Friday, 31 January 2014


Never have I loved a Frenchman more. He was our Breton Warrior. He gave everything he had for us. He embodied the spirit and determination we wanted to see in our players. He wore our shirt with pride. He gave us countless special memories. He dragged us through games that would otherwise have been dead.
It was like having your big brother looking after you...
We were told he wanted to stay; that he never asked to leave. But alas, the new regime at Charlton is looking for younger faces to carry us forward. Forward? We'll see.
Even if Yann was 42 instead of 32 I'd want him on my side.  
Au revoir, Monsieur Kermorgant, et bonne chance! My heart is heavy with the news of your departure. You will be very much missed.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Alternative View...

I have to confess, I don't think I can recall a time I've felt this flat and uninspired about Charlton. It doesn't help that, thanks to waterlogged pitches and other than that forgettable night against Oxford at the Valley, I've not seen Charlton in action since the back end of last year. In that time the new owner has come in, had a chance to give us the instant shot in the arm we so desperately needed, but has failed to do so. I'm not naive enough to have expected instant miracles, but we as Charlton fans seemed to be in a never-ending cycle of waiting and hoping for even the smallest scrap of good news. It doesn't seem any closer but the dark clouds continue to gather.
Last nights demoralising defeat was sadly unsurprising. I couldn't bring myself to even follow it. I have nothing but admiration for those that headed up to Doncaster, especially as I shut out the disappointment by going to bed early. I'll be honest, I couldn't care a single bit about the FA Cup. We could make the final and I would trade it in a flash to stay up. Even the thought of returning to League One kills me inside. 
It simply cannot be right that our manager is out of contract in the summer, let alone the majority of his first team squad. What message does that send out? Who could blame any one of those players for not having the full focus required for a survival battle?
It's like asking a soldier to run from the trenches and put his life on the line without offering him the security and protection he deserves for his efforts.
But why do Charlton fans continue to flatter themselves and assume that no player ever wants to leave us? Take Yann, for example. The chap is 32 years old and will undoubtedly be thinking about maximising the financial return in his final few years and also what he will do after football. For all we know, he has been offered new terms but has turned them down because he can earn far more by moving on. Think Semedo. He kissed the badge, rolled up his sleeves and sweated blood for our team and we loved him because of it. He told us he wouldn't leave, he told us he loved us, and then pissed off to Sheffield. From London to Sheffield? You cannot convince me that money was not the motivator in that move.
I love Yann as much as the next man, but my gut feeling is he's off because he want to. Good luck to him. Thanks for the memories, big man.
Somehow, I suspect he's not alone. The idea that the players are rolling into Sparrows Lane every day hoping they'll be called in to the Gaffer's office and handed a biro and a new contract just doesn't sit well with me.
Never has a new start seemed more fitting on so many levels.   
At this point, all I can hope for is that somehow we manage to stay up. Alternatively, I will continue to hope that by the time you've read this piece it will look like an embarrassing moan about nothing as we will have signed countless top quality players and handed new deals to Powell et al.    

Sunday, 26 January 2014


I might be alone, but I cannot tell you how relieved I am with the FA Cup draw. Given Charlton's truly awful record in cup competitions it never seemed much of a gamble back in early November to book a family weekend away on the date of the 5th round. We were already due to be playing Leeds away that weekend anyway and Charlton just don't do cup runs!

Very mixed emotions from me yesterday, then, when Charlton secured a rare cup victory away at Huddersfield and progressed to the 5th round of the cup for the first time in 8 years!

I wanted to be happy, I really did, but considering that I've missed less than a dozen Charlton home games in nearly two decades all I could think of was how gutted I'll be if we drew one of the 'big boys', particularly Arsenal, in the next round knowing I wouldn't be there to see it. Memories of that great day out at Fulham a few years back making it even harder to deal with.

It's hung heavy over me since the final whistle blew at Huddersfield yesterday.

So thankfully, from a purely selfish point of view, I've been put out of my misery; a trip to Sheffield Wednesday awaits Charlton and whilst it is not the glamour tie everyone else was hoping for, it does represent a decent chance of making the quarter finals. And perhaps there is something in that, I mean, didn't Millwall reach the 2004 FA Cup final without meeting a single Premiership opposition en-route?

Elsewhere in the draw we are guaranteed further sizeable casualties with Man City playing Chelsea and Arsenal at home to Liverpool. Dare we dream? Why not?

So whilst the Addickted will head to Hillsborough in numbers and unquestionably make the most of the day, I can head off to Centre Parcs with 'er Indoors and the kids, willing the lads on from afar, knowing that nobody is sat in my seat at the Valley.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Same Old Story...

At least Charlton are consistent in cup competitions. Consistently bad, that is. If you bothered to go to the Valley tonight, and my guess is less than 4,000 did, then you would have gone with such low expectations that a 2-2 scoreline was actually quite a pleasant result. What I mean is, at least we didn't loose like we normally do!
Our first half performance was as bad as the boggy Valley pitch. Truly awful! Oxford hardly shone, but worked hard and deserved their two goal lead none the less. Yet another deflected goal set the visitors off (how many is that we have conceded this season?) and a well taken second was enough for the home fans to boo the underperforming Charlton players off at half time. Powell looked angry, and rightly so.
Yohann Thuram & Astrit Ajdarevic
look on pre-match...
I sat with Marco next to the directors box and the pair of us found a welcome distraction from the dire football on show by admiring the very attractive Katrien Meire, our newest board member and Mr. Duchatelet's 'right-hand lady'. When Morrison got us back in the game 10mins into the second half I can assure you all that it was she who jumped up first in the directors box to celebrate the goal. She has clearly become instantly Addickted! Sat next to Sir Keith of all Peacocks, she will no doubt have been reassuring our 'football advisor' that Chris Powell will get the resources he needs to improve matters on the pitch. 
Behind her sat Slater. Less attractive in every respect. Not long now before he can finally throw away that red scarf.
The less than glamorous comeback was completed by the moment of the game. Some good work down the right by substitute, Danny Green, lead to a rare decent cross which was met sweetly on the volley by Kermorgant. 
A draw is just about the last thing we needed, but at least we can be assured Oxford's pitch will be better than ours for the replay.  

3 Years On...

Forgive me for being a tad self-indulgent, but almost 3 years ago I wrote this when one of my all-time favourite Charlton players, Chris Powell, returned to the club once again to be named the club's new manager. It remains one of my personal favourite posts since I began this blog, mainly as it was one of the easiest and most enjoyable to write. As anyone who has attempted to write a blog would know, posts from the heart are far easier than those forced out just for the sake of writing something.
Today marks the 3rd anniversary of Powell's appointment and with his contract expiring in the summer, I can only hope that the new owner recognises quickly what an asset we have and rewards Chris with new terms. Powell may not be the finished article as a manager just yet, but as I have said many times, and I make no apologies for repeating it again, there will never be a time when there is a man in charge of my club of whom I have so much respect and admiration. If I was to admit to having a modern day hero, then Powell is it (there, I've done it!).
In a time where managers are disposed of without a second thought, Powell has survived on the most limited of resources, more often than not using his infectious passion for the game and this club to drive average players to produce something special.  
Three years ago I wrote " My heart aches with a desire to see Chris Powell lead my favourite football team to glory". Winning the League One Championship was just that moment and hopefully just the start of more to come.

Talking of 3's, it will be third time lucky for Charlton tonight as they attempt to stage the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Oxford United. Oxford sit within the Play-Off places of League Two and I won't be reading too much into the 4-0 victory we inflicted on them earlier this season in the League Cup. Having experienced many nights like the one ahead I know only too well how uncomfortable they invariably are.
I'll be at the Valley tonight as always for what will be the first game of the new era under Mr. Duchâtelet. I doubt our new owner will be there, but a healthy rendition of 'Chrisy Powell's Red & White Army' may just indicate to his management team just we think of our manager.   

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Judgement Call...

Many years ago, when I was a young lad finding my way after leaving school I took a job as a white van driver for an electrical wholesalers. Occasionally  my route to a big cable manufacturer in Erith would take me past the sorry and derelict Valley and I would lament having never seen a game there (Charlton were at Selhurst Park at the time).

Yesterday I was sadly reminded of just what it felt like to drive to the Valley and not see a game of football...

As news of the postponement spread, the finger of blame began pointing in every direction; the ref for being too anal, the on-going inclement weather and unsurprisingly the old regime in Jimenez and Slater for not investing in new drainage for the pitch. All of these points may well be valid criticisms in their own right but, just as I suspected at the time, not one of them was the real reason the game was called off.

No, whether you like it or not, this avoidable mess was caused by a series of very bad judgement calls by Charlton Athletic. Simple as that.  
One read of the embarrassingly inadequate attempt of an apology on the postponement and it looks like the blame is being placed firmly at the door of groundsman Paddy Powell and his staff. It would appear they massively underestimated just how bad the pitch still was and to have deemed a referee's inspection on Friday unnecessary was a monumental error of judgement that has wasted a lot of peoples valuable time and furthermore, would have cost Charlton a fortune in lost gate revenues and associated matchday costs.

I'm told the programme sellers were still wheeling out their stalls when the news broke...

Apparently the ball wouldn't bounce in certain areas and there was concerns about how 'sticky' the pitch was and the danger of fragile limbs being dragged into the quicksand, never to return. And yet, despite all this being picked up by the referee within moments of his arrival at the Valley, we were lead to believe there was 'no issues' leading up to the game! *collective mass groan*
You have to feel for those hardy fans who'd made the journey south from Barnsley, many of whom would have already been in London when the game was called off. 
Mr Duchâtelet must have been searching frantically within his small print to see whether there is a 28 day, no questions asked return policy on his purchase... 
But as hard as it is to offer a case for the defense, I just wonder what sort of pressure poor Paddy was under to ensure nothing stopped the game going ahead. Playing Devils Advocate for a moment (and I do so as I have nothing but respect for Paddy and his long association with our club), let's just say he did raise concerns to the management but was told to keep quiet for fear of the fixture being lost. Of course, the club wouldn't admit this, senior management never does, so unfortunately Paddy will carry the can. I just hope he recovers.
I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the corridors of the Valley come Monday morning when the inquest will begin.
So if Charlton did gamble on this fixture going ahead, they have lost out big time. Within moments of the postponement we were being ripped apart by everyone on radio, TV and social media. We are a laughing stock and rightly so. The club have some work to do to regain some respect, let alone be in apposition to stage a football match.
I don't have any ideas what sanctions the league can impose on a club in this situation, but lets hope we don't get to that stage. With the rearranged FAC game under threat on Tuesday, this may not be an issue that will quietly go away.   
But from adversity comes strength, and the afternoon was not entirely lost for me. My journey to SE7 gave me the chance to enjoy an unexpected but enjoyable few hours in the company of fellow bloggers, Marco and Al in the Rose of Denmark. And if I continue on a positive, just remember this club is under brand new ownership with plans to 'make us proud again' so hopefully, over time, problems like this will be a thing of the past.  

Saturday, 4 January 2014

A Fresh Start...

I was sat in a gem of a pub in deepest Islington yesterday when the club finally put the speculation to bed and announced that Belgian entrepreneur Roland Duchâtelet had completed his purchase of Charlton. My gut reaction was to raise my glass and smile, but despite the renewed hope and obvious excitement of what we all hope will be a positive step forward, I also can't deny I'm nervous to see how it will all pan out. Mr. Duchâtelet comes with a reputation of being a very tough businessman first and foremost, but he also has experience of owning numerous football clubs and perhaps most significantly, great personal wealth. Quite how much of that he will invest in the club only time will tell, but he will be well aware that to get any return on his investment he will need to provide the funds to push this club back up this division or, dare I dream, beyond it!
But lets not kid ourselves, Duchâtelet is not a Charlton fan so we can not expect him to act like one. His investment will be his driving force and one we can only hope we benefit from going forward. That's not to say he won't become Addickted further down the line; this club has a habit of drawing you in slowly and not letting you go as I can vouch for as well as anyone.
With the January transfer window now open some new additions to the squad will be essential if we are to pull away from the bottom reaches of the league. Already an attacking midfielder has been bought in on-loan from Standard Liège, the Belgian club owned by Duchâtelet. Like most Addicks, I would prefer to see players arrive at our club on contracts rather than loans, and all without the need to sell any of our prize assets. 
Equally as important, I would like to see the new owner recognise the importance of our current manager by renewing his expiring contract. The same can be said for the majority of the 1st team squad (or at least, those Powell wants to keep). I do not even want to contemplate a time without Powell as our manager. He may still have much to learn, but he is Charlton to the core. There will never be a time I have as much respect, admiration and love for a Charlton manager as I do for Chris Powell.  
So what of the previous owners? In the past I've resisted the temptation to have a dig a Jimenez and Slater, mainly as I'm the type of person that prefers make up my own mind on a subject based on 'known facts' rather than the endless negative rumours or speculation flying around. I realise I've been more patient with them than the majority have and perhaps more than they deserved, especially given the fact they made no credible attempts to communicate with us (despite occasionally referring to a '5 year plan'). They undoubtedly saved us from administration when they took control of the club almost three years ago and they must take some of the credit for us winning League One and returning to the Championship in such fine style (quite how much I couldn't say), but it is their own fault if those facts are overlooked or dismissed by the majority of Addicks unable to look beyond the downsides to their ownership and the perception of arrogance towards us, the fan. 
It has been clear for some time Jimenez and Slater lacked the financial clout to back Charlton and we was slipping alarmingly backwards. Let's hope the demise has ended and a new, more positive chapter is about to be written. I can only hope Mr. Duchâtelet's management team are a little more transparent. 
Earlier in the day Charlton's FAC game against Oxford United was unsurprisingly called off due to the recent adverse weather rendering our awful quagmire of a pitch unplayable. It is embarrassing to say the least, but thankfully the poor state of the Valley surface has already been recognised by the new owner where it had been neglected by the previous and work will begin shortly to address the problems. Let hope this quick and decisive action is a good sign.