Saturday, November 26, 2005

Aston Villa 1-0 Charlton

Certainly the worst Charlton performance since the 4-0 Manchester United drubbing last season, and definitely a let-down against a poor Villa side.

There's an opinion piece in today's Guardian about the Manchester United affair called "Time for a serious rethink at Charlton's Valley of confusion". It could well serve as a headline for today's game.

So much went wrong, it's hard to actually put a finger on where the rot began to set in. Exchanging an out-of-form Danny Murphy for a hungrier Matt Holland made sense on paper - it didn't on the pitch as the midfield simply vanished. When Murphy finally did come on in the second half, he had easily his worst performance in a Charlton shirt.

Bringing on Kevin Lisbie in the second half could have been a masterstroke - but Lisbie didn't seem up for it. Funny, that. Talal El Karkouri nearly cost us a penalty, while Stephan Andersen had another mare in goal. In fact, it's hard to think of a Charlton player who even performed satisfactorily. With a disappointing away contingent in subdued mood, it was a game to forget.

How we get ourselves out of our current mess, especially with the masochists' special in the League Cup against Blackburn coming up, is trickier matter, though.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I was told a story last night about a holiday in the Mediterranean in the 1980s. The story-teller was away with some mates, and delighted to find George Best in a bar with a stunning-looking woman. Everyone in the bar queued up to buy Best a drink. "I've just bought George Best a drink!," they boasted. The next day, Best was back. Different woman, same bar. And everyone bought him a drink once again. And he was back the following day as well - with yet another woman. More drinks.

I suppose there's a lot of people who did the same to him in boozers when he was clearly ill over the past few years who'll be pleased with themselves today. I've been reading memories of Best's appearance in a Charlton shirt, at Les Berry's 1983 testimonial. I doubt it was ever filmed, but I'd love to see photos of it.

Whatever your views on his life, whether you remember him as a great footballer, a tabloid alcoholic, or just the softly-spoken bloke on Sky Soccer Saturday, at least his demons are finally behind him now. Rest in peace, George.

Here's a video tribute that's been doing the rounds of Manchester United fans. A minute's silence will be held at all Premiership matches this weekend.

Monday, November 21, 2005

United they fall (on a steward)

The behaviour of Manchester United's fans was alreaady a talking point before the news that one of their number had been charged with sexually assaulting a female member of Charlton's staff. A man in his 20s was held by police over the weekend and charged, one of six United fans arrested on Saturday.

Clearly, with charges having been brought, the specific nature of that incident is out of bounds for discussion. But the news throws a harsher spotlight on the behaviour of United's fans in general, especially as a steward was injured in the melee following Ruud van Nistelrooy's first goal.

United's travelling fans have caused grief at Charlton for a long while. They haven't had a full allocation for a couple of years because of their persistent standing, which only sets back the cause to bring back terracing. But this is United fans, who act as if they can do as they bloody well like. Invade the pitch? Wear our away kits in home areas? Hit a steward? It's okay, they're United fans.

Arsenal and Chelsea fans have their disappointing years still fresh enough in their minds to remind them to show some manners, while Liverpool and Newcastle fans know they couldn't pull it off. But United? The more humble fans went off to FC United - we're left with the lot in the Jimmy Seed on Saturday, the intellectual ones still pretending they're following some socialist dream at MU Glazermugs, while the thick ones just have all the delusions of Millwall fans. Except that some of the Spanners' whines are justified sometimes - a Millwall player would never get away with what Ruud did on Saturday. United get away with it all the time, and I'm sure sour-faced United apologist-in-chief Bobby Charlton will be along to stick up for them soon.

Of course, there are sensible Manchester United fans, like the ones who helped police with the incident involving the female member of staff. But they seem unable to get their own house in order. For a "reduced allocation" in the Jimmy Seed, it looked pretty full - there are rumours of ticket forgeries going around.

In the meantime, Peter Varney wants to ban United fans altogether. It's a matter for the Premier League, but I fear this will be counter-productive. The smirking little bastard in his away top in the East Stand convinced me of this. United fans think they can get away with anything, and our fanbase is too soft to prevent idiots selling on their season tickets to them or bringing along their mates.

Apparently United have a sharply reduced allocation at Arsenal and Middlesbrough, down to as low as 500. Perhaps that's the way to go, and fill the rest of the Jimmy Seed with schoolkids. But banning them altogether will increase the bizarre victim mentality United fans seem to possess - instead of encouraging them to get their own house in order first.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Charlton 1-3 Manchester United

Proper reports not written in a strop:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, Manchester Evening News,, Manchester Buccaneers ("Darren Ambrose, spending a year at the Valley to attempt to get over his addiction to bubblewrap").

It didn't really matter if we beat them 4-0, frankly, we were just the invisible support act today as United's smug, arrogant following were indulged once more, a Five Live reporter hovering around Floyd Road conducting vox-pops while Sky Sports News set up camp in Valley Grove. Yes, a spoilt hero of the Reds had departed - no, Best was still on his deathbed, but Roy Keane was walking his dog as a free agent. And if you're tuning into Sky Sports News waiting to hear how we got on - it's United all the way, although Curbs gets a look-in just after the half-hour.

I left The Valley feeling gloomier about our performance than most - although my mood wasn't really helped by having an MU Glazermugs fan in a United away top sat six seats away from me, none of the mutes around me doing anything to encourage him do depart. The stewards threw him and his mate out at half-time - to tuts from the family in front of me (with their own United guest) while someone behind me decided I wasn't a "sportsman" because I was grassing up an away fan - but it was clear plenty of arseholes had brought their glory-hunting chums with them and the atmosphere felt muted for most of the game.

So to be honest, I wasn't really in the mood, and the first half was a write-off. But I can tell you that Kish played his legs off, Danny Murphy had a poor game, and Darren Ambrose scored a wonderful equaliser from the edge of the area - that famed telepathy with Darren Bent coming up trumps. And for fifteen minutes or so, it looked like we could grab something out of it.

But the quality of United's passing as they moved up field was the key, the ball moving seamlessly between Smith, Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy and Rooney. They were wobbly up the back - Rio clearly more concerned about another drugs test than anything we did. But we couldn't take advantage of it.

We weren't exactly sure-footed in defence as well - Talal El Karkouri still can't seem to communicate with the rest of the players, while Dean Kiely's backers saw their cause advanced by another lacklustre performance from Stephan Andersen in goal.

But for all the warm praise from Alex Ferguson for us afterwards, it was a frustrating afternoon, and for most of the game, whatever we threw at United, they had an answer. Ruud Van Nistelrooy's first goal saw him throw himself at the United fans, who then ran onto the playing area, reminding me why, pre-Chelsea, they were the most despised club in the country. "He should be sent off for that," said the bloke next to me - an over-reaction, although I doubt players at some clubs would get away with it.

All in all, a frustrating afternoon. But Saturday saw sobering events elsewhere - no, not Keane's departure, nor the self-destruction of another United player, but a real tragedy at Shrewsbury. For us, at least, life goes on at Villa on Saturday.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Advice for away fans this weekend

You may be going about your lawful business on Saturday, when a gentleman, often in the company of freshly-scrubbed children, will enquire in perfect English where the "stadium" is.

Be warned. This is a Manchester United fan.

You may also be going about your business in the home areas of The Valley, relishing a comeback for Alexei Smertin (here's hoping) and hoping the Darrens can keep their Under 21s form up, when you spot the same gentleman - with the same freshly-scrubbed kids - unsure who these strange-looking players in red are.

Be warned. This is a Manchester United fan.

He will not be violent, but you may wish to pass on some cut-out-and-keep cards All Quiet In The East Stand has prepared, to assist our confused friends in where the football grounds most convenient to their homes are, in order to reduce wear and tear on those pristine 4x4s.

Here they are. Please explain that this is "local football", and these teams may occasionally lose a match, but their lives will not be dimmed by this, and their children will grow up stronger for experiencing it.

Finally, you may wish to suggest FC United of Manchester, although you may need to explain that Manchester is a large English city a few hours' drive away, and while the locals are good and decent people, the accent is a little different.

Failing that, you can rest assured that they may not be back next year. After all, Chelsea are doing rather well, aren't they?

Murray and Murphy speak out

Get yourself here and take a listen to the second link down - it's Richard Murray on Five Live tonight, chewing the fat about the Premiership and our financial results, and giving our Scottish friends a gentle brush-off about our manager. Nothing brand new for those who've heard Murray speak, but in all honesty I can't think of a single Premiership chairman who speaks more sense than he does, as opposed to the usual bullshit from other club figureheads. (Oh, here is on BBC London as well.)

You'll also hear Danny Murphy play down his chances of playing for England ever again - every time he's asked about this, he takes the risk of sounding like he's about to throw a wobbly. It's clear he knows this. The last time I heard him talk about this, he spent as much time bemoaning Darren Bent being stuck on Sven's bench as he did grumbling about his chances. I do get the feeling, though, that he's probably right in thinking he's now missed out. Today, he was careful to praise England's current midfield and joke he's just waiting for an injury. As we now know, he's an articulate and smart guy, so perhaps his biggest decision of the summer will be which punditry job to take - BBC or ITV?

Speaking of the telly, it'll be interesting to see what pans out from the Premiership TV rights deal struck in Brussels - six packages of games, no-one can have more than five - hopefully the non-Sky slack will be taken up by BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or Five, and not disappear down some costly cable plughole. As for the current TV deal, our games away at Chelsea, Spurs and Man City have all been snapped up by Sky - thankfully, they'll be on Sundays rather than stupid Saturday timings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dreaming of the summer...

They'll be cracking open the export Guinness tonight to mark Trinidad & Tobago's qualification for the World Cup - I remember going to a game the Soca warriors played against our reserves a couple of years back and they were dreadful! Mind you, Dwight Yorke turned up this time. Get that bashment turned up, it's going to be a Caribbean summer.

Also turning up on the racks of a Sports World near you soon - Australian tops. They'll stun a few people. And they didn't even have to rely on Terry Venables. Meanwhile, I got tear-gassed in Paris two years ago when Turkish fans started lobbing bottles at Brazillians at a big-screen showing of their semi-final in 2002, so I'm pleased they're out.

But get a load of the qualifying teams for Germany 2005: Germany, Argentina, Japan, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Angola, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Holland, Poland, England, Croatia, Italy, Tunisia, Portugal, Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica, France, Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland.

Not a purists' choice, of course. But if you'd have said earlier this year that the only country at the World Cup with a Charlton representative would be England, you'd have been laughed out of town. But that's what - fingers crossed for Luke Young - could well happen. Very strange.

Now, what's my chances of getting over to Germany to see an obscure game? Togo v Ivory Coast, anybody? If Iran v USA gets pulled out of the hat, though...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

England U21s over and out

Bad luck for Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose in the second leg of the England U21s game against France - losing 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate after Keiran Richardson gave away a late penalty. Only saw the second half, but it struck me again how good together Bent and Carlton Cole are up front. Possibly one to chew on for lovers of "what if...?" questions. Once again, I wasn't quite sure of the worth of Richardson to that team, but if you want wingers - France's goal-scoring number 10, Franck Ribery is outstanding. I'm sure Arsenal have got tabs on the Marseilles player anyway, but he's definitely one for the future.

Battered Fish

Thankfully, not as bad as that, but still pretty grim.

SHAKEN Mark Fish told last night how he became the SECOND top footballer to be robbed after his home appeared on TV’s Footballers’ Cribs.

The ex-Charlton defender was tied up by four raiders who burst into the £1.5million mansion — after it was featured on the MTV show.

The gang stole gems worth £200,000 last Friday night.

That's what happens when you show off what you've got on telly, I suppose. Good to see he's okay, though.

You're taking the pish, David

From the Mirror:

EVERTON are facing a fight to keep manager David Moyes after it emerged last night that Rangers are on the brink of trying to lure him to Glasgow.

The Scottish giants have given Alan Curbishley 48 hours to decide if he wants to quit Charlton and become the next Ibrox boss in a deal worth about £2 million-a-year. He was also promised cash to spend on players.

Rangers chairman David Murray is poised to axe current manager Alex McLeish and would ideally like his replacement in place for the Old Firm clash with Celtic at the weekend.

Really, they're having a laugh, aren't they? Anyone who'd jack in the Premiership for either of those Old Firm clubs as a career progression would be insane. In which wibbly-wobbly world is David Murray living in? One where he and his rival club are giants, instead of indebted, small-minded pygmies, condemned to die in the league they've sewn up between them?

Before they start dancing on the Shankill Road (before another celebratory night of petrol bombs and torching the neighbours', all funded on the social), perhaps they should look at somebody more their level. Colin Lee, perhaps? He's had some time to get used to a club where fans are more concerned about the past and who you are than what you play like, and he might have some time on his hands soon...

(Further reading: Nil By Mouth - Scottish anti-sectarianism charity.)

Monday, November 14, 2005


Yesterday's Sunday Mirror ran a story claiming we're ready to black out our sponsors' name from our shirts when Man City visit The Valley on TV next month, together with an amusing picture of Darren Bent and Alexei Smertin wearing gaffa-taped shirts. All:sports, which went into administration in September, was bought by rival JD Sports last month. Charlton are still owed £1m on the contract - JD Sports don't seem keen on paying up.

JD Sports plans to keep All:sports as a separate brand, although several of its stores have closed, including the one in Lewisham, the closest shop to The Valley. Blacking out a sponsor's name would be an extreme move, not seen since the early days of sponsorship when TV companies baulked at seeing Fads all over our shirts. Indeed, I'm sure Coventry once played a game with Talbot taped up, while Charlton lost 3-2 to Sheffield United in 1981 while wearing Wednesday kits because ITV, who covered the game at late notice, couldn't show our sponsored kit. I doubt we'll be sending a kitman down to get some Millwall kits for us to wear on 4 December, but Charlton's situation isn't comfortable.

As the situation stands, despite my earlier thoughts about Premier League rules, Charlton would be within their rights to to rip up the Allsports contract and start a new one straight away. But that wouldn't get us the £1m we're owed back (JD Sports could claim we've left them in the lurch) and it wouldn't please fans who've bought 2005/6 replica kit. We've all heard the rumours over the past couple of summers linking us with various companies - a new sponsor wouldn't be hard to find.

Or Charlton could just try to get their money out of JD Sports - if they're still going to operate All:sports as a brand, then they shouldn't be getting free advertising.

But whatever happens, we're still £1m down, and that's £1m we'll need when the transfer windows open. I'd suggest fans start covering over those replica shirts anyway - how about selling the gaffa tape in the club shop? I'd do it...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

England U21s 1-1 France U21s

At a tenner, it was too good a bargain to turn down, but as the rain poured down on a lacklustre first half at White Hart Lane - surrounded by armchair fans, Spurs' saddest and the kind of tossers who boo the opposition's national anthem, it was looking an unpromising evening over in Tottenham.

A daft 7.30pm kick-off - and no booze at the bars - was clearly meant to encourage a family-friendly atmosphere, but this was feeling more like the Addams Family. And a 7.30pm kick-off in London? Fans were still streaming in after 8pm. They hadn't missed much.

France - featuring Arsenal's Gael Clichy and Sunderland's Anthony Le Tallec - had successfully closed down England, who didn't look like doing very much at all. All this way to see Bent and Ambrose... for this?

Darren Bent and Carlton Cole huffed and puffed, but didn't get anywhere near blowing the house down. Elsewhere, Kieran Richardson seemed to be wilting under the weight of his Lionel Ritchie hairdo, while the local fans' favourite Michael Dawson didn't impress at all.

It was Le Tallec who lit up the game with his goal for France two minutes after half-time, and the game went up a notch, before France started to sit back on their lead. But two minutes before the end, a bit of Darren Ambrose magic - Peter Whittingham ballsed-up a shot and it went across the goalmouth, and Ambrose got in there and scored. The final, frantic, four minutes saw more action than the preceding 88, but England held on for the draw. Job done, and my bet on Ambrose scoring the final goal (9/1) covered my ticket price. Long may bookmakers under-estimate Charlton players.

Trudging back to the station, we were stuck behind some mouthy Spurs fans, bellowing "Yid Army!" all the way back to Northumberland Park. Until one of their number asked: "Who scored for England?"

Then they all went quiet.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Royal Oak for sale

One of the two top Charlton fans' boozers, The Royal Oak, is on the market. Potential buyers will need at least £75,000 to take on a 24-year lease on a place which makes some £15,000 each year, much of it from Charlton fans on matchdays as it's a very quiet pub during the week. Full details can be found at the agent Young & Smith's website.

Plenty of chat on Netaddicks about this - with the smart observation that it would make an ideal base for the supporters' club, a genuine Charlton pub that isn't that craphole called Floyds, and the chance that some money could be made on the whole venture. It's also got genuine links to the club, having been its base when we played opposite at Pound Park.

As boozers go, it's one of Charlton's better pubs, well-looked after and a cosy little den during the week. It's hemmed in by houses so expansion is difficult, but it's light years ahead of most other SE7 pubs.

Of course, the supporters' club is in a right old mess and couldn't do anything about it, but it'd surely represent an opportunity for some fans with a bit of cash and imagination?

Incidentally, I believe I'm right in saying that Aston Villa own a number of the pubs close to Villa Park - now that's how the Doug Ellis stand was funded...

More Teamtalk twaddle

The worst thing about international breaks is that they give blogs like this absolutely nothing to talk about, other than parroting what everybody else is saying. Obviously, I'll be keeping an eye out for Luke Young in the England team on Saturday. And while I'm at it, congratulations to Paul Konchesky for finally getting back in the squad - he's had a stunning season with West Ham so far, and proved his point about playing at left-back. I hope Curbs is big enough to acknowledge this - in fact, I've no doubt that he will.

The second worst thing is that, in the absence of any transfer deals, inferior newspapers and websites start to punt around the most desperate flyers. Curbs to Rangers? Two words - "Sunday People" - should put paid to that kind of crap. Continued respect in the English Premiership, or appeasing idiots in a tinpot league dominated by bigots? Do me a favour.

And then from laughable Teamtalk -

"Reserve goalkeeper Thomas Myhre has indicated he could leave The Valley in the transfer window due to a lack of first-team chances.

He told Norwegian newspaper VG: "If the change comes now and[Kiely] gets the chance I am finished. He [Andersen] was there a couple of years before me, for that reason I can understand Alan Curbishley's choice.

"Although, it was not what he told me in advance and of course I personally feel I should stand." (more)

Anyone really think that's true? Really? Veteran reserve keeper signed in a rush because of injury threatens to walk out after four months? Don't be daft. And nothing in those quotes stands up "indicating he could leave The Valley in the transfer window" at all. It's bollocks, basically.

Meanwhile, the estimable Tony Hudd of the Kent Wotsitsthingy thinks a start for Dean Kiely is on the cards after Stephan Andersen's nightmare between the sticks at Blackburn. We'll see.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Found out

Well, from what I saw on Match of the Day through the bottom of a pint glass last night, it looked like a wretched afternoon at Ewood Park, and it didn't look like Stephan Andersen's finest hour, which will get the Kiely v Andersen debate heated up again. A shot of a gloomy-looking Sven-Goran Eriksson, peering through the rain as we lost 4-1 at Blackburn, seemed to sum it all up. To be fair, by all accounts Blackburn played damned well and that League Cup tie against them suddenly seems to be a bit more daunting.

I can't find the exact quote anywhere, but Craig Bellamy popped up on Sky after the game to tell the Premiership just how to beat us - make sure Danny Murphy's out of the game, cut off the supply of balls to Darren Bent, and you're laughing. Oh well, at least it's not a secret now.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Reach for the Sky (902)

No, I'm not going to Blackburn either - lack of travelling companions and stupid-costing rail fares saw to that. But I have a digital radio so I can listen to the game on BBC London's digital service. I could also listen to it online thanks to BBC London, but I shan't, because internet listening's a bit rubbish in my book.

(I could also watch it in a hooky boozer, or via various internet trickeries, but this website couldn't possibly endorse that.)

Some people say the BBC has too many football rights. I couldn't comment, but the fact that BBC London is transmitting Crystal Palace's home game on 94.9FM, we're stuck on digital, and West Ham have been plonked onto a BBC Essex medium wave frequency might say more than I could.

But BBC London now has a digital satellite TV frequency - channel 902. And we're on it. However, this only appears if you're a Sky subscriber in the London TV area. For everyone else (eg those who get South East Today or Meridian Tonight at teatime) here's how to get it....

If you want BBC London which is on 902 only in the London area you
must add it using services 4-4

Frequency is 10803
Polarisation is H
Symbol Rate is 22
FEC is 5/6

Store it.

It will then appear in Other Channels (Services 8) .

Hope this helps. After all that effort... fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Uefa Cup splashdown

Managed to catch a little bit of Bolton's Uefa Cup 1-0 win against FC Zenit St Petersburg tonight (blimmin' Kevin Nolan again), which saw torrential rain in the second half making the last 20 minutes or so into a water-sodden farce. Naturally, the ref was unwilling to call it off with 10 minutes to go because it'd have become an expensive waste of time for all involved. It was quite a laugh to watch at home on Five in the warm, although heaven knows what it was like in the Reebok.

The crowd? A staggering... 15,905. It was worse still over on ITV4, where Middlesbrough fans voted with their feet rather than see them wallop Dnipro 3-0, in front of 12,953 at an empty-looking Riverside Stadium.

So far, so good for our defiantly unfashionable Uefa representatives. But those crowds are shockers - and I'm sure the TV rights don't exactly go for top dollar. For all the hassle it causes... is the Uefa Cup actually worth it?