Monday, September 27, 2004

Charlton 1-0 Blackburn

Proper match reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, ITV Football, Reuters, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Evening Sub-Standard, Wyn Grant.

They say Sky don't invest in new British comedy. Well, they had it in spades tonight. It could be The Steve Dunn Show, where a slightly chubby ref tries to get his mate "Sparky" out of all kinds of traumas after missing what I'm told was a blatant penalty. Or it could be Bring On The Clowns, as Kev 'n' Jon try desperately to score, but can they? Oh no. And it'd have a cameo at the end from a Mr Kish, whose agonisingly slow shot dribbles just wide, must to the frustration of the 26,000 funsters at The Valley.

It was one of those games where I really can't think of much to say that's sensible. I spent half of it wondering how I'd cope with if I ever went forward for Sky's Fanzone. (The answer - I'd have been turning to my Blackburn co-commentator and asking if he'd been anywhere nice on his holidays.) An old mate, an Evertonian who's got a friend whose sister is engaged to Franny Jeffers, no less, dropped me a text message asking me how the game was. "Comical," I replied.

Jeffers went off early in the game after cricking his neck, bringing to an end the increasingly promising partnership with Kevin Lisbie. On came JJ, and they were soon into their bad old ways. Although, to be fair, Lisbie's runs were a threat, and JJ has learned how to tackle recently. Which is nice.

Talal El Karkouri's goal was a simple effort, and Brad Friedel will be cursing himself all the way back up the M6, since the ball went straight between his legs. The Moroccan, who had a great game throught, has been one of our more unsung signings of the summer, but he repaid Curbs' faith tonight.

But it wasn't the most thrilling of games to watch - the two newcomers next to me grumbled about it, but they weren't there a fortnight ago... our defence was superb, though, and it'll be a run-through for what's needed at Arsenal on Saturday. Most importantly, we're gelling together as a team once more. Those fluffed passes were pretty rare tonight. You'd have thought Danny Murphy had been with us for years. It's our best-ever Premiership start. It's not pretty, but don't knock it.

Public service announcement

If you're driving to The Valley tonight, you're best advised to give Victoria Way a wide berth - there's roadworks there, causing the shortest stretch of single-lane traffic in history, which I guarantee will leave you gnashing your teeth in frustration. Trust me on this one. So park up somewhere else, you'll feel a lot better for it.

Murphy's law

"At Charlton I'm looked on as one of the senior players who's expected to rise above it when others are having a bad game. It's part of the reason I came and why the gaffer wanted me here. I've been in Liverpool teams that have struggled and I've never hidden. I try and keep going, make things happen. As time goes by and I settle here I will develop. They haven't seen the best of me yet, far from it." (more)

Danny Murphy in the Independent on Sunday - it's a feature which naturally concentrates on Liverpool, but ends with a few revealing things about us. There's a simpler version of this in the Sunday Mirror too - possibly a lift from the Independent's feature, or maybe they shared an interview session. Inevitably, it's used by the papers as a stick to beat Benitez with, but let's hope it's a rousing curtain-raiser for the Blackburn game.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

A date for your diary

Forget the Palace game for a second, there's another big day I'd like to bring to your attention. If you're close to The Valley, and can spare next early Monday evening, why not pop down to Floyd Road to have a good yell? Because there's a little homecoming taking place. What am I on about? I'm talking about Charlton v Chelsea reserves, on 4 October at 7pm. Stiffs? Not this time.

Yes, it's time to give a warm welcome to little Spotty Parker on what must be his first (and only?) trip back to The Valley in a Chelsea shirt. After all, with just 480 seconds of first-team action under his money-belt this season, little Spotty must be itching to reacquaint himself with some familiar surroundings.

So why not come down? Bring all the family. It'll be the best night out since public lynchings were outlawed. See you all there - don't forget to say hello to Spotty!

Friday, September 24, 2004

Wednesday night's alright for...

So the League Cup game against Palace is set for Wednesday 27 October at 8pm - cue sighs of relief from fans with jobs, cursing from fans with kids or long distances to travel. Of the latter, more later. Tickets cost a bargain £15.

Palace at home on Boxing Day 1999 was the last game I missed before I got my season ticket, so the Nigels' arrival at our nice ground kind-of brings things full circle. I actually groaned when I first heard we had the Palace, because I wanted a nice game against some small team rather than, erm, a dreadful game against a small team. After Gillingham last season, what odds us getting Millwall for this year's FA Cup? But our first proper local derby in over four years is something which should remind our newer fans just why they chose us over that lot, and should hopefully take some of the sting out of the game at Selhurst in December - 4pm on Sunday isn't a wise time for it.

Of course, being dumped out of the League Cup by the Glaziers will be unbearable, but will they really be up for it? A small squad, relegation looming in the distance? Do they need this distraction? Of course, our League Cup form is appalling, we haven't hit the fourth round since 2001 (that miserable night at Watford) and that was our first time since 1986. But this match has got to wake up fans and players alike. It has, hasn't it?

Interesting note at the end of the club's e-mail bulletin tonight - "Charlton have invited fans of Kent neighbours Dover Athletic to attend next Monday night's match against Blackburn Rovers free of charge in a bid to prevent the Ryman (Isthmian) Premier League club going into liquidation."

Neighbours?! Having consulted a map, The Crabble is 68 long miles away. I suppose we must have played them in the Kent Senior Cup once a long while ago, but still... Dover's plight is very real - the Whites need £20,000 quickly or they're finished. 50 tickets are being made available to Dover fans who can make the journey up to London and back on Monday night. I don't doubt the good intentions behind the scheme at all - it's horrifying to see a club in a mess for the want of a Premiership player's weekly wage. But with all the talk about expanding the club's fanbase into Kent, I'm sure Charlton will be even happier if some of those 50 fans make a few return trips to The Valley after Monday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Palace in the League Cup draw

Bring it on.

I was getting bored waiting for December 5th, anyway.

Pink 'n' boo-hoo

Unhappy news from the Dulwich Hamlet supporters' football team:

This coming Saturday away to Charlton Athletic supporters' has been CANCELLED as they cannot raise a team! They have 20,000+ to choose from & we have 200!!!

Having all the footballing skills of Douglas Bader myself, I feel a bit of a hypocrite for raising this. But really, you would think that we'd find 11 people from somewhere, surely?

The mailing list, part 94

The CAFC mailing list is going through a rich vein of form. We had a game last night so, naturally, it's dominated by...the rights and wrongs of fox hunting. And I'm sure the residents of the mailing list are wondering why they appear to be dwindling in numbers. Or perhaps they just don't care. It's a bit like having a drink in the pub and being accosted by some berk selling Socialist Worker who won't then bloody shut up about it.

But consider some of the drivel on there which is relating to the football club - as one of the list's sharper minds said, we could have won 22-0 with Deano scoring and they'd still be moaning. Compared with that, the repetitive, Daily Mail-parroting, anti-PC soapbox, lecturing is a veritable breath of fresh air...

But, of course, it's no good to have places for fans where people's petty political prejudices block out discussion of, erm, football. It's not really welcoming, unless you agree with the views expressed. Netaddicks learned this lesson ages ago, although every now and then someone still bangs on about "PC" things as if they've spent the previous night having nightmares about evil social workers than the mystery of Dennis Rommedahl's roaming.

I just wish they'd put a sock in it - you don't care what I think about politics, so why do you feel I care what you think? It's just a distraction from the real issues we should be talking about - and there's plenty of those about the club right now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

All grim by the North Sea?

"They'll beat us. Who cares about the Premiership. We're meeting again just once, like old lovers. Our last cuddle before they walk off into the sunset, never to be seen again. Except on telly." (more)
- Grimsby's astoundingly good webzine Cod Almighty previews tonight's game.

Well, I'll be honest and admit I was quaffing lager in the West End while others were glued to their radios for the latest from Blundell Park. But All Quiet In The East Stand's snout by the sea reports just 150 fans were there to see us beat Grimsby 2-0 in the second round of the League Cup. The goals came from Murphy and Jeffers, meaning the fishy hosts (how did they fall from Division One to "League Two"?) had more Premiership goalscoring glamour than we've seen so far at The Valley... A Jeffers/JJ combination up front was apparently looking rather useless - but a Jeffers/Lisbie combination worked much better. Perhaps Super Kev has found his saviour after all. But Danny Murphy's free kick, I understand, was our only serious contribution to the first half. It led to a goal, though. I suppose if Murphy had to go back to Crewe to become a success at Liverpool, I hope a trip to Cleethorpes will have done the same for him and us...

Grimsby will, I'm told, feel aggrieved that two good penalty shouts were disallowed in the second half. And Deano earned his keep as well. But all in all, on a shockingly cold night by the North Sea, the feeling up there is relief that we're through. And, for my correspondent, delight in finding that his B&B has played host to Ken Dodd and Don Estelle in the past. I've left him checking to see if Dodd left any cash under the mattress.

Here's a suitable-for-Ceefax report from BBC Sport, ITV Football has us on the front page, while here's the official site's write-up.

Incidentally, those hunting for TV highlights tomorrow night will notice ITV1 London has shunted the League Cup to midnight. Other local outposts are taking it a little more seriously - Yorkshire will be showing us at 11pm, and if you've got Sky, here's instructions on how to get exotic regional ITV so you won't have to sit up another hour.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Premiership malaise

I didn't have a very busy day at work today. I spent a lot of it thinking about writing a summary of how Charlton have been doing so far this season. I looked around for train tickets to Liverpool on 23 October - watching a smug Richard Branson unveil a new train on TV at the same time, discovering his £52 fare and am overnight stay might just rule me out of Anfield. Then there was a newsflash. Brian Clough had died. Grainy images of a simpler era - a part of which has died with Ol' Big 'Ead. Young man, you've lots to learn. (For fine words about Cloughie, visit Onionbagblog.)

I looked at Netaddicks, where the debate about our pathetic away attendances continued. Responses given included boredom, cost, and the hassle of travelling up and down the country on a crumbling rail network. Some of this is new to me. I've met lots of new people in my nearly-five years as a season-ticket holder - yup, I'm still fairly new around here - and I've only been going to away games for the past two or three seasons. Tomorrow night at Grimsby is something I'd fancy doing if I could. I've caught the bug where others are losing it. But why aren't others following me? Meanwhile, a scan of the mailing list showed the usual lazy armchair critics - conveniently ignoring the fact that this is our equal-best Premiership start. Where did it all go wrong?

The hassle of sorting out going to Liverpool reminded me why. An extortionate train fare and a likely overnight stay. Why? Because Sky have decreed the game should kick off on Saturday teatime. The scheduling may stop me from going up there - and it'd stop me from going to another game, because it's at bloody 5.15pm. So Charlton lose a vocal fan and Liverpool lose out on my custom - and so would Welling, Gravesend, AFC Wimbledon or whoever. And going to act as Rupert Murdoch's studio audience at Anfield could well cost me a three-figure sum. And for what? The chance of being patronised by some grinning pundits, using our game as an audition for the Chelsea-Arsenal gig?

What do I like about going to football? It's the feeling of being involved. Yet the league we're in discourages feeling involved. A stupid bloody anthem before each game reminds you who's calling the shots these days. We're expected to cough up more just because a TV company fancies transmitting the game. They'll be dictating a dress code for us next. We have no say in any of this any more.

The Premiership encourages passive fans. People seduced by the glamour of the league rather sharing the values of one of its clubs. And when you're in a system whose financial structure is designed to allow the biggest clubs to get bigger - and whose referees allow themselves to be intimidated by the current champions - then what is the point of getting involved? You're not going to win anything, are you? And if you complain too loudly, like Chris Coleman, you're up on a disrepute charge.

And yet the risks of dropping out of this crazy league encourages fans to panic. It encourages lesser chairmen to fill their pants too. Eighth in the Premiership after six games? Sounds alright to me. It isn't for the loopy Curbs Out brigade. But the fear of being 32 games from financial oblivion encourages us to feel this way. Promoted teams are conditioned to expect instant relegation before they can eventually succeed. A future Brian Clough wouldn't prosper in today's corrupt system - he'd be looking over his shoulder after every game. This is an insane way to carry on.

So it's harder to feel involved with your club - yet easier to get frustrated with it. You can't afford to go and see it, and you're scared you won't have a club to see next season. You've probably got more influence over Marks & Spencer than you do over the average Premiership side. And you're treated like crap by Sky. Is it any wonder the novelty's going? Did you hear how quiet the Birmingham fans were on Saturday? We aren't the only ones - and they booed their team off as well. It's not just us suffering from the Premiership malaise.

Yet this is Charlton, the club rescued by its fans, I hear you cry. True, and we've a better board than most, Sir Reg Varney regularly kicking against the pricks of the Premiership over the anthem and other matters. And in Richard Murray and Martin Simons we have chairmen to be proud of. We're a rare diamond in a stinking, lousy heap.

But we could do more ourselves. We've managed to lumber ourselves with a supporters' director who gives the impression of doing nothing. If I and others, with no interest other than our own egos, can take the time and effort to communicate with you via the internet, why can't she? It's not hard, for heaven's sake. I don't believe Sue Townsend actually exists. If she does, her lack of any effort to communicate with the fans who elected her is a disgrace.

In my first season as a season-ticket holder, the family who sat next to me attended every game. Remember when the board paid for fans to go to Nottingham Forest? They went. They asked me if I'd gone there the following week, after that crash on the motorway going up there. (I hadn't, but it was nice to feel part of something.) They were involved then. Now that family are only semi-regulars. There are two empty seats next to me now.

It'd be nice to see a gesture to make us feel part of the game again. Cheap tickets for the Blackburn game are a start. I liked this suggestion of selling empty single seats to existing season ticket holders for half-price - I reckon I could fill those seats next to me pretty quickly at a discount.

Or what about something to help us get a decent crowd up to Liverpool next month? Or Man United the month after that? Both are going to be one of our highest-profile games of the season - yet I'd be amazed if more than the hardcore 500 make it up there. For heaven's sake, Sky should be paying for us to be there to act as its cheerleaders - what if they screened a TV game and nobody turned up? Or if Sky lost a million subscribers in protest?

The game has lost sight of those who turn up, day in, day out. Real support is discouraged - a sign that someone in authority still cares would be nice. What use would a 40,000-capacity Valley if we're still only taking 500 fans away? It'd be a horrible, soulless place. I hope it never comes to that - I only wish I had an answer.

In the meantime, we've got our own chance to grab a bit of success on our own terms at Grimsby. Please, don't let us blow it.

Meanwhile, down the road...

If you thought our Curbs Out mob were irritating, here's the latest unwise words from the cavemen at Millwall. They may be in the Uefa Cup, but that isn't stopping them slagging off Theo Paphitis and Dennis Wise. Quite amazing, bearing in mind even I could have told you that it'd be a struggle to manage both a 46-game Championship campaign and a Uefa Cup run with their squad. No shame in that, but no wonder why Paphitis, who's arguably saved the club from oblivion, is selling up at the end of the season.

Mind you, the Uefa flags have disappeared from The Den as quickly as they went up - maybe the idea of "fair play" at Millwall was just too bizarre an idea to contemplate.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

All Quiet hits 50,000

Congratulations to the Pipex user who called up this page at 11.16am - you know who you are, you orginally found this place via Google - you're the 50,000th visitor to All Quiet In The East Stand. You win a centenary shirt that's been buggered up in the wash.

50,000 page views in less than six months - blimey. Thanks to everybody who has e-mailed me with kind words and commented on the site, it's good to have started something new. Thanks also to Dave Roberts at Forever Charlton for plugging this site - without him, I'd be cracking open the champagne at 10 page views. It's also good to see the number of Charlton blogs (and, indeed, other clubs) appear - see, told you it'd be a good idea, didn't I? Fan power isn't dead at Charlton yet - it's just that nobody's even bothering to harness it anymore. Here's to the 100,000 landmark.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Birmingham City 1-1 Charlton

Proper match reports:, Wyn Grant, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, ITV Football, The Observer, Sunday Mirror, Sunday Times, News of the World, Sunday Telegraph, Birmingham Sunday Mercury.

The most boiling hot internet cafe in the world, Marylebone Road: Don't say I don't do anything for you - it's about 40 degrees in here and I keep getting buzzed on Yahoo! Messenger by someone who thinks I'm "wicked_arab_girl_in_the_uk". Hmmmm. Ah, switched it off now.

Oh, football! That was why I came in here. An encouraging performance at St Andrews this afternoon, although it didn't seem that way at the beginning - Euell, Jeffers and Rommedahl dropped, with Bryan Hughes and Talal El-Karkouri in midfield and JJ - yes, JJ - up front. But to be honest, we weren't bad at all, starting brightly before Birmingham started to dominate what was a pretty dull first half. JJ and Lisbie were about as good up front as, um, JJ and Lisbie can be when they play together but our midfield seemed to be holding it together while Chris Perry did sterling work in defence. A point-blank Deano save from an always-dangerous Emile Heskey (who looks less of a lump than he did in his Liverpool days) was the most dramatic moment of the half.

Second half, and Luke Young poked home his second Charlton goal to send the Addickted into raptures, the Bluenoses into sulky silence. It was Danny Murphy wot won it, threading the ball up the field to JJ, who passed to Lisbie, who promptly missed. Young cleaned up the mess for him.

But it was after this that the game turned - Damien Johnson was sent off for two bookable offences, forcing Steve Bruce to bring on David Dunn and Dwight Yorke, who revitalised Birmingham's game. While we fluffed chances for a second, Yorke's goal was a just reward for their dominance, and while we weren't exactly panicking, the full-time whistle came as a relief.

Just 600 Charlton fans at the most at St Andrews - it's only 120 miles for heaven's sake. "They're the worst fans in the Premiership, apart from Fulham," grumbled a Birmingham fan before the game. Yet we still managed to outsing 27,000 Birmingham fans for most of the match. While the dedicated didn't get the win their efforts deserved, at least they were rewarded with a display that proves we've still got some fight left in us.

One sour note - Jason Euell came on as substitute and was subject to catcalls after just two minutes, when he blazed a chance wide. What is these cretins' problem with Euell, for heaven's sake? Answers on a postcard to a pub in Islington, because there's a pint there waiting for me with my name on it. Ta-ra.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Before Birmingham

I'm sure you'll be thrilled to know I'll be at the Birmingham game tomorrow, and the usual rubbish will appear here as soon as I can find some decent internet access. Bet you can't wait, eh? One person who won't be going is Matt Holland, still injured - so we've more weeks of a midfield more flaccid than Hugh Hefner before he gets his Viagra. But with Fish out, at least Chris Perry will stay in the side. Deano will continue as captain.

It's nice to see some attempts are being made to resuscitate the almost-dead supporters' club - currently, it resembles a Polo mint, with lots of good bits going on around the edges, but the inside doesn't appear to exist. Someone did try hard, though, with train travel to Birmingham available through CASC for £16.50 - although this isn't such a good deal when you can travel with Chiltern from Marylebone for £15 and get a bit of peace and quiet too. Incidentally, there's a rumour that supporters' director Sue Townsend made an appearance as a CASC do in Basildon last night - this woman really exists? Can anybody confirm this?

Otherwise, it really is all quiet. The mailing list has returned to type - with a spat about "fascists" banning fox-hunting. And they wonder why nobody takes it seriously any more. (Wonder what they'd do to introduce the teams at Leicester, though?) Here's hoping for a swift, painless Saturday. Tally ho!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Some statistics

No-score draws aren't much fun for Sky either - last night's rubbish was their third on the trot. All Quiet In The East Stand has seen the unofficial viewing figures for last night, and 639,000 people were watching in their homes at half-past eight. But by 8.45pm, a few minutes before half-time, some 150,000 viewers had switched off, switched over, or started poking their eyes out with sharp sticks. Oh dear. (In case you're interested, the ratings peaked at about 780,000 during the second half, before dipping again under competition from the test card.)

Here's some more figures for you, courtesy of New York Addick. Since the end of January - and we all know what happened then - we've played 22 Premiership games. Out of that, we have won 7 and drawn 5... but lost 10.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Charlton 0-0 Southampton


Okay, positives out of the way first. I think Kevin Lisbie is starting to look good when he's paired with Jeffers. He gets out, causes trouble, and is becoming the threat his admirers bang on about. The lad's learning. Secondly, it was good to see Chris Perry back, safe and well after his mysterious absence, and putting in a determined performance. Thirdly, the Church of St Deano The Redeemed repaid its faithful tonight, with Kiely looking back to his previous sharp self after a couple of early wobbles.

But, yeah, it stank big time. It'll be interesting to study Sky Sports 1's audience figures as the Monday Night Bore-fest went on. We were as lousy and lightweight as we were against Massive Man City and Bolton, and if the gods in the heavens above saw fit to punish us with this twaddle tonight, then at least they let us off with a shockingly feeble Southampton side.

Our midfield was hopeless, and shows how much we need a midfielder who can shake the game by the scruff of the neck - remember Southampton away last season? Today showed how short a distance we have come since the turbulent days of January 2004, and we still have a gaping hole in our side. Perhaps we just need Matt Holland back - but the problem looks deeper than that. Danny Murphy had a lousy game, while Dennis Rommedahl is one part dynamite, two parts desperate and still appears to be on another planet. Does his brain work as fast as his feet?

And heaven knows why we took Francis Jeffers off for the hapless JJ towards the end of the game. Any idea why? If there's a silver lining to this, it's a reminder that in Southampton, there's at least one team worse than us in the Premiership. Fanzone must have been like Samaritans Zone tonight.

Mind you, we've come back to the same old problem with the crowd. Despite being a night game, this was the worst Valley crowd I can remember for a long times. You are not meant to hear the players shout at each other when there's 25,000 people watching the game, right? It felt like a reserve game in parts, not helped by a (at least understandably) meagre Saints following. Everyone who booed the team off should really wonder what support they gave them in the first place. If you're the fans who don't back your team - you get the performance you deserve.

Still, for insomniacs, there's always Valley Vision highlights...

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Jason Euell in the Sunday Times

You might have seen Jason Euell play 100 times and not noticed his tattoos. He has one on the inside of each forearm. On the left the words Jada India. On the right, a line drawing of an angel-cum-cherub and a brief poem which concludes "God's been the best friend for life".

"They’re for my little girl, Jada India. She died in November 2001, a still-birth. These tattoos mean she’s with me every day."

A candid interview with Jason Euell in the Sunday Times, complete with (understandably) grumbly Curbs cameo on his switch to Jamaica. Never realised he was a Walworth boy. Essential reading.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Croydon 0-3 AFC Wimbledon

spot the Palace relegation season chic
Proper reports: AFC Wimbledon, It Must Be Dons, Dons Online (video) .

An away win to report! Unfortunately, it wasn't for Charlton though - I tossed my gloryhunting coin, and opted for AFC Wimbledon's trip to Croydon's less than salubrious ground on the fringes of South Norwood - and the Croydon Sports Arena had more than a few stripey suspects hanging around to see a decent bit of football for once. If you've ever been on a tram through Arena - that's the place. Sadly, it's a running track too - so the pitch feels like it's miles away, and although there must have been about 1,500 fans there, the atmosphere was muted as many Dons fans took spots up on the grass banks, wishing they'd taken binoculars.

It's the first time I've seen AFC Wimbledon since promotion to the Ryman League First Division, and since new manager Dave Anderson took over. The team looked strangely disjointed as Croydon threw men into defence, although AFC slowly started to dominate in the second half, with subsitute Richard Butler opening scoring after about 70 minutes - just after he'd managed to hit the bar twice in about two minutes. Butler got a second fifteen minutes later before a dream debut for fellow sub Leon McDowell, getting his first chance in the first team, and scoring his first goal for them with his last kick of the game. It means it's seven wins out of seven for AFC Wimbledon, sitting quite happily on top of the division.

Incidentally, if you're at a loose end tomorrow, you could do a lot worse than get down to AFC Wimbledon's Kingsmeadow home where a recreation of the 1988 FA Cup Final will be held. Liverpool players on the field will include John Aldridge, Steve McMahon, Jan Molby, Nigel Spackman and Ray Houghton, while Warren Barton and John Scales will feature for the Dons. ("Dave Beasant couldn't make it, he's filming Superstars in Spain," I was told.) A host of old Wimbledon faces will also be there... including one Jason Euell. Tickets are available on the gate - more details here. Proceeds will go to AFC Wimbledon's ground fund and the Hillsborough disaster fund.

Where we you when we were, erm, soundly beaten?

Okay, here's my entry into the "why don't we take many supporters away?" debate. Charlton's e-mail bulletin last night:

More than 300 tickets were still remaining today for the trip to Highbury on Saturday, October 2nd.

The seats will go on sale to all season-ticket holders, using Voucher A, at 8am on Monday.

Call 020-8333 4010 for more details.

Now, as I understand it, we've been allocated a good 2,000 or so for Highbury, better than the paltry "small club" allocation we settled for last season. So, let's say we've shifted 1,700 seats already, yeah? Now, if no more than 800 went up to Manchester City or Bolton, how comes we've suddenly seen the Arsenal tickets go like hot cakes? Big club? Easy journey? Understandable, but there are going to be people who saw the crap served up off the M6 who are going to miss out on one of our glamour trips, while people who didn't think our first game of the season was worth their time and effort get it on a plate.

Wouldn't it have been fairer - and have served as an apology for the poor performances on the road so far - to have included people with a Bolton stub or a City smartcard in on the priority list? It might serve as an incentive for people to shift their arses and back our team outside London every once in a while.

And before you Valley Gold/VIP holders start grizzling that you've forked out for priority, well, so have I. I'm a VIP season ticket holder myself, and I still don't think the system's fair. And if we have a silent support at Highbury, we'll only have ourselves to blame.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Powell on the move

So, Chris Powell's out on loan to West Ham, and good luck to him. While he is clearly coming towards the end of his Premiership career - if it hasn't already happened - it's a shame to think we might have seen his jack-in-the-box act at The Valley for the last time. I work with a Southend United fan, and while he last wore their shirt well over eight years ago, he's still spoken of fondly down at Roots Hall - which shows you the quality of the man, really. All Quiet In The East Stand wishes him well over the water.

He was rumoured, at one point, to be on his way to Millwall - anyone clocked the Uefa Cup flags now adorning The New Den? They've been mounted on the side of the ground nearest the rubbish depot rail lines from New Cross and Deptford. All looking very smart, except for the sad fact that the Toolbox looks so filthy and horrible, the pristine flags appear to be glowing.

Reet Smoot made me laugh out loud with this comment on Judas Defoe.

Finally, this comment passed to me from the BBC's duty log of viewer's comments about EastEnders.

"I think that the producers of the programme should get rid of the Miller family and bring some stars in instead. I suggest Freddie Starr, Lee Evans and particularly Jim Davidson as it would be great to have a Charlton Athletic fan working in the Vic."

Actually, The Valley was used as a destination for cab training ("through the tunnel, do a left") a few weeks back, so maybe someone was listening.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Valley vision

So the video highlights are back on Charlton's official site - only rebranded as Valley Vision and coming to you at a cost of £30 per year, or £3 per month.

I couldn't help tittering when I first heard the name "Valley Vision" - it sounds like a second-hand TV shop on Charlton Church Lane. Although what you get is largely second-hand, consisting of match action and video reports coming via the Premiership's fairy godfather, Sky Sports. So now we have audio for free from BBC London, and video for a few quid from Sky.

I've signed up, and it's not bad at all. Obviously it's only worth it if you've proper broadband, although you might get away with it on one of those cheap and nasty 256K package. The picture quality is as good as anything that comes off my broadband, although I'd advise downloading match clips rather than streaming them. Mac users won't be happy though - it's not Apple-friendly.

Am I upset about paying? Not really, when it costs about as much as your average single away match ticket for a year, and pumping out video's an expensive thing to do. And it was probably inevitable anyway.

Back in 2000, the Football League signed away its website rights to a firm called Premium TV. All their clubs (bar Fulham, who refused to take part) ripped down their websites and put up identical ones. You know the deal "There is only one way to enjoy your club's official website - REGISTER NOW!"

And sadly, it's spread like a virus throught football. Out of 20 Premiership clubs, 10 have these Stepford sites, so Aston Villa and Newcastle have sites which look like a Division Three club's. A clutch of recently-relegated Conference sides are saddled with them too. Halifax still demands registration to read the supporters' club's annual trip to the dogs. And it still carries an outdated Nationwide League logo down the side, looking a bit sad and folorn. Want to check out something about Grimsby for the League Cup game? Sign up, sunshine.

Despite also falling out of the League, Exeter City demands the standard £20 just to hear live commentaries! Which Charlton, four divisions up, do for free. In fact, Charlton and Fulham are now the only Premiership clubs not to charge for live web commentaries.

The standard video package, World, costs £35 each year, against Charlton's £30. Yup, £35, even at Kidderminister. The Football League clubs thought they'd be rolling in money from this. Like they were with ITV Digital, they were wrong. The first club to hit 10,000 subscribers was, oddly enough, QPR a year ago.

So, it may vanish from view when we're in the news, and it may have bigged-up some shirt boxes during the year, but we seem to be doing alright out of our website. At the very least, it could be a whole lot worse. Just make sure the price stays low, eh?

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The primadonnas and the Press

You might have noticed All Quiet In The East Stand doesn't exactly sit up all night worrying about the England side. Too much old crap surrounding the whole business for me.

And now it gets to ludicrous levels with the England players, to a man, boycotting media interviews after beating Poland tonight. They're upset after the papers took a pop at them after the Austria draw at the weekend.

Did I say "to a man"? This isn't the action of men, it's a tantrum thrown by children. It'll wipe their victory off a few back pages tomorrow. It's going to make the media spotlight on them worse, not better. The British Press might fight like ferrets in a sack, but they can wield huge power as a group. (This comes, incidentally, as the Premiership and Football League try once again to impose extreme terms on the reporting of league matches.)

And I'm sure Sky Sports, which paid good money to screen the game and pays a good proportion of all Premiership players' wages, will be delighted to see the value for money they're getting. As will the FA's sponsors.

Worst of all - Sven-Goran Eriksson supports them! Is he in charge of the players, or are the players in charge of him? What a mess. What a shambles. Good old England.

Where can I get a Wales top for next month from?

Speaking of the media, here's a headline worth looking at.

We found Chris Perry!

The good news - we've found Chris Perry! He was sighted at a patch of wasteland at South Norwood last night having a kickabout with a group of disadvantages lads known as "Crystal Palace Reserves".

The bad news - Palace won and we were, apparently, dreadful.

This match report contains scenes you may find distressing.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Discontent in the ranks

Oh dear - is this the sound of toys being thrown out of prams I can hear? I hope not.

Charlton trio Chris Powell, Graham Stuart and Simon Royce want to go out on loan to see some first-team action. (more)

As far as I understand, Powell and Stuart signed new deals this summer. So what did they expect? They're getting into their mid-30s, their effectiveness is starting to waver. Did they ever expect to be anything but bit-part players?

Royce I can understand. He's a skilled keeper who's seen Stephan Andersen jump in ahead of him, and Paul Rachubka, fresh from his sabotage mission at MK Lepers, now go off to replace Northampton's keeper (who injured himself punching a dressing room door).

But the other two? Senior pros? Sort it out, lads.

I almost went on my own hunt for first team football today - anybody else hate international weekends? - but in the end failed to make it to Stonebridge Road, but congratulations anyhow to Gravesend and Northfleet, third in the Conference after beating Stevenage 2-1. Who'd have thought it?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Stuck in the window

So, there were no signings after all. See that team there? The one that stank Eastlands out on Saturday? The one your grandmother would laugh her socks off at? That's Charlton, that is.

But then again, it's also the same team that's so far unbeaten at home. It's the team that's above Manchester United after four games. And scanning thorough the message-boards, mailing lists, and other blogs, it seems panic isn't setting in at SE7 after all. Thank heavens.

It's not an ideal situation, but as Curbs says - "we have been quoted some silly prices for players". It's not as if he's been sat on his arse over the weekend. The saga of Ipswich and Darren Bent is well documented - Joe Royle kindly blew that one wide open yesterday, and all this can't have pleased the ambitious Bent.

And of course, we're in an age were players would rather warm the bench for a few more quid at a bigger club (hello Spotty!), or make outrageous wage demands of you, or where clubs suddenly pull players from sale. Why do you think the club left it until after 7pm to announce they were going to shove the cash back in the bank? I don't think Richard Murray was spending the day enjoying the sunshine.

I don't think anyone's ever been under the impression this season would be easy. Early results suggest that the bulk of Premiership clubs will just be beating each other (or Crystal Palace) this season - it could be tough to break ahead of the pack. It's going to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride as our new side gels together - but then again, you never became a Charlton fan because we win all the time, did you?

This neat little thread on Netaddicks sums things up nicely, although unfortunately the insane money surrounding the Premiership makes the fear of going down a bigger demon than it really should be. But that's an argument for another day...

  • Heavens above, what have I started? It's good to see Charlton fanzine Goodbye Horse reborn in new, handy blog format, the one which doesn't have to be sold in the rain. Although I'm starting to get a bit worried now - one day, I'll slag off the irritating fairy-cake munching family who sit in front of me only to find they've already taken a pop at me on their own blogs.