Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Murphy's gone

Please leave your tributes to the cry-baby here. Good thing the West Brom game wasn't much to write home about, was it?

(Full stories: tottenhamhotspur.com / cafc.co.uk.)

If being dropped from our team hurt so much, how will he get on when he has to sit on Spurs' extended bench? (Current Spurs midfield: Davids, Carrick, Jenas, Tanio, Reid (played against Fulham), Lennon. Plus new signing Ghaly. Oh, and Murphy!)

Of course, maybe he'll forget the things he said in August 2004 about wanting to play for an English manager, as he rolls up to play for the Premiership's most charismatic Dutchman.

"Contrary to reports, I had the choice to go to Spurs and play first-team football, but I came here because I thought that the club was on a level with, if not taking over Tottenham and with Alan in charge I think they can definitely keep progressing that way and become bigger than Tottenham." - Danny Murphy, August 2004.

"I'm absolutely made up [at signing for Spurs], thrilled to bits. I can't wait to get started - it's a difficult situation [at Charlton], I need to focus on what's ahead of me now. I've got a fantastic opportunity to play for a club that's moving in the right direction. European football looks very important and that's why Martin Jol brought me in, I've got experience of that." - Danny Murphy to Sky Sports News, 31 January 2006.

Funny that, because a Spurs fan who was at Craven Cottage tells me: "I heard about 10 people saying "I don't want that **** signing for us' tonight."

The club shouldn't be blamed for this - if a player throws a strop and is on high wages, isn't it better to let him go and get him off the wage bill? We aren't in a position to pay big money to reserve players, even if Spurs may be. I hope the full details of the "worth up to £2m" deal emerge as Wednesday goes on, though. Despite the load off our wage bill, I really hope we haven't been hoodwinked here.

As for Murphy, he may well be in for a shock at Spurs. I really hope he is. Let's be frank - they've got a good side this season, haven't they? What makes him think he'll walk into that team?

My only thought for him tonight? Go on, piss off. And for us? Best learn to love Holland and Hughes, eh?

Murphy-watch (and other transfer tales)

Regular updates all day on transfer matters and other stuff, assuming I'm at home and by my computer. And yes, I have remembered there's a match tonight...

0950: From The Sun...

MARTIN JOL will make TWO transfer deadline-busting deals today when he lands Danny Murphy and long-term target Hossam Ghaly.

Murphy moves across London in a part-exchange deal with Charlton that sees Anthony Gardner going the other way.

Oh, for fuck's sake. Not happy about this. Of course, not everything you read in The Sun is true, and The Times is more cautious. If you hear a large cry of anger from the Charlton area, that's either me at the dentist or me upon hearing any confirmation of this...

1145: Back from the dentist and still no news. As the day wears on, The Sun story seems more fishy - if something was in the offing, it'd have been announced early on, wouldn't it? At best, it's another attempt to unsettle Murphy, after a month of rumours emenating from Fat Freddy Shepherd's house rag, the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. At worst... I don't want to think about it. I know Murphy's form has been uneven to say the least, but at his best he's added a touch of quality to the side that really led us to believe we could go far this season. You could argue Alexei Smertin's been responsible for that too, though.

So, in the meantime, what else is there? JJ to Norwich? If it happens, good. The Jason Euell/ Birmingham stuff hasn't quite gone away, while anyone's still welcome to Kevin Lisbie. Anyone... anyone?

Oh, and there's this: "Republic of Ireland international midfielder Matt Holland has been named the third sexiest Irish celebrity." (more)

Off to the shops. Anyone want anything?

1315: A text from the club while in Sainsbury's - "Jonatan Johansson goes on loan to Norwich until the end of the season". Well, thank heavens for that, and good luck to him - although in truth, it's the kind of move he should have made at least two years ago. I can't remember the last time he made a vital contribution to our side - it wasn't the bicycle kick in the 4-4 against West Ham, was it? Can't be that long ago?

Still no news on Murphy. I've side-stepped the "family problem" rumour that's going around - what's private, should remain private, after all. It'd be nice to have a big fat denial of any transfer from the club, though...

1520: Still no news, although there is plenty of activity at Spurs - midfielder Hossam Ghaly in, and Michael Brown out to Fulham. Interesting to see sometime Curbs target Joey Barton throw a strop at Man City (of course he's not being a greedy bastard), although if you type his name into Google a News of the World advert appears with the headline: "Got a story?"

1535: First mention of Lee Bowyer of the day reaches my ears. Like re-signing that screwed-up, washed-up moron's going to solve our problems. (Did I just say that?)

1725: Nearly half-five, and Murphy's still with us. Sadly, so are Francis Jeffers and Kevin Lisbie, still mouldering away in the Charlton sale window. Jeffers had been rumoured to go to Blackburn, but Mark Hughes has now signed Arsenal striker David Bentley, and got hold of Liverpool's Florent Sinama Pongolle on loan. So that won't be happening then.

1840: Tottenham's house newspaper the Evening Sub-Standard says Spurs are working "round the clock" to secure Murphy. No news of the team ahead of tonight's West Brom game, speaking of which...

2000: Tottenham kick-off against Fulham at Craven Cottage with Anthony Gardener on the bench. He comes on after 74 minutes. Spurs lose 1-0. Danny Murphy is not in the squad at The Valley for Charlton's 0-0 draw with West Brom.

2230: Martin Jol tells Sky Sports Spurs are still working on transfer targets.

2250: Alan Curbishley tells Sky "something could happen of Murphy's making".

2257: "Tottenham are aiming to beat the transfer deadline and sign Danny Murphy from Charlton, BBC Sport understands."

2347: Just home - tottenhamhotspur.com: "Danny Murphy has joined the Club from Charlton Athletic."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Charlton 2-1 Leyton Orient

"Proper" reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer (really poor report), Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph.

Well, that was close. Charlton's early superiority gained us an early lead via Jon Fortune's header, but complacency soon got the better of us as we gave the O's room for a bit of Orient expression (did you see what I did there?) Kish had a dreadful game, as we slipped back into bad habits of defending too deep and not really bothering in attack. In past Cup games against lower-league opposition, it was easy to say our visitors played out of their skins - here, Orient didn't need to. They just got on with it, because we let them, and warmed to the game as it went on.

We got our deserved punishment in the second half, Lee Steele on target for the O's, and the game sparked into life. Curbs took a gamble by taking off Kish, Bryan Hughes and Shaun Bartlett - each substitution greeted with loud cheers. Alexei Smertin outskilled the O's, Jerome Thomas outpaced them, Jay Bothroyd tried hard, but... I can't have been the only one pondering how many tickets we'd get for a replay ("Oooh, a new ground, and home in an hour...") when his deflected free kick right at the death snatched a winner we didn't really deserve.

After the game, the Covered End sang "Orient, Orient..." as the League Two team went off - hopefully today will at least boost their promotion campaign, while here's hoping our luck continues in the Cup.

(By the way - if you heard the likes of Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and the Editors blasting out before the game and at half-time, that's thanks to the discussion after this thread from earlier this month. Thanks Big Dave Lockwood - whoever said the internet couldn't achieve anything?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Farewell, Deano

And then he was gone. Portsmouth, and an undisclosed fee. Dean Kiely has left the building. Six years after joining us, and helping us win the Championship, can Deano save Portsmouth from relegation? It'll be a challenge for him.

We all know Kiely's form had been slipping in the past 18 months or so - those kicks had got a bit more wayward, silly mistakes had started to creep in. But this shouldn't be allowed to detract from everything he's done for us since 1999. A fans' favourite who inspired confidence, and for a good couple of seasons, arguably the best keeper in the Premiership, his contribution will not be forgotten at The Valley. While South Coast bookmakers will no doubt be trying to work out in which Fratton street his first goal kick will land, his shot-stopping skills will be vital down there.

Favourite Kiely moments, anybody? I've got the memory of a goldfish, so I'd have to plump for the Andy Johnson penalty save at Palace in December 2004. I'm sure you have your own. But tonight I'll be toasting a 21st century Valley legend. Good luck, Deano, and thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A touch of the Green

Not sure if Sky Sports' website is jumping ahead of itself a bit, but....

Dean Kiely is currently in talks with Portsmouth about a potential move to the South Coast.

Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric told The News: "I think in the next couple of days we're going to look at someone in that position. Dean Kiely is one of two or three options we are looking at."

Good to see Milan Mandaric being as discreet as ever, although there's nothing there to back up "talks" so I'd treat with caution. But a number of places have been linking us with Norwich's Robert Green. Now, if Kiely goes, we'll have Thomas Myhre, and we'll still have Stephan Andersen. Why would we want Robert Green as well? It's bad enough having one good keeper moaning about not playing. Going back to having two would just be madness, surely?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sven out, Curbs in?

So the Sven saga's finally over, and the English media have got him out after five years of trying. Sven started his career being hoaxed by a Manchester radio clown pretending to be Kevin Keegan - now it's another fake that's forced him out. As the news broke tonight that the England manager will quit after the World Cup, I wonder how it went down chez Curbs?

Ladbrokes tonight have Alan Curbishley as 3-1 to be the next England manager (Sam Allardyce is 5/2, Steve "7-0" McClaren is 7-2). Of course, we've been here before - when Sven was taking over, with the 2006 World Cup in mind, we were told that England's best young managers would be able to spend time with the England set-up and learn the ropes. That was five years ago, and as Curbs has said himself since, that just didn't happen. Except for the uninspiring McClaren, of course.

Would Curbs want to do this, of course? Could he cope with the spotlight he'd be put under? He's not a man that's comfortable dealing with the press, would dealing with the infantile minds of Fleet Street's finest really be worth all the hassle? He's already hinted he doesn't feel experienced enough, saying only yesterday:

"There is a group of English managers in the Premiership with 10 years of experience each but not at the highest level. We are not going to manage in the Champions League and we've never been in Europe.

"How do we break in and get the knowledge?"

More to the point, is he really up to the job? For his undoubted talents, we know his man-management skills sometimes fall short - look at what's happened to Jason Euell, for example. Or remember Matt Svensson's criticisms? "He only cares about the first team and doesn't give a damn about the rest of the squad. You just get dropped and banished without a word of explanation. How would he cope with a primadonna like Rio Ferdinand or The Blessed David?

I'd suggest that if Curbs is to become England manager, he won't go straight from The Valley to Soho Square - his career would have to take him elsewhere first, to build up a bit more experience. Just because he's succeeded among wise heads at Charlton doesn't mean he'd thrive in the England hothouse.

Of course, I'm thinking aloud here, but it'd be interesting to hear your views. In the meatime, Sven can go back to coveting Sir Alex Ferguson's job. After all, he said as much in 2000 - and wily old Fergie's still in his post.

Point proved at the Bridge

Or in my case, in the pub. The view from the bottom of the All Quiet pint glass is that Chelsea don't like it up 'em much, and our draw possibly said more about the champions' arrogance than it did about the doggedness of our performance in the final 30 minutes. Because, frankly, the first hour was all Chelsea rattling their jewellery - okay, we let in a silly goal but we barely looked a threat. But our opponents lulled into complacency, Darren Ambrose set up Marcus Bent, and Chelsea didn't know what to do after that. I hope Marcus isn't one of those players who performs well on his debut and then isn't seen again!

The more I drank think about it, the more I'm convinced we should have won the bloody game, but Chelsea defend so well, we really should consider ourselves lucky we smacked our way past them for our equaliser. Darren Ambrose thoroughly deserved his man-of-the-match award, but it as the match wore on it became a damned good team performance - just like another night at Stamford Bridge a few months back.

Two things will stay with me from the TV broadcast - Sky's commentator declaring "a second Chelsea goal is inevitable" after 44 minutes, and Roman Abramovich's reaction to a failed Chelsea strike late in the game - leaping up to celebrate, then realising the ball had missed and styling it out by scratching his ear instead.

Our poor run started after our last visit to Chelsea - hopefully this has closed the book on that period. Curiously, it was largely the same team today that beat them in the League Cup in October. Leyton Orient will be a different matter altogether on Saturday, but for now, let's be grateful we've got something of the old Charlton attitude back.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Deano has a moan

Dean Kiely has voiced his unhappiness tonight at being left out of Charlton's first team. He's working as a pundit for Five Live on their coverage of the Crystal Palace v Reading game. Asked about his situation at Charlton, he said:

"I've been a pro for 18 years and for 15 out of those 18 years I've been in the first team. I train from Monday to Friday to play football in somebody's team on Saturday. I want to play football, I can't dress it up any other way. I feel I'm in my prime. I want to play football and I hope I carry on doing it at Charlton, but if I don't, then that's the way it goes."

It could well be thank you and goodnight for Deano - Thomas Myhre's signed a deal and has performed well since he made his Premiership debut for us on Boxing Day. What's more, he's become a fans' favourite very quickly indeed - anyone who saw him gesture at away fans at Hillsborough from the opposite end of the ground will be convinced of that. And he can kick straight, too.

Good and honest Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp was talking highly of Deano earlier this week, doing his business in public as always. Stephan Andersen has been quoted as saying he's unhappy, although Curbs says he's denied all knowledge of it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Love in the air at West Ham

Couldn't help but share this from West Ham's official site:

If you want to plan the perfect evening of romance for a Hammers fan, then why not book a candlelit meal for two at the West Ham United Valentine's Night celebration on February 14th?

For just £24.95 per person, guests will enjoy a sparkling Lovers Royale drink on arrival, followed by a sumptuous four-course meal, and round off the evening by dancing to DJ James Taylor's Road Show.

Wah-hey! And if you strike it lucky...

And why not combine your meal with a night in our 70-room Hotel with fantastic pitch views?

Those Irons, they know how to impress, don't they? Book now, of course, because the price will go up once they've signed Dean Ashton and realised just how much he's cost them...

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Vote Ben Hayes!*

(* - but there's another candidate I'll be happy to see win - read on and find out...)

Time to climb off the fence and pick a winner for the Charlton Supporters' Director Champion Hurdle Stakes. It's been good to see the ideas generated in the limited time for debate. The ludicrously-long voting period means you may have cast your vote already, but if you haven't, consider these thoughts.

First up, the incumbent, Sue Townsend needs to be dealt with. To be fair on Sue, she's replied to my questions and taken part in the Charlton Plus show. But other than that, she's been, once again, invisible to a whole section of Charlton fans - those who debate and discuss the club on the internet.

But it's clear to see why she keeps quiet. Because when she opens her mouth, her foot can't help sliding inside it. Remember the Daily Telegraph interview about the scary snowballs at Newcastle?

From the Charlton Plus interview, you get the feeling she enjoys the organisational aspects of the job, without having any idea of the wide spectrum of support she's meant to represent. "I confidently feel I can put over the fans' point of view..." but does she have any idea of what it is? She's unhappy with the atmosphere at The Valley, but who does she blame? The fans! Not the ones she's bussing in from deepest Kent, surely? Or the ones she wants to vote for her?

"It's up to the fans to generate that level of noise... one thing I don't like is the booing. You should never boo your team. I don't think that helps anybody. I don't like booing and I'd like to stop people doing that."

You could feel a finger being wagged in the Maidstone air, like someone else's mother chiding you for saying "bloody". She also managed to come across as thoroughly patronising (board interviews are oh-so-secret, you know) and if she did set up a website because "it would have to be used for all the right reasons... it would have to be used properly".

Did she have any constructive ideas for our future? No. Is she fit to be our representative? On this evidence, no. Send her back down the A2.
Past coverage: Sue's Q+A, Her reply to earlier criticisms

Brian Cole's campaign has been a overshadowed by those incidents while he was the pitchside announcer. But that's hardly a surprise, and to be fair, it seems all concerned have agreed to let bygones be bygones. While he's a billion times more clued-up than the incumbent director, he does suffer from a lack of vision - fresh ideas on how we can push our club forward seem to be thin on the ground. In fact, he does seem a little scared to say anything controversial - past events may have left their scar. At least I can be sure he'll be on here to put me straight on that! So, sorry, Brian, you aren't getting my vote.
Past coverage: Brian's Q+A

Vince Nieszwiec's campaign has been by far the most impressive of the foursome - stickers, leaflets, an appearance on Five Live and that all-important Derek Hales endorsement. His independence from the club or the supporters' club has been a bonus for him, and he's been happy to punt a few ideas around - testimonials for Killer and Colin Powell? An annual minute's silence for Charlton fans who have passed away? You may not agree, but he knows how to capture the imagination. But is he really up for the job of communicating with fans beyond the confines of a certain pub on Charlton Lane? The credible campaign he's had suggests he may well be. I'll be delighted if he wins, and will naturally change this website to say I backed him all along. But he isn't getting my vote.
Past coverage: Vince's Q+A

Instead, Ben Hayes is getting my vote. Although his campaign's been a battered old 2CV compared to Vince's slick Porsche, he's been just as active in public as his opponent.

For many, his low attendance record at away games counts against him, but for me, this is a facile argument - how many people can really afford to, and take the time away from work and their families, see all games? His involvement with Charlton Athletic Supporters' Club is also cited by some as a mark against him - but let's be honest here, CASC as a central entity is close to extinction. It is irrelevant to this debate at this time.

Instead, what Ben has done is organised to promote our club in a part of London that's usually ceded to our rivals, and has succeeded in organising events which reach out far beyond the terminal politics of CASC. Like it or not, that is the track record you need for this job.

Unlike the imcumbent, he's also clued-up as to how important communication is to this role, and has a track record in connecting the club's present with its glorious past by campaigning to have the name "Jimmy Seed Stand" restored. His track record isn't glamorous, but he's man who can get a job done.

This election could well be the last supporters' director election if we're not careful - all the indications from the club have been that they'd prefer the incumbent to stay on. We deserve better than that, and we can't afford to be complacent - however well the club is run now. Go and vote, and give Ben your vote.
Past coverage: Ben's Q+A

And whoever wins - make sure they know owe it to us to pull their finger out this time. Because we might not get another chance.

Arsenal 'proud to rip off their fans'

A little peek into how the other half lives. Ah, it was so much simpler when they were playing opposite Plumstead station...

Arsenal expect to generate more gate revenue than any other club in the world after the move to the Emirates Stadium this summer. With all 150 executive boxes and 85% of the lucrative club-level seats paid for, and with season tickets oversubscribed, the FA Cup holders have succeeded in their primary objective in moving to the 60,000-seat ground.

The club's managing director Keith Edelman, speaking to commemorate the final season at Highbury before the move, was understandably bullish.

"Our gate income in the new stadium will probably be the highest in the world," he said. "That will be because we will have 60,000 fans and we've got higher-priced tickets and more premium tickets than any other club in the UK."

Clearly next season is going to make Chelsea look like a bargain.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Get ready for years of bad Bent puns

"My confidence has gone up. I felt it was the best season I'd had as professional last year and I wanted that to carry on, but that hasn't happened at Everton.

"I want to be playing week-in, week-out, so I felt it was best for me to move on.

"My desire is to play and to be apart of something going forward. I hope to come here and bring some of my qualities to the team so that we can push for a place in the top 10."

So it's a big hello there! to Marcus Bent - he's setting his sights high in that quote, eh? What with Curbs' admission he was after him before he moved to Everton (from Ipswich for £450,000) in 2004, the nagging feeling remains that at up to £2.5m, he may be a teensy bit over-priced. But the arrival of a new striker should be a positive shake-up, and I'm keeping an open mind. After all, he did a sterling job for Everton in the first half of last season, and quitting the Goodison sinking ship could do him - and us - a world of good.

Those "Bent" puns are going to get really annoying by the end of the season, though...

Monday, January 16, 2006

O what a cock-up

Oh dear - word reaches All Quiet In The East Stand that Leyton Orient have ballsed-up their ticket sales for the cup tie. The away allocation of 5,800 (more than Orient's home crowd on Saturday) has sold out already, with reports of people buying 40-50 tickets at a time, and leaving plenty of O's season-ticket holders high and dry. Orient have told fans they "regret" the way the sale was handled and they are now "putting pressure" on Charlton to increase the allocation to cover their own incompetence. Idiots, and if any Dagenham-style hassle breaks out at the tie, we know whose fault it'll be.

East Stand ticket-holders should watch out, though, in case we do them any more favours, and if I were you, I'd get a ticket sooner rather than later.

More details here on Leyton Orient's official site, if you've got a PTV password. (If you haven't, go to bugmenot.com, and enter QPR or another big Football League club's premiumtv.co.uk address to get a password.)

Bent double, and Euell be off, then

Sunday night transfer fever at Charlton! And not just an opportunity for really bad puns.

From evertonfc.com:

Everton have sold striker Marcus Bent to Charlton for £2.5m.

The 27-year-old's final appearance for the Blues was as a late substitute in Saturday's 1-0 victory at Portsmouth.

The move to The Valley brings to an end Bent's 18 month spell at Goodison.

The nearest we could get to cloning Darren, I suppose. Incidentally, did anybody see the Sky Sports interview on Saturday where Steve Bruce praised "Marcus Bent" for being one of the top scorers in the Premiership?

Speaking of Bruce, and on a sadder note -

Birmingham are close to signing Jason Euell from Charlton after agreeing a fee for the striker thought to be around £1.5m.

Euell, 28, was the Addicks' top scorer three seasons in a row but lost his place after a shoulder injury and falling out with boss Alan Curbishley.

Neither story is a surprise - although the fee for Marcus Bent is higher than expected. But at least things have finally started moving for us in the transfer window. I just hope we don't get whingeing fans demaning a free "D" to add to their "BENT - 10" shirts.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Conspiracy or cluelessness?

Well, I've almost made my mind up about the supporters' director elections - we're now into a stupidly long voting period which lasts until 31 January. Should you care, I'll tell you who I'm voting for later this week. Should you want to compare and contrast the candidates, there's links and things on the right which will take you to the candidates' websites and the coverage they've had here.

The question's got to be asked, though - just how seriously is the club taking this? Why the short period for campaigning and the long voting period? Why did Peter Varney give Sue Townsend a compliment in his programme column for her work on the Valley Express? Together with her sudden appearances on cafc.co.uk late last year, it all looks a bit odd. I'm a firm believer in cock-ups being more likely than conspiracy, but the club should really have known better than that.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Charlton 2-0 Birmingham

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

A ground-out 2-0 win against a poor Birmingham side lifted the spirits around The Valley today. Bryan Hughes' header got us in front in the first half, but a nervous hour followed as once again, we defended so deep we invited the Blues to bombard us with attacks. Matters weren't helped by an apalling display by referee Graham Poll, spotting fouls were there were none and missing so many blantant handballs you suspected he'd been bought off with some of David Gold's mucky magazines. Patience brought its reward in an unjustified three minutes' injury time (make that a trolley dash round Ann Summers, Graham) when Darren Bent raced upfield, took on Mario Melchiot, won, and walloped the ball in the net.

Star man for me was Dennis Rommedahl, who continued his fine form after the Wednesday game but was subsitituted for Darren Ambrose in the second half - can Curbs not accomodate both these players in the squad? Matt Holland and Bryan Hughes were today's midfield duo, like it or not I have a feeling it could be this way for the second half of the season. Holland performed well, but Hughes' disinclination to get into tackles was frustrating. Darren Bent also had a frustrating game until he broke free at the end of the match, while Chris Powell and Luke Young did well in defence. Hermann Hreidarsson continues to be a worry - you'd hate to be close to him at a bar, because he wouldn't be able to resist sticking his hands in your back.

Birmingham were poor, and I was wondering if they'd improve if they brought Chris Sutton on at half-time. Until I realised that bloke wearing number 40 was Chris Sutton. A win against a bad team doesn't necessarily prove we've turned things around - but it gives us the confidence we so badly need.

No Danny Murphy again - here's Curbs:

"Danny isn't going anywhere. Someone's obviously pulled Danny's name out and it's been on the back pages ever since. He's been really unsettled by it but I've tried to reassure him.

"Danny's been left out today because I didn't change the team."

I hope he's telling the truth.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Meet the candidate 4: Vince Nieszwiec

All Quiet In The East Stand's final supporters' director candidate feature sees Vince Nieszwiec stick his head above the parapet to answer 10 questions about what his vision for the job.

1) Do you have a track record of helping Charlton fans, and if so, what have you done? I've introduced more new fans to Charlton than I care to remember, all of whom have been brought into the fold and are truly dedicated now. The morning after my 30th birthday, you could find me at The Valley helping with the clean up in the pouring rain and with the biggest hangover I've ever had! As a keen sports fan that has travelled the world to various sporting events, no-one has been left in any doubt as to my allegiance! I have given Charlton merchandise out from New Zealand to China, to encourage fans abroad to consider teams other than Arsenal and Man U. I am also a natural talker and love meeting people! Whenever I travel away and see fans on their own I introduce them to others and welcome them into the fold. Charlton is a special club with a real community feel and I am proud to feel a proactive part of it.

2) What would you like to have achieved by the time your term in office ends? One of the key roles for the supporters’ director is to be there to represent the supporters on any issue, from small to large. If people can say that they have benefited from my help and there is a track record to demonstrate that, it would be a key achievement. People need to have an increased faith in the relevance of the post to them and an understanding of how their views are represented to the board and how decisions affect them. To me, being successful means using the position proactively, and to its fullest potential, by achieving real wins for all fans and communicating them equally effectively. If we achieve a higher turnout for the next election for supporters' director, that will be an indication that we have succeeded in raising the profile of the role.

3) How would you make our thousands of newer fans feel part of Charlton Athletic? With the increase in the popularity of football in the last decade, many clubs are experiencing a divide between new supporters and the "old guard". Although it may not always be immediately obvious, Charlton naturally experience this due to the rapid increase in our support. I have a number of ideas which I have been discussing with others, including fan evenings where old and new fans can mix, putting emotive banners up at the Valley to give fans a sense of pride in the ground, including all fans in singing by handing out flags and song-sheets. I also discuss this issues with many of our newer fans so that we are getting their perspective on what they want out of Charlton, and to ensure we are engaging them. If elected, I can then look into how practical these ideas are and which ones we can encourage the Club, or supporters, to implement successfully.

4) How can Charlton boost its away support? Making progress in integrating all new supporters into the Charlton "family", as above, would be a positive start. We have to make people want to travel away, especially with the cost of football and competing demands for people’s leisure time. More could be done to make travel easier, perhaps a Valley Express-style coach service run at cost to take fans to away matches or encouragement for Syd Cheeswright's independent train service. Many people are put off traveling away because of the distance to be travelled, only to be put up in the gods of the stadium with a poor view. Away matches need to be made more attractive in some cases in order to be worth the trip for some people. The clubs need to work together and recognise the importance of away supporters for the value of their "brand".

5) What can you bring to the job that the other candidates may not be able to? Charisma, good looks, and fantastic sideburns! The supporters' director needs to have the strength of personality to deal with the board and put the supporters' views across with passion and integrity, while respecting the way the board operates and the experience of the directors. As already mentioned, I am an enthusiastic communicator and don’t restrict myself to one "clique" or group of people. Of course I have my friends with whom I attend matches but that doesn't stop me from talking to everyone else I can! After attending matches home and away for over thirty years, I have got to meet a lot of people and like to think that I am approachable and accessible.

6) If you become supporters' director, would you forsake the usual perks directors get at home and away games? Where do you sit now at home and away games?
I made it very clear right from the moment I decided to stand, I love nothing more than to sit in the Covered End and sing my heart out, and to meet up with all my friends and other fans in the Royal Oak before home matches, I have no desire to make use of "perks" any more than I have to. At away games I like to make my way up with my friends, chat to all the other fans, and sit in a vociferous part of the ground to vocally support the team.

7) What is your experience of dealing with the boards of PLCs and limited companies? In my building company I have often had to discuss building plans with large companies, which on occasion has involved me sitting in on a board meeting in order to progress planned building works. This neither fazes nor bothers me and I have always been capable of getting my point across and getting things moving, which is how I intend to handle this position.

8) What is the biggest challenge facing Charlton Athletic? And how should the club deal with that challenge? The biggest challenge is to continue to grow at an ambitious rate, and to continue achieving on and off the pitch, without losing touch with the fans that were there at the beginning when the club was quite different. The club needs to address the issue of bringing new and old fans together, and ensuring both sets of supporters share the same passion and enjoyment of Charlton. This is what the supporters representative can be key in achieving.

9) How do you plan to keep in contact with fans if you are elected? Communication is of vital importance to me. I will hold meetings before every match, home and away, at a convenient location for all fans attending the match. I have a website set up, as well as being contactable by email and phone. I will continue to post on a variety of internet message boards to stay in touch with the fans. Formal channels, such as the CAFC website and programme, will also be key avenues of communication with supporters. I will also attend as many CASC branch meetings as is humanly possible, regardless of location.

10) Please sum up your campaign in five key words.
Accessibility. Honesty. Integrity. Ability. Passion.

Thanks to all the candidates for taking part in this - I hope it's been a positive contribution to the debate. I'm now going to go away and work out who to vote for...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Murphy - are we being lied to?

Newcastle's Evening Chronicle has a depressing story...

Newcastle United have hit a major snag in their bid to bring Charlton Athletic midfielder Danny Murphy to St James' Park, with Lee Bowyer going in the opposite direction.

Both managers, Graeme Souness and Alan Curbishley, are in favour of the deal - especially as both players want to move.

But Curbishley also wants United to pay Charlton Athletic £2.5m - and this has held up any deal.

Fat Freddy Shepherd thinks Murphy and Bowyer would make a straight swap, the paper's Alan Oliver claims. Now, all this first emerged on New Year's Eve, and it all looked a bit out-of-this world then. Alan Curbishley's denied it not once, but twice. So why does this story refuse to go away? Who's lying? Hopefully it's Fat Freddy.

And who in their right mind would think damaged goods like Lee Bowyer would be an acceptable exchange for Danny Murphy?

Meet the candidate 3: Sue Townsend

All Quiet In The East Stand's series with the supporters' director candidates rolls on. Incumbent director Sue Townsend, the first to stand for re-election, sets out her stall.

1) Do you have a track record of helping Charlton fans, and if so, what have you done? Twelve years as secretary in the Maidstone & Weald Supporters Club having achieved an expansion of local membership to over 1,000 members, arranging tickets and travel to home and away fixtures organised by our branch, in partnership with the CASC main branch and Valley Express. Representing fans on the board and dealing with their personal concerns, working on Target 10,000 and now Target 40,000.

2) What would you like to have achieved by the time your term in office ends? To have continued to promote the fans' voice at the highest level in the club boardroom and to have provided the essential link between fans and the directors.

3) How would you make our thousands of newer fans feel part of Charlton Athletic? To be available to welcome them to the club, assist them with their concerns and ensure that literature was provided for them to highlight the many facilities the club has to offer.

4) How can Charlton boost its away support? The level of away support at present is a problem for all clubs. The performance by the team obviously plays a big part but I would like to see booking made easier, that is a one-stop affordable ticket and travel option for our supporters.

5) What can you bring to the job that the other candidates may not be able to? Experience of the workings of the club, developed relationships with directors, officials and staff.

6) If you become supporters' director, would you forsake the usual perks directors get at home and away games? Where do you sit now at home and away games? As a director, whether in the home or away boardroom you are there as a representative of the football club. I feel that it is vital to mix with directors from other clubs to promote my unique role that other clubs show a lot of interest in. I sit occasionally in the directors' box at home matches or in my own seat in the upper north. I have enjoyed visiting away grounds and viewing their facilities but of course nothing compares with the company of fellow supporters on the terraces.

7) What is your experience of dealing with the boards of PLCs and limited companies? Only the CAFC board.

8) What is the biggest challenge facing Charlton Athletic? And how should the club deal with that challenge? Retain Premiership status, balance the finances, to have a Premiership team, continue to develop the stadium and maintain the community programme.

9) How do you plan to keep in contact with fans if you are elected? E-mail, letters, fax, telephone, via the club's website. Continue to meet people in groups and on a one to one basis, where requested.

10) Please sum up your campaign in five key words.
Experience, enthusiasm, communicative, responsible, approachable.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

'An embarrassing prospect'

Supporters' director candidate Brian Cole managed to get the campaign in the national press today - don't know whether it was by accident or design, but The Guardian had some fun with it...

Charlton Athletic face the embarrassing prospect of having on their board a pitch-side announcer who was sacked by the club, after Brian Cole was selected as a candidate in the election of a supporters' representative to the board. (more)

This was followed-up by an appearance on talkSPORT, which backed him after the "Palarse" incident. You can listen to it by doing the "right-click/ Save As..." thing right here. Not much electioneering, mind, and it's more of an insight into the tiny mind of the average talkSPORT presenter, but at least all of the candidates got a mention. But does Brian need to have the Palarse incident dragged up again?

Meet the candidate 2: Ben Hayes

Continuing All Quiet In The East Stand's series with the supporters' director candidates, here's Bromley supporters' club chairman Ben Hayes on why he should be given your vote.

1) Do you have a track record of helping Charlton fans, and if so, what have you done? I'm chairman of Bromley CASC which hosts regular meetings where fans can meet current and former players and directors, organises coaches, sponsors players shirts, raises funds for charity and arranges for schools/youth teams to watch games at the Valley. I helped the Valley Party by collecting cash and leafleting, helped organise the Leeds play-off 10th anniversary dinner and centenary party, leafleted on Red, White and Black days and even sang on the charity recording of Valley Floyd Road.

2) What would you like to have achieved by the time your term in office ends? To have given the position more credibility and a higher profile so that every fan knows we have an elected director and what they do. Communication is key to this post and I've shown through my writing for Voice of the Valley (as Henry Irving) and the programme that I know how to reach people. To have helped fans by making supporting Charlton easier, cheaper and more fun and played a small part in making Charlton an even better club.

3) How would you make our thousands of newer fans feel part of Charlton Athletic? We can't all be born into a Charlton supporting family as I was. We long-term, life-long fans need to make the "newbies" welcome and show them what it's all about, not look down our noses. I successfully campaigned to get the name "Jimmy Seed Stand" restored to maintain links with our roots. Let's have more reminders of our past on large banners on the stands, in the programme and on the big screen explaining what makes Charlton special.

4) How can Charlton boost its away support? Some issues such as kick-off times and scheduling need to be addressed at Premier League level but what can be done is regular travellers getting points for each away game attended so that they have priority for big games, for away tickets to go on-sale much earlier so fans have more time to plan trips, the club doing all it can to support those groups that make train, coach and road travel easier and cheaper and more of an event.

5) What can you bring to the job that the other candidates may not be able to? All the candidates are dedicated fans but that alone isn’t enough to perform this role. I combine a track record of working for supporters with the ability to listen to and communicate with fans while having the enthusiasm, the ability and credibility to influence the board. I have the knowledge and experience of how companies work combined with a stubborn streak and the character to stand up the board and get the fans' views over to the board.

6) If you become supporters' director, would you forsake the usual perks directors get at home and away games? Where do you sit now at home and away games? Free seats and rubbing shoulders with opposition directors don't interest me. My season ticket is at the back of the halfway line of the East Stand and I'll stay there with my brothers, son and friends. Same for away games – up near the back. I've met many of the board through the work I've done for the club and they are all decent people but I’ll be there to represent the fans not buddy up with directors or players.

7) What is your experience of dealing with the boards of PLCs and limited companies? I have my own business which is advising companies on their planning, strategy and development. I work with different boards and companies nearly every day. Some are large PLCs such as Ladbrokes and Philips and others are small to medium sized companies. My job is all about understanding the issues, helping to finding solutions and convincing the directors of the right way forward. I will bring these skills and experiences into the fan’s directors role.

8) What is the biggest challenge facing Charlton Athletic? And how should the club deal with that challenge? To keep progressing. In football standing still is the same as going backward. Every year since coming back to the Valley we have moved forward, be it an increased capacity stand or higher league position but in recent seasons we seem to have stalled. The club must look at every aspect of its operation and find how it can be improved. My role as supporters' director would be to bring fans' ideas forward as to how we can do that.

9) How do you plan to keep in contact with fans if you are elected? In this day and age and with 20,000 plus crowds being available in one stand or one pub isn’t going to work. I would have a regular column in the programme explaining what I had been doing and asking for ideas and suggestions, a high-profile page and e-mail link on the official website, as well as being a regular visitor to message boards, radio shows and supporters meetings. I already have a website www.charltonfansdirector.co.uk where fans can e-mail direct.

10) Please sum up your campaign in five key words.
Capable. Credible. Communication. Track-record. Inclusive.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Jase jumping to leave

Well, what a surprise. From the South London Press:

JASON Euell says he needs to leave Charlton in January's transfer window to rescue his Premiership career.

"I told Curbs that I feel I need a move and a fresh start at another club to get my career going again," said Euell.

"The last 18 months has been a waste for me and I don't want that to happen this season. I know things can change around, but I've been fit for weeks now and not even got on the bench. I just need to be playing football, whether that comes from a loan move to another Premiership club or a permanent move."

But, of course, not to a Championship club, oh no. After all, his agent's got to get a decent slice, eh? The sad fact is that Euell's been out for so long, he's become a bit of an unknown quantity. It is sad, though, that we've effectively burned our bridges with the man who's still our record signing.

Other unsubstantiated transfer piffle: The Sun says we're in for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, while the same paper says Millwall are prepared to take Francis Jeffers on loan, although Charlton may have to give him his £1.50 bus fare to New Cross to help him on his way. Plus there's a mention in dispatches about Wigan midfielder Jimmy Bullard. And a Fulham fan I know seems convinced we're after underperforming defender Zat Knight, but he's probably taking the mickey. After all, it's been a long day...

All O's in the East Stand (almost)

Leyton Orient are getting a stonking 6,000 seats for the FA Cup tie - if you're in the East Stand, get ready to move your bum. I'm sure 4,000 was the absolute limit for Yeovil last year, but since the O's are only over the water, Sir Reg Varney is being Mr Nice Guy...

"We try to learn from previous experiences, such as when a large number of Dagenham and Redbridge fans got into home areas for an FA Cup tie a few years ago. There is clearly going to be a large number of Orient fans who want to come to the game, and rather than giving them the statutory 15 per cent and force some of them to try and watch the game from home areas, we are giving them a number of tickets that they feel will meet demand." (more)

Tickets are a surprisingly-expensive £20, which would suggest the O's have got their way in more ways than one! Just as long as they don't get their way on the pitch...

Right to reply

Incumbent supporters' director Sue Townsend has been in touch to respond to a couple of issues raised on this website in the past week or so regarding her record in the post. Here's her reply...

I have never been a person who wants her name in lights or feel the need to continually tell everyone what I do. Until the loss of our shirt sponsor, I have had no major issues to take to the board. However, the role as the supporters' representative is not only once a month sitting in the boardroom. My experience has been many hours throughout a week dealing with fans' concerns/problems/queries. Nothing that has to go as far as the boardroom, but important to each person that needs a voice to represent them. I have many files to confirm this!

1. The arranged fixture with MK Dons - I wrote immediately and contacted the appropriate personnel at CAFC with the fans' concerns. However, this issue was resolved quickly and there was no further action to be taken.

2. During my time in office I wanted to work on a project that I hoped would bring fans together, raise money for something at the Valley that was from the fans to the football club. The gates idea was taken from a 'wish list' at the club and I did form a committee from various sections at CAFC and CASC and we had begun to put ideas together for raising money.

I was then asked to be a member of the Centenary Committee, a position that was to be filled by the elected fans' representative on the board. Once on this Committee the decision was taken for money to be raised towards the statue to commemorate the Club's Centenary year. There was no way, with the cost involved, could I work on both projects together but I did put a lot of time into raising money towards the statue. So I am afraid the idea of the gates was put on hold. However, I do understand why you have questioned this as the explanation has never been made public.

I am proud of our football club and the fans I represent. I take the role very seriously and make sure our voice is heard at the highest level.

I would like to extend my best wishes to the other three candidates and wish them good luck.

Meet the candidate 1: Brian Cole

All Quiet In The East Stand has put 10 questions to each of the supporters' director candidates to try to separate what's looking like a close field. I'll put one set of replies up each day (assuming they all get back to me - hint). First up to the oche - former stadium announcer Brian Cole.

1) Do you have a track record of helping Charlton fans, and if so, what have you done? Helping Charlton fans? Well, I painted the crash barriers on the terraces at the Valley during pre season in the 70s, that was the first thing. I was 16/17. I formed the Brighton and West Sussex branch of CASC in 1995 with the intention of getting fans from that area back to games or to reduce the costs by car sharing, etc, for those that did travel. I am no longer a commitee member of the branch as I moved to Portsmouth in 2000. I am still a member however. I have also helped deserving fans get tickets for games. I have also been known to help the fans sing a few songs by using my booming voice in the East Stand (yes the East Stand) and at away games.

2) What would you like to have achieved by the time your term in office ends? I would like people to say that I had represented the opinions of the fans in a positive manner that endorsed the post of Fans Director. It is a truly important role and that I had cemented the relationship with and for the fans and the CAFC board in a positive way and that the CAFC board were of the same opinion.

3) How would you make our thousands of newer fans feel part of Charlton Athletic? What makes you feel they don't feel part of Charlton Athletic, Inspector? I think the club is already doing a good job in making the newer fans feel welcome. We do however need to emphasise to all supporters that supporting the team is a bit more than just watching the game and polite applause, If the atmosphere is to be improved and to get more enjoyment out of being there. Players have told me they do respond to better atmospheres and vocal backing.

4) How can Charlton boost its away support? All clubs need to look at pricing for away fans. It will be interesting to see how many Addicks are at Chelsea with the game on TV and prices of £45-48 compared to our excellent turnout for the cup game with £20 tickets. I also believe that television highlights are so extensive now that fans feel they don't need to travel to watch their team away from home. We need to remind fans that there is nothing like being there live. I also believe that Live TV matches should have special reduced prices for away fans (Perhaps even pay the fans a fiver each as Extras :-) )The recent initiative by Joma where they paid for 750 tickets at Wigan was also important.

5) What can you bring to the job that the other candidates may not be able to? Firstly I am sure all 4 candidates would do a good job and I have the utmost respect for Ben, Vince and Sue. My trump card I believe is the fact that, due to my time and visibility as stadium announcer, most Charlton fans know exactly who I am and what I look like already and so they will be able to approach me in person from day 1. This will make it easier to get a broad view of opinion.

6) If you become supporters' director, would you forsake the usual perks directors get at home and away games? Where do you sit now at home and away games? As the former stadium announcer fans will have seen me make my way to my seat at the top of the East Stand at every game once my pitchside duties had been performed - that is where I wanted to be and still do. If elected I will continue to sit there with my daughter and the friends who sit near us. At away games the only place I will be sitting is with my fellow fans in the away section. This of course will not mean that I will neglect any obligations to the requirments of the board as a Director of Charlton Athletic Football Club as required.

7) What is your experience of dealing with the boards of PLCs and limited companies? I have sat on the board of 2 limited companies as a Director.

8) What is the biggest challenge facing Charlton Athletic? And how should the club deal with that challenge? The challenge: Continuing the success of the club both on and off the pitch. Dealing with that challenge: By getting more people into the Valley and continuing to work with the community. Continuous review of the club policies to achieve that and introducing new ideas and avoiding complacency in order to achieve that goal.

9) How do you plan to keep in contact with fans if you are elected? I will be available online via my own website (www.valleyvoice.co.uk) and email, by phone, fax and updates in the programme if possible. I also intend to, where practical, be available in each stand before each match at the Valley on a rota system. I will also be available to attend supporters club meetings if invited to do so. I will also be at all away games as usual. Fans are also welcome to stop me and chat at any time. That is also applicable whether I get elected or not by the way.

10) Please sum up your campaign in five key words.
Communication. Trust. Passion. Constructive. Loyalty.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Listen to the candidates

It's a fiddly and huge file (70+ MB, 1hr 17mins long) but you can listen to interviews with the four supporters' director candidates on the Charlton Plus internet radio show by clicking here or doing the "right-click/Save As..." thing to download it. (Forward to 2mins 30secs in for Ben Hayes, 14mins 20secs in for Brian Cole, 26mins 10secs in for Vince Nieszwiec, 37mins 20secs in for Sue Townsend.) It's worth a listen, for one candidate puts in a performance which took my breath away. See if you can guess which one.

Me, I've been off today with a minging New Year cold, wrapped up warm in my fleece, supping Lucozade, so I can pretend it's hospital radio. But that won't stop All Quiet In The East Stand's own contribution to the election debate starting tomorrow. Don't get too excited now...

Bring on the O's!

Well, blimey - it's Leyton Orient at home in the fourth round. To be frank, I'd have preferred the short trip up to Brisbane Road to get away from the Valley of Nerves, but you get what you're given and that's what we've got. It goes without saying it should be a bloody tough game - the O's are doing well in League Two and gave Fulham a bloody nose at Craven Cottage yesterday. There's a real risk of a Dagenham-style humiliation if we don't take this one deadly seriously.

Just seen Martin Ling on Sky Sports News talking this one up - he says we were among the clubs fancied, and reckons they'll have no problem taking 7,500 through the Blackwall Tunnel for this one. Just because Fulham let them have 6,000 tickets for Craven Cottage doesn't mean we can afford to be as generous - get ready for a squabble as they're restricted to 4,000, about as much as they usually attract to Brisbane Road.

In other FA Cup news, just how early would a Millwall v Chelsea tie have to kick off? Breakfast time football, anybody?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A win at Wednesday

Well, thank heavens for that. A laboured 4-2 win at Hillsborough sees us become ball number six in tomorrow's draw. Let's be honest here, we were fortunate because Sheffield Wednesday were a poor side, who did best when we fell foul of our old bad habit of defending far too deeply, inviting the Owls to come and have a go. We played best when we did the simple stuff - keeping the ball on the floor, and pushing forward. Unfortunately, we seemed to shy to do that for much of the game and our mediocre opponents certainly had us rattled for periods of the game. It was Jekyll and Hyde stuff, to coin a phrase.

On the upside, Dennis Rommedahl cut through Wednesday like a knife through butter in the first half, while Darren Bent's late goal for us was further proof of what a wonderful signing he's been for us. But our lack of work at set-pieces let us down for both of Paul Heckingbottom's goals - the Owls' best player was the one on the transfer list. Danny Murphy's absence - apparently through injury - will further worry those who believe media reports of Newcastle and Manchester City bidding for him. Despite Matt Holland's goal, he and Bryan Hughes don't exactly stir the passions in midfield. But we're through, and that's the magic of the cup.

Unpleasant scenes after the game, as South Yorkshire Police came out of their caves to come up with some unnecessarily provocative tactics to deal with Charlton fans (and more than a few Wednesdayites) after the game, herding Charlton fans to Sheffield city centre, getting the video cameras out, running to physically bar access to local pubs, and closing others. Despite both Wednesday and Sheffield United playing at home yesterday, fans of both clubs happily mingled with Charlton and Colchester fans before the game, and afterwards I ran into some Bradford fans in a pub. You'd think the force which killed 96 Liverpool fans in 1989 would have learned by now, but maybe that was too much to hope for.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Day 1 in the Supporters' Director house...

"...and Vince and Ben find common cause over putting up banners in the Covered End."

Don't tell the board, but so far it's been an enlightening and interesting campaign. Well, it is if you follow Netaddicks, with discussions pinging back and forth about how to get The Valley roaring once again. Nick an idea from Manchester United fans and plaster the upper north in banners? Whyever not? It's good stuff, and helps shoot one of the foxes which have been set free by this campaign - "I'll press for standing to be reinstated at The Valley". That argument was won in the Charlton boardroom five years ago - it's taking the issue beyond there that really counts. This job's about what a supporters' director could do.

What I do hope, though, is that whoever gets elected, the campaigning zeal that's suddenly emerged continues - because it's the supporters' job to force the supporters' director to listen to fans, something which probably hasn't happened in the past.

On the mailing list, Voice of The Valley founder Rick Everitt put his weight behind Ben Hayes: "He is an awkward sod. However, he's also capable, intelligent and has demonstrated in the low-profile role of Bromley CASC secretary that he is willing to work in a relatively thankless role. What's needed is someone who will tell the directors things they don't want to hear and is stubborn enough to keep on telling them those things."

My fellow blogger Riscardo's plumped for Vince Nieszwiec: "We need someone independent, the man down the pub. It's just the old school feel slightly disenfranchised from the Club. We need OUR views looked after. I live local to Charlton. Look after my interests." (more)

So far, so good. This could actually be interesting. Unfortunately, someone seems to be doing their best to cock-up the Vince campaign with a spoof website (referred to here) which contains potentially libellous comments about the other candidates under the guise of humour. Shame, because it's been a decent campaign so far, and it'd be sad to see a misguided supporter spoil it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Supporters' director candidates

Well, there's just four candidates this time around for the supporters' director position. Hopefully we'll have an open debate, because with a supporters' club that barely functions, whoever wins this is going to have a lot of sway, especially if the club comes to grief in the next couple of years.

The candidates are (in order of me knowing they were going to stand...)

Ben Hayes: Known to many through his Henry Irving column in long-defunct fanzine Voice of the Valley, and latterly through his postings under that name on Netaddicks, and an occasional contributor to the matchday programme. A Bromley-based business coach who is chair of the local Charlton Athletic Supporters' Club branch, one of the few branches to have actually reached out to a wider fan base in recent years. Good contacts with high-level figures at the club, but a rare face at away games. www.charltonfansdirector.co.uk

Vince Nieszwiec: High-profile fan, known for his appearances on ITV's The Premiership and in SE7's Royal Oak public house. Battersea-based, he's seized the publicity initiative by appearing on BBC News 24 to talk about the Newcastle fiasco, as well as popping up on BBC London News and Five's John Barnes show. If you've got the centenary DVD, you'll see him run onto the pitch at the last game at The Valley in 1985. Away from Charlton, he runs his own building firm. An articulate and persuasive talker, but with few known contacts at high levels. His challenge will be to reach out into the softer fanbase - you'd never catch him on a Valley Express. www.votevince.net

Brian Cole
Portsmouth-based Brian was the club's pitchside announcer for five years, until the club took offence at his description of a rival team as "Crystal Palarse", resulting in an unpleasant row. Another high-profile fan, who has most recently been involved with the internet-based revival of the Charlton Live radio show, recently relaunched as Charlton Plus. Outside of his Charlton life, he's also been involved with radio and voiceover work. Like Vince, he's a popular character who'll definitely swing votes on force of personality alone. But the repercussions of the "Palarse" incident (and an awkward end-of-season chat with Curbs in 2001) might blot his copybook with some. www.valleyvoice.co.uk

Sue Townsend: The first director to stand again for re-election, it's fair to say that Sue's profile hasn't exactly been as high as it could have been over the past couple of years. Branch secretary of CASC's Maidstone and the Weald branch - and its coach organiser - she can count on support from there, but remains an unknown figure to many London-based fans. Those who have dealt with her, however, say she's been prompt and helpful with their concerns, but her lack of action against Charlton's (later-cancelled) friendly with MK Dons in 2003 did little to impress others. One of her main targets in her first term was to raise money to build decorative gates for The Valley's main entrance. Maybe she'll do it in a second term. No website.

There you have it - All Quiet In The East Stand has its own ideas about who to vote for, but what do you think?

(Voting is from 14-31 January, by the way, which strikes me as an absurdly short time for debate and discussion to be had - especially since the incumbent's had a couple of club-endorsed bites of the publicity cherry on cafc.co.uk recently - and and a ridiculously long time in which to vote.)

Toon trouble

The Sun's saying much the same, but here's the Guardian's take on the latest farce at Newcastle. I reckon there's at least one knock-on effect here for us...

The question on Tyneside continues to be when Souness goes rather than if, with Sam Allardyce the leading candidate to replace him. It is believed the compensation Newcastle would have to pay Bolton Wanderers is not prohibitive and that Allardyce would be prepared to accept a position he declined prior to Souness's appointment in September 2004.

There was much activity at St James' yesterday and Souness may have been reassured that some of it centred on an attempt to prise Danny Murphy from Charlton Athletic. Newcastle are willing to offer Amdy Faye, bought by Souness for £2m a year ago, and Lee Bowyer as bait.

Without wishing to spend too long on other clubs' problems, it's surely obvious that Newcastle's problem isn't Souness, but the man who appointed him - the only happy finish the Toon Army will see at the end of any season will come when Freddy Shepherd gets his wallet out and heads out on the town.

Clearly they're trying their best to unsettle Murphy, although exactly why an organisation with as much long-range vision as David Blunkett would want a player who takes a year to settle into a new side is another matter altogether.

But if Fat Freddy does blow a fat wad on getting Big Sam, the thought's just struck me. If you look at all the "bright young English managers", they're all under pressure right now to one extent or other. Curbs is having a mare with us. Steve Bruce is faring worse at Birmingham. Steve McLaren's not exactly having a great season with Boro right now. Only Big Sam sails on serenely, but will have to work out where his heart lies sooner or later. I think if one of these four managers moves on, the others will follow sooner or later. Just a hunch.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Unlucky new year

Tim Cahill was the difference between Everton and Charlton as the Toffees beat us 3-1 at Goodison Park, a much-needed victory for them which leaves the relegation-tipped side just two points behind us. From what I saw of the game, the scoreline flattered Everton, for whom the former Millwall midfielder was by far the best player. A debatable foul on Kevin Kilbane from Dennis Rommedahl saw James Beattie open the scoring when he followed up his saved penalty. Matt Holland evened things up with a fine volley, but all that went to waste just before half-time when we couldn't deal with a free-kick which Cahill quickly scored from.

The process was repeated in the second half - Arteta delivering the free-kick again - and Cahill was celebrating another goal. But we didn't give up, Shaun Bartlett blowing a fine chance while substitute Darren Ambrose kept on attacking the goal to no avail. It just wasn't going to be our day, and it wasn't helped by our incompetence at dealing with set-pieces. From what I could see on dodgy-boozer-vision, it wasn't as bad as some of the doom-mongers elsewhere made out. We've slipped to 13th, but at least the FA Cup allows us to take our minds off things for a while.