Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Ipswich perspective...

After the weekend's grumbling about Matt Holland's less-than-stellar performances, I asked the man behind Ipswich's Portman Road Blog for his views. Here's Chevington Blue's take on his season from a Suffolk perspective...

I’m not entirely surprised to hear that there is a groundswell of opinion building at the Valley that Matt Holland's move from Town to Charlton during the summer has been a disappointment.

I’m not a watcher of Sky-televised games so the only way I have of keeping tabs on his and Hermann Hreidarsson’s progress is limited to ITV’s The Premiership highlights on Saturday nights. Which is not very much at all.

Your manager Alan Curbishley has been more than impressed with Holland since his transfer "not just with his performances but the way he conducts himself", with the "diving" incident against Arsenal back in October - that gained you a 1-1 draw - the only blemish.

All that said I think the general consensus at Ipswich, at least the amongst the Town fans that I mix with, is that we had had the best years out of the Republic of Ireland midfielder. And whilst he shone for the Republic during the 2002 World Cup there was always a bit of feeling that he was just a tad overrated elsewhere. Graham Taylor, then at Villa, was rumoured to have offered £8m for him prior to the 2002-03 season! Although I still think the £750,000 you got him for was a bargain even in the deflated state the market finds itself in.

He’s a tireless performer, whatever position he is asked to play in, but is not a player that is going to mix it when the going gets tough. Four yellow cards in six seasons at Portman Road, and only one missed league game during an almost injury free run from his 1997 debut to his final Town game in May 2003, would seem to bear that out. As would your results since Scott Parker moved across the capital to Chelsea in January. - Chevington Blue, Portman Road Blog

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Unity Cup

Good to see The Valley getting a bit of use in the summer - with Ireland, Nigeria and Jamaica playing a triangular tournament between 29 May and 2 June called the Unity Cup.

I hope the tickets are reasonably-priced - it'll be a great community move as well as the chance to see something different at The Valley. With Loftus Road almost selling out recently for the Australia-South Africa game, it's something we should do more of.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Just the ticket

Further to my suggestion that the whingers piss off to Tottenham Hotspur next season, here's what their fans are paying for what could have been - if it wasn't for that very lucky penalty against Arsenal - first division football.

Season tickets start at £525 behind the goals, rising to £610 for the upper tiers behind the goals. At Charlton, an equivalent seat will set you back no more than £325.

For that left-right view of the game, their east stand tickets start at a mere £630, rising to £795 above the centre circle upstairs. Equivalent price at Charlton - no more than £515 (all seats).

Maybe a spot of luxury, sir? West stand tickets start at £730, upstairs is £915, rising to a bargain £1,265 to get up close and personal with Daniel Levy in the centre of the upper west stand. Equivalent price at Charlton - £550 (all seats).

What do you get for your money? At Charlton, a season spent fighting for a European place. At Tottenham, a season fighting relegation. Unbelievable. The lot of most Premiership fans - outside of a golden few, little chance of league glory - isn't exactly great, but it's hard to see why anyone would want to pay that price at White Hart Lane.

Moaners at Loftus Road may have been tempted by the unbeatable deals at Craven Cottage next season - Fulham's tickets are priced from £450-£600, with a "10 match deal" (including two "top" games) costing between £260-£270. I can't quite decide if that's a sensible thing to do or a damning indictment of what al-Fayed has turned into a largely soulless club.

But for the real armchair fans - there's a £250 ticket which gets you into their Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and Liverpool games, for which you get plonked in a "neutral area" behind the goal at the Putney end, next to the away fans. For £50 a time. I can think of better things to do with that kind of money. Come to think of it, so can David Pleat...

Spotty's prize

It's the law that I have to say something catty about Spotty Parker picking up the PFA's greediest young player of the season award, but I've already yelled it at my TV screen and don't really want to repeat it here. As ever, it's refreshing to see Chelsea take full credit for his achievement on their website - in fact, did you know that Roman Abramovich is actually Parker's real father? That aside, not only is he the first Chelsea player to win a PFA prize since they were launched in 1974, he is also the first Chelsea player to win awards based largely upon his performances for Charlton Athletic. Carlton, son, watch and learn.

While I'm a little surprised Parker picked up the prize, it's a waste of time to be outraged at the principles of the Professional Footballers' Association - mainly because they've always been cash now, cash tomorrow, and more cash later. While it's a tribute to what Alan Curbishley did with him at Charlton, it's a bitter reminder of what we lost - and what, at Chelsea, has so far gone to waste.

Vote 'Wall

It had to happen - remember, there's an election coming up. Labour MPs Joan Ruddock (Deptford), Jim Dowd (Lewisham West), Clive Efford (Eltham), Nigel Beard (Bexleyheath and Crayford), Lib-Dem mayoral never-gonnabe and Bermondsey MP Simon Hughes, and Tory MP for Orpington John Horam offer us this House of Commons motion...

That this House congratulates Millwall FC on its great success in reaching the FA Cup Final for the first time in its 119 year history; notes the huge efforts made by the Club to combat racism and its numerous awards for community service, but regrets the FA's decision not to distribute tickets for the Cup Final equally between Manchester United and Millwall FC; considers that this is not in the spirit of the competition which is renowned for pitting lower league clubs against teams from the Premier league on an equal basis and calls on the FA to reconsider its decision. (more)

Hmmm. Poor, plucky Millwall, eh? Still, before you get outraged at your local MP wasting his or her valuable time on the Spanners, it'll probably help cut the BNP vote in south-east London - imagine the fascist party down the Silwood now, promising confused punters a BNP government would back the 'Wall...

The all-conquering Arse

Congratulations to Arsenal on winning the Premiership - and according to Sky Sports News' coverage of the PFA's top striking team in the league, they've won someone else as well...

Saturday, April 24, 2004

For fugg's sake

Fulham 2-0 Charlton Athletic
Reports: CAFC, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Ananova, The Observer, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, News of the World, Sporting Life, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, The Guardian, The Times, The Sun.
Steed MalbranqueThe first day of summer, with flabby pale limbs looking like they'd been on the booze the previous night poking ungainly out of ill-fitting shorts. But that's enough about Sean Davis. The end of Charlton's season, like the Queen Mother's death, finally appeared to come on an otherwise beautiful afternoon in Shepherd's Bush.

Yet, if you'd watched the first half, and especially the first 15 minutes, you'd have thought we could have finally finished our Loftus Road jinx. Chance after Charlton chance rained down on Edwin van der Sar, with new striking duo Carlton Cole and Jason Euell not quite getting there. With Claus Jensen and Paul Konchesky making useful runs from midfield, you got the feeling this could - could - just be our afternoon.

But that wasn't in the script, and after 18 minutes Dean Kiely was adjudged to have felled Luis Boa Morte. A classic goalkeeper's error - and the always-threatening Steed Malbranque had no hesitation from the spot. But Charlton kept up the pressure - despite a number of eccentric refereeing decisions, with the linesman in front of the South Africa Road stand clearly having great trouble knowing what his name was, never mind calling any decisions correctly. Matt Messias' mare included calling a Fulham handball as a corner, and Alain Goma crunching into Jason Euell as a... Fulham free kick.

It was starting to feel like one of those afternoons - not helped by a string of catcalls from the Charlton fans at Carlton Cole. With our midfield starting to seize up under pressure, the more slow-witted of our own fans started to take it out on the easiest target - the big black lad at the front. It was like being surrounded by the illegitimate offspring of Ron Atkinson. What's the best way to build up a striker's confidence? To tear into him after 25 minutes? I don't think so.

The second half started with an unfit-looking Sean Davis coming on for Bobby Petta - but the sweaty striker managed to transform Fulham, and the fans demanded Paolo Di Canio on for Cole. (Sharp-eyed fans will have spotted Di Canio in animated conversation with Chris Perry by the corner flag - if only I was close enough to eavesdrop...) Boa Morte, left to himself from midfield onwards, surged past a hopeless Matt Holland and Jonathan Fortune to set up Davis for Fulham's second. Curbishley gambled it all on red with a triple subsitition - Di Canio, Johansson and Perry on for Stuart, Cole and Powell. But it was a losing gamble, and as the clock ticked away, you could see the confidence go out of the side - under pressure from over-expectant fans - and the life ebb out of our season.

The Holland question is one to think on. Even "luxury player" Claus was getting into the tackles today - while our Mr Nice Guy captain seemed to just look on. Is he just crap, or are we simply expecting too much of him since we lost our other, better-known midfielder?

The final whistle was greeted by boos and curses - one idiot yelling abuse at Jason Euell as he applauded the fans. Funny, that's the same Jason Euell whose goals have kept us alive in previous seasons, and who remains our top scorer. Just a reminder, we're still eighth in the Premier League, and if you're looking for a team to shout abuse at, I hear there's season tickets going at White Hart Lane.

After all that, there's at least one good, solid thing to come out of today. With Fulham going back to Craven Cottage in the summer - it'll be our last visit to Loftus Road for some time. As the home of QPR, it's ramshackle but full of passion. Fulham's fans there act as if they're at the first day of Wimbledon tennis. And we still keep losing there. Good riddance to the place.

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Fugging hell!

Not that Mohamed al-Fayed is an egotist or anything, but Fulham's website offers you the chance to download your very own Mini Mo, which will keep you in touch with all the latest news from his gold-plated bog off South Africa Road (I wonder if QPR get to keep that when the Cottagers return home next season?)

But what does this Mini Mo come out with? How much news is there coming out of Fulham? "Fugging Prince Philip! He killed that beautiful son of mine! Fugging fans! They won't let me sell Craven fuggin' Cottage for houses! Look at the size of my fuggin'..."

Hopefully, it'll be "fugging Charlton" later on - Loftus Road is a horrible place for a dream to die. A lot of water's passed under the bridge since we beat them to go fourth in the table in November. Since then, we've both been mugged of our best players - but we've both held our nerve, and we both have windfalls to spend in the summer too.

I wonder if Michael Grade will be using his BBC car-parking space for the first time? The BBC Sport website predicts us as finishing fifth, which seems to be based on Aston Villa's form going into meltdown. Which I don't see as being likely.

Two other things - how did Bolton manage to pull off this Rivaldo deal? Do you think Big Sam is saying he'll be going to "Manchester... well, Greater Manchester"? And among this stuff linking us with Muzzy Izzet, there's one detail that would scupper it for us. How the hell can Leicester City afford to pay him £30,000 a week, a year after the club went under?

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The strange case of Mr Di Canio

So, lying around on a train at Charlton last night, there was an Evening sub-Standard, containing a juicy bit of speculation.

Paolo di Canio is set to have become a bit- part player at Charlton by the time his contract runs out in the summer.

The Italian came on as a substitute late on in the defeat at Manchester United last night and has not started any of his side's last four games.

His prospects for the final four matches of the season are no better and manager Alan Curbishley has sidestepped talk of offering Di Canio a new deal.

It's easy to dismiss this as the sort of old crap London's miserable evening rag comes out with day in, day out, but it's not the first time a story's hinted Paolo could be on his way. The truth is, though, that on the field Di Canio hasn't really set things alight since January, although he can still bring a higher standard of organisation and motivation to the side when he does come on. And remember, when he was tearing it up for us last year, Alan Curbishley spoke just as glowingly about his influence off the pitch as well as on.

At 36, did anyone really expect much more than a super-sub role? Instead, we've had more than that from him. Since he's our only real superstar, it's only natural for the press to speculate on his future (even though their stories fall on their arses by the sixth or seventh paragraph), but I hope it doesn't put him off staying.

I wonder, since Chris Powell is doing the same, is he taking training badges while he's with us?

Impaling list

I don't know if you're familiar with the Charlton mailing list I pick on every now and then - sometimes you'll get a reasoned chat about CAFC, other times you'll get a valuable insight into the workings of the club from people who've been there and done that. But it's more well-known as the home of intemperate rantings about any old muck and dribblings from people who honestly think we can make the "next level", which presumably is flattening all of Harvey Gardens and turning it into a Charlton Megastore, and converting Valiant House into executive boxes as a short-term measure.

Which is a shame, because while other clubs have great unofficial websites (Palace's bulletin board seems to have been going since their Division 3 (South) days), we seem to have mailing list containing a collection of of rather small-minded people (sitting alongside a few sharp-minded types, wondering why they bother) who generally put off right-minded people from contributing. And once more, we wonder why so few people put themselves up for the supporters' club and things like that.

I shall keep the writer of this anonymous, but how does this person, talking about a game he didn't see, react to what could still be our best season since 1953?

"Wasn't really worth me listening to it, let alone making the trip to watch it. I cannot see us getting any more points this season. Quite frankly on this performance Charlton DESERVE to get relegated. If they cannot beat a very poor ManUre side then I don't have much hope for next season."

This person really exists. If the appropriate social services department would like to get in touch, I'll pass on the e-mail address. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Cheerio Big Fat Ron

Oh dear. Silly Ron. Stupid Ron.

Football pundit Ron Atkinson has resigned from ITV Sport after off-air racist comments were broadcast on a Middle East sports channel following last night's game between Chelsea and Monaco.

He was heard describing Marcel Desailly, Chelsea's black defender, as "a f***ing lazy n*****".

There's a pint for the first person to bring me the first "it was okay in my day" comment from the Charlton mailing list. Come on, hurry! There's mere glory on offer, too, for anyone who can provide an example of Ronglish relating to Charlton - especially now his gems are probably now going to be restricted to Talksport or the "sportsmen's dinner" circuit.

Back from Old Trafford

The scene: A hotel bar in Manchester city centre. It's midnight. I am ordering a pint, and a fellow guest spots my Charlton garb. "Ah, right, you're Charlton, aren't you, what was the game like?" Well, 2-0 to United - Saha and Gary Neville scored. "Gary Neville?!" Yes, I know - look, we weren't that crap...

Well, I've not long got back, and you've probably read more intelligent things than I could ever say about last night's defeat at Old Trafford. For what it's worth, I really didn't think we were too bad - unfortunately, our final balls were poor and our attack let us down, I was amazed Alan Curbishley didn't simply swap Paolo Di Canio for Jonatan Johansson at half time, and I suspect his bringing Euell on up front, then dropping him back in favour of Paolo is something he's probably cursing now. But even a poor Manchester United team is never going to be easy to beat at Old Trafford - and let's be honest, that was not the poor, cowed, written off Man Utd you've read so much about in recent weeks. That fight for second in the Premiership is going to get interesting. Traipsing back to the tram, I overhead a local bemoan how ineffectual we were - but the fact is, if we had something decent to offer up front, it could well transform our team.

Mind you, I heard another local complain how the prawn sandwich brigade in their boxes were glued to the Chelsea game until Louis Saha scored United's first.

I suppose the "increased security measures" at Old Trafford - a noticeable increase in police both around the station and in Manchester city centre - weren't necessarily aimed at us, but it did feel a little odd to suddenly be at the centre of a terrorist alert. However, it may not have been such a good idea to start singing "Blown up! You're gonna get blown up..." We were nicer to them earlier ("Can you beat Millwall for us...?" / "Ten-nil, in the cup final") except only their stewards laughed. So when they started singing "Champions", the only response was to sing Arsenal songs.

East Stand Block E23 crowd watch: First Charlton faint hearts left after 67 minutes, not long after Neville's goal. Nice to see the spirit of the East Stand successfully making its way to the Theatre of Dreams. Only a few, mind, but what's the point of going to Old Trafford and then leaving because we're losing?

Monday, April 19, 2004

Pleat's young flesh

A night at the reserves, with the unfortunate side-effect of sitting just metres away from David Pleat, who looks as ugly and sleazy as you might imagine. His failing Tottenham side's second string ran out 2-1 winners after lively Lloyd Sam was sent off for a dive which only the astonishingly inept referee saw.

Sam was hauled back by £5m waste of money Dean Richards, one of a number of "big names" fom London's fifth team lining up at The Valley, including the laughable Helder Postiga (lasted 25 minutes, got a yellow for going off without informing the hapless ref) Stephane Dalmat, Rohan Ricketts and All Quiet In The East Stand's tip for greatness Johnnie Jackson, whose inclusion in the reserves demonstrates how Pleat has helped destroy a once-half decent club. Our only first-team player was Mark Fish, looking handy after his table calamity. Jackson scored one, but his penalty was saved by Sergio Leite. Encouraging to see our lads hold their own against much-hyped opponents - despite the disappointing scoreline. No wonder they've earned us a nice bit of silverware.

Champions League, you're having a laugh

Who's this? It's a Mr S Parker of SW6 in the Sunday Mirror...

SCOTT PARKER says playing in the Champions League semi-final this week proves he was right to quit Charlton.

The England international believes reaching the last four of Europe's premier competition is enough to silence those who criticised his £10million move to Stamford Bridge.

He said: "One of the main reasons I signed was to be playing European football and to be competing for medals, which I didn't think I'd be able to do at Charlton."

Of course. Because we all remember the heroic role Spotty played in that quarter-final at Highbury - which led to him being substituted at half-time.

Speaking of his move in depth for the first time, Parker added: "January was absolutely horrendous. It's been a long, hard season mentally, what with everything about the transfer and the way that went.

"I may be 23, and am still young, but I know what football is about having been part of it for a long while.

" Yet there were certain things that went on during that month that I really didn't think would happen."

Funny that, because as All Quiet In The East Stand understands it, it was poor hard-done-by Scott Parker who turned on his manager, calling him a "cunt" and a "wanker" on the training field. And, as recalled by Alan Curbishley himself, demanded the chairman let him move clubs minutes after the conclusion of the Wolves match on 10 January. But let's overlook that, eh?

"Maybe I was a bit naive. It was just mentally very tiring for me and my family. Since I left I haven't had a lot of stick. I had a couple of letters that were a bit near the mark." (more)

Oh, what a shame.

"If there's a Charlton fan out there who can honestly put their hand on their heart and say they wouldn't have done the same thing, they are lying. I still believe that to this day." (more)

I don't know. Your manager's being treated like a serf by the club's owner, few of your side really feel secure on your squad, and the Sunday Mirror's stablemate, the People, says you're all playing for your lives on Tuesday. Or was it the £45,000/week wages? Come on, Spotty, be honest with us. Or even look us in the eye? No? Oh well. How's the summer shaping up?

"To be honest it will be good when it's all over and I can have a little break and just get ready for next year, when I'll be settled in my new house." (more)

Oh well. Better luck for the World Cup, eh Spotty?

Meanwhile, here's a very patronising Observer match report about the Birmingham game - those Farringdon Road chappies don't quite realise every team can be like Arsenal all the time. And spot the difference between Monday's Sun and Monday's Times. They could teach this in journalism schools, you know.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Forest cash

Nottingham Forest manager Joe Kinnear has said he would not be prepared to sell Andy Reid for less than £10m. (more)

Let's call it five two million, shall we?

A word to the unwise

I enjoyed Alan Curbishley's programme notes yesterday - an effective "up yours" to those who seem to think we should be progressing onto a mythical "next stage", whatever that is. Maybe they should come down this way some day, and chat with some of the old fellas you'll find in any pub propping up the bar, who used to go to see Charlton years back, but for some reason or another aren't Valley regulars anymore. Then you'll see the real pride in the area at what we've done.

"Whatever happens in the run-in, the team has peformed fantastically this season, and guaranteeing our Premiership status with so many games remaining shouldn't be taken for granted. We have been in the top part of the league virtually all season - on a wage structure and a transfer budger that should place us many further places down the table if that was what football was solely about.

"It may not be enough for some people, but we are constantly competing against clubs that are much bigger and stronger than us, so our achievements cannot be underestimated. We have six games to finish as high as the club has ever done in the last half century, and that is our aim.

"Talk of what could happen in the summer has nothing to do with what we have to concentrate on."

Too. Bloody. Right.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Charlton Athletic 1-1 Birmingham City

Charlton Athletic 1-1 Birmingham City
Reports: BBC Sport, Ananova, CAFC, Sky Sports, The Observer, The Times, Sunday Times, The Sun
A strange - and forgettable - game which only sprang to life in the last few minutes. There will be those who'll grumble about today's game, and with Liverpool and Fulham drawing 0-0 we did get off a bit lucky. But Birmingham are a tight side who concentrate on disrupting your best laid plans. Mind you, if some of our attacking was worthy of the Keystone Kops, so was theirs - summed up by comedy villain Robbie Savage arguing that he should take a free kick (Forsell took it and fired it high), and Bryan Hughes' last-minute comedy miss for the Blues. That must have hurt.

The perplexing question for me is that of Carlton Cole. He only played the final 30 minutes, admittedly, but let two good chances go to waste without a fight. Despite his imposing size, he seems to have the confidence of a dormouse under strobe lights. Yet, for the opposition, Mikael Forsell provided Birmingham's only real attacking hope - and he's on loan from Chelsea too. (He also did the business for Palace a couple of years back.) I don't think it's time to turn on Cole - he's too easy a scapegoat - but what's going on?

Ah, yes, the goals. Clinton Morrisson beat nimbly beat our offside trap to slot one past Dean Kiely after 84 minutes, and then something strange happen. The Valley crowd - who had been in good voice during the game - started to really roar our side on. The game burst into life. Something had to happen. It just had to. Matt Holland headed home two minutes later and the place went wild.

Public service announcement: This is what happens when you get behind your team.

Somewhere, you feel a point was proven in the battle of the number 8s. Holland, the quiet family man, had done his job. Savage, the clown who craps in the ref's toilet, was silenced. The Valley was on edge. But despite a frantic finale, we couldn't get a winner - and Hughes' miss seemed sweet enough for us. A draw celebrated like a victory - we're still in there, and now eyes turn to Villa Park tomorrow.

These are still good days, with a wild card trip to Old Trafford on Tuesday. All Quiet In The East Stand will be there, (and thanks to dirt-cheap rail fares, there before you, too.)

East Stand departure watch: First depatures timed at 81 minutes, 40 seconds into the game. Before any goals.

Someone in front of me - who rarely makes any noise - joined the mini-exodus after Morrison's goal. Two minutes after Holland's equaliser, with The Valley buzzing, the bloke who sits next to him looked at the adjacent empty seat, shot it a look of withering content, stuck his nose in the air, and got back to cheering his team on.

Club and community

Don't know how true this is, but word reaches All Quiet In The East Stand that Southwark Council is putting up "Good luck Millwall" signs in various parts of its borough to celebrate the Spanners' success in getting to Cardiff. Of course, the New Den lies solely within the borough of Lewisham (albeit by only 70 yards), and the old Den was very firmly down in New Cross, but let's not stop the bandwagon-jumping, eh?

In which case, if we finish fourth, I demand Bexley Council - which puts money into the club and whose area the club still has its offices - erects a large red victory arch on the A2 at the Kent border. Can you imagine it? It'd also remind geographically-befuddled nitwits like Lib Dem mayoral candidate Simon Hughes, who said this of the Spanners' result, of a few home truths...

"Millwall have gone from reality to dream [sic] today. This is a fantastic result for Millwall and for the whole of South-east London." (more)

Of course, all this talk of clubs and communities gets a bit more curious when you look at the relationship between us and Greenwich Council. "A Great Team"? Don't make me laugh. While Millwall get indulged with state benefits such as that away fans' walkway to South Bermondsey (paid for by Southwark and Lewisham), we get the clipboard gang turning up to hassle us about standing in the upper north. I don't think either approach is right - Millwall's customers are Millwall's responsibility, so why didn't they at least contribute the construction of this walkway?

But what this reminds us is that we can't expect any favours from the council over our Valley expansion plans. There's already been some grumbling by local residents - bringing back memories of that awful Grace Sole woman in the late 1980s, who campaigned hard to prevent our return to SE7. I don't know how much buttering-up work the club has done, but I'd say this. Within a couple of miles of The Valley, there should be no escape from the club's good work in the community. Slap the logo everywhere, put money and people into schools, youth centres, pay for the area to be spotless before and after every game, and encourage people to come to the ground by public transport (and pay for it if necessary). We're bigger and better than other clubs which need to be indulged by councils, and we should be strong enough to do this, and take a real role in our community - our centenary year is the ideal starting point. (How many people know where Siemens Meadows was?) If we really pull our finger out, then the council will have to back us all the way.

But if we were to carry on concentrating on building a "community" in Bexley and out into Kent, who could complain if the council told us to sod off?

Birmingham today - let's make some bloody noise today, eh?

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

West Ham rumours

Over the river, West Ham fans are buzzing with talk about Michael Carrick being sold for £2m. (Knees Up Mother Brown and West Ham Online). Is he coming our way?

Nice to see the CAFC mailing list joining in the celebrations of a fine victory at Anfield: "Lucky we caught Liverpool on a bad day... let's not get carried away." Off to say sorry to my Scouse-supporting friends for us having the temerity to beat them. See ya.

Monday, April 12, 2004


Who said resurrections only happen on Easter Day? Shaun Bartlett heads us into the lead at Anfield, and this time it stays that way. Congratulations to the 600 Charlton fans who showed more faith than I did and beat the motorway and rail hassle to go to Merseyside to sing their hearts out. Perhaps the fat lady's still stuck on a bus in Milton Keynes. (Of course, if I'd have gone, we'd have lost..., so really it's the best £80 I've never spent. Honest.)

One point I think I can safely make from listening to Capital Gold in the bath - doesn't our cracking away form just prove how nervy the atmosphere is at The Valley? The Liverpool fans were strangely silent on the radio - the nerves were passed to their team, who promptly crumbled. Sound familiar?

Assuming Fulham win tonight, it'll take us up to eighth It makes us seventh, with Villa in sixth and Birmingham falling right back thanks to a defeat by, guess who... Portsmouth. Which those who said Pompey should have been easy fodder on Saturday should remember. It'll still take a minor miracle to get us into 4th or 5th, but stranger things have happened. Don't give up just yet.

Congratulations also to AFC Wimbledon, whose 3-0 win at Walton Casuals sees them win promotion from the Combined Counties League.


Both The Sun and The Times, rather spookily, highlight a few words said by Alan Curbishley about his future on Saturday night.

In discussing the money he has for summer signings, Curbishley said: “If we manage to freshen the squad up and I’m still here.” If? “At the moment I’m very constant and so perhaps some of the players have got too used to me. Perhaps it has to be freshened up.” (more)

Probably one of those said-in-the-heat-of-the-moment things which you tend to get from him after a crappy game. (The Sun brings up Tottenham, but you'd have to be a masochist to even think about going there.) But The Times' Alyson Rudd continues...

Phrases such as that will have the Charlton fans regretting they booed their team off the pitch. But they are tired of their side dropping points at home, points that appeared clumsily lost and which could have made their bid for Europe a lot more straightforward. (more)

True, true, and it's hard to break vicious circles like this. But if our fans got behind the team even half as much as the Portsmouth fans did, maybe they wouldn't be flagging now.

Also in The Times, an interview with Matt Holland in which he discusses his lifestyle of hard drugs, groupies and blood sacrifices in the woods. Oh, sorry, I was dreaming there, it's about his responsibilities as a captain and settled-down family man. Whatever, I hope his 30th birthday inspires him to a better performance at Anfield today.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The post-mortem

Alan Curbishley has blamed the departure of Scott Parker as the reason for Charlton's poor form over the last three months.

The inspirational midfielder jumped ship to Chelsea in January, in a deal which netted the Addicks £10million, but left Curbishley with an enormous hole to plug.

"Scott was like two men for us," Curbishley said. "He epitomised the team and it was a big loss."

Well, it's taken 10 weeks for someone to say it, but how true is it? We've played worse with Parker in the team (away at Portsmouth), and barely missed him at times (away at Arsenal and Everton). Is this just scapegoating?

It's all over

Charlton 1-1 Portsmouth
Reports: BBC News, Ananova, Sky Sports, CAFC, The Observer, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, The Guardian, The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Times.
And with that, our season effectively came to an end, with the fat lady warming up to give a bravura performance at Anfield on Monday. It all started off so well too, Shaun Bartlett nodding home an easy ball to give us a lead. Confident, assured, competent - with Bartlett and JJ up front? Heavens. Some slight worries at the liberties we were taking in the Pompey goalmouth area - how many could we blaze over the bar? But it was all convincing enough to have me tapping away at my mobile, texting the possibility of moving heaven, earth and Virgin Trains to go to Liverpool on Monday after all.

But this is Charlton, and the second half saw our midfield collapse first, followed by almost the whole side - apart from Dean Kiely, only Chris Powell and Herman Hreidarsson could truly come away with any pride from their performance, and possibly Paul Konchesky, finally starting to grasp at some of his old form. Bringing on Eyal Berkovic reinvigorated Portsmouth, and it wasn't a surprise when Aiyegbeni Yakubu snatched the equaliser. Too many players in red shirts just acted like spectators - and Matt Holland's reactions were almost as slow as Claus Jensen's.

A change of attacking duo came late on - but Paolo Di Canio rarely got into the game, although his 88th minute shot was deemed offside. Carlton Cole seemed only half there - his first contribution after coming on was to watch Portsmouth snatch the ball right in front of him.

Results for Villa and Birmingham went our way - but Fulham's win nudges us down to ninth. Barring a miracle at Anfield on Monday, I think it's over. Would the last one out turn off the lights? Thanks.

East Stand crowdwatch: Fan exodus after 82 minutes, when the game was at its most tense. It's hard to expect the team to show passion when the crowd is constantly being outsung by the away fans - the 3,000 Pompey fans never stopped, and even brought a blow-up sex doll to play with at half-time. If the crowd's only contribution is to boo, why should the team bother?

Ian Wright, wrong, wrong

Anyone got Radio Five Live on? Since when was Ian Wright a Millwall fan?

"Yeah, I was talking to Wisey in the tunnel after the game, and he said, 'Yeah, and we'll probably get Galatasaray in Europe! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

And meanwhile, we're treated to the rather sad sound of Mark Bright licking Tim Cahill's behind. Cheers, lads.

Hiding under the covers

Not looking forward to the Portsmouth game at all - too much is riding on it, and anything I can say is going to be too bloody obvious. Let's just hope we've something to celebrate at five o'clock. And no Konchesky at left-back. Thanks. Still, chin up, we could be Spurs.

Incidentally, that Svensson chappie at Norwich - did you see that goal last night? We should sign... oh, right, I'll keep quiet then.

Friday, April 09, 2004

This is the sound of the suburbs

Exciting news from the Snooze Shopper about our non-league neighbours Dartford, who haven't had a home game for longer than we went without one...

DARTFORD Football Club is set to return to its home with a new £2 million stadium planned in the town.

It is believed Dartford Council plans to fork out for a new football ground to bring the nomadic club back to its roots after 11 years of ground sharing.

Council leader Councillor Kenneth Leadbeater is expected to unveil the plans when he visits the club next Saturday.

Here's hoping.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

We're in the money

ALAN CURBISHLEY will be given a staggering £16million treasure chest by Charlton this summer.

The Valley boss is likely to be one of the biggest spenders in the Premiership as the club aims to continue its success story on and off the pitch.

Hmmmm. The Sun reckons we'll have a lot more than the £10m Parker booty to spend, as minds start to drift away from this season, and to that day in August when we kick off with a few new faces in the squad. Other than this other £6m, El Solari's Charlie Wyett doesn't come out with very much that's new - Andy Reid and Rob Earnshaw have been linked with us for ages. (Incidentally, take a look at this month's When Saturday Comes for a feature on the poor state of Cardiff's finances - though no figure is given, Earnshaw is said to be on an exceptionally high wage at Ninian Park.)

But this extra £6m? Where does this come from? It could all be rubbish of course, but these sorts of stories make their way into the papers for a reason - and Charlton scoops aren't usually circulation-boosters. Especially in the light of the success of our neighbours - there's a chance we could be facing competition for casual Premiership-watchers in south-east London soon - I've heard a couple of calls for work on expanding The Valley to be stepped up. (Of course, there's not much anyone can do while Greenwich Council's planning types mull over the plans to the n'th detail, while rubber-stamping some traffic jam-causing shopping park in double-quick time.)

So I wonder, is it wise to throw so much money at new players when we could also be building up towards a 30,000-capacity stadium? My take on it is that we've hit a natural level for about half of our games now - and that Valley roar has certainly been subdued of late, as 6,000 new-ish punters struggle to find their voices. Perhaps we should be concentrating on giving them something to shout about on the pitch, before inviting new fans into share it with us, and that really does mean gambling a bit more on the team. You may think differently - but whatever, these are intriguing times.

In the meantime, we've still got a season to fight for - and we could do with Arsenal doing us a favour by beating Liverpool and Newcastle over Easter. What's that? No Thierry Henry? Oh, right then.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Euro'aving a larf

I thought the story about Millwall not getting into the Uefa Cup because the charming Dennis Wise doesn't have the right qualifications (O-levels, CSEs, you know) was a wind-up - but it's true! However, it's probably a storm in a teacup - Ray Wilkins can always swap places with him. Which is a good thing, because the thought of lefty European do-gooders Uefa picking on good honest white working class British Millwall would probably ramp up the paranoid victimhood mentality which still gets promoted down that way, whether they admit it or not.

Thinking of which - if you've got any Millwall mates, could they give Jim Davidson a ring and invite him down to the Den? It might be our chance to get rid of him...

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Open minded, honest

not my local, by the waySo anyway, I went to the pub and guess what? A fight broke out between a family of Millwall fans - who I'd never seen in there before - who'd been in the boozer since midday. Who'd all been singing "Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner..." and all that crap just an hour beforehand. I had to pinch myself to make sure I hadn't woken up at some kind of EastEnders tribute party. I started off thinking, "fair play, good luck to them," and all that - but once you see all that, you wonder why you bother.

So, where shall I go for the weekend of 22 May? I think I need a short break.

Through gritted teeth...

Okay, I'll say it. Congratulations to Millwall. We couldn't even beat Gillingham in the third round, so who are we to gripe and moan? Cracking goal by Cahill too. Perhaps the small team which puts in 200% in the cup might inspire a not-so-small team down the road to pull their fingers out next season.

It might be a bit much to ask them to ditch their victim complex, but I really hope they don't screw it up in the final and in the Uefa. Somewhere, in the back of his head, I bit old Theo Paphitis is a bit apprehensive about the season ahead.

Are Galatasaray in the Uefa places for next season? Hmmm.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Still no mention of the M-word

Westfield 0-3 AFC Wimbledon: Nothing to write home about at Kingfield, Woking's ground where neighbouring Westfield opted to stage the game, so the 1,013 crowd could be safely accommodated, most of them in the huge stand behind one of the goals which just screams "we're desperate to get into the League". Indeed, you can feel the jitters as the Dons move just 7 points from promotion - midfielder Ryan Gray missing twice from about five yards out, bringing back a few uncomfortable memories of JJ at his worst. But Shane Small-King, Andy Sullivan and Jamie Taylor did the business for the Dons, bringing some relief to the fans who cursing the Franchise's unbelievable 1-0 win at Wigan. Still, well done to the PA announcer - she sounded about 12, and had trouble reading out the results from the Conference. As if anyone there gave a toss... (full report here later).

Blimey, even the official site ventured out somewhere else for a report. Leyton Orient v Huddersfield? Still, sightings of Paul Rachubka in London are pretty rare, I suppose.

Curious line in the AFC fanzine, WUP, about a "generation gap" caused by Wimbledon's stint at Selhurst, comparing them with us - "they were fortunate to have a whole community and generations of local folk familiar with The Valley". That may be, but you can see our generation gap all around us at The Valley - where are the fans in their 20s, who should have had their football education at The Valley in the late 80s?

The families turn up, the older support is there, and we're reaping the benefit from the kids-for-a-quid days of the mid-90s, but I'm sure if you did a survey, you'd find a dip in fans aged, say, 23-30 - sometimes the people with money to splash around, but also sometimes the people who shout the loudest - both at games and in the background. If you look at this, is it any wonder we've got a supporters' club which isn't much more than a travel club, and a usually-mute supporters' director elected by a tiny number of fans.

Apparently, there are some Chelsea fans who aren't enamoured with what a certain Russian's done to their club. They've created a website -

No mention of the M-word

What, another Saturday without Charlton playing? Curbs isn't happy, and nor am I. For some, this is a chance to seek out other footballing life in south-east London - Welling play Dover in a geographically-challenged "Kent derby" while Dulwich Hamlet are playing Bracknell. For the really daring, Cray Wanderers are playing Herne Bay in the Kent League Cup semi-final, second leg.

Me, I'm off to Woking where Westfield are playing host to AFC Wimbledon - and a possible celebration to mark the Franchise's relegation.

FA Cup? What's that, then?

Friday, April 02, 2004

She speaks!

So there I was, celebratory stogie in hand, perusing the official site's report on Mr Grade's new job, and lo and behold... shurely some mistake, editor?!

Also on the [centenary] committee is fans’ elected director Sue Townsend, who said: “Michael’s passion for the club shines through at every meeting. We’re all delighted for him.” (more)

You what? The fans' elected director has said something? Well, blow me. After the deafening silence from her when we were threatening to play the Franchise in a friendly, and over the whole "standing in the upper north" issue, I think I need a lie down. It's nice to know you're here, Sue.

Making the Grade

Cigars all round for Michael Grade, the BBC's new chairman - unfortunately, it means he'll have to stop making squillions of pounds which could potentially be reinvested in Charlton, and he'll probably have to stand down from the PLC's board. But having an Addick in a position of power there could be useful when Match of the Day returns... our loss is their gain, though, as he's probably the BBC's first chairman who knows what a television looks like. Congratulations.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

An April 1 story

The scene: Spotty Parker's hotel room in Gothenburg, before midday today. The phone rings. Someone answers it. It is Spotty himself, in a gold-encrusted dressing gown. Steady on, girls.
Spotty: Uuuuuuh?
Ponderous-sounding Swedish voice: "Hello. Is that Scott?"
Spotty: Uuuuuuh!
Voice: "I'd like to say congratulations for your fine performance last night. I thought those minutes you were on the field were fantastic. They really showed what a great choice you were."
Spotty: Uuuh-uhhh!
Voice: "And, I'd like you to be the first to know that your move to Chelsea from, aaah... Cheltenham? From there, yes, yes, was very much worth it. Very much."
Spotty grunts with joy.
Voice: "Do you want to join me in Portugal in June?"
Spotty: Uhhhhh!
Voice: "Well, you can now afford a holiday there with British Airways First Class from just £300! April Fool!"
Spotty: Uhhh! Boss? Boss?

Dear, oh dear. Doesn't your heart bleed? Still, if Spotty's hopes have been dashed, here's some ways he can spend the summer.

1) Count his money - after all, the Halifax is offering a competitive 6.05% on savings right now. Or he could invest in Russian industry.

2) He could drive his car, and meet fellow like-minded individuals in the Aston Martin Owners' Club. If they'll have him, before he defects to the Jaguar Club.

3) Do a summer course in Russian! After all, it'll be a better way to get in touch with the boss. This lot will do it, and Spotty can get to know Moscow too.

4) Do a summer course in Russian law - it might be very useful to Mr Abramovich...

5) Learn The Knowledge. Even I wouldn't suggest that Spotty may need a change of career soon, but it'd be useful to know the way from Fulham Road, SW6, to Bill Nicholson Way, N17, when Mr Ranieri loses his job.

There but for the grace of...

Nothing to do with Charlton, but here's an excellent piece from The Times about the Franchise FC shambles in Milton Keynes. There, but for the grace of...

And still nothing to do with Charlton, but this had Welling United fans going this morning - nice new kit there!