Sunday, September 30, 2012
Having had to work during the Hull match, yesterday saw my first Saturday 3 o'clock kick off of the season - during the last weekend of September! I've heard many people claiming global warming has confused the seasons, i blame the likes of Sky slightly more.
As is so often the case, Charlton's opponents were making all the headlines prior to the game. How often has an opposing manager lost his job prior to the game or the following day after a defeat in SE7?
Steve Kean, whom i believe is very popular in Bolton, resigned as Blackburn boss on the evening before the match. It had of course been on the cards for months but Kean politely waited until a fixture against the Addicks before announcing anything. This was guaranteed to get us an extra twenty seconds on the BBC's Football League Show.
It was a day to welcome some famous and infamous faces to The Valley. Former Addick and former European footballer of the year, Allan Simonsen was in attendance both to watch the game and meet the guys at Charlton Live for a radio interview.
Other visitors, Danny Murphy and Darren Deadman weren't invited to speak into the radio microphone. Murphy, a lovely upstanding gent, was on the receiving end of plenty of abuse from the home fans. Although harsh in content, it wasn't surprising. In a poll of least liked former players, Murphy would feature highly in many answers.
Deadman, the referee, is someone trying to carve a reputation for himself. Normally a little card happy, it would appear after yesterday that someone really needs to sit him down and explain the whole principle of playing the advantage. On at least three occasions he stopped play the second a foul was committed even though an advantage would have been more prosperous to the side.
Someone who didn't hang about for the game was Charlton striker Ricardo Fuller. Despite rumours floating around Charlton Life and the North stand about a drink driving incident, it transpires the player is suffering from some kind of virus and was sent home by the gaffer.
After the injury to Kermorgant this forced Chris Powell to change things once again with Danny Hollands returning to the starting line up in a five man midfield. Young Michael Smith offered some attacking back up on the bench.
Blackburn, a Premier League side last season don't forget, looked strong from the start and manager less or not were going to give us a stern test. We of course were on the back of our first away win and should have been high on confidence. Blackburn scored after fifteen minutes.
There was talk at half time as to this goal possibly being off side, i don't know I'm yet to see a TV replay but what is important is the manner in which Rovers got it. They passed the ball right through us, we opened up for them like a flower welcoming the approaches of a cocksure bee.
As betting slips were torn to shreds around the ground, many may have thought the floodgates would open. I for one didn't think we had it in us. At least we were winning in the vocal department. I can understand why Murphy feels so at home at Blackburn, their fans made just as much noise as he was used to at Fulham for sure! We sang truthfully when we told them of our forgetfulness about their attendance.
I always remember a particular 1-0 defeat when i think of Blackburn, my first Charlton Wembley trip in the Full Members Cup when i was a young sixteen year old. A great day out when you could stand at the twin towers, just ruined by the scoreline. I always thought the opportunity of seeing Charlton lift a trophy at Wembley had passed me by at the time. This was to be no repeat.
Charlton earned a penalty when Leon Cort (to show how old I'm getting, my failing eyesight thought it was Wright-Phillips) was brought down in the box just ten minutes later. Jackson stepped up and was unlucky not to score as the keepers trailing leg kept the ball out. Before we'd had a chance to moan about chances lost the ball was nicely nestled in the back of the net. Hollands sent the ball back into the box where Jackson made contact and diverted it in. I've seen photos since of his celebration, this goal meant as much to him as it did to us. We erupted.
Danny Green, again impressive, hit the upright before half time whilst the full backs Solly and the always improving Lawrie Wilson both looked strong again. At half time i was feeling rather optimistic. A win could be on the cards.
As the game developed we came very close to taking the points. Leon Cort nearly put us in front early in the second half with the ball being apparently cleared of the line. We all thought it had crossed over, again though I've yet to see a replay.
Wright-Phillips nearly sealed it for us in a way Ben Hamer could only dream of. A wonderful over-head kick was tipped over the bar with just minutes remaining.
We settled for a hard earned point, we deserved nothing less. It wasn't all plain sailing though. Johnnie Jackson limped off in the early stages of the second period with a hamstring problem. Adding to Wiggins and Kermorgant on the treatment table, this deepens Powell's injury woes but does open the door of opportunity to those willing to take it. Pritchard looked fresh when he came on for the skipper. Having lost his place recently he wants to be razor sharp during this second chance.
My biggest bug bear of the day was the long ball tactic. At times against opposition of this caliber, we don't look comfortable on the ball resulting in us either struggling with a first touch, playing the thing far too quickly or pumping it forward over head height. With just four foot nothing Wright-Phillips up front you can soon see the flaw in this. Michael Smith can hold the ball up well, maybe a chance for the youngster wouldn't be a bad move when employing this tactic?
All in all though a gritty performance that showed the character needed to survive and compete at this level. Our injury depleted League One side more than held their own against Premier league wannabes.
Off the field of play now and into the stands. After my Blues Brothers escapade last weekend and the discovery of my long forgotten hat collection, i graced SE7 wearing a brown trilby number. The remarks from friends and associates were mostly positive so I've decided it will appear more and more frequently.
I always remember a TV advert where the wife could tell her husbands whereabouts by which hat was missing. He had a football one, a fishing one etc. Well i now have a football hat. If you see it in the Rose or at a the ground feel free to come over and say hello.
Watford Tuesday, or as i prefer to call it, The Italian Job. A chance to add to our points tally before the much anticipated trip up to Blackpool.
I'm feeling very positive. Come on you reds!
Sunday, September 23, 2012
I've been off the radar this weekend. I briefly followed the first hour of Saturday's game but then didn't know the result until around eight o'clock last night. The only football I've seen is four minutes of our highlights on the wonder that is CAFC player.
I have concluded though that i was the only Addick having a dose of the blues yesterday.
My mother in law was hosting a Blues Brothers themed party to celebrate her 50th birthday, i needed no encouragement to don the black tie and trilby hat, and being family we had to be there early to get everything set up, hence missing the end of the second half.
Needless to say, a good night was had by all. I was allowed to dance as, according to my wife, my rather bizarre efforts on the dance floor are very in keeping with those of Jake and Elwood Blues. A little beer intake also gave me the encouragement to show the younger participants a thing or two on a stage that i would never normally call myself comfortable on.
Today after church we were back there putting everything straight again, washing the blood off the floors (might have been chocolate cake actually), and turning their abode into somewhere a little more livable. Even the Sunday afternoon football has passed me by, as i said - off the radar.
The blues i was relishing in were far removed from the blues Ipswich are languishing in. Plenty of boos greeted the team and their boss at the final whistle, how easily that could have been us if we hadn't got a result yesterday. The Tractor boys remain firmly rooted in the bottom three. We now have six below us! Paul Jewell may well be worth putting a couple of quid on for the next managerial casualty.
I must congratulate the traveling supporters who made it to Portman Road. A great football ground I've only ever been to the once (for a certain play off semi final), many fans had to endure a bus replacement service for large parts of the journey. On the back of three defeats this shows wonderful dedication.
As it is, Chris Powell changed it around, albeit enforced in places, with Ricardo Fuller getting a start in place of Kermorgant, and Hollands being relegated to the bench. Jackson who has struggled on the left moved to a more central position allowing an impressive Salim Kerkar to start.
This worked to great effect at the start of the second as Kerkar crossed for Jackson to score a wonderful poachers goal, followed three minutes later as Fuller fired home after some fine solo work.
Ipswich pulled a goal back from Jason Scotland which took a huge deflection wrong footing Hamer in the Charlton goal, and it could have been a real role reversal with Charlton not all out attacking for the last twenty but instead defending in numbers.
The Addicks didn't just sit back and soak it up though as they had chances to put the game beyond reach, but 2-1 it stayed giving a rather relieved Chris Powell and his team three points and a first away win of the season.
Sometimes an enforced change can inadvertently turn things around for you. I've a decision in my own work life which I'd put off for far too long and has now been resolved for me due to a change of circumstance. It's no good looking back and wishing it had all happened a little earlier, but rather to be thankful of good fortune, and to embrace and build on it.
Blackburn Rovers come to The Valley on Saturday. Big fish in this pond they may be, but that just gives us more to aim for.
As Donald "Duck" Dunn almost said -
"We've got a team powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline."
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
As hard as we try to find positives from these early season encounters, our shortcomings are becoming more and more obvious, with the inexperience and inadequacy to compete at this level seemingly rammed home (sorry) once again last night.
For the final twenty minutes Charlton threw everything they had at Derby, just as they had done against Forest and Palace before them, clawing the deficit back to only one goal, but the third defeat on the bounce was, I'm afraid, deserved.
The only changes to the starting line up were Danny Green coming in for Bradley Pritchard and Lawrie Wilson starting in place of the injured Rhoys Wiggins. Green fully warranted a start after looking so bright in his cameo last time out, whilst Wilson got the nod over the unlucky Cedric Evina for the full back berth.
We could be upbeat and commemorate upon the third occasion this season when the ball ended up in the back of the net yet a goal not given, or another late header which the opposition cleared off the line. We can even take some hope from being three goals down and still having enough fight in us to turn the finale into edge of the seat excitement.
None of this will hide the fact that for the majority of the game we looked absent. Again the opposition carved not just holes but huge slices out of our midfield, we still hoof the long ball forward optimistically and last night, unusually i must add, the defence was at sixes and sevens.
Alan Hansen would have gone into full meltdown summarizing the Rams second goal.
This is the same squad, give or take, that made a habit out of winning games last season and confidence will always play it's part, however i believe some of the mistakes were still made occasionally last year. In the Championship as opposed to League One you get punished more often, as we are learning to our cost.
The fight and resolve we're finishing matches with shows we've the ability to compete amongst this company and it is as we know still early days - many people have mentioned Reading's poor start to last season as a comparison.
Chris Powell can't be afraid to drop a senior player who's finding it hard to adjust. Danny Green, a player many i know in the summer said would struggle at this level, has come in and looked fantastic scoring a gem and assisting in the second last night. How many other squad players will delight and surprise if given the chance?
I have the utmost faith in the boss to turn this around and pull us out of the bottom three. Other than Forest, none of the rest looked head and shoulders above us, just better adapted to the job in hand at this level.
It's far too early to be calling the trip to Ipswich a six pointer, even if we do both share a seat in the relegation zone, but an important encounter it certainly is. I know in my heart we're too good for a relegation dog fight, i still think a mid table finish is a more realistic prognosis, but league standings don't lie. We really need to move upwards as soon as possible before we get too rooted at the base.
Ipswich entertain Wolves tonight giving us the psychological edge of an extra day between games, although if they win they can jump to the top half of the table. As i said before, still early days.
Come on you reds!
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Now i don't for one second presume i could do anything any better than those at the helm, for running a football club has got to be difficult and you're never going to keep everyone happy all the time.
Running a household is enough of a challenge financially for me, while keeping one person happy every once in a while is seen as a success.
The boardroom at The Valley sounds ferocious and the club as a whole doesn't appear the happiest place to work recently. If rumours are to be believed, Rick Everitt the club development officer could soon be visiting the labour exchange. An outspoken Charlton stalwart, Rick would be another link with our recent history that would be lost to the club, another voice saying what it really means to 'be Charlton' that would fall silent.
In real life Charlton behind the scenes could be much healthier than we know, but being kept in the dark supporters will always fear the worst.
One part of the clubs operations we do know something about is the club shop, sorry superstore. Didn't Tesco copyright that term?
With all the excitement and ultimately disappointment of Friday you would have been forgiven for missing the news of the refurbished and refitted store reopening.
Charlton fan and radio disc jockey, Dave Berry gave up some of his birthday to cut the ribbon and open the doors to the public.
I've mentioned my dislike of the Nike brand before, the financial rewards for the club aside, they will always be an American basketball brand to me famed for their sweatshops.
The club shop is now a 'Charlton Athletic Nike store', i pray we don't go the route of Bolton and Reebok although in retrospect Reebok did hail from that part of the world.
We already know the season highlights DVD was only available from the commercial centre and back issues of matchday programmes are no longer in the store. We also knew Nike were bringing in, all but for a couple of leading faces, their own staff, what we have since discovered though is the addition of the Nike boot room and the Nike casual range in this first wave of rebranding. The basketball floor i expect will come later.
A standard 'Just Do It' slogan t-shirt is already available if you can't find it on the shelf of your local JD sports.
Someone told me the other day that when Dr Martens sponsored Rushden & Diamonds, the famous air cushioned soles were available from the club shop. I still think we should be sponsored by a brewery!
It's the modern football world, club shops aren't portacabins anymore but are big business ventures. To compete on a level playing field clubs can't afford to be one step behind the rest.
It doesn't matter how much heritage you have if you can't pay the bills, look at Portsmouth still living day to day.
No doubt nearer Christmas a young family members wish of a replica shirt will force me to give Nike some of my pennies although I'll be buying on line. I don't want to have to carry matching running spikes, basketball hoops, aftershave and golf bag home on the train with me.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
I don't really have a problem with football 'ultras', a familiar sight all over Eastern Europe and particularly in Italy they bring a lot of noise and colour to a football match. I do rather enjoy seeing lots of coloured smoke emerging from a football crowd.
Unlike football hooligan firms, ultras do find more importance in supporting their own side rather than fighting the opponents. The need for black ninja outfits is slightly worrying though, maybe they'd feel more at home in certain religious female attire?
Crystal Palace included a small amount of ultras in their 3000 strong travelling support and in all honesty, the noise from the Jimmy Seed last night was very impressive. Dislike them i may, but i can't ignore the fact they certainly were a sight and did the whole twelfth man thing perfectly.
While the smoke was getting in the eyes of the travelling contingent, it was certainly clearing in the home areas. We may have had a scoreline at Forest that tried to cover the deficiencies in the side, but the Palace game certainly showed us all our shortcomings and raised even more questions.
The honeymoon period of the Birmingham and Leicester matches when we still carried the momentum of last season are well behind us now and we can expect a long hard slog through the coming winter months.
Crystal Palace were by no means a side on par with Forest but they were physically strong and well organized. Two factors we need to sharpen up on.
At the time i felt this was probably the easiest three points they would win all season, now having had the chance to sleep on it, i can take a couple of positives from the evening.
It seems the midfield is everybody's main concern. Dale Stephens is back and needs to continue with the performances which alerted Villa in the first place, using us as a platform to both better himself and launch what could be a fantastic career. If not and he wallows in what might of been he could take the team morale down with him.
One thing we can take from last night is the need to play with width. Jackson is struggling with fitness and doesn't look to have a full ninety minutes in him, whilst Pritchard doesn't really seem the player to attack full backs and get the crosses in. Danny Green came on for a cameo yesterday and suddenly showed a creative spark we had been lacking.
Look at the trouble we had dealing with Yannick Bolasie. A true wide man, Chris Solly was tested to the full, first on our right, then once Wiggins had gone off on our left. It's testament to young Solly that he limited Bolasie as much as he did.
Zaha also proved a handful, never short of both ideas and confidence, he was a constant thorn in our side all evening.
Palace were famed for their inability to defend set plays. Unfortunately both Jackson and Kermorgant struggled to find a strike between them that would really hit the target, let alone trouble Speroni in goal. Shots on target were in short supply throughout.
Our disallowed goal from Wright-Phillips should have stood after seeing TV replays, the referee later apologizing to Chris Powell for the error of judgement, and that goal would have had some impact on confidence and perhaps the run of play, yet we were clearly second best.
A draw would, i hate to admit, have been unfair on the visitors. The little rally late on which saw some awful shooting from Fuller and Wilson amongst others was I'm afraid too little too late. Again, similar to the Forest match it was desperation to salvage something after being outplayed for seventy minutes.
Ben Hamer had one of the best chances as he came up for a stoppage time corner. A strong header was cleared off the line and we got a comical moment to cherish as the keeper tried an overhead kick on the follow up. That little gem was especially for the Addicks that had already seen enough and headed for the pub.
Quote of the night from a chap i spoke to afterwards, "We looked like a League One side who's financial backer had pulled out."
It's back to the drawing board for the gaffer after this wake up call, bouncing back against Derby on Tuesday is vital if we don't want to get too comfortable in the bottom six.
For the first time in many years i rode to the game last night. I parked the bike at the Rose of Denmark heading back there afterwards for a quick one before setting off home. In hindsight this didn't turn out to be a bad idea. It was nice to wind down and chat about the game afterwards but it also kept me away from Charlton station.
When i returned home i saw my twitter timeline full of people saying that it had all kicked off earlier around the station. Men old enough to know much better unable to differentiate between fun harmless banter and ignorant thuggery.
What a sad way to end a hugely disappointing evening.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Writing a club specific blog can at times be restraining. I try here to diversify and ramble, sometimes quite uncontrollably, about other matters, some football orientated and some stretching further afield.
If you read recently my rant on Nike taking over the production of the England kit, you'll be aware of my preoccupation with football kits. I was thinking about Nike taking on our beloved Addicks and found myself harking back to times past when our kits were more attractive to the eye, and i suspect to the wallet (although my memory isn't good enough to recall prices).
Le Coq Sportif produced a kit that i will always cherish, possibly because the great Eddie Youds wore it, and childhood memories came flooding back of some wonderful creations the French company produced back in the 1980's.
Rather than write about them here to a limited audience of Charlton fans, i decided to give the post to a website dedicated to all footballing nostalgia, The Football Attic.
This way fans of all clubs can revive memories of a time when football was muddy and shorts were what they claimed to be. Don't worry though, you can rest assured Charlton got a mention!
You can find the article here, Le Coq Sportif. Enjoy.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Nottingham Forest, another team very much fancied to put in a serious promotion challenge this season hosted Charlton for their second away day of the new campaign.
Would Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, a former Charlton player come back to haunt us and, more importantly, would Andy Reid eat all the burgers from the kiosks in the vicinity of the ground? In fact would he eat the team coach as well to stop his former club returning to London, forcing Chris Powell's champions to hitch hike back down the M1?
And why did this groundbreaking motorway now lead all the way to Dallas Texas?
After the excitement of transfer deadline day behind us, it was a chance for new signings to get their first taste of action in a different shirt.
With Jimmy Floyd and SeanO'Driscoll running things, Forest had assembled a team of Dutch speaking Doncaster fans to play around loanee striker Billy Sharp. Chris Powell couldn't resist pulling the striker to one side to gloat about his suits really defining the word 'sharp'.
Charlton were struggling to replace Chris Solly who had moved the previous evening to Hamburger SV for two million Deutsche Marks and a signed framed photo of Kevin Keegan.
In a press conference, Chris Powell stated it was the young full backs blonde locks that first alerted the Germans to him. Andy Reid is said to be as sick as a pig he hasn't had the chance to link up with Solly at his dream club.
At least Andy Hughes got the chance to come out of retirement to fill in at the back. And we all thought he'd been kidnapped.
Charlton, wearing an all black kit in mourning of the club shop, started poorly. Sure enough the old boys curse struck with Jimmy Floyd opting to play himself and scoring a hat trick in the opening five minutes.
It became apparent that the gaffer had made a slight tactical mistake playing a whole team of Kermorgants, the ten full size cardboard versions didn't seem to hold up too well in the tackle and went down as easily as the real McCoy.
Only one thing for it, the gaffer was going to have to pull a shirt on and come back for one last hurrah!
The second half was a much more even affair. Ricardo Fuller dazzled the home defence with his glitzy earrings, whilst Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey made his Addicks debut, although preferring to have the name Leaburn on his shirt out of respect for his idol.
Johnnie Jackson, the skipper, who continued his wonderful start to the campaign then came off for Nick Berry. It wasn't just the Charlton faithful singing the Heartbeat theme tune, It was pumped out of Forest's tannoy system for the whole second period as a special request to those viewers in Finland watching the game live on TV.
Charlton clawed it back to three all as the fourth official held up a board indicating twenty seven minutes stoppage time. The Charlton bench argued his decision stating it was at least twenty eight times that their French front man had clutched different parts of his body whilst grimacing on the ground. Forest fans thought he should have at least had a penalty whilst singing lets all laugh at Leicester.
With seconds remaining, Chris Powell came up for a Charlton corner. The ball was swung in high and the Londoners lifted their talisman aloft (in a fashion more akin to a rugby line out) to connect with the ball. Just as he was about to make contact a loud bleeping came from the tannoy, Andy Hughes came back to life, he hadn't really been shot.............it had all just been a dream.
Surely the public wouldn't stand for a whole football match based on a dream.
Last night i met some very lovely folk, all football bloggers, at the Socrates meet up at Victoria. Amongst chatting football, plenty of beer was consumed. The place ran out of bitter by the end of the evening.
A great evening was had as i met up with friends i 'speak' to on twitter on a daily basis, but beer makes me dream in a similar way that cheese affects most people.
We really did play at Forest today, it was shown live in both Finland and Kuwait i believe, but that's where the similarity ends.
It could have been more if Johnnie Jackson and Ben Hamer had you fooled with their cunning hoax on twitter about the signing of Heskey.
I watched the game through a stream found on line but i fear it wasn't the best one available. Whenever we attacked the Forest goal it either froze or threw up big adverts which didn't really want you to close them. Being the high quality product that it is, it's kind of hard to complain isn't it so i battled through bravely.
Forest were much the better side in the first half and went into the interval in a deserved lead. Dale Stephens was a noticeable absentee from the team, perhaps he was still in the general area of Villa Park, so Jordan Cook got his first Charlton start.
The Londoners got much more into the game in the second half but it was always going to be an uphill struggle. Johnnie Jackson worryingly seemed to be a little out classed, whilst Bradley Wright-Phillips hardly got a kick at all.
Forest are undoubtedly a quality team, Simon Cox and Dexter Blackstock both looking impressive. Where Jackson looked he may be a little out of his depth, Cox seemed far too assured to be playing in this division.
Forest got their inevitable second goal to seal the victory, at which point some Charlton supporters decided to beat the rush and depart. Little did they know a mini comeback was around the corner.
Ricardo Fuller and Salim Kerkar both came on with a view to giving us an extra little spark up front. And that's exactly what happened.
Charlton pulled a goal back when Fuller headed the ball against the post which then came off the keeper before ending up in the net. A debut goal it wasn't though as it will be recorded for all time as an own goal.
There were three minutes left, Charlton suddenly seemed to have some purpose. Two minutes later the two substitutes linked up again for Kerkar to strike a powerful volley in the box, only for it to hit an unsuspecting defender. There were penalty shouts for a hand ball but in fairness the Forest lad had little chance to move, it was almost point blank range.
Five minutes of stoppage time, mostly for a battered Kermorgant, lengthened our hope for an equaliser, the best chance falling to Jackson.
A free kick well within his range, if it had been against a Sheffield club it was sure fire to go in but not, alas, today.
Our first defeat, a little reality check, but still a promising start to the campaign. It's a week off now due to the international break, I'll be making the most of it with a good old fashioned booze cruise next Saturday to France. Then it's the big one, Palace at home.
Come on you reds!