Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A fiver buys more than a franchise

Saturday's football for a fiver campaign has to be seen as a success. Last season we drew the crowds in and the team failed to deliver. This time around however those long lost fans got quite a bit of entertainment for their green stuff.

How many of those 8000 or so returning (or new) faces come back again remains to be seen, but one things for sure, it's fantastic marketing by the club.
Club shop sales, food kiosk sales, extra revenue for the local pubs, cafes and take aways, it is a good old reminder of what things were like in SE7 just a handful of years ago. And at the current rate, what things will be like again soon.

On the pitch Charlton are doing as much to convince people to return as they are off it. Chesterfield are just the latest to stumble when confronted with Chrissy Powell's red and white army.

Once again work stopped me handing over my hard earned Lady Godiva and being a part of the 22,000 strong support. Nevertheless, the boys got through it without me. And while they were slogging away on the field of play, i was doing the same on my own personal battleground.

You see, tomorrow morning (and very very early morning at that) we head off down to Bath for a few days away.
So after work at about half two i serviced the car rather than listen to the match on CAFC player.
I knew in the long run this would give me a bartering pole.

As Paul Hayes opened the scoring with that glorious backheel, i was spinning the new oil filter on. When Johnnie Jackson made it two with a simple but precise strike from a free kick, i was filling the windscreen washer bottle and cleaning the lines.

So you ask me, why couldn't this wait until Sunday?
Well, I had the rare opportunity of an away game. I struggle to get out of work in time for home matches, unless we are drawn away to Crawley in the cup away days are a thing of the past for me. A day off and Charlton playing only an hour and a half down the road is far too good an opportunity to miss.

So when Chesterfield got a goal back i was choosing my moment. Then as Bradley Wright-Phillips sealed it in injury time, and i was putting up a curtain rail (complete with curtains) in the spare room, i struck with the venom of a particularly dangerous rabbit.

"I'm thinking of going to Milton Keynes on Tuesday my darling"

Not overly impressive but it did the trick and I'll jump on the bike later this afternoon to ride up there. Heidi has gone for a girlie shopping spree in Brighton in retaliation. Expensive this football lark.

A good home win then before two tricky away days. MK Dons started very brightly but have just started to drift away a little now. I don't see them rolling over tonight and a difficult game awaits. Then it's the red half of Sheffield on Saturday. This will i fear be even trickier. I would be happy just with two points out of these games, four and I'll be jumping up and down. If we win them both who knows what I'll be up to.....................................................probably a lot more DIY!

I'm looking forward to my first trip to StadiumMK, I've heard as grounds go it's quite an experience. It's just the club we have trouble with.
In a week when Wrexham are set to join the likes of Exeter and AFC Wimbledon in a true football romance story, being owned by the supporters, the whole franchise affair still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of all true football fans.
As does the name Clinton Morrison in the north and south of all Addicks. I'm sure we'll be seeing an appearance from this 'gentleman' tonight. I just hope it's not a repeat of the last time.

If you see me this evening (I'll be the one walking around with a crash helmet) come over and say hello. You will however have to wait for the next post containing my adventures tonight until after the weekend when i return from the west country.

Come on you reds!!!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fortress time.

Away from The Valley Charlton continue to pick up points. I still believe the players do better without that 'pressure' of sending fourteen thousand fans home happy. Who knows how they'll cope with a twenty thousand plus attendance on Saturday?

Rochdale, with all due respect, are not going to be mounting much more than a relegation avoidance scheme this season. Having said that, grounds like Spotland are tricky places to go and take all the spoils (aren't they all?).
Charlton did take take all three points but made very hard work of it.

It was the Bournemouth old boys act that graced the score sheet. Danny Hollands constantly good performances were rewarded with his first goal for the club to put the visitors in the lead.
Rhoys Wiggins, who has been seen as a weak link in the side so far doubled the lead just before the interval.

Being Charlton we had our normal self inflicted scare. Every Addick knows nothing for our boys is simple and two Rochdale goals proved the point. Hollands however popped up with ten to go and sent the Londoners back down south with huge grins across their drunken (well my friends who went were) faces.

Four away wins in a row. I'll use the dreaded word, it is promotion form and that's why we are top of the table.
Just to sort out that home form.

Maybe, like i said, it's the pressure. Perhaps it's the great stadium and day out which causes the visitors to raise their game. One things for sure, we don't often look in total control at home.

Every manager will tell you this but you need to make your home a fortress. Yes, we are top of the table and shouldn't need to panic. Agreed, but from what I've seen in SE7, poor teams have failed to punish us and half decent sides have walked away with a point.
I remember many years ago hearing Ray Clemence in his Liverpool days saying "win all your home games and draw all your away ones and you'll be sure to win the league".
In the real world that won't happen but it's a safer target than winning the away games and drawing at home!

Saturday could be time to change all that. Chesterfield would, you'd think, be easy pickings. Look at their form though and they have won their last three. That includes a three nil away win and scoring four past Carlisle last Saturday.
I'm certain they'll relish playing in a lovely stadium like ours. And with Charlton's 'football for a fiver' campaign, it's guaranteed to be a bumper crowd. It'll be a great match for either side to win for sure. This should though be a home win in anybody's book.

There has been enough incident in football these past few days, what with Torres missing a sitter and the whole Arsenal/Wenger sideshow.  The Premier League is turning more into a circus every week, I'm happy to see League One stay predictable.
Well not too predictable, i don't want the Charlton mid season wobble of course...............

Come on you reds!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Signed, sealed, delivered?

Bjorn Borg is one of the style icons of the seventies and early eighties, not to mention an Addick as well. The Swede who, in my eyes, put sportswear firm Fila on the map was always a hero of mine.

So when i saw my chance to have my very own piece of Borg Fila style, at less than half price, i jumped at it. The red and white track top our man is wearing in the picture above was the said article of clothing.
Size?, a division of JD sports, advertised it on their website. I did the necessary clicking of the mouse and this garment of desire was duly dispatched via the Home Delivery Network courier company. You may be more familiar with their more commercial  name, Yodel.
Obviously popular with the British public, check out this twitter account.

That was the last anyone ever saw of it.  The same day it left the Gatwick depot in a van, the bar code fell off (or so their story goes!) and the driver was unable to determine where to deliver it, so it returned to where it came from. As far as anyone can work out it still sits, unloved, at that same depot in a dark corner somewhere. You've probably realised like i did that without a bar code you cannot read the name and address, and therefore cannot possibly know where to take it.

Without an attempted delivery, i never received a 'sorry we missed you' card through the door. It was only a few days later i started to make some enquires. I'd bought from Size? before and things had turned up pretty much next day.
I could, apparently,  track my parcel and arrange re-delivery on line. No matter what i tried it remained firmly planted in the Gatwick depot.
I finally rang the courier firm and told them of my woe. It took a few attempts (at 10 pence a minute) of getting cut off at the promise of being put through to an advisor, before finally getting through to a real person. A search of the depot was promised, my number taken, i would hear something soon.
Or never. Not a dickie bird.

I then e-mailed Size? (who have been a pleasure to deal with i may add) and asked them to do the chasing as these phone calls were costing me a fortune. Plus i figured clients carried a little more clout than me.
Yesterday they told me Home Delivery Network could not locate my parcel and it was now classed as lost. No shit Sherlock.
I've been refunded the full amount as the item is out of stock and no replacement can therefore be sent. I didn't really want a refund though, i wanted to look like Bjorn Borg.

I've since heard I'm not by any means alone with my unfortunate luck with this company. Even the BBC Watchdog programme have touched on the subject. They are one of the main couriers for Amazon and therefore deal with many parcels YOU receive. Good luck.

The courier company couldn't deliver, could Charlton do better? Not in the Carling cup.
Preston North End came to The Valley to take on our impressive second string from the first round.
Last night however the reserves didn't look quite so fluent in their game and went out of the competition 2-0.
It is after all only a distraction from the league and i suspect all supporters would rather we saved our very best for that.
And without kicking a ball in the promotion hunt last night, we moved to the top of the pile.
Sheffield United dropped points at home to contenders Huddersfield, whilst Brentford conceded an injury time goal to Colchester. This all left the Addicks sat at the summit, with a game in hand over second and third. Not a bad outcome to an evening of cup disappointment.

The final piece of news of the day was signing number nineteen (i think, i may possibly have lost count) of the season. Obviously very low on numbers in personnel, we have signed free agent Yann Kermorgant on a two year deal.
The French striker has had some experience in England lately with Leicester City, hence Powell's knowledge of the player. Looking at the statistics he's not going to lead any goal scoring charts but is a big lad and may well be seen as someone to hold the ball up and link with a natural finisher.

I just hope he isn't delivered to The Valley by Yodel, otherwise we may never see him. We wouldn't want him to end up disappearing, lost forever like my parcel............................or Alonso.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You win some, you lose some.

The football matters of course, not just the result, but the way you play and the manner in which a  win is achieved.
Sometimes though you'll have to concede and put to one side your high standards, going home happy knowing you've got a result despite having an off day.

Yesterday for me was a little like that for me. We came away with three points, we're back in the top two, Chris Solly once again showed why Charlton got the better end of the deal over Arsenal, yet it was as football matches go, so very poor.

I had a little stroke of luck getting out of work a half hour earlier than i envisaged. I was expecting to pull in to SE7 at around three and sprint down to the ground, praying that Bradley Wright-Phillips would wait a little longer than Monday before getting off the mark.
As it turned out i was in the Rose of Denmark enjoying a pint of London Pride by a quarter past two.

By now we've all seen Exeter's goal a couple of times and read countless reports. From the north upper i really didn't think the ball had gone completely over the line. Whether it had or not, Exeter's 'scorer' Nardiello should have had more sense than to shout off at the linesman. In this day and age of political correctness, swearing in front of fourteen thousand people is going to get you in trouble.
Doing it to an officials face and you're asking for it. It's at least a caution all day long.

So off he went and we had that old situation of playing against ten men. I don't know how other sides get on in this position but we always struggle. Yesterday was no exception, it was hard to tell where the man advantage was on the park. I even counted the white shirts at one point to check Paul Tisdale hadn't sneaked another one on while we weren't looking.

The ever improving Chris Solly had an effort at the other end hitting the underside of the bar which crashed down somewhere near the line. My eyes these days just about see the goal itself in front of the Jimmy Seed, the whereabouts of the ball are totally out of my parameters.
You win some you lose some. We had done both (or neither depending on your view).

I very nearly missed the first definite goal. Not being overly impressed with what i was watching, the thought of avoiding the queues at the little boys room was looking more and more attractive.
Then of course Wright-Phillips broke through and struck with accuracy after link up play with his strike partner Paul Hayes. We went into the break with an undeserved lead against a relatively poor team.

Another problem at not really being able to see the other end that clearly is determining the stroke the evicted Exeter fan was doing. Carried out by a team of stewards, the lad was horizontal! With arms and legs going, it could have been the breast stroke or the front crawl. He was closely followed by a friend who was at least upright yet it didn't look like his feet touched the ground as he pedalled thin air. I said to Dean sat next to me that all six hundred could be leaving one by one at this rate.

The second half continued in much the same vain. We still struggled to show our numerical dominance and i fear many Addicks were worrying a repeat of Monday could have been on the cards. Fortunately Dale Stephens wasn't going to repeat his glaring miss and slotted home to secure the points ten minutes from time.

Chris Powell has stuck with pretty much the same side so far. Being top two and unbeaten we can understand why. I do worry a little that players may feel their place is secure and performances just go off the boil a little.
No disrespect to Stephens and Danny Hollands but a month ago they were running games from the middle of the park. This to me did seem to be missing a little yesterday.
Wiggins is still struggling to find his feet and his distribution is poor.
Hayes and Jackson both performed below what we know they are capable of and Waggy never really threatened to trouble their full back.
Players are going to have off days, it just seems they happen at The Valley. I do wonder if there is a pressure on them playing at home that they need to overcome. You'd be happy at snatching points on the road without the stylish passing football being on show.
At The Valley we expect a classier more dominant performance.

It was however a fantastic day as football always is. It's the first time I've seen them in the flesh since the opening day and had been looking forward to it for what felt like ages. The adrenaline kicks in on the train whilst listening to London Calling on the iPod, the first beer slips down a treat and the match day experience is second to none.
The football matters of course, but it's a day out with mates you just cannot put a price on.
A few drinks in Bartram's meeting a couple of Twitter followers for the first time followed by a couple at London Bridge with good buddies made a day of it.

And then i got home to catch the end of last night of the proms before Match of the Day. A chance to get get all patriotic after a day out at our national game.
Good old Blighty!

To top the weekend off we have celebrated Heidi's parents silver wedding anniversary today. They treated friends and family to an 'all you can eat' Chinese buffet at a local restaurant. Needless to say i stuffed myself silly and washed it down with a couple more beers.

All in all a great weekend. You win some, you lose some. This weekend i won.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Rivalry not stupidity

Football is full of rivalry. Every club has it's bitter enemies and the majority of supporters sing songs of hatred towards them.

At Charlton I've sung the build a bonfire song amongst others, it's a good bit of banter. I no longer sing the swear words however, but that's just my preference. I've even tweeted about the quantity (and perhaps occasionally the blood line) of the Palace fans on the train. It's only a bit of fun.
In obscurity I'm very very brave, to their face I'm a coward. There is a good reason for this, i actually don't have anything against them at all other than their club of choice. It's not the people, it's the football club and our history with them i don't like. Before you all write in, i know about incidents on the train involving rival supporters to our club. The individuals i speak of  however are not the mob handed minority.

If one of these fans fell ill in front of me I'd be the first to help, in fact if they dropped a fiver and didn't notice I'd pick it up and give it back to them.
As i Christian I'm expected to love my enemy. As a decent human being i want to. I want to go to watch the football in a safe environment and in SE7 I'm spoilt that way.
There will always be the occasional fisticuffs, if a group of men drink beer it's always going to be a possible side effect. Look at the pubs and clubs of a Friday or Saturday night. Men have always had a desire to fight over things.

Some things may be seen by society as worthy of fighting over. Football is most definitely not one of them. For many the beautiful game may well be a way of life, but in the greater scheme of things it is after all only sport.

So it hurts me so much when i read of events like Tuesday night. Michael Dye went to watch a game of football and didn't come home.

I've no idea of the circumstances surrounding his death other than what I've seen in reports. Whether it was other Welsh fans involved, or inter club rivalries i don't know. In fact, the circumstances really don't matter a jot. Six people were arrested and whatever may or may not have happened, it most certainly wasn't natural causes that killed him.

I spend so much time defending football to those who think it's only watched by thugs looking to cause trouble. How wrong that idea is. Yes OK, i admit there is a handful of supporters at each club who enjoy a fight. Why they do is beyond me, but they do nonetheless. If they want to arrange to meet each other away from the ground and the general public to knock seven shades out of each other, that's up to them.
Killing somebody is something else entirely. That's not the action of a mindless yob but a violent murderer.
The tragic events and bad publicity of Tuesday does nothing to help our cause.

I've spent many an hour drinking beer in a pub with rival supporters discussing and laughing about our differences of opinion and never felt the need to punch anyone during this.
The rivalry is healthy for the game and we love getting one up on our neighbours. Very little beats footballing bragging rights at work on a Monday morning.
If you look at the footballing rivalries worldwide you'll know the game just wouldn't be the same without them. Footballers at all levels will have stories a plenty of derby matches. And for supporters they are the first games you look for when the fixtures are announced.

I really hope the perpetrators of this crime, this murder, get what they deserve. A cell next to the rioters from last month.
Many have said it before and many will say it again, but there is no place in football for this.

The very dark days of the seventies and eighties are behind us, yet the legacy of the hooligan remains. The stupidity of a handful on Tuesday is a reminder to us all that idiots do still ruin for some not just the enjoyment of a day out at the football, but whole lives.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday I had Wednesday on my mind

Looking at the facts, this had disappointment written all over it.

1, Semedo's return.
2, Our centre half up against his old team. (Almost guarantees a mare.)
3, Their poor form away from home.
4, Our great start.
5, Needing to play catch up with the franchise and the red half of Sheffield winning Saturday.
6, Sky TV cameras.
7, Gary 'negative' Megson.
8, I'm stuck at work.

OK, perhaps point 8 could have meant  a truly epic Addicks performance, but alas, no.
With many thanks to Laura for tweeting me the frequency, i managed to tune in to some of the game from my Tesco dot com van. Of course, by the time I'd found it Bradley Wright-Phillips had scored the opener and we were well on our way to going back to the top of the league with an outstanding goal fest.
If I'm correct, the last time we were at home on a Monday and on the telly was Swindon Town last season, Parky's last game. Ouch.

During the first half i didn't want to get out of the van when arriving at customers addresses. One women even commented on this saying she thought i may have got myself locked in the cab. When i told her the full story and mentioned we were attacking the opposition's penalty area at the time she replied with a grunt. A little like a football conversation at home! I'll never understand some people's priorities.

Listening to Phil Parry and former Charlton front man Bradley Allen on BBC London radio, it seemed that Charlton were by far the better side in the first period playing some slick passing football. Dale Stephens had a good chance to make it two from close distance whilst Sheffield Wednesday had taken to their 'lumpier' tactics, both in style of football and method of challenges.

The second forty five and it was a different game entirely. An equaliser for the owls from former Palace striker Clinton Morrison (Sky's man of the match for some reason?) gave the visitors what was probably a deserved point over the ninety. This came from that dreaded set play, something we have struggled to defend for a long long time.

Thoughts of slipping back into the darkness that was last season are perhaps a little premature, we are still third in the table and unbeaten don't forget.
We can however play beautiful football and need to adapt when managers have rallied their troops with their half time team talks. Wednesday tried to stop us playing the game last night, many others will try to do the same. A plan of action and counter tactics must be part of Charlton's armoury to ensure our wonderful start to the campaign continues.

It's another home fixture Saturday, one which i can finally get to after missing everything since the opening day. Exeter are another side who could surprise us, and another donor club to our central defensive partnership. Exeter haven't had the best of starts picking up only four points  to date and sitting just on top of the bottom four. A big game at The Valley and the chance to take a scalp will be great incentive for them.

Lets pray we get back to winning ways and keep the pressure on the top two. Come on you reds!