Sunday, May 30, 2004

Unity fast buck

Just 7,000-odd for the Ireland-Nigeria game at The Valley? Is this a mistake? If it isn't, then the high ticket prices must have deterred more than I thought. Still, it didn't stop SE7 being full of spectacularly drunk Irishmen (no names, no pack drill...) yesterday, including the bloke who accosted me on Wellington Gardens at seven o'clock asking "Can you, um, ooooh, eeeeh, aright mate, good luck..." and his compatriot who was asleep in the same spot upon my return at nine o'clock.

I did get a chance to have a peek at the flimsy rotten programme produced for the three games, which says nothing new, is full of ads for the ethic press and even contains a stray ">" mark on the inside back page from where the address from the Jamaican FA was cut-and-pasted from an e-mail. The cost? £5. Community relations or a fast buck? You decide.

They came from SE25...

Oh dear. Bad night's sleep last night, and I dreamt I was handed this on a piece of paper before a game. Can it be true?

Unfortunately, I regret to announce that Charlton Athletic FC will have to play at least one game next season at the home of Crystal Palace FC, Selhurst Park. This is not a decision we came to lightly, and is based on the sad fact that West Ham United were a pale imitation of a football team at the first division play-off final on 29 May.

I understand this decision will not be popular with Charlton fans, but I beg you to understand my position here. I mean, at Premier League meetings next season, I'm going to have to sit between Roman Abramovich and Simon Jordan. Maybe one day Mr Jordan will learn some manners, learn to shave and take his sunglasses off. But until that day, I would appreciate the understanding of you, my fellow supporters.

Until Crystal Palace FC are relegated, here are some facts about Selhurst Park which may make your trip there easier. Until this terrible period comes to an end, let's cheer the lads to six points over our stripey neighbours.

Yours, R MURRAY, Chairman.

How to get there? 75 bus from Charlton Village to South Norwood Clock Tower, journey time 1 hour. (Oh, that doesn't run anymore. Ian, have you got a new bus map? 202? No, that's Crystal Palace Park! Oh, forget it.) The supporters' club will be running special coaches for Selhurst Park 3pm kick-offs, departing Maidstone at 7am, and Anchor and Hope Lane at 9am, as ever. The nearest stations are Norwood Junction and Selhurst (Southern Railway), although a replacement bus service will no doubt be operating on the day.

What is Selhurst Park like? It is a compact stadium, based in the grounds of a Sainsbury's store, which sells a wide range of general groceries. Those who have visited the home of Dulwich Hamlet FC will be familiar with the concept, although regrettably Crystal Palace FC have yet to upgrade it to the standards of Champion Hill. Champagne will easily be available at the Sainsbury's next door for after the game - don't forget your Nectar card, and the manager requests you wipe your feet after leaving the football ground. It is owned by local benefactor Ron Noades, on the understanding that he can build a B&Q and cinema on the site by 2010, just like the ones in Greenwich.

What facilities are there for eating and drinking? You will notice all the pubs in the area are HOME FANS ONLY before each Selhurst Park game. This is in recognition of Charlton Athletic being the leading team in South London and means you, as Charlton fans, are very welcome inside to drink, be merry, and sing that song about Perry Suckling, as the locals will gladly lead their football team by standing aside for us.

What about my Charlton season ticket? Unfortunately, you will have to purchase a match ticket for this game, with the proceeds going to paying the rent Mr Noades is charging Mr Jordan on the ground. It may be a good idea to point out to the locals that we own our own ground, and are free to do what we want with it, without disrupting the frozen-foods aisle next door.

How long will this arrangement last? We envisage this lasting for three seasons - autumn, winter, and spring. It is likely Mr Jordan will no doubt use his new-found funds to cut his losses and leave the club immediately to start a new mobile phone stall in Croydon Market purchase several elderly foreign players looking for a final Premiership payday, of the standard of Carlos Kickaball, and do little to secure the long-term future of his club, like buying Selhurst Park from Mr Ron Noades.

I am Oleg Luzhny an elderly foreign footballer looking for a final Premiership payday. To where should I enquire? Mr S. Jordan, Crystal Palace FC (9-0) Ltd, Sainsburys Supermarkets Ltd, Whitehorse Lane, London, SE25 6PU. Telephone 020 8768 6000. Listen out for the annoying Dave Clark Five ring tone.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

He comes from Portugal...

Random thoughts: 1) Jorge Costa - what a man! I'm the last to say it, but I'm overjoyed for the fella picking up the Champions League. I swear the bloke had tears in his eyes after the last game he played for us at Old Trafford. A top man and an example to everyone.

But I nearly kicked my telly in listening to some of the patronising crap coming out of Clive Tyldesley's mouth, mind - "When was the last time a former Charlton player picked up the European Cup?" I don't know Clive, but is there a link between your poor commentaries, and the fact that your channel will be back to just doing the Football League next season? I think there might be. Can you imagine Clive on Yorkshire Soccer Night next year? "Here were are at the McAlpine to see Huddersfield, and I remember when Manchester United used to play at the old ground, Leeds Road... if only they'd see that quality of..." (click)

2) Is there are more malign influence on football right now than Peter Kenyon? This little shit, creeping around, without the bottle to sack Raineri but talking in terms as if he has gone already. If the Chelsea bubble bursts soon, I really hope he's left to kip in a doorway or something. Maybe then he'll appreciate money isn't everything.

3) A moment's silence for Telford United, who went out of business this week, despite being one of non-league's biggest names thanks to some fine cup runs. But credit to their supporters, who are forming their own side - you guessed it, AFC Telford. Peter, this is what football's all about. More details here.

4) Speaking of AFCs, if you've got a grand in your pocket burning away, or have £25/month to spare, AFC Wimbledon are offering bonds to help them pay off the debt they owe after buying Kingstonian's Kingsmeadow ground last year. They pay 4% a year, although they aren't secured if the club goes out of business - but with 2,500 fans turning up each week for very low-league football, hopefully that won't happen. They've got a new manager, Dave Anderson, and (once the brain-busting non-league reorganisation is settled) look set to play in the new Isthmian Division One next season along with Bromley, Cray Wanderers, the two Croydon teams and Dulwich Hamlet. More details here.

The great play-off debate

"'Scuse mate, could you tell me where the football ground is?" Ooops. I think he'd mistaken The Valley on Elliscombe Road for SE7's Home of Football. I'd be interested to see how many go to Ireland-Nigeria and the other Unity Cup games - despite the laudable aims of bringing communities together, I can't quite see how the high ticket prices, and even selling the games to pay-per-view operator Setanta (as opposed to Sky) are quite going to achieve this. My local would have Ireland-Nigeria on, instead, it's going to be the Palace-West Ham play-off.

Is this a case of hoping for the lesser of two evils? I miss our derbies with West Ham, although not that much, and as a club I really don't have any beef against them. So I'll be shouting for the Hammers today, although I know there are plenty of Charlton fans who would rather see Palace go up. Why, considering recent history, is beyond me, and I really don't want to have to visit Selhurst Park again as long as I live. (Whereas if pushed, I can walk home from Upton Park!) So let's hope the Irons can do it, and keep the Glaziers (snigger) down where they belong.

Although, whatever happens, that'll make five London clubs finishing above Spurs next season. Good.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

No trains, no fans

Unity Cup public service announcement: Guess what? There are no trains to Charlton station this weekend. Brilliant organisation, gentlemen.

So if you're going to to the Ireland-Nigeria game, I wouldn't roll up to London Bridge station at half-past two if I were you. There may be more information here, but don't count on it. (If you really want to know, there's five replacement buses an hour between New Cross and Plumstead.)

Are many Charlton fans turning up for these games, I wonder? I was keen, but £25-£30 seems a bit steep, and the restrictions on the family seats seem a bit tight to me. I only live around the corner, and it'll be very strange being around here when a game's on and I'm not there. Maybe that will tempt me closer to the time.

Save Curbs! (part 94)

It's tough to work out the smoke signals coming from Anfield at the moment. Of course, when Rick Parry said his hunt for a new manager started yesterday, the All Quiet In The East Stand bullshit-o-meter started shooting off the scale. Is he being similarly disingenuous when he says Liverpool want a manager with "proven experience"? It's hard to trust a man who'd probably have Nicholas van Hoogstraaten on his board if the price was right.

Have you heard the story about Spotty Parker being tapped-up by Chelsea before the Wolves game? I wonder how this is any different?

Liverpool board members met Alan Curbishley as long ago as Easter Monday to discuss the possibility of the Charlton Athletic manager taking over from Gerard Houllier, who was finally sacked by the Merseyside club yesterday.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that the meeting, on April 12, minutes after Charlton had won at Anfield, took place in the boardroom and was attended by chief executive Rick Parry who, one Liverpool source said, "bent the ear" of Curbishley about the possibility of taking charge this summer.

There's a good analysis of the whole sitatuation, again from Her Majesty's Telegraph, here, while the Sun cranks up the rumour mill a bit more here.

By the way - today's the 6th anniversary of the play-off final.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Consider yourself... rebuffed

Irritatingly, the club's e-mail bulletin opts to bury its head in the sand and ignore the speculation which has been everywhere else today. is wobbling like jelly again - time to stop running it off a Vic-20, lads...

But Peter Varney's been speaking to the press - pretty standard stuff, "he's happy here, why would he want to leave?", and emphasising the lack of pressure on Alan Curbishley at Charlton, compared with the situation at Liverpool. However, he refused to confirm or deny to Sky Sports News whether or not he's got a get-out clause which would allow him to talk to certain clubs. Ladbrokes have made him second favourite for the vacant Anfield post behind Valencia chief Rafael Benitez.

Ah! The website loads! Here we go - Varney rebuffs press speculation.

One comment on All Quiet in the East Stand's Scouse counterpart, Kopblog is telling... " with the dithering over Houllier and the recent Morgan/Shitwad fiasco, I'm beginning to think the corridors of Anfield and Mellwood are populated by absolute dickheads with no idea of how to drag our club out of the past and move it into modern day football."

Other people's problems, eh? Actually, I quite like Liverpool, and am close to someone who will squeeze me where it hurts if I'm rude about them, so I've nothing against the Scousers. I just wish they'd sort their problems out without bothering us!

In case you've missed it, we've signed Denmark's number two keeper Stephan Andersen from AB Copenhagen. Real competition for Deano?

Here we go again...

Houllier out! And collectively, I feel the bowels of Charlton fans are starting to become unsteady, in a way not seen since that day when West Ham fired 'Arry Redknapp. It's not helped, of course, by William Hill deciding to make Curbs 10/11 favourite to take over at Anfield. Charlton are to make a statement this afternoon, according to Sky Sports News. (And that sure-fire sign of trouble, going down.)

I don't know. I can't see it, to be honest. Out of the five Champions League-standard clubs in the Premiership, two are basketcases - Chelsea, who are wallowing in a Jacuzzi of dirty money, and Liverpool, who have been hawked around the Tinpot World Leaders' Club like a Thai ladyboy in search of some filthy lucre of their own. You get the feeling they'd take money from Osama Bin Laden right now if it funded that new stadium and more fat wages for players who couldn't give a toss.

I really can't see this appealling to Curbishley - the way Liverpool have been behaving lately, they don't seem the most appealling of employers, unless (like, say, Martin O'Neill) you've already had a few sessions at the furnace of Big Club Management. The events of this season have proved Curbishley can take Charlton futher, yet what exactly would it take to please Liverpool's fans and shareholders? Winning the Boat Race? Of course it's a worry - but I really think Curbs would be on a hiding to nothing there, and judging by the less-than supportive messages sent to Houllier earlier this year, who'd want that pressure? Career-wise as well, it's a graveyard. I challenge you to name me a Liverpool manager whose career hasn't ended after leaving Anfield. Graeme Souness? Point proved.

Still, credit to Houllier for the way he's handled all this. It shows he's a better man than the creeps in the boardroom. And - watching that archive footage on Sky Sports News - I'd forgotten Steven Gerrard was moonlighting in The Bootleg Beatles as a youngster.

Anyway, get ready to be patronised by more Big Club fans for a few weeks. Hey, Phil Neal's just depicted our end-of-season as a land of milk and honey...

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Look, it's a thick Millwall fan!

"Theo has done a great job but there are people who worry that we could become another Charlton," says Hannah Wells, secretary of the Millwall supporters' trust the Lions Trust. "We look down on Charlton because they are a 'nice little family club'. A lot of people want the old intimidating image back. We want this place to have an edge." (more)

That's why we're seventh in the Premiership, and you're skint in the First Division, Hannah. Hope you're behaving yourself in Cardiff, by the way - shame Dennis couldn't hang on to his temper, eh?

By the way, as I only saw the first 30 minutes of the game (went swimming afterwards - I'm as fit as a butcher's dog now) - is it true they never got a shot on target? Tsk.

Chelsea news

More fuel for those who, like me, think the Chelsea bubble will eventually burst.

Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, yesterday came under renewed scrutiny from Russian officials when a government watchdog said the authorities in the remote region he governs "misappropriated" £28m and allowed the oil company he controls to legally evade £263m in tax. (more)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Stinging like a Bee

Forget those Dubai rumours, Di Canio's staying in London!

"Brentford are ready to make a shock bid to lure Paolo di Canio to Griffin Park.

The 35-year-old Italian striker is out of contract at Charlton this summer and has said that he would like to stay at The Valley.

But Bees boss Martin Allen told The Sun: "The obvious stumbling block is wages but we are pursuing every avenue to make Paolo a realistic offer."

Yeah, right.

FA Cup Final question

Question. Has anybody got any suggestions as to how to totally avoid the FA Cup Final this weekend? I am working on Sunday so cannot leave the country, but would like to be able to avoid the match and running into any more bloody blue-and-white ribbons or flags. Or posters ripped out of the Evening Standard.

Or, if anyone knows any London pub showing just the Scottish Cup Final... please, you could just save my sanity.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Centenary party

The supporters' club has always seemed to me to be about as attractive as signing up for an over-75s trip to Margate in December. But hats off to the Bromley branch, which is organising a street party in Eastmoor Street, Charlton in June 2005 to mark the club's centenary - as East Street, it was the street where Charlton Athletic was founded. It's a fantastic idea and one I wish them every success with. The centenary should be about connecting the club with its community and it's ideas like that which will go a long way to doing that. Count me in for the jelly, ice-cream and bunting - although perhaps not distracting the rottweilers which guard the yards which are down there now!

Pre-season friendlies are out - but what's with all this business playing the Welling game on a Friday night? Welling friendlies are all about lazy, sociable afternoons in the sunshine, not bolting out to the suburbs after work and getting caught up in Friday night madness round that way. Suddenly, it doesn't seem that enjoyable a prospect after all. I quite fancy that trip out to Wycombe Wanderers though.

Former first team coach Les Reed has left his job as technical director at the FA - with Charlton's academy director Mick Browne leaving, could Reed be the man to fill his shoes?

Having seen plc chairman Richard Murray at close quarters for the first time this week, all I can say is this - when the story of this place is made into a film, could we get Patrick Stewart to play him? Get him to do a slight London accent, and add an unflappable air about him, and he'd have the boss down to a tee. Of course, if you've any suggestions for any other actors to fill those vital CAFC: The Movie roles, leave us a comment.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Pondering Paolo

So, now the hangover has gone from Saturday, the biggest immediate question left unanswered is - what's going to happen to Paolo?

If you believe The Sun, he's out. But it's interesting to see Jason Euell speak so highly of him in today's papers - especially since the two didn't look to be getting on so well. But against Southampton, they were like a finely-honed double-act, resulting in Euell's opening goal. His injury after 45 minutes cut split what was turning out to be a great pairing.

Di Canio's had a great record this season in setting up goals, and, as I've said before, it'd be fantastic if he could stay on in some capacity - if we're going to bring in an Earnshaw, then who better for them to learn from?

I also don't think I'd be able to bear it if he scored against us in a Portsmouth shirt. (Remember, it's a given that Svensson will score against us for Norwich.)

Incidentally, who got sent a virus via the club's bulletin e-mail today? Tsk...

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Charlton Athletic 2-1 Southampton

Charlton Athletic 2-1 Southampton
Reports: BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, CAFC, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Southampton FC, Sunday People, Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Times, Daily Mirror, The Sun.

Seventh in the Premiership.
It doesn't matter that we spent the second half playing like fannies against a depleted Saints squad. It doesn't matter that I nearly have no nails left after a nailbiting finish. It doesn't matter that idiots started leaving the East Stand with five minutes to go in a tense game on the final day. It doesn't matter that the second half of the season has been a violent rollercoaster of emotions.

We're seventh, the best for 51 years. I'm fucking proud.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the bars are open...

Friday, May 14, 2004

Well, Palace are happy

So as predicted, Sunderland proved as effective as a chocolate fireguard and Crystal Palace won 3-2 at Sainsbury's. Hopefully, Monday night at the Stadium of Light will prove luckier for the Black Cats than Friday night with the Croydon glory-hunters.

But one thing struck me - that lean-looking black guy in the stripey Nigels' midfield, he's good, isn't he? And hasn't he got skinny legs? Oh, hang on... Julian Gray.

Now's not the time to get wound up about what might have been.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The pain on the train

Public service announcement: If you're thinking about going by train to The Valley for Saturday's game, read on - according to the notice belatedly placed outside Charlton station today, engineering works this weekend will mean Charlton station will only have four trains per hour on Saturday, instead of the usual eight.

These will be Cannon Street to Sidcup or Dartford services - the trains from Gravesend and beyond, and the ones via Lewisham and Blackheath are cancelled. Furthermore, there are no trains from Charing Cross or Waterloo East (handy for Southampton fans). This is because engineering works are planned by dozy tossers who don't ever get out into the real world. All Quiet In The East Stand recommends you check before travelling, or (if coming from town) take the tube to North Greenwich and hop on a bus there.

Surprisingly for an organisation which attracts 26,000 people into the area, I don't think the club is ever consulted about engineering works on the railways. It's not the first time this has happened - the Leeds home game saw an even more severe slashing of services without warning. I wonder if the club, ever desperate to reach out into the sticks for fans, is ever concerned about this? After all, if they want to expand The Valley to 40,000, they'd better start cutting down on people's need to drive to the ground, and quickly.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Supermarket sweep

I'm sure all All Quiet In The East Stand readers would have been thrilled to hear the heartwarming story about the disadvantaged group of lads who play on some waste ground behind a Sainsbury's in South Norwood scraping their way into the Division One play offs. Or maybe, like me, you yelled a load of obscenities at the telly and hope Sunderland will stuff the Palace on Friday.

But it's a worrying one. The last time we relied on Sunderland, they let us down and let Millwall go to Cardiff. I'm not feeling hopeful here.

So let's try to look at this in a positive fashion. Us establishing ourselves in the Premiership, Millwall in the Cup Final, Palace in the play-offs, hell, even Welling getting into the new Conference South and Dulwich winning the London Senior Cup - things haven't been this good for football in south-east London for years. Happy days, eh?

No, I can't trick myself. It could be a bloody horrible month. Bastards.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Leeds United 3-3 Charlton Athletic

Leeds United 3-3 Charlton Athletic
Reports: The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Times, BBC Sport, Ananova, CAFC, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, News of the World, Sunday People, The Guardian, The Times, The Sun, Daily Mirror.

Frankly, it was like gatecrashing a weird wake. I've come home, been to the pub, been to bed, got up again, and I still have the loudest Marching On Together you'll ever hear ringing in my ears. And for 20 minutes, it looked like they'd see them win. We came storming out of the traps with Matt Holland's brilliant long-range strike after 11 minutes, hushing the Leeds faithful and delighting the 800 Addicks who made the journey up. Freed from the nerves of the Valley, we were about to go and trash someone else's big day, no?

Of course not, an off-duty midfield and sloppy defending helped Leeds hope for the future Matthew Kilgannon get an equaliser, and when Arsenal loanee Jermaine Pennant made it 2-1, it all felt a bit inevitable. The bottle went, Graham Stuart parked him self far too far up front, and Di Canio was having a stinker - and more animated words with Jason Euell.

The second half arrived with a highly dubious penalty awarded for a "foul" on Michael Duberry by Jonatan Johansson. Local hero Alan ("No, I'll stay and fight in Division 1... oh alright then, seeya") Smith read down to page 17 in the script, and followed the bit which read: "Smith steps up, takes the penalty and milks Elland Road for all the cheers of the local hero's last ever goal at Elland Road. Wipe tear from eye, kiss badge, march on together with fans who are lucky to earn your weekly wages in five years, piss off to another club." Actually, Deano got a hand to it but it cannoned off Kiely into the top of the net.

Alan Curbishley made a triple subsitition on the hour - Bartlett coming on for Di Canio giving us a sharpness up front we never really had before, Perry coming on for ever-steady Powell giving us bite at the back, and Radostin Kishishev replacing Graham Stuart giving us, erm, relief. Aided by a blatant evening-up penalty, cooly taken by Jason Euell, we were back in it. Crazy Leeds defending helped Euell get a second to make it 3-3 after 79 minutes, and for the next ten minutes we dominated like we did in the first 20 minutes. Only one team was going to win this. Alas, we didn't, and our attacks faltered as the game ended and the Leeds tears started to flow. 3-3 seemed a fair result - and if we start with the 11 who finished today's game at Elland Road, we'll go out in style next week.

As for them, it was clear Smith wanted a goal to end his Elland Road days - of course, if he really loved the club, you could argue he'd stay for free next year. But then again, he's under contract and will be the easiest few million Gerald Krasner will ever make. Some suit - I'm not sure if it was Krasner - was on the field addressing the fans before the game and was booed from all corners of Elland Road. Until, that is, he trotted out the same old crap about "you're the best fans in the world" and then they cheered like Westlife girls at a wink from Kian. Yet with all this "Love Leeds" business, you get the depressing feeling some of the most shat-on fans in the league are still quite happy to be taken for mugs. I thought the sign in the corner read "love excrement" and not "love excitement", since that's what Leeds fans have had to put up with, and under the careful management of club-killer Geoffrey Richmond's son, it's something they'll have to develop a taste for.

But this club can't die. It's a big city, a one-club city which still sees itself eyeing its rivals over the Pennines. Thousands swarmed onto the pitch during the team's lap of (dis)honour - scenes I'm not going to forget for a long time. Amid the pandemonium, as stewards struggled to contain a gang of lads, a mum, dad, and two kids posed for a picture by the corner flag. And if they did manage to break the crossbar on the goal nearest us, at least the Leeds fans have got something for their money - after all, those season tickets are only being frozen next year.

Going home, the Leeds fans around me ruminated on a disasterous season. "If Seth Johnson can play for Leeds, so can I... see you at Plymouth, mate!" At Doncaster, Rovers (up from Division 3) and QPR (up from Div 2) fans joined us. The QPR fans got the champagne in, something sweet was smoked somewhere on the train. The Leeds fans looked crestfallen. "This is it for us, I can't see us coming back," one - clutching a bit of (unsmokeable) Elland Road grass - said to me. But QPR fell through the trapdoors, and we close to going out of business a few years ago. Leaner and meaner, they're on their way back. Maybe Leeds will do that one day. He should have had a word with the QPR fans instead. But then again - he'll get the chance at Loftus Road next season.

Friday, May 07, 2004


I didn't have it in me to gloat in print at Chelsea's demise in the Champions League, although it was probably only us, QPR and Fulham fans revelling as little Spotty was first in front of the Sky Sports News cameras on Wednesday night. I've spotted the first sign of a press backlash against him, though - today's Independent declares his time so far as a "miss"...

Good news about Mark Fish staying on for another season - just watch yourself around those glass tables, mate... who's off to Leeds tomorrow? I am, but to be honest, I'm dreading it now.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Girls galore

"It's going to be difficult for Charlton to remember that this, in fact, is their best-ever season - disappointment always lingers longer than success."

Actually, the commentator was talking just now about the women's team's disappointment in the FA Cup final, but it seemed to have a wider significance. Mind you, at least Pauline Cope managed not to foul an opposition player in the box at Loftus Road, which is more than Deano managed...

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Player of the year

Supporters' club player of the year tonight - and my Chris Perry vote counted for nought as Dean Kiely stepped up to pick up the prize, with Herman Hreidarrson coming second, and Matt Holland third.

Meanwhile, which former star of the Premiership, now playing on the continent, is all lined up to sign for us on the pitch at the Southampton game, if the deal can be done in time?

Saturday, May 01, 2004

For Fox sake

Charlton Athletic 2-2 Leicester City
Reports: BBC Sport, CAFC, Ananova, Sky Sports, Sporting Life
It's a real struggle to think of anything to say about this wretched game, which reminded me of visits to AFC Wimbledon, where the home team can be miles better than the opposition, but make ridiculously hard work of beating them.

And despite relegating Leicester, we didn't even bloody manage to beat them. But perhaps this was always going to be likely with Rob Styles as ref, blundering through the game with a number of eccentric decisions - including the penalty which led to our second goal (JJ under pressure from Dabizas) (looked alright on TV to me) . Having said that, most of his decisions went in the Foxes' favour, including the free kick for Les Ferdinand's thunderous equaliser.

But let's concentrate on some reasons to be cheerful - after an almost-silent first half, the crowd actually got behind the team, perhaps buoyed by the debut of new signing Jerome Thomas, who made an encouraging, if not totally assured first appearance on the Valley pitch. Erm... and that's it, really, on another day when our players seemed to think the goal would come out and bite them if they dared kick a ball at it. (It's instructive that our opener was scored by defender Jonathan Fortune). Graham Stuart had another game which suggests his time at the top is coming to a close, but only Di Canio and Herman Hreidarrson had anything like a good game today. And even Paolo nearly blew it by getting into a row with the hapless Styles, which he carried on having after his getting a yellow card. Those end of season nerves are still jangling.

But catching sight of the man with his young son stealing out of the Leicester end a few minutes before the conclusion - obviously knowing the score at Manchester City - despite our own stinking finale, it's a relief not to be in their shoes.