Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Bank Holiday Down The Lane

Bank holiday Monday's really should have full fixture lists. An opportunity for us all to dodge the shops and the DIY. It should be a large fry up followed by an early pre match pint once the rub-a-dub opens it's doors.

This August bank holiday saw a full non league programme but nothing higher than the Conference. So my day off gave me the chance to make a rare visit to Gander Green Lane, home to Sutton United, newly promoted to the Blue Square Bet South.

It seems a little odd going back as a middle aged man to a ground i did a lot of my growing up in. Little bits have changed, but on the whole it's like stepping back twenty years for me. I remember as a teenager throwing a proper sulk at home when finding out a game had been postponed. Blaming my parents and stropping around the house as if the decision was entirely theirs. It's not fair i used to scream. The ground may not have changed much but at least i have!
The sarcasm and sense of humour remains the same as well. Two decades ago i heard groups of old boys shout their witty comments in the direction of the pitch. Nowadays a new generation are doing the same, not word for word, but almost written by the same author.
If there is a fashion in humour it's missed this part of Greater London.

Obviously i don't recognise the players like i used but there is something special about calling players by their numbers. 'Come on eleven, my gran could have got to that ball'. You know the kind of comment, and of course, number eleven can hear every word you say.
I think of that scene in Fever Pitch when the two lads are stood behind a goal discussing a brother and his involvement in the game. Then the arm waving behind the goal, 'always wanted to do this' he says. Yep, me too.

So i arrive at the ground, park my bike in the car park and pay my eleven quid to gain entrance. I aim straight to the bar. Now to access the bar at Sutton you have to walk down the players tunnel, that in itself is quite something in my book.
Once in the bar it's a pint of Bombardier in a real glass, and under three pounds as well. Northern readers, i appreciate, won't understand that little moment of delight.
A drink with a 'twitter' friend Claire was enjoyable before moving outside to see the game and meet up with another friend from the social network, fellow Addick Jim McGinty.

Sutton's visitors were Dover Athletic who you may remember last season had a little bit of a cup run. They wore their away colours of sky blue. It was one of the worst kit designs I've seen for a fair few years and reminded me of a Coventry horror show from the eighties.
The football was very much what you'd expect, a standard most will never attain yet still lacking that final something.
It turned out a goalless draw yet don't let that fool you that it wasn't full of excitement. Sutton had many chances to snatch all three points, especially in the second half, whilst Dover looked capable of going up the other end and spoiling my day. A point each was a fair result and, all things considered, for Sutton not bad as Dover are tipped as play off contenders.

One of the beauties of non league football for me is standing on the terraces and discussing life, stopping occasionally to shout advice/abuse at the ref or any one of the twenty two running their hearts out.
Jim and myself discussed mortgages and ovens amongst other things during the ninety minutes. We also noticed how the 'Leroy' chant reminded us of the 'Leaburn' repetition from a few years back. It's much more than just a football match you know.
I've never left a non league match feeling hard done by. You don't tend to expect too much and are always surprised by the level of entertainment.
If you haven't seen grass roots football yet you've missed out. September 3rd, this Saturday , is non league day as there aren't any fixtures in the top two English divisions.
Look up your local side and see what it's all about.

Monday, August 29, 2011

And The Reds Go Marching On

Things are moving on at quite some pace for Charlton. Our assault on League One is well and truly underway, games will come thick and fast, and our main rivals have made themselves known to one and all.
After the slight disappointment, and dropping of points, against Scunthorpe the Red Army are back on course.

A re-scheduled Carling Cup tie on Tuesday night saw a very different Addicks side to that we had become accustomed to. Not that this was by any means a bad thing, quality in depth is obviously something Chris Powell intended on with the summer spending spree, and every single debutant shone in this opportunity to impress. Agreed, it wasn't a first strength Reading team, but League One reserves still beat Championship reserves on the night. Competitive reserve football is something that has been missing for a little while in our part of South London.
 Chicago Addick wrote a piece on this subject recently and rather than risk parroting (is that a real word?) him, may i suggest following the link and reading his piece, it's a great article.

Having watched the match at a later date on the club website, work again the culprit, the football was at times enchanting. The score could have been a lot more had last ditch defending not been so evident and slightly better finishing been on show.
The heart and soul Charlton supporter could not have failed to feel proud of seeing the names Benson and Euell on the score sheet. This was without doubt a Charlton performance for the fans, put on by a team that knew we deserved it. Schoolboy comic book images flash to mind.
Bradley Pritchard was the name that stood out on a night of many many shining performances. This is the lad signed from Hayes & Yeading remember, one of the sixteen or so that we never really mentioned or got carried away with. In hindsight, i bet a lot more of the regular 15,000 wish they had spent a tenner on watching our reserves.

Our reward for beating Reading is the visit of Preston. This of course we already knew, what we have discovered since is the prise of a trip to Southampton (or possibly Di Canio's Swindon) for the victors. Not really Roy of the Rovers stuff is it! Maybe we'll have to wait until Wembley for the big gun.

Could we take this momentum back into the League? A trip to Bury wasn't going to be the most glamorous or simplest of tasks.
Hamer stayed in goal as once again the Robbie Elliot saga trundles along. We have now reported Newcastle to the Football League for their behaviour over the matter. It would seem we are not alone in this action. For one reason or another (can't think what) I've gone off The Toon of late.
Bradley Wright-Phillips was the other absentee from the side that took on The Iron. This meant a little re-shuffle could accommodate both Danny Green and Scott Wagstaff.

A glorious free kick resulted in the home side going into the break with their noses in front. This was the first time this season our boys had been behind. At last, a proper test of our metal
Paul Hayes scored at the start of the second period whilst a gem from Johnnie Jackson on the end of a splendid ball showed we have the necessary grit and determination needed to turn this early good fortune into a serious challenge on the summit. Happy happy days indeed.

Our next game is a Monday night affair in front of those dreaded TV camera's. Sheffield Wednesday as Jose Semedo return. Oh how I'm looking forward to this one, and it's on the box, everyone can watch. Except me of course, I'll be working. I seem to really have the short straw.
Exeter at home the following Saturday however and I'll be there. I'm expecting my train to roll into SE7 at around three o'clock so a sprint to the ground will be in order, but it's been too long and everbody else seems to be having more than their fair share of this euphoria. I want/need some of it!

Yesterday i had to make do with some television highlights, extended highlights as it turned out, for my footballing fix. Poor Carl Jenkinson. The reds of Manchester are also on the march.
8-2 is more of a football manager computer game score than a real life one. You have to hand it to Sir Alex, he's about the only old school manager left in the game but still the best by a country mile. Squad after squad is built and rewards are never far away, unlike Arsene Wenger who would love some kind of silverware to put in the cabinet.
Not only was Jenkinson out of his depth, but an early bath as well heaped the disappointment onto the youngsters early Arsenal career. This isn't really how he envisaged making a name for himself surely?

Someone out to once again make a name for himself is Phil Parkinson who yesterday was appointed manager of Bradford City.
I don't know much about The Bantams, they have Valley in the name of their ground which caught fire once, they had a very brief stint in the top flight and on their way down they sold the great Eddie Youds to us.
Looking into the current situation a little i find they are in the bottom half of League Two picking up only four points from their first five games. Good luck Parky, i think you may need it sir.

And so to a bank holiday Monday and a whole day off. No work, no church, and no children's ministry. Heidi's gone off to work leaving me to my own devices and i notice Sutton United are at home to Dover in the Conference South at Gander Green Lane. I'm going to jump on the bike and take a ride up there.
The chance, sorry, rare chance to see a little bit of live football.
I'm having some of that.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

At The Edge Of The Sea

Praise God for my dear friend Marco. If he hadn't introduced me to the music of David Gedge and his band The Wedding Present i would have continued in blissful ignorance of, what has become, one of my favourite bands. How i missed them originally I'll never know, but i didn't miss the boat completely. I was just held up along the way.

Yesterday, the Concorde 2 club on Brighton's seafront hosted Gedge's very own one day indoor music festival. A festival for the slightly older and possibly no wiser generation of 'real' music lover whilst the kids are away lapping up the Reading atmosphere.

As is the norm of late, a good percentage of the day was missed by yours truly due to work. The doors opened at three, myself and Heidi got there for half six.
This meant that the likes of Dirty Fingernails, Summer Camp, Silvermash and Gedge's act Cinerama played to a slightly smaller crowd. This is however an annual event and next year with a little more planning........................................i expect the same thing will happen again.

Heidi, bless her, found great amusement in the whole event. She was without doubt the youngest person in the room and only there for my sake as a little (but perfect) company. She was very quick to point out the age of the regular punter there, and how i fitted in so well. In fairness she was right. It was a room of forty something dads. Not strictly true, forty something mums as well. The choice of polo shirt and white retro trainers was a well thought out choice as dozens of others had had a similar idea. I was reminded of my days a a 'hardened' biker, 'if we're all individuals, how come we all dress the same'.
It turns out i fit the bill of a forty something that still believes he has a little class and style a treat. Not really too old to rock the night away, but yes i can't forget the early start in the morning. And boy am i looking forward to a cup of tea when i get home.

The first band we got the pleasure, and pleasure it was, to see was a Japanese all girl punk outfit called Pinky Piglets These girls were full of energy and i think everybody in the venue developed a special kind of love for them. The girls seemed to like the 'I Want Chocolate' song whist the cover of Kennedy really was quite something. I think that memory will stay with me forever, one of those beautiful, well maybe not beautiful as such, moments. Rare moments perhaps. Rare but bloomin' special.
In broken English they managed to ask the crowd to make some noise and to plug their two Cd's, both available for sale. It was up to you which you bought, there were they said two options, the red one or the blue one. it was funny and i did really have the greatest of belly laughs, but it was with them not at them. Unlike the miserable git behind me as his better half pointed out to him.
Heidi enjoyed it and summed the singer up perfectly when she said 'it's like listening to a mouse on helium'. She was right on this one.

Another trip to the bar plus a trip to the loo quickly in the interval. It's all a little busy and twice i found myself stood in a queue with a group of men who all had less hair than my father in law. At least no-one said they better just ring the babysitter to check everythings OK back home.

Badly Drawn Boy, a good friend of David Gedge comes on next. I'll be honest, i didn't really know what to expect. Thinking long and hard on the way down there, 'Something To Talk About' from the film About A Boy is probably the only song of his i can recall. He's the same age as me, i probably should know more. I will from now on, i was really really pleasantly surprised.
You don't need me to tell you how well constructed his songs are, I'm guessing you know them more than me, but he made me laugh, his rambling between songs and his observations were hilarious, and the tunes great. If you get the chance, go and see him. I'm so glad for the chance meeting that resulted in his name being added to the bill.
He's still a scruffy bugger though.

And so to the main event. I have been buzzing about seeing The Wedding Present for so so long. As I've said before, i feel like I've missed out on so much, and this was an opportunity to put this right.
I honestly do believe this could be the finest music available to mankind and I'm going to actually hear it first hand, live, and very very loud. Just as it should be.
Being a new convert, I've only heard four albums prior to the gig. George Best, Bizarro, Sea Monsters and Tommy. Of course this meant there was plenty of the set i didn't know including some very new material. I enjoyed every number as if I'd heard it a hundred times before, that's how good The Wedding Present are.
'My Favourite Dress' and 'Flying Saucer' however i know word for word, and for times last night i think i really had discovered a kind of paradise.
'Make Me Smile' and 'Rotterdam' from Sea Monsters were stunning highlights for me also. This is was live music is all about, and why don't i do this anywhere near enough?

Heidi didn't get quite the same level of enjoyment out of all this as me. Her highlight of the evening was finally getting a chair before the headliners took to the stage. Through the Weddoes set she managed to read a chunk of Exodus and conquer a couple of stages of Angry Birds on her new smart phone. I feel if it was that smart it would have told her to hang on to every note emitted from Gedge's guitar instead.
As i contemplated going up the front to jump around with the others, she told me of the advantages of listening to music whilst sitting at tables with a bottle of wine. I don't always feel like the older more mature one in this relationship!
As it turned out, the 'mosh pit' up front was full of balding dads. I'm not yet a parent and therefore not quite eligible for admission to this elite group of grown up festival goer.
Besides, according to my beautiful young wife, my awful attempts at dancing have been surpassed by other members of the audience. I'm bad, but not that bad. Full marks for the geezer in the straw boater at the back of the hall, if it helps fella, i thought those moves were great.

Same time next year then Mr Gedge? I'm looking forward to it already. And there may well be a Sea Monsters tour next year as well. I may well have missed out for far too long on all this, but i can catch up.

If you too have been deprived of The Wedding Present, check the short films section of this blog. There you will find a link to You Tube and the amazing tune 'Take Me'. It really is nine minutes of  absolute bliss.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Any old Iron.

That was the shout of the Rag and Bone man who was after your discarded and unwanted odds and sods that he could still salvage. Scunthorpe, The Iron, filled that role yesterday taking a point (albeit more than deserved) that we discarded.

A quality side will get result even when they haven't always had the best of the match. Charlton have had plenty of warning already at this early stage of the season, first halves have been dominant only to let the opposition back in a little in the second forty five. It was only a matter of time before somebody punished us.
Scunthorpe stepped up to that challenge after some very sloppy defending gave us our first glimpse of disappointment.

Johnnie Jackson opened the scoring with what is becoming a trademark looping header. This was followed by Bradley Wright-Phillips getting on the end of an inch perfect cross from Danny Hollands. 2-0 and controlling a game we had little right to. Scunthorpe had the more possession, the more shots on and off target and six corners to each one of ours.
The visitors never laid down and got themselves back into the match through Bobby Grant. A goal with around a quarter of an hour to go, then in the first of five added minutes the marksman doubled his tally to break Charlton hearts.
Watching these goals on TV highlighted that the striker was surrounded by red shirts on both occasions, yet twice allowed a route through to goal.

This result was inevitable, every team every season will drop points. Four wins on the trot was asking a lot to open a season with. It's how we bounce back from this and what we'll take from it that matters. Last season we went from match to match making similar, if not the same, mistakes. We've an opportunity on Tuesday to take a scalp, if you can call Reading that, and get back into winning ways, it was a habit that suited us.

Chris Powell has stuck with the same side so far, i hope (and expect) the Carling Cup will give others from our large squad a chance, and the opportunity, to stake a claim in the starting XI for the trip to Bury next Saturday.
Bury have started well, but these are the teams we need to send a lesson out to. MK Dons and Brentford both walloped their opposition yesterday, the former likely to be promotion candidates come May. We have only dropped the first two points out of twelve and we've been taught a valuable lesson. We have to take as many of our chances as possible to put a game to bed. It's something we've never really been that good at.

As the weeks go by, we'll think of this as a useful point gained rather than two dropped. Scunthorpe will be in the mix judging by the standard of football witnessed at The Valley, and they will be expecting the quick return to the Championship we had once dreamed of.

Let's hope we see some of the more positive football from now on that we are more than capable of and take a leaf out of the Franchise's book. I would like to see us sticking to having two up front till the death, no disrespect to the Ginger Pele, but late goals can win or change games for either side.

Here's to a hatful at Gigg Lane.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Penelope Keith

While everybody in SE7 is pondering the possible departure of Robbie Elliot to the North East, i had far more stressful things on my mind.

My beautiful wife went to the dentist last month and came home with 'wonderful' news. She delightfully told me that this house of horrors had gladly accepted me onto their books.
I was a child the last time i went to a dentist, I'm forty now, that's a lot of abuse the old Penelope's have been through.
Twenty odd years of smoking (gave up three years ago) and millions of cups of tea still show their effects with the appearance of a stain or two.
Getting a wallop in the face a few years back when a spanner slipped (snap-on not football thug) and hit me in the face means one of the lower gnashers wobbles a little.
The ton of metal from childhood fillings all seems to be present and correct whilst waiting to be added to. In fact i think their metal detectors were alerted as they tingled on arrival.

Now i really understand why I've been so snappy and irritable the past few days. Until i arrived at the surgery i hadn't fully comprehended the blind panic and sheer terror that would take over my body, freezing it to the spot and my losing any resemblance to speech.

GET ME OUT OF HERE BEFORE I LEAVE A PUDDLE ON THE FLOOR OF THE WAITING ROOM! shouted through my head, yet when i opened my mouth there was silence. At this point i realized there was no turning back, at least not without able bodied assistance.

This big Greek dentist steps into the corridor and calls my name. My first thought is his size, if we end up wrestling he's going to have me. I'd better go in quietly. Putting one leg in front of the other isn't so easy, Heidi comes in with me for moral support. She was of course under strict instruction NOT to hold my hand, i don't want this geezer thinking I'm any kind of wimp. 'Try not to show any kind of weakness' ringing through my head on loop.
Much to her amusement I'm laying rigid in the chair whilst making holes in the arm rests with my fingers as they dug deeper and deeper in. I fully expected automatic clamps to come out, gripping my wrists and thwarting my escape

X-rays first, something (it's sharp but I've no idea what) is pushed into my mouth for me to bite down on. How he got it through the smallest of openings I'll never know. This was followed by plenty of probing and the dictation of numbers taken down by the nurse. What they meant i'll never know.

As an outcome, i have to go back next week to see the hygienist to have them cleaned. Then, in six months time another check up. Turns out the gums aren't that great and i have a small case of gingivitis but otherwise not too bad. It appears people can ignore their Hampstead's for only a couple of years and be in a worse situation than yours truly. Lucky escape.

I'm not playing that game again, every six months now and I'm in there. I've pushed my luck once and got away with it. On the drive home i did consider how much I'd saved over the twenty years by not going, I lost count at around a grand.

Dentist's aren't the only people I've been avoiding.
There's this lump on the top of my head that I've been ignoring the past few years.............

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

AVB in the news? No, BWP!

Chelsea kicked off their campaign at the weekend and all the talk was surrounding three letters AVB. Last night Charlton won in Essex and it's the letters BWP that are hitting the headlines.

Our very own Bradley Wright-Phillips scored a brace to sink Colchester, at their stupidly named ground, in another fantastic first forty five minutes.

Last season the trip to Colchester was one of the very rare highlights in a dismal campaign. Yesterday i would have sold my Gran, or anybody else's for that matter, to have been able to go.
Unfortunately, work commitments have got worse than normal at the moment due to the boss having his fortnight in the sun/rain. So i couldn't go (yes, typed in a very angry fashion), nor can i make the next couple of home games to boot (and yes that is the sound of a grown man crying).
During the course of a day that deteriorated by the minute, i watched on Twitter as more and more of the lucky so and so's that i follow embarked on their journey up the A12. With each excited tweet that i read, my mood darkened. When Saturday comes, I'll be hibernating at work avoiding all this joviality.

By all accounts the first forty five was all Charlton, just as it was at Meadow Lane on Saturday. Also identical to the weekend was the half time score, the starting eleven and the bench. Last night however we kept a clean sheet throughout. In fact, the Colchester keeper was awarded man of the match which goes to show the balance of play.

Two first half goals for our number ten could have easily been added two in the second half as Bradley twice came close to a hat-trick. Once again the ever improving Paul Hayes deserves plenty of praise making a goal and having a hand in many of our other chances.
The central midfield duo, as is becoming expected of them, looked dominant by all accounts. Yes it's only three games in, but i wonder what odds you would get on one of these two getting their name on that player of the year award in May?

This is a Charlton side that enjoys, and is getting used to, winning. With three games down we sit neatly on the top of the pile with only Sheffield United joining us on maximum points.
There is an excitement surrounding the club which has been missing for far too long, i can see attendances creeping up the further we get into the season as more and more supporters want their own piece of this footballing high.
If we were scraping wins together I'd say you would be right in calling me premature. The fact is we are playing lovely football. The squad have gelled in no time and the camaraderie is there for all to see. Good times are here and at the moment, it's a very happy Valley.

Of course Scunthorpe will be hoping to rain on our parade at the weekend. One of the relegated clubs, they are very slow off the blocks but there is no question of lack of ability amongst their ranks. I feel it's only a matter of time before they are once again used to their surroundings and getting points on the board. Of course that won't be happening until after Saturday.

I've already forgotten what AVB stands for, i just remember he's a very young manager. I'll never forget what BWP stands for, or what a great young manager we have.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Knots Landing

This has without doubt been a week in history we won't forget in a hurry. And not for the reason of Jason Euell re-signing for the club on a one year contract, becoming the club's sixteenth signing of the summer.
Neither will it be remembered for the Carling cup second round draw taking place. A draw that was seeded no less, defying all rhyme and reason so completely taking any romance out of an already stale tournament. Going into the hat with our name on the same ball as Reading meant we were a 'seeded' side and hence unable to be paired with any kind of glamour tie and a potential bumper pay day.
A few years back this would have worked to our possible advantage, making the prize of a Wembley day out slightly more obtainable.
Now we have the possible visit of Preston to get excited about. I've thought about trying to dress that up as best i can, but have ultimately given up through a real lack of ideas.

So whilst the Premier league gets under way today, we have our first away trip. Norwich City (remember them) are at Wigan, we are at Notts County. OK, Wigan isn't all that glamorous as top flight games go, but the debacle of 'that' Colchester match must be a very foggy memory. Oh how we all laughed and gloated.........

Last season we visited Meadow Lane in February and had the pleasure of playing in good old fashioned mud. Bradley Wright-Phillips missed a penalty and the chance to rescue a point after Neal Bishop had scored for the home side with his backside.
He is in the minority today of playing in that game, lining up now in our new look team. Chris Powell started with the same eleven as last Saturday against Bournemouth, sticking with Wagstaff over the eligible again Danny Green.
Green joined Jason Euell on the bench at the expense of Paul Benson and Bradley Pritchard.

The 800 travelling Addicks were in good voice and didn't have long to wait, Charlton started much the brighter of the two teams. In fact, Charlton looked far the better side for the whole first half playing good passing football. This culminated with two goals in the last ten minutes of the first period,
young Scott Wagstaff came up trumps first. After great work from Danny Hollands, Waggy took the ball around the keeper and netted from a very tight angle. Two in two from the homegrown talent reassured us all that there is no way he's giving his place up for anyone!
Then just before the break Chris Solly found Wright-Phillips with a delightful pass. The striker would have been forgiven for taking it on himself, but chose instead to play it to across the goal for Paul Hayes to get on the end of, notching his first goal for the Addicks.
By half time it really was just like watching Brazil, just as the south Londoners were singing.

In the second half we were 'treated' to the arrival of Lee Hughes for the home side. Again we started brightly and the skipper, Johnnie Jackson, nearly put us three up with his head, only for it to be cleared before crossing the line.
Notts County to their credit never really laid down and got back into the match on the hour mark. County substitute Montano got on the end of a corner and the ball snuck past the far post. After this the Magpies seemed very capable of snatching back a point, but our new Charlton are a lot more resilient. If anything, this was a good test for our midfield and defense. Last season we would have crumbled in a similar situation but this time around that nervousness has all but gone and a new found professionalism has come to the fore.

The Doc came on again to steady things up at the back for the final few minutes, whilst debuts came for Andy Hughes and Jason Euell. Euell of course to a rapturous ovation.
Danny Hollands and Paul Hayes both stood out as having very solid games although once again all eleven put a shift in and gave a good team performance.
This is Charlton's first win on the road in a very long time and for the second week running we can say we are top of the league. It sounds good.
One flash point happened after the final whistle. Hollands and Bishop were both booked after a bust up in front of the travelling support. It had been a good tempered match on the whole and this did seem to put a slight dampener on an otherwise great day. I'm sure in time we'll find out exactly the nature of these fisticuffs.

Norwich by the way got their first point on the board with a 1-1 draw at Wigan. A much better start to their life mixing it with the big boys than poor Queens Park Rangers........

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Maybe it's because i'm a Londoner

Tonight's Carling cup game has been postponed as have the ties at West Ham and Crystal Palace. It was also announced this morning that England's friendly against the Dutch tomorrow at Wembley has become another casualty.
Unless you've been on the moon this week, you'll know it's to do with the rioting across London and other major cities.

I may not live in the capital anymore but I'm a Londoner by birth and always will be proud to come from the greatest city on earth.
I've spent years defending football supporters to those who tar all with the same brush, despite hooligans trying their hardest to prove me wrong. Now i find myself defending London as a whole, even though it's the smallest of small percentages that have brought us to the attention of the world this morning.
What a great advert for the capital a year before we want the world to visit us for a major sporting event.

I've seen interviews like the rest of you with shopkeepers and residents who have had their livelihoods and their homes wrecked, not to mention what this is doing to an already fragile economy.
There is absolutely no excuse. Any political reasons from the first riot in Tottenham have long since been forgotten. This is just mindless violence which i think has been on the cards for a very long time.
I'm not at all surprised to hear that someone has ultimately died through these events.

A generation has grown up with no respect for authority. That isn't just the police but teachers at the schools and colleges, and also parents at home.
We live in a world where children can sue their parents! Nobody can lift a finger to these yobs for fear of getting prosecuted and losing their jobs.
I've heard people say the kids don't feel like there is anything for them in this society and it's their anger being vented. I know there are many more decent kids who also find it hard in their search for work and have troubles at home who don't go out to ruin other people's lives.

I'm not going to get too far into politics, I've heard far too much rubbish on the news already. To me it's simple. Ephesians 6,1-4.

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do.  “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise:  If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”   Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

This has been such a sad few days and has left me feeling both upset and angry. I take my hat off to all those out there at night trying to contain it and the local residents out there today cleaning up the debris.
The Carling cup will just have to wait for now. It is after all just a game of football

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Love and Pride

Football returned to SE7 today with a bang! For the first time in what seems like forever, Charlton played great football, dominated and then killed the match off with great professionalism.
That's what my heart yearns for now, love and pride.
After the problems of last nights awful dramas on the M25, the AFC Bournemouth side plus 1200 supporters made it to south east London. Only to wish they probably hadn't.

Chris Powell started with, on the whole, the eleven we expected. With Hamer injured, Elliot kept his place behind the sticks. In front of him were ex cherry Wiggins, Taylor, Morrison and Rigsby (Chris Solly). I did wonder if there may have been a little surprise of Simon Francis after his good pre season form. Fortunately the gaffer didn't do this to us.
Another former Bournemouth favourite, Danny Hollands, lined up in the middle alongside Dale Stephens. Captain Johnnie Jackson and Scott Wagstaff completed the midfield. Waggy starting as Danny Green was of course suspended, as was Powell who had to watch his team for the stands.
Paul Hayes and Wright-Phillips completed the side.
New boys Sullivan, Pritchard and Hughes were all on the bench alongside Paul Benson and the Doc.

Bournemouth fielded Danny Ings after the weeks rumours on twitter of the striker being another Valley bound cherry. Also in the starting line up was former Addick Harry Arter. After an hour Mark Moleley made an appearance for the opposition. L'Oreal models don't appear to work Saturday's then. Needless to say, Robbie Savage references were aplenty!

We've been used to the covered end booing and getting on the backs of the individuals of late. I'm pleased to announce that we appear to have turned a corner. I didn't hear one comment of abuse today. That has to be a first. Poor old Rhoys Wiggins however faced a constant stream of heckling with every touch from the visiting supporters, and i can confirm it was still going on all the way to London Bridge. We too were in good voice, song of the day had to be the covered end singing 'Charlton's feeder club' mockingly at the Jimmy Seed. Quality.

As for the game, well every single Addick put in a performance to be fair. It's lovely to see all eleven men put in a shift together whilst all being on the same wavelength.
Dale Stephens who had a fantastic full debut opened proceedings after some fine work by Solly. This was closely followed by a superb effort from Wiggins which was goal bound until it was turned around the post by their keeper. How he must have wished that had gone in, the best way to shut them up would have been a screamer like that.

The second half got off to an amazing start. The skippers corner was cleared into the path of Stephens who appeared to be in the middle of everything. The midfielder layed it off to Wagstaff who may well have already scored the goal of the season. Twenty yards out and he volleyed it into the top corner. We went wild.

Bradley Wright-Phillips was fouled in the box with a quarter of an hour to go and the ref pointed to the spot. Never in a month of Sunday's could you claim it was anything other than a clear cut penalty. Johnnie Jackson dispatched it in the manner we are accustomed to, putting the Addicks out of reach.
You could see clearly in his face what today meant to our captain as he celebrated in front of the north stand. This result was important for us faithful fans. It was a whole lot more to those footballers that had not been having the happiest of times recently at their place of work.

Benno got a run out when he came on for Hayes. Pritchard made his debut replacing Waggy a little later and got to experience playing in front of more than 300 people in a competitive match. Even the ginger Pele made a cameo coming on for BWP as we switched to 5-4-1 for stoppage time.

Dale Stephens stood out as a real quality signing, he looks assured alongside Hollands. As my good mate Dean said, Jackson doesn't look so special playing alongside these two which is without doubt a good thing!
Morrison looked a good prospect at the back. I'm not getting carried away as there is obviously a long way to go for him, but i do see signs of the Eddie Youds about him. And it's not just his haircut! He's a big lad who's not afraid to go in with all guns blazing. Yes, he'll get it wrong at times, but we need a hard man at the back. Michael could well fit the bill.

Solly did well both defensively and going forwards, whilst Wiggins did better than i expected, all things considered. This was a great team performance, something we didn't see at all last season. The opposition will improve and little cracks will appear, but for the moment let's enjoy a Saturday night like we haven't done for so long. I may even watch the football league show.....

Finally a quick note to say what a pleasure it was to meet Chicago Addick in the Rose of Denmark before the match. As the author of one of the best Charlton blogs, it was a real pleasure to put a face to the name.

So on then to cup success Tuesday. It's a grand old team to play for, it's a grand old team to see..............

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Less than 48 hours to go.......

The time is nearly upon us. It's now less than forty eight hours until the start of the most anticipated season for Charlton since the dizzy heights of the Premier league.
The squad has been assembled, the pitch has been laid and even all 27,111 seats have been cleaned by a team of extraordinarily devoted volunteers. There is just a little bit of set piece (attacking AND defending) practise to do and then newly appointed club captain Johnnie Jackson can lead out the eleven Addicks at 3pm on Saturday to begin our assault on the League One summit.

Scott Wagstaff today signed a new contract which finally puts to bed any rumours of his departure. The 21 year old has signed for another year as is delighted to be staying in SE7 until 2013.
Another youngster pledging his future to Charlton is Diego Poyet. Name familiar? Of course he's the son of a bright young manager who knows all about getting out of this division! The young England under 16 star will sign his first professional contract for the club on his 17th birthday in April. Paul Hart, who knows a thing or two about young footballing talent, has been very impressed by what he's seen so far. Definitely one for the future.

The continuing saga of Robbie Elliot goes on with the number 44 shirt being appointed to him. Chris Powell has said that it's by no means an indication of is future, more a personal choice by the player himself. A lot depends on whether the two parties can come to some kind of agreement as far as contracts go, but it is apparent that neither Chris Powell nor Robbie himself are keen on, or indeed looking for a potential new employer for the shot stopper.

Two players training with the club, yet to know about their future are Jason Euell and Grzegorz Rasiak. The Polish striker did play for ninety minutes and score in the friendly at Carshalton Athletic on Tuesday night. It is no secret though that Powell is keen to add another striker to the squad before the end of the transfer window. It is doubtful either one will sign anything before kick off though as Powell has stated how all his thoughts prior to Saturday are now one hundred percent fixed on the Bournemouth match.
Christian Dailly however will not be signing any type of contract in SE7 before or after the weekend. It was anounced today that discussions with the defender have broken down and the Scot is now highly likely to continue his career elsewhere. One paycut to many i fear.

Rumours of Danny Ings and anyone else for that matter can take a backseat for now as the main event steps into the spotlight. Has it really sunk in yet that competitive football IS BACK on Saturday?

It's easy to get carried away with thoughts of the 'p' word, but twenty three other clubs must be having similar dreams, no matter how realistic they may be!  Chicago Addick has written a wonderful piece on our competitors and challengers this season. Sometimes it's easy to forget others will try and rain on our parade and want some of the glory for themselves!

I've planned with my boss to get out of work early on Saturday so i can make the Rose of Denmark before two o'clock. For pre match refreshments I've arranged to meet up with some fellow Addicks for a quick pint or two as there is going to be plenty of atmosphere to soak up. To say I'm excited really doesn't do it justice. I fear Friday night i won't get a wink of sleep, just like a child on Christmas eve!

See you all at The Valley. Come on you reds!!!!!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Never has a pink jersey been so coveted. As we stand at the moment, three goalkeepers will be keen to wear it this coming Saturday.
Robbie Elliot and John Sullivan have been joined by Ben Hamer from Reading, with yet another 'standard issue' three year and undisclosed fee deal. Brentford and Exeter both had the pleasure of the 23 year old's efforts last season so he's no stranger to League One. Obviously he has invaluable experience of playing alongside Matt Taylor at Exeter, not to mention playing in front of a nearly full Valley when he visited with the Grecians for our football for a fiver campaign last term.
This does bring about the question of Elliot's future in SE7. I think three first team keepers is great competition but i don't think one of them not even making the bench come matchday (or two not making it if Chris Powell feels brave enough with this new ruling) is going to prove popular with any of them, no matter how many promises of 'keep training hard and your chance will come' they receive.
This of course points to Elliot's well rumoured departure. Chris Powell has already said that he won't let our Addick's supporting number one go on a free next summer when his contract is up for renewal. So to sell him now while he commands a fee seems obvious. Does hint at a move doesn't it.
With all respect to the lad, he did say on Twitter last night that he has no idea about any move and would love to stay here. There is no question that, should his future lie elsewhere, he'll always be one of us.

Chris Powell was true to his word when he said more signings are immanent. As he proved by snapping up Andy Hughes from Scunthorpe on a free today as well. The much travelled and experienced midfielder who has signed a two year deal at Charlton, will bring a lot to the dressing room and the training field.With around 500 senior appearances to his name, the 33 year old will prove a very useful utility man to have around the first team. Although mainly a midfielder, he can slot nicely in at full back when required. I do believe that makes it fifteen and counting.

So as the big kick off approaches, everything seems to be slotting into place. Last night saw the opening edition of this season's Charlton Live show on the CAFC player. The usual level of seriousness and professionalism was quickly reached and once again I'm sure the 'bloopers' box is already overflowing.
It did for me signal the start to this much anticipated season. A fantastic interview with the gaffer, Chrissy Powell, plus a superb insight into the squad from Johnnie Jackson with a little help from Danny Green. If you don't yet subscribe to CAFC player, then may i suggest you do. Seven till nine on a Sunday evening is worth the money on it's own.And no, I'm getting paid to say this before you ask! After last night Chris Solly will always be Rigsby to me. Now, if i can write a new song for him starting with the words Miss Jones............