So it's midfielder Omar Pouso in on loan, and cheerio to Jason Euell, to be unveiled as a Middlesbrough player tomorrow.
Despite the fact he was well out of form, Euell's departure signals a major move away from the Curbishley era - he remains our record signing, and too many people forget he was our top goalscorer for three consecutive seasons.
Amazingly, it's just a fortnight short of three years since the sending-off which marked the beginning of the end for Euell, with Alan Curbishley attacking him for his tackle on Gary Neville in a home game against Manchester United. He continued to score vital goals for the rest of that season - looking back, it's obvious how important he was to us. Remember when we actually looked forward to London derbies?
But whatever happened between himself and Curbs, he found himself out of things once Danny Murphy cruised in that summer for his ultimately ill-fated stay here. Injury didn't help matters. He probably didn't have a decent game for us since the autumn of 2004.
Smaller minds gave him stick for (gasp) owning a Bentley, but I prefer to remember the consistent scorer and the hard worker, and the man who dealt with personal tragedy with no small amount of dignity. As has been pointed out in the comments, who knows what effect losing his child had on him? Moving to Boro's going to be a big risk for him - it uproots him from London for the first time and it's far from certain that he can still cut it with the big boys.
But at 29, he deserves a fresh start. Good luck, Jase - just don't get a bloody hat-trick next time we play Boro.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:08 pm
Via Charlton Life, a conspiracy theory about this...
"It leaves no doubt in my mind that Chelsea and Roman are behind this proposed season long loan deal for the two Argentinians to West Ham and it’s only for one purpose - to acclimatise the players to London and the Premiership and see whether they are worth signing for Chelsea properly next summer." (more)
From State of the Game.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:06 pm
Charlton have boosted their squad ahead of the August transfer deadline with the recruitment of yet another international in the shape of Senegal star Souleymane Diawara.
The Addicks have snapped up the central defender from French Championnat side Sochaux for £3.712m - the fifth highest signing in the club's history. (more)
One in - but are there any more in? And who's out? Will we finally shift Jason Euell? Or will we wind up with Danny Murphy in an improbable return to The Valley? I've got to go and earn money on Thursday, so feel free to use the comments link (it'll probably break now) to report what's happening as the transfer window closes. Me, I reckon we should buy that Johnny Robinson from Worthing...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:28 am
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
It's dragged on for so long, it hardly seems surprising - we can't get a work permit for Cristiano Bolanos. It's the Alex farrago all over again, isn't it?
Still, I'm not quite sure what annoys me the most - the impact it'll have on our team, or the fact I've had to swap him for Sean Davis in my fantasy league team...
Not long left in the transfer window, with both Wigan and Middlesbrough chasing Jason Euell. Amazing to think Jase could still get a place at a Premiership club after his lousy form of the past few years, but there you go. Meanwhile, defender Souleymane Diawara (dropped from the Senegal squad for having a sly night out in Paris) is heavily linked with us - could be tricky when the African Nations Cup comes around...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:49 am
Monday, August 28, 2006
I can hear just about hear the PA system from The Valley from my bathroom window. Living so close means I can have a shave at half-past two while listening to the noise from the ground. It's a nice feeling. But my heart sank a little on Saturday while applying the shaving cream - yup, that new announcer's here for good...
After a string of auditions, cafc.co.uk reveals...
Pete Nuttall was the successful applicant and the home game against Bolton Wanderers was his third match with the pitchside microphone.
The 33-year-old has been employed at Queen's Park Rangers and London Wasps in the past, while he is also worked at the Rugby Football League Finals at Twickenham, Old Trafford and the Millennium Stadium. (more)
Hmmmm... QPR, eh? The reason Loftus Road has such a good atmosphere is because the ground's nothing more than a few sheds welded together. I'm sure our Pete's a lovely chap. But he sounds more excited introducing Floyd and Harvey than he does introducing the teams, and his cry of "ENJOY THE GAME!!!!" is just wrong. It's actually worse than "it's showtime at The Valley", which preceded last year's drubbings.
And he's from Warrington! And he sounds it! I have nothing against the home of Greenall's ales - a couple of my favourite people are from there. But I wouldn't want to hear their soft northern tones introducing a south London football team. Even if they did support Charlton - which our Pete clearly doesn't. You wouldn't employ Brian Cole to introduce Bolton or Wigan, would you? Away fans must be wetting themselves.
So, let's get this right - we're bussing fans in from deepest Kent, and now we've got a northern bloke introducing the teams on the pitch. This is still south-east London, isn't it?
The recruitment of a new Valley compare [sic] is a part of the club's proactive steps to boost the atmosphere in SE7 this season.
Another example of this was heard at the home pre-season friendly against New Zealand, when Charlton experimented with playing celebratory music once the home team had scored, although a decision was taken to not continue with this. (more)
Oh, give me strength. If anyone really thought that was a good idea in the first place, they need their head seeing to. And anyway, the team's performance against Bolton showed that it's attacking football and dramatic matches that really get the crowd going, not putting ads in The Stage for a "professional" and playing some old nonsense after a goal.
In fact, forget "professionalism" - this is football, and it comes from the heart. I know Brian Cole cocked it up a couple of years ago with the Palarse fiasco, but let's let the past lie. As Frankie says, bring the big man back. Let the world know we're a south-east London club, we love our team and we're not ashamed of it.
And let's leave "professionals" to rugby league, shall we?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:03 am
I know there's a book to promote, but it can't just be me that's feeling like they can't turn on the telly or listen to the radio without seeing or hearing Alan Curbishley at the moment? I mean, I've just come back from the pub, it's 1am, but I daren't turn the TV on in case he rolls up on The Mint or something.
Anyhow, for those who aren't all Curbsed-out, you can download his interview with Simon Mayo on Five Live for posterity. (You may need to click on the "Friday" tab on the page - offer expires 1 September.)
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:00 am
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday People.
Well, that was better, wasn't it? After a fairly hesitant start we got the better of a negative Bolton team who packed the midfield and seemed to lead with Kevin Davies' elbow.
Herman Hreidarsson's sending off for allegedly elbowing Davies - despite the Trotters' player's cynical play - was, in hindsight, the turning point.
In fact, the BBC Sport report sums up the injustice of HH's dismissal perfectly:
"Referee Mike Dean had penalised Bolton striker Davies three times for leading with his arm when jumping, but he showed Hreidarsson a straight red when he caught Davies with his elbow."
However, it changed the game in our favour. Radostin Kishishev's introduction in place of Darren Ambrose was booed by some in the Upper North - but Kish proved Dowie's faith in him by working his arse off. Which might explain why, before he was sent on, he appeared to be rubbing his backside against the advertising hoardings...
Kish's introduction gave us a new defensive strength, but and it was reminiscent of Charlton teams until a couple of years ago, when we reacted to adversity by coming out fighting. But it wasn't until Scott Carson saved a penalty from Diouf (Amady Faye adjudged to have brought the cynical spitter down) that we really started to rock.
When Ben Haim tugged Bent's shirt in the box, we were given a penalty - and Darren Bent fired it home. From then, we were dominant, and more so after Davies belatedly got his just desserts for an elbow on Faye.
While we seemed to thrive with just 10 men, Bolton looked shellshocked, and it was easy to Darren Bent to get on the end of a pass from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to get our second.
Off the bottom, and it's just a shame an international break interrupts our new momentum. There's still a lot to work on - we seem to be a bit panicky and lacking in confidence, but that faded as we took control of the game. A lot of Iain Dowie's game plan is all about belief - and we certainly gained that today.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 7:08 pm
We've got Carlisle at home in the second round of the League Cup - tie likely to be on Tuesday 19th September.
It'll be the first time we've played them competitively since the May 1986 game at Brunton Park which saw us guarantee promotion to the old First Division with a 3-2 win. Since then they've declined, but are bouncing back after a year being a huge shark among the minnows of the Conference, having won promotion to League One in their first year back in the League.
Heaven knows how many we'd have taken if it was an away trip for us - instead, it looks like being a decent turn-out from their London-based fans.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:54 pm
- Simon Walton scored from a penalty at Loftus Road last night as Ipswich came from behind to beat QPR 3-1. I was in the area and almost went to it, but thought better of it. It was on Sky, though - if you saw it, what did you think of him?
- Also off on loan is Lloyd Sam - who's available for Sheffield Wednesday in their game against Leeds tomorrow. A tasty start to what I hope will be a successful spell there.
- They've been around for a couple of weeks now, but Millwall have officially unveiled their advertising campaign which you'll find at (a handful of) Tube stations. "Real talent, real passion, real football," is the slogan. (Fulham advertised on the sides of buses and cabs last season.) Of course, we'll sneer, but when we're still banging on about bussing people in from Kent (something they've also adopted), their idea seems equally valid.
- Talk of flogging Marcus Bent to Birmingham seems to have dried up, while the Kent Messenger's Tony Hudd claims Jason Euell's been put on the transfer list.
- "With that in mind, please consider the following very seriously. My wife runs a successful tanning parlour in South London, and she is offering you two free twenty minute sessions a week (may not be enough for you, but we can negotiate)" - Charlton Life's AFKA Bartram goes for the Palace job.
- "Where Curbishley preferred to leave computer technology in the hands of his assistant, Mervyn Day, Dowie swears by his laptop as a useful tool. They have even laid tablecloths in the canteen, though no one just yet is owning up to the move." (more) The Daily Telegraph's Alan Smith speaks to Iain Dowie.
- Greenwich Council is consulting local residents on the controlled parking scheme around The Valley, although it's more with an eye on developments in Greenwich than anything to do with matchdays, it could result in changes to the parking regime in SE7.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:21 pm
With plenty of Charlton fans making, um, alternative arrangements to see our game against Chelsea in a fortnight - ticket prices of up to £48 are squarely to blame for that - here's a story from the pubs' trade paper the Morning Advertiser...
Blackburn Rovers FC has blamed dwindling attendance figures on pubs using foreign satellite systems to screen closed-period games.
Rovers chairman John Williams held talks with Blackburn MP Jack Straw to express his concern that the use of foreign systems to screen games had led to an average fall in gates of 5,000 over two years.
Something has definately [sic] happened and we feel it (the increasing number of pubs showing closed period games) is a factor," said Blackburn FC spokesman Paul Agnew.
"We have gone up in the league but crowds have gone down. There is no logical explaination." (more) (also in The Publican)
Ticket prices at Blackburn range from £15 (small club, crap seat) to £39 (big club, good seat) but it's clear the Premiership malaise has well and truly set in up there, despite their recent revival under Mark Hughes.
Of course, Sky and the clubs can moan and scream as much as they like, but if they keep showing games that end at 2.15 or start at 5.15 - at massive inconvenience to fans who actually attend games - then who are they to complain when someone wants to fill the gap in the middle? And if TV's clearly more important to a league than the fans who turn up, then what right have they got to moan when the fans give up?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:02 pm
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, Sky Sports, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, The Guardian, The Times.
Evolution, not revolution.
Remember? Evolution, not revolution. So a team that was toilet at the end of last season, capitulating woefully to Manchester United in May, shouldn't necessarily be kicking the living daylights out of them in August, should it?
Alright, I'm getting the excuses in first. Because while Manchester United were undoubtedly stronger than us in every department we only have ourselves to blame for this defeat, our defence switching off almost totally during the second half. For Saha's goal, we seemed to be running away from him rather than tackling him.
It started off well enough - United barely had a decent shot on goal in for the first 20 minutes or so (remember what they did to Fulham on Sunday) but while we huffed, puffed and definitely rattled them, we couldn't really get through their defence.
And while our midfield is looking handier, Matt Holland continuing to use those tackling skills he's learned off Amady Faye, it still can't produce balls like United's can. Watch and learn.
The hated Cristiano Ronaldo got a firey reception (today's match brought to you in association with the word "wanker") which faded in the second half as the rain fell along with Charlton's spirits. Was he affected by it? Perhaps so - and he's got another 18 games of that to go.
But the real villain was ref Chris Foy - never mind the penalty shouts, every 50/50 ball went United's way, while O'Shea, Park and Evra seemed allowed to claw, drag and manhandle our players at will. Indeed, he seemed to lose control of the game in the second half, allowing almost anything United's way.
It was a strange night in my new Upper North eyrie - I've a lot of odd new neighbours to get used to - drenched in rain and capped by the odd appearance of Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (a United fan) at half-time with that pillock we've dragged into do our on-pitch announcements.
Ah well, bottom of the league. The only way is up!
Heroes: Scott Carson, let down by a lousy defence. For them, Ryan Giggs was peerless. Oh, and he's older than me. Ho ho ho.
Zeroes: Luke Young and Talal El Karkouri for losing Louis Saha. Jon Fortune for falling on his arse before Darren Fletcher's goal. Chris Foy for being hopeless. Cristiano Ronaldo for existing.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:22 pm
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life.
The Dowie era got off to a stuttering start at the Boleyn as the Addicks slumped to a 3-1 defeat against West Ham. Neither side looked totally on form, but while West Ham dominated the early exchanges, Charlton assumed superiority during the first half thanks to the confidence derived from Darren Bent's fine 14th-minute penalty, which came after a hotly-disputed Danny Gabbidon handball.
But it was all to come crashing down on us thanks to Djimi Traore, adjudged to have fouled Lee Bowyer in the 23rd minute, and who then stupidly tried to block a quick free kick three minutes later. Pillock.
Two million pounds spent, one game lost. He's got a lot of work to do.
But we held firm for the rest of the first half, Gonzalo Sorondo coming on in defence for Darren Ambrose to do a fine job.
The Hammers sussed us out in the second half, but we opened up willingly for Bobby Zamora's 51st minute equaliser. His second, though, had a whiff of offside about it and from where I sat, debutant keeper Scott Carson could have done better. Paul Konchesky, abused by the travelling fans, cupped his ear towards the Centenary Stand.
Andy Reid made his debut in place of the hapless Brayn Hughes after 72 minutes, and made an immediate difference - he can place a pass and doesn't actually look that unfit... Carlton Cole came on as a time-wasting substitute for Harewood in injury time and scored immediately - again, it looked offside.
A disappointing afternoon marred by dim Djimi Traore's stupidity and some wildly inconsistent refereeing. Clearly, we're not the finished product, and our midfield doesn't seem to work properly - but Amady Faye was tireless and Matt Holland put some bloody good tackles in! There was enough determination, and many decent individual performances, for most of the game to give us some hope for the future.
After a game like this, though, Manchester United in midweek isn't quite going to be the confidence-booster we need, though...
Heroes: Amady Faye, Gonzalo Sorondo, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Matt Holland (!)
Zeroes: Djimi Traroe, Bryan Hughes.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 8:39 pm
"I want them to do well, after being there for so long I want it to carry on. I've been watching with interest what Iain's doing and the fact that the board's backed him. They've raised money amongst themselves, and he's gone out and spent it."
Curbs began publicising his book Valley of Dreams this morning by being interviewed on Radio Five Live's Breakfast programme. He's backing us to win at West Ham today, and is getting ready for that month's holiday in New Zealand he was given at the end of last season. He also reminds us that there was no chance of us losing Darren Bent this summer.
If you want to listen it it, go to the BBC Radio Player - it's 2hrs 22 minutes in. And if you want to buy the book, click here to visit Amazon - a slice of what you buy via that link supports the Valley Flags Campaign.
He's also doing various book signings:
CITY Waterstone's, Leadenhall Market - 22nd August, 12:30pm
WOOLWICH WH Smith, Powis Street - 4:30pm
OXFORD STREET HMV, 150 Oxford Street - 23rd August, 1pm
CHARLTON HMV, Greenwich Shopping Park - 23rd August, 5pm
CANARY WHARF Books Etc, Jubilee Place - 24th August, 12:30pm
CHARLTON The Valley - 24th August, 4:30pm
MAIDSTONE, Ottakar's, Fremlin Walk - 1st September, 12:30pm
BROMLEY Ottakar's, The Glades - 1st September, 5pm
BLUEWATER Waterstone's - 2nd September, 12:30pm
(There may be more, if you hear of any others let me know - ta!)
(Oh, and please double-check with the venue in case I've cocked it up...)
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:00 am
Friday, August 18, 2006
... on the verge of another one. Excited? Nervous? I'm looking forward to tomorrow - and hopefully it'll be a nice, spicy game after the 0-0 at Upton Park in April.
We've sold out 2,100 tickets for the game (apparently after sending 900 back to the Hammers - it's unclear whether that was our decision or West Ham's) so there's an appetite among the fans, thank heavens. Iain Dowie's motivational tactics are making themselves known - a special lunch for the players today emphasising the key words of "trust, respect, teamwork".
As we all know by now, the Premiership gets harder each year - I predict Chelsea will bore everyone silly and win the thing, but Liverpool will be the runners-up. West Ham and Wigan will have difficult second seasons, Spurs will irritate us by having another good season, Reading or Watford will stay up and we'll finish.... 11th. But it'll be an exciting 11th, you know? And we'll be well above Fulham this time.
Dean Ashton's injury removes a major threat to us, but Dowie's new-look side will be an unknown quantity to them. And to us, which is why I've just run out of sensible things to say about tomorrow, other than COME ON YOU ADDICKS!
And if you can't make it tomorrow, why don't you take in the very beginning of the FA Cup? The mighty Erith Town will take on the giants of Hailsham Town in the extra preliminary round as we kick off at Upton Park.
Because when we get to Wembley/Cardiff in May, capping a triumphant season, you can still say you were there when it all started...
Ah well, we can all dream. Bring on the Irons!
Posted by Inspector Sands at 7:46 pm
With a new season about to start, what better time to launch a new website? I know a few people have got irons in the creative fire as they ponder launching their own site, but Charlton Life is first out of the traps, with some natty Del and Rodney wallpaper to boot.
One thing we suffer from is the lack of a main unofficial Charlton website and forum - possibly down to the mailing list having been around for so long it seemed to monopolise things for years. It's all spread a bit widely, alas - although in truth it's different sites for different folks, each catering to a different audience.
Netaddicks has been around a fair old while, and is both hampered and boosted by its links with Rivals.net. My dear friends at cafc-fans.co.uk have given it a fair old run for its money lately, while there's CAFC Babes and Real CAFC-Fans, which sounds like a splinter group battling to the bitter end.
On top of that, there's been various attempts to set up unofficial sites, but they've progressed little further than lifting stories from the press or official site, and not offering much more than that. Which is a bit daft, really.
Thankfully, Charlton Life's trying something a bit different, trying to "celebrate" the different ways us fans live our lives - offering a forum and the opportunity to join their blog. If they can get beyond the moaning and sniping that characterises most Charlton forums, they'll be onto a winner. It looks good so far, and hopefully they'll keep building up momentum. Good luck to them.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 7:26 pm
Thursday, August 17, 2006
So anyway, there's me this afternoon, chuntering on like an idiot to a West Ham fan about how Simon Walton's one to watch, and how he'd add a bit of a spice to Saturday's match, when what should Ipswich put on their website?
Simon Walton is set become Town's second loan signing of the week, joining the Club from Charlton.
The midfielder or central defender, who will be 19 in September, will sign for Blues on Friday, as will Mark Noble who will put pen to paper on a three month loan from West Ham. (more)
Indeed, Jim Magilton is "delighted" to see Walton arrive. I'm sad to see him go off, but our midfield's packed, and it may only be a short-term loan until we face the demands of Cup games. Like Iain Dowie says, one for the future. Now, Jim, when he's done, fancy swapping him for Matt Holland?
Up the road at Norwich, chief executive Neil Doncaster is fantastically indiscreet in praising us for being, well, discreet...
Negotiations started early last week with Charlton Athletic over a potential swap deal involving their goalkeeper Stephan Andersen plus cash in return for Robert Green. I met with Stephan and his agent last Sunday in London to tell them about Norwich City and discuss Stephan's salary expectations. And despite negotiations that lasted several days, between Charlton, Stephan's agent, and ourselves, no agreement could be reached.
When it became clear, on Monday afternoon, that the move would break down for financial reasons, that gave West Ham the opportunity they needed to come in and agree a quick and straightforward deal. (more)
Hmmmm. Anyone want an ambitious young Danish keeper?
Staying round that way, Canaries fan site The Nest is the place for rumours they're about to sign Marcus Bent - a Bentley with a personalised numberplate? Owned by a footballer? Never! Anyway, please let this be true.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 8:25 pm
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Nope, didn't see that one coming either. Although his name had been mentioned in despatches, Spurs' Andy Reid has signed a four year deal with us worth up to £3m.
A couple of years back, he was a rumoured target for Alan Curbishley - along with Michael Dawson, he was one of the few bright sparks in a Nottingham Forest team tumbling down he second division. But Spurs splashed out on him and Dawson in January '05, and while defender Dawson's done alright, Reid seems to have stagnated at the Lane. And he's grown a bit porky, too. He made 27 appearances, scoring a single goal.
Reports that his new fitness regime kicked off with him having to walk from Spurs' Chigwell training ground to our own base in New Eltham this morning could not be confirmed.
Iain Dowie's convinced the Irishman's the man for our midfield: "He has a great range of passing, a tremendous set-piece delivery and also possesses an eye for goal."
At £3m it's a gamble - and no doubt John Harbin will have a job in getting him fit. But he's only 24, and hopefully the leaner Charlton diet will suit him more than the bloated old Spurs menu. Fingers crossed.
(Incidentally, welcome if you've come here from Time Out's recommendation - All Quiet was website of the week, along with a load of other football sites including our own Cynic Athletic and our learned counterparts at Arseblog (which inspired this place), The Shelf and Chelsea Blog.)
Posted by Inspector Sands at 5:59 pm
Monday, August 14, 2006
So we only went and signed Scott Carson instead, didn't we? On loan, mind. And with the signing of the England under-21 keeper, you can hear the sound of Stephan Andersen's nose being whacked right out of joint. Carson is 21 next month, Andersen is 24, and is about as likely to play second fiddle to the young pup as Jose Mourinho is to stop whining. So that'll be him off, then.
But what of Robert Green? Well, Norwich have approved a deal for him to go to West Ham, where he'd battle it out with Roy Carroll and Stephen Bywater. The Hammers haven't really done this deal just to screw us up, have they? Or were we just a tactic in Norwich's talks with West Ham?
Ah, who cares. A deal's a deal. I don't know much about Carson, other than the fact his sale helped bail Leeds out, and a loan isn't ideal. But he's now got a big stage upon which to compete for England honours. And it's better than hanging around reserve matches having "you're shit! Aaaaaagggh!" shouted at you by some grim kids. Assuming he's given the chance, that is. Which that vacant number 1 shirt suggests he will be.
So who would you have as first choice this season? Carson or Myhre?
Other stuff: We're coming off the stock market, and Aston Villa won't be rubbish any more. Blimey. That's one more club above us, then...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 8:09 pm
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Less than a week to go, so I'm bringing the fantasy league back, and you're very welcome to join it.
Go to fantasy.premierleague.com, create a team, enter the code 543506-85070, and you're in. Good luck.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 11:44 pm
From Norwich's official site:
City Chief Executive Neil Doncaster told First News talks were indeed taking place - but stressed suggestions the deal had already been concluded were well wide of the mark.
He commented: "We are indeed talking over a possible transfer of Robert Green to Charlton, but those talks are still at an early stage and no deal has yet been agreed.
"When and if there is any further progress to report we will let supporters know." (more)
Posted by Inspector Sands at 5:23 pm
Saturday, August 12, 2006
2-2 in Utrecht last night, but that doesn't seem to be at the forefront of the minds of those who made the journey to the Netherlands...
"After the match tonight, Charlton fans were kept in the Stadium for 30 minutes before being herded onto two coaches.
"The coaches were driven 10km outside of Utrecht, where those who had enough got off and the remaining fans were driven back into Town." - Karkuro Addick, Netaddicks poster.
"Being kept in for 30 minutes was the least of the problems, as everyone was herded onto free buses heading for the 'station'. Very kind we thought.
"However, what we didn't know is that the 'station' was actually Maarson Station, some 30 minutes away with a skeleton train service. No-one was actually told that this would happen, until we realised about 10 minutes in that the driver was actually heading away from Utrecht!
"Some people were actually staying in Utrecht, so had to wait/pay for a train back; others at Schipol Airport, where they did not get back to until at least midnight!" - a contributor to Glynne Jones' mailing list
"After the game Utrecht put into operation their Plan A for dealing with fans from Ajax or The Hague. We had to wait inside the ground for fifteen minutes 'for our protection'. We were told that buses were outside waiting to take us back to Utrecht.
"The buses were there, with a police motor cycle escort, but they headed on to the Utretcht ring road and proceeded to circle the city. Eventually they turned off and we ended up at a station called Massen which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, no doubt a good way of keeping Dutch ultras out of the city." - Wyn Grant
Slightly different accounts, and there's no word on how many Charlton fans went, but it's clear our fans were treated like dirt by the Dutch authorities. (It didn't help that most of the players reportedly didn't bother to applaud the travelling support either.) Together with the security delays many will have faced in getting out of the UK, I wouldn't be surprised if many of our fans will be wondering why they spent the time and effort in making the trip.
In Antwerp, we mingled with the away fans happily before and after the match - they were a nice bunch, from what I could gather. But I saw one high-profile fan threatened with a ride in a police van if he didn't go a certain way to Germinal Beerschot's stadium - as opposed to simply being informed that the away end was this way. I'd say at least 70 police milled around the back of the Olympic stadium to deal with the 45 Charlton fans in the away end - nice to know you're being made welcome. To be fair, once the police saw they were going to be under-employed that evening they settled back to an easy evening of double overtime, with one cracking jokes and wishing us well.
Clearly, some of these things are lost in translation - different countries have different ways of dealing with things, just as different police forces in the UK act in different ways (especially in South Yorkshire.) Continental forces always seem to look a bit meaner than our truncheon-wielding bobbies, and can be, as anyone who's come up against the French CRS will know. And as an English club, we'll carry the baggage from the antics of our more inbred predecessors.
But I hope the club acknowledge what happened to our fans in Utrecht last night, investigate it and complain as loudly as they can - never mind free fries with burgers in the east stand, those who travelled to Holland are the kind of loyal fans the club needs to keep on side.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:03 pm
Friday, August 11, 2006
Our two England internationals are back in the squad where they belong - but will we be adding a third? From Norwich fan site The Nest, which could do with the services of a sub-editor:
A source from within the Club told The Nest that Charlton boss Iain Dowie had been in contact with the club on Wednesday and with a fee - rumoured to be around the £1.5 million mark - and personal terms agreed, the deal which will take former Academey starlet - now one of the the teams highest-profile players - to The Valley, has been all but finalised.
Green, who has yet to play for the Canaries this season, is still recuperating from the groin injury that saw him miss out on his chance at World Cup glory in Germany this year. It's thought this injury is the only sticking point in the transfer, with the medical being more thorough - and therefore a lot longer - than usual. (more)
Curious. Even our dozier fans will have noticed the number 1 shirt hasn't yet been allocated, which is bad news for Thomas Myhre and Stephan Andersen, either of whom could, arguably, do a creditable job as first-choice keeper. But it's understandable Dowie wants his own man in - after all, neither Myhre nor Andersen have achieved consistency in goal, and Darren Randolph's also been thrown in goal as our friendlies have progressed.
It's not the first time the Robert Green story's emerged, and it comes a couple of weeks after we were linked to Andreas Isaksson, now on his way to Manchester City following David James's move to Pompey which displaces... oooh, Dean Keily.
Fantastic to see Darren Bent and Luke Young in the England squad for Wednesday's game against Greece - what role they'll play is unclear, but it's good for us to be a beneficiary of Steve McClaren's new broom at Soho Square.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 6:25 pm
If you're going to Amsterdam for the Utrecht game...
- it won't be via easyJet.
- VLM passengers from London City should turn up 2 hours early.
- Eurostar is fine, but it'll be bloody busy.
If you're going... good luck and have fun.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:58 am
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Eurostar journey back from Brussels yesterday was spent making up a song for Christian Bolanos (say his name to the riff from the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army.) In a few weeks, he's turned from That Costa Rican Bloke With The Hair to a bloody exciting prospect. And, you know what? We've signed him. Hooray!
"I am now flying back to Costa Rica to bring back my girlfriend and daughter, and I know they will love it here. I can't wait for the season to start." (more)
Bless. Such enthusiasm. And of course, it's rubbed off on everyone already.
And with the Utrecht game (good luck if you're flying) probably seeing Traroe and Faye make their debuts, plus Simon Walton's determined start to his Charlton career, plus Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, plus our new superstar striker Kevin "Darren" Lisbie, I'm starting to feel a bit optimistic. My season ticket has even arrived. I must be mad, mustn't I?
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:27 pm
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Antwerp, 0223 CET Good morning from Antwerp's glamorous Hotel Ibis, where the bottles of water refuse to fall out of the vending machine, which is no bloody good after a night on the Leffe. At present, I'm sat by a window trying to get a decent wi-fi connection, while the person whose laptop this is is trying to squeeze a zit in the bathroom. Blogging - it's not big, clever, nor a passport to Dutch girls in bars. Ahem.
Oh, yeah, there was some football earlier, wasn't there? Iain Dowie put out what could well pass for a first team at the Olympic Stadium, which will no doubt be done under some trades description laws - it feels more like a Conference ground done good. But 75-odd Charlton fans made a bloody great racket in our segregated corner, matching the couple of thousand home fans who'd wandered along to see a friendly despite their team already having played two games in the Jupiler League.
Beerschot started off sharper than us, and after an early goal, thanks to a farcical defensive moment, we started to look washed up while their match-fitness showed. But James Walker snatched an equaliser and we were back in it. But Walker was injured, and suddenly, cometh the hour, cometh....
Ooops. But our newly-monikered mercurial "young striker" had a bloody good game. No, really. He caused their defence a world of hassles, had a second half header superbly saved by the home keeper, and played like a new man.
No, really, it isn't the Leffe talking.
Darren Bent played the second half and looked to be warming up nicely, while Simon Walton was fantastic in midfield - he's something to be excited about this season. Kelly Youga grabbed a second-half winner, and we never looked back after that.
All in all, we warmed to the task and looked the stronger team by the end of the game. Early on we barely got a touch of the ball, later on they never got one. Of course it's just a friendly, but lacklustre performances by Dennis Rommedahl and Jason Euell won't come as a surprise. But on the whole, we looked encouraging.
I'm heading back to London in the morning, but the Charlton circus has already moved on to Utrecht, but with two new performers in Faye and Traroe in tow. Hopefully we can end the pre-seasons with another morale-boosting win.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 1:27 am
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
This is the space where I would have greeted the arrival of Amady Faye and/or Djimi Traore if they'd signed. I can't say I'm excited about them, partly because they're clearly not up to the job at Newcastle or Liverpool, but then again anything's better than Matt Holland and Bryan Hughes. And, who knows, they could actually turn out to be good.
And since the saga over signing these players seems to have gone on for ages, I can't be bothered, really. So I'll leave writing this post to you, dear reader. Here's a little space for you.
And while you do that, I'm going to take a Eurostar to Belgium. See you in Antwerp.
(Oh, and congrats to New York Addick, who now has something in common with Boris Johnson.)
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:45 am
Monday, August 07, 2006
Saturday's rubbish match threw up lots of other worries off the pitch. I wasn't very interested in a plot of land in Costa Del Sidcup. So I didn't get a free bottle of nice beer. Never mind. Stuff happens.
In the ground, though, things got worrying. We'd clearly staged a raid on Great Ormond Street Hospital Radio for our new pitch announcer, who got ridiclously excited about the appearance of people in dog and cat outfits (it's only Floyd and Harvey, for heaven's sake) and whose voice reached such a high pitch announcing the teams, my ears really did start to hurt. Who let the dogs out? Who let this twont out?
I mean, honestly, was this lad from the rejects from the CBeebies presentation auditions? This is a game of football, not Nursery Hour or bingo down at the Costa Del Mail Old Folks' Resort. Or maybe that was the intention.
Anyway, game on, and it was rubbish, and I know it wasn't just me watching a game of three-and-in taking place at the bottom of Valiant House rather than the rubbish on the field. But when Marcus Bent finally managed to get his arse around to scoring...
There was goal music!
Some stupid cheesy crap to celebrate a goal!
For heaven's sake, NO. Goal music is for cretins.
It works very rarely - QPR play Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag (a proper west London song), and Middlesbrough copied it. Bolton get away with James Brown's I Feel Good because of the blokes with flags. AFC Wimbledon play a song for each player who scores, which gets people laughing more than anything.
But otherwise, IT DOES NOT WORK. People DO NOT need to be told how to celebrate a goal. Are we that desperate to create some kind of atmosphere?
And with the programme full of stuff about how we're tempting people in from Heavenknowswhere, Deepest Kent by coach, it really makes you wonder what kind of support we're now trying to attract when we're surrounded by a city of seven million people.
It's an open secret that season ticket sales are well down on last season. Iain Dowie is trying to fix the primary cause of that particluar malaise on the field.
But off the field... are we trying to attract the sort of twots who wave foam hands and need to be told when we celebrate? And who then sod off at 4.35 to beat the traffic on the A2? If we're not, we're going the wrong way about it. It's all very well bragging that we've attracted new season-ticket holders - possibly from well out of London - but if we've lost many more who are possibly from closer to home, hasn't something gone badly wrong?
Ben Hayes, our supporters' director, is on his hols at the moment. Sorry, Ben, you're going to get an ear-bashing when you get back. Because this ain't good enough.
But it's not just down to Ben. It's down to you, and me, to make sure we never hear goal music at The Valley again.
Posted by Inspector Sands at 12:25 am
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Proper reports: cafc.co.uk
Charlton's limitations were all too plain to see as we drew 1-1 with the All Whites at The Valley. Bright spots included the determined performance of Costa Rican triallist Christian Bolanos in midfield and the return of Darren Bent after injury, but we made heavy weather of it against a hard-working New Zealand team.
Our problem is, surprise surprise, our midfield. There's a hole in our team, and where Matt Holland and Bryan Hughes fail to perform, it puts stupid amounts of pressure on our defence. If these two remain together in our team on 1 September, we're screwed. End of story.
Up front, Marcus Bent may have scored but he blew far easier chances, and he doesn't work well with Hasselbaink. Darren's return from injurt is welcome, but we can't rely too much on him. And in defence, we opened up for Cambell Banks to score following a hapless attempt at a tackle from Talal El Karkouri.
A worrying afternoon in the sunshine - and it wasn't just what was on the field that got my hackles up. But you'll have to wait for that rant...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 8:43 pm
Thursday, August 03, 2006
I'm not sure if these comments were made to Sky before or after last night's load of old crap, but it's clear Iain Dowie's not happy with the faltering team he inherited from Alan Curbishley.
"We clearly need some new bodies, we're aware of that," Dowie told Sky Sports News.
"I know the type of areas I want to strengthen. That is not being critical of any of the players here, absolutely not.
"I feel, and the coaching staff feel, that we need to strengthen in one or two areas.
"We have said that four or five is about the level we need. If we get three in, if they are the right quality, then great.
"But I would like to get five in and I think that's important." (more)
I haven't and won't get angry because the pre-seasons have been a disappointment so far, the more relevant tests may come in Antwerp and Utrecht next week. But turning around the Charlton tanker's proving a tough job for Dowie, especially since he's struggled to recruit many new crew members.
There are those who think building up a team should be an easy thing - I spoke to somebody today who made the fantastic observation that so many people seem to think the transfer window operates like Championship Manager, where you get your man if you offer the right money. Of course, the real world isn't like that, and several reported targets of ours have ended up elsewhere - Emmerson Boyce, Frank Quedreue and Scott Chipperfield to name three. As it's always been, finding a decent package to offer a player is a struggle, and will continue to be when so many of our rivals are financial basketcases funded by rich benefactors.
And what we've got isn't exactly inspiring, with several players either performing well below par, or looking as if they'd rather be anywhere else. Marcus Bent may well be one of the worst signings of the Curbishley era, managing to be both hapless and useless last night at Welling. You'd have thought a change of manager would have energised Jason Euell, perhaps the only thing that'd make our record signing get off his arse would be connecting him to the National Grid. And the twee twins of midfield, Holland and Hughes, don't exactly inspire either.
Of course, cafc.co.uk puts a more positive spin on things - Dowie telling the OS "it was not about going to Welling and winning, it's all about preparation for West Ham on August 19th". It's not Dowie's fault he inherited a cock-eyed pre-season schedule, but charging £10 to stand in the rain to watch a group of unknowns doesn't exactly inspire confidence and may well damage Welling in the long run, when Charlton fans don't bother next season with a game that last night should have been played behind closed doors.
But hey, never mind, they're offering free beer at the New Zealand game to promote plans to build a string of Costa del Sidcups in Spain! Strewth...
Posted by Inspector Sands at 6:59 pm
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Oh yes. And I've never been so grateful for a lift home away from a damp, drizzly Park View Road, where a largely inexperienced Charlton team played like chumps against the Wings. Of the few recognisable faces in the team, Marcus Bent and Jason Euell had nights they'll want to forget for a long while. And one that Charlton fans will want to forget too. Not much else to say, really, other than the fact that £10 was really a bit much to see a glorified training session for a mysterious group of players. Although the own goal (scored by Simon Walton?) was worth its weight in gold, admittedly.
No doubt some of the mysteries will be solved later, but in the meantime, I'm off to practice my excuses. "Oh, well Welling are ahead of us in their pre-season training..."
Posted by Inspector Sands at 10:04 pm