Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bothroyd's deadline night fever

Just as this blogger's thoughts were turning to bedtime, it now turns out we've signed striker Jay Bothroyd from Perugia, who'd been more closely linked with Southampton over recent weeks. Like Jeffers, he's had a bit of a chequered career - being part of Coventry's relegated squad in 2001, and frankly doesn't seem to have set the world alight since then.

But then, Curbs likes his English players with a point to prove - can Jay succeed where Jeffers failed? A curious signing - I just hope it wasn't one made in a panic. Right, quarter-past-11, it's safe to go to bed now, isn't it?

'Every single landlord in the district cried'

Francis Jeffers has moved to Rangers on a four-month loan deal. A step down for a busted flush to an inferior league or a chance to sample the Champions League as part of redemption with one of football's giants? I imagine there'll be some, frankly, diverging views on Franny's move among Charlton fans... it's an intriguing move, and good luck to him - it could be what he needs. If he slacks like he did with us, the Rangers faithful will be sure to let him know about it. If he's really stupid, they'll be letting him know in Glasgow's less salubrious nightspots.

Oh, and we'll know all about it because he'll be back to give us a massive New Year hangover. Damn.

Mind you, it's funny to think that under a year ago, I stood in Floyd's after a reserve game, idly watching an Arsenal Champions League game when I realised the bloke standing behind me was one Franny Jeffers. What was going through his mind? What chances he'd blown? I doubt he thought he'd be playing in the Champions League a year later - especially after the season he had with us. This has got to be his one last chance to prove himself, hasn't it?

He told Sky Sports News the deal had been arranged in the past two days: "It's a big day for me, biggest day in my career, I just can't wait to get going."

Asked how Rangers compared with Arsenal, Charlton and Everton, he said: "They're right up there with them - the biggest. If the club was in the Premier League it'd be bigger than it is up here, the top of the tree. If this club wasn't in the Champions' League, I'd still come here."

So it wasn't such a quiet transfer deadline day at The Valley after all - especially with the signing of 17-year-old attacking midfielder Rurik Gislason from HK Kopavagur. Not wishing to splash derision all over our parade - he's an exciting prospect after all - but I wonder how many Valley Gold subscribers are feeling a bit dubious about their cash going to fund foreign talent rather than home-grown kids.

I can't let today go without referring to Michael Owen's appearance in a Newcastle kit today - if Jeffers had a touch of luck today, Graeme Souness had a tanker-load - his future's as much at stake as the Persil-selling striker's. From having the fans boo you a few days back to having 20,000 of them roll up at the ground on a work day to bellow your name? Utterly bizarre. And until yesterday, it all looked like a ploy so the man could keep his job. It shows why football remains a beguiling sport, though. (And for more from a Magpie perspective, hop over to Black & White & Read All Over.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Happy days

Well, I'm still not jealous of those who went up to Middlesbrough. Not jealous at all. Honest! No, no, really... yup, I took the easy option. Pub, telly, football, cricket, pints. And some more pints.

Actually, it's the first time I've seen us win on TV for a couple of years, and we looked fantastic on the box; oozing attitude and composure. If there's a worry, it's that our crosses can still go a bit awry, but then the ones that have hit the mark have more than made up for them. I also thought Jerome Thomas maybe needs to pass the ball about a bit more - but with Darren Bent scoring for fun, and Chris Perry looking utterly bemused by his own goal, who can blame him for having a go. It's all about the attitude, and that's totally changed over the summer.

While Curbs sung Danny Murphy's praises after the game - after all, he, Smertin and Kishishev provide the engine-room for the side - the talk of the pub was the emergence of Dennis Rommedahl. He's done well for us since the season started, getting better and better every game, his confidence growing along with his reputation. I'm told the talk of the Riverside was the opposite - he still has to improve his crosses, after all - but he's a world away from the hesitant player of 12 months ago.

And afterwards - Bent and Luke Young in the England squad. It shows how far we've come that Danny Murphy's omission is a source of annoyance. Let's hope the international break doesn't stop our momentum - it's Birmingham away on 10 September, win that, and we might just be able to look Chelsea in the eye the week after!


Mrs Danny Murphy, Joanna Taylor, in today's Times.

"It was when I did a photoshoot for the magazine Maxim. When you work for them you know you need to raunch yourself up a bit and play a part, so as a joke I bought a diamond-encrusted whip from Agent Provocateur. Would I use it? Hell, no. Then the bloke asked me if I’d ever had sex outside. I said I had, but it was only once, in my enclosed garden, surrounded by locked gates and a big wall, with my future husband, at midnight when I let the dogs out. They made out I was the kinkiest person in the world. My grandma was up in arms and one of her friends said she shouldn’t go to my wedding. To be honest I’m very straight-laced and my dog ate the whip, but it shows how things can be taken out of context." (more)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Monkey-hangers in the Cup

It's Hartlepool at home in the League Cup for us - could have been worse, could have been Hartlepool away, I suppose. What do I know about Hartlepool? Not much, League One play-off contenders last season, slow start this season, monkey for a mayor, Jeff Stelling supports them. And used to be called Hartlepools. Why was that? The tie will be on September 20th, or thereabouts.

With the transfer window about to close, it's been a quiet week around Charlton, and those rumoured targets seem to be slipping away - with Curbs admitting as much on Clinton O'Morrison off to Palarse, Dean Ashton staying at Norwich, although events at Newcastle could still shuffle a notorious midfielder our way. But do we really need Lee Bowyer?

In the out door, The Sun claims Francis Jeffers is a Birmingham target, but would we really let anybody go if we can't bring anyone in? Can't see it. Our new squad isn't quite the finished product - I bet I'm not the only one who has nightmares about injuries to Darren Bent - but there's a confidence about the place that will hopefully bring us a result up at Middlesbrough tomorrow.

I shan't be there, I intend to enjoy the game in a local hostelry with a Guinness or two. Middlesbrough are a damned good side on their day, although recent games with them haven't exactly been thrillers. But arguably it's our first real test of the season - if we're going to make a mark, this is the kind of team we should be turning over. But you didn't need me to tell you that. Whether you're making the trek or watching it on the box, let's hope we can do it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What a load of Kuyts

So hold on, Everton, Liverpool and Spurs are after or have been after Feyenoord's Dirk Kuyt? That's the same one who was utter crap in our game against the Dutch side earlier this month? Fools and their cash really are easily parted.

Meanwhile, I've just had the pleasure of seeing Charlton's women's team wend its way Charlton Church Lane in an open-top bus, with a Tinpot Radio Thamesmead 4x4 in hot pursuit, with a rather exciteable family bringing up the rear. I would have given them a wave... but nobody quite seemed to notice them, rather sadly. Ho-hum.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The further thoughts of Simon Jordan

"In retrospect, of course I regret calling them morons. Imbeciles would have been more appropriate. Quite apart from the fact that we gave Charlton a home in the 1980s when they were bust, I was objecting to the way they - and their chairman - celebrated the draw as if they'd won the Champions League. Rivalry is great, it's healthy, but this went beyond all that - they were like walking tabloids: lapping up misery and knocking people down. They lost their tiny minds, and they want me to apologise to them?" (more)

Who asked for an apology from him? The FA, I understand, said his last comments were "disappointing". I suppose he'll keep on going until he gets that disrepute charge, just so he can stand behind Wenger and Mourinho when they're in the dock for their usual handbags, and bask in the reflected glory. Silly little man.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Charlton 1-0 Wigan

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Manchester Evening News.

Yes, it should have been 3-0, or 4-0. Yes, Wigan are rubbish. And I know bloody Spurs are now top of the premature Premiership. But it was as comprehensive a 1-0 win will ever get, with echoes of both our performance on Wearside and the Latics' game against Chelsea on Sunday.

The stand-out players were, just as they were at Sunderland, Darren Bent, Danny Murphy and Alexei Smertin. Bent had a fine game, but possibly a frustrating time of it as he nodded our winner home at the end of the first half, but was unable to capitalise on plenty of other chances. But his pace and guile still managed to petrify the Premiership new boys. Danny Murphy set up the winner and controlled the midfield with a rod of iron, with Alexei Smertin's near-flawless passing providing the oil for the Murphy midfield engine. Indeed, while Radostin Kishishev was a delight and a disaster in turn, we had enough there to mop up Kish's mistakes and still not break any sweat.

Add the wingers to the winning mix - Jerome Thomas had a fine game, while Dennis Rommedahl - in part because Wigan gave him the space and time to go it, admittedly - also had an excellent game. While Chris Powell continued his rebirth at the back with astute passing and fine running, almost snatching a goal himself from long range in the first half.

Wigan weren't the worst team we've played in the Premiership, but have absolutely nothing going up front - they looked as witless up front as they did against Chelsea. So they pack men behind the ball - a whole depot of buses in front of their goal, and are difficult to break down.

As for us, possibly the most dismal set of substitutions seen for some years (Rommedahl, Thomas and Murphy replaced by JJ, Bartlett and Hughes) towards the end of the game showed our new team is still a work in progress. But the job was done today, and we've two wins out of two for the first time since A Long Time Ago. Things are looking good.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dan the, erm, man

Look, I know we need a big crowd for the women's team's open-top bus parade next week, but is this really necessary?

Still, it's good to see the secret of their success, and maybe they will send us Eniola Aluko to replace Lisbie after all. Funny what you find on the club's site when you're bored and stuck at home...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dennis in the 60th minute

Old Sands' Book of Truths reads: "He who goes to the pub to watch an England friendly is a foolish man, who will be punished by having to watch a waste of time." And so it was. But who'd have thought it'd be Dennis Rommedahl who'd score the first and set up the second in Denmark's 4-1 demolition of England? Let's hope this undoubted boost to his confidence rubs off on his performances for Charlton.

All in all, it's got to be a good thing Darren Bent didn't get off the bench, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Fish really out of water

Sad news tonight that Mark Fish has retired after being unable to shake off a long-standing knee injury. Judging by the way he'd been playing in his last appearances for us, and with the benefit of hindsight, it was clear he was running out of time. "I can no longer play to the standards I have set myself and therefore I feel it is time to move on," he told the media. Until last season, he'd had a pretty solid few years with us, after joining us from Bolton in 2000. He, and his wife Loui, are A-list stars in their native South Africa, and it'll be interesting to see what they do next. Good luck to them, whatever they do.

Meanwhile, out with the old, and in with the new - Darren Ambrose scored for England U21s tonight, and Wednesday could bring Darren Bent's big chance. The times are changing at Charlton.

Monday, August 15, 2005

We are top of the league...

... say, we are top of the league!

On alphabetical order. Sorry, West Ham Lass. (Not work-friendly. Oh, and sorry to the Hammers mate of mine who ended up on a stag do at Fulham's 0-0 draw with Birmingham...)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bent for England

I've just pinched myself. And it's still true.

Charlton striker Darren Bent has been called up to the England squad to face Denmark on Wednesday in Copenhagen.

Bent replaces Crystal Palace's Andy Johnson, who has injured a hamstring.

One man's misfortune in the Championship is our Premiership delight. Well done, Darren.

(PS - Sven, make sure he doesn't get injured, okay?)

Sunderland 1-3 Charlton

Get in! The perfect cure for the sore heads in the All Quiet travelling party after a gratefully-accepted night out in Newcastle. What was most telling about this win at the Stadium of Light was the way it was conducted - the team-work, the defiance, never wanting to lay down and die; our spirit strangled Sunderland, and in retrospect, perhaps Darren Ambrose's (justified) sending-off was the worst thing that happened to our newly-promoted opponents. Knocked down to 10 men, we could have crumbled. We didn't. We found a determination that perhaps was missing when we threw our lead away in the first half, epitomised by Danny Murphy's stunning free kick for our second goal, and Darren Bent's fantastic last-minute shot.

It was my first time at the Stadium of Light, an awesome arena, even when it's only two-thirds full. But despite the home side's vocal backing, Darren Bent's opening goal looked set to be the first of many. We dominated possession, but their weak spot was the same as ours - we were both playing with poor defences. When new signing Andy Gray snatched an equaliser, it started to feel like the same old story all over again. Rommedahl was looking lost again, while Kishishev was off his usual pace. It was a day when the emotions were as volatile as the weather, with heavy rain falling in the first half.

But alongside Bent and Murphy, Alexei Smertin was tireless - clean passing, and always on patrol, intimidating opposing players. Ambrose also had a good game, but his sending-off was justified. Watching Danny Murphy's BBC interview, he spoke of the passion and desire in the team, words which haven't been used about Charlton for quite some time. Even while being booed by 30,000 Mackems, Ambrose turned to applaud the Charlton fans as he trudged off the pitch. Players willing to fight for the cause? Get used to it. A wonderful start to the season - let's keep this feeling going.

Mind you, spare a thought for those of us who, until the last minute, were in for a little windfall (Darren Bent first scorer/ 2-1 to Charlton; 50-1!) before Bent's second...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Ha'way the Addicks!

So, here we go - excited yet? Optimistic? I'm setting off bloody early for the north-east, doing the Alan Whicker jet-set thing via Newcastle to get to the first game of the 2005/2006 season at Sunderland. I know it's EasyJet, but should you see a dapper chap who's grown a 'tache and wearing a sharp blazer and Addicks tie, that'll be me, travelling in style as always.

But will our squad be in such fine form? Every season is an important one in the Premier League, but this is perhaps our most important since we went back up - the chance for the team, and more importantly, Alan Curbishley, to prove we don't go down with the Christmas lights ((c) All newspapers.) Another end-of-season like last year, and who could blame our manager for deciding he'd gone as far as he could? Few tip us for relegation, but if we muck about this season like we did at the end of the last season, then we'd start looking like a doomed club, because most Premier League declines seem to take a couple of seasons to kick in (witness Southampton and Leeds, and possibly Fulham?)

In Darren Bent, we've a striker who can inspire us like nobody has done since the days of Hunt and Mendonca - counting, of course, Di Canio as a brief, dreamlike apparition. And in Darren Ambrose, we've someone who's on Bent's wavelength. Our loan rangers Smertin and Spector look exciting, while Chris Powell looks a better player for his time away.

As for the current lot? Danny Murphy's got a lot to prove, and must keep his head up. The same with Dennis Rommedahl. Despite Luke Young's sterling efforts, our defence looked in disarray at times in our pre-season friendlies - that's my worry for this season. Oh, and our crop of crap strikers - although surely this is the time for Franny Jeffers to prove he's worth what we paid for him last summer, isn't it? Rumours keep linking Matt Holland with West Ham and Middlesbrough, but he has looked better in our early games.

And then there's the fans. Moaning about Charlton isn't a new thing, of course - and that self-deprecation has always kept our expectations in check. But we need to get behind the team, and show the world we're not the bunch of ungrateful whingers we've appeared to be at times. It's a new season, a fresh start - even Bryan Hughes could be a winner for us this time around. If we have a disastrous result like the one at Bolton 12 months ago, I dread to think what the reaction will be like. Sunderland's pre-season form suggests this will be unlikely, but let's not take this one for granted.

So, best suits on, seat-belts on, and welcome aboard this new Premier League season. Let's hope the temperature's fine at the other end.

Curbs on the brink (of laughter)

Silly-season piffle in The Sun.

CHARLTON boss Alan Curbishley can expect the sack if he fails to win his first match of the season, according to research at Cambridge University.

Dr Chris Hope has created a scientific model to determine how close a Premiership manager is to losing his job.

His research shows that Curbishley has only one 'life' left because of Charlton’s dismal finish to last season, with just one win in their last 14 games.

The scientific model's actually three years old, as Dr Hope's homepage helpfully points out. You can read his report here. I suppose all its re-emergence really proves is what a well-run and stable club we are (blah blah). Oh, and you can't get a plausible news story from recycling the same "report" every season either.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Fish out of water

From Tuesday's QPR v Ipswich match report...

Out-of-favour Charlton defender Mark Fish made the first appearance of a month-long loan spell at Ipswich - but his lack of match sharpness was evident as QPR captain Kevin Gallen continually got the better of him.

It was no surprise, indeed, to see Fish taken off at half-time and replaced by Matt Richards.

Considering all Ipswich have given us over the past couple of years, don't you agree it's a bit rude to give them sweaty old Fish in return?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Frankie's sense and Myhre

Yeah, I know, last with the news and all that.

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley has swooped to end his goalkeeping crisis by signing Norwegian international stopper Thomas Myhre. (more)

Goalkeeping "crisis"? Because we've got Deano out? If that's a "crisis" in the Charlton press office, then losing Deano and Stephan would presumably be a CATASTROPHE in huge, 24-point bold serif font. But, on the bright side, a quick rifle through Merv's Goalkeepers' Directory means we may well now have the best goalkeeping squad in the country for this season - Myhre's been around for a bit, knows his onions, and suddenly we have an embarrassment of goalkeeping riches again. In Deano, Stephan and Myhre, there's some standards for the kids to live up to, although it's a shame Randolph and Elliot will be pushed out of the spotlight once again. Still, such is life.

I could have gone to Gravesend to see Lisbie and Bartlett find their levels at Stonebridge Road - it does seem a bit tight to only send a reserve squad to the Fleet when their ground's 100 years old, but what do I know - but didn't bother. But Frankie Valley suggests The Chosen One should take Kevin Lisbie to Chelsea, because if he's so determined to turn Carlton Cole into a decent footballer... still, at least we won 2-1, our front two's Premiership class clearly illuminating the north Kent night.

And in case you're thinking of bribing me with a birthday present (can just about manage jelly and ice-cream at my age, thanks), don't, for heaven's sake, get it at Allsports - this weekend's Sunday Times says our esteemed sponsor is on the brink:

ONE of Britain’s leading sports-goods retailers, Allsports, has been forced to negotiate new agreements with its lenders after a collapse in trading left it close to breaching banking covenants.

It is thought to have sounded out a number of potential buyers... [but] sources familiar with Allsports’ predicament said would-be buyers had baulked at the £50m asking price, after like-for-like sales at the chain, which operates about 240 stores across the country, slumped by as much as 35% earlier this year.

Ouch. You only have to walk into their shop at Lewisham to see it's not a healthy chain. As I understand it, should Allsports go under, we still have to carry their branding on our shirts, under the common-sense rules the Premier League loves to enforce. They did also sponsor either Hibs or Hearts until last season and still back St Helen's rugby league club.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Charlton 1-3 AEK Athens

What have we learned today?

1) AEK Athens are a bunch of cheating little shits.

2) Without Darren Bent and Alexei Smertin, we're a useless team.

3) Francis Jeffers should never be entrusted with a penalty again.

4) Jonatan Johanssen should never be in a Charlton team again.

And that is all

5) Sorondo - not much cop.

6) Danny Murphy should be taking our penalties in future.

Any more?

Mobile phone salesman gets upset

All is peaceful in Charlton this morning; the neighbourhood babies are gurgling, the people are out shopping, and somewhere, a blogger is blogging. Later, at its Premier League football stadium there will be a friendly game of football against AEK Athens. It's a civilised scene in SE7 to be proud of.

Quite a few miles away, in South Norwood, the vibes are less mellow. Their lower-league football team is preparing to play Luton in the Coca-Cola League. And inside their chairman's heart, the hot needles of pain are still burning into him.

"There were some incidents with the Charlton guys which I'm not going to go into, but they were very rude and quite happy we were relegated.

And the Charlton fans were morons. Their time will come, as it will for their directors for the comments they made. They enjoyed our demise, but what goes around, comes around.

I'm steely now, I want to beat the system, prove people wrong. I've no one in mind really but I like to feel that I'm fighting the establishment. People like me never reform, we just run out of wind. I will never be happy."

Aaaah, poor ickle Simon Jordan! Was the Crystal Palace chairman bullied by our own directors at The Valley? Poor ickle boy, can't take honest opinions said man-to-man? With a mouth like that, though, and bearing in mind the FA's willingness to step in when top three tarts Mourinho, Ferguson and Wenger start moaning, calling another team's fans "morons" is surely a disrepute charge waiting to happen. Silly boy, Simon. Still, his fellow Football League chairmen will be saddened to hear he hasn't run out of wind just yet.

It's a shame, because I thought he was a bright boy, getting Andy Johnson to re-sign so he can be flogged for £10m in January. Never mind. Rip 'em to shreds, Luton, and as for Little Simon, enjoy the Championship, you tosser.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Charlton 2-0 Feyenoord

Proper reports:, (in Dutch), BBC Sport..

Charlton easily beat Feyenoord tonight in a suprisingly one-sided encounter at The Valley. Darren Bent was responsible for both second-half goals, firstly converting a perfect cross from Dennis Rommedahl which went in via the post and keeper Patrick Lodewijks' arse. The second, two minutes later, was a perfect header thanks to... another Rommedahl cross. Hopefully Dennis will, like a sniffer dog gets a bit of cocaine early in his day, be back on form after getting a whiff of his old rivals from his PSV days.

The game's yet more proof that Bent could well be the striker we've been praying would come to The Valley for years. I wonder what the odds are on him getting 15 or more goals? Although we had a quiet first half, he can be devastatingly effective at the head of a 4-5-1-style formation - as he was tonight - which could be bad news for the supposed purists who moan about this formation, and Francis Jeffers, who came on late in the game and didn't do very much at all. Is it boring? Not when you're winning, it's not. As an alternative option, could a returning Kevin Lisbie, another man with pace and (occasional) guile, be one to partner Bent? Discuss.

Alexei Smertin had a tireless game - quiet, competent, and rewarded with an Upper North trying out several new songs for him. Chris Powell seems to be a better player for his stint at Alan Pardew's Promotion Camp, and also got a rapturous reception. In fact, I don't think we had any poor players at all tonight - even Bryan Hughes' disco boots had a bit of sparkle about them. And when that happens, you've nothing to complain about.

If we keep this up against Athens, there's going to be some very frustrated moaners around Charlton this season. May I suggest they follow $cott Parker to Newcastle? Don't laugh too loudly now.

(By the way, was that a full-strength Feyenoord team out there, or were they just not really trying? If any Dutch football aficiandos - particularly the Rose of Denmark's Roda contingent - can fill me in, I'd be grateful...)

All white away from the East Stand

Bloody hell! It's a Charlton kit everybody seems to like! Joma have done us proud with the white away kit - on sale from Saturday, credit-card bashers - and it's sure to go down a storm, even though it'll only practically last a year, with the All:Sports contract ending next summer. Not sure how Joma will feel about it being paired with Danny Murphy's Nike boots and a spare Premiership ball (Nike), but that's business for you. Dean Kiely picked the keepers' home racing green kit, while the yellow-and-blue away kit appears to have been modelled on a toddler's romper suit. Well, you can't have everything, can you? Let's just hope the neck's big enough to stick an adult's head through this time.

In other news, Jason Euell did his shoulder in as a Charlton Reserves & Yesterday's Men XI lost at Dover last night, which could mean he'll be hanging around moaning for some time to come. Meanwhile, several Charlton fans are recovering from the shock of discovering Shaun Bartlett and Kevin Lisbie are still on the books, and turned out by the coast last night.

There's already a few Dutch fans hanging around Charlton now, taking in the sights ("Another kebab house!") and enjoying the SE7 summer sunshine. Feyenoord tonight - let's hope it's a decent turnout.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


So, the moment's arrived. Cometh the hour, cometh the keeper. With Dean Kiely out for up to six weeks thanks to a finger fracture, it's time for Stephan Andersen to enter the spotlight. Andersen's abilities are, to my mind, indisputable - he proved as much during his outings for us last season.

And Deano knew he had competition - after all, he'd shown shocking signs of being able to kick straight in the pre-season friendlies. You could imagine Curbs planning to play one keeper tomorrow night against Feyenoord, the other against AEK Athens on Saturday. The big question being asked at All Quiet Mansions tonight is: Will we see Kiely in the first team again? The only answer that we know of for sure is that the Irishman will work as hard as he bloody can to ensure that we do. But as for now, it's down to you, Stephan.

Of course, to lose one goalkeeper is a problem, but two? Should the unthinkable happen - and with our luck, you never know - we'd be down to either Rob Elliot or Darren Randolph, after Simon Royce went to QPR and Paul Rachubka went to Huddersfield last season. And a loan deal would cause a problem, since we've already borrowed Smertin and Spector from other clubs. If you're an experienced keeper with a bit of time to kill between now and October, why not pop down to Sparrows Lane? I'm sure you'll get a warm welcome. Or we'll be seeing Merv put his gloves on again...