Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pledging Allegiance

I finally opened my season-ticket renewal pack and renewed my Charlton season ticket today, but that’s only half the I only renewed one of the two tickets that I have. The person who usually uses my second one is ambivalent about next season at present, and cannot commit yet, and the other friend I sit with cannot afford to buy at present due to his work situation, though I fully expect him to be there next year come what may. He’ll probably get a ticket for his kid too, as that is very cheap by any comparisons, but not just yet.

Overall though, it does show that many fans, through whatever the situation each finds themselves in, are struggling to renew for next season at this early stage. Personally, I would have loved to have bought the five-year ticket on offer, as I have at every opportunity previously, but as I’m not working, that is money that cannot be used at the moment even though I am financially able.
The numbers of fans who will be able to commit to the five-year ticket are unlikely to be fully subscribed (to the 500 maximum), and I doubt that any fantastic numbers will have helped the club out by paying up their funds this early for one-year season tickets either – certainly not more than a couple of thousand I suspect.

I do follow one readers thoughts that there is not much point whingeing on about this marketing effort when we all (or pretty much all of us) will still attend The Valley next year, come what may, be it in the second or third tier. Sure, the advantages of buying in advance are poor, unless we go up, and the issue of what happens when someone wants to buy a season ticket between now and the end of May has still to be properly addressed, as a price cannot be confirmed until the club is itself confirmed as promoted or not. Hopefully, the club will see sense and come up with a compromise that allows them to sell season tickets but maybe give a refund if we do not go up, even though this adds to the administration.

It’s all a bit un-necessary really, and I doubt very much that the club will fall into this sort of trap again.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kyel Be There!

Huddersfield Town 1 Charlton Athletic 1

No passion; no passion; no passion. Despair. No preview this week. No heart to predict another loss. Where are we going? Injuries. Loss of form. A manager making excuses, unhappy with the fans. Players unhappy – at fans, at the club, at the manager, at other players. Fans unhappy – at other fans, at the club, at the manager, at players. Going nowhere.

New players in on loan, or short term contract. Will Randolph get a chance? Will anyone get a chance? If he plays and we lose, he’ll be out; if he doesn’t play and we lose, he’ll be out – no win. A young defender in – moving Dailly into midfield for the injured Semedo? It’s where he made his name with West Ham, protecting the back four. At least Fry can cover for the next left back injury! A striker who scores goals arrives – shock, horror! Mind you, he is 36 years old….better than nothing I suppose, and nothing is what we have at present. Make my day, week, season, Nicky Forster – score some goals for Charlton!

No more frustration; no more excuses; must win game, or not lose anyhow…

CAFC Player on. Who’s in? Randolph and not Warner; Wagstaff and not Sam. Debut for Forster. But no Skipper – where’s Nicky Bailey? Not another injury? Bust-up? Or just dropped for playing pretty uselessly for a month or more? Maybe we’ve sold him? Ha ha! Ankle injury apparently. Akpo on the bench, so with four others loanees all playing, no place for new boy Fry. Parky going for broke; for broke read broke! Or broken! We’ll see…

At least it isn’t Emma this week – small mercies!

Dailly captain. Mooney chases. Reid wriggles. Nothing. Forster bangs heads. Must stop the crosses. Town dangerous from balls into box. Slow start. Corner. Nothing.

Dean Windass on TV duties; he’s fat…looks like Ricky Hatton!

Racon tackles. Borrowdale boots. Richardson back-heels away from danger. Must stop the crosses. Lose the signal. Nearly concede? Then lose it again…nothing. £3.99 a month, why? Remind me to cancel. 1200 subscribers must be wrong…

Radio on. Bad foul on Racon. Over the top. Peltier. Shades of Blizzard. Not sent off again…Joe Singh – good ref, got it wrong apparently. Racon OK, thankfully. Half an hour. Competing, but is spirit enough? Forster heads wide. Not a sniff of a goal. Nothing.

Randolph punches. Corner. Then another. Cleared. Dailly fouls. Booked. Off the bar. Must stop the crosses! Semedo booked. Nearly half time. Bad time normally. Corner conceded. Uh-oh. Over. Phew. Half-time. Nothing-nothing.

44% possession. One shot. All the top nine level or in front. No help then. At least we aren’t Hayes fans – seven down in 35 mins!

Off again. Corner. Cleared. Goalie hurt. Offside working…so far. Randolph kicks. Corner. Nothing. Don’t stop a cross…goal. Rhodes header. Simples. 53 minutes. Competing, but spirit alone not enough.

Hanging on, Randolph kicking for all his worth. Defence going backwards. GOAL! From nothing. Smashed home by Reid! Bosh! Will it matter? Hope so…from nothing. First shot on target…

Reid on fire. Cross but nobody on the end. Must stop the crosses coming in. Hour gone. Forster fouled. Nothing. Semedo warned…please no sending off! Subs time maybe? A bit more adventure. A bit more open. Scary. All hands to the pumps. Everyone putting in the effort. Will it be enough? Both sides attacking in numbers. Dailly puts in a good block. Goal getting nearer it seems, but at which end? Under twenty minutes left. Nothing in it.

Sodje injured. Probably his dodgy knee again. Bet he doesn’t get an injection in his bum like his brother last week! Maybe just a bang in the face. Puts his head in where it hurts again though. Last ten. Wagstaff crosses. Nothing. Solly on for Borrowdale. Lino gives a bad corner, and Dailly not amused. Cleared, thankfully. Last five. Been meaning to cut my nails…no need now! Forster off and Akpo on. Must stop the crosses coming in. Sam Sodje clears for corner. Under pressure. Solly concedes free kick. Must defend better. Randolph saves. Hanging on. Reid wins a corner. Last minute. Nothing. Villa conceded seven, but Hayes went one better and let in eight (8). Groans and moans. Good – goal kick to Addicks. Three minutes injury time. Reid shoots but deflected wide. Last chance corner. Nothing. Full time. All square.

Lots of spirit but what would a win have done? At least we can't hear Parky moan about the crowd this week. Still, down to fifth. But just three points off second – closest we’ve been for a while. If only. If only... Also still six points clear of seventh. Can we hang on in the last eight games?

I’ll keep the blog going till the end of the season; thanks for all the kind words.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 22, 2010

Derby and Groan

Charlton Athletic 2 Gillingham 2

I was lucky enough to be able to go and see one of my music icons at the weekend. It’s 35 years or so since I first saw this icon, and it is fairly true to say that that experience changed my life, and certainly my musical outlook. Last night, playing in a lovely venue that I hadn’t been to before, and in front of an audience who behaved impeccably and lapped up the fare placed before them, it was a real lift to me on a weekend when my thoughts have been very negative. My icon played and spoke, sang and laughed; she made mistakes, swore once or twice, but kept going all the while knowing that she had the audience captivated, and the odd error would not be detrimental to the overall evening. Accompanied by a couple of raw guests, the music flowed and swayed, lifted and retreated, while the new guys added what they could (which was actually more than just funny haircuts!); there were highs from happy songs and even a couple of nods to past friends sadly no longer with us. In fact, the whole evening was something of a celebration of a past friendship with one person who is dead, but with such evenings the memories are always happy ones, and it certainly ended on an upbeat note.

35 years ago, when I first saw my music icon, the regular Charlton right back, as it had been since I had started to watch the Addicks, was Bob Curtis. A cultured attacking full back with a mop of hair hanging over his eyes, Bob would overlap at every opportunity, and was quite dangerous going forwards. He had a decent shot on him, and when he was shifted into midfield in 1970, his goals late in the season kept Charlton in the second tier that year. Bob liked his beer, and his fags, and that was OK; he was a normal person who happened to be quite good at football too. You didn’t get the feeling that he was desperate for a pay rise every season, or demanded a transfer if he was left out, as he was every now and then. He played for Charlton, and was happy with his lot. His birthday was 25th January; I remember that because it was also the birthday of the kid who lived opposite me and who also went to watch Charlton around that time. Bob took penalties, but the one I remember best was one he missed; versus Preston, last game of 1969. The goalie had a dodgy leg, and Bob always put the ball the same side (to the ‘keepers left). The goalie could only dive one way so Bob hit it to the (his) wrong side, and hit the post. (Later we got another penalty and Harry Gregory went the other way, the way the ‘keeper could dive, and of course he saved it!) Bob didn’t miss many though, and the only other one I remember being saved he scored from the rebound. When I was a tray-boy in the early seventies, Bob would always give you a smile on the touchline if you passed the ball back to him to take a throw-in; he looked happy. I liked Bob…

Bob Curtis died on Friday, at the age of 60. On Saturday, the Charlton players wore black armbands in memory of Bob; it was a small token for a fine Addick.

Sadly, what surrounded that recognition was not so good. Despite Frazer Richardson’s under-hit daisy cutter creeping under the visiting goal-keeper to give Charlton the lead half an hour in, Gillingham levelled 16 seconds later (a great volley by Bircham). Despite Charlton hitting the cross-bar twice in the first half (through Sam Sodje and Deon Burton), the team went into the break losing thanks to Christian Dailly allowing a forward to turn and Rob Elliot having the shot bounce off his chest for Oli to score from the rebound. Despite the effort and energy expended in those first 45 minutes, sections of the crowd showed their collective displeasure as the half time whistle went. At 2-1 down, heads were being held pretty low. The passion was leaking out of The Valley from then on….

Despite Charlton playing much better in the second half, the crowd became increasingly restless. Despite David Mooney turning and rifling in a great equalizer after an hour, he had to show his displeasure at being boo-ed when his name was announced on the team-sheet by running toward those very same boo boys cupping his ear to hear their cheers (not jeers). Despite having a decent game, Therry Racon threw a tantrum and started to smash up the dug out when he was substituted, thereby showing he was selfish in the extreme and that the game was all about him and not the team, our team, Charlton. Despite plenty of pressure, the winning goal would not come and there were more cat-calls as the final whistle went. Despite all of this, and the season we are having, the manager Phil Parkinson chose to highlight the jeering in the light of how good a job he had done with little to work from. Parky, take a look at what Lennie Lawrence did; what Alan Curbishley did – they had no money and had to rely on loan and free signings much of the time; it’s what being a true Charlton manager is all about and you are no different. When Andy Nelson lost the crowd, he was well down the road to losing his job; you would do well to remember that. Despite being third in the league, it is very obvious that things are not well. Too many injuries, too many people out to look after themselves rather than the team; too much selfishness, and that includes from the crowd who may well only worry about what workmates say when Charlton fail to win yet another game against supposedly inferior rivals. League football is not a game; managing a club is not as easy as playing Championship Manager! There are real lives and real people at stake, along with real supporters. We would all do well to remember that.

Look back in the history books - our club has done well when the chips were down; we need to fight for everything we want because nobody will give us anything for free. Life is like that! You need to have a passion if you want to work for Charlton, or play for Charlton, or manage Charlton. You also need to have a passion if you are to be an Addicks supporter. That passion is missing. It is missing from the management, the players, and from some fans.

We have players who are good enough, but they need to show it. We can live with mistakes; we can accept the odd-swear word borne out of frustration; we have to keep going, keep playing, keep trying. New players have to settle in, and be allowed to settle; they will benefit from a good atmosphere a lot more than from a bad one. We must accept mistakes for what they are – mistakes, just mistakes. Nobody makes them on purpose, and if they are passed by quickly and forgotten, then the team can move on and not worry about making more. We shouldn’t worry about making more because the opposition will make lots too! What do you think the Gills fans thought about the first goal conceded? Did they bait their ‘keeper for the rest of the game? No.
If we can regain our lost confidence then we can move forwards once more. I used to be proud of Charlton in the 1990’s; not because we beat other teams but because we were always moving forwards as a club – up the league a little, increasing the stadium capacity; getting the finances right; building for the future. We have stopped that progression. It doesn’t have to always come on the pitch, and it doesn’t always have to be shown off it, but as a club, we must always be moving forwards. We all need to have a passion about ensuring that. When it returns, we will sing, and laugh, and smile and joke.

Patti Smith is 62, and she has passion.

Bob Curtis died on Friday, at the age of 60; he had a passion.

Sadly my own passion for writing this blog is diminishing. Until the passion returns to the club, I will bide my leave.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ten Games of Destiny?

Yes, just ten games to go in this long old season; it seems like an age that Peter Taylor was in the dug-out in front of me, with blue skies above, and a lovely grassy surface at The Valley. My how things have changed - with the long cold winter came a change in Charlton’s fortunes, but despite all that has gone on, we are at least still hanging on to third position in the league table, and it would not be beyond the club to battle it out for second if the results over these last couple of months do yield anything like 25 points.

Of course, last week’s result will have to be well and truly banished from the player’s minds; it is easier for them, as they can get back into training and move on, but for fans it is harder. Even last night, as people started to arrive for my weekly evening course class, the first topic to mention was the scoreline at The New Den last Saturday, whether you were an Addick or not. Still, it’s in the history books now and there is nothing you or I can do about it except pray that we do better next time we play them.

So how can Charlton bounce back? How can the memory of a 4-0 thrashing be expunged from their minds? Who will Phil Parkinson drop (and therefore blame) for not being goods enough/not trying hard enough/not caring about Charlton enough (delete as applicable)? There will be changes, Parky has said so, and with another on-loan left back being brought into the club, we can at least expect Gary Borrowdale to start in place of Chris Solly. I don’t know much at all about Borrowdale, though I have probably seen him play once or twice. What he can be is available for the next six games, which may be what we need to get Kelly Youga fit again. Youga did play an hour in a friendly match midweek, so you could surmise that he might be ready for the first team in a couple of weeks (around Easter), but before then, we have quite a few games and Parky obviously doesn’t think Solly is up to the left back job on a consistent basis.

Other than Borrowdale, there are no new faces, no returnees from injury, and no star youngsters banging on the door for a game – so what has Parky got in mind? Well, at centre half, Miguel Llera had a very public spat with captain Nicky Bailey after gifting the ball to the opposition for what resulted in their third goal last weekend, so he may well pay the price for that misjudgement by being left out in favour of Sam Sodje. Sodje has had a rough and tumble last few months, starting with his Boxing Day sending off, getting back in the side, having his first child born, and then being left out in favour of Llera. He will probably be champing at the bit – which can be a worry with Sodje sometimes – but I do expect hm to start alongside Christian Dailly.

The midfield has had a worrying look over recent months, with Parky unable to work out his best combination. Desperate for a decent left sided midfielder, Kyel Reid has come into the club and done a good job, but in a weird sort of way, this has unbalanced an unbalanced side. With Reid wide left, you would hope and expect that playing Lloyd Sam on the opposite flank would simply be too much to cope with for most third tier teams, but no, it hasn’t really worked for the wide pair yet. In my opinion, this is because Parky hasn’t got the middle pairing right when playing these two wingers. He has tried Therry Racon with Bailey, and Racon with Jose Semedo, but while it may lack much creativity, he has yet to try Semedo and Bailey together with the two wingers. To my mind, if you have Sam and Reid in harness, then the creativity only need come from them, and not via the middle of the park. Playing this combination would allow two forwards to continue, but I have a hunch that we might see Parky go a little more unexpected, and recall Jonjo Shelvey.

Shelvey has had a funny season, with some good early performances and goals, but none of the boyhood swagger and endeavour that we saw from him as a sixteen year old. It is tougher in this league, and the now eighteen year old has had to pit his skill and wits against much bigger men, often getting abuse (physical and verbal) along the way. If the Addicks need one player to take the season by the scruff of the neck and haul us back into the Championship, then that player will probably be Shelvey.

Playing Shelvey means that either Akpo Sodje or Deon Burton would lead the line, and as Burton did it quite well in the early months of the season, I think he might get recalled. Akpo is a good substitute, but it seems that Dave Mooney has disunited too many fans with his honest endeavour but lack of strength and goals. With Leon McKenzie out injured for three weeks, we need a couple of options on the bench anyway, so Akpo and Mooney will get game time if the result is in the balance.

This is the side I would like Parky to pick to restore some faith amongst the Addickted –

Rob Elliot
Frazer Richardson
Sam Sodje
Christian Dailly
Gary Borrowdale
Jose Semedo
Nicky Bailey
Lloyd Sam
Kyel Reid
Jonjo Shelvey
Deon Burton

Subs from – Randolph, Solly, Llera, Spring, Racon, Wagstaff, Akpo Sodje, Mooney.

The team that Charlton have to restore pride against are Kent rivals Gillingham. The Gills are having a tough season, and have yet to win an away game in this campaign, leaving them close to the relegation places. They would like nothing better than to earn that first away victory against their near neighbours, and on paper, they have a chance to do so. Although Chris Dickson has continued his Addicks form and now usually sits warming the subs bench, he cannot play in this game under the terms of his loan; that won’t worry Mark Stimson though, as he said last week that he prefers Dennis Oli to Dickson anyway! Oli may not start, but he could come on to bolster Simeon Jackson up front if Gills are still in with a shout toward the end of the game. The Gills have only won two out of their last thirteen games, but those wins have been fairly recently against Huddersfield (March) and Bristol Rovers (February). Other than a single goal by Dickson, you have to go back to mid-January to find any player other than Jackson scoring for Gillingham, so it is pretty obvious where the danger lies.

Pedro45 can see plenty of straws dangling in the wind at the moment, and in a desperate attempt to clutch at some, I am going to forecast a 2-0 home win. It may not be pretty, it may not be nice, but any win would be good, and it would at least gather a small amount of confidence back into the team as we turn into the final long, home, straight. A defeat, and the dogs would be at our door; a draw, and the questions remain unanswered; but a win, any win, has to happen.

My one-to-watch in this game is captain Nicky Bailey. One of the few who can be sure of his starting place (bar some sort of injury or spat with Parky), Bailey has been on his longest barren spell in front of goal this season – it is six games now since his last gasp equaliser at Swindon – so it’s about time he hit the back of the net. Maybe if Deon is back in the starting team it will inspire Bailey to try to beat him in the top goal scorer stakes? You know that you will always get effort from Bailey, whether he is shoved out left, or playing centrally, but what we need in addition is leadership, desire, skill, will-to-win, and goals. If Bailey wants to be anything other than a decent lower league player, then he needs to start showing us how good he is week-in and week-out.

Ten games…eight wins and a draw would do it you know….

Come on you reds!

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 15, 2010


Millwall 4 Charlton Athletic 0

Even typing that score-line hurts, and mentally I simply haven’t wanted to write about the game, or read any reports, or watch the goals on TV either, much like other Addicks I suspect.

What seemed like a close game up till half time was turned by first a goal just before the break by ex-Addick Darren Ward – heading home unmarked from a corner in the 44th minute – and later by three goals in a torrid 8-minute spell toward the end of the match. The first of this batch of goals was scored into his own net by Christian Dailly, and much like the Colchester game where the match seemed to turn on an own goal, Charlton simply capitulated afterwards, allowing Morison to score twice.

It is easy to cast dispersions on the players and management who are ultimately responsible for the score-line, but that will not get the club anywhere this season; only a resounding positive response over the remaining ten matches will dull the memory of this thrashing to our near neighbours.

For some time I have been worried about the side not being able to up their collective game when it mattered and yet again the par for the team was simply not good enough. Individually, the players did not do too badly I believe, yet collectively and tactically, they were found very wanting. We do not have a player who is scoring goals for fun, as many other teams near the top of this league do, so we need the team to spread that responsibility; clearly that is not happening as several key and important players have to go back quite some way to find their name in the goal-scoring column. Similarly, the goals conceded stats show that we are bereft of clean sheets in all but two (home) games since early December – Brighton was the last away game where we failed to concede.

While the management may try to take some of the blame for this most recent performance, questions are being asked if they are now strong enough to see the season through while under pressure – both on and off the pitch. Phil Parkinson has tinkered with his team in an effort to find the right balance, but it is still very evident to supporters that we (and Parky) are not there yet. The problems with full backs aside, our forward line lacks confidence, and the midfield is being swapped and changed with every game; isn’t it about time that we (or more importantly someone at the club) knew what our best team was?

Rather than pick out any individual player – as they should all be asking themselves what they ultimately want from the back end of this season – we need to move on, pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down, and convince ourselves that the next ten games are there to be won, and that anything less will see the club in severe danger of failing to get out of this division at the first time of asking. We are told that the players are capable enough, now is the time to start proving this. Failure will hurt not only the club, but the players too, as many are unlikely to get a similar wage packet to that which they have now playing in League One next year.

Labels: ,

Friday, March 12, 2010

Hemisphere's Apart

Charlton Athletic 1 Brighton and Hove Albion 2
Southend United 1 Charlton Athletic 2
Charlton Athletic 2 Stockport County 0

I went on holiday the day after the Brighton defeat - not because of it I might add - and that gave me time to contemplate Charlton's season so far. I pretty much figured that despite another abject performance, enlightened only by Akpo Sodje's injury time consolation goal (top pic), we should be grateful that we are at least still in the mix. The big games are yet to come, and that single defeat, while obviously not helping, is unlikely to matter too much when the season finally unravels come May (possibly...).

I tried not to think about the Addicks much, being so far away, and with the Southend away game kicking off at about midnight where I was, and still being jet-lagged, I had no stomach to stay up waiting for text or web updates. It was lovely therefore to rise the next morning to find that we had won, which even surprised my wife! Another Akpo Sodje goal (left) brought the scores level, and substitute Kyel Reid had scored a last minute screamer (below pic) to gain all three points. How my heart lifted! Of course, most of the controversy in this match revolved around Nicky Bailey, and his part in the sending off of Christophe in the first half. It was always going to be a tough return to Roots Hall for the former Southend player of the year, and with the red-head being subject to several robust tackles and off the ball shenanigans previously this season, it was no surprise to see him hit the deck after being in contact with the home player. This is the one area of his game where Bailey is most disliked, and if only he could dismiss this part of his nature, he would gain what a lot of footballers would like, and that is respect; he has all the other credentials, but to be a great, you need this one too. C'est la vie as the locals would have said where I was...

I then had had a week without having to worry about anything to do with SE7, just with not getting sunburnt, or bitten by ants, or run over by the speed-crazy local bus drivers! My Charlton hat and shorts had brought plenty of knowing nods but could not compete with the mass of local United or Liverpool fans; at least one waiter I befriended felt sympathy when I told him we had dropped two divisions, rather than just the one he knew about (they don't pay much attention to what happens outside the Premiership...).

On to the home game with Stockport and suffice to say that any game where we, or any team for that matter, go into a 2-0 lead in the first ten minutes and then fail to capitalise further can seem disappointing; seen from afar, as I had to, it was simply the win that was necessary, and it was great to hear that Akpo had scored in his third consecutive match (left). The bad news was the in-game injury to left back Johnnie Johnson (which has effectively ended his Charlton career unless we re-sign him at some point) and the pre-game knocks suffered by Jose Semedo and Jonjo Shelvey.

All teams will suffer injures at some stage of the season, and I have to say that I do think that Charlton have been lucky so far in 2009/10, but the full backs do seem to be the ones to have all the injury problems this season. Not only have Kelly Youga and Grant Basey had severe injuries playing at left back, but Frazer Richardson missed a good chunk either side of Xmas due to hamstring troubles at right back, and Chris Solly started the season with a bad injury too. Johnson will be missed, as he had brought something new to the team (confidence?), but hopefully the news that Youga is back in training and wanting to play this weekend will offset matters. If not, Solly may be asked to step up to the plate and prove himself once more (or we'll get another loanee?).

And that brings us up-to-date with matters going in to the tough game at the New Den tomorrow. Will we roll over like some predict, allowing the Lions to feast on our fat bellies, or will we hold the upper hand and finally find some form? I don't know, but to finish this post, let me corrupt some lyrics (a little) that belong to Jarvis Cocker -

The standards have fallen,
Our value has dropped,
But don't shed a tear.

Some walk like they own the place,
while others creep in fear.

So try if you can
To walk like a man;
But if you don't come near -
You've got to fly like an eagle,
Prowl like a lion in Africa,
Leap like a salmon home from the sea;
To keep up with me
You've got to walk like a panther tonight!

Come on you reds!


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Charlton Athletic Online!

powered by Bloglet
Sports Business Directory - BTS Local
Custom Search