Friday, December 31, 2004

A New Year surprise

By some miracle, All Quiet In The East Stand has been nominated for "best sports blog" in the rather oddly-named Best of Blog Awards. Not that anybody thought to tell me until an astute reader left a word in a comments box below - but to whoever nominated me, thank you, it's very sweet of you.

This actually means I've had to spend the afternoon checking out whether this is all some kind of scam or not - blog awards can be the equivalent of an automated "hello! you have won a luxury cruise!" phone call, and earlier this month Vaughan Simons, who runs the damned good Wherever You Are blog, found his site nominated for an award by a bunch of people best described as cranks.

But it all looks above-board so I'm very flattered indeed. Voting appears to start at 8am on New Year's Day, but I don't have a page to link to yet, so if you'd like to support me, come back tomorrow/when my New Year hangover clears and I'll hopefully have sorted something out.

I doubt I'll win, I seem to be the only Brit there and I imagine the only reason the football blogging grandaddy, Arseblog, wasn't nominated was because of its huge popularity. Most of them about US sports I know nothing and care even less about, although there is a very peculiar Arsenal site on the list. The other categories are worth perusing, though, and it's a pleasure to see the Brits out in force in the "best sex blog" category. Maybe that's something to try in the new year!

Good move

Good work from the club, which is donating £100,000 to the tsunami disaster relief fund, doubling the donation it's already made through the Premier League.

Well-known philanthropist Dwight Yorke has urged all Premiership players to donate a week's wages - something I fear may be wishful thinking, but it's a good gesture.

I reckon Charlton's donation will work out at one-third of the receipts from the £45-a-ticket Arsenal game tomorrow, which, surprise, surprise, has still not sold out.

That was the year that was

Another year, another load of memories. Funny to think we end 2004 the way we started it - comfortable in the top half of the table, looking to the rest of the season with a healthy measure of confidence. Except this time, there's no Chelsea waiting in the wings with a fat wage packet to ruin our season. With the arrival of Thomas, Murphy and El Karkouri, you could argue a fair case for us having a stronger squad than we did 12 months ago. And we haven't even seen the best of Jeffers yet, and Andersen is giving reserve-watchers hope for the future.

The "sod the rest" attitude of the Premiership guaranteed another nailbiting year - from the whiff of Champions League lucre in January to fears of relegation and ruin in October. It'll be the same again next year. Yet hopefully we can use our gains to build a bigger and better Valley.

Off the field, perceptions of preachiness from the higher echelons of the club tended to grate when the team were performing poorly at the start of this season. Charging £45 for the "big three" teams earned me an ear-bending from a Gooner pal and made us look stupid, 24 hours after we were boasting in a paper about our sensible ticket prices. But with our performances on the field picking up, and the crowds getting a bit noiser, hopefully we can get back to singing from the same hymn-sheet.

As for the fans, the east and west stand still feel like morgues at times. As well as getting bums on seats - initiatives like the coaches from Kent should run hand-in-hand with local schemes, which seem to be missing - we need to think about how to develop our actual support. We all know about the "lost generation" from the Selhurst years - I'm one of them. It's now time to do something about it. Exactly what, however, is a tougher question.

The near-implosion of the supporters' club - the doctor was all set to pass a verdict of death by neglect and complacency - does at least seem to have been a galvanising factor, with one branch splitting off - amid a few murky allegations - to become the Charlton Independent Supporters Association, laudably offering free coaches to Southampton. As for the "official" club, the disappearance of for a while didn't exactly bode well for the future. CASC members would be well within their rights to question what exactly their membership fees are going towards when it couldn't even be bothered to keep one of its main arms of communication going. However, the site is back, and hopefully things will start to move in the right direction.

If the club bothers to have another supporters' director election after the current invisible incumbent's term runs out, it should be an interesting one - with a mute supporters' director and a barely-active supporters club, it's a chance for supporters to prove just how much they care.

My wishes for 2005?

- I'd like us to keep Euell, get a decent striker and possibly a decent midfielder who can get his foot in - the 4-5-1 seems to be a tacit admission that our strikers are crap.

- I'd like to see Stephan Andersen get a chance in goal.

- For Jerome Thomas to celebrate a goal properly and not sulk around like a cheap Thierry Henry.

- For the East Stand development to get the go-ahead, and for the East and West Stands to make some bloody noise. (Tough, I know.)

- I'd like to see the club remember its roots are in London - not Kent, and to start marking its centenary properly.

- The £45 ticket price for the big three teams to stop. Now. Before they start charging us the same price to retaliate.

- For some sort of coherent, intelligent voice for the fans. Because the current lot wouldn't know it if it wasn't bussed in from Maidstone.

And finally, wherever you are reading this, I'd like to thank you for supporting All Quiet In The East Stand this year, and wish you a prosperous and happy new year. Starting, of course, with another sly New Year win against the Arsenal... well, I can dream, can't I?

Oh, and to reward you for reading this far... Michael Dawson. Couple of million. I'm tapping my nose here.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Return of the Rick-shaws

Fans all over the entire glorious county of Kent are to be given free coach travel to The Valley thanks to an exciting new initiative unveiled by Charlton Athletic yesterday.

The new service, Flask Express, will offer direct coach services to every home game. It follows the success of the coaches from Margate and the innovative French Addicks service unveiled in November.

More than 30 towns will be included in the scheme, including Dull Seaside Retirementville, Dozy Commuter Belt Town and Smashed-up Suburb Just Outside Zone 6. Pick-up points include Dover The Crabble at 12noon, Gillingham Priestfield at 12.30, Northfleet Stonebridge Road at 12.30, and Dartford London Road at 1pm.

Your £5 tickets come in two classes - SIDDAHN! or SHADDDUP!

SIDDAHN! ticket-holders will get a free blanket, flask of weak tea, and a spare colostomy bag just in case things get too exciting. SHADDUP! tickets are designed for the family, with ear-plugs for those who find the sound of fellow supporters turning the pages of their programmes too loud for theirtastes, as well as a free blanket and flask of weak tea, with free Mini Chocolate Rolls for half-time.

SIDDAHN! ticket-holders will get a seat just behind you in the ground, while SHADDUP! ticket-holders will be in front of you, and will be used to police bad language in the ground, when their children look around in disgust because you said "bloody". Indeed, SHADDUP! ticket-holders are asked not to show any emotion during the game whatsoever, while SIDDAHN! travellers are reminded they should be awake by 5pm to take the bus back to Retirementville.

Please remember that any singing or any of that football nonsense will not be tolerated on the coaches, and nor will anybody who possesses an 020 telephone number.

Kent & French Addicks organiser Richard L'Everette said: "Many supporters who live near the ground will be amazed at the levels of support we have discovered from 60 to 70 miles away, and even more.

"Indeed, we have heard reports of microbes on Uranus getting very excited about our play-off win in 1998 - obviously, it takes a while for news to spread those distances.

"We are now looking into the possibility of getting them to The Valley for our 2024 Hyper-Galactic Cup semi-final against Erith & Belvedere."

And the expansion in the club's support does not stop there.

"Our next plan is to run coaches into Essex, with stops at Upton Park, Hornchurch, Thurrock, Redbridge Forest, Chelmsford and Colchester. Obviously we're aware there's new flats being built in Woolwich, Greenwich, Thamesmead, and all along the Thames, but we're holding off our plans while we try to find them on the map.

"Another plan under consideration is fitting the stadium with wheels so we can tow The Valley down to Brands Hatch via the M20, to bring games closer to the people of Kent. It's the sort of thing those lads who founded the club in the back streets of Chatham 100 years ago
[SUBS - could you check? RE] would approve of."

Meanwhile, the club's plans to expand The Valley were hit yesterday when they were rejected by the local authority. The application was returned with a note reading: "Not us. Try Greenwich Council in London. Best regards, Medway Council."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

An appeal to Addicks

A message from Indonesia-based Charlton fan Jakartass...

Dark clouds are casting a long shadow over Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta at the moment. And it's not because of the rainy season or that the national side under the management of Peter Withe lost 2-1 at home to Malaysia in the semi finals of the Tiger Cup on Tuesday night (28/12). No, it's much worse than that. Much, much worse. Players of both sides were wearing black armbands that night for a very good reason indeed.

What has swung the mood from the usual year-end festive joy to one of utter despondency for Indonesians is the growing realisation that many thousands of their countryfolk have perished in the recent tsunami that has caused death and destruction in coastal communities across Asia.

Aceh, a very rugged and remote region at the northernmost tip of the huge island of Sumatra, has been battered beyond belief. Although Jakarta is completely unaffected, harrowing news footage has been broadcast into the capital city's homes. And TV broadcasters in Indonesia are not like the BBC or CNN. They do not shy away from showing the terrible consequences of a tragedy like this.

One image in particular will be etched in my mind forever: seven or eight drowned babies placed side by side in a small room, with peaceful expressions on their innocent faces, but nonetheless lost forever. And then there was the woman who had lost all her seven kids; she was left to curse the fact that she was still alive.

The death toll in Indonesia will be far higher than first expected. Initial reports suggested around 5,000 deaths; but the authorities are now looking at 30,000-40,000 plus. In one town on the western coast of Aceh, Meulaboh, a quarter of its 40,000 population have been wiped out.

Although nothing can be done to help those that have died, those still alive desperately need help. Many are starving, have no shelter and are at risk of contracting deadly diseases. The already poor communications and transport systems have to be built anew.

If you are able to make a donation - however small - you would be helping to prevent people from dying. IndonesiaHelp, a weblog - - has been set up to give online information to donors.

Thank you.

Terry Collins
Addick, Jakarta

The Disasters Emergency Committee is now taking donations.

Charlton 2-0 Everton

Proper match reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, ITV Football, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, The Sun, Daily Mirror, Liverpool Daily Post, Netaddicks, Wyn Grant, Build A Bonfire.

A performance to make you proud - and a win I really didn't expect. Before Christmas, I thought we'd beat Southampton and draw with the Toffees. In the event, it was the other way around as the Addicks met their first real test since the Chelsea horror, and passed with flying colours. And then some.

Although with 15 minutes to go, the game looked like it had 0-0 engraved on its heart. While Dennis Rommedahl had terrorised Everton down the wing, and Jerome Thomas had broken free of his markers, Everton had stuck to their old-fashioned strengths of brute force and team spirit. Time for some subsitutions, and here it was class that told. We brought on Paul Konchesky and Jason Euell. They brought on Duncan Ferguson.

And it was Konchesky who won it, his crisp cross found Talal El Karkouri, who nodded it home on the 82nd minute.

Duncan Disorderly reacted by elbowing Hermann Hreidarsson in the face, overshadowing what had been a clean game and giving Mike Riley no choice but to brandish his only card of the match - a straight red. Hreidarsson then scored from Danny Murphy's corner. 2-0, Everton down to ten men, all in the space of ten minutes. The away end emptied pretty sharpish, while those few Evertonians that remained spat their dummies out with a chant of "shit ground - shit fans". Still, they're all heart really - what other club would tolerate an oaf like Ferguson?

To be fair to them, though, we did ride our luck - Hreidarrson had to clear off the line after 65 minutes after the kind of goalmouth scramble that would disgrace the Southern League. Match of the Day also highlight a handball from HH.

But we outfought and out-thought the Scousers, and Curbs deserves credit for an inspired bit of substitution. How Konch and Euell feel about their super-sub status is a different matter, but it's a reminder that even if you don't get in the starting XI, every player still has his part to play.

Everton will be licking their wounds - Nigel Martyn pulled up with an injury just before half-time, and Little Duncan's red card is just what David Moyes didn't want for Christmas. He still thinks there's only three teams better than them in the Premiership. We know better. We've got Talal/ El Karkouri... Bring on Arsenal!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Two points lost, one player missed

"Bartlett missing sitters again" was the half-time verdict from my correspondent at St Mary's, and despite a sound performance, it sounded like we missed an opportunity by the seaside to further fatten ourselves up for Christmas - Everton and Arsenal at home aren't exactly easy games, whereas as poor Southampton side, booed off at the end, should have been. A point's handy, but it sounds like there'll be a lot of thoughts of "What if...?" coming up the M3 shortly.

If I had a pound for every Premiership side which wanted a decent striker, I'd be able to get a decent round of drinks in later. We can only use what we've got, and without Lisbie and Johansson, we've a choice of Bartlett, Jeffers and Euell.

Jeffers just looks a bit stranded at the head of a 4-5-1 formation, but Bartlett manages to look anonymous even on his own. So it's Euell's fight and strength we need up there. Bartlett's failings are showing that getting rid of Jason Euell is starting to look a desperately unwise option.

But the signs aren't looking good, according to my spy at St Mary's: "Euell wasn't wearing football boots while he was training - he was wearing Adidas trainers. That tells you all you need to know."

In the meantime, you may wish to enjoy Radostin Kishishev's new haircut.

Radio gaga

Look! I'm sat here at home in the warm, listening to Southampton v Charlton with a cup of coffee in my hand, instead of freezing my bum off in that soulless, horrible "bowl" at St Mary's. I've had a lie-in, and I think I made the right move. Unless Danny Murphy scores, in which case, I'll be a bit gutted. I'm glad to hear we're easily outsinging the soppy Saints.

I don't know what you make of BBC London's coverage of Charlton - I can't abide the station itself, so it's never usually on my listening options on my shiny digital radio. Did you get one for Christmas? They're bloody good, they are.

So this is my first BBC London commentary, and it doesn't sound too bad so far. I was never a fan of that tiny station from Thamesmead's commentaries (which were a struggle to recieve in Charlton itself) while Capital Gold lost its lustre after Jonathan Pearce went off to Radio Five Live. So it's interesting to hear what the new lot are like.

I check out the website, and...

Also on the BBC LONDON DAB digital radio service at 1.00 p.m. you can hear full commentary on the match between West Ham United and Nottingham Forest.

Oh, marvellous. Time to dig out the bathroom radio. Just like Tinpot Radio Thamesmead days...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Season's greetings

Merry Christmas from All Quiet In The East Stand - and if you're reading this on Christmas evening, congratulations on escaping the usual festive obligations!

Tomorrow sees Charlton go to Southampton, a game I shan't be at since there's no trains, I can't sponge a lift, and the supporters' club Flask Express from Charlton at 8am isn't an appealling prospect, thanks. To be honest, it's no huge loss for me - I hate St Mary's and Southampton are as dull as their stadium. And when we did come up with a thriller last season, we still lost.

Of course, Portsmouth are at Crystal Palace, proving just how many brain cells the fixture list compilers really have. Sod the local derbies, let's make people leap into their cars... It's not just me complaining about the fixture list, Curbs had a pop last week - and he's right, four games in eight days is nuts, whether you're a player or a fan forking out for two expensive away journeys. Bouts of flu at Sparrows Lane haven't helped either. Next Monday's trip to Blackburn isn't going to be for the faint-hearted, although it's a place where we'll fancy some points.

It's been worse - until 1958, games were played on Christmas Day, often with a return fixture on Boxing Day. Simply unimaginable now - especially now public transport is closed on both days around most of the country. I've never been one for a winter break - you know Manchester United would suddenly announce a winter tour to Australia, or there'd be a round of dull international friendlies to ruin the effect.

But four games in eight days is crazy. Especially with the FA Cup looming. I wonder who'll use the fixture congestion as an excuse for being knocked out by a minnow?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Happy Christmas, Scott

Chelsea midfielder Scott Parker has blamed the newly-laid Stamford Bridge pitch for the broken foot he suffered during the 4-0 win over Norwich.

Parker injured a metatarsal and is facing three months out of action and he believes the pitch played its' part.

"The pitch was pretty poor, I seemed to buckle my foot and I knew straight away because I felt something pop," he said.

Never mind, Scott. Obviously, it wasn't a playing surface you were familiar with. Maybe they'll put sand on it next time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Charlton 2-1 Fulham

Proper match reports:, BBC Sport, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Daily Mirror, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, The Independent, The Sun, London Evening sub-Standard.

An easy win against a Fulham side who were much poorer than expected. And, to be honest, with a tiny Fulham support outsinging The Valley at the start of the match, a dour game gradually turned into a delight. Jerome Thomas was outstanding once again, and thoroughly deserved our opening goal. But frankly, every single one of our players performed well tonight, especially Young, Murphy, and a newly-shaven-headed Kishishev.

Talal El Karkouri's goal prompted a new song from the Covered End - although fresh from fresh from two raucous away games, I remembered why I called this site All Quiet In The East Stand.

Tomas Radszinci's reply for Fulham rightly punished us for sloppy defending, and we really should have been three or four up but we held on for a deserved win. Seventh in the league? Where are the moaners now?

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Farewell, Chris Powell

He never really wanted to go, but in truth, he probably should have gone in the summer. And, to be honest, the will he/won't he saga's been running for 18 months. But it's still hard to believe we're not going to see Chris Powell's jack-in-the-box trick after a Valley victory again as he takes a 108 through the tunnel to get himself a first-team place. Powell's proudest moment was that surprise England call-up, as he kept the left-back position warm while Sven hunted for a long-term solution. He did the job, and did it well without fuss. Which sums up his career perfectly. I'm sure everybody wishes him well at West Ham. It certainly gives me another reason to keep checking West Ham Lass (one for the dads).

He's rare creature in football - a man who wins friends wherever he goes, as Jonathan Pearce will never stop telling you everytime he commentates on one of his games. Southend still adore him, and he leaves with a tribute paid to him on foreign fields still ringing in his ears - 1,500 Charlton fans bellowing his name, 15 minutes after the end of the Palace game, as soon as he was spotted being a pundit for Sky.

I'm sure he'll still be around in a few years - ending his career at Southend, or turning up as a manager somewhere after that. You never know, he could be back here in a decade's time on the coaching staff. You can't keep a good man down.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Euell have to think of a better pun, old son

I've been laid up in bed for most of the past couple of days - I'm blaming hanging around chilly old West Bromwich Albion on Saturday for my seasonal lurgy. But it's not just feeling rotten that's been keeping me awake at night - what the bleedin' heck is going on with Jason Euell?

He's barely featured this season, leading to his agent having a moan in the South London Press, ramped up into a "blast" from the player himself in today's Sun.

In between the two, we have the 2+2=4 Sunday paper link to Crystal Palace (the pointless Fans, sorry), the slap down from Curbishley, and the "I'm saying nothing" from a clearly amused Ian Dowie.

I'd be gutted to see Euell leave - but Danny Murphy's improved form at the heart of Charlton's midfield is clearly blocking his way. Sometimes I think Euell's own versatility is his downfall - I longed to see him up front instead of the hapless Bartlett on Saturday, but then again we also had Francis Jeffers on the bench. With Johansson and Lisbie out, an appearance as a striker would probably be Euell's best bet - but if we're only going to be playing one up front, maybe that's not going to happen either.

Looking at this positively, it can't be a bad thing if you have talented players like Euell desperate to get in the team. A Palace move would be a logical one for a player who has spent all of his career in south London - he's still adored by the AFC Wimbledon faithful at Kingsmeadow. But, let's be honest, he's far too good for them, and I hope he stays here. Players as obviously hard-working as he is seem to be getting rarer in the Premiership - if we were to lose him, it'd be a mighty blow.

Monday, December 13, 2004

The wheels on the bus go...

A park-and-ride service from North Greenwich tube and the Millennium Dome complex is going to form part of the planning application for the revamped East Stand, according to the exhibition that's running at The Valley this week. It also includes an agreement for two extra trains to run from Charlton straight after each game, although there's little detail on which direction they'd run, or how this park-and-ride would work. Apparently the club's already running a "green transport plan" - news to anybody who's been stuck in the matchday jams - since the North Stand redevelopment a couple of years ago.

The plans also confirm Holborn College - a private law/business college based by the Thames Barrier - will take up space in the new stand, which will have a shallow upper tier and be level with the West Stand - which the club says will stop noise and light leaking out to Charlton Lane. A "living wall" - think of the grassy roof of Sainsbury's in Greenwich - is also planned to make their outlook a bit prettier than it is now. There'll be new buildings at both the Harvey Gardens and Landsdowne Mews ends, with some flats included where the Sam Bartram gates are now.

It's an interesting exhibition, although probably aimed more at the club's immediate neighbours around Charlton Lane, and features a video showing Michael Grade getting a bit misty-eyed on the pitch, telling Greenwich Council just what prestige the club brings to the borough. If you can get along to take a peek, do it.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Look! A new blog!

A warm welcome to a new Charlton blog, Build A Bonfire - which was actually what I was going to call this place originally, before opting for All Quiet In The East Stand. With Wyn Grant upping the pace of his Addick's Diary - and incurring the wrath of Peter Varney, the cheeky young scamp - plus the erudite contributions from Chicago and New York, it's all looking very encouraging. All we now need to do now is have a big falling-out and the job will be done. Come on, outside, now!

Robbo's warning

Great interview with John Robinson in today's Independent on Sunday - another warning of how greed is ripping the heart out of football.

"I could have played on, picking up a good living, but I couldn't do that without being 100 per cent committed and deprive someone else, who would be wholehearted and ambitious, of the chance. I haven't fallen out of love with playing football, it's the politics of football and becoming a commodity I don't like." (more)

West Brom 0-1 Charlton

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday People, Sunday Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Wyn Grant, Build A Bonfire.

Get in! £35 last Sunday would have brought you the lifetime's satisfaction of beating crappy Palace. £35 this Saturday bought you the very happy sensation of beating West Brom and being able to travel up there on the train too. Seventy quid well spent, as my bank manager will never, ever tell me.

In truth, and as every bloody person has probably told you by now, we should have had them by three or four. Shaun Bartlett's stunning miss over the bar made us wonder why Curbs persisted with him while Jeffers and Euell sat on the bench. Danny Murphy's first-half screw up was a rare blot in an otherwise faultless game which shut up the moaners behind me. After all, it was his free-kick which set up Matt Holland's goal, and his effort and crisp passing are fast making him the heart-beat of our side.

Add to that a committed (if occasionally erratic) Kishishev and a stylish performace from Jerome Thomas, and you had a well-deserved win in front of about 1,000 Charlton fans. Should have been more - after all, Birmingham's a good place to do your Christmas shopping these days. But for those who made the trip, it was worth the effort.

As for West Brom, they started off sprightly enough, but sagged after half-time - it was suggested to me that their new manager had been feeding them with lager in the interval... Bryan Robson left his best talent, Jason Koumas, on the bench, and it was too late when he came on. The Baggies we met on the Midland Metro told us of a demoralised squad. Which was why their side was booed off at half-time, wasn't it? Down with the Palace for them - level on points with Liverpool for us. Christmas is coming, fingers crossed, our goose is starting to look satisfyingly fat.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Poor old Scott, poor old Rochdale...

Mourinho's furious reaction to his second Chelsea defeat was enough to dispel any fanciful thoughts of a fix.

Scott Parker was singled out for particularly harsh treatment, being berated at Oporto airport for failing to block Diego's second-half equaliser, and Mourinho even went as far as to question his players' motivation.

Oh, my heart aches for the lad.

Meanwhile, Rochdale appear to have rejected Charlton's suggestion that the FA Cup game should be priced at £15 - leading to a stonking £18 price tag on the game. Ouch. The sad thing is, the reduced attendance will probably end up hurting Rochdale financially as well. Oh, the romance of the Cup, eh?

Oh, and who to laugh at first? Portsmouth, Southampton, or Wolves?

Monday, December 06, 2004

Inspector Sands v Inspector Knacker

Yup, still smiling. Although I've just been to the dentist, so it's a bit of a lopsided smile, so I'm actually doing a passable impression of the Palace fan who stood up, waving his arms around, in an attempt to bait the Charlton fans yesterday. Heaven help the poor sods behind him.

One aspect of yesterday does leave a sour taste in the mouth - it's our old friends from Croydon police. As mentioned here before, putting this game on at 4pm on a Sunday was a risky choice - but some of the police tactics yesterday seemed to encourage trouble, rather than discourage it.

Was it really necessary for 50 or so Charlton fans to be marched from Norwood Junction station to Park Road before the game? Does nobody in the police realise this might just bottle up tension? I'm not going to deny there was trouble - police had to separate the two sets of fans in the Arthur Wait concourse at half-time, and the mailing list is reporting seats being ripped out. Got to get your £35-worth, after all. (Well, what seats were there, of course - the back of the Arthur Wait just had seat-backs and the iron fittings ready to stab into your shins.)

Keeping the Charlton fans back after the game was probably sensible - and at least gave us the chance to show our appreciation to the team during their warm-down, and to serenade Chris Powell, doing his bit for Sky.

But leaving was still a reminder that as a football fan, you're scum in the eyes of the authorities. An embarrassed-looking copper filming us, fans seemingly picked out at random to be marched back to Norwood Junction. Oh, and that police barricade outside the station. Was it really needed? Some police are fine, and seemed aware of how ridiculous the situation was. Others obviously saw it was a chance to avenge a spot of schoolyard bullying, like the twonk in the Norwood Junction barricade, speaking to a fan who reasonably tried to remonstrate with him as if he was a five-year-old who'd just wet his pants.

The laziest and most bone-headed thing was simply dumping the "bad lads" on a service train back to London Bridge - treat people like animals and they'll react like animals, and I'd have hated to have been an ordinary passenger on that ride back. Indeed, non-football passengers were pushed about by police and station staff as much as everyone else at Norwood Junction. Just so, so stupid.

Of course, the most sensible thing would be to have played the game at noon, made it a dry game, and made sure both sets of fans couldn't see each other in the Arthur Wait concourse. But when there's money to be made for Crystal Palace, and police looking to justify their bills, when does common sense ever come into it?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Crystal Palace 0-1 Charlton

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Sun, Wyn Grant, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Financial Times, Evening Sub-Standard,

What can I say? Crap game, really crap, until Dennis Rommedahl's winner, which we'll be talking about for years and years to come. Magical, simply magic. Oh, and lets' not forget Deano's penalty save - TV viewers tell me it was a penalty, I haven't seen it yet so I can't comment. But for heaven's sake, this is what we were born for - to see moments like this.

Atmosphere-wise, it was probably the best Charlton game in many a year - everyone on their feet, so many songs - this is what it should be about. For those who didn't go, Selhurst Park remains an utterly awful ground - parked at the back of the Arthur Wait, I was fine until five minutes into the second half until I saw some light below me... that stand wasn't as solid as I thought. I have vertigo, work it out for yourself. And there's other things I'd like to talk about, but let's leave that for tomorrow. For now, let's savour a fine derby win. I still can't wipe this grin off my face.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Cray Wanderers 2-0 AFC Wimbledon

History was made today at Hayes Lane as Cray Wanderers put a halt to AFC Wimbledon's 78-game unbeaten league run - chew on that, Arsene. An injury-ravaged Dons side just couldn't cope with the strength of a bustling, physical Wanderers side adapting well to their promotion to Ryman League Division 1, which had to see them move from their Sidcup home to share with Bromley, who they are now looking down upon in the league table.

An early shot after a goal-mouth scramble plus a fine second-half strike saw Cray seal a convincing win. AFC Wimbledon had chances early on - but crumbled during the second half, and could have gone three down before the end. But hearing Wimbledon fans complain about the opposition using the long-ball game is always a treat... I'd never been to Hayes Lane before, but it's a tidy little ground, and I look forward to comparing it with Selhurst Park tomorrow.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Selhurst confidential

Well, blow me down with a feather - at £35 a pop, we haven't sold out our allocation for the Palace game. And - brace yourselves - it's the first public statement from the supporters' club, probably of the century! Enter executive committee chair Mick Gebbett, who clears his throat and prepares to break several years of CASC silence.

"Palace, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to charge £35 for adult tickets.

"It just doesn't make economic sense. Ignoring concessions, selling 1,300 tickets at £35 means you make £45,500, whereas charging £20 adults and selling the full 2,800 allocation would mean £56,000, plus all the additional income from programmes and concessions and so on.

"How can you expect to people to go to away games and pay £35 for a game that is, to all intents and purposes, free on Sky?"

I think I need a lie down after that. But Mr Gebbett's views are generally appreciated as much in SE25 as much as they are in SE7, as the Nigels scratch their heads and wonder just what the hell Simon Jordan is playing at. I shall be going, with a heavy heart, because if I watch it in the pub and we play badly against those muppets, I will probably go absolutely ballistic. If I'm at the ground, I'll have a thousand other people to hold me back. If Palace do stay up, you won't see me there next year. Jordan can stuff his tickets up his arse after this time.

It's going to be my first visit there to see Charlton play since our last "home" game there in May 1991 against West Ham. I found my old ticket from there recently - just seeing it reminded me how bad things were then, down to that horrible "Selhurst Park Stadium" joint ticket.

But I do have a filthy stripey secret - my last visit there was actually in November 1997, because I'd been working with the people behind Palace Radio and I popped down to pay them a visit. I ended up getting in for nothing and watched Newcastle destroy Palace (remember Temuri Ketsbaia?) from behind some glass in the main stand. And even that was a rotten old dump. So I'm not looking forward to going back.

It also means I'll be far away from a telly when the FA Cup draw is announced - today's sad news meant I'd have liked us to have drawn Wrexham at home, but there's no chance of that now. We'll probably get MK Dons, Millwall, or bloody Palace again. Ho-hum.

Exciting travel advice: The A12 north of the Blackwall Tunnel is still closed, so expect more jams if you're driving through this part of town. No trains are calling at New Cross or St Johns on Sunday, and there's no trains from Plumstead via Lewisham. So there.

And in case Sunday's crap, you could always visit Bromley's ground tomorrow for Cray Wanderers v AFC Wimbledon in Ryman League Division 1. If you're really unlucky, you might see me there...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Out of the limelight

If the Premier League's official website is to be believed - and why wouldn't you believe the Premier League, eh? - we're not going to be on the telly again between the Fulham game (on 20/12) and March. Not sure what I think about that, because while it means we get lots of good old Saturday 3pm kick-offs, it means I don't get the option to bellow at the telly in my local pub, something I haven't done properly since Laurent Robert cheated us out of a penalty at Newcastle.

Speaking of which, this news means airline booking systems start to crumble under the weight of Charlton fans booking their trips to Newcastle for February. And by train? Oh yeah, you can't book cheap train tickets yet, because the rail firms can't agree a timetable yet. Duhhhh.

Lisandro speaks!

Well, almost. Wyn Grant's tracked down an interview with him, and wisely counsels us not to be too excited...

"To what country you would like to go? Hopefully that if it occurs me, is in a pretty place and an equipment with possibility of being champion." (more)

Hmmm. I'd hold off sweeping Harvey Gardens for now, it's only a rumour, remember...

Birmingham's stadium blues

Not an awful amount to do with Charlton, but interesting considering what we're planning right now. Birmingham's chairman David Gold has looked at Manchester City, and decided he wants somebody else to build them a nice new stadium. Considering the glum-looking faces at a decidedly-not-sold-out St Andrew's for our game earlier this year, I wonder if he really could fill it to a level that wasn't embarrassing for most games, but that's his problem. One statement seems odd, though, when talking about their current location...

"You could rebuild the main stand at a cost of £12m to increase the capacity by five or six thousand - but they would be the most expensive seats in the Premiership." (more)

Considering we've had a new stand built (admittedly behind the goal) in the past few years and managed to pack it with cheap seats, I wonder how Mr Gold managed to work that one out. Maybe he just needs to shift more porn mags.

By the way, word reaches me that Charlton's planning application for the Valley expansion should cover many of the transport concerns outlined earlier. Putting my local hat on, I hope it's true.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

At last! A transfer rumour!

Charlton are close to making an offer for striker Lisandro Lopez - the top scorer in the Argentine league - according to the player's agent.

Fernando Hidalgo says Charlton, who have struggled to find a regular goalscorer in recent seasons, are tracking the Racing Club striker.

"Charlton are closely following his performances as they want to sign him by the end of the year," said Hidalgo.

Any dedicated followers of Argentine football know much about this chap? It's nice to be linked with a new name, at the very least.

Location, location, location

So Charlton are about to put that planning application in for the expanded Valley - as a neighbour of the club as well as a fan I've got double the interest in this, and it'll be interesting to see just what goes before the council on 13 December. As the good Mr Varney explains:

"The application will seek approval for the redevelopment of the east stand and the south-east corner of the ground to take the capacity of The Valley to 30,900.

"Our intention is also to lodge an outline design for the remaining development of the stadium - principally the south stand - at the same time and to declare our intention to ultimately raise the capacity of The Valley to 40,600."

There's also a load of stuff to do with Sparrows Lane, which also comes under Greenwich's control, which will be submitted at the same time.

As a fan, I hope we don't over-burden ourselves with the redevelopment - although with Charlton sitting in the Thames Gateway redevelopment area, there's all kinds of things we can take advantage of. (Wonder if I can use that to get new windows?) I'm also a little worried expansion will further dilute the atmosphere - watching footage of us in our first Premiership season, I may well have been watching another team in another stadium. But, on the whole, it's a very good thing - and if we get more events like the planned England U20 game against Russia in February, then it's an even better thing.

As a local, I'm also happy - the club gives prestige to the area and I'm seeing more Charlton shirts/car stickers around SE7 now than I have done in years. And, to be honest, I think most of the club's neighbours would back it too. All I would say is that transport remains a major issue - we're happy to run coaches to Margate, but none to the vast, empty car parks up by the Dome to ease the traffic congestion around here. Indeed, those car parks are a factor we've got in our favour which Spurs and West Ham - the two comparable stadiums I can think of which also suffer from horrendous traffic congestion - don't have.

So long as neighbours get a fixture list so they can avoid taking the car out on matchdays and those "next match" signs on Charlton Church Lane get updated (they don't), I don't see a problem. My upstairs neighbours grumble a little, but it's hardly as if they didn't know what to expect.

Naturally, a "local" paper based near Orpington can, though...

Mike Donovan, 53, secretary of the Charlton Athletic Residents' Liaison Committee, said: "Anyone in their right minds would not choose to site a club right in the middle of two single-file roads. The roads are already jammed on match days.

"Adding another 15,000 fans is ludicrous. If there was a fire, the emergency services would have real difficulties entering the ground with the extra traffic on the roads.

"Also, the burden on Greenwich's cleansing services to clear up litter after matches is already quite substantial. More fans will just add to the burden."

Of course, anyone in their right minds wouldn't choose to live next to a football stadium then moan about it. Judging by the nature of the traffic queues around here, I also think he's talking out of his bum on that point too. (I've never heard of the Charlton Athletic Residents' Liason Committee, although I'm probably a bit too far away to count.)

But if the club was to work with transport providers, or to put on park-and-ride to North Greenwich or elsewhere, then the number of cars would be less of an issue, and the moaners would have to shut up. Of course, it may mean you changing your habits of getting to the ground and back. But you'd do it if it meant a bigger, better Valley - wouldn't you?

Party time

The supporters' club's Bromley branch - that's the one which actually does things - has revealed plans for its centenary street party, due to take place in Eastmoor Street, Charlton, close to the club's first ground at Siemens Meadows, on 12 June. It'll feature a stage, marquee, and fish-and-chip van on the site the original East Street fishmongers'. Stewards and sponsors are also needed.

To satisfy the council safety demands, a lot of this needs to be in place as soon as possible, so if you can help, and since the CASC site is down (funny, that), drop me a line and I'll pass on the organisers' details.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Robbo's retirement

You have to hand it to Gillingham, sneaking the sad news of John Robinson retiring underneath the entirely trivial matter of, um, John Gorman deciding to flee the Scally clutches and go to manage Wycombe.

I got the Raise the Roof DVD out tonight and replayed that moment when Robbo turned on a ball from Mark Kinsella and walloped it into the left hand of Manchester United's net, making it 3-3, in a game I really can't believe was nearly four years ago. Sad to see a hamstring injury has forced Robinson to retire at just 33, although, true to form, he cancelled his contract a month early to save the Gills from having to cough up for him to sit around doing nothing.

There's few players who have done so much for us as Robbo, and I hope we get to thank him at The Valley soon. His enthusiasm and commitment could just rub off...

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Charlton 0-4 Chelsea

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life,, The Observer, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, News of the World, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, Sunday Times.

Well thank heavens that's over. If Chelsea don't win the Premiership, I'll eat my Burro Derek Hales t-shirt. The best performance from a team I've ever seen at The Valley completely wiped us out. As sharp as Jose Mourinho's winter coat (it's on my Christmas list) and the man himself has just said on Grandstand, it was all about "control".

Unlike the clown-like performance from Raineri's mob last Boxing Day, once Chelsea had the ball, it hardly left their feet. Robben, Gudjohnsen, and Terry were superb - and while Petr Cech had little to worry about in goal, when he was called upon, he was fantastic. It's not just about control - it's speed too. You gawp at Arsenal when Henry or Viera accelerate up the field - most of the eleven Chelsea put out could leave them standing. You may, like me, have grave misgivings about the effect Abramovich's money is having - but let's be frank, his Frankenstein's monster is going to lay waste to the Premiership this season.

And to be honest, they left us standing so many times that it was hard to properly assess our own players. Jerome Thomas had a bright start and despite the letdown of Damien Duff's early goal, an equaliser remained a dim possibility. Although it seemed more likely to come from the feet or head of risk-taking defender Paulo Ferreira than it did from Jonatan Johansson, who looked scared out of his wits every time he blew a chance. It seemed a more evenly-matched battle by the end of the first half as Chelsea struggled to deal with Danny Murphy's corners - but the start of the second half saw the Pensioners storm out of the traps in terrifying fashion.

Two John Terry goals in three minutes killed us off - firstly from a lightning-quick Damien Duff corner, secondly after the kind of defensive foul-up which makes you wonder why you bothered getting out of bed. And then it was all Chelsea. "You might as well go home," chorused the Chelsea fans. Several thousand of our fans did just that.

Naturally, we saved our substitutions until after Chelsea's stylish fourth goal, from Gudjohnsen, with Thomas, Murphy and an awful Kishishev coming off in favour of Jason Euell, Dennis Rommedahl and Herman Hreidarsson. And we did put a bit of pressure on Chelsea on as the game wore on - largely thanks to Euell and Rommedahl, but frankly it was like a flea biting an elephant. A half-empty Valley greeted the final whistle - it's nice to know our fans are backing us when the chips are down.

But however we performed, at least you can say in May (or March) that you were there when Chelsea won the Premiership.

Wyn Grant has some very interesting views on where we go next, while Chelsea Blog's worth a read on this too.

(Apologies for the delay in putting up this match report - Blogger went arse-up last night, making nipping home early to write this a bit pointless...)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Greedy Arse-holes

I wonder if the two empty seats next to me will be filled (at £45 a pop) for today's Chelsea game? I hope it doesn't sell out today, just to serve the club right for trying to squeeze so much out of prospective punters.

Worse, though, is happening over at Arsenal...

Season-ticket prices at Highbury have doubled in the past four years and fans are going to have to part with even more money long before the 60,000-seat stadium opens in August 2006 as Arsenal look to reduce the £375m debt built up by the development.

Existing season-ticket holders will be able to choose their seats in the new ground from next April, but they will have to pay a 15% deposit for that right at a time when they also have to find more than £1,000 to renew for the final season at Highbury. Anyone buying a season ticket for the first time will have to pay the whole amount up front.

Who needs Malcolm Glazer when English football has David Dein trying price everybody out of the game?

(By the way, I may be a little late with this, but if you possibly help it, don't drive to today's game - the Blackwall Tunnel northern approach is closed this weekend and the jams paralysed the area last weekend. I'm sure you'd like to be home by midnight, so take a train instead.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Dreaming of cold January days...

You've got to hand it to Alan Curbishley. When there's expectations to be damped down, he gets in there nice and early.

"ALAN CURBISHLEY is hoping to bring new faces to Charlton in January - but admits it may be a difficult job.

Curbishley said: "We have got a bit of money - that was announced last summer.

"But it's very difficult for clubs to let players go. They have got a short space of time to replace if they want to.

"So the only players who are going to move around are players who are not actually wanted by their clubs and they feel they have got adequate cover."

Now we're about six weeks from the window opening, hopefully we'll get something more juicy and hopeful than the washed-up old snippets pushed by inferior football websites and the gossip columns of the Sunday papers. Stephane Henchoz? Well, I suppose it'll give Danny Murphy a familiar face to turn to... and whatever happened to the Robert Huth rumour? I wouldn't rule that one out.

The trouble is with any of this, too, is that a player coming in for January has very little time to settle down in their new surroundings - the same problem we've faced with Jeffers and Murphy. So if you're looking for a miracle, go and watch some non-league football.

All Quiet In The East Stand understands Darren Bent is still at the top of Curbs' wishlist, although Ipswich's current form in the Championship could work against this. If their defeat to Sunderland causes them to falter some more, then it's good for us. I feel sorry for Ipswich fans - they've a good chance of promotion, yet they're still vulnerable to preying Premiership clubs after their best players. There but for the grace of...

An issue that's still live is Scott Parker - those rumours from a couple of months back forced lunatic genius Jose Mourinho to rack his brains to remember who that midfield fella was. Thankfully, they've died down, and I'm surprised we haven't seen a repeat of the "please don't boo me, I was young and stupid and Mr Raineri wanted to show me his puppies" stories.

Despite the likelihood that he'll get a game (or appearance in the shop window) in the Champions League tonight, it's got to be unlikely that Scott will return to Bobby Davro's old place a Chelsea player in February. With Parker's transfer to Chelsea coming right at the end of the transfer window, this one looks like it'll go on right up to the wire again. Everton are stomping around with their Rooney-sized wallet, and Newcastle could be another destination. It remains a possibility, but I'm not keeping my hopes up.

Anyhow, feel free to toss a few names into the hat here - I'm starting to get into the mood for wild speculation. It'll cheer me up on Saturday night.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Idiot of the week

If you're pissed off about yesterday and want to hear some idiot ripped to shreds, click here to listen to some idiot from the MK Lepers get ripped apart on local radio up there before yesterday's game against Luton. It's great stuff.

(They lost 4-1.)

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"Oh no, Man U are on the telly again"

An efficient Manchester United managed to suffocate the life out of Charlton at Old Trafford this lunchtime. Luke Young managed to deflect Ryan Giggs' iffy shot into the goal, while Paul Scholes scored an admittedly cracking sort-of-bicycle kick for the United follow-up. The worst thing about watching this on the telly? Like it is for every single TV game involving United - the expectation that this is going to turn into something like a Harlem Globetrotters' game.

But thanks to United's lack of sharpness in the first half, and Rooney's wastefulness in the second, we were spared another drubbing in the north west. But it coould have been close. Jerome Thomas was outclassed, and while that 4-5-1 formation is all very good if you're winning, it's rubbish if you're losing. To Manchester United. Jason Euell's presence was missed in the later stages, while Franny Jeffers came on too late. We let our heads go down in what became a typical Charlton away performance - a carbon-copy of last season's loss at Old Trafford. Nothing too disgraceful, but it does make me worry a little bit more about next week's Chelsea game.

Attack of the plastic Mancs

"Did you know Charlton have never beaten Manchester United before?", Eamonn Holmes just uttered on Five Live.

A second's pause.

"In the Premiership, of course," he corrected himself.

Actually, to his credit, he does have Glen Tilbrook on in a minute, although he will be talking about that dreadful song he wrote for Charlton a few years ago. Although this looks much more interesting.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Peacock shows his feathers

"I'm in the twilight years of my career but feel best qualified for the job at the moment and I keep learning all the time. I hold on to certain old philosophies and ideas but two-thirds of you has to move on." (more)

A good interview with Keith Peacock in today's Evening Sub-Standard, although the paper's weak claim to be the home of London football was somewhat undermined by a sidebar on Keith's favourite players referring to a bloke called "DEREK HAYLES".

I shan't be at Old Trafford tomorrow, but I shall be close to a TV and will try to share some thoughts with you at some point. Bet you can't wait.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Stand up if you love Charlton

The good and glamorous ladies of Netaddicks have reminded me of something I'd forgotten from last night. Richard Murray came out as an advocate of bringing back terracing at football grounds - something Peter Varney's spoken about before, and now the chairman's given it some fresh impetus.

Up in my seat in the East Stand, I can't say standing really bothers me. I get a decent seat, all I ask is that the swines around me sing every once in a while. Or shout. Or even look interested. But then I go away, get a crappy seat, and would rather be standing. There's got to be room for both in our stadium.

Murray said he'd gladly turn part of The Valley into a standing section - but doubted politicans would back it. "It's not politically correct at the moment." Surely what we need to do is prove it is politically correct, in the proper sense of the term - the best way of doing things to please all parties.

The Safe Standing Campaign website, alas, doesn't look like it's been updated for some time. But just the quickest of glances shows other clubs also back the return of standing areas - the thoughts of West Ham's safety chief on forcing people to sit are worth a read.

Murray mentioned last night that making people sit at football has led to a tendency for fans to expect entertainment, like you would in a cinema. I looked through the windows out onto the deserted, dark, stadium and was reminded of a theatre once all the patrons had gone home.

He hit the nail on the head. Bringing back standing at football would help fans feel involved again. Too many people see football as a passive activity - they watch it on the telly, watch it in the pub, by the time they get to a game they've forgotten how to get involved.

But football's a community activity too - and if people feel they can be more involved standing up, let's do everything in our powers to get the laws changed. There's room to accommodate both seating and standing, and reintroducing standing would benefit both groups, since the seated supporter would benefit from a better atmosphere.

And it could be the shot in the arm this dull old Premiership needs right now.

Save Wrexham

From Clubs In Crisis and Wrexham fan site Red Passion:

20th November 2004 is to be 'Wear Red for Wrexham' Day on which fans from clubs around the country turn up to watch their respective club dressed in red.

This will be a striking visual show of support for their cause and will show the North Wales club that they are not alone. It will also show the powers that be that the rest of football cares what happens to the club.

Anyone seeking more information on 'Wear Red for Wrexham' day should email:-

It is important that as many of you as possible turn up in red to show support so please make the effort and spread the word round your club.

Wrexham fans are among the best and have rallied to help clubs such as Doncaster Rovers and Brighton and Hove Albion despite facing problems of their own. It is time for the football community to return the favour.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The fans' inquistion

I snuck into BBC London's Fans' Forum recording at The Valley tonight - starring Curbs, Chris Perry, Herman Hreidarsson, and Richard Murray. I've not listened to BBC London's coverage of Charlton at all - mainly because I cannot abide the rest of the station's output (if there is such a thing as hell, it involves Jon Gaunt and Vanessa Feltz). But Tom Watt was an excellent host, despite being thrown by a gag about pizza toppings...

I shan't spoil it for anybody intending to listen - 8pm on Wednesday, BBC London 94.9FM - but there were illuminating comments from all four, including Curbs on referees favouring the bigger clubs, and on why those younger players aren't getting though (he says he's aware of it, but it's not for the want of trying), and Richard Murray on the £45 Chelsea tickets ("If you were a real fan, you'd buy tickets for both and they'd be £30 each."). Chris Perry's a great talker generally, and Herman will let you in on the secrets of booting players across the pitch.

Oh, and Paul Konchesky's been off the transfer list since the summer, did you know? Well, you do now.

One thing I doubt BBC London will put out, mind, because it concerns a rival station, was Curbs' response to his brother's comments on Talksport a couple of weeks back. "Well, he's my big brother, he's 63, he can look after himself. He laughs about it now." Turns out Who manager Bill owns shares in the club and has seats in the directors' box. "So, he thought he was entitled to have his say." A good event - and good to see the relaxed, amusing, self-deprecating Curbs that gets squeezed out between Gordon Strachan and Adrian Chiles on MOTD2. Just don't mention Herman's Elvis impressions.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Charlton 4-0 Norwich

Proper match reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Independent on Sunday.

Our best Premiership win since 2000, yet at times this felt like a cup tie. But despite this being the day English football's minnows get their day in the FA Cup spotlight, the top league's smallest team got a trouncing at The Valley.

Two Jonatan Johansson goals - yes, I was pinching myself too - in the first half saw us cruising against the Canaries. But a hairy start to the second half saw the promoted side nearly get back in it as they camped out in our goalmouth. If they'd have got something, I hate to think what would have happened.

But - in contrast to last weekend at Spurs - we pulled off a substitution just when we needed it. After 74 minutes, an ineffective Kevin Lisbie was yanked off for Paul Konchesky - and Konch was, for the first time in a long while, the right man at the right time to prod the ball into the goal with his first touch of the game.

Two minutes from time, Jason Euell showed just why he shouldn't be lingering on the bench by showing the imbeciles how it's done, knocking in a JJ cross four our fourth.

Maybe it was harsh on Norwich - but we could have had more against them. We'll have worse teams at The Valley this season, without a doubt. Norwich never gave up, and I hope in 24 months' time they'll be back up after a season down, stronger and bette than they were today.

But today was a good game for our confidence players - JJ, Konch, Euell - which on its own is worth our weight in gold. Kish, Danny Murphy, and - once again - Jerome Thomas played out of their skins today, while Talal El Karkouri's determination - and his boot of the ball into the Jimmy Seed Sand - won him new fans. Not sure what happened to Matt Holland - despite being baited by the Norwich fans, he never really quite rose to the occasion. But we've stored a cushion of points for some tough games ahead - Manchester United, Chelsea, and Palace. We're smiling today - and level on points with Manchester United. Let's make sure we're smiling in three weeks' time.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Can you hear the moaners sing?

No-ooo, no-ooo... the dust has settled after the Spurs victory, and I'm still smiling. Mind you, so are Spurs, who got their defeat out of their system tonight by beating Burnley in the League Cup. Was the Spurs win a freak result against a shell-shocked side? Hopefully we'll find out on Saturday when we play Norwich, when a win will be necessary to really ease our worries. Of course, it's a given that Matt Svensson will score against us, so go and put some cash on 2-1.

The biggest positive we can take from the Spurs game is the same one we've taken from the Boro and Palace matches - Jerome Thomas. At White Hart Lane he managed that little bit which has so far eluded him - scoring. I hope I'm not over-egging things here, but he's the most exciting player we've seen at The Valley for some time. There's clearly a difference between him and most of our other players who have been languishing in the reserves - Curbs went out and bought him, while most of our second string are home-grown players. But Thomas's success makes me wonder if it's time we took that gamble on bringing through some of the youngsters.

Obviously, the financial madhouse which is the Premiership discourages risk - why risk a kid on a game when there's potentially a couple of million at stake? Michael Turner's sale to Brentford last week raises a few questions about whether any of our youngsters have a realistic chance of breaking into the first team. But it'd be good to see Lloyd Sam or Neil McCafferty on the bench - and perhaps the increased competition would be good for the squad.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Tottenham 2-3 Charlton

A composed Charlton performance of the kind we hadn't yet seen this season saw us come away the winners at White Hart Lane. Two great goals from Shaun Bartlett - watch out for the second - and Jerome Thomas' first goal sealed us the win, aided by excellent performances by Danny Murphy and Chris Perry. It socks one to the Curbs Out mob, but they'll find ammunition in how poorly we reacted to Bartlett's sending-off for a handball - it took an eternity for us to substitute a tiring JJ with Jason Euell, in which time Jermain Defoe got a second for Spurs, leading to a heart-in-mouth finale for the Addicks. But all in all, a fantastic performance and the one we've been crying out for - savour the moment now, because all you'll read about tomorrow will be more "crisis at Spurs" headlines. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to hunt around for a bottle of champagne to take to the Blackheath fireworks.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Up for the Spurs

Crikey - Jacques Santini has quit Spurs on the eve of our game at White Hart Lane.

"My time at Tottenham has been memorable and it is with deep regret that I take my leave. Private issues in my personal life have arisen which caused my decision." (more)

It's been a strange old time for Spurs, and not a particularly happy one. Club icon Bill Nicholson will no doubt be formally remembered tomorrow, ahead of a memorial service on Sunday. On the field, the team has returned to the shambolic Spurs side we know and love, with fans bemoaning their lack of strike power, as Tottenham blog The Shelf bemoans. Sound familiar?

"Strikers should not be expected to drop into our own half to pick up the ball and will hopefully have the service on Saturday to stay around Charlton's box where they have a chance of doing something unusual like score. (more)

Two clubs going through the miseries - sounds like a 0-0 to me. But I hope we can take advantage of the Tottenham turmoil - not just to get away from the wrong end of the table, but to shut the "Curbs Out" gang up.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Just the right time for a holiday...

I think I chose the right time to take a few days away - buggering off to Prague and not looking at the internet does wonders for your perspective. I suppose I should mention Bill Curbishley's rather bizarre intervention on TalkSport, but I really can't be bothered, it seems to have added fuel to a rather pointless fire.

Instead, I'd like you to cast your eyes over the water. Hornchurch had been runaway leaders of Conference South, with rich backers and a determination to get the club into the Football League. Possibly the only professional club at that level, they were the Chelsea of the non-league scene, and recently put Gravesend & Northfleet out of the FA Cup, having walloped Dulwich Hamlet 9-0 in the previous round. Indeed, they were looking at buying ex-Addick Charlie MacDonald from his current, very successful, home at Crawley Town.

But cast a thought for their small band of fans.

Late last evening, the chairman Gary Calder and manager Garry Hill were informed that there would no longer be the funds available to sustain Hornchurch FC.

Players and staff were issued wage cheques on Tuesday, but these were all stopped.

Gary Calder said, "The party is over and the rollercoaster ride has come to an end. The club will continue playing football and will compete in the FA Trophy and the FA Cup. We are absolutely devastated".

The repercussions will be felt beyond Hornchurch - the club was being backed by the Carthium Group, which owns the Bryco and Coldseal windows firms. It's Carthium which has ceased trading, so along with Bryco/ Coldseal and Hornchurch, it was also backing Wealdstone, Yeading, Billericay Town and a couple of others, as well as the Conference and Isthmian Leagues' cup competitions.

So most of Conference South gets to breathe a sigh of relief, a group of fans get set to return to the Essex Senior League whence they came, and it just shows that at any level, even the most well-funded club can go spectacularly belly-up.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Red, white and...

Before I jet off to hide from Charlton (SE7 and Athletic) for a couple of days, just a quick thought. It was good to see the Red, White and Black anti-racism stuff on Saturday, wasn't it? Proof of how football can be a force for good in our lives, despite the mire the Premiership is sinking into. A quick round of applause, please.

Just a shame, though, that nobody at the club thought to remove the freshly-placed National Front sticker from a lamp post next to the East Stand terraces. Forget for a moment the good work in South Africa and all that - vigilance begins at home and all that, eh?

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Charlton 1-2 Middlesbrough

Proper reports:, BBC Sport.

A beautiful autumn's afternoon - a reminder the clocks go back tonight and we won't be seeing any more evening sunshine of these for a few months. But where will Charlton be the next time it's light at the final whistle? Boro were hardly the best side to come to The Valley, but left with all the points after another ineffectual game for the Addicks. "Cheer up, 'cos we're going down!" I heard some merry soul sing as he walked into the Conservative Club.

Boro's first goal came from a Kiely cock-up, Stuart Downing stealing a weak kick from goal, with the ball finding its way ti Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for what was, then, an undeserved lead. We'd been good at possession until then, with Jerome Thomas impressing for his second first-team start in a row. The problem was, we couldn't do anything with the ball.

The goal knocked the stuffing out of us, and Boro descended into the cheating, diving game we all know and love, George Boetang's antics guaranteeing him a place in the Christmas panto season. Mark Halsey only deemed the first half to be worthy of two minutes' injury time - perhaps Arsene Wenger had been on the phone from Highbury.

We started the second-half brighter - with Jonatan Johansson scoring a beauty after 46 minutes. From one of the strangers next to me: "Curbs must have given them a bollocking at half-time - why doesn't he just give them a bollocking before the game instead?" But we couldn't take advantage, and Mark Viduka's tumble outside the box provided ample distraction for Zenden to chip a winner over Dean Kiely.

The game ended as it started, Thomas substituted to a standing ovation for Konchesky, and Murphy on for Kishishev for what must have been his worst-ever game in England. We camped out in the Boro box, but barely had the wits about us to shoot. Lisbie was booed when he came on for Shaun Bartlett - and lived down to expectations with a wretched performance. Three points to the Boro - and next week's game at Spurs becomes very worrying indeed.

Premiership malaise strikes again

Of course, what we really wanted to hear from the club at the end of the week was an apology for going out to the League Cup to the Beagles, and a full refund for the money we spent on watching that piffle.

Instead, what we got was Peter Varney whacking a nail into the coffin of the idea that we're above the rest of the greedy, grasping, demented Premiership, doing its best to kill itself through over-inflated ticket prices.

I've got all the time in the world for Mr Varney, who I last saw in the West Stand watching our reserves from the cheap seats, rather than the directors' cushions. But sorry Reg, you've picked a wrong'un here.

Tickets for the Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal games will cost £45. This comes just days after Varney was in the Observer voicing his fears that over-inflated pricing was killing the Premiership.

Now, it's very tempting to want to punish Chelsea fans for their club's appalling away end. It's also tempting to want to get another tenner out of people who just want to see a Big Game. But it's just another contribution to the appalling inflation of ticket prices in the Premiership - and it makes us as bad as Chelsea, as bad as Spurs (£34 for tatty old White Hart Lane?!) and all the other greedy teams who long since lost sight of their fans.

Apparently, this is to make up for the shortfall caused by charging £15 for Monday night TV games like the Blackburn match. But, hold on, aren't we paid good money by Sky for matches like this? I'm sorry, this is a weak excuse and not worthy of a sensible man like Peter Varney.

In the meantime, I'm sure the supporters' director will be making a statement on this. Oh, I'm sorry, I must have been dreaming...

But when Chelsea take it out on us, and charge £45 for a view of Jose Mourinho's head, you all know who to blame.

Bigmouth strikes again

Strange old week. I've been moaning about not having a Saturday 3pm game at home for weeks, but when it finally comes, I don't want it. Is it too late to turn the Boro coach back? Still, the arrival of Steve McClaren's side will form a much-needed "Why The League Cup is important" lecture to our lazy side. It's just too late now.

Since Wednesday, it's been downhill all the way for the unhappy Addicks. I didn't hear big Brian Cole talk about "Crystal Palarse", although I thought something was up when he introduced us and not the Glaziers as the teams came onto the pitch. Palace complained, and Cole was out on his arse, which would explain the real reason why the earth moved around here on Wednesday night.

The Nigels board are a touchy lot - he's had a pop at Millwall over barbs in their programme, resulting in an entertaining little spat last season. I understand Millwall stopped playing Smokie's Living Next Door To Alice before Palace games as a result of complaints from the SE25 side.

There's been howls of outrage about Cole's sacking from many fans, although much of it has been from the hilarious "we're trying to be PC" angle, which doesn't really suggest anybody's even remotely tried to put themselves in the position of Messrs Varney and Murray. Naturally, of course, the Cole cause was taken up by cretins' radio station TalkSport, where walking somewhere instead of driving is proof you're a card-carrying commie, but the big man appears to have rebuffed their offers of a Bring Back Brian campaign. Fans can still hear him on an internet revival of the old Charlton Live radio show, incidentally.

Wyn Grant's take on it is more considered: " It could be another step in the direction of a blander, more corporate Charlton." Which bangs the nail squarely on the head. If we're going to be a Big Club, then we'd better act like one, and that does involve sacrificing a few sly digs at the opposition and adopting a more polished, professional style. If you want your petty rivalries to be conducted at boardroom level too, then forget about making any progress on the pitch - I'm afraid being nice to your neighbours comes as part of the Premiership package. Whether we like it or not.

(Incidentally, now we've got rid of Brian Cole, can we stop playing that wretched Valley Floyd Road record? It makes me want to punch the DJ. Thank you.)

And then we had to endure another pop from silly Scally of the Jills, who said we were a disgrace for formalising a deal with Kent County Council to do good work in the community there. Which is very rich, coming from a man who seems eager to move Gillingham to, erm, Gravesend, threatening the livelihood of the team there. But like I said, being rude about your neighbours is the sign of a tinpot little club.

So it's a good thing I'm a fan and not an employee. Theo Paphitis, your club is a disgrace, just admit it. And you know Boris Johnson had the wrong target when he picked on Liverpool the other week - when Millwall fans are the kings and queens of self-pity.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Charlton 1-2 Crystal Palace

Black Wednesday at The Valley as a second-string Palace side heaped humilation on a hapless Charlton side, utterly lacking in imagination or conviction, and dumping us out of the League Cup. If Ian Dowie wanted to "concentrate on the league" he went the right way about it, making 10 changes from the side which beat West Brom at the weekend. Our lot, though, were largely the same squad which shamed us at Liverpool - only with Jerome Thomas and Franny Jeffers replacing Dennis Rommedahl and Shaun Bartlett.

It started well enough, a Hermann Hreidarsson goal after just five minutes, headed in from a Danny Murphy corner. Palace started off so poorly, they made us look world class, but as the first half wore on, we appeared to be taking the game for granted and were punished when Dougie Freedman, a threat all night, walloped the ball past a hapless Luke Young. From my eyrie at the top of the largely-silent East Stand, I swear I saw fear in Young's eyes.

It was downhill from then onwards - our midfield fell apart, and while we rained chances on the Palace goal towards the end of the second half, we could have still been playing by midnight and failed to score, thanks to our own ineptitude and some good saves from Julian Speroni. This despite the Glaziers being reduced to 10 men - Sandor Torghelle being sent off after a crude dive at the feet of Jon Fortune. Palace were rewarded with a trip to Manchester United, our players were booed off the field.

Does it get any worse than this? Of course it can - but hopefully this will be a wake-up call to stop the rot. However, if tonight's game couldn't inspire Charlton, you do have to wonder what will.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The plastic Addicks

Dolly says Curbs out!Right, let's get this out of the way.

We lose to a vastly superior team. Suddenly, people on Netaddicks and on the mailing list - most of whom, I take it, spent Saturday evening south of the Thames rather than north of the Mersey - crap themselves. "Curbs out!" is the cry.

Now, let's forget the past 14 years, because that'd be patronising. Let's look at this season, and the end of last season. The tail-end of 03/04 was disrupted by the departure of a hugely-influential player in unhappy circumstances this club hasn't had to deal with in the cash-happy era we're now in. Hence, a promising end to the season appears to end in a damp squib... except we were still seventh.

Come the summer, a whole loads of new players get signed. While two of our most experienced players leave without us being prepared for it. And, thanks to the vagaries of the new transfer system, the players we really want have silly prices dangled over their heads. And the new players don't get a chance to train properly with the squad because their signings aren't confirmed until just before the season starts.

Once the season starts, international breaks ruin any other chance to try out different combinations.

So, what we're seeing now is a work in progress. It isn't perfect. It was downright awful against Bolton and Man City, and it was poor at times against Arsenal and Liverpool. But this isn't the finished product. By any means.

Which doesn't stop people calling for Curbishley's head. Not surprising from the semi-autistic witterings from the mailing list, a little more so from Netaddicks - but it's easy to be some keyboard warrior, dreaming of the days of Derek Hales yet convieniently forgetting those days were played in the second division of a vastly different league.

There are those who really want us to be in a perpetual 1981, winning the Third Division and never getting any higher than that. But what worries me are those who should know better. Those who see two out of the three Premiership teams who have had a change of manager this season occupying 19th and 20th places in the league. But still want us to follow Blackburn and Southampton's example.

Of course, if you want an instant hit of satisfaction, go and join the plastic pillocks who packed out a pub near you for Manchester United v Arsenal on Sunday. But if you want a to back a real club with real fans, perhaps you should actually back Charlton and not back-bite. Do you want us to be a Blackburn, losing our soul on a dwindling fanbase? Or a Southampton, overshadowed by the ego of a pathetic chairman? Come on, if Curbishley was to go, what do you really think would happen? A sudden six-game winning run? Dream on and grow up.

We're in this together, and I hope the Anfield mess spurs the players to prove themselves against Palace on Wednesday. In the meantime, those who are calling for Curbishley's head should think long and hard about how much they really support Charlton. After all, there's always Manchester United or Arsenal on in a pub near you. With the bullshit surrounding that game, the Curbs Out gang will feel well at home there. Because it's always easier to moan when you're far, far away from the consequences.