Wednesday, January 04, 2006

If only we had a centre half like him!

I boarded my train to work this morning, about an hour later than usual, and who was standing there in front of me, leaning against the train wall? Paul Elliott MBE, former Charlton star and Commission for Racial Equality special advisor for football. He looked very natty in his long brown leather coat and carrying a Louis Vuitton briefcase!

If only we had a centre half of his calibre playing for us now...

I remember seeing Paul make his Charlton debut, at Selhurst Park in 1982, against Palace. I think we lost but he had a good game in a struggling team. He rarely lost his starting place after that and was sold to Luton in desperation a couple of years later for just £150,000 when the wages couldn't be paid. As far as I'm aware, Paul has always lived in Chislehurst, or at least had a home there.

He didn't score many goals, but one memorable one was at The Valley against Brentford; Charlton were losing, and playing poorly, when Paul picked up a clearance on the half way line. He moved forward, beating a couple of players and then unleashed a thunderous shot from 30 yards or so that flew into the top corner of the net. Charlton took control of the game after that and ran out easy winners.

Paul eventually had to retire due to knee injuries after a 15 year professional career, where he also played for Chelsea, Pisa, and Celtic.

It's not often these days that you meet any of your current or former heroes going about their normal daily business, although a whole bunch of them now seem to be around on match days helping out on corporate matters.

I have been lucky enough (?) to have, many moons ago when Pedro45 was a mere pup, bumped into ex-England international Ray Crawford when he was doing his shopping in Cheesemans in Lewisham, a huge store that is no longer there. He was pleasant and gave myself and my sister his autograph, and a smile. He was in dispute with the management at the time, and out of the team, and I'm not sure if he ever played for Charlton again after I'd met him.

I also used to see Scott Parker fairly regularly when he was a teenager, usually on a Thursday when he did his day-release course in London. He used to board the Bromley North to Grove Park shuttle train at Sundridge Park, and looked quite shy and dapper in his (probably one and only) suit.

If Charlton had players of the quality of these three in the team now then they wouldn't be in so much trouble...

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