Friday, 26 December 2014

Late, Late Xmas Treat...

It's not often I'm not in the mood for a bit of football on Boxing Day, but today I just couldn't get myself up for the game. Perhaps it was the opposition, who appear to be having just as boring and uninspiring a season as we are, or maybe it was the awful 1pm kick-off time that made my morning an unpleasant rush. As I walked to the Valley, I couldn't help but hope the players never shared my apathy.

For 45 minutes it seemed they did. We were awful.

Not for the first time recently, poor defending allowed Cardiff to get their noses in front. Young Gomez, playing out of position on the left of the defence, was out-muscled on the edge of the 6 yard box by Tom Adeyemi who headed home. Etheridge unable to even attempt a save.

There are many things that irritate me about football, but amongst the biggest is referees who feel the need to smile from ear to ear, as if by doing so they diffuse the anger amongst the fans and somehow disguise the absolute hash of a game they're having. Mick Russell, today's man in...er...grey, has never impressed me, but today he took his ineptitude to a whole new level. He got so many things wrong, and seemed to take a great deal of pleasure in doing so. Ironically, the biggest decision to go against Charlton he did get right and that was Harriott's sending off. No question for me. Charlton's make-shift forward was lively if ineffective up to that point, but yet again he let himself and the the team down by making a very bad decision. I'm certain there was no malice in the challenge, but it was high and late. Russell showed him a straight red; Charlton looked doomed.

Charlton left the pitch at half time to a chorus of boos, which is never good. Addicks everywhere feared the worst: a heavy and demoralising defeat against a very average team. I couldn't see anyone providing a spark to get us back in the match.

But football's a funny old game.

The second half had everything the first half didn't. Charlton somehow looked a different side after the break and despite their numerical disadvantage, took the game to Cardiff. Peeters rolled the dice, went 3 at the back and his men showed all the spirit and passion you can ask for. Wave after wave of Charlton attacks drove forward towards the Covered End and lifted the Valley faithful. It was terrific football. Some of the best we've seen this season. Tucudean looked most likely to score and his performance would have deserved a goal.

I was actually beginning to enjoy the game despite the score line.

With time nearly up, and with hope fading fast, Gudmundsson provided a late, late Christmas treat with a wonder-strike from 25 yards out. Nothing more than Charlton deserved. The roof of the Valley lifted high into the winter sky!

It was very pleasing to stick one on a Cardiff team that wasted time throughout that second half, but it could have been even better. You'd have put your mortgage on Igor to score when he went one-on-one deep into stopage time, but arguably our best chance to score resulted in the ball flying high over the bar. Just like Tucudean against Millwall, and Bikey against Blackpool, a glorious late winner wasn't to be.

Oh well, you don't get everything you want for Christmas.

Peeters continues to try and plug the gaps by forcing square pegs in round holes. Our season limps on towards January when we all hope he will be given funds to strengthen the squad. Let's hope Mr. Duchatelet is feeling generous...

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Seasons Greetings!


There's a highly-valued tradition in Hungry Ted Towers that dictates that every single Christmas Day morning since my wife and I first began living together I put on the National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation first thing. It continued when the kids came along and forms the backdrop to the opening of presents and has become the soundtrack to countless years of family videos. I love that film. It has become synonymous with Christmas, for me.

In many ways, I'm just like Clark Griswold but without the big house. He is a dreamer and so am I.

Eddie: "You surprised to see us, Clark?"
Clark: "Oh, Eddie... If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn't be more surprised than I am now"

Never fails to make me laugh!

The kids and 'er Indoors don't love it as much as I do. In fact, every year they moan about it. There's no fight to be had because, like I said, it's tradition. Tradition is important to me. They have to put up with it. They can get their own traditions if they want.

There's no particular reason I'm telling you all this, by the way. There's no clever link to Charlton. I'm just on a train trundling into London and bored of the landscape outside.

But whilst I'm on the subject of Christmas, many thanks to anyone who has dropped by this blog throughout 2014 and especially those who've taken the time to comment. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Let's hope 2015 is a good year for the Addickted.

See you at the Valley on Boxing Day. 3 points would make a good Christmas gift for me! Ah, there's another tradition I love, football on Boxing Day! And everyone's a winner as the missus and the kids can watch what they want whilst I'm at the football...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Cheers, Morro...

 
Another hero of the 2011/12 League One championship winning season departs. Unsurprisingly (or at least not to me) central defender, Michael Morrison, will join Birmingham when his current loan deal with the same club expires. The fee has not been disclosed, but I would hope it's no small figure and will be transferred straight into Big Bob's fighting fund for the January transfer window.
 
I will fondly remember Morro's leadership and undeniable selfless defensive qualities, but I think it is fair to say that his ability on the ball is the reason his time at Charlton has come to an end. With Peeters favouring a passing game, Morro was always going to find it increasingly difficult to play. For me, Morro was sometimes guilty of looking for a long ball a bit too quickly, although I appreciate this may well have been under instruction.
 
I know there will be some that believe Morro has been treated badly since he resigned for Charlton in the summer, but I don't go along with that. Reading briefly some comments on twitter I see there are some that don't understand why we have let him go. I think Morro's last six months at Charlton are easier to understand if you will allow yourself to do so.
 
In short, I suspect Morro knew exactly the risks of resigning a new deal in the summer with a new, largely unknown manager coming in, but I also suspect he was more than happy to do so. He wasn't forced to re-sign, don't forget, and he would have had other offers. At the same time, Charlton done the right thing in securing his services; they got someone they knew they could rely on with a new season fast approaching. After all, we the fans would have gone mental if they hadn't, wouldn't we?
 
Whatever the good intentions (and why believe anything different?) it never worked out. Morro is not a man to sit on the bench, and when Peeters chose Bikey and TBH as his first choice center-backs (and few would argue against that now), it would be my guess Morro was banging on Peeters door daily. I wouldn't blame him, but that's obviously not good for Charlton.
 
There are times when us Charlton fans flatter ourselves in thinking players never want to leave our great club, and that is wrong. This is football. Moves like this are part of the game. Clubs move in a different direction and as a result some players move on. Simple.
 
That doesn't stop us remembering the good times, and with Morro there was many.
 
In all, Morro played 150 times for the Addicks, scoring 8 goals along the way.
 
To his undoubted credit, I think it's fair to say that Morro will fall within that rare 'former player' category that will get a very warm reception when he next faces Charlton. He deserves that. Good luck Morro, thanks for the memories.  

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Awkward Mess...

Losing in such heartbreaking fashion to Ipswich in the last home game was a sizable kick in the nuts that spoilt yet another Saturday night. Tonight I feel worse. Much worse. At least Ipswich were decent, but to draw against a really poor Blackpool team after such an awkward mess of a performance is tough to accept, and why should I? 
 
Just two wins since September is bang on average, and I would hazard a guess we've thrown more points away from a leading position this season than we've won by winning games outright. In reality, it is very worrying. The endless stream of draws are getting desperately boring.
 
Big Bob, please have the bollocks to go for a win. Roll the dice. Be brave.
 
I'm no tactical genius, but I have no idea what formation we played today at any stage of the game. I can safely say none of them worked. Yes we have players out through injury and limited options to replace them, but we had enough today to beat a Blackpool side that will go down. And how we missed Johnnie's leadership and drive today. The naysayers may not accept that, but they'd be wrong. Solly may be one of our most consistent performers, but he is no leader of men in the same way a Kinsella was and a Jackson is. As much as I'm a huge fan of Gomez, Solly should have been at right back. I would love to know what Wilson has done to piss off Peeters.
 
Cousins delivered one solitary piece of magic that ordinarily should have deserved to win a game of football, but ordinary Charlton don't do magical endings these days.
 
Charlton's poor performance was somehow upstaged by the referee, who was truly woeful from start to finish. I never saw any offence for the free kick that lead to their late, late equaliser, but either way Pope should have dealt with the delivery better, just as he should have for their first. Davies took his chance well and arguably deserved his goal. He's the sort of player Charlton need.
 
Up the other end, Igor continues to fade away; a shadow of his former self. Why?  
 
And I really resent feeling this way tonight as my Saturday could not have started better. My young son's under 8's academy team grabbed a late winner in a tense game that left us mums and dads on the sidelines hugging each other in utter delirium. My boy came to the Valley with me today; I wanted our Saturday to be perfect. Thanks Charlton.
 
Ironically, Charlton actually climbed the table after this result. Moving up one place to 10th when, for the first time this season, I looked nervously at just how close we are to being dragged into the battle at the bottom. No immediate panic, in all truth, but we need to be very careful. This season is in danger of playing out in the most mediocre fashion imaginable...or perhaps much worse.
 
December could be painful, but January will be a big, big month. Mr. Duchatelet, over to you. What ambition do you have for my club?

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Five Years...

A little over five years ago I was sat at work waiting for a meeting that had been delayed at short notice. With time to kill I began reading a few Charlton blogs to catch up with opinions on the one-zero win against Southend at the Valley on the Saturday beforehand. Time passed, a few cups of coffee drunk, and the next thing I know I've spontaneously created this Hungry Ted blog site and posted my first piece! Within a short while the post appeared on Forever Charlton and I had received a smattering of views.

Like most blogs, this site has always been a very personal way to get things off my chest (hence the 'mind state' bit). Whether anyone reads anything I wrote is as irrelevant today as it was when I started. I've never been tempted to write solely for an audience (this piece aside), which is why you do not see me attempt detailed match reports (I also figure that most of those reading this blog will have been to the game anyway). None the less, my readership numbers have slowly grown over the years to a modest level that always surprises me and I'm always very grateful to anyone who drops by and more so anyone who takes the time to comment. 

I don't make a habit of looking back over what I've written, but a quick retrospective for the benefit of this small piece highlights perfectly the highs and lows of following Charlton. Sometimes my writing serves as a great indicator of just how low I must have been at times, particularly in that period when I realised we wouldn't make promotion from League One at the first time of asking and when the horrible realisation set in that there would be plenty of very dark days ahead. But sometimes I look back on pieces I've written with genuine pride as they document perfectly (for me) those happy memories I would prefer to recall from time to time, particularly those written around the time of winning League One.

Blogging, as anyone who has done it long enough will tell you, can weigh very heavy, even if you're writing very personal thoughts. I've told you things, dear reader, I've not even told 'er Indoors, but then again, you can simply click away from me, whereas 'er Indoors and my two kids have had to put up with my dark moods and over-exaggerated excitement down the years. Thankfully, my Mum is as Addickted as I am, and her companionship supporting this club means everything to me. I know she occasionally drops by this blog to see what's going on inside her sons head!

How long I keep this blog running remains to be seen. In my opinion blogs do have a life-span. I've never once forced out a piece and that has meant that during busy work periods in particular my posts have remained occasional rather than regular. The subject matter will always remain and there is much to look forward to at Charlton at present. The new-look team is performing above my expectations on the pitch under Bob Peeters enthusiastic management and hope has returned, albeit embraced cautiously (nothing new there). Concerns may still remain with some about the identify of the club under the new owner, but only the passing of time will tell on that. For the record, I've seen enough positive signs to think we'll be OK under RD's ownership.

In one of my personal favourite posts from January '11 I wrote "My heart aches with a desire to see Chris Powell lead my favourite football team to glory". I saw that happen and was able to document it here. Dreams do come true. Perhaps if I say the same about Big Bob in future posts we may be on to something.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Alternative End...

Pre match, the Valley Crowd rose to their feet as one, eagerly awaiting their returning hero. Big Dave Lockwood, still behind the mike after nearly 40 years service invites the 55,000 sell out crowd to view the big screens perched high on the roofs at either end of the vast Valley stadium.  
 
"Let me take you back to the 22nd of November 2014..." he bellows enthusiastically. 
 
A loud cheer rang out as the video began. The Covered End drummer began beating a defiant rhythm. A few near misses to endure first as the hearts of tens of thousands of Addicks began to beat faster and faster. Then that glorious moment. Harriott slots the ball through to Tucudean, who, with ruthless abandon drills the ball high into the Millwall net. If he'd have picked up the ball and walked it to the goal he couldn't have placed it better. The Valley erupted wildly once again, just as they did 20 years earlier!
 
"And here he is. Ladies and Gentlemen, Geeeooooorge!"    
 
The applause rang around the valley for a good few minutes before Big Dave called for order.
 
"George, Just try and tell us what that moment meant for you and Charlton" asked Big Dave
 
In broken English the Romanian spoke to his adoring public. "For me, it was the turning point. To think that I would go on and score 24 goals that season, including the goal that got us promotion, was unbelievable. To see how the club have pushed on in the last two decades is remarkable and I'm proud to say I was part of it until my transfer to Barca. Winning the FA Cup the following year was special; it was my first game at Wembley, but of course, we would get used to that place for a while" 
 
"And do you feel guilty for what happened to Millwall that year and since?" Big Dave asked mischievously. George's smile seemed to reach the full width of the big screen to the amusement of the crowd. His humble dignity did not allow him to gloat and he politely declined to comment.
 
Tucudean left the pitch a hero once again, pumping his fist towards the Covered End. Alongside him was his son, Johnnie, born on that same day 20 years previous.
 
East Stander and Charlton fan, Hungry Ted, commented "I remember back in '98 when Shaun Newton stepped up to take his penalty in the Play-Off Final I was convinced he'd miss. I'd have put my mortgage on it and I was so relieved when I was proved wrong. That day I was 100% certain George would score. Never in question. What a moment. I've got a picture of George above my bed alongside Sir Chris. The missus hates it but the man's a legend, simple as that".  

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Not Quite Enough...


Regardless of how often we've actually met in the last 18 years due to our mixed fortunes, a victory against our nearest and least dearest neighbours still painfully eludes us. At least today we never rolled over in quite the same abysmal and gutless fashion as the last two Valley fixtures, but that's scant consolation, we wanted the win so badly, there's no point pretending otherwise.

And it could have been such a glorious end.

Oh George! I can imagine that you, like me and many other Addicks, will struggle to sleep tonight, tormented by what could have been. So close... 

Having seen it again, I wonder if Tucudean thought the job was done when he chipped the ball over Forde deep into injury time. Instead of simply walking the ball into an empty net and carving his name in Charlton history forever, the much-maligned Romanian was chased down by Millwall defenders before being left face down in the Valley turf. Perhaps if we'd scored from the resulting corner nobody would have thought about it again.

But we didn't. Our best chance had gone. Yet another disappointing derby result.

Perhaps the draw was a fair result. The stats would certainly suggest so. And yet I can't help thinking that this was an average Millwall side who were there for the taking. Both sides grafted in the manor in which you'd expect for a game of this importance, and at times it was decent enough to watch, but ultimately neither side could find that bit of magic in front of goal. I do wish Big Bob had started with two up front. I'm never keen on five in midfield at home, especially when the lone striker is still not 100% fit.

Sadly, tonight at least, this draw feels pretty close to a defeat. As I said earlier, we wanted the win so badly. 

Maybe tomorrow the positives will make things a little easier to accept. Gudmundsson, Solly and Coquelin were all superb. In the case of the latter, I can only hope we can secure the services of the Arsenal loanee for longer, especially with a busy Christmas period fast approaching. Young Pope stepped up from the bench in Henderson's absence and dealt with everything that was thrown at him, claiming a number of dangerous high balls into the box in the process. Harriott came on for the injured Buyens and proved once again why he can be both exciting and excruciatingly frustrating to watch. His desire to make something positive happen outweighs the downsides for me...just.   

I wonder what might have been had the ref played the advantage when Igor managed to shake off a heavy challenge to put Wilson through on goal late on. It was a poor decision from the official, and very bad luck on Charlton. We just don't get the luck in these games, do we?

Charlton remain unbeaten at home and despite dropping a place in the league, remain within touching distance of a play-off place. I would imagine Big Bob will be on the blower to Mr. Duchatelet tomorrow to gently remind him about our need for a new striker...

Monday, 10 November 2014

I Followed On...


As regular and unconditional as my attendance at the Valley has been for the last two decades, sadly away from home I remain an occasional face amongst the travelling Addicks. The problem I have is my job can mean sporadic weekend work and my careful planning to avoid clashes with home fixtures is more often than not to the detriment of away games. This and the fact it's asking a lot of 'er Indoors to have our two kids all day Saturday, every Saturday! Whether my bank balance could handle an uplift in my support is a whole different thought.   

For me, following Charlton on a matchday in any other way than in person still fills me with utter dread. I've always felt like the very moment I turn on a radio commentary I am condemning the team to certain failure and our appalling record when appearing live on the box is very well documented, although I can't accept responsibility for those defeats at the Valley. I don't even like following Sky's Soccer Saturday if I'm home as I can remember so many occasions when I've sunk to my knees in the front room following a goal conceded, more often than not within a split second of me turning the T.V on! I must confess, I never renewed my CAFC Player subscription last year as I was never using it out of fear of hearing the quite brilliant Peter Finch deliver some devastating news.

There have been the occasional exceptions. Norwich earlier this season springs to mind and I'll always remember that amazing game at Boundary Park in April 2012 when Charlton somehow held on to a one-zero scoreline against Oldham, despite having two men sent off by a referee who seemed hell bent on giving the home team the points. I dared to listen in from afar and was rewarded. Ultimate joy, but still utter agony to listen to.   

To avoid jinxing the teams, I often plan a long run for a Saturday afternoon. Unhindered by the temptation to 'tune in' I can lose myself for part of the match at least. That's what I done last Saturday and it was brilliant to be met with those extended O's, A's and L's from the club's excellent media team on Twitter when I got back. Those 6 mins of injury time nearly drove me back outside to pound the streets once again. Agony. Utter agony.

I have nothing but admiration for those Addicks who travel away from home regularly. Of the half dozen occasions I go away each season I know I'm likely to get at least one of those days like Saturday just gone, when all that time and effort is worth every penny spent.

It would be nice to have a pound for every time I hit refresh on my Twitter feed when Charlton are playing away. A little less stress would be nice as well!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

20 Years Ago...

I've written previously on this blog about how I gradually fell in love with the Valley as a small boy obsessed with football stadiums and how it ultimately led me to become a Charlton Athletic fan. It was an unusual path to take, I'd be the very first to admit that, but fate works in mysterious ways. I realised late last night that yesterday's date marked the 20th anniversary of my first visit to the Valley.
 
It was on a cold and gloomy Saturday afternoon in mid-October 1994 - nearly 2 years after Charlton returned home - that I finally made the trip to SE7. Up until then I was regularly watching my local non-league side, Bishop's Stortford.  
 
I can recall traveling down so early on that day that the ticket office wasn't open and I had to wander about aimlessly on my own for hours (something I can be very good at). I think I was probably the first person through the turnstiles and nobody would have worn a grin as big as mine. Of course, the Valley had been spruced up since that glorious return that Charlton fans had fought so, so hard for and it was certainly very different from the huge, lumbering, often-neglected stadium that fascinated me so much as a young boy.

The history of a ground that was once amongst the biggest in Europe resonate in the matchday air and I loved it, just as I do today...
 
One major regret I still have to this day is never having stood on the old East terrace, so I guess it wasn't surprising that I chose a seat in the newly constructed East Stand for my first visit. It's as close as I'll ever get and I'm still there to this day, sat pretty much overlooking the half way line.
 
Unfortunately Charlton couldn't raise themselves for my big day out and we went on to lose the game 2-1 against Burnley, playing pretty poorly, as I recall. The late, great David Whyte scored Charlton's only goal and I will always remember him fondly for that.
 
To the detriment of Bishop's Stortford F.C, I knew after that first visit there was no going back (something I do feel genuinely guilty about, even though I still attend Stortford matches whenever I can). In 20 years I've missed less than a dozen games at the Valley, edging close to 500 matches I would guess (I've never actually kept count), witnessed three promotions, three heartbreaking relegations and travelled around 50,000 miles back and forth from Hertfordshire (almost entirely on my own, I might add).
 
I'll never tire of emerging from under the railway arch on Ransom Walk (pic above) on a matchday and seeing the Valley open up in front of me. Just like the very first time, the hope and anticipation lifts me. It's what Saturdays are all about. It's something I can't live without.  
 
So many memories, both good and bad. Tears of joy on occasions but plenty more in utter despair. If I had to pick one single game at the Valley that stands out, then I'd have to say the 4-2 victory against Chelsea on Boxing day in 2003. What a day that was!      

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Depleted But Victorious...

Ravaged by injuries, unnervingly short of experienced squad options and with the statistics of the game once again heavily against us, Charlton somehow managed their 4th home victory of the season last night against a decent-looking Bolton side who must be hoping their fortunes will improve under the thoroughly dislikable Neil Lennon. I say somehow, but not for the first time this season Charlton have a solid defense to thank for providing a platform to grab vital points.
 
Henderson, Wilson, Bikey and Ben Haim looked comfortable and in control throughout; Wiggins looked mightily relieved when tricky winger, Liam Feeney, was replaced just after the hour. I have no idea why Lennon replaced one of their greatest attacking threats so early, but thankfully he did.     
 
His form has been indifferent lately, but loosing Buyens for Friday's game at Fulham is a big blow. The midfielder picked up his 5th yellow card of the season and will sit out the televised clash. On occasions, the hard-working Belgian loanee can produce classy and really intelligent passing but is woefully wasteful with others. Even so, Charlton play their best football when he's on top of his game and it's hard to see how Peeters will fill the gap on Friday night. The most obvious option would be to bring Cousins into the middle. It may be a blessing; Cousins is never a wide midfielder and being continually played out of position is affecting his game and peoples opinions of him, which is tough on the lad.
 
I remain unconvinced regarding Bulot. The Gabonese midfielder looks lightweight and has offered very little going forward and even less defensively. The same might be said of Moussa, although I think I can see something in Franck that could easily leave you open-mouthed as he produces a piece of magic out of nowhere. We continue to wait patiently for both to kick into gear.
 
And then there's George.
 
Tududean will forever divide opinion. That much is sure. Little else about the Romanian Striker is as easily predictable. For nearly half an hour Tucudean lay on the Valley grass, arms out wide, appealing for yet another 'foul' that never was. I wondered why he doesn't use his sizable frame to attempt holding up the ball for once. He's clearly not short of ability on the ball. Frustrations inside the Valley grew steadily, and then George goes and produces a magic moment with a left foot strike and Charlton are one-zero to the good out of nothing. Later in the game he set up Johnnie Jackson for what proved a well-taken winner. On the balance of things, he deserved his standing ovation when he was substituted in injury time, but it's a fine balance!
 
A hard-fought win and 22 points after 13 games. Nobody would have predicted that when Big Bob was appointed. It's not always been pretty to watch, but sometimes it has been and there can be few valid complaints at the moment. Some of the chaps around me last night were discussing the rumour that Big Bob is about to be relocated within 'the network'. Standard Liege are struggling, and some think Peeters is the man to sort them out. I hate speculation. Comments after the game from Big Bob would suggest their are no foundation to the rumours, thankfully. Let's hope Roland feels the same. 
 
I'll be at Craven Cottage on Friday, but won't be going with high expectations given the growing injury list and lack of squad depth and experience. I'm hoping the game of football won't spoil a good few beers with friends.      

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Cheap Seats...

 
I was pleasantly surprised to read this morning that Charlton have the 'honour' of offering the cheapest season ticket in England's top four divisions. BBC Sport's 'Price of Football' study can be found here. What didn't make for such good reading was that buying a season ticket has increased around twice the rate of the cost of living. Shocking!
 
I was interested to see that on the clubs website it is claimed those £150 tickets in question have now completely sold out. The Club stated "Season tickets priced at just £150 for adults in Zone 6, which is situated in Block A of the East Stand, proved extremely popular and have now completely sold out". No great surprise there. I remember, however, when the new pricing structure was announced being more than a tad concerned about the impact of those cheaper seats (situated in block A of the graphic above) with no discernible way for the club to manage the movement of those ticket holders who may attempt to 'sneak' into other neighbouring blocks to gain a better view (I couldn't blame them). I had visions of numerous matchday issues with people sat in the seats of others. I'm not sure if that has proved the case, but all I do know is block A is not full to capacity on a matchday, meaning there has undoubtedly been a migration to other area by some. 
 
I sit in block E, and along with Block D, enjoy the most expensive view the Valley has to offer at £520. I also have a junior ticket for my boy priced at £75 which I think is truly outstanding value. I try not to think too deeply as to whether I've received value for money down the years (I certainly did during those heady Premiership days).
 
Does it annoy me that there is a £370 difference in the cost of my seat over someone who has paid for Block A, but whom could feasibly sit in the spare seats around me? Yes, it does a bit, if I'm honest. But that's life. We all have choices.
 
The release of this report, which I note has already been heavily featured on radio and T.V, will reflect well on Charlton and the new ownership. Another small positive step forward...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Lead By Example...

 
Be honest, who was stupid wise enough to have predicted that beforehand?
 
Despite the unrelenting wave of yellow and green that pounded Charlton's defense time and time again, Peeters new-look Charlton impressively held firm and a late, late Johnnie Jackson goal gave the Addicks a perfect 'smash and grab' victory. As results go, it's hard to imagine there will be a more significant one all season, and one that comes against greater odds.
 
Back up to 7th. Still unbeaten going into October.
 
As Charlton's impressive unbeaten run continues, so does my poor run of non-attendance for away matches. I should have been at Carrow Road last night; I had bought a ticket. It would have been my first away trip of the season and I was very much looking forward to it. Unfortunately my wife's Granddad passed away a couple of weeks ago and the funeral was arranged for yesterday. I missed one of those classic nights that will long live in the memory of those who were there, but some things are more important than football matches. Having spent an uplifting day remembering the life of 'Granddad Mac', who stood impressively at the head of his large family well into his 80's, I was reminded of how important it is to have a leader driving you on by example.
 
In the same respect, Charlton are very, very fortunate to have Johnnie Jackson.
 
Even to this day, one of my greatest Charlton memories occurred in late '96 when, after loosing every away game up until that point, a wonderful long range Mark Kinsella goal secured a 2-1 victory over Norwich at Carrow Road. Kinsella was the quintessential captain of that time and so is Johnnie Jackson now.
 
For me, Johnnie remains the very essence of what 'being Charlton' is all about. All my hopes and dreams dragged forward, sometimes majestically, other times by brut force and sheer effort, by a man who I believe cares as much as I do. Read this from fellow Charlton blogger and wordsmith, Kyle Andrews. The opening few paragraphs left me glassy-eyed, the remainder a perfect piece of writing from someone who is always at the games.
 
When I knew I wasn't going to make the match I gave my ticket away rather than see it go to waste. The recipient would have enjoyed a great end to the night stood amongst the travelling Addicks. But, to be fair, I had a great end to a very emotional day stood alone in my kitchen listening intently on the radio, sharing numerous texts back and forth with my mum as we both urged the Addicks on, nervously expecting the worst until the last few moments.
 
I struggled to sleep after a long day, but I bounced out of bed this morning...     

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Satisfying Statistic (the one that matters)...


Watford, with their penchant for falling over far too easily and constant moaning towards the ref, are a really difficult club to warm to these days. Changes in management doesn't seem to have changed some of their unsporting habit's on the pitch. Despite his rather odd figure, their striker Frank Sidebottom Troy Deeney is a perfect fit for the captains armband given he leads by example if the ethos at the club is to try and deceive the referee and 'win' free kicks. It's a real shame; Watford are capable of playing some really neat football at times and without the disagreeable elements of their game, should be a decent side to watch. 
 
There has been few things more satisfying in recent seasons than winning games of football against Watford. 
 
Not for the first time this season Charlton failed to dominate possession at home but still managed to top the only stat that matters, goals! Peeters preference for Charlton to play a passing game remained, and we should all encourage that, but the ball rarely stuck up top long enough to give our back four a breather. There were spells yesterday when Watford swarmed forward in such regularity that it felt just a matter of time before they'd score the equaliser, especially as the ref seemed increasingly keen to blow his whistle and point his hand towards our goal. But Charlton's back four held strong and in goal Henderson put in a MOM performance with a couple of crucial saves late on.
 
Yet again, Bikey-Amougou was a monster!
 
The most significant moment of the match came in the 3rd minute when Vetokele was bought down inside the box after a superb through-ball from Cousins. No question it was a penalty. Yoni Buyens once again calmly slotted home Charlton's spot kick against the backdrop of the away fans in the Jimmy Seed. That strike was ultimately enough to give the Addicks victory.
 
Seven minutes after the goal, Charlton paid their respects to our former player, David Whyte, with an emotional period of applause and a rendition of 'David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte'. A moving tribute befitting our former number 10, who's unquestionable talents left you speechless at times. Full credit to the Watford fans; they observed the moment superbly despite the game of football still being played out in front of them.  
 
My young son came with me yesterday and I think it was fair to say he was chuffed to bits with the sticker album that was given away free with the matchday magazine. The media lads behind this initiative deserve a huge pat on the back. There's something primeval about a boy's love of sticker albums! At the time of writing this, the lad is sat on the sofa watching the Sunday re-run of Match of The Day, clutching his sticker album jealously as if someone will steal it away if he leaves it for a single second...
 
Charlton up to 5th. Wolves at home on Tuesday. Another tough game ahead, but one in which we can rightly be confident of getting something from.
 
When is it acceptable to start looking at the league table and daring to dream?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

RIP David Whyte...

 
News had been circulating on social media in the last day or so, but this morning Charlton confirmed the very sad news that former Charlton striker, David Whyte, has passed away at the ridiculously young age of 43.
 
It was back on the 22nd of October 1994, on a windy, grey and gloomy Saturday afternoon at the Valley that David Whyte scored Charlton's goal in a 2-1 defeat to Burnley. It was the very first Charlton goal that I ever saw in person. It was also my first ever visit to the Valley, a stadium I'd fallen in love with as a small boy. It was a day I will never ever forget, even in defeat.
 
Almost two years on to the day, I missed arguably David Whyte's most memorable goal for Charlton, against Liverpool at the Valley in the League cup. Despite being a regular to home games at the time the game was all-ticket and the Valley had sold out it's 15,000 seats before I could get hold of one. I travelled to the Valley that night and stood outside the gates pre-match pleading with Addicks for a spare. It wasn't to be. Knowing I'd missed David's goal in front of a packed Valley was the reason I finally committed to a season ticket, which I've held every year since.      
 
In the three years that David Whyte continued to play for Charlton he became a firm favourite of mine. I always wondered what held him back from playing at a higher level than us. I still wonder that to this day. I don't think David realised how good he was, or perhaps nobody was able to get it out of him.
 
According to the club, Whyte played 106 times for The Addicks, scoring 35 times. A decent strike rate for a very decent striker. David Whyte was a proper goal scorer, capable of moments of real brilliance.
 
Rest in peace, David. My thoughts to your family and your friends. I shall raise a glass to you tonight...David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Please Charlton, No!!!


It was my fellow blogger, Marco, that caused me to choke on my cup of tea this morning by posting a picture on twitter of this truly shocking story in The Greenwich Visitor (pic left). The morning after yet another deathly quiet Charlton transfer deadline day and we now learn we have made a 'new signing' after all; the questionably named 'Charlton Cherubs'. Now right from the outset I want to make it perfectly clear that I have nothing whatsoever against young ladies (or men, if that's your choice) engaging in a pastime that they enjoy and are passionate about (I would debate the bit about it being a sport, mind), but there is absolutely no justifiable place in British football for pom-pom waving cheerleaders. Never has been and never will be. EVER!
 
Apparently Charlton approached Greenwich University looking for  some ideas to 'strengthen the relationship', which I can only applaud, but this is just not the way to do it. For the good of both parties, let's please try something else.
 
I'm not going to even bother commenting on their desire to "get things like the Mexican wave started" other than to wish them the very best of luck but not to get too disappointed when it doesn't happen.
 
Football culture just doesn't lend itself to cheerleaders. It's not a laddish thing to say that. It just doesn't. It may well work in American sport where the fan experience is very different, but not in football. For a start, in most American sports there is not the tradition of 'away fans' offering a healthy balance to a charged atmosphere. We don't lack that element here, generally speaking. 
 
In British football, the chants and songs sung passionately from the stands are what gives clubs identity and individualism, and no amount of encouragement from attractive young ladies in mini-skirts will influence the Covered End to give anyone a 'C' and an 'H'...and so on.
 
Of course, I might well be getting worked up over nothing - God knows there's been plenty of that going on amongst Addicks lately - so perhaps I should stick to my own well used principles of reserving judgement until I've seen it. After all, just down the road Palace have been using Cheerleaders for some time now and not quite everyone laughs at them.
 
Palace also use goal music; another awful sporting Americanism. Palace also have 'Ultras'...
 
I'm very, very keen for these similarities with our neighbours to end immediately.  
 
A brief look over the Charlton hashtag on twitter and it's obvious the groundswell of opinion against the introduction of cheerleaders gathers momentum. Let's hope the club listens carefully. It is not these young ladies fault and they don't deserve to be booed (as some are suggesting they will do). I'm sure their dance routines and pom-pom antics would be great to watch in the right environment.
 
Let's not beat around the bush here, no matter what perfectly good intentions may be behind this initiative, it will not improve the atmosphere at The Valley and will serve to irritate far more than it entertains.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful...

If it was up to me I'd make every Charlton game on a Tuesday night. Football under floodlights always seems so much more intense and the atmosphere is cranked up a notch or two regardless of the gate.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was Johnnie Jackson's favourite day of the week as well. Yet again, our talismanic leader drove Charlton on to another memorable victory. Yet another top night at the Valley.

Big Bob's new-look Charlton continue to impress with an attractive passing game that is light years away from Charlton sides of the recent (and not so recent) past. The new players have added something to every area we seriously lacked. We look a decent side capable of playing football. We look hungry and committed. We have options from the bench. Big Bob has created a monster that needs to fully understand just how powerful it can be.

How nice it is to say that.

Buyens (penalty picture above) and Bikey Amougou stood out yet again, perhaps upstaged only by a young lad of 17 years of age in Joe Gomez. Tucudean showed tonight why Charlton fans need to give the man a chance. Surely by now Charlton fans should have learnt their lesson in not jumping to conclusions! Vetokele showing the strikers instinct that could keep him amongst the Championship's leading scorers.

Some of these new faces may turn out to be our new heroes. They are heading in the right direction, for sure.

Johnnie never stopped running. His commitment the very best example of all we can ever ask from a Charlton player. What a man.

I felt for young Pope. Perhaps unsighted for their second goal, he knows he should have done better. He didn't deserve that. It left us with a nervy end to the game, but then it wouldn't have been Charlton any other way. 

The BBC match stats suggested Derby had nearly 65% of possession and it would be hard to argue against that. This was a hard fought victory against a very good passing side who will be up there challenging for promotion, of that I'm sure. Jamie Ward, a player who would not look out of place in the top flight, was outstanding for the visitors; a constant threat and a joy to watch at times. But as was the case with Wigan on Saturday, our minority possession proved to be irrelevant against chances taken. Only one stat counts come the final whistle. 

At this early stage of the season the league table deserves nothing more than a cursory glance at best, but after three games it is impossible to ignore the many positives from this new-look Charlton. Cause to be quietly optimistic? We'll see. I won't get carried away but one things for sure, I'm going to enjoy this positive feeling and embrace it.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Lost In The Moment...

I enjoyed a really good night at the Valley on Tuesday, but the game did have a pre-season feel about. Yesterday was different. League football was back at the Valley, and with it came that gut-wrenching  nervous tension and hopeful anticipation that will hang around now until next May.
 
A few pre-match beers calmed the nerves a little, but nothing helps better than an early Charlton goal. I'm not a fan of Jordan Cousins playing on the left of midfield, but the youngster gave Charlton a perfect start with a curling strike after just 8 minutes that took everyone by surprise.
 
Wiggins was tormented by Callum McManaman for Wigan's equaliser. At the time I felt Charlton's left-back should have done better, but having seen the goal again, you have to credit the Wigan man rather than blame bad defending. It was a great goal from a tight angle. Even so, Wiggins didn't have a great game. Perhaps the pressure of Fox breathing down his neck isn't helping. Competition for places in a Charlton squad? Another good sign. 
 
As was the case on Tuesday, Bikey Amougou was impressive at the back, whilst in the midfield, the energetic Buyens was always available for a pass and rarely wasteful. I doubt anyone missed Poyet yesterday. 
 
Wigan had plenty of spells of good possession, but lacked a cutting edge. Charlton stuck to their game plan.
 
When Igor Vetokele went through one on one late in the game, only to be superbly denied by Carson, you wondered if we'd have to settle for a point, but uncharacteristically Charlton continued to push for a winner. Big Bob's substitutions were positive and came with enough time to make an impact.
 
It seemed like every goal Charlton conceded last season was a cruel deflection and that unwelcome trend continued last week at Brentford, so it was very pleasing that our winner came in rather fortuitous circumstances. It's about time we had a bit of luck in front of goal. Franck Moussa's shot, deep in stoppage time, looked to be well blocked by a Wigan defender, only to loop up and over Carson into the goal. It seemed to take an age to hit the back of the net, but when it did the Valley erupted. As much as I enjoy the close season without worrying about football results, it's when moments like that happen that I am reminded of why I could never give up going to the football.
 
Following Charlton's winner Big Bob proceeded to upset Wigan's manager, Uwe Rosler, by over-celebrating the goal. Perhaps it wasn't the wisest thing to run towards the visitors bench with your fists clenched punching the air, but I think it's fair to say Peeters is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and I'm sure he was simply lost in the moment. We all were! I sat behind the Charlton bench on Tuesday and I was struck at how imposing a figure Big Bob was and how enthusiastic he was for Charlton to play a passing game.
 
Even in these early stages of the season there seems a very different Charlton personality out on that pitch; one that was brave enough to go for a winner when it may have been tempting to take the draw.
 
Another tough game awaits on Tuesday night against Derby County. I'd settle for a point right now, but then I would have done the same yesterday. 5 points from the first 3 games would represent a decent start, but something tells me Big Bob wants more... 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Family Affair...

 
Since Roland Duchatelet bought Charlton there has been constant accusations from many that the identity of the club will be discarded mercilessly; that we will loose our Charlton to 'The network'. A summer of huge investment on and off the pitch has helped to calm those fears to some degree, but if you will allow yourself to look for small signs that the new owner might not be the ogre you think then you need only to have been at the Valley last night. In a high-profile position between the players entrance and the ticket office we now have a huge picture of Sir Chris erected. Far from brushed aside and forgotten, Powell has been remembered and respected for what he has done for our club. He's our hero, not Roland's, but the installation of this image alongside others (Kinsella and Killer amongst them) reflects very well on the new ownership and Katrien Meire's running of this club, in my opinion.
 
Signs of positive progress off the field, but what about on it?     
 
With two home league games inside of the next week it's fair to say the Capital One Cup 1st round won't top anyone's priority list. So often the proverbial banana skin, Charlton fans could not be blamed for keeping their hard earned cash in their pockets, but perhaps it was the curiosity of seeing a refurbished Valley that drew a rather impressive (relatively speaking) 5,700 gate. Those committed enough to venture to the game would have been well rewarded with a decent Charlton performance and four goals in surroundings more suited to the Premier league. Food for thought in what direction we may be attempting to move towards.
 
Colchester started well enough but soon faded under Charlton's dominance. The sending off of one-time Charlton target, Okuonghae, and the resulting penalty killed any real chance of this encounter being yet another horror night for Charlton, and sure enough, three second half goals eased Charlton in to the 2nd round. It could have been more. 
 
It's almost impossible to comprehend that Joe Gomez is still only 17. Playing at right back last night the young England U-17 international was outstanding and you have to wonder if Chris Solly was sitting rather uncomfortably at the back of the West Stand looking on. His calm and assured performance stood out, as did the experienced and reassuringly vocal, Bikey-Amougou. Yoni Buyens was impressive in the middle and his replacement on the hour mark, Gudmundsson, showed neat touches, an eye for a forward pass and most of all, a willingness to shoot from distance. It was his long range effort that provided Church with a tap in late in the game. I was pleased the much-maligned forward got a goal, as I was that the popular Wilson bagged two.
 
Sitting just behind the Charlton dug out I picked up on the enthusiasm Peeters has to play good attacking football and how cross he got when we wasted possession. I also picked up on the fact he seems to like smacking his players on the arse. In with the new regime, out with a good, honest, firm hand shake or a pat on the back and in with an open-handed arse slap, one of which seemed to take Tucudean by surprise after his substitution, much to the amusement of the coaching staff.
 
All in all it was a good night at the Valley made all the more memorable for the fact it was my daughter's first Charlton game. In fact, I took advantage of it being a non-school night and the low ticket prices and took my boy, 'er Indoors and my Addicks supporting Mum along as well. A real family affair! On the walk back to the car my little girl said she loved visiting the Valley. She knows how much the stadium means to me. Seeing her face light up when she first set eyes on the ground earlier in the evening will live with me forever. I asked her if she would now call herself a Charlton fan amongst her friends and she said "definitely, I want to come again". I told her that she will not always see Charlton brush teams aside and score four goals and that there will be highs and lows she must embrace. I warned her that we may never mix with the big boys in the Premier League. Just like her younger brother, I think they understand what supporting Charlton means, if only by virtue of what it's done to me down the years!
 
After the game Peeters hinted that the Delort deal was not dead and even the player himself admitted he was frustrated that the move has not happened yet. Hopefully Katrien can continue her good work and fill our number 9 jersey sooner rather than later. 
 
It's tempting to get carried away, and I'd love nothing more than to do so, but the visit of Wigan will be a whole different ball game and will be another huge test of Peeters new-look Charlton. Let's not forget this is a new team that need time to gel despite early promise. 
 
None the less, I, for one, will embrace the future with optimism! Bring it on!


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hibernation...

Good heavens, has it really been over 8 weeks since I last dropped by this blog? You won't have missed me, of course, but then again, if I'm honest I've not missed writing about Charlton. I can't deny it, as much as I have always loved my football, I do enjoy the close season. For a few precious months I don't need to plan my work and social life around Charlton fixtures and I can enjoy my days without worrying about football results. There's a certain novelty factor to a Saturday night untroubled by that gut-wrenching feeling of disappointment.

Towards the back end of last season I became thoroughly fed up with Charlton fans bickering amongst themselves so to coincide with the close season I decided to take a lengthy hiatus from social media. As a result, I've no idea if there is optimism ahead of the new season or not. I'm guessing there is still a fair amount of skepticism surrounding Mr. Duchatelet's long term intentions, but with costly improvements made to the Valley pitch and stadium and a number of fresh new faces added to the playing squad I would like to think we can finally put to bed this 'feeder club' nonsense. Whether or not there is credible concerns about being part of a 'network' remains to be seen, but I'm not seeing any hard evidence of it being a negative just yet and nor do I feel it has compromised Charlton's identity, for now at least. As always, I will reserve judgement until facts can be proven over speculation.

I've given Charlton's pre-season build-up nothing more than a cursory and occasional glance, but I must confess I woke this morning feeling very different. Perhaps that primeval emotion inside of me is waking from it's summer slumber, or perhaps the arrival of my season ticket yesterday has ignited a spark once again! 

Instinct is beginning to take over now the football season is edging ever closer. For a second or two, as I lay in my bed staring up at the ceiling, I even debated hopping in the car and heading down to Pompey, but a post-holiday empty wallet put an end to that idea. At the time of writing this, Charlton have just secured a 2-1 victory at Portsmouth to conclude their pre-season fixtures, with the new strikers finding the net with decent finishes by all accounts.

Next Saturday the real business begins at Griffin Park. I'm really gutted I wasn't able to get a ticket, but I can have little complaints really given my infrequent away day record. I've always loved visiting that ground even with the crippling lack of leg room in the away end upper. Last time I was there was back in 2009 when Charlton were negotiating their way through their first season in League One. Re-visiting my post following the game is a reminder of dark days I don't ever want to see again and the last two paragraphs in particular make for difficult reading.   

Anyone reading this who may have a spare for next Saturday, please let me know!!!

I have all week to shake myself off from my hibernation and ready myself for the rollercoaster ahead. Come on you Addicks! 

Friday, 6 June 2014

My Top 3 Life-Defining World Cup Moments...

All right, I know the title of this piece is a bit dramatic, but if I just called it my 'Top 3 World Cup moments' you could be mistaken for thinking I recall every one with fondness. You will see that's not the case in every example, but one thing these three moments all have in common is that they are certainly life-defining in the sense that I can remember exactly where I was when they took place, but most of all, the impact they had on me.

I have pondered this list endlessly over many a long, lonely run recently, and could have done a top 10 with ease (leaving out the wonderful Brazil v's Italy game in '82 was tough), but I've made my final decisions.

So here we go, in reverse order, my top 3 life-defining world cup moments...

Number 3 - England's Defeat to West Germany in Italia '90...


Knowing my 17th birthday was on the date of the World Cup final, I swear on my life I would have never asked for anything else ever if I could just have seen England get beyond that semi-final against West Germany. I watched the game with my mates and then cried my heart out with them when the dream was over.

The harsh manor in which West Germany went in front. Lineker's late equaliser. Gazza'a booking that lead to the tears. Waddle agonisingly hitting the post in extra time. The unbearable penalty shoot-out. The highs and lows of a single football match could not have resonated deeper.

As Waddle drove his penalty high into the night sky above the Stadio delle Alpi, Turin, England's hopes and dreams went with it. Watch the highlights of the game here, but you will have to excuse me if I don't. Still to this day I can't bring myself to watch a re-run of that game. It may well be that I will never see my nation get that close again to a World Cup final again, and that thought kills me inside.

Number 2 - Maradona's 2nd Goal v's England in Mexico '86...

 

 
It was June the 22nd 1986 in Mexico City, 10 minutes into the 2nd half of the World Cup quarter finals. The huge Estadio Azteca was full to bursting with nearly 115,000 fans. Maradona, picks the ball up about 10 yard inside his own half before spinning past two England players effortlessly, knocking the ball forward in the process. England's Peter Reid desperately tries to catch the stocky Argentine, but Maradona pulls away, powering goalward with the ball seemingly stuck to his wondrous left foot, and on the most awful of surfaces. Butcher is passed en-route to goal as if he wasn't there and Terry Fenwick was left flat footed and clueless by the greatest player the world has ever seen. Deep inside the English box now, a slight-but-significant extra touch from the genius No.10 drops Shilton on his backside and Maradona has an open goal in front of him. Butcher tries a lunging last-ditch tackle, but it was too late.
 
I was just 12 years old when I watched that goal, sat in my dads arm chair with my family at home on a Sunday afternoon. I wanted with all my heart to see Bobby Robson's England make the last four but that day belonged to Maradona and I knew it, even at that age. I was completely spellbound by that goal. Still am today. 
 
Watch the best goal ever scored goal here.  
 
If you know how much I love and deeply admire Diego Maradona the footballer, you may well be surprised this isn't my number 1, but that moment is reserved for passion over beauty.
 
Number 1 - Marco Tardelli's Celebration in Spain '82...
 

 
Even today, 32 years after the event, watching Marco Tardelli celebrate his goal in the world cup final in Spain '82 still lifts the hairs on the back of my neck. With the Italians 1-0 up and the clock ticking towards the 70th minute, Tardelli picked up the ball on the edge of the West German box before firing low with his left foot into the net. Instantly reduced to tears, the defensive midfielder turned and began sprinting towards the Italian bench with his arms open wide and his face contorted with passion screaming 'Gol, Gol, Gol' over and over.
 
For me, watching this celebration is the quintessential example of how powerful the emotions of football can get and what it really means deep, deep inside when everything you hope for, everything you dream about, comes off in one single, explosive moment. Nothing in life can better the moment when the ball hits the net. Nothing! 
 
Watch the goal and celebration here. Just like Maradona's goal, I could watch that moment on repeat endlessly and never get bored.
 
I would not be over-exaggerating things to suggest my World Cup memories have gone a long way to shape me into the person I am today. A fascination of world geography, countries and cultures alongside a keen interest in football stadia and world music (the Brazilian samba rhythm and the rawness of an African drum) could all be traced back to those early tournaments of '82, '86 and '90 in particular.
 
Like a kid before Christmas, I cannot wait for it to all kick off in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Thursday. Just like a kid I will ignore the sensible logic and dare to dream! Come on England!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

New Home Kit...

People are well entitled to their opinions, but there is literally nothing Charlton Athletic can do at the moment that is not met with a barrage of criticism. I swear we could sign Messi and people would complain because it wasn't Ronaldo. I can just imagine those hapless chaps from the media team taking another big deep breath and then calmly putting on their tin hats before uploading the new kit to the club website a short while ago.
 
The pains reporter Iain Liddle went to in highlighting the similarities of this new strip with kits worn by club legends and from successful periods gone-by almost smacked to me of a defensive stroke against the inevitable. I jumped off the Charlton hashtag within a few moments of dropping by. I'm finding it so depressing lately.
 
There is no question the kit is certainly different. For me, it's a grower, but on first impressions I think I'm going to like it. Much like everything Charlton-related at the moment, I'm letting it sink in before judging too deeply and throwing my toys out of the pram in the process.
 
I do wonder who makes the decision upon new kits and what factors influence the final choice. I've always wondered why there isn't options put forward to the fans (after all, we are the ones who will potentially buy the replica shirts) with a vote taken to decide the winning design.    
 
I can safely say I love the hooped socks and I've always preferred red shorts. It may look a little odd seeing a chest-high picture of the team celebrating a goal at the Valley (yes, I do expect one occasionally) due to the white shoulders and arms, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. One initial criticism I do have is that the University of Greenwich logo looks a little basic and is not their typical typeset. That said, perhaps it's a very deliberate attempt at making it more readable from the stands. It's a long-standing bugbear for John, who sits next to me at the Valley, that he can never make out shirt sponsors logos. He gets quite animated about it as though somehow he's missing out. 
 
I couldn't miss the moaning concerns yesterday regarding the additional sponsor logo's that will appear on the new strip above the number and on the reverse of the shorts. It's not unusual these days in the Football League and if it represents another vital source of income then I'm all for it, providing monies raised are invested in the club, of course. The traditionalists will struggle with the multi-logo concept full stop and I do have some sympathy for them.
 
I'm just thankful that the sponsors of my club are not payday lenders or betting sites.  
 
I suppose those that don't like the new kit may well add this gripe to the growing list of anti-Roland propaganda? I suppose those that do like the new kit may see this as another small step forward. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Bob's Job...

After much speculation there was no great surprises yesterday with the announcement that the sizable Belgian, Bob Peeters, has become Charlton's new Head Coach.
 
As we enter the unknown it is encouraging that Damian Matthews will assist him, as, I believe, will much of the existing backroom staff. That continuity will be good for the current players who will be around for next season. 
 
Bob Peeters will need to embrace the 'Charlton spirit' that Powell had in abundance and Riga instantly recognised and harnessed. Duch√Ętelet will need to understand quickly just how important that spirit is to this club, but sadly I'm not convinced he's even noticed it above the sparkling vision of his network master plan.
 
Whatever plan Duch√Ętelet has is still the subject of conjecture, speculation and no small amount of criticism. The much-needed maintenance work on the pitch is an obvious positive, as are the plans for the training facilities and academy. Speculation in the press yesterday that we have had a £500,000 bid accepted for Barnsley's Chris O'Grady is another positive, not least of all because asides from the impressive figures the striker is not part of 'the network'! But despite being a pint half full sort of guy, even my heart sank massively reading  Dyer's comments in yesterday's South London Press. These are uncertain times, for sure. Worrying times; but then again, as an Addick I can't remember too many spells where I've ever felt comfortable.
 
If it had been down to me I'd have given Riga the job full time, but that's another hope that has faded to nothing. My gut instinct from the outset was that Riga was a good man and he has, in my humble opinion, earned himself a place in Charlton folk law after making such a dignified and positive impression in such a short space of time (just 16 games in all). Thinking back, I would argue that Riga's impact just about tops Jorge 'The Tank' Costa's hugely popular loan spell at the Valley in the 2001-2002 season (24 games), especially when you consider the uphill battle Riga had from the outset after following on from Powell.
 
The narrow-minded nature of some Addicks is truly astonishing at times, so before you go jumping to conclusions about Peeters, just take a moment to remember how wrong you was about Jose Riga. Moreover, just because you'd never heard of Bob Peeters before his name was linked to Charlton, it doesn't automatically mean he'll be shit.
 
With the transfer window opening up again in early June, we can expect an interesting few weeks ahead. Let's hope Peeters can convince Poyet and Morrison to sign new deals and the much-needed new additions leave us feeling optimistic. 
 
So welcome to Charlton Athletic, Bob. You face a very difficult task, but like every other fair-minded Addick, I'm behind you all the way. You can expect unreserved support from us, and all we will expect from you is to give all you have for our club.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

All's Well That Ends Well...

As little as three weeks ago even a wordsmith like William Shakespeare would have struggled to write a happy ending to Charlton's wretched season. That home defeat to Barnsley left Charlton staring down the barrel of a gun with all hope fading fast. I said at the time that the best I could hope for is that we could go into the Blackpool game with something to play for. Since then, three wins and a draw have propelled Charlton away from danger and one glance at the final league table and I'm left wondering what all the fuss was about.    
 
Funnily enough, when Shakespeare wrote 'All's Well That Ends Well', the critics of the day struggled to define it as a tragic play or a dark comedy. Knowing that makes it an even more suitable title for this small reflective piece!
 
I can't deny that I'm glad this season is now over. It was indescribably pleasant to enjoy yesterday's brilliant result without the stress and worry that has been omnipresent all season long, but those sorts of days are rare. Loosing Chris Powell was easily the darkest moment for me and one that still hurts to this day. It always will. The drive back from Sheffield after the FA Cup quarter final defeat was truly horrible, but then again, I will remember spending the day before the game out drinking with some top Addicks as one of my highlights. Another huge disappointment for me is that the change of ownership has divided Addicks and the bickering has added to the dark clouds hanging over the club. Whether or not you believe Roland Duchatelet's intentions are sound or not - and only time will tell on that, for me - then it costs nothing to respect another man's opinions. The intolerance of some to embrace an alternative viewpoint is shocking at times.      
 
But there are signs that people can accept when they were wrong, none more so than with Jose Riga. I said from the outset I'd give Riga a fair chance, not least of all as he was not to blame for Powell's departure, and the way the Belgian has carried himself and embraced the Charlton spirit has meant I'd be disappointed if he wasn't in charge next season.
 
Perhaps one of the biggest positives is the emergence of young Diego Poyet. Perhaps one of the biggest litmus tests of Duchatelet's intentions for this club is whether he can convince Diego to sign a new contract. Just imagine Diego on a decent Valley pitch?
 
Likewise I'd be gutted if Hamer, Morrison and Dervite were not offered new deals. I'd also like to see more of Ajdarevic in a Charlton shirt as well. I'd happily drive Yohann Thuram-Ulien to the airport if he wishes...
 
So this will be the full stop to a horrible season. I plan to enjoy a Charlton hiatus for the next few months before it all starts up again.    
 
Many thanks to those who read my posts throughout the season and especially anyone who takes the time to comment. But my last few words are to my Mum (I know she drops by this blog every now and again), who once again has shared the highs and lows with me. Thanks Mum!