be had they not taken over the club and had the foresight to install Sir Chris as manager. Whilst the rumours of unrest continue, I have to deal with the facts.

Rick hinted yesterday that he may be about to resurrect the Charlton fanzine 'The Voice of The Valley', although as welcome as that would be to all those who enjoyed reading it (I had a few letters published myself), I do wonder what place a paper fanzine has in today's age of social media.
Anyway, chairman, managers and even players will come and go but thankfully chaps like Rick Everitt will always be Charlton. Next time I see him I will ask to shake him by the hand.  

Monday, 15 October 2012

Clenched Fists, Wide Eyed...

With Charlton not in action last Saturday I took advantage of a rare opportunity to go and watch my local no-league side, Bishop's Stortford, play. The rather prestigious visitors were the once football league side, Chester, who dropped the 'City' part of their name as the supporter-owned club reformed after going out of business back in 2010. With the infrastructure of a league club, some of their players reportedly on a grand a week and an enviable away following (some 450 estimated on Saturday), it's inevitable that Chester continue to rapidly climb the football pyramid as they are aiming for their third successive promotion.
My earliest footballing memories as a very young lad was following Bishop's Stortford, attending games home and away with my Granddad Thomas, my Dad and occasionally my Mum. I always feel a strong sense of guilt whenever I watch The Blues. I know I've let them down badly in the last 20 years. I really should go more often. 
My young son, Thomas, came along too. It was his first game watching 'The Blues' and only his second ever *proper* football match (he came to Charlton with me and my Mum last season, but was a bit bewildered by it all as my before and after posts at the time recalled). I'm so conscious of pushing him into anything he doesn't want to do but I'll admit I am inwardly desperate for the lad to want to spend Saturday afternoons watching football with me. I was as nervous as anything taking him along. He complained about being cold at one stage (and ended up with my hat on as a result) but other than that he was brilliant.
I cling desperately to signs he may have a spark inside of him ignited by watching football, just as I did when I was his age. On 78 mins I had one of those magic moments that will live with me forever. The Blues had just gone a goal down when our left back popped up out of nowhere and unleashed an unlikely shot from fully 25 yards out that nearly took the net off as it powered into the goal. It's the sort of moment that comes out of nothing. Blink and you miss it. I looked down at Thomo, immediately praying he never missed the moment and there he was, both fists clenched, teeth gritted, eyes wide open. He then let out a massive YYYYEEEEEESSSSS!!!
This post will forever mark the first *proper* goal he ever *properly* celebrated at a live game. I'm a very sentimental sort of chap and that was a great moment. I ruffled the hat on his head and even the chap standing next to us looked pleased at my boy's response.
Chester went on to grab a winner late on, but the real victory for me was Thomo asking when he's coming to football next. Charlton v's Middlesbro in a few weeks, I said, and I can't wait.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Coasting To A Win...

Football is a funny old game. After two disappointing home games which heralded just a single point when it could and perhaps should have been 6, we go and grab an unlikely away win at Blackpool. The dark clouds lift and the naysayers crawl back under their stones...for now, at least. They should rightly be embarrassed that their over-reactions after Tuesday look pretty foolish now.
This really is a division in which anyone can beat anyone.
I wasn't able to follow the action much yesterday (save a few quick glances at Twitter) as I was flying by the seat of my pants driving back home from work in Islington to meet friends for an evening out in The O2. Not being quite so obsessed about matters I can't control felt quite good and I certainly felt more relaxed for it. My Mum sent me a text proclaiming Solly had bagged our second and a huge grin reached across my face. His long-awaited goal was an absolute stunner and just rewards for the travelling Addicks who made the long trip north. 
The result makes the league table (right) look a little more respectable, and for the record, it's about this position that I expect us to finish this season. We now have a break for the internationals before we face Barnsley at The Valley on the 20th. With the club selling all tickets for a fiver, it's looking to be a bumber crowd. Hopefully Charlton do not freeze under the curse that seems to follow these sort of promotional days.
I saw a tweet from the author and Charlton fan, Charlie Connelly yesterday which made me laugh, and pretty much sums up life as an Addick. He wrote "I love been a Charlton fan - 2-0 up in injury time and even the official club twitter feed is praying we can hang on" Brilliant! We can all relate to that feeling.
If you want some light Sunday afternoon reading, the best place to find the collective thoughts of yesterday's game by my fellow bloggers is here.
Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Fair-Minded Perspective...

Sometimes I do have to wonder about some people. I'm not sure what niggled me more last night when I got home from the Valley and caught up with the fallout from the defeat via Twitter; the harsh nature of the loss or the reaction from some so-called 'fans'. A great example last night of social media at it's very worst. It was still rumbling on this morning. People are entitled to their opinions, of course, but when that opinion is so wide of any reasonable mark I will always struggle with you. 
Emotions run high and I was as disappointed as any fair-minded Addick would be to see us loose to 10 very average men after having so many chances to win the game twice over, but the fact is, some people really need to look at themselves in the mirror and get a reality check. Abusing the players and calling for Chris Powell to be sacked is moronic at best. It beggars belief. There are some very shallow people out there with very short memories.
Such are the fine lines, the reaction would have almost certainly been different if we'd grabbed an equaliser. Brilliant! So we'd have been a point better off. 
Before I go on, let me tell you my standpoint, and it makes for pretty simple reading...
Charlton have a number of players that are looking increasingly like they are struggling to make the required impact in the Championship. Fact! But the harsh reality is the club doesn't appear to have the finances to go out and buy the level of quality we may require, even if it was readily available. Where this leaves us is that without serious investment we will do well to finish towards the bottom of mid-table this season. All of this I can accept as I can see genuine effort and commitment. I support those players representing my club. I don't question the desire of one of them. 
If you set your standards higher than a mid-table (at best) finish this season, you're a fool.
Not being quite good enough does not mean you don't give a shit.
Ironically, if you've bothered to read this (and I do not hide the fact that this was posted simply to get something off my chest) then I know 100% you will agree with me. But please use the comment section below if you don't.
Through thick and thin. Highs and lows. I've seen so many frustrating, heart-wrenching nights like last night and I know I will face many, many more down the years. But it's all about perspective. I've also seen the highs and value it so much more as a result.
I wonder how many of those idiots kept up their 'support' through those recent dark years. As someone who never gave up I am proud to be amongst my fellow fair-minded Addicks who defended the team on Twitter. Thankfully, I'm amongst the majority. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Looking Up...

youth against experience
Can't say as I've taken much notice of the league table this season, but after an encouraging and spirited performance on Saturday (against a side I fully expect to be challenging for promotion), I was a little disappointed to see us in 20th place this morning (table to right). Yes, I know the league table doesn't lie, but from what I've seen, we may well have deserved a little better return from our opening 8 games. No panic, of course, but the longer you stay close to the bottom, the harder it can be to get away from it.
I've always said there's a fine line between success and failure and perhaps we've not had a fair balance of luck so far. Birmingham's heartbreaking last gasp equaliser on the opening day and BWP's wrongly disallowed goal v's Palace spring to mind and could well have given us 3 more points than our current total of 9 and that would have propelled us into the top half.
Thankfully, it would appear this really is an open division and as Derby proved yesterday after an away win at Forest, the rewards of 3 points can make a significant difference to your standing.
Nothing more I can add to the quality observations of Saturday's game by my fellow bloggers Stickleback, Wyn Grant, Blackheath Addicted, Dr. Kish, Drinking During The Game, Deepest Darkest, Chicago AddickGod, Charlton & Punk RockAnd Nothing Else Matters, Charlton Casualty and At The End Of The Day other than to agree with the common consensus that we were good for the point and perhaps a tad unlucky not to get all three. The performance was especially encouraging considering the absentees. This is a Charlton side that play with a great deal of heart and I'm particularly impressed with how well they deal with blows. It may have been easy for heads to drop after conceding first to a strong Blackburn side, but Powell has instilled a fantastic mental strength to this group of players.
So it's on to Tuesday when we face Watford at The Valley. Watford grabbed a surprising win away at Huddersfield on Saturday, so they'll be full of confidence.
A win for the Addicks and then we'll view 4 points from the two home games as a decent return. Anything less than that and we'll start to worry about missed chances.