Monday, February 27, 2006

Best of times, worst of times

This should be a fantastic time to be a Charlton fan. Secure(-ish) in mid-table, we've stopped the rot which set in at the end of 2005, we're in the FA Cup quarter finals for the third time since 1947, we've the best English striker in the Premiership and we've come out of the Danny Murphy saga one cry-baby lighter and a few million pounds richer than we would have been.

But instead, it feels a bit of an anti-climax. The boring draw with Aston Villa was a meeting of two sides whose primary objective is survival, rather than entertainment, and has been for some time. It wasn't exactly a thriller at Villa Park earlier this season, or last season either. There's probably another five or six games to go that'll be like Saturday's. Never mind trumpeting our links with Llanera, we might as well strike a deal with Beaumont Beds. Feeling excited yet?

Much of it's the Premiership malaise that affects us all. The FA Cup games shunted to midweek to chase the TV pounds. Liverpool away moved to feed the Prem Plus monster for the second season running. The malaise has also convinced some that we might lose Darren Bent in the summer, just because that's the way it has to be. Not a healthy way for fans to be thinking.

And some of it is of our own doing. Was it just me that winced when it was announced that about a tenth of our support had come in on the Flask Express? I didn't bother with the pub after the Villa game and walked out onto Woolwich Road to find a logjam of coaches going to places I'd never heard of. Hard luck if you just want a 177, all you can see is Rickshaws. Great Chart? What's that? I thought about stowing away on the one to Margate and paying my old nan a visit, after all, it's a bugger of a journey by train.

Has it come to this, bussing in one in every ten fans from distant places? A club in a city of seven million people having to bus them in from the sticks? Whatever happened to going to the match with your mates, with your family, going to the pub before or after, and enjoying the social occasion? I thought that maybe they were taking some cars off the road, but the traffic was as bad as ever. How long will the club's neighbours tolerate this?

I advised a couple of Valley visitors stuck at a bus stop they'd be better off walking to North Greenwich tube - it's bizarre we make it easier to get to Dymchurch from the Valley, but almost impossible to get one-and-a-half miles up the road. But it's the Charlton way. New custom from Kent and beyond has to be a good thing - but not at the cost of neglecting our roots, our neighbours, and the many thousands of fellow Londoners who might fancy coming down for a game.

The Charlton way is also now to rip you off for calling the ticket office. I was looking at Birmingham City's site the other day, and thinking "good thing Charlton don't make us pay through the nose just to call the ticket office, eh?" Spoke too soon.

Despite's dubious claim that the new 0871 226 1905 is not a premium rate number, it'll still cost you a minimum of 6p a minute from a BT landline (and maybe as much as 10p), and possibly more from a mobile, just to call the ticket office. (In fact, Ofcom wants to reclassify them as... premium rate numbers.) I'm lucky, the ticket office is a few minutes' walk from my front door, but for anyone else, or those Valley Express passengers? And no, just because every other club does it doesn't make it alright.

It all drags us back down to being mere customers rather than fans with an interest in a club. Is it any surprise that some spectacularly deluded people have started booing the likes of Marcus Bent (after only six games???) when they're treated like open wallets to be exploited to suit call centres or TV transmission times, rather than people who need to know the success of the club partly depends on them? I don't buy this crap that it's "new fans" who are booing the likes of Big Bent, Kish and Hughes, it's probably old fans that have stopped caring because they - rightly or wrongly - think the club has stopped caring and stopped trying.

There is hope, of course. The supporters' election generated a level of debate, and while it's down to Ben Hayes to reinvigorate the position next season, I hope Vince and Brian also stay involved in the debate. The new Valley View fanzine ain't bad at all and deserves to be a success. Perhaps we are starting to get used to our mid-table status. Things can be turned around, and us as fans have a role to play. Because with season-ticket renewal time looming - especially those five-year ones - I don't think many of us can stomach another match like the Villa game.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Charlton 0-0 Aston Villa

A 0-0 draw so ragged, it spent last night on the Embankment with ten cans of White Lightning. Charlton edged it in the first half, a poor Villa side looked more likely to score in the second. But it proved a frustrating afternoon. Darren Bent and Marcus Bent worked well together up front, but Marcus went off injured in the second half and Jay Bothroyd seemed unwilling to give anyone else the ball. Our midfield was ropey, Kish working himself into the ground but Darren Ambrose was too, too easy to push off the ball. Jason Euell looked lively in his first appearance at The Valley in far too long. Our defence was a bit kamikaze, but did the job, and I'd imagine Curbs will at least be relieved with the clean sheet. I can't think of much else sensible to say of the worst Premiership game I've seen in a long old while, but a point's better than nothing, and a February that's lasted an eternity for us is finally over.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hot dates with the Boro boys

It's all Cup, Cup, Cup with Middlesbrough, isn't it? They're through to the next round of the Uefa Cup, so our home Premiership game with them gets shunted to the graveyard that is a Sunday 3pm kick-off on 12 March, where nobody can hear you scream. And then our FA Cup quarter-final is on... wait for it... Thursday 23 March, presumably because Liverpool and Chelsea threatened to sulk if they didn't get the prime Tues/Weds spots.

So the Premier League's now told Fat Freddy to bring Newcastle down on the following Sunday, rather than the Saturday (an arrangement which might suit his side since they're playing Chelsea on Wednesday). Which is nice of them.

FA Cup quarter-finals

Mon 20 Mar
Man City/Aston Villa v West Ham/ Bolton (8.05pm, BBC something)

Tue 21 Mar
Birmingham v Liverpool (7.45pm, Sky Sports)

Weds 22 Mar
Chelsea v Newcastle (8.05pm, BBC1)

Thu 23 Mar
Charlton v Middlesbrough (8pm, BBC2)

City Addicks last night with Steve Brown and director David White (no Robbo, sadly) was a fine night. Brownie gave us a number of frank insights into Curbs' management skills and the players' states of mind, and despite having a job on the side scouting for West Ham, referred to Charlton as "we". A top man, and cases of Magners all round for the organisers.

Didn't mention Kevin Lisbie's loan move to Derby earlier in the week - he's expected to make his debut against Plymouth tomorrow. Derby could well be joining Forest in League One next season and are in a terrible state, so it's unlikely they'll be able to afford to buy him. The sad story of Lisbie's lost potential is set to go on.

For us, it's Villa at home tomorrow, which could be another stepping stone on the road to sticking our noses back into the top half of the table. I'll take a ground-out and dull-as-ditchwater 1-0 win, thanks.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

All quiet on the Toon

My best-laid plans to spy a crafty look at our game at Newcastle went to pot and I ended up watching Chelsea v Barcelona in a couple of pubs in town, although I had convivial company to laugh at the own goals with. As for us, a clean sheet at St James' Park and from the little I did see of the game's first half, it looked fairly even. And from the reports I've just browsed, it seems much the same. Anyone who went or saw the full game, how was it? In the meantime, four points out of our games in hand? I can't complain.

Unlike a chap at our pub close to New Scotland Yard, who demanded to know why one of the customers was wearing a Barcelona shirt and not backing Chelsea, despite being obviously English. Because weren't we all backing the English team? Oh no. Heads craned around, and asked what nationality our questioner was. "I'm Russian," came the reply, before the poor bloke scurried off under a barrage of jeers and scornful laughter.

(Wyn Grant has the full gen on the Newcastle game.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Toon time (slight return)

Uh-oh. The noise from the tedious circle-jerk that is the Champions League will probably drown out all but the most exceptional result at St James' Park tomorrow night as Charlton return to Newcastle to finish the business we should have completed at Christmas. Since then, Fat Freddy's shown No-Good Graeme the door, and in have come Good Guy Glenn and Misery Guts Al, who, shock, horror!, have got the Barcodes moving again. Even Keiron Dyer, once assumed to be facing an existential crisis which would baffle philosophy's finest minds, has found his scoring boots again. Ooops.

So it'll be a tough old game, and All Quiet In The East Stand salutes everyone who's making the journey. I didn't fancy the solo trip and I'm certainly not mentally strong enough to take the free coach - 11am from Charlton, for heaven's sake! - I think I'd rather listen to the Champions League anthem played on a child's recorder. (And dear me, I think Clive Tyldesley needs the toilet after Thierry Henry just scored.)

The game is being screened elsewhere in the world, so if anyone asks, I'll be jetting outside these borders for a couple of hours and then returning to share my ill-considered opinions. Now, who's this Parker kid again?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cup of anticipation

So, Middlesbrough at home it is then - what do you reckon? With all respect to our opponents (they're thinking the same, anyway), we probably couldn't have been handed a better chance to make history and get into the semis for the first time since 1947. It's our first home quarter-final since then as well, so we're really into uncharted territory here.

Before you get a cornflake packet and some tin foil and start glueing together your own replica cup, it'll be a tie against an evenly-matched team which has been doing sterling work in the Uefa Cup. The Smoggies' league form has picked up since their 7-0 humiliation at Highbury, while we'll have a league meeting at The Valley on 11 March (the 12th if Boro stay in the Uefa Cup) to study each other's form. We might have Darren Bent, but they have Yakubu. Let's face it, it'll be the first time anybody's looked forward to playing the Boro for quite a few years...

With success, though, comes hassle. And that's before we've even thought about the possibilities or two or three London clubs all going to Cardiff for the semi-finals.

Contrary to what and the club's e-mail bulletin said earlier, the tie could be on one of four dates - between Monday 20 and Thursday 23 March. The midweek fixture is so Sven gets his month off for England, the spread of dates is for TV coverage. We could end up on the BBC for the first time in many years, but as they get first dibs at fixtures (so they'll take Chelsea v Newcastle on the Wednesday night, then), it's a bit uncertain.

In terms of selling tickets, we'll be hoping Sky pick us, as the Flask Express gang may be less inclined to shift from their sofas if it's on proper telly. A £265,000 fee for a TV game may sweeten the blow, but come on, we've got to sell this out!

And our other fixtures may well be mucked about too - a Monday fixture could see our final trip to Highbury postponed from 18 March, while a Thursday game is likely to see the visit of Newcastle moved to Sunday 26 March.

Boro have their own issues as well, with the Uefa Cup providing an additional squeeze on the schedule.

But don't take my word for it, ask Mr Alan Curbishley.

"The FA have some sorting out to do. We are giving the England team an extra week to prepare so the quarter-finals are being played in midweek.

"It means someone will have to play on the Saturday and again on Monday, which isn't ideal, or someone playing on the Thursday night and again on Saturday.

"We are talking about the Premiership being this prestigious tournament and the FA given a higher profile but it doesn't look too clever when you have four games spanned out like that.

"We want to give the England team the best opportunity but perhaps we should all be playing Tuesday or Wednesday. Wiser men than me can sort it out."

Wise men? FA? Well, he's got to butter them up, I suppose... still, it's a nice problem for us to have. Let's enjoy ourselves while this lasts.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sick perverts ruining football shocker

MILLIONS of sick-minded people are ruining our national game, All Quiet In The East Stand can exclusively reveal ahead of this summer's World Cup.

An in-depth investigation has discovered their sick Sunday habits are putting the fabric of Premiership football at risk.

"It's disgusting," our source said. "Every morning, they're buying a foul rag which puports to 'back our boys'."

"But instead of getting behind the England team, it's become obsessed with whether any of them are gay or not.

"No one really gives a toss these days, but by buying this stuff they're pushing football back into the 1970s."

The ringleader is reporter Rav Singh, who fails to disguise his excitement at seeing photos of men having fun, and gets his kicks by badly Photoshopping them and then sniggering at them in his tawdry publication, the News of the World.

"I mean, why is he so obsessed with consenting adults sticking mobile phones up their arses, or indulging in a spot of casual sex?," our source said.

"You think he'd keep his sick obsessions to himself, but because people buy this rag, he just carries on. It's a free world - he gets turned on by licking Rupert Murdoch's arse after all.

"Clearly his colleagues in the sport department are so revolted by his obssession - it makes their lives more difficult for a start - because they've keenly followed stories about banning anti-gay taunts, which is what this sort of story would encourage."

"Frankly, I think News of the World readers should be hounded out of their homes, and copies should be burned in the street," our source added.

"I like living in a free and easy and open-minded world. I also want England to do well in the World Cup. If we sent a message to the News of the World to pack it in, maybe we'd get both. Because I don't want our best players mucked around with just because some ignorant tosspot is desperate to know what they get up to with their mates."

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Charlton 3-1 Brentford

Blimey. Whisper it, but... we're in the quarter-finals! In the sixth round for the first time in six years, and it didn't look like it was going any other way. A comfortable win over a poor Brentford team who turned out to be all Martin Allen's mouth and no trousers - Leyton Orient provided far more threatening opposition. A simple Darren Bent goal after three minutes set the pace, while Jay Bothroyd's free kick finished off any hope of a Bees comeback shortly before half-time.

Substitute Shaun Bartlett set up Bryan Hughes well for our third after 62 minutes, while Brentford only woke up after Isiah Rankin capitalised on some poor defending with eight minutes to go. Too little, too late for the Bees, and a solid team performance saw us through.

The only real threat came from the fussy and rarely competent Mike Riley, doing his best to interrupt any movement in what was a scrappy old game. And the only real threat from the Bees came early in the first half with a touch of handbags between the stewards and the fans in the Jimmy Seed and the East Stand.

So we're through to a midweek quarter-final - ta, Soho Square - who else fancies Liverpool at home?

Before the Bees

It's nice to have had a quiet week before this afternoon's Cup tie against Brentford - even if it did start with that loss to Citeh. Regular All Quiet readers will know I don't go in for match previews, especially when the bloody thing kicks off in 90 minutes, but I hope it's an omen that I just typed "Bentford" by accident. Turns out our manager took Mrs Curbs along to Brentford's 2-0 win over Southend on Valentine's Day, the old rogue.

I do hope Kish gets some support today - check out this intriguing post on Netaddicks, originally posted to the mailing list. He may not be the best midfielder in the world, but he never gives less than his all for us, and in an age when players get everything on a plate, that's something to be cherished.

I nipped down to Bromley Cricket Club - "crawled" would be more apt, since trips to Mars are easier by bus from Charlton - on Thursday to see Dennis Rommedahl and Stephan Andersen do their thing at a local supporters club meeting. It was a damn good night, Stephan's clearly unhappy about being out of the squad but chose his words carefully. Dennis is an absolute charmer and shows signs of that rare thing in football... intelligence. They both said how much booing the players affects the team. Shame they were probably preaching to the coverted.

Which is a good point to remind you the estimable City Addicks are meeting on Thursday at the City Tavern off Cheapside - special guests Steve Brown and John Robinson. Should be an absolute cracker.

Talking of past players, remember Kim Grant? He's now at AFC Wimbledon, hoping to push the Dons into the Ryman League play-offs - and to force his way into Ghana's World Cup squad. Good luck to him, hopefully I can get down there soon to take a look.

And finally, good luck to the new fanzine, Valley View, which goes on sale today. Now, if I leave the house quick enough, I might even be able to buy a copy...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Upton lark

Wandering home from work tonight, I noticed I'd been sent a text message. From Charlton. Bloody hell! It's usually pretty reliable! Must be something up!

T-Mobile Traffic Update: Heavy traffic on M1 southbound J2-1 please allow extra time to get to Upton Park this evening.

I stopped in my tracks, feeling a bit dozy and knackered, and thought - well, I'm outside Tesco on Cheapside, I only need to go down to the Bank, change at Mile End and... hold on a minute! Silly old T-Mobile had sent a traffic alert meant for Birmingham fans heading to the Boleyn to get beaten. Ho ho ho. Actually, I've just recieved another one.

T-Mobile Traffic Update: Heavy traffic heading into the Birmingham goal. Please be prepared for a swift journey to the Championship next season.

And West Ham, eh? Sixth? All those fancy airs and graces! They never call these days, don't even acknowledge our smiles, just that talk of "Europe". Booo. Looks like the Irons will hang on for That Difficult Second Season in The World's Most Exciting League (TM), which got me thinking about next season. Because following Charlton away won't exactly be tough - there's likely to be eight teams in and around London in the Premiership. Reading have all but won the Championship, while Watford have snuck into third. Palarse are in sixth, but we'll brush that aside.

While TV games could easily stick a spanner in the works (you can picture bloody Reading on a stupid Prem Plus kick-off, can't you?) simple geography might just mean we get a better away following next season.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Citeh sickness*

Oh well. The All Quiet pint stays half-full after today's 3-2 loss at Manchester City, the second half of which was actually a bloody good game. If we'd have been a bit perkier in that dour first half, an opening period when we struggled to get the ball up to the Bent boys, then who knows what would have happened?

But it was Joey Barton's stunning goal which was the difference between us and the Massives, with Marcus Bent's wonderful header from Kish's cross keeping us in the hunt until the end.

My only real worry is that we lost our shape a little after our triple substitution (Bothroyd, Euell (hooray!) and Ambrose on for Hughes, Smertin and Thomas). But, swilling my Guinness around, it was nice to see we've finally got strikers who don't crap themselves in front of goal - Darren Bent gets better and better, while Marcus on form is a reassuring sight.

It's funny to say in an age where it's compulsory to whinge after a defeat, but I'm happy we threw our all into an honest game against attacking opposition like Citeh. Some you win, and some you lose. We were worth a point, but there's no complaints here.

(*Although there's bonus points for anyone who can name the band whose song tonight's headline derives from.)

Myhre's the daddy

Big congratulations to Thomas Myhre, whose wife gave birth to a baby daughter, Angelina, on Thursday. He's interviewed in today's Sunday Times, and talks about his experiences playing in Turkey...

I got a yellow card for time-wasting because, as I was going to take a goal kick, a lighter exploded on my shoulder, which meant my shirt had a big burn hole. (more)

Well worth a read. Meanwhile, Stuart Pearce has suggested he'd be up for managing England, which is just the talk we want to hear ahead of our game at Citeh today. Come on you Addicks!

Millers in a mess

One of my earliest memories of Charlton is us being promoted from the old Division 3 in 1981 - seeing us second on the World of Sport table as Dickie Davies explained just what was happening. We were second, which team were top? Rotherham United. We were eventually promoted in third place, the Millers were champions. And, of course, we were a basket case which went out of business a few years later.

A quarter of a century on, Rotherham are in deep shit. And not just because they're the only team above Franchise FC in League One. The Millers are losing £140,000 a month, and need to raise £1 million by the end of the season or the club will go out of business. One of the problems facing them, apparently, is a dispute with Southend over the transfer of Jamal Campbell-Ryce - the Shrimpers are said to owe them £117,000 on the deal. Not much of a sell-on for us, then.

Local rivals Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United have already piled in to help Rotherham. If you want to help, texting MILLERS to 84131 will donate a fiver on your behalf, while donations are also being taken via Paypal or Nochex. Full details on how to help are here.

Failing that, if you fancy putting a bet on us against Citeh today, forget Paddy Power for a bit - do it via MillersBet on Bet 365 instead. Kevin Lisbie's wages can do without your fiver this week. Other Millers-friendly betting options are detailed here.

And whatever you think of Rotherham's situation - if we hadn't have made it back up a quarter of a century ago, would we still be here to look down at them?

(If you hit a PTV login, use and enter any address to get a login. Or visit

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Paolo's history lesson

I've overlooked Paolo Di Canio's decision to spend his twilight days in Rome acting like an arsehole - more by accident, really, but for those who've been living in cave for the past few months, he's decided to enliven Lazio games over the past year by giving straight-arm salutes, and by declaring himself a "fascist" but not a racist. Much to chew on for students of European political ideologies, and much to baffle everyone else. As the transfer window ended a couple of weeks back, he even hinted he'd be up for returning to England, although his Roman antics wouldn't exactly aid that.

Now Rome's mayor has made a move...

Paolo Di Canio, the Lazio forward who has become the darling of the neo-fascist right with his repeated straight-arm salutes, has been summoned by the mayor of Rome to listen to fellow Italians who survived the Nazi death camps.

A council official said the mayor, Walter Veltroni, had asked the entire SS Lazio squad to attend a meeting next Thursday. Asked if he expected Di Canio to turn up, the official said: "He is invited."

The move is part of an initiative by the mayor that has already brought AS Roma players and officials face to face with Holocaust survivors in the city hall. For almost two hours on Thursday, Francesco Totti and the other members of the Serie A side listened in silence as former concentration-camp inmates appealed to them to stop playing as soon as they saw Nazi symbols in the crowd.

Whatever happens this week, it's a shame Di Canio's allowed his reputation to crash to the gutter over the past year or so. His motivation has been sorely missed - remember him coming on at Fratton Park and inspiring us to turn a 1-0 loss to a 2-1 win? It certainly casts a shadow over the inspirational season he spent with us, and the time he spent over at West Ham too.

(I'm not heading up to Man City - there's not much point when it's on the box and the pub's down the road. Drink-addled ramblings will no doubt follow on Sunday night, though.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Charlton 2-0 Liverpool

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian.

That was a bit good, wasn't it? Nothing spectacular, no stars, just sheer hard work lobbed a custard pie at the Champions of Europe Travelling Circus (TM). Even without Steven Gerrard, Liverpool dominated most of the first half, with silky passing and excellent teamwork which left us continually playing catch-up. But they created few chances on goal, and with the away fans baying for Robbie Fowler to replace one of Crouch or Morientes, I was left wondering just how long we could hold out for. But we remained dangerous on the break, even if Traore seemed to have Darren Bent in his giant shadow.

The worm turned in its typical Charlton way, though - Kish passed through to Darren Bent, who charged onto the goal, and tumbled as Jerzy Dudek slid out to save. Andrew Marriner called penalty. Looked a bit 50/50 to me - and Darren didn't exactly roll over in agony - but Little Bent seized his bit of luck, and scored from the spot after 42 minutes.

Cue collapse of the champions - Jamie Carragher lost his rag at the referee and got a booking, Sammy Hyppia was lucky not to get one too. The rash tackles flew in, and the game heated up. Luke Young put a lid on it by firing home just before the half-time whistle.

I feared we'd get a battering in the second half, and Liverpool dominated for the opening... two minutes. Frustration quickly set in once again as Darren Bent smacked the crossbar with a spectacular shot and Marcus Bent narrowly missed a cross from his namesake.

Liverpool seemed shocked by our temerity to be better than them, and never seemed to recover. It was us with the better passing, and while our movement was a bit haphazard, we had players who worked when it mattered - Jerome Thomas worked his socks off, while regular scapegoats Bryan Hughes and Radostin Kishishev dug their heels in.

Fowler came on for the hapless Crouch, and added nothing to the game, and when Liverpool's only threat, Cisse, was withdrawn late in the game, you knew ring-master Benitez had had enough. The Scouse circus pulled out of town, with smiles left on the faces of a previously stressed SE7 crowd. Let's take this good feeling up to Citeh on Sunday, eh?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Charlton 'win' shocker

So I backed the winner after all. Congratulations to Ben Hayes for becoming the new supporters' director, pipping Vince Nieszwiec to the post by just eight votes. Their close showing was a testatment to their ability to come up with ideas and communicate with fans. Unfortunately, Brian Cole didn't manage to overhaul incumbent Sue Townsend's third-place showing, but it was still a reasonably tight poll on a pretty poor turnout. Are there really only 2,000 of us that care how the club is run? From the club that gave birth to the Valley Party, that's pretty disgraceful, really.

Sue stays in charge until the end of the season, and it's clear from the turnout that among Ben's challenges will be how to adapt the role into something that's relevant to Charlton fans. Sue's great downfall was that she saw the post strictly as a place on the board, and saw little need to tell anyone about anything else she'd done. While the fans' director has to fulfil those formal responsibilities properly, with the popular vote surely comes an obligation to be a link between the fans and the board, to help the board understand what fans think, and to educate fans in the art of the possible.

I'd also be nice to think the energy generated by the campaign could also kick-start some proper fan activism at The Valley - these discontented times would provide a good opportunity to begin. Storm the supporters' club office tomorrow, anyone?

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Inspector's sickness benefit

I've not said a lot about the Spurs game since I wasn't there, having only seen the atrocious MOTD2 coverage - whose idea was it to have Simon Jordan as a pundit? - and being a bit out-of-it (gastric flu, all the kids will want it some day) has meant I've not got as worked up about it as I probably would be. Whoever it was I caught it from, there's a big bunch of Charlton red flowers on their way to you.

For masochists, though, the moment can be relived at Cynic Athletic, who sums up everything that's wrong with us right now rather neatly. No team spirit, a lack of passion and fire... although, as I've always argued to those who say we're a boring team, you could say that about most of the Premiership between the European and relegation places. It's not a league set up to fight for success, it's a league set up to avoid relegation.

Fear of failure breeds conservatism. A need to dig in and grind results out brings you... Bryan Hughes. Ooops. If Hughes knew just how much he's disliked by Charlton fans, he'd probably not bother. Hang on, don't answer that one.

That all said, it'll be interesting to see how ever-mediocre Middlesbrough cope now they're really in the mire - do you really think a relegation battle like theirs will make our lives as fans exciting? And if Marcus Bent's shot at the end of the first half had gone in instead of crashing against the bar, would we all be so gloomy now?

Myself, I'm not confident of us getting a single point until the game against Aston Villa on 25 February. Liverpool's visit on Wednesday terrifies me. That's why I want a player with something to prove in the squad. Jason Euell, your time is now, son. Plenty of games this month, plenty of opportunities to turn things around.

And, of course, we're not Millwall - if you've a nippy internet connection, you'll enjoy these highlights from their game against Sheffield Wednesday. Ouch.

If you're in a hole, stop digging

The voice of Cry-baby Murphy, wife Joanna Taylor, declares in The Times that it's time to move on, while still scratching old wounds for good measure...

Danny has got a lot of stick from some Charlton fans and from Curbishley for suggesting that Tottenham are a bigger club. The fact is they do have a bigger ground and more fans than Charlton. Danny meant no disrespect to the Charlton fans by saying that and has always been very grateful for their support. He simply meant the expectancy level at Tottenham is higher and that is something he thrives off.

Manchester United, for example, have more fans than Fulham. That is not a criticism of Fulham fans. It is a statement of fact.

In the past few weeks, when he has been left out, he has still been travelling with the team. He has been doing extra training with the fitness coach in order to remain fully fit for when the chance came. He hates not playing but it has not been his choice. The thing that really annoys me is the snide nature of some of the remarks that have been made. These included such things as Danny having a fuller social diary at White Hart Lane. Curbishley obviously does not read this column, otherwise he would know we do not go out much.

I'm sure we'll all see the views of Chairwoman Cry-Baby through more cynical eyes now, but you can be sure The Times will give her enough rope to make them both look a bit stupid over the next few months.

Like I've said before (final word on Murphy, promise), the best thing that could happen to him was not that move to Spurs, is not an England call-up, not even a regular first-team place, and definitely not a wife who keeps blabbing on in her fortnightly newspaper column. He needs a psychiatrist, because it's his state of mind which drags teams down and has now dragged himself down. (Maybe it's something Charlton should have recognised sooner.) But in a football world where Sol Campbell has the piss taken out of him for seeing a reiki healer - big deal - don't expect that to be a working suggestion any day soon.

Anyway, sod him, we've got a bright futu-... ooops.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"And I wish was up at N17..."

Sorry for the bad Saw Doctors pun, but opportunities for those don't come around too often. I'm not at White Hart Lane today, I've been struck down with a nasty bug (will spare you the details) and am still in quarantine - if I wanted to infect people, I'd have bought a ticket for the home end. Looks like my ticket has been shifted, though (with huge thanks to those who have got rid of it for me,) otherwise I may as well have pressed £35 into Danny Murphy's hand and said: "Here you go son, good luck to you."

So can't watch it down the pub either, so I'm going to be light-years behind everyone else by listening to it on the radio or watching a flickering internet stream. Some thoughts will follow later, but expect them to be even more rubbish than usual, eh?

By the way, today's Sunday Mirror: "ALAN CURBISHLEY is in pole position to succeed Sven Goran Eriksson as England's head coach... The majority of FA board members agree the job should go to an Englishman and Curbishley is receiving most backing from the men who will appoint Eriksson's successor. The two most popular candidates are Curbishley and Manchester City's Stuart Pearce." There's a Curbs feature in the Independent on Sunday, too, although it's not particularly illuminating stuff.

And Matt Holland's retired from the Ireland squad; "I'm 32 in April and want to carry on playing for Charlton as long as possible."

Blow me! JJ's just scored for Norwich!

UPDATE: Not going to write a fresh post for that - what went wrong with our first half, and why didn't we bring Jerome Thomas on at half-time, not when it was too late? Those with the benefit of being able to watch the game, please tell me...

And judging by how threadbare our squad seemed, how will we stand a chance on Wednesday against Liverpool?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Elton and Curbs - on tiaras and tantrums

A postcard reaches the All Quiet In The East Stand sickbed (you don't want to know...)

Elton John's playing a show at The Valley on Sunday 4 June - tickets from £40-£60 on 0871 230 5456. The seats will be across the pitch with the stage in front of the Jimmy Seed Stand.

That's got to be the first gig at The Valley in nigh-on 30 years, isn't it? There's still old women in Woolwich who are stoned from the downwind from The Who's 1970s shows there.

Meanwhile, Curbs has been taking tips from the old crooner, sharing his views on Crybaby Murphy...

"So he's got his move. I'd imagine his social diary will be that much fuller because he's a Spurs player as opposed to a Charlton one.

"Perhaps they get invited to more premieres than our players do.

"I'm sure Sven [Goran Eriksson] goes to White Hart Lane more than he goes to The Valley," opined Curbishley.

"As long as Martin Jol doesn't leave him out for any reason, it'll be a perfect move."

Well said, that man.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Murphy madness

I'm not sure which has depressed me more - Danny Murphy's departure, or the bone-headed reaction to it from many of the Charlton faithful. From the already certifiably-bonkers mailing list to Netaddicks, the only reaction for many to our most high-profile player deciding to walk out and join the club we most seek to overtake was to... blame the manager.

To be honest, these are probably people who'd blame Alan Curbishley for not being able to get it up anymore. Admittedly, a deeply frustrating, deathly dull 0-0 draw with West Bromwich Albion didn't help matters. But Cry-Baby Murphy's grand strop simply provided the Curbs-bashers with a golden excuse. No ambition, they say. And they'll keep saying that until Curbishley goes, or we're relegated. Because they have little else to say.

Consider these facts. Danny Murphy walked out on us. All Quiet In The East Stand understands he had been injured, and he had also suffered family problems. But he expected to stroll straight back into the team. He didn't, and he threw a wobbly. So his agent got to work. Which is why he's a Spurs player tonight.

Why didn't we force him to stay? For his services to Charlton, Danny Murphy was paid £1.5 million a year. Say it slowly. ONE AND A HALF MILLION POUNDS. Would you rather we paid him a seven-figure sum to sulk for England, or would you rather we shifted him and made him somebody else's problem? It's a no-brainer. If a decent offer comes - take it.

What about lining up an alternative player? Well, Richard Murray said we'd tried, but to no avail. And would you really want a crappy old Spurs cast-off? Of course not.

And as far as the club "lying" to us goes - would you really want to alert the rest of the world that your most high-profile player wants out?

We've lost a very talented, but psychologically flawed player. One who is sublime on his day, but when that day is gone, cannot accept that something has gone wrong. And who could not accept he was Danny Murphy playing for Charlton. Not Danny Murphy playing for himself. Danny Murphy, the ex-England international, dragging down our squad with his temper tantrums. Spurs are welcome to him.

Alan Curbishley's not the greatest man-manager. We all know that. He barely speaks to players he drops, which creates resentment. (But then again, nor does Martin Jol, I've heard...) But what was Curbs to do when Murphy threw his tantrum? Let the cry-baby make things worse?

It always amazes me what an easy ride players get from fans and the media - we should be hounding Danny Murphy for what he's done for us, not lambasting our manager. Sky Sports News was on hand to watch Murphy unveiled as a Tottenham player at Spurs Lodge, and their reporter duly licked his bottom for him, failing to ask the million dollar question - why did you leave Charlton? Mustn't upset the stars, now. Thankfully, the Press Association did.

"I think it was just a case that due to the speculation he [Curbishley] felt that I maybe was not in the right mindset.

"There certainly were not any demands on my part that I was not available for selection or anything like that.

"It is just a case of him thinking that he did not want to put me in the side because he did not think maybe I was 100% focused, which was not the case."

Which doesn't quite add up when you're then saying: "When the Tottenham thing came up, I was the first one to express to Charlton I wanted to do it. Anyone can see it is a fantastic opportunity."

In the 22 hours since Murphy's move was confirmed, no Spurs fan I've spoken to can comprehend why Tottenham went for him. In fact, the first thing I heard when I came out of the Tube to get to work this morning was a Spurs fan complaining about how much they miss Egyptian striker Mido.

And from Spurs blog The Shelf: "The short arsed fool made us look stupid once and is lucky to get a game over at Charlton so why do we want him. Leave him to rot there." (more)

Let's make lots of noise at Spurs. Let's have a proper protest. Bring your baby's dummies. Let's tell him exactly what we think of him. Let's remind the TV viewers and our north London chums what a baby they've signed. Our club is bigger than he'll ever be.

Then let him rot there. See you in the next January transfer window, Danny.

(LATER - from The Times: "The one thing I said I always missed was that you play in an away game and the following for Charlton is not as big, maybe it is half full at the away end, but to have 4,000 or 5,000 fans travelling everywhere you go is a big thing. I was used to that at Liverpool. It brings the best out of players. I have said before, and I still believe, that the better club you are playing at gives you more of a chance of playing for England.")