Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grim Up North

I always felt this was a little harsh as phrases go. I've been to some lovely places north of Watford and had some wonderful times. Probably more than Charlton have.
So i put Rochdale in an image search on the popular search engine doodle site. Page one of results brought up this.

Maybe that is a little grim. Last nights result certainly was.
A crowd of just over two and a half thousand is more akin to the Blue Square Premier than to League One, especially as Rochdale are playing at these 'dizzy heights' for the first time that i can remember.
The game itself sounded like we had the better of the play for large periods of the match, we just didn't take our chances. Same old story.
Joe Anyinsah limped off injured, surprise surprise, Eccleston got on for the last fifteen minutes, again no surprise. On a much more positive note, Paul Benson returned from suspension. Benno gave it his all and looked determined to show the boss that he deserves a start on Saturday against Leyton Orient. More of that please lads!
Three points out of thirty three really is a little embarrassing, but fortunately the Palace supporters i have to see frequently seem to have got a little bored with the same old jokes. Small mercy but their teasing seems to have stopped.
The wreck that is our season, like that car, needs to be put out of sight now and forgotten about.
Roll on the summer and the pre-season friendlies.

Another disappointment from yesterday, and far more important to me than a football match, was news Heidi, my wife, had.
Desperate to start a family, and with no real luck ourselves, we had to get the help of the NHS. Two courses of clomid have failed to get her ovaries working correctly so an operation was the next line of attack. A laparoscopy would involve drilling the ovaries. Ouch. Apparently damaging them can stimulate them into action, seems crazy but i take the doctors word for it.
At the beginning of February, Heidi went in to have her pre-op appointment. All went well and we were told that an actual appointment date would be received soon.
Beginning of this week, i thought to myself, we really should have heard something by now. So i got Heidi to ring them. It turns out that due to government cut backs, all non essential operations were cancelled until the new financial year and there is a large backlog.
Now i can understand this, and i believe God will give us a baby when His timing is right, but leaving us to find this out for ourselves? A phone call or letter to explain the circumstances would have been nice.
As it was we had almost two months of excitedly checking the post each day, hoping to have a date.

If only there was someway i could protest against these government cut backs................

Saturday, March 26, 2011

cherry pickers

Two games against two south coast promotion hunting clubs in the space of a few days. So for an out of form side that can throw games away, two draws sounds OK. And like i've said before, the way things stand at this stage of the season, performances give me greater pleasure than results.
Bournemouth have probably surprised everyone this season and for a couple of years in a row now, not a place teams have looked forward to going to. Scott Wagstaff netting just before the half hour mark then was a cracking start and a great way to continue the fortunes of Tuesday night.
But in true Charlton tradition, this wouldn't last. A sloppy goal after a piece of magnificent goal keeping from Rob Elliot meant the cherries were level almost immediately.
Second half and we were behind. A position we are more than used to. A corner for the home side, and connecting shot took a massive deflection giving our heroic keeper no chance. But this is the new passionate Charlton and we were not finished yet. A period of activity around the box including a penalty shout for hand ball and a shout from the home side for a foul from our captain, saw Bradley Wright-Phillips, the better of the two brothers, shoot home to continue his great goal scoring record. Nine minutes left on the clock but the momentum was with Bournemouth. Heroic defending meant that we held firm for all nine as well as the longest five minutes of injury time you'll see all season. A very well deserved point and an absolutely outstanding performance from Charlton's number1.

A great day also for a couple of ex addicks. Wales hosting England did sound to me to be a bit of a forgone conclusion but held more interest due to Scott Parker and Darren Bent getting run outs. Wales were, to be honest, very poor opposition, but nevertheless, Parker had a great game in the middle and about time too. Whether you still respect him or not as a Charlton fan, you have to admit his ability. If he could reproduce that against the best sides in the world can be debated but i'm struggling to think of any England player that has done for a long long time. Darren Bent is a goal machine. Simple. So its great to see him on form for his country. I did feel a little proud as a Charlton fan watching as much of the game as i could. The beginning was missed due to channel hopping not realizing it was on Sky!! Probably a good thing as the Welsh behaviour during the national anthem would have really ground my gears.

Finally, after seeing that Weebles have been re-introduced, i did a little research online and found this great picture of local side Crawley Town's manager Steve Evans. This is really for all you Sutton United fans :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Only Way Is Up

I sometimes plan for the worst scenario. That's not a good thing, not one of my virtues. I had an idea of what i was going to say before we even kicked off tonight. Droning on about another lacklustre display, another three points handed to the opposition and more despair for us, the long suffering supporter. You get the idea, we've all read a lot about it of late.
After an encouraging opening fifteen minutes, Southampton seemed to get a little bit of a grip on the game but found no way through a Charlton defence that didn't just roll over. Solly and Llera are well worthy of their places in my book. Yes, i rate Llera above Doc and Forch. And with Matty Fry now back at West Ham i think he has to be a first choice in the middle of the defence. Bessone had a good game tonight and is a welcome return after getting injured so soon in his Addicks career. Strong in the tackle, something we haven't seen for a while. It's nice to know that Carl Jenkinson who is injured may have to fight to get a starting place when he's back in contention. Our best player of the past few games not guaranteed a start. About time we can say that.

Half time and 0-0. Another forty five minutes of the same please. Granted, Southampton, who have played some great football this season, were having a bit of an off day. We won't dwell on that though.
When Southampton went in front that sudden disappointment hit again. A momentary lapse of concentration and all our good work of the past hour had been wasted. Southampton will surely go marching on from here backed by 3000 jubilant travelling supporters.
Charlton players did something then i had almost forgotten about. They showed some passion. We were not going to lie down and get a thrashing, we were going to stand up, be counted and show a bit of South London fight.
It was very nearly level when Llera hit the underside of the bar and the ball bounced down on the line. Another day and it would have been given. Always the pessimist when it comes to Charlton, i realised that when you're down on your luck, nothing is ever going to go your way. But still Charlton didn't give up. And then it happened, Bradley Wright-Phillips latched onto Dean Parrett's pass and we were level. There was no question we were going to lose now. We finished the stronger and the smiles on the players (and fans) faces at the final whistle showed that pride had returned to The Valley. The Saints had been held, it feels like a corner, no matter how small, has been turned. And for once we weren't sinners but heroes.

How things have changed in just a couple of days. After a Saturday to forget, things are looking a lot brighter. My grumpy work colleague is enjoying a week off, so i in turn, am enjoying a week of peace and quiet working with no distraction. The sun is out, the customers are flooding in and it's all going smoothly. Add to this the fact that i can play my iPod through the radio and choose the tunes, I'm enjoying work again. It's been a while since I've got out of bed with a spring in my step.
Poor Heidi struggles to get up. Mornings not my friend she protests. So i sing to her. Yes it's cruel but hey,she's too sleepy to hurt me. Matt Bianco, get out of your lazy bed, before i count to three....step to it baby.
Well tomorrow I'll be in fine voice as i sing to her. I'll be feeling on top of the world, what a difference a day makes. And a football match.

Come on you reds !!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Grey Day

Yesterday it chucked it down with rain here most the day. The sky was dark and grey, the rain heavy and unrelenting. Today however, sunny, warm(ish) and very Spring like.
Well everywhere except in my world!

Nine o'clock i started work this morning, and at one minute past, things started to go horribly wrong.
A customer came in to collect his Kawasaki 550 Zephyr yesterday. An old bike which needed a fair bit of TLC and a few hours of my expertise. I rode it midweek and it went really well so rang the customer to tell him that it was ready. I informed him of his very large bill (about £800) which he was expecting as i'd done a lot of work, all of which he had asked me to do. It then sat in the shop yard for a couple of days, before starting first push of the button yesterday morning. The customer rode it home in the pouring rain, then put the bike away in his garage. So far so good.
Now at this point i will mention that i am a professional motorcycle mechanic. I take great pride in the standard of my work and would never charge for something i haven't done. If you take your machine to a shop you expect that kind of honesty and workmanship. And this customer has dealt with us for many years so knows both the shop and myself.
One minute past nine this morning and the phone rings. Guess who. During the night the bike has dumped most of its petrol over the floor of the garage and stunk the house out.
Our procedure is to get the bike back as soon as possible and look into it. If its our fault we would obviously put it right at no charge to the customer, after of course apologizing profusely. This chap however wasn't having any of it. My work was shabby and i almost burnt his house down. Or words to that effect. Just with much more colourful adjectives.

I stressed that it didnt leak a drop whilst it was here and that i would never let it go out if i thought there was any chance this kind of thing could happen, but my words fell on deaf ears.
So Monday morning i shall be investigating this hoping it will start leaking again, because of course it hasn't leaked anything today in the shop.

Work over and i'm feeling rough. I have tight pains across my chest which i'm putting down to sress from the morning. Maybe a soak in the bath will help. I set up the radio to catch the football scores but the only 'local' station i can find is LBC. This London station is discussing Gerard Houllier at Aston Villa. Is this manager any good?, look what he did at Liverpool. Fans of these clubs please ring in, they appeal. And while you're at it any Man Utd fans with anything to say? This is a London radio station, any chance we could talk about London teams. Needless to say i turned that off. I'll follow what's happening at Dagenham on twitter.

Today i thought Charlton would surprise us all and put in a fantastic display which would shut up the critics and boo-boys. A performance of note to prove to one and all that Chris Powell, the man who is without doubt Charlton through and through and one of our finest sons, is the right man for the job.
After all, Charlton will never cease to amaze me, and pulling something out of the bag today would be typical. Why couldn't we have put that performance in a few weeks back would have been the cry!
Dagenham & Redbridge, that former recent non-league side, had different ideas. So we lost again. If i'm correct, that's one point from the last possible twenty four.
It really is possible that i could be having an away day at The Broadfield Stadium Crawley next season.

A real grey day all round, so at 5 o'clock Heidi and I set off to Tesco's to go for a penny..............

Saturday, March 12, 2011

bee minus

I remember when we were sponsored by Redbus. During the latter half of the season, we hit our normal slump and a Manchester City supporting work colleague had great delight in telling me how the wheels had come right off it!
Well now it's crashed. And caused a multiple vehicle pile up.

On the train to London at lunchtime i was full of optimism. Today i felt fortunes were going to change. The sun was out, The Clash were pounding out all their classics on the iPod and there wasn't even any Crystal Palace to ruin the atmosphere in the carriage.
Chris Powell must have had enough. He must have read the riot act to each and every one of them and these professional footballers had to be worried. Only a performance of cup final proportions would guarantee them their places in the starting eleven from now on.

We really didn't deserve to come away with nothing. Brentford stole a point from us in broad daylight. In fact, on the balance of play, we probably deserved all three. Deserved to beat a very average mid table League One side. This is Charlton. And we deserved to beat a very average mid table League One side.
The crossbar and a couple of fine saves denied us agreed, but would a team playing with confidence, and more importantly, playing with pride and passion settle for that. Brighton wouldn't. Bournemouth for that matter wouldn't. They still have pretty much their League Two squad from last season, and they've lost their manager. Surely the likes of Dailly, Reid, Wright-Phillips etc are better than Bournemouth. Not at the moment.

I honestly think that if it was anyone other than Chris Powell, the boo boys would be having a field day. We saw some action this week in the loan market and i was quite happy with what i saw of Frank Nouble. He offered a bit of muscle up front but did seem to be out to make a name for himself. Hopefully a week or two to get to gel with his new team-mates may help address that.
I was a little sad to see McCormack starting. I thought of all our new loan signings Dean Parrett could be that imaginative spark we seem to lack in the middle of the park. Llera always looked a threat coming up from defence and was one of our better players today. Not too many shaky moments!  Jenkinson gave another good performance, lets just hope he isn't too hurt, and it was nice to see Chris Solly having a run out.

So where to now. The play-offs are out of reach, i hope relegation is as well! Can we see the season out just asking for the boys to give 100% every game. That would do for me. I'm resigned to another year at this level, but I'm not going to resign myself to watching half hearted displays. Today was better. Just not really quite good enough.

On a much brighter note, it was an absolute pleasure to meet another member of Charlton Athletics twitter community. We have a small amount of awful fans here who dont get behind the team and boo at the first opportunity. And a very large amount of superb fans. Thanks for today Dean. It was great to watch the match with you.

Huddersfield should be my next game, work allowing. I may feel a little dispondant at the moment but by tomorrow i'll be excited for my next trip to The Valley!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


This week my wandering mind has had far more than just mere football to ponder. Food. Just the word is music to my ears, and would therefore be listed in the song about a few of my favourite things. We've had Shrove Tuesday and its pancakes (although i was happy to drag this out over three days), and we are also in the middle of British pie week.
Thanks to a friend of mine, Marco, i have been alerted to a company called Pieminister. Not just steak and kidney, chicken and mushroom etc, but a whole new world of pies that i just can't resist.
Moo & Blue(steak & stilton), Shamrock Pie(beef & stout), the list just gets better and better. As if that wasnt enough, they make Heidi pie. Named after my wife, or so i like to think. The ingrediants include spinach and goat's cheese not surprisingly. She was not as amused at this as me, what with being called 'goat girl' at school. Me, i think it hilarious!

As a part time Tesco dot com driver, it is maybe a little odd that i've never had our groceries delivered to our door. For some reason i get some satisfaction of trudging round the store, fighting old ladies for the best looking bunch of bananas. Queing for ages at the checkouts, going through screwed up money off vouchers scanning them all just to find they expired the week before, its all part of the experience for me. Tonight however, we will be receiving our first ever home delivery. Not from Tesco's though, but Ocado, the posh one. We dont live on a council estate so they're prepared to deliver to us. And the contents of this order? Pies, and lots of them. With 25% off all Pieminister pies, i've taken advantage and am stocking the freezer. That and the fact Ocado have a minimum order of forty quid. Yum yum yum, i like pie in my tum............

And so to last night's football. I've never liked the franchise. MK Dons shouldnt even exist in my book, let alone be beating us. I'd feel a lot better if we'd lost to AFC Wimbledon.
But lose we did. Ten points adrift of the play offs now and i think that is it for this season. Let's see what happens in the summer. How much is available to spend and what Chris Powell does with it to build his own team. It's dissapointing but i'll still be going this Saturday to get behind the lads. We are Charlton covered end. That means through the high's and the low's because CAFC is in my blood. Whether i like it or not!

I suppose the queue at half time wont be too long. I'll be seeing out British pie week at The Valley with a pie and a pint. You see, things aren't that bad.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pele who?

Couldn't be at the game today. Work commitments, and a wife i rarely see due to the former, means i can only make about one match a month. That doesn't make me any less of a fan than someone who manages to attend every game of the season. I've had my season tickets, I've endured Selhurst and had more away days than i can remember. If i could be there, i would.
Never have i not fancied it. Never have i thought, we're having a rough patch, I'll save my money. In my book, if the teams struggling, they need us to get behind them more than ever. And next Saturday for the match against Brentford i will be in the covered end singing my heart out till the death. And i will stay and clap the players off, its what i do.
I did get to catch a fair bit of the match on CAFC player. What a great invention that is, although i do so wish i could listen to it on my new 'smart' phone.
The first half was the same old that i guess many Charlton fans dreaded but secretly expected. Ruined even more by Tranmere's 'tactics'. A more spirited second period resulted in a goal and a few 'dead cert' penalties missed by a referee who really should have gone to that popular spectacle shop that Postman Pat endorses.
Nevertheless, a good forty five minutes. A little positive after those four defeats and a point on the board at last, despite the oppositions best efforts to stop us playing any proper football at all.

Heidi, my wife has had a busy few weeks. After the art exhibition, which was a great success, she really had it on her heart to celebrate Easter with a masquerade ball. She wanted this to be held at our church.
Jesus dying on the cross and then rising again is an amazing event for us as Christians and is life changing. Something certainly worthy of celebrating, more so than Christmas.
Unfortunately, for one reason or another, this isn't going to happen. So after her initial disappointment, she has come up with the idea of a big family meal out. Day's is the name of an oriental restaurant in Brighton which does a great buffet for £12 a head. There are over one hundred dishes to choose from so pace will be an important factor. With a table of 14 or more and a couple of glasses of the local brew its most certainly going to be a celebration of note. And the masquerade ball will happen. Just not sure when.
Invites for the family have now been designed using her great skills with photoshop and printed off in glorious technicolour. With one proudly stuck to the fridge, my patience is going to be tested in anticipation of our Easter feaster!

This evenings entertainment has been Escape To Victory. Surprising really considering Heidi's hatred of all things football. But she's watched it with me. That's John Wark said I, and that little one is Ossie Ardiles, he played for Spurs when i was a kid. And Pele, the greatest of them all (excluding Super Clive and Killer of course). Pele who? she said. Turns out she's never heard of many famous sportsmen, Muhammad Ali for instance. How has she managed to get through these past twenty three years? The work I've got to do with her is unbelievable, I'm already getting together a lesson plan!
One thing i did notice watching it again was how the first half was of a quality matched today at The Valley. Stallone's efforts in goal in those 45 minutes resembled our own Robbie Elliot. But what a second half. Don't escape through the tunnel, this game's there for the taking shouts the captain. We could do with a little of that spirit ourselves!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Connect 4

Four wins, four defeats. Four better and four worse. There does appear to be our regular latter season doom and gloom setting in again at The Valley. Four defeats on the spin, and i can see everybody's frustration.
The Chris Powell excitement has given way to a realization that we are no better than when Parky was here. I admit i was dancing in the street when i heard that Sir Chris had been given the job. Add to that new owners with a couple of quid in their pocket and all was looking very rosy.
I know many people were of the opinion that Powell's reputation was going to be on the line. Why risk losing that great name he built at the club, but i have utmost respect for him. It takes a much mightier man to come in and have a go than just to live by reputation alone.
And for four games it was carnival time. Four wins, (and three clean sheets) and we really are going to catch Brighton! And such a great comeback against Peterborough, we were on fire! Then we went to Hartlepool. I don't think a single Charlton fan ever thought we would get anything less than three points up there but we got beat and really knocked down a peg. Hartlepool must have thought it a giant killing as later that week a DVD of that great victory was available from their club shop.
A minor set back. Carnival time again as we try to fill The Valley with the slogan 'football for a fiver'. I don't think anyone would deny it was great seeing the place so busy, but those returning fans may not be so quick to see the Addicks take the field again. Suddenly a fiver seemed like a bit of a rip off.
Notts County and that pitch. I cant help think that any professional club should have a game plan for any conditions. And a game plan to deal with all kind of different tactics.
I don't even know where to begin with the Carlisle match.
So where to begin turning things around? Lets give Ross Worner a few starts. I love Rob Elliot, especially as he's one of us, but i don't think he's the keeper we all want him to be. And a rookie goalkeeper may work. Sasa Ilic?
Reputations and names aren't enough on their own. Dailly covers an awful lot of ground i agree, but does seem to take his eye off the ball. Great leadership skills for the squad, but i would love to see him have to fight for a place in the starting eleven. Doherty came here with a glowing report from champions Norwich. If he was that wonderful and confident at the back, surely he was irreplaceable for the new season. But the Doc infuriates us all. We've had great centre halves, Rufus, Sweaty, the awesome Eddie Youds (the greatest of them all in my eyes), as well as some I've not been so keen on. Sorry Carl Tiler! We just seem to be lacking in that rock at the back and at the moment i feel nervous every time the opposition attacks.
I think an attacking midfielder to play alongside Semedo is a must. And a target man up front. Akpo (who appears to have a new lease of life at Hibs) and Abbott have both gone. Big Joe is now famous for only being fit for half a season, so if we want someone to win the ball in the air from set pieces, it has to be one of the old boys from defence. They've then got to try and get back down the other end!
On the plus side we have discovered Carl Jenkinson! What a breath of fresh air he is. A young lad who wants to grab an opportunity in the first team with both hands. I say give that chance to a few more.
Scotty, JJ, BWP, we've got some talent in the squad but i fear its not that deep. Understandable at this level i know, but it would be a little more forgiving if you felt that 110% was given each match.
I still think Sir Chris is the right man for the job. I don't however think any possible action in loan signings this week will make any difference. It'll take time for anyone to settle in. So we may not go up this season. Lets give Chris time to build his own squad, see what money is available in the summer, and give him the benefit of time. He is, don't forget, as desperate for our success as we are. So here's to the worlds best dressed manager.
And like a game of connect 4, four in a row, lets wipe the slate clean and start again.
It could be a lot lot worse, we could support Plymouth!