Monday, January 31, 2005

Not quite so-manic Monday

Well, well. The Yeovil love-in spilt over into today's papers, and on the internet too - they love us, we love them... it's all leaving me gagging for a fag, frankly. Before that, though, scoot to the foot of and vote for Kevin Gall as the man of the round. Come on, he deserves it more than lanky Crouch or fat Rooney.

But with the Sky-orchestrated bullshit surrounding Arsenal v Man Utd tomorrow night, it's a refreshing change. And for those who thought I was being harsh below, of course it was a thrilling game. I just found it torturous, that's all.

Now it's over and it's Leicester at home to look forward to. We seem a bit more confident about facing the Championship side than we did about Yeovil or Rochdale - Cup fever's bitten bad. I daren't say anything, I hate tempting fate, but the dead fox in Wellington Gardens on Saturday lunchtime must have been an omen after all.

All of this overshadows the departure of Graham Stuart to Norwich - he'd been on the fringes of the squad for a while, and it looks like a perfect move for a man who's given Charlton many years of excellent service. Good luck to him - hopefully he'll be the man to keep the Canaries up.

As for the rest of the transfer window fun and games - not this time. Although heaven knows what Spurs were thinking of when they agreed to pay £8m for Andy Reid and Michael Dawson - Nottingham Forest have probably done the best business of all in the window.

Liverpool tomorrow - let's hope we can put the Cup jitters behind us and make it three wins out of three over the Scousers at The Valley.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Charlton 3-2 Yeovil

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday People, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent, The Sun, Yeovil Town FC, Ciderspace, Addick's Diary.

The magic of the Cup, my arse. You'll read tomorrow lots of stuff about "brave Yeovil", "plucky Glovers", blah, blah, blah. Sod that. Yeovil were a bloody good team, and they were more than a shade unlucky to lose this. They'll storm League One next season. And today's game was like one of those nights when you keep waking up in a cold sweat.

Charlton switched to a 4-4-2 for this one - Jeffers up front with Bartlett, Hughes joining Murphy, Holland and Thomas in midfield. We played like a team of drunkards staggering to the bar for last orders. I can't think of a player who comes out of this with 100% credit, even the ever-excellent Luke Young seemed to slip up today and Arron Davies' second Glovers goal was entirely Deano's fault.

Just before the game I was bashing out a few words for Liverpool fan site Red and White Kop about Tuesday's game and thinking back to last weekend at Everton. But everything which was good about us at Goodison was missing againt Yeovil - our tackling, our composure, and our marking was non-existent. We simply couldn't help letting them back into it after scoring - visibly relaxing after our third goal.

Midway during the game I had a text message suggesting we should have stuck with a 4-5-1 for today. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but we do look shakier playing 4-4-2 than we do with one up front.

It was tough to spot a stand-out star in Yeovil's team - they were as well-drilled and hard-working as we'd ever hope to be. Their confidence matched our complacency. The Glovers left the field to a standing ovation - we'd long since left the pitch. Hopefully, it'll be business as usual against Liverpool on Tuesday.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Up for the Cup once again

Well, if you're a Charlton fan, and you don't find tomorrow's game against Yeovil in any way exciting, then I regret to have to inform you that you've died, and you shouldn't actually be reading this. Go and try to get a shot past Sam Bartram, or something.

Come on, this is going to be a fascinating little fixture. Firstly, we've never played Yeovil before. Secondly, they're not crap, since they're leading League Two thanks to some good football - are they lower-division hoofers or skilled craftsmen? It'll be interesting to find out. Thirdly, this area is going to be packed out with Glovers fans - 4,000 are coming, and I'll have a very good view of them because I'll be right next to them in Block C of the East Stand. Indeed, if you look at Ciderspace's guide to the game, it looks like they're going to try just about every pub in Greenwich and Charlton. Good luck, lads. The Richard I in Greenwich is owned by a Yeovil fan, so if they snatch it, expect rivers of cider down Royal Hill long into the night.

And fourthly... feeling nervous yet? We've had a couple of good results, along come the lower-league side.... is that a green-and-white banana skin coming up? I've got the replay date free, just in case...

It seems pretty likely we'll be back to the 4-4-2 routine - it'll be good to see Jeffers up front, but beyond that, it's a tough one to call. I think we'll scrape a 2-1, but it's a tough one to predict. Which is what makes it so fascinating. Come on you Addicks!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Rodney Marsh is a plum, part 94

Rodney Marsh has apologised for "offensive" comments made on Monday night's You're On Sky Sports programme.

The former Queens Park Rangers and Manchester City striker has had his contract terminated by Sky Sports after making the remarks as a pundit on the phone-in show.

Sky officials met this morning and decided Marsh's comments were "inexcusable".

The 60-year-old, who was known for his outspoken views on football, insisted he did not intend to offend viewers with his comments.

Viewers from across Surrey and Hampshire called in to complain after he said: "Charlton Athletic are a worthy Premiership team, and could well get a place in the Uefa Cup."

A Sky Sports spokesman said: "Naturally, our viewers expected the usual small-minded old man, the sort of sad man who thinks the Ferguson-Wenger dispute is fascinating and believes Newcastle and Liverpool should be big clubs forever.

"We're sorry about this transgression, and we'll return to our usual Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal-worshipping schedule as soon as we can."

Marsh was unavailable for comment last night, but it was reported he was seen out drinking with George Best and Robert Kilroy-Silk in London's exciting Dagenham district.

A bit of travel advice

A word of warning if you're planning to drive to Saturday's game against Yeovil - if you can leave the car at home and get public transport to The Valley, do it, because Greenwich town centre will be closed this weekend for roadworks. Bearing in mind the huge support Yeovil are going to bring up, the streets around SE7 and SE10 are likely to be packed out.

Don't be too harsh on Greenwich Council for choosing this weekend to dig the roads up, though. After all, you probably didn't expect us to get to the fourth round either, did you?

Top of the league

Thanks to everybody who took the time to vote for All Quiet In The East Stand in the Best of Blog Awards - they've now finally confirmed that I won the best sports blog prize - your support is much appreciated.

And thanks most of all to Supermum, who knows me from elsewhere and noticed I'd been nominated - nobody who runs the awards has bothered to get in touch, so without her, I wouldn't now be feeling like I owe 601 pints... blog awards are deeply strange things, but it's wonderful to have had the backing of so many of my fellow Charlton fans. So thank you again.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

What goes around...

Just because it's in the Daily Star on Sunday doesn't mean it's true, but it doesn't automatically mean it's nonsense either. I don't know if you've seen the rumour (which appeared on Netaddicks earlier this week) about Crystal Palace groundsharing with Millwall at Senegal Fields, but it's been developed further on the Nigels' bulletin board.

It's interesting stuff, because sooner or later Palace will have to make a decision about their future, what with Uncle Ron still holding the keys to Selhurst. Could you really see Palace and Millwall playing at the Den together? No, me neither - and The Den is arguably less of a Premiership ground than Sellout.

But Palace's other possible options provide food for thought - a new stadium somewhere south of London, or moving up to Crystal Palace Park. Leaving London would leave south London to us and Millwall, but a move up the hill? It'd be tricky, involving the Mayor of London, notoriously tricksy locals, Bromley Council and four other councils. But if they pulled it off, it'd push them closer to us and our Bermondsey neighbours.

It highlights the need for us not to remain complacent about developing The Valley - and to develop our London fanbase as well. Since my complaints about Flask Express, I'm assured Charlton are in contact with home developers and other parties to help us push forward closer to home, including contacts with City institutions. It's something we need to keep doing, and we need to keep an eye on what's going on elsewhere in south-east London too - with Rotherhithe set to see a £1bn development at Canada Water, it'd be nice to think we can get new fans with SE16 postcodes as well as Kent ones. Because they're hardly likely to go to Millwall - and while Palace are going through a bit of turmoil, it'd be good to strike now before they get their future sorted. Just because they're in traditional Millwall or Palace areas shouldn't be stopping us from promoting ourselves.

Everton 0-1 Charlton

Proper reports: BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph.

Wow. Charlton smashed the north-west jinx with a dogged performance against Everton which rewarded the patience of fans who had suffered a horrendous journey to Merseyside, thanks to a suicide at Coventry (steady on, Micky Adams has only been there a couple of days) and a surprise spot of engineering works at Crewe. Thanks for telling us, Virgin. I got to Goodison at 2.30pm after leaving my home in Charlton just before 8am. The identities of the Addicks who travelled via Sheffield to escape the delays will remain safe with me.

But was it worth it? I could have slept rough tonight in Lime Street station and it still would have been worth it.

Curbs opted for the 4-5-1, tweaked to include Konchesky and Hughes rather than Rommedahl and Kishishev, and it paid off handsomely. We started off the brighter, and for much of the first half, we were fantastic going forward, with Paul Konchesky in his element against the muscular Everton side. "Punch him, the Koppite shite!" bellowed an Everton fan six feet away from me about Danny Murphy, but later I couldn't help overhear him say: "He's everywhere, isn't he, fockin' Murphy!" Which he was.

(An aside - I caught a cab to Goodison, where the Liverpool-supporting cabbie grumpily turned off commentary from Southampton - "2-0! I'm not listening to that shite!" - to chat about our game. "I was never a fan of Murphy - he always let his head go down," he told me. How things have changed...)

As for Everton, new boy James Beattie (same bloke near me as above: "Come on, Mersey-Beatt!") was abso-bloody-lutely gagging to score. He nearly got his chance when Dean Kiely fluffed a clearance, but it cannoned off Beattie somewhere out to the left. While we were better going forward, when Everton did get in the box, they looked handy. While Bartlett definitely played a positive part today, he still generally seems anonymous in front of goal. Pretty even stuff as we approached half-time.

Matt Holland's injury-time goal came out of nowhere - a header whacking great volley from an iffy Herman Hreidarsson cross soared past Richard Wright and sent a chunk of the Bullens Road End into raptures. The rest of it just carried on sulking and berated its team for being "shite".

Second half, Duncan Disorderly on for Everton to attempt to bully Talal El Karkouri, and half-chances flying in at both ends before Everton gradually wrested control of the game, and chance after chance sailed down upon our goal. We were equal to the job, lasting out a panicky last 15 minutes. Despite their fans' moaning, despite the poor press write-ups, I didn't think Everton looked that bad myself, and they can count themselves unlucky not to get a point. But they do miss Gravesen - maybe not to the extent we missed another midfielder 12 months ago, though.

The Everton fans filed out to complain, we were dancing in the street outside. "Who the fock are you?", shouted a 10-year-old fatter version of Rooney. Well, mate, we're 7th, four points clear of Spurs and level on points with Liverpool. And we've got better haircuts than you. Now run along, sonny.

If I had a man of the match, it'd be Konchesky - steady, assured, and putting in vital tackles. I should mention Luke Young, who's now so good we almost take him for granted. But almost all of our side played well - Fortune seemed a bit shaky in defence, though, and Jerome Thomas looked knackered from the start, and needs to stop showing off so much. These are minor quibbles, though, on a great day for us.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Toffee time

Just when I thought I had too much money in my bank account, along comes All Quiet In The East Stand's first away trip of the year, to Everton. What to expect? A 4-4-2 or a 4-5-1? A starting role for Jeffers, who I take it isn't much liked by the blue half of Merseyside? It's an interesting question. What we do know is we'll face James Beattie, on his home debut for Everton - although I still think they'll feel the loss of Gravesen more. Hopefully we can put our north-west jinx behind us - as soon as the telly starts picking up Granada, we've gone to pieces this season. This is our last chance to put it right. Tickets are on sale on the day if you fancy a last minute dash up there, although it's a five-hour rail journey back if you're not driving, thanks to the curse of engineering works. Yup, I'm really looking forward to that.

Meanwhile, it's time to march the club press office into Dixons and show them what a "digital radio" is...

Live commentary on the match is available on digital radio 94.9 courtesy of
BBC LONDON and via the official website at

Radio for simpletons - the Charlton game is being carried on digital radio only, not 94.9FM. Digital radio - or DAB - does not use frequencies like FM does. It is a separate thing altogether.

There's a wider point here about BBC London having too many football rights, they have to shove matches on digital, but that's another thing for another day.

If none of that appeals to you, there's a cracking South London derby at Champion Hill if you fancy it - Dulwich Hamlet play AFC Wimbledon. If I wasn't going to Everton, I'd be there like a shot, and I heartily recommend it. If you go, say hello to Peter Garland, won't you?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

More fun with Scally

It's all very well taking the mickey out of Paul Scally's claptrap about Charlton rattling up support via the Flask Express, but there's a serious side to it as well. Scally's been eyeing up a move to Gravesend for his team. Naturally, the fans of Gravesend & Northfleet are concerned about this, and have set up a petition to go to Gravesham council. You'd be doing us, and the Fleet, a favour if you sign it.

Moving Gillingham from their spiritual home would bring them into direct conflict with Gravesend & Northfleet, Dartford and Charlton who enjoy strong support in the area. It would also alienate many of their fans, 50% of which are based in Medway.

Fleet supporters are protesting against the proposal and will be engaging with disaffected Gillingham supporters and fans of football throughout the country to fight these plans.

Fleet fans are arguing that to relocate Gillingham outside Medway smacks of Franchise FC - MK Dons - a move motivated by money. But to move the Gills to within a mile of an existing, prospering Conference club shows a heartless disregard for the feelings of supporters of both clubs.

Please lend your support to the campaign by signing this petition.

If you live in Gravesham borough, they'd also appreciate a word in your local councillors' ears - full details on Fleet site White Bucket.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

"Horse/ barn door/ bolted" scenario

From The Observer...

The Premier League are launching an inquiry into the declining popularity of the Premiership. Issues they will examine include falling crowds, high ticket prices, saturation television coverage and the dominance of a few rich clubs.

It comes after leading figures in the game, among them Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein, Charlton manager Alan Curbishley and former England boss Graham Taylor, said that the Premiership was suffering through over-exposure on TV and a lack of real competition.

'This is a timely move and the Premier League would be wise not to be complacent, as the warning signs have been there this season,' said Graham Kelly, the FA's former chief executive."

Of course, Graham Kelly, the FA's former chief executive, was one of the prime movers behind the creation of the Premier League. Well done, Graham. Hey, maybe you'll share some of the wages you earned at the time with the clubs you helped screw over? Oh, perhaps not.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Charlton 3-1 Birmingham

Proper match reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Press Association, Sunday Times, Sunday People, Wyn Grant,

One of the most satisfying wins of the season so far, and all down to Alan Curbishley breaking his addiction to the 4-5-1 formation. Come again? Just after New Year I was bellowing at the radio as Curbs doggedly stuck to a 4-5-1 at Blackburn, despite us being one down.

But today, after Birmingham grabbed an equaliser through Mario Melchiot, Curbs wasted little time in yanking an ineffective Dennis Rommedahl off, sending on Francis Jeffers with instructions to help a poor-as-ever Shaun Bartlett, and what a difference that move made.

But, to be honest, we ran most of the game. Bartlett's howlers will be forgotten about because it was a freak goal from Talal El Karkouri which gave us the lead - a free-kick from 35 yards which looked certain to bounce over the goal... until it lolloped into the back of Maik Taylor's net. Ha ha ha.

But Birmingham's pressure - and a probable half-time bollocking - led to a powerful Melchiot header from a corner grabbing an equaliser. Game on.

But it was Curbs' response which impressed. Switching us to a 4-4-2, it was Jeffers who set Bartlett up for an about-bloody-time-too easy shot at goal - his first since November. And it was Jeffers who also set up Danny Murphy for his first Premiership goal in our red shirt - and boy, did he celebrate it.

But boy, did he deserve it as well. Once again, Murphy was at the centre of just about everything we did. If he published that diet he went on after his poor start to the season, it'd be a bloody best-seller.

A question remains - should we take two strikers to Everton, or just the one? I think 4-5-1 stifled Birmingham, and our change in formation left them totally wrong-footed. Yet Bartlett and Jeffers up front worked well. It's a thought to chew upon.

In the meantime, let us just linger on the happy sight of Curbs's plan starting to click into place.

Fairweather flasks

While Paul Scally's red-hot-rage over our Flask Express scheme is an easy target, Charlton still knows just how to shoot itself right in the foot. Thanks to the All Quiet reader who alerted me to this in the club's e-mail bulletin:

And the plans to encourage lapsed fans to return and target new people to
experience the Valley atmosphere for the first time seem to be paying off - as 71-year-old Terry Parker, from Folkestone, relates.

"The last game I saw at The Valley was in February 1956," he said.

"It used to be a natural amphitheatre, so I'm really looking forward to seeing how much it has changed over the years."

With every respect to Mr Parker, if his last visit to The Valley was 49 years ago, at the age of 22, what on earth has stopped him attending since? The club's relegation in 1957? Heavy traffic while the Blackwall Tunnel approach was built in 1967? Locked out of the Spurs game in 1977? Couldn't find Selhurst in 1987? Forgotten who we were by 1997?

While Mr Parker's custom has to be welcomed, it does seem to bear out many fans' fears that we're just going to end up bussing in Stepford fans from out of town, only after a game of Premiership football, while potential support closer to home is ignored.

Elements of the scheme do come close to something I've gone on about here before - the club seems to have gone as far as it can up to the London boundary with its stops. (I may be wrong here, but different laws apply within London about buses. That's no reason to stop them having a word with Mayor Ken's people about it, though.)

The reaction of most fans I've spoken to about Flask Express is bemusement at best - with blanket coverage on the club's website and e-mail service, the club would do well to take notice of the local fans who wonder why their neighbours, and potential neighbours, are more than a little sceptical about their scheme.

Speaking of blankets, you can just imagine our supporters' director knitting some so our new fans don't get cold... bless!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Follow the Jills with Scallycabs!

You've heard about the Flask Valley Express rumpus involving Gillingham chairman Paul Scally - even our players have got excited about our plans to bus in fans from distant Kent.

Now Scally's hitting back - by bussing in fans to Gillingham's game on Saturday against Plymouth in his Austin Allegro.

"I said Charlton shouldn't be poaching fans beyond their own catchment area of 15 miles, so I'm starting at the edge of their own area, in Shepherd's Bush," Scally told All Quiet In The East Stand from a Chatham betting shop.

"I'm actually going to start in South Africa Road, because that appeals to me, and because I think I can pick up a few spare QPR supporters who fancy going to a windswept dump in the middle of nowhere with no roof, as opposed to a dump in the middle of west London with a bit of atmosphere."

Scally then plans to take in Fulham and Chelsea as his tour to pick up disaffected Charlton fans goes on.

"You mean both those clubs are actually in Fulham? Fuck me, that means there must be some fans I can pick up in Chelsea then," he added. "I'm not familiar with these big clubs, you see. Couldn't imagine me in charge of one, could you? I can barely drive this car."

"After that, I've got to, erm, yeah, swing a right, and yeah, yeah, Millwall, thassit."

But on a test run Scally conducted last week, we saw him outside the car repair yard on Zampa Road, bowing and scraping to the New Den, just 100 yards away, and getting mud on his glasses.

"It's not true Theo Paphitis told me to go away and stop bothering him about buying his shares in the club. I'm totally committed to Gravesend. I mean Millwall. I mean Gillingham," he explained later.

Scally then plans to go slowly down the A2, blasting the seductive sounds of Medway FM's "Joyriding Hour" as he hopes to lure punters into his smart 1976 car.

"I got the Burberry seat covers done specially," he quips.

After a victory tour around The Valley - "I wouldn't want a ground like that, or the respect of our fans and neighbours, I'm my own man" - Scally picked up a total of one customer on his run.

"She wanted to go to see her daughter in New Eltham," he said.

"Well, she was worth £6 to the club, anyway. It'll help pay to put a roof on the Brian Moore Stand."

There is one detour, though, while Scally parks up outside Gravesend & Northfleet's ground. And stops. And stares.

"Bastards - how can such a piddling club have such a nice ground," he mutters under his breath as he gets behind the wheel.

"You shouldn't covet another club. Or its fans. Or its ground," he says later.

After pulling up outside some scaffolding - "sorry, that's actually the Bobby Moore Stand" - Scally was asked what his hopes and dreams were for Gillingham.

"For us to go up, so Gillingham can stay in the Championship's special meetings, so I can take all the TV money to help us stay up," he said.

"And maybe Theo Paphitis will let me sit on his lap, too."

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Transfer window tedium

It's no fun, the transfer window, is it? Especially when you're a Charlton fan. After all, we've a manager who plays his cards very close to his chest (come on, would you play Curbs at poker) and a club which is pretty damn good at not leaking. Curbs himself hates it.

Were we ever after Dean Ashton? Doesn't seem like it, because nobody in their right mind would move from Crewe (Championship club next season) to Norwich (Championship club next season), although wily old Dario Gradi saw an opportunity to make his club a few bob out of it.

So there's not even a morsel to go on so far - but we've few weeks to go yet. Until then, step forward a sad leech sponging money out of the game. It's only Jason Euell's agent, Tony Finnigan, isn't it?

"Jason has not been told he is excess to requirements but is not happy to sit back and collect his money. He wants to play football." (more)

Of course, you could never accuse Tony Finnigan of being happy to sit back and collect his money, could you? According to the Evening Sub-Standard, Euell's being targeted by Southampton in a "possible loan deal". I hope not, and it isn't as if Euell's arse has been glued to the bench lately, either.

Money-grabbing agents are one problem. Down at Palarse, Wayne Routledge has signed up with Paul Stretford, who's causing ructions in SE25. Paul Stretford, of course, misled a court in the failed Wayne Rooney blackmail case last year. He's still around, feeding off the money you and I pay to see games. And making more money each time the transfer window is opened. You can sympathise with Simon Jordan. But only a little bit, of course.

The other problem? Shitty little rumour-mongering websites. Not messageboards, not blogs, but crap like Tribal Football or Fans Who reads them? See that quote from Finnigan above? It's common practice to edit a quote to emphasise a point - every half-decent journalist does it. Not good enough for Fans FC, though...

Euell’s agent Tony Finnigan confirmed: “Jason has been told he is not needed but is not happy to sit back and collect his money. He wants to play.” (more)

Which is, of course, bollocks. Google News is good at showing these things up sometimes...

Unless, of course, Finnigan is telling the Standard and a tinpot website different things. Then again, I think the tinpot website would wet its pants if it ever spoke to a person who was really involved in, like, a real football job.

Conveniently, Fans has a "mail the Charlton Athletic journo" link? Why don't you "mail" him/her and tell him just what you think of him/her? I just have, and I'm looking forward to my reply...

Monday, January 10, 2005

Charlton's cup poser

Well, well. Yeovil at home in the fourth round. The streets will be awash with cider at the end of the month as the Somerset side come to The Valley, accompanied by a no-doubt huge following. The Glovers have always enjoyed sizeable crowds, they're riding high in League Two, and bearing in mind their usual trip to London is to play Leyton Orient, we're going to be a big day out for them. But just how big?

They took 13,000 fans to Villa Park for the FA Trophy a few years back, so manager Gary Johnson's claim that they could take 10,000 doesn't seem so fanciful. So it's the first-time visitors to The Valley who present us with a potential headache - how many tickets do we give them? It's been a hot topic on Netaddicks and Yeovil site Ciderspace.

Ordinarily, we'd give them the Jimmy Seed Stand - 3,300 tickets. But FA rules state we should give them 15% of our capacity. That's now about 4,000. Which - in theory - would mean them taking over part of the East Stand. But it's likely the police/ council would veto that, leaving them with just the Jimmy Seed.

Is it fair? Probably not, but that's just the way it is. But it's funny that the team which was in the Conference three years ago is the one which could give us our first big ticket headache for a long while.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Charlton 4-1 Rochdale

So who booked a weekend away for the end of the month, eh? Oh, ye of little faith. Charlton easily won a so-so game against a Rochdale side who started out determined, and ended it that way. Good to see Bryan Hughes bag a couple of goals, while the cup continues to be lucky for Danny Murphy. Jon Fortune got our other goal, but was carried off on a stretcher with an injury to his hip. Jason Euell was also substituted after picking up a toe injury.

It wasn't classy - at points it could have been a scrappy League Two game, frankly - and Dale scared us a couple of times, their excellent Grant Holt heading wide in the first half when it would have been easier to nod it past Deano. But our superior fitness counted, together with our ability to bring players like Danny Murphy off the bench. It's nice to feel like a proper Premiership club this weekend. I hope it lasts!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A dozen dazzling Dale facts

You may moan, but you try being a Rochdale fan. One of the English game's most anonymous, under-achieving teams visits The Valley on Saturday as that annual parlour game, Let's Humiliate Charlton in the Cup, comes around again. Rochdale fans probably don't quite appreciate how nervous we are about this fixture - those scars still remain from Dagenham & Redbridge a few years back. But at least Rochdale are less likely to be spoiling to kick our heads in.

So, to whet your appetite for the game, here's some facts about our opponents...

  • Rochdale have been in the fourth division for longer than I have been alive. They were relegated from the old Division 3 in May 1974, and have not been back up since.

  • They finished fifth in 2002 when John Hollins was manager, but lost in the play-off semi-finals to Rushden & Diamonds. They're 11th in League Two right now.

  • Rochdale's Cup pedigree is humble, but in 1990 they made the fifth round, going out 1-0 at home to... Crystal Palace. Oh well. You already know the last time we played them at home in the Cup, we won the thing, so I won't tell you again.

  • But their League Cup record does have a spot of glamour about it - they made the final in 1962, losing 4-0 on aggregate to Norwich. This was while the "big clubs" refused to play in it, mind.

  • They played an FA Cup tie in Scotland in 1992 - drawing 0-0 at Gretna, before beating them in the replay. Gretna play Dundee United in the Scottish FA Cup on Saturday.

  • Dale fan Mark Hodkinson wrote a book about his experiences - cheerily titled Life Sentence.

  • Rochdale have never finished above us in the league. The closest they got was in 1973, when we finished 11th and they finished 13th in Division 3, with both sides on 45 points.

  • So-called comedian Tommy Cannon is their only celebrity fan. Well, so he claimed. During the 1980s he was part of a board who wanted to sell Spotland to buy more players, in the hope they'd bring in more punters, who'd enable them to buy the ground back. Fans were outraged, he was given the boot.

  • Spotland was voted the best ground in the country by the, erm, Daily Mail in 1999/2000. This being rugby territory, it's shared with National League One side Rochdale Hornets.

  • Ex-Rochdale players include one-time Charlton midfielder Neil Redfearn, current West Ham keeper Stephen Bywater, while ex-managers include Leeds legend Eddie Gray, and the aforementioned John Hollis.

  • Last month Rochdale were talking about making £200,000 from Saturday's game. Not at £18 per ticket, chaps. We might charge Arsenal fans £45, but even we're not that stupid.

  • In 1947, Rochdale's manager planned to treat his lads to a night out in London after the game. In 2005, Steve Parkin is planning to treat his players to... a night out in London. Avoid the Grosvenor House Hotel, mate.

    If you're coming down from Rochdale, enjoy yourself (the Jubilee Line is only running Waterloo-Stratford, by the way.) And as for us lot... don't let our nerves escape onto the pitch, eh?

    Further reading and thanks: Grimsby site Cod Almighty's guide to Rochdale, Rochdale OS history page,

  • Septic surprise

    The more this blog awards stuff goes on, the more amusing it's getting. All Quiet In The East Stand's success so far has riled gridiron baseball site Soxaholic, in this entry which you have to look at, if only to marvel at the genuine brilliance of the site - can you imagine a Curbs/Day cartoon? - and to weep at the daft prejudices against "soccer hooligans".

    Incidentally, if you look down the left-hand side, there's an endorsement of Soxaholic calling it "roasting at its finest". Now that's why Carlton's form at Villa's gone all pear-shaped.

    Thanks to those so far who have voted, plugged and voted again - please keep on doing so (one vote per e-mail or IP in 24 hours), and remember it's Americans who fiddle votes, not us lot, so play nicely.

    Scally of the Jills rides again

    I wonder if the club is forking out any money in advertising to promote its Flask Valley Express service from deepest Kent to deepest south-east London? If so, it's just wasted its money - the Medway Towns' finest comedian, Paul Scally, has just given it all the publicity it'll ever need.

    Gillingham chairman Paul Scally says Charlton's move to seek support outside what he calls "their own conurbation" is not within the spirit of the game.

    The Addicks are offering coach trips from the Medway Towns to matches.

    Scally told BBC Radio Kent: "If they can't fill their stands within a 15 mile radius of Charlton then they've got a problem."

    This, of course, from the man who is widely believed to want to move his team to Gravesend, displacing Gravesend & Northfleet, whose ground lies just under 15 miles from Priestfield by road.

    But best of all, the rant is covered in full on Gillingham's official site - "From 15th January, the day Gills entertain Plymouth at Priestfield, Charlton will pick up people in the Medway towns, including Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester, Rainham and Strood, and run them to the Valley at a cost of £5 return." They should have just printed the phone number and been done with it, shouldn't they?

    There's also a line about "local residents thanking the Jills" for free tickets to their Cup defeat by Coventry on Saturday - although not one is actually quoted. Fantastic stuff.

    Some genuine Jills have some interesting thoughts on the matter....

    (And here too.)

    Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    Sympathy for Spurs (for once)

    Okay, you've seen it - the Spurs goal which wasn't. Even grumpy old Lord Ferg thinks there should be TV replays available to referees (although he did point to a Spurs foul which wasn't given, etc).

    So, can anybody think of a reason why we shouldn't have TV replays in games now?

    Say, we are top of the league...

    All Quiet In The East Stand is currently soaring ahead in the Best of Blog Awards sport shortlist - thank you very much to those who've already voted. You can vote once every 24 hours between now and 14 January so if you'd like to back me, then please click here and do the business, and then perhaps come back and do it again over the next couple of weeks.

    My competition appears to be a rather odd Arsenal site which seems to come from abroad and a site about the LA Dodgers baseball team which I don't even understand (baseball, not the site) so go on, think of England if you must. Thank you.

    While I'm here, did you read at the weekend about Jermain Defoe dumping his agents SFX? Yes, he wants more money and a "bigger team". He has been at Tottenham (finished eight places below us) for a year after dumping West Ham for a "bigger team", five years after he dumped Charlton for a "bigger team" (West Ham, relegated 2003). Only his mother could love Judas, eh? And on those wages, she does...

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    Blackburn and beyond

    Back to the bathroom tranny (steady, now) for the afternoon's commentary from Blackburn on fuzzy old BBC London - once the aerial had been swung around to escape interference from the pirates, I wished I hadn't have bothered, frankly. We sounded crap, and I'd be grateful if anybody who made the trip up there could let me know how bad it was.

    To his credit, Curbs says that in hindsight, perhaps he should have reshuffled his squad a bit. Jonatan Johansson replaced an injured Shaun Bartlett as a lone striker - which tells you as much as you need to know about our striking situation right now. (Franny Jeffers is recovering from an operation to remove an ingrowing toenail - nice.) But why JJ over Jason Euell? And why stick to 4-5-1 for much of the second half, even though we were 1-0 to the "big club" which can't even attract 20,000 fans to its stadium?

    It's been a mixed Christmas period - four points out of a possible 12. Perspective is everything, we're still eighth and will stay that way as Aston Villa muffed it up at Sellout, the useless sods. But the Premiership madness, that fear of dropping down the table, always encourages overreactions to defeats.

    As do useless feature articles on useless US websites - ESPN's dreadful Soccernet site came up with this crap after the Arsenal game.

    'I've had enough of Alan Curbishley,' began one supporter as the train rumbled towards Charlton station and he went on to explain to his pals why he felt as he did. 'If it carries on like this, then I'm not gonna bother renewing my season ticket. So we are seventh in the league - big deal. I'd rather be in the bottom six and seeing some excitement.' (more)

    Soccernet's underlying message? You support a Small Club, you should be grateful to smell Arsene Wenger's designer anorak. Small clubs, know your place. Nothing to do with the Premiership being overhyped and overrated. Nothing at all. Oh no. Not while lucrative Big Club coverage brings in lots of ad revenue to Soccernet. No, siree.

    Which brings me neatly to another bit of Premiership madness - the transfer window. Now it's open, who are we going to go for? Darren Bent's been the player we're most frequently linked with, although I can't seriously believe Ipswich will let him go while they're at/near the top of the Championship.

    But it's Crewe's Dean Ashton who's becoming the fans' favourite to come over - although would Crewe want to lose him now they're in with a sniff of the play-offs? Mind you, what would Dario Gradi do with the cash? It's an intriguing possibility.

    But it's still Michael Dawson at Forest who's looking good. Forest are heading nowhere fast - and they need the money. It'll be an interesting month.

    Sunday, January 02, 2005

    Vote! Vote! Vote!

    While I normally disapprove of vanity contests, I'm happy to throw all my principles out of the window if it means me getting a bit of glory. Follow the link on the left to vote for All Quiet In The East Stand in the Best of Blog Awards. You can vote once each day, so long as you supply a valid e-mail address. Go on, you know you want to. It might be the only prize Charlton win all year...

    Saturday, January 01, 2005

    Charlton 1-3 Arsenal

    Proper match reports:,, Sporting Life, Sky Sports,

    High hopes ended with a disappointing defeat in a disappointing game. Many will feel we were hard done-by - Curbs thinks Freddie Ljungberg's second goal was offside. But the truth is that if we'd taken our chances in the first half, it could well have been a very different second half.

    Both sides looked exhausted, and Arsenal started off the rustier, with Charlton launching waves of attacks on jumpy keeper Manuel Almunia. As the rain poured down under growling, grey skies, Charlton looked the better team and when Patrick Viera set Ljungberg up for their first goal, it looked desperately unjust. But if Shaun Bartlett (again), Dennis Rommedahl and Jon Fortune had taken their chances, and we were less shy when the ball was in the box, then it would have been less of a worry. While we never allowed Arsenal to settle - although Justin Hoyte and Jerome Thomas appeared to cancel each other out - we didn't really take advantage.

    Talal El Karkouri's thumping free kick levelled matters, knocked my New Year cobwebs out of my head and sent The Valley into raptures. But you knew Wenger would send them out with a flea in their ear, and as sure as the sun rises, Arsenal returned for the second half on a mission, duly accomplished when Ljungberg got his second, leaving our defence as dazed and confused as I was when I woke up at lunchtime.

    Van Persie's third goal sealed matters, and the game then turned into 20 minutes of forgettable mush - Arsenal were in control just as we were in the first half. Disappointing, but we failed to take our chances and we failed to cope with the quick wits of Ljungberg and Van Persie. How we could do with players as sharp as those two...

    Spare a thought, mind, for the young nephew of a friend of mine - a Charlton fan from Ireland who'd come over for his first-ever game. The smile on his face after El Karkouri's goal was life-affirming. After all, our goal was the best, wasn't it?