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.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Premiership malaise 2

"One man wrote to me after the Blackburn game and said that on what he earned, he couldn't afford to come to The Valley usually. But he came that night because it was £15, paid £5 to bring his five-year-old son to his first match and they had a great time. These are people we might normally disenfranchise, but imaginative pricing shows they will come." (more)

Peter Varney in an excellent Observer study of the Premiership malaise, which also features the unmasking of mysterious Netaddicks head man Trevor. Good work.

Home from Liverpool

My first-ever trip to Anfield, and apart from my usual sad excitement about being a football tourist (aren't the Shankly gates smaller than you'd expect?) there wasn't much to take home that was satisfying. A 2-0 defeat which, thanks to some resolute defending and wasteful Scouse shooting, could have been the Bolton and Manchester City humiliations all over again. And then some.

But Rafael Benitez - looking like a branch manager at the Halifax with his suit, offering an odd contrast to the tracksuited, ranting Mervyn Day - has something bloody special in his Liverpool side. I thought Baros, Cisse and Riise were absolutely terrifying, while Bartlett and Lisbie couldn't scare a puppy in the dark. Just like all the pundits said, the key to breaking down Liverpool is disrupting their passing game. We lost the energy to do that in the second half, and were punished for it. Danny Murphy continues to improve in midfield, Chris Perry was fantastic, but once again Dennis Rommedahl is bottom of the class - taken off for being so off the pace, if he'd been allowed to continue, he'd have wandered over to Goodison Park instead.

And, sadly, we looked weaker for the substitutions - it was satisfying to hear the Kop jeer Jeffers, frustrating to see him get a yellow card after just a few minutes. Euell was ineffective, while the disco boots of Bryan Hughes proved to be utterly useless.

But it's the same old story. We're still too bloody lightweight. If we don't stop shying away from tackles, if we don't stop pulling up like a lame horse in front of goal, we're in trouble.

"I thought they were crap," one Scouse voice out of thousands said near me as I trudged my lonely way to the Soccerbus. "Really poor. Relegation material. Worse than Blackburn."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The centenary's missing memories

I was leafing through the programme from Sunday's game the other night, and came across Colin Cameron's history/stats page. Anyone who can remember the 1947 Cup Final is worth listening to in my opinion, so I always have a respectful read. He talked about a meeting of former players, and a couple of our most senior fans - one who is still a regular at 91, and who starting attending The Valley in the 1922/23 season. Another doesn't make it to games any more, but is 95 and his first game was in the Southern League in March 1921. He was also there when we made our League debut against Exeter a few months later.

With the centenary season upon us, shouldn't someone be going to talk to these gentlemen, to capture their memories of our club's earliest days before they're lost forever? The formation of Charlton Athletic is bound in with a part of the area which doesn't exist any more - the riverside community around Eastmoor Street - and I'm sure these fans would shed light on an aspect of our club's history which is an absolute mystery to most fans. I know the club is still in touch with the families of Charlton's early backers, including Arthur Bryan, the fishmonger who created the Addicks legend. Surely it's now time to get these senior fans involved now - like the ones who meet at the reminisence group in Blackheath Village - as we evolve from being that local "small club" into becoming a national force once more.

In fact, the centenary season as a whole is coming across as a bit of a damp sqib so far. A few shirts, a whip-round for a statue you get the feeling the club itself should be paying for... is that all? We have the Keith Peacock book, (not sure about the mythical Curbs book) too, but after that, what? An online poll for the club's greatest achievements? It doesn't exactly inspire, does it? (And who can honestly compare the 1937 runners-up season with the 1998 play-off final?)

I've got a few half-formed ideas for centenary things myself, and I may give a couple of them a crack on this website, although time and money may prevent me from doing it. The centenary committee seems to be the same old faces - including the mysterious supporters' director - with little input for any fresh ideas apart from the odd e-mail. What about a meeting? Come on, open up, let's see you care. After all, our history didn't start in 1998 - nor in 1947, either. We're no plastic club like Milton Keynes Dons, we've a rich heritage to be proud of. At this vital time in the club's history, it's vital we reconnect the club with its community, and remind our new fans just what we've been about for the past 100 years.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Franny and the stiffs

Slipped into The Valley unseen for the second half of the reserves' match against Ipswich, to see two cracking Franny Jeffers goals and another from Jonatan Johansson add to what became a 4-0 victory. Franny was, quite simply, class. He's got to start against Liverpool on Saturday.

Not all was as good, though - at left back, Paul Konchesky looked as miserable as sin, while Jerome Thomas appeared to storm off the field right at the end of the match. While he didn't exactly cost us a fortune, what has gone wrong with our other ex-Gunner?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Parker dance, part 2

Matt Holland puts on his shiny shoes and tangoes for the Press Association, as reproduced by The Scotsman...

"Scott is a terrific player and you want the team and the squad to be as strong as possible so of course you would want him back," said Holland.

"I don't think he fell out with any of the players.

"I don't know about the fans. It was a little bit messy for them, but I am sure after two or three good performances they would soon forget."

Who's next to dance? A word of advice from housewives' favourite Chris Powell, being measured up for a new suit in London E13 for his next TV appearance? A shout from Deano? Let's wait and see.

Meanwhile, with Harold Phipps' FA Cup winner's medal going under the hammer tomorrow, is it too much to hope that someone close to the club is going to put his or her hand in their pocket? After all, I expect Kevin Lisbie earns that much cash in just a couple of days.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Oh good heavens, no...

... what has happened to It looks awful, it's a bugger to navigate and... it's just dreadful! Suddenly things which were easy to find, like news, are buried deep within the site, while things which should be right up front, like ticket news, are buried like they always were.

I know a lot of work has been done on the stability of the site - if you run a website, you'll know people will moan when it goes down but you'll never get any thanks when it's available 24/7. But the actual look of it was fine - it didn't need a drastic revamp like it's just had. It looks like a "large print for the blind" site on my browser. Please, please, please... I hope this gets sorted. Soon.

Charlton 1-1 Newcastle

Proper match reports: BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, ITV Football,, Wyn Grant, everyone else too obsessed with Bellamy's hissy fit and Alan Shearer to bother with.

If there was a game which was the definition of a 1-1 draw, this was it. Both sides huffed and puffed, but neither could blow the other down. Off-colour attacks at both ends, fine goalkeeping by Shay Given and good work in our defence meant both teams cancelled each other out by the end of the match. I'm told it looked a good game on the telly as well, and for two minutes in the second half, with the rain swirling around, the sky almost black and both sets of fans singing, it reminded me why there's times when The Valley can have an unbeatable atmosphere.

Kevin Lisbie may not have got that equaliser, but his game's still good. Graham Stuart seemed to be running himself into the ground, while a returning Matt Holland led by example and ended the game with a big bandage around his head after a nasty clash with Shola Ameobi. Dennis Rommedahl hasn't quite clicked yet, but looked less lost than he has done this season, while Danny Murphy's poor final balls will be haunting him between now and our trip to Anfield next weekend. But our defence looked solid, and you get the feeling things are starting to pull together. The Liverpool game will be interesting, to say the least.

Of course, there's a more black and white view of the game available...

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Let's all do the Parker dance

This is going to get boring over the next couple of months, but there does seem to be a series of carefully-choreographed moves designed to bring Scott Parker back.

Friday: Curbs tells he'd be happy to see Spotty back at The Valley. Remember how rare it is for Curbs to talk so openly about other clubs' players. (more)

Saturday: Parker an unused substitute in Chelsea's defeat at Man City. (Stop laughing at the back)

Saturday: Giles Smith in The Times: "If Gascoigne wanted to be completely overlooked and left to his own devices, he could always try calling himself Scott Parker. After all, it seems to be working for Scott Parker. Then again, does anyone actively wish to be that anonymous?" (more)

Sunday: Curbs in the Sunday Times on Franny Jeffers: "Franny had a similar experience to Scott Parker at Chelsea..." before his natural caution takes over. "It's like people talking about Parker coming back here — that looks like a good idea, but it might not work. Going back to your old club doesn’t often come off." (more)

Sunday: Parker in the News of the World: "if things carry on the way they are, I will have to review my situation and consider whether it might be in my best interests to carry on. Another factor I have to consider is my future with England. It's a big blow not to be involved. I can't expect to be in with a chance if I'm not playing first-team football." (more)

Don't say we didn't warn you, matey. Anyway, Curbs on Five Live just now: "If Scotty did come available, we'd be interested. I've spoken to Scott a couple of times since... if he becomes available, we'll have to see." Get ready for more of this over the next 12 weeks or so.

Gravesend & Northfleet 1-1 Exeter City

Proper match reports: BBC Sport,
A bit belated this one, but it was a good afternoon out at Stonebridge Road - £10 to watch a cracking game with a great atmosphere between two teams who seem to be going in different directions at the football system's crossroads. Exeter have struggled over the past few years, dropping out of the Football League in 2003 and are having difficulty making their mark on the Conference. Meanwhile, Gravesend have improved steadily since they were promoted a couple of years back, and are now possibly England's highest-ranked semi-pro team, sitting fourth behind Aldershot, Carlisle and Barnet in the fifth tier.

But could the Fleet hack it in the League? The signs are good - striker Roy Essandoh is the leading light of a hard-working, neat-passing team who found their game stifled by a Grecians side who looked to mount a smash and grab raid at Stonebridge Road. Santos Gaia's first-half goal was cruel on the Fleet, who did all the work during the opening period but got little reward for it. Essandoh and the Lisbie-esque Manny Omoyinmi (think Chris Powell's head on Kevin's body!) make a good pairing up front, although Omoyinmi struggled to get the ball much of the time.

It was Essandoh who plucked the Fleet's equaliser out of nowhere in the second half, booting it in from the edge of the penalty area, and giving the Kent side what looked like an unstoppable momentum. But they ran out of steam as Exeter defended in numbers, and eventually 1-1 seemed a fair result.

These are good times for the Fleet, although the looming threat of Gillingham moving into the Gravesend area (Paul Scally is reportedly in discussions with Gravesham council) is casting a shadow over the party. Oh, and there's the matter of the club's official website being an aborted fiasco, but that's another story.

G&N have looked at going pro, and CCTV is being put in to try to get Stonebridge Road - which has echoes of parts of The Valley in the 1980s - up to League standard. After Dartford's troubles and Maidstone going under, it's good to see a ray of sunlight for north Kent football after all these years. It's easy to get nostalgic for terraces and proper hot-dogs, and it's things can look rosier when you go to a game as a neutral. But forget Charlton's claim to be a "Kent club", I'd thoroughly recommend a trip to the Fleet to see what's hopefully going to be a success story in the making.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Here's to you, Johnny Robinson...

All the best to all-round footballing god John Robinson, who's moved from Cardiff to Gillingham and could well feature for the Jills against Sheffield United tomorrow. He's still living in Kent and was finding travelling to Cardiff tough, so Lennie's let him go. Considering Cardiff's awful fortunes this season, it could be a wise move. Although it is Gillingham, so it could be out of the frying pan... But at this point, there's only one question to ask - what was your favourite John Robinson moment? Me, it'd have to be that equaliser in the 3-3 against Manchester United. Go on, get the video of it out now. He scores, he runs, the camera bobs up and down because even the East Stand's going mental. Wonderful stuff.

Speaking of north Kent, I'll be taking in a bit of Conference glory-hunting at Gravesend & Northfleet this afternoon - they're playing Exeter, so it should be a good one.

And while I'm spreading love to our neighbours, here's a West Ham fan who is stripping off each time the Hammers get a win this season (not work-friendly). Thank heavens it's a woman getting her Irons out for the lads, and if this doesn't persuade Chris Powell to sign for them permanently, nothing will. (Thanks to Dead Kenny and Upton Lark for the link.) I daren't suggest any Charlton fan follows in her footsteps, though, for I hate to think whose bits we'd have to look at if we ever finish in the top six.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Real away supporters

I couldn't normally give a monkey's about England games, but having only seen the first 30 minutes, I have one question. Did that Charlton flag with "BEXLEY - KENT" on it stay in place for the whole game? Sky kept using it as some kind of weathervane to demonstrate how windy it was. It's good to see there are at least some Charlton fans willing to travel away. Hats off to them, if, indeed, their hats haven't been blown off already.

It feels like months since the last Charlton game, doesn't it? It probably doesn't help that the Arsenal game has already been erased from my head by this country's leading scientists. I love World Cups and European Championships, but international breaks leave me bored to bloody tears.

Hello if you've come from Millwall website House of Fun, whose readers reckon we have blogs because we're a bit sad. Well, speaking for myself, that's entirely true. But of course, it's not as if Millwall don't have bloggers either...

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Selhurst Park uncovered

"It's only the other side of London, but could be on the moon. Boasts its own microclimate... it can be sunny and bright as nearby as East Croydon railway station but Selhurst Park is invariably grey, cold and drizzly." (more)

Britain's crappiest football grounds, in The Observer.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Parker's pen-portrait

There's been a Tony Hart moment at Netaddicks - they've been having an artistic afternoon...

Oh, and if you want a gift for the Chelsea fan in your life, step this way.)

(ta to Trevor and artist Roseandcrown.)

All aboard the Rick-shaw

Have I gone mad or did I read right today?

Fans in four French towns will be offered the benefit of a ticket and travel service to matches at The Valley over the next month.

Building on the successful initiative launched in Thanet at the start of the season, and services from Deal and Sandwich, a Charlton-bound coach will leave Calais and Boulogne railway stations for the first time when the Addicks face Newcastle United on Sunday, October 17th.

Two weeks later, with the visit of Middlesbrough, on Saturday, October 30th, a similar service will start from Lille and Dunkerque. These may well be the first regular coach services from the Continent to an English Premiership game, and demonstrate the Addicks' desire to build as big a fan base over as wide an area as possible.

Fans pay the same price for their match tickets as those on sale at The Valley, but there is no additional charge for travel. Season-ticket holders can also use the service at the discounted rate of £5 adults and £3 concessions. Payment in Euros is also accepted.

Seats are still available for both games, and anyone interested should call +44 800 5871100 to book by credit card.

French Addicks organiser Richard L'Everette said: "We have had a tremendous response from all over Kent and there will be four or five coaches running from Thanet to the Newcastle game, which is very exciting.

"Now we have Kent covered in coaches, it is time to strike out further. Frankly, the likes of Calais have no decent football to watch whatsoever, so we went on a day trip with some vouchers from The Sun.

"We found there is substantial support for Charlton in that part of France, but the public transport link to The Valley is poor, considering the English Channel is in the way. We are putting that right and the club is reaping the benefit.

"However, we are finding the coaches are being held up in the Charlton area - there's too many people from Swanley and Sevenoaks coming in their cars to The Valley, and the streets are packed with traffic. But that means it's all the more important we invest in building our fanbase from as far away as possible, and we're looking at running a coach from Rome for fans who are finding Paolo Di Canio too 'passionless' at Lazio."

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Off the rails

Interesting to see a survey on about supporters' travel habits when they're heading to the ground. Especially interesting since it makes plenty of mention of a bus scheme from North Greenwich, which a senior club employee decided to ridicule this site over a couple of months ago. "Can't be bothered to take the blog that seriously," eh? All in good sport, I'm sure.

Mind you, so sure is this survey's commitment to public transport, it comes out with some very odd results to Charlton's more local fans. "Is there a bus route from your home to The Valley? Do you use this service? If you answered 'never', why not?" Well, there is, but it'd be taking the mickey to travel a single stop... (and technically, that service is withdrawn around matches as well.) Strange.

But like I said in August, this could well be a big issue if the club is to get approval for a bigger Valley. Although Greenwich Council isn't exactly well-known for sensible planning decisions around Charlton (another shopping park? why not!), football fans could make an easy target when it comes to clearing traffic off the street. The quicker the club faces up to issues like this, the better.

In not-quite-unrelated news, Ken Livingstone has said the planned Olympic stadium near Stratford will not be handed over to a football club after a possible 2012 Olympics. West Ham were always linked with it, although I did hear a rumour we were keeping an eye on it in case a council decision went against us.

"Come on football and score a goal!"

There's a tenuous Charlton connection to what's looking like a heap of rubbish on BBC3 right now (and continuing on and off until 10.30pm) - the central character in Flashmob: The Opera is a football fan who happens to be wearing a centenary kit. It's being performed live at Paddington Station. Not sure if this is a desperate bid to persuade the esteemed Mr Michael Grade that BBC3 isn't a complete load of crap, but there you go. There also seems to be a load of people in hooky Chelsea gear, so heaven knows what this is all about, but if you've high tolerance levels for this sort of thing, it might be worth keeping an ear out for any howlers. Me, I'm returning to BBC4...

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

What's in a name?

Disturbing news from North London, where Arsenal's new mega-stadium's going to be named the Emirates Stadium when it opens for business in 2006. Having been quite fond of Highbury until I got soaked on Saturday, I can sympathise with the lack of enthusiasm shown by Arseblog and East Lower to the scheme. Although £100m will go down very well off the Holloway Road right now...

Thing is, though, is any kind of money good enough for having to play at tinpot stadia with silly names? I suppose we're used to the the Reebok, and the Walkers seems to make some kind of sense. But The Friends Provident St Mary's Stadium has never caught on (so get stuffed, Rupey-boy), and the McAlpine is now the Galpharm. You what? Only Manchester City have escaped this curse over recent years, because they got their stadium off the council, so it's probably just polite to call it the City of Manchester Stadium.

What has this got to do with our own cosy bolthole? Well, in the 1980s, serious thought was put towards our moving to the Greenwich Peninsula. In the 1990s, those plans re-emerged as we pondered a move to the Dome. Chances are, to fund the moves, we may have had to go down the same route ourselves. Who could be a suitable sponsor for The Valley? Considering the recent atmosphere down at Floyd Road, I'd suggest the Stannah Stairlift Stadium. Or the Sleepezee Valley. Any further suggestions?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Your move, Scott

He's not playing in tonight's reserves game. But reading things like this could well make the situation worse. From yesterday's Sunday Mirror:

CHARLTON'S hopes of persuading Scott Parker to return to The Valley could be ruined by a reserve team match tomorrow.

The £11million Chelsea star is worried he will not be welcomed back with open arms by the Charlton fans - just a year after his controversial move to Stamford Bridge.


Charlton fear their own fans may scupper any chances of a deal by turning out in force to taunt Parker when the clubs meet in a second-string match at The Valley tomorrow night

For a small section of supporters had been using website message boards to try to organise a way to target the player during the game.

Do they mean the meek and mild All Quiet In The East Stand? It's probably Netaddicks, actually, although as discussed before, they're a bit more supportive of him over there. Each to their own and all that.

The problem with stories like this, of course, is that it just winds belligerent types like me up into getting more angry. Because I don't like being patronised. Especially when all we need is an apology. That's all. Your move, Scott, not ours.

Considering the fraught situation, it's probably the best for all concerned that he doesn't play. But whoever is trying to engineer a situation where Scott Parker returns to Charlton should remember that our former favourite isn't the only hurt party here.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Arsenal 4-0 Charlton

Proper match reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, ITV Football, The Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Times, News Of the World, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, The Sun, Daily Mirror, The Times, The Guardian, Daily Telegraph.

Well, what a load of crap that was. Coming home, the horrible weather had resulted in a huge end-to-end rainbow over Charlton, with one end planted firmly inside The Valley. If God's a Gooner, he's got a horrible sense of humour.

Of course, we weren't bad in the first half. Assured defending from Chris Perry, masterful passes from Talal El Karkouri, good work by Herman Hreidarsson and Danny Murphy and excellent saves from Dean Kiely saw us a shade unlucky to go 1-0 down thanks to Freddie Ljungeberg, who kindly pumped his fist at the away fans to mark his goal. Great player, but no manners, that lad, as he then proceeded to fall on his arse, then his front, desperate to pretend he'd been fouled.

But to be honest, Arsenal were no great shakes in the first half, and if we hadn't kept on freezing in the box, we could have slipped a goal in front. But, chances blown on both sides, we ended the first half a goal down.

Second half, and as soon as Thierry Henry was allowed to back-heel the ball past Deano for Arsenal's second, we fell apart like a matchstick house. Perhaps it was time for the pace of Dennis Rommedahl, or the steadying midfield influence of Matt Holland? Not for Alan Curbishley, and the minutes agonisingly passed by as we were outclassed by Arsenal, who moved from third into second gear without ever really breaking sweat. You could see invention coming from Danny Murphy - you could smell the fear from everyone else.

Something had to give - and it did. The heavens opened, drenching the front of the Clock End. I "watched" the third goal from behind a pillar in the upper tier of the Clock End and the Gooners rising for their fourth signalled time to leave. If they were good goals, I couldn't tell you, as like Mr Wenger, I saw nothing. Even if we were to mount a comeback, I wasn't going to get pneumonia watching it in Arsenal's £33-a-ticket tip. I'm never one to leave early normally, but with that scoreline in that weather, anywhere was better than Highbury.

To add injury to insult, I ended up spending five minutes with an elderly Arsenal fan who crashed to the floor after slipping on the tiles at Arsenal tube (good to see the Underground staff stand by for the regulation 60 seconds before getting involved) and then my train spent half-an-hour delayed in a tunnel because of a signal failure. Still, better there than in the rain. Two weeks to our next game - frankly, it could be two months for all I care right now.

Dream on, Kevin

Kevin Lisbie in today's Sun:

"I just wanted to be a professional footballer — I would never have set my sights as high as playing for Arsenal. But now I am playing in the Premiership, I want to play for them at some time in my career.

"I love it here at Charlton and am happy to remain here but to play for Arsenal would be something."

That's it, show them you're not in awe of them. Funny how Kev is always more skilled at putting his foot in his mouth than on the ball, isn't it? You've improved lately, son, but don't go getting big ideas just yet...

Of course, Lisbie's recent improvement can be put down to the arrival of Franny Jeffers. Maybe he can remind Kev how young English strikers get treated at Highbury.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The Parker question

This morning's Sun has put the cat among the pigeons - although rumours of Scott Parker returning to Charlton have, to be honest, been circulating since 30 January.

While lesser websites have spun Curbishley's words to make it seem as if he's confirming we'll put in a bid, Jose Mourinho's words - as reported by the Press Association news agency - are more instructive.

"I have a lot of midfield players and none of them are injured - they are all fit and ready to play. But I can only use two or three of them and then put one more on the bench," he said.

"Someone has to miss out and at the moment Scott Parker has not been involved in the line-up or as sub. I can understand that and in fact I'm happy that Scott is not pleased with the situation.

"If he is not being used many times and is happy with that then it means he has no motivation or ambition. But he is professional, working fantastically well every day and his chance will arrive.

"When I read in the press about his unrest I just concentrate on the fact we are in September. Imagine if he is playing regularly in October or November - he won't want to leave Chelsea then.

"This has been taken out of context because it's still early in the season. We don't know what is happening in October, November or December so we'll have to wait and see. Scott has not spoken to me or anyone at the club about the situation."

Which is about as honest an assessment of the situation as you'll get. This could all be irrelevant come Christmas. Although, on current form, it seems unlikely.

Reuters are also running their own assessment of the situation.

So, would I welcome Scott back? Yes. But on our terms. No loan deal. If we can get him back for half of what we've paid, that's good business for us (although increased wage demands will be something we'll have to bear in mind).

And, frankly, we're owed an apology. But somehow, I doubt we'll get one. If this story's come from Parker's agent, it shows how little he's learned. After all, young Spotty does have a wife, two families and an agent to support, doesn't he?

But glancing through Netaddicks was a reminder of how soppy football fans can be - does anyone really believe the Parker that may or may not rejoin us will be the same player as the one who left us?

While on Netaddicks, let's nail one misconception on the head. Charlton did not agree to to sell him for £6m in summer 2003. Nor were the board keen to get rid of him. Scott Parker walked out on us because a Peter Kenyon tapped him up. End of story.

And this is the player people want to cheer if he plays for Chelsea reserves on Monday? Be serious. He's still the same greedy little bastard he was in January. One planted newspaper story won't change this. A transfer back to us may not change it either. Wish he'd come back as much as you like, but look at this with both eyes.

Chelsea mustn't be allowed to get away with the way they behaved over Parker. Scott himself mustn't be allowed to forget how his ego has so far led him to the scrapheap. Young players should see him as an example of what not to do, for the good of the game as a whole. The moment we beg for Parker's return is the moment we've let ourselves and every other club outside the top five or six down.

Me? If he comes back to us and we can show a profit on the deal, fine. But in the meantime, I still wish the greedy little shit every misfortune at Chelsea. We're Charlton because we aren't those money-grabbing bastards and we have some standards. If you're thinking about cheering him at the reserves on Monday, what exactly would you cheer him for? Walking out on us when we needed him most? Until that apology comes, I'll boo him until I'm as blue as his shirt.

The poor martyrs of Millwall

As you can't have failed to have heard by now, Millwall's European adventure came very close to ending in tragedy last night. As it was two fans remain in a Budapest hospital, and will be in there for a few days yet. I'm sure all our thoughts are with them and their families for a swift recovery.

But as we reflect on events, if you listen carefully you can hear the sound of chickens coming home to roost at Zampa Road. Perhaps if Millwall and its fans hadn't fostered the violent, intimidating "no-one likes us" image over many years, they wouldn't have had such a terrible time in Hungary. By all accounts it was a throwback to the bad old days, with Millwall's fans treated worse than animals. If you saw the footage on BBC London News today, you'll have seen what I mean.

"We could not leave our seats during the game due to the extra police who had to protect us," Paphitis told the London Evening Standard newspaper.

"It was like going back into the dismal time of football that we all try to forget.

"A variety of things kept flying over. Anything from drink to coins and bits of food.

"When there are women and children there it is not on. It did get hairy at one stage and we missed about 10 minutes of the game because we had to turn around to deal with it."

But... hang on a minute. Which south London football club had to have a walkway built between its away end and its nearest rail station to guarantee the safety of its away fans? This isn't ancient history, this was last season. I'm afraid Millwall have reaped what they've sown.

As ever, you can't tell this to a Millwall fan. I spent today with one eye on Millwall's board, never a place for the most open-minded discussion, but a good one to take the temperature. Lots of shock, sympathy from other fans.

And then comes the paranoia. Why poor little Millwall and not Middlesborough, who suffered minor skirmishes last night? Let's kick their heads back in! And then looking back - excitement because it's all kicking off! And "Eastern European asylum seekers" had done it. In their own country? Clever.

And tonight - it's kicking off again!

And of course, it's all a game to some. The fan quoted here must have been living a Football Factory wet dream. ("Ferencvaros are one of the top mobs in europe, but today they faced the best. They were shown what Millwall is by some old game mad lads.") Two men lie in hospital tonight - but it's alright, because the old firms were out there. For fuck's sake. If these poor souls had died, they wouldn't be victims in their eyes - they'd be martyrs for a self-pitying cause.

Clearly, not all Millwall fans go along with this self-deluding cobblers, and thank heavens they made their voices heard on that thread. But that club's never going to progress if they don't accept that their reputation causes them a problem. You can't go around shouting from the rooftops that you're the hardest team in Europe without expecting blood to be shed. And when it's innocent blood, it's nothing short of criminal. Yet while the fans still revel in it, it's always going to happen. It isn't worth it, for heaven's sake.

[My old man has] only just phoned after being out there since Wednesday. He's a big fella, and dosn't scare easily, but by all accounts he was fearing for his life the moment he got there. Lowest point was being on a train and having the Ferenc fans outside tap on the windows with knives!.....FCUK THAT!!!!

I don't mind admitting i've been worried sick for him, so im glad he's called (...albeit three days late).

I love Millwall, and always will do. There's not many places I wont go to to see them, but I'm glad I stayed here.

Is football worth this hassle?

Across south London tonight, there are families still scared shitless for their loved ones. While I hope Ferencvaros are thrown out and banned from European competition (although hell will freeze over before Uefa pull their finger out), I hope this nightmare finally shakes some sense into Millwall.

Don't bet on it, though.

The first Parker rumour of autumn

Pinch, punch, first of the month, and...

SCOTT PARKER is set for a sensational return to Charlton in January.

The Chelsea midfielder only left The Valley in a £10million transfer eight months ago.

But Parker’s spell at Stamford Bridge has turned into a nightmare and he is now wanted back at Charlton.

Apparently Parker's value has halved to £5m, according to El Solari. I wonder who's putting this story about?

Meanwhile, Arsenal's finest are so nervous about meeting us they've resorted to a punch-up between Viera and Lauren. Note for our players - tell Viera that Lauren said his mother smells. Then we'll 'ave 'em.