Friday, December 30, 2005

WHam Bang, thank you Maam!

Charlton's final game of 2005 is another home local derby, this time against West Ham. The Hammers come to The Valley on the back of indifferent form from a reasonable season so far.

Hammers manager Alan Pardew is an ex-Addick, and was a mainstay of the early Curbishley-Gritt teams of the early Nineties. He scored quite a few goals for Charlton from midfield, much as he had done for Palace previously. He took a large amount of stick from West Ham fans last season, after failing to get them promoted in his first year in charge, but now in the Premiership, after winning the play off final at Cardiff last May, he is getting the support he previously lacked.

Other ex-Addicks who are likely to be involved tomorrow are Shaun Newton, and Paul Konchesky.

Newton didn't quite have enough for the Premiership according to Curbishley, but has made a good stab at top class football since, first with Wolves, with whom he gained promotion, and now West Ham. He has been involved in three promotions to the Premiership, so he must have something to offer. I was always a Newts fan when he played for Charlton; he gave 100% every week, unlike some of todays players. He scored some great goals too. Everyone remembers the play-off semi-final winner at home to Ipswich, but he scored a couple of great goals at the other end too - the first was possibly his first ever in the league, a chip from the right wing (from in front of the barren open terrace) about 40 yards out, after a bad goalkeeping mistake presented him with the chance of an open goal. The second fabulous goal I remember him scoring was against Huddersfield - Charlton had been losing for much of the game but Newts scored a late equalisr, and then an amazing headed winner in the last minute from the corner of the penalty box. The header, after a clearance went straight to him, just kept going and going, over the players, over the keeper, over the guys on the line, and in! Pandemonium!

Konchesky's performances for Charlton are much fresher in the mind. Konch (left) was the youngest Charlton player ever when he made his debut in 1996, aged just 16. He was a good left back, but never quite good enough, so Curbs bought Chrissy Powell which left Konch as a reserve or playing further forward. He also seemed to give his all most matches, and often played out of position just to get into the team - right back, one of three centre backs, left midfield, centre midfield, anywhere that would get him into the team. Of course, he saw himself as an out-and-out left back, and when Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge were unavailable for England, he made his international debut in the infamous Australia game at Upton Park, his only cap to date.

Both players will be welcomed back by the Valley faithful I think, at least until the game starts!

Also playing against his old team will be Chris Powell, who spent much of last season in the Championship with West Ham, before returning to his spiritual home prior to the start of this season.

Charlton will be without the suspended Danny Murphy, and it's also likely that Smertin and Thomas will not feature. Sorondo will have a fitness test. I expect Darren Ambrose to play instead of Murphy, and Perry or Spector if Sorondo does not make it. Dennis Rommedahl should make the subs bench for this game, and don't be surprised to see Jason Euell there too, in place of Kevin Lisbie.

A rested Charlton will be hoping for three points to end a miserable year on the right note, but it will be a tough game.

Pedro45's score prediction is a 1-1 draw, and the one-to-watch is Darren Bent (left), who could get among the goals much as Wigan's front two did against the Hammers a couple of days ago.

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