By some miracle, All Quiet In The East Stand has been nominated for "best sports blog" in the rather oddly-named Best of Blog Awards. Not that anybody thought to tell me until an astute reader left a word in a comments box below - but to whoever nominated me, thank you, it's very sweet of you.
This actually means I've had to spend the afternoon checking out whether this is all some kind of scam or not - blog awards can be the equivalent of an automated "hello! you have won a luxury cruise!" phone call, and earlier this month Vaughan Simons, who runs the damned good Wherever You Are blog, found his site nominated for an award by a bunch of people best described as cranks.
But it all looks above-board so I'm very flattered indeed. Voting appears to start at 8am on New Year's Day, but I don't have a page to link to yet, so if you'd like to support me, come back tomorrow/when my New Year hangover clears and I'll hopefully have sorted something out.
I doubt I'll win, I seem to be the only Brit there and I imagine the only reason the football blogging grandaddy, Arseblog, wasn't nominated was because of its huge popularity. Most of them about US sports I know nothing and care even less about, although there is a very peculiar Arsenal site on the list. The other categories are worth perusing, though, and it's a pleasure to see the Brits out in force in the "best sex blog" category. Maybe that's something to try in the new year!
Friday, December 31, 2004
By some miracle, All Quiet In The East Stand has been nominated for "best sports blog" in the rather oddly-named Best of Blog Awards. Not that anybody thought to tell me until an astute reader left a word in a comments box below - but to whoever nominated me, thank you, it's very sweet of you.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 5:23 pm
Good work from the club, which is donating £100,000 to the tsunami disaster relief fund, doubling the donation it's already made through the Premier League.
Well-known philanthropist Dwight Yorke has urged all Premiership players to donate a week's wages - something I fear may be wishful thinking, but it's a good gesture.
I reckon Charlton's donation will work out at one-third of the receipts from the £45-a-ticket Arsenal game tomorrow, which, surprise, surprise, has still not sold out.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:48 pm
Another year, another load of memories. Funny to think we end 2004 the way we started it - comfortable in the top half of the table, looking to the rest of the season with a healthy measure of confidence. Except this time, there's no Chelsea waiting in the wings with a fat wage packet to ruin our season. With the arrival of Thomas, Murphy and El Karkouri, you could argue a fair case for us having a stronger squad than we did 12 months ago. And we haven't even seen the best of Jeffers yet, and Andersen is giving reserve-watchers hope for the future.
The "sod the rest" attitude of the Premiership guaranteed another nailbiting year - from the whiff of Champions League lucre in January to fears of relegation and ruin in October. It'll be the same again next year. Yet hopefully we can use our gains to build a bigger and better Valley.
Off the field, perceptions of preachiness from the higher echelons of the club tended to grate when the team were performing poorly at the start of this season. Charging £45 for the "big three" teams earned me an ear-bending from a Gooner pal and made us look stupid, 24 hours after we were boasting in a paper about our sensible ticket prices. But with our performances on the field picking up, and the crowds getting a bit noiser, hopefully we can get back to singing from the same hymn-sheet.
As for the fans, the east and west stand still feel like morgues at times. As well as getting bums on seats - initiatives like the coaches from Kent should run hand-in-hand with local schemes, which seem to be missing - we need to think about how to develop our actual support. We all know about the "lost generation" from the Selhurst years - I'm one of them. It's now time to do something about it. Exactly what, however, is a tougher question.
The near-implosion of the supporters' club - the doctor was all set to pass a verdict of death by neglect and complacency - does at least seem to have been a galvanising factor, with one branch splitting off - amid a few murky allegations - to become the Charlton Independent Supporters Association, laudably offering free coaches to Southampton. As for the "official" club, the disappearance of casc.org.uk for a while didn't exactly bode well for the future. CASC members would be well within their rights to question what exactly their membership fees are going towards when it couldn't even be bothered to keep one of its main arms of communication going. However, the site is back, and hopefully things will start to move in the right direction.
If the club bothers to have another supporters' director election after the current invisible incumbent's term runs out, it should be an interesting one - with a mute supporters' director and a barely-active supporters club, it's a chance for supporters to prove just how much they care.
My wishes for 2005?
- I'd like us to keep Euell, get a decent striker and possibly a decent midfielder who can get his foot in - the 4-5-1 seems to be a tacit admission that our strikers are crap.
- I'd like to see Stephan Andersen get a chance in goal.
- For Jerome Thomas to celebrate a goal properly and not sulk around like a cheap Thierry Henry.
- For the East Stand development to get the go-ahead, and for the East and West Stands to make some bloody noise. (Tough, I know.)
- I'd like to see the club remember its roots are in London - not Kent, and to start marking its centenary properly.
- The £45 ticket price for the big three teams to stop. Now. Before they start charging us the same price to retaliate.
- For some sort of coherent, intelligent voice for the fans. Because the current lot wouldn't know it if it wasn't bussed in from Maidstone.
And finally, wherever you are reading this, I'd like to thank you for supporting All Quiet In The East Stand this year, and wish you a prosperous and happy new year. Starting, of course, with another sly New Year win against the Arsenal... well, I can dream, can't I?
Oh, and to reward you for reading this far... Michael Dawson. Couple of million. I'm tapping my nose here.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:05 am
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Fans all over the entire glorious county of Kent are to be given free coach travel to The Valley thanks to an exciting new initiative unveiled by Charlton Athletic yesterday.
The new service, Flask Express, will offer direct coach services to every home game. It follows the success of the coaches from Margate and the innovative French Addicks service unveiled in November.
More than 30 towns will be included in the scheme, including Dull Seaside Retirementville, Dozy Commuter Belt Town and Smashed-up Suburb Just Outside Zone 6. Pick-up points include Dover The Crabble at 12noon, Gillingham Priestfield at 12.30, Northfleet Stonebridge Road at 12.30, and Dartford London Road at 1pm.
Your £5 tickets come in two classes - SIDDAHN! or SHADDDUP!
SIDDAHN! ticket-holders will get a free blanket, flask of weak tea, and a spare colostomy bag just in case things get too exciting. SHADDUP! tickets are designed for the family, with ear-plugs for those who find the sound of fellow supporters turning the pages of their programmes too loud for theirtastes, as well as a free blanket and flask of weak tea, with free Mini Chocolate Rolls for half-time.
SIDDAHN! ticket-holders will get a seat just behind you in the ground, while SHADDUP! ticket-holders will be in front of you, and will be used to police bad language in the ground, when their children look around in disgust because you said "bloody". Indeed, SHADDUP! ticket-holders are asked not to show any emotion during the game whatsoever, while SIDDAHN! travellers are reminded they should be awake by 5pm to take the bus back to Retirementville.
Please remember that any singing or any of that football nonsense will not be tolerated on the coaches, and nor will anybody who possesses an 020 telephone number.
Kent & French Addicks organiser Richard L'Everette said: "Many supporters who live near the ground will be amazed at the levels of support we have discovered from 60 to 70 miles away, and even more.
"Indeed, we have heard reports of microbes on Uranus getting very excited about our play-off win in 1998 - obviously, it takes a while for news to spread those distances.
"We are now looking into the possibility of getting them to The Valley for our 2024 Hyper-Galactic Cup semi-final against Erith & Belvedere."
And the expansion in the club's support does not stop there.
"Our next plan is to run coaches into Essex, with stops at Upton Park, Hornchurch, Thurrock, Redbridge Forest, Chelmsford and Colchester. Obviously we're aware there's new flats being built in Woolwich, Greenwich, Thamesmead, and all along the Thames, but we're holding off our plans while we try to find them on the map.
"Another plan under consideration is fitting the stadium with wheels so we can tow The Valley down to Brands Hatch via the M20, to bring games closer to the people of Kent. It's the sort of thing those lads who founded the club in the back streets of Chatham 100 years ago [SUBS - could you check? RE] would approve of."
Meanwhile, the club's plans to expand The Valley were hit yesterday when they were rejected by the local authority. The application was returned with a note reading: "Not us. Try Greenwich Council in London. Best regards, Medway Council."
Posted by Inspector Sands at 7:00 am
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
A message from Indonesia-based Charlton fan Jakartass...
Dark clouds are casting a long shadow over Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta at the moment. And it's not because of the rainy season or that the national side under the management of Peter Withe lost 2-1 at home to Malaysia in the semi finals of the Tiger Cup on Tuesday night (28/12). No, it's much worse than that. Much, much worse. Players of both sides were wearing black armbands that night for a very good reason indeed.
What has swung the mood from the usual year-end festive joy to one of utter despondency for Indonesians is the growing realisation that many thousands of their countryfolk have perished in the recent tsunami that has caused death and destruction in coastal communities across Asia.
Aceh, a very rugged and remote region at the northernmost tip of the huge island of Sumatra, has been battered beyond belief. Although Jakarta is completely unaffected, harrowing news footage has been broadcast into the capital city's homes. And TV broadcasters in Indonesia are not like the BBC or CNN. They do not shy away from showing the terrible consequences of a tragedy like this.
One image in particular will be etched in my mind forever: seven or eight drowned babies placed side by side in a small room, with peaceful expressions on their innocent faces, but nonetheless lost forever. And then there was the woman who had lost all her seven kids; she was left to curse the fact that she was still alive.
The death toll in Indonesia will be far higher than first expected. Initial reports suggested around 5,000 deaths; but the authorities are now looking at 30,000-40,000 plus. In one town on the western coast of Aceh, Meulaboh, a quarter of its 40,000 population have been wiped out.
Although nothing can be done to help those that have died, those still alive desperately need help. Many are starving, have no shelter and are at risk of contracting deadly diseases. The already poor communications and transport systems have to be built anew.
If you are able to make a donation - however small - you would be helping to prevent people from dying. IndonesiaHelp, a weblog - http://indonesiahelp.blogspot.com - has been set up to give online information to donors.
The Disasters Emergency Committee is now taking donations.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:55 pm
Proper match reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, ITV Football, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Liverpool Daily Post, Netaddicks, Wyn Grant, Build A Bonfire.
A performance to make you proud - and a win I really didn't expect. Before Christmas, I thought we'd beat Southampton and draw with the Toffees. In the event, it was the other way around as the Addicks met their first real test since the Chelsea horror, and passed with flying colours. And then some.
Although with 15 minutes to go, the game looked like it had 0-0 engraved on its heart. While Dennis Rommedahl had terrorised Everton down the wing, and Jerome Thomas had broken free of his markers, Everton had stuck to their old-fashioned strengths of brute force and team spirit. Time for some subsitutions, and here it was class that told. We brought on Paul Konchesky and Jason Euell. They brought on Duncan Ferguson.
And it was Konchesky who won it, his crisp cross found Talal El Karkouri, who nodded it home on the 82nd minute.
Duncan Disorderly reacted by elbowing Hermann Hreidarsson in the face, overshadowing what had been a clean game and giving Mike Riley no choice but to brandish his only card of the match - a straight red. Hreidarsson then scored from Danny Murphy's corner. 2-0, Everton down to ten men, all in the space of ten minutes. The away end emptied pretty sharpish, while those few Evertonians that remained spat their dummies out with a chant of "shit ground - shit fans". Still, they're all heart really - what other club would tolerate an oaf like Ferguson?
To be fair to them, though, we did ride our luck - Hreidarrson had to clear off the line after 65 minutes after the kind of goalmouth scramble that would disgrace the Southern League. Match of the Day also highlight a handball from HH.
But we outfought and out-thought the Scousers, and Curbs deserves credit for an inspired bit of substitution. How Konch and Euell feel about their super-sub status is a different matter, but it's a reminder that even if you don't get in the starting XI, every player still has his part to play.
Everton will be licking their wounds - Nigel Martyn pulled up with an injury just before half-time, and Little Duncan's red card is just what David Moyes didn't want for Christmas. He still thinks there's only three teams better than them in the Premiership. We know better. We've got Talal/ El Karkouri... Bring on Arsenal!
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:34 am
Sunday, December 26, 2004
"Bartlett missing sitters again" was the half-time verdict from my correspondent at St Mary's, and despite a sound performance, it sounded like we missed an opportunity by the seaside to further fatten ourselves up for Christmas - Everton and Arsenal at home aren't exactly easy games, whereas as poor Southampton side, booed off at the end, should have been. A point's handy, but it sounds like there'll be a lot of thoughts of "What if...?" coming up the M3 shortly.
If I had a pound for every Premiership side which wanted a decent striker, I'd be able to get a decent round of drinks in later. We can only use what we've got, and without Lisbie and Johansson, we've a choice of Bartlett, Jeffers and Euell.
Jeffers just looks a bit stranded at the head of a 4-5-1 formation, but Bartlett manages to look anonymous even on his own. So it's Euell's fight and strength we need up there. Bartlett's failings are showing that getting rid of Jason Euell is starting to look a desperately unwise option.
But the signs aren't looking good, according to my spy at St Mary's: "Euell wasn't wearing football boots while he was training - he was wearing Adidas trainers. That tells you all you need to know."
In the meantime, you may wish to enjoy Radostin Kishishev's new haircut.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 2:33 pm
Look! I'm sat here at home in the warm, listening to Southampton v Charlton with a cup of coffee in my hand, instead of freezing my bum off in that soulless, horrible "bowl" at St Mary's. I've had a lie-in, and I think I made the right move. Unless Danny Murphy scores, in which case, I'll be a bit gutted. I'm glad to hear we're easily outsinging the soppy Saints.
I don't know what you make of BBC London's coverage of Charlton - I can't abide the station itself, so it's never usually on my listening options on my shiny digital radio. Did you get one for Christmas? They're bloody good, they are.
So this is my first BBC London commentary, and it doesn't sound too bad so far. I was never a fan of that tiny station from Thamesmead's commentaries (which were a struggle to recieve in Charlton itself) while Capital Gold lost its lustre after Jonathan Pearce went off to Radio Five Live. So it's interesting to hear what the new lot are like.
I check out the website, and...
Also on the BBC LONDON DAB digital radio service at 1.00 p.m. you can hear full commentary on the match between West Ham United and Nottingham Forest.
Oh, marvellous. Time to dig out the bathroom radio. Just like Tinpot Radio Thamesmead days...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:45 pm
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Merry Christmas from All Quiet In The East Stand - and if you're reading this on Christmas evening, congratulations on escaping the usual festive obligations!
Tomorrow sees Charlton go to Southampton, a game I shan't be at since there's no trains, I can't sponge a lift, and the supporters' club Flask Express from Charlton at 8am isn't an appealling prospect, thanks. To be honest, it's no huge loss for me - I hate St Mary's and Southampton are as dull as their stadium. And when we did come up with a thriller last season, we still lost.
Of course, Portsmouth are at Crystal Palace, proving just how many brain cells the fixture list compilers really have. Sod the local derbies, let's make people leap into their cars... It's not just me complaining about the fixture list, Curbs had a pop last week - and he's right, four games in eight days is nuts, whether you're a player or a fan forking out for two expensive away journeys. Bouts of flu at Sparrows Lane haven't helped either. Next Monday's trip to Blackburn isn't going to be for the faint-hearted, although it's a place where we'll fancy some points.
It's been worse - until 1958, games were played on Christmas Day, often with a return fixture on Boxing Day. Simply unimaginable now - especially now public transport is closed on both days around most of the country. I've never been one for a winter break - you know Manchester United would suddenly announce a winter tour to Australia, or there'd be a round of dull international friendlies to ruin the effect.
But four games in eight days is crazy. Especially with the FA Cup looming. I wonder who'll use the fixture congestion as an excuse for being knocked out by a minnow?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 8:16 pm
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker has blamed the newly-laid Stamford Bridge pitch for the broken foot he suffered during the 4-0 win over Norwich.
Parker injured a metatarsal and is facing three months out of action and he believes the pitch played its' part.
"The pitch was pretty poor, I seemed to buckle my foot and I knew straight away because I felt something pop," he said. (more)
Never mind, Scott. Obviously, it wasn't a playing surface you were familiar with. Maybe they'll put sand on it next time.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:43 pm
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Proper match reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Daily Mirror, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, The Independent, The Sun, London Evening sub-Standard.
An easy win against a Fulham side who were much poorer than expected. And, to be honest, with a tiny Fulham support outsinging The Valley at the start of the match, a dour game gradually turned into a delight. Jerome Thomas was outstanding once again, and thoroughly deserved our opening goal. But frankly, every single one of our players performed well tonight, especially Young, Murphy, and a newly-shaven-headed Kishishev.
Talal El Karkouri's goal prompted a new song from the Covered End - although fresh from fresh from two raucous away games, I remembered why I called this site All Quiet In The East Stand.
Tomas Radszinci's reply for Fulham rightly punished us for sloppy defending, and we really should have been three or four up but we held on for a deserved win. Seventh in the league? Where are the moaners now?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 3:47 am
Saturday, December 18, 2004
He never really wanted to go, but in truth, he probably should have gone in the summer. And, to be honest, the will he/won't he saga's been running for 18 months. But it's still hard to believe we're not going to see Chris Powell's jack-in-the-box trick after a Valley victory again as he takes a 108 through the tunnel to get himself a first-team place. Powell's proudest moment was that surprise England call-up, as he kept the left-back position warm while Sven hunted for a long-term solution. He did the job, and did it well without fuss. Which sums up his career perfectly. I'm sure everybody wishes him well at West Ham. It certainly gives me another reason to keep checking West Ham Lass (one for the dads).
He's rare creature in football - a man who wins friends wherever he goes, as Jonathan Pearce will never stop telling you everytime he commentates on one of his games. Southend still adore him, and he leaves with a tribute paid to him on foreign fields still ringing in his ears - 1,500 Charlton fans bellowing his name, 15 minutes after the end of the Palace game, as soon as he was spotted being a pundit for Sky.
I'm sure he'll still be around in a few years - ending his career at Southend, or turning up as a manager somewhere after that. You never know, he could be back here in a decade's time on the coaching staff. You can't keep a good man down.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:51 am
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
I've been laid up in bed for most of the past couple of days - I'm blaming hanging around chilly old West Bromwich Albion on Saturday for my seasonal lurgy. But it's not just feeling rotten that's been keeping me awake at night - what the bleedin' heck is going on with Jason Euell?
He's barely featured this season, leading to his agent having a moan in the South London Press, ramped up into a "blast" from the player himself in today's Sun.
In between the two, we have the 2+2=4 Sunday paper link to Crystal Palace (the pointless Fans FC.com, sorry), the slap down from Curbishley, and the "I'm saying nothing" from a clearly amused Ian Dowie.
I'd be gutted to see Euell leave - but Danny Murphy's improved form at the heart of Charlton's midfield is clearly blocking his way. Sometimes I think Euell's own versatility is his downfall - I longed to see him up front instead of the hapless Bartlett on Saturday, but then again we also had Francis Jeffers on the bench. With Johansson and Lisbie out, an appearance as a striker would probably be Euell's best bet - but if we're only going to be playing one up front, maybe that's not going to happen either.
Looking at this positively, it can't be a bad thing if you have talented players like Euell desperate to get in the team. A Palace move would be a logical one for a player who has spent all of his career in south London - he's still adored by the AFC Wimbledon faithful at Kingsmeadow. But, let's be honest, he's far too good for them, and I hope he stays here. Players as obviously hard-working as he is seem to be getting rarer in the Premiership - if we were to lose him, it'd be a mighty blow.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:31 am
Monday, December 13, 2004
A park-and-ride service from North Greenwich tube and the Millennium Dome complex is going to form part of the planning application for the revamped East Stand, according to the exhibition that's running at The Valley this week. It also includes an agreement for two extra trains to run from Charlton straight after each game, although there's little detail on which direction they'd run, or how this park-and-ride would work. Apparently the club's already running a "green transport plan" - news to anybody who's been stuck in the matchday jams - since the North Stand redevelopment a couple of years ago.
The plans also confirm Holborn College - a private law/business college based by the Thames Barrier - will take up space in the new stand, which will have a shallow upper tier and be level with the West Stand - which the club says will stop noise and light leaking out to Charlton Lane. A "living wall" - think of the grassy roof of Sainsbury's in Greenwich - is also planned to make their outlook a bit prettier than it is now. There'll be new buildings at both the Harvey Gardens and Landsdowne Mews ends, with some flats included where the Sam Bartram gates are now.
It's an interesting exhibition, although probably aimed more at the club's immediate neighbours around Charlton Lane, and features a video showing Michael Grade getting a bit misty-eyed on the pitch, telling Greenwich Council just what prestige the club brings to the borough. If you can get along to take a peek, do it.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:46 pm
Sunday, December 12, 2004
A warm welcome to a new Charlton blog, Build A Bonfire - which was actually what I was going to call this place originally, before opting for All Quiet In The East Stand. With Wyn Grant upping the pace of his Addick's Diary - and incurring the wrath of Peter Varney, the cheeky young scamp - plus the erudite contributions from Chicago and New York, it's all looking very encouraging. All we now need to do now is have a big falling-out and the job will be done. Come on, outside, now!
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:30 pm
Great interview with John Robinson in today's Independent on Sunday - another warning of how greed is ripping the heart out of football.
"I could have played on, picking up a good living, but I couldn't do that without being 100 per cent committed and deprive someone else, who would be wholehearted and ambitious, of the chance. I haven't fallen out of love with playing football, it's the politics of football and becoming a commodity I don't like." (more)
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:03 pm
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday People, Sunday Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Wyn Grant, Build A Bonfire.
Get in! £35 last Sunday would have brought you the lifetime's satisfaction of beating crappy Palace. £35 this Saturday bought you the very happy sensation of beating West Brom and being able to travel up there on the train too. Seventy quid well spent, as my bank manager will never, ever tell me.
In truth, and as every bloody person has probably told you by now, we should have had them by three or four. Shaun Bartlett's stunning miss over the bar made us wonder why Curbs persisted with him while Jeffers and Euell sat on the bench. Danny Murphy's first-half screw up was a rare blot in an otherwise faultless game which shut up the moaners behind me. After all, it was his free-kick which set up Matt Holland's goal, and his effort and crisp passing are fast making him the heart-beat of our side.
Add to that a committed (if occasionally erratic) Kishishev and a stylish performace from Jerome Thomas, and you had a well-deserved win in front of about 1,000 Charlton fans. Should have been more - after all, Birmingham's a good place to do your Christmas shopping these days. But for those who made the trip, it was worth the effort.
As for West Brom, they started off sprightly enough, but sagged after half-time - it was suggested to me that their new manager had been feeding them with lager in the interval... Bryan Robson left his best talent, Jason Koumas, on the bench, and it was too late when he came on. The Baggies we met on the Midland Metro told us of a demoralised squad. Which was why their side was booed off at half-time, wasn't it? Down with the Palace for them - level on points with Liverpool for us. Christmas is coming, fingers crossed, our goose is starting to look satisfyingly fat.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:23 am
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Mourinho's furious reaction to his second Chelsea defeat was enough to dispel any fanciful thoughts of a fix.
Scott Parker was singled out for particularly harsh treatment, being berated at Oporto airport for failing to block Diego's second-half equaliser, and Mourinho even went as far as to question his players' motivation. (more)
Oh, my heart aches for the lad.
Meanwhile, Rochdale appear to have rejected Charlton's suggestion that the FA Cup game should be priced at £15 - leading to a stonking £18 price tag on the game. Ouch. The sad thing is, the reduced attendance will probably end up hurting Rochdale financially as well. Oh, the romance of the Cup, eh?
Oh, and who to laugh at first? Portsmouth, Southampton, or Wolves?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:33 pm
Monday, December 06, 2004
Yup, still smiling. Although I've just been to the dentist, so it's a bit of a lopsided smile, so I'm actually doing a passable impression of the Palace fan who stood up, waving his arms around, in an attempt to bait the Charlton fans yesterday. Heaven help the poor sods behind him.
One aspect of yesterday does leave a sour taste in the mouth - it's our old friends from Croydon police. As mentioned here before, putting this game on at 4pm on a Sunday was a risky choice - but some of the police tactics yesterday seemed to encourage trouble, rather than discourage it.
Was it really necessary for 50 or so Charlton fans to be marched from Norwood Junction station to Park Road before the game? Does nobody in the police realise this might just bottle up tension? I'm not going to deny there was trouble - police had to separate the two sets of fans in the Arthur Wait concourse at half-time, and the mailing list is reporting seats being ripped out. Got to get your £35-worth, after all. (Well, what seats were there, of course - the back of the Arthur Wait just had seat-backs and the iron fittings ready to stab into your shins.)
Keeping the Charlton fans back after the game was probably sensible - and at least gave us the chance to show our appreciation to the team during their warm-down, and to serenade Chris Powell, doing his bit for Sky.
But leaving was still a reminder that as a football fan, you're scum in the eyes of the authorities. An embarrassed-looking copper filming us, fans seemingly picked out at random to be marched back to Norwood Junction. Oh, and that police barricade outside the station. Was it really needed? Some police are fine, and seemed aware of how ridiculous the situation was. Others obviously saw it was a chance to avenge a spot of schoolyard bullying, like the twonk in the Norwood Junction barricade, speaking to a fan who reasonably tried to remonstrate with him as if he was a five-year-old who'd just wet his pants.
The laziest and most bone-headed thing was simply dumping the "bad lads" on a service train back to London Bridge - treat people like animals and they'll react like animals, and I'd have hated to have been an ordinary passenger on that ride back. Indeed, non-football passengers were pushed about by police and station staff as much as everyone else at Norwood Junction. Just so, so stupid.
Of course, the most sensible thing would be to have played the game at noon, made it a dry game, and made sure both sets of fans couldn't see each other in the Arthur Wait concourse. But when there's money to be made for Crystal Palace, and police looking to justify their bills, when does common sense ever come into it?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:05 pm
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Sun, Wyn Grant, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, Evening Sub-Standard, cpfc.co.uk.
What can I say? Crap game, really crap, until Dennis Rommedahl's winner, which we'll be talking about for years and years to come. Magical, simply magic. Oh, and lets' not forget Deano's penalty save - TV viewers tell me it was a penalty, I haven't seen it yet so I can't comment. But for heaven's sake, this is what we were born for - to see moments like this.
Atmosphere-wise, it was probably the best Charlton game in many a year - everyone on their feet, so many songs - this is what it should be about. For those who didn't go, Selhurst Park remains an utterly awful ground - parked at the back of the Arthur Wait, I was fine until five minutes into the second half until I saw some light below me... that stand wasn't as solid as I thought. I have vertigo, work it out for yourself. And there's other things I'd like to talk about, but let's leave that for tomorrow. For now, let's savour a fine derby win. I still can't wipe this grin off my face.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:55 pm
Saturday, December 04, 2004
History was made today at Hayes Lane as Cray Wanderers put a halt to AFC Wimbledon's 78-game unbeaten league run - chew on that, Arsene. An injury-ravaged Dons side just couldn't cope with the strength of a bustling, physical Wanderers side adapting well to their promotion to Ryman League Division 1, which had to see them move from their Sidcup home to share with Bromley, who they are now looking down upon in the league table.
An early shot after a goal-mouth scramble plus a fine second-half strike saw Cray seal a convincing win. AFC Wimbledon had chances early on - but crumbled during the second half, and could have gone three down before the end. But hearing Wimbledon fans complain about the opposition using the long-ball game is always a treat... I'd never been to Hayes Lane before, but it's a tidy little ground, and I look forward to comparing it with Selhurst Park tomorrow.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 7:05 pm
Friday, December 03, 2004
Well, blow me down with a feather - at £35 a pop, we haven't sold out our allocation for the Palace game. And - brace yourselves - it's the first public statement from the supporters' club, probably of the century! Enter executive committee chair Mick Gebbett, who clears his throat and prepares to break several years of CASC silence.
"Palace, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to charge £35 for adult tickets.
"It just doesn't make economic sense. Ignoring concessions, selling 1,300 tickets at £35 means you make £45,500, whereas charging £20 adults and selling the full 2,800 allocation would mean £56,000, plus all the additional income from programmes and concessions and so on.
"How can you expect to people to go to away games and pay £35 for a game that is, to all intents and purposes, free on Sky?" (more)
I think I need a lie down after that. But Mr Gebbett's views are generally appreciated as much in SE25 as much as they are in SE7, as the Nigels scratch their heads and wonder just what the hell Simon Jordan is playing at. I shall be going, with a heavy heart, because if I watch it in the pub and we play badly against those muppets, I will probably go absolutely ballistic. If I'm at the ground, I'll have a thousand other people to hold me back. If Palace do stay up, you won't see me there next year. Jordan can stuff his tickets up his arse after this time.
It's going to be my first visit there to see Charlton play since our last "home" game there in May 1991 against West Ham. I found my old ticket from there recently - just seeing it reminded me how bad things were then, down to that horrible "Selhurst Park Stadium" joint ticket.
But I do have a filthy stripey secret - my last visit there was actually in November 1997, because I'd been working with the people behind Palace Radio and I popped down to pay them a visit. I ended up getting in for nothing and watched Newcastle destroy Palace (remember Temuri Ketsbaia?) from behind some glass in the main stand. And even that was a rotten old dump. So I'm not looking forward to going back.
It also means I'll be far away from a telly when the FA Cup draw is announced - today's sad news meant I'd have liked us to have drawn Wrexham at home, but there's no chance of that now. We'll probably get MK Dons, Millwall, or bloody Palace again. Ho-hum.
Exciting travel advice: The A12 north of the Blackwall Tunnel is still closed, so expect more jams if you're driving through this part of town. No trains are calling at New Cross or St Johns on Sunday, and there's no trains from Plumstead via Lewisham. So there.
And in case Sunday's crap, you could always visit Bromley's ground tomorrow for Cray Wanderers v AFC Wimbledon in Ryman League Division 1. If you're really unlucky, you might see me there...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:13 pm
Thursday, December 02, 2004
If the Premier League's official website is to be believed - and why wouldn't you believe the Premier League, eh? - we're not going to be on the telly again between the Fulham game (on 20/12) and March. Not sure what I think about that, because while it means we get lots of good old Saturday 3pm kick-offs, it means I don't get the option to bellow at the telly in my local pub, something I haven't done properly since Laurent Robert cheated us out of a penalty at Newcastle.
Speaking of which, this news means airline booking systems start to crumble under the weight of Charlton fans booking their trips to Newcastle for February. And by train? Oh yeah, you can't book cheap train tickets yet, because the rail firms can't agree a timetable yet. Duhhhh.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:23 pm
Well, almost. Wyn Grant's tracked down an interview with him, and wisely counsels us not to be too excited...
"To what country you would like to go? Hopefully that if it occurs me, is in a pretty place and an equipment with possibility of being champion." (more)
Hmmm. I'd hold off sweeping Harvey Gardens for now, it's only a rumour, remember...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:56 pm
Not an awful amount to do with Charlton, but interesting considering what we're planning right now. Birmingham's chairman David Gold has looked at Manchester City, and decided he wants somebody else to build them a nice new stadium. Considering the glum-looking faces at a decidedly-not-sold-out St Andrew's for our game earlier this year, I wonder if he really could fill it to a level that wasn't embarrassing for most games, but that's his problem. One statement seems odd, though, when talking about their current location...
"You could rebuild the main stand at a cost of £12m to increase the capacity by five or six thousand - but they would be the most expensive seats in the Premiership." (more)
Considering we've had a new stand built (admittedly behind the goal) in the past few years and managed to pack it with cheap seats, I wonder how Mr Gold managed to work that one out. Maybe he just needs to shift more porn mags.
By the way, word reaches me that Charlton's planning application for the Valley expansion should cover many of the transport concerns outlined earlier. Putting my local hat on, I hope it's true.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 9:50 pm
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Charlton are close to making an offer for striker Lisandro Lopez - the top scorer in the Argentine league - according to the player's agent.
Fernando Hidalgo says Charlton, who have struggled to find a regular goalscorer in recent seasons, are tracking the Racing Club striker.
"Charlton are closely following his performances as they want to sign him by the end of the year," said Hidalgo. (more)
Any dedicated followers of Argentine football know much about this chap? It's nice to be linked with a new name, at the very least.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 4:30 pm
So Charlton are about to put that planning application in for the expanded Valley - as a neighbour of the club as well as a fan I've got double the interest in this, and it'll be interesting to see just what goes before the council on 13 December. As the good Mr Varney explains:
"The application will seek approval for the redevelopment of the east stand and the south-east corner of the ground to take the capacity of The Valley to 30,900.
"Our intention is also to lodge an outline design for the remaining development of the stadium - principally the south stand - at the same time and to declare our intention to ultimately raise the capacity of The Valley to 40,600." (more)
There's also a load of stuff to do with Sparrows Lane, which also comes under Greenwich's control, which will be submitted at the same time.
As a fan, I hope we don't over-burden ourselves with the redevelopment - although with Charlton sitting in the Thames Gateway redevelopment area, there's all kinds of things we can take advantage of. (Wonder if I can use that to get new windows?) I'm also a little worried expansion will further dilute the atmosphere - watching footage of us in our first Premiership season, I may well have been watching another team in another stadium. But, on the whole, it's a very good thing - and if we get more events like the planned England U20 game against Russia in February, then it's an even better thing.
As a local, I'm also happy - the club gives prestige to the area and I'm seeing more Charlton shirts/car stickers around SE7 now than I have done in years. And, to be honest, I think most of the club's neighbours would back it too. All I would say is that transport remains a major issue - we're happy to run coaches to Margate, but none to the vast, empty car parks up by the Dome to ease the traffic congestion around here. Indeed, those car parks are a factor we've got in our favour which Spurs and West Ham - the two comparable stadiums I can think of which also suffer from horrendous traffic congestion - don't have.
So long as neighbours get a fixture list so they can avoid taking the car out on matchdays and those "next match" signs on Charlton Church Lane get updated (they don't), I don't see a problem. My upstairs neighbours grumble a little, but it's hardly as if they didn't know what to expect.
Naturally, a "local" paper based near Orpington can, though...
Mike Donovan, 53, secretary of the Charlton Athletic Residents' Liaison Committee, said: "Anyone in their right minds would not choose to site a club right in the middle of two single-file roads. The roads are already jammed on match days.
"Adding another 15,000 fans is ludicrous. If there was a fire, the emergency services would have real difficulties entering the ground with the extra traffic on the roads.
"Also, the burden on Greenwich's cleansing services to clear up litter after matches is already quite substantial. More fans will just add to the burden." (more)
Of course, anyone in their right minds wouldn't choose to live next to a football stadium then moan about it. Judging by the nature of the traffic queues around here, I also think he's talking out of his bum on that point too. (I've never heard of the Charlton Athletic Residents' Liason Committee, although I'm probably a bit too far away to count.)
But if the club was to work with transport providers, or to put on park-and-ride to North Greenwich or elsewhere, then the number of cars would be less of an issue, and the moaners would have to shut up. Of course, it may mean you changing your habits of getting to the ground and back. But you'd do it if it meant a bigger, better Valley - wouldn't you?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 3:59 pm
The supporters' club's Bromley branch - that's the one which actually does things - has revealed plans for its centenary street party, due to take place in Eastmoor Street, Charlton, close to the club's first ground at Siemens Meadows, on 12 June. It'll feature a stage, marquee, and fish-and-chip van on the site the original East Street fishmongers'. Stewards and sponsors are also needed.
To satisfy the council safety demands, a lot of this needs to be in place as soon as possible, so if you can help, and since the CASC site is down (funny, that), drop me a line and I'll pass on the organisers' details.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 3:55 pm