Saturday, December 31, 2005

Charlton 2-0 West Ham

Hooray! Possibly our first win against a decent team at The Valley this season, although we did it the hard way with a Matt Holland-led midfield going to pieces (funny, that) against a West Ham side who came out with all guns blazing. If it wasn't for fine saves from Thomas Myrhe, we'd be in the mire as the old year ends.

But Shaun Bartlett managed not to screw up a fine cross from Darren Bent, and somehow, we'd edged ourselves into the lead after 20 minutes. Despite the efforts of Etherington, Reo-Coker and Jeremie Aliadiere, West Ham couldn't quite get back into the game and quickly faded - the heavy Christmas fixture list had started to take its toll on the Hammers.

But for Charlton, after a frustrating period of deep, panicky defending, things started to get better. Kish provided the engine for a midfield let down by a mentally-absent Bryan Hughes, Holland started to get his foot in, and the defence of Powell, Hreidarsson, Young and Fortune grew in confidence as the game wore on. Also taking on a bigger role was an initially-hesitant Dennis Rommedahl - sadly denied the support he deserved for many of his incisive runs upfield, but someone who got better as the match wore on.

The second half rarely looked out of our hands - Darren Bent's superbly-taken goal in the 62nd minute showed our superiority, while in West Ham's defence, James Collins squabbled with an ineffectual Roy Carroll. Paul Konchesky (who he?) blazed a free-kick over the bar, summing up the Irons' frustration. A typically-entertaining game ended with a much-needed 2-0 win for Charlton - while West Ham were left to ponder their knackered side's chances in yet another game on Monday as they returned through the Blackwall Tunnel.

(Incidentally, I swear I saw Anton Ferdinand leave with friends on foot towards the Woolwich Road - heavens, it's like the days when the players got the bus home with you...)

It may have been a tad lucky, but it's just the win we desperately needed to lift our spirits. It's been a rollercoaster of a year - two bad runs and an amazing winning streak has reminded us just how fleeting success can be in this league, and how damaging failure can be in the long term. Hopefully 2006 will see our ride swing upwards. Thanks for your support of All Quiet In The East Stand this year, and I hope you have a wonderful new year. Come on you Addicks!

Late transfer nonsense

A late entry from the Daily Mirror for most stupid transfer story of the year. At least, I hope it is...

DANNY MURPHY is ready to quit Charlton, with Manchester City and Newcastle battling for his £3million signature.

The England World Cup hopeful is unsettled at The Valley and has not been seeing eye-to-eye with boss Alan Curbishley.

Newcastle chief Graeme Souness is ready to offer former Charlton star Lee Bowyer and possibly Amdy Faye in a swap deal.

Bowyer and Faye for Murphy? Someone's having a laugh...

Alan Curbishley on "Sometimes these things are put in the papers to unsettle people. Lots of conversations go on in football and perhaps someone has put something together to try and make a story."

Friday, December 30, 2005

Scary snowballs and buck-passing

The fall-out from the Newcastle postponement fiasco rumbles on, with even the government sticking its oar in. Sports Minister Richard Caborn declared the plight of Charlton fans was "unacceptable", prompting the Premier League to say this morning it would review its stance on postponing games.

I wouldn't expect too much, though, as far as fixture lists go - Premier League spokesman Dan Johnson toured the airwaves yesterday, coming up with the disingenious claim that the league tries to ensure holiday games "are as close as possible". Which is bollocks, of course, and the usual Premier League claptrap fest continues in today's Guardian, with Richard Scudamore claiming "oh, it's so very hard work", before retiring to lovingly lick a photograph of Jose Mourinho. Of course, it's very easy to blame the demands of the England team for the fixture congestion, but why wasn't the season started a week early in the first place?

Both Charlton and Newcastle have turned their fire on Newcastle City Council for not gritting the roads properly - although I do remember a situation a few years back when Charlton had to pay Greenwich Council to get a gritter to do Floyd Road for a youth cup game! BBC Sport has a round-up of a spectacular round of buck-passing.

Indeed, as New York Addick, who was among those left stranded, says: "Exactly what the safety officer/police were thinking is beyond me - it was an extremely easy decision to make; by 7pm we simply couldn't believe it hadn't been called off yet. Unfortunately it shows the dangers of putting people in authority who have neither the intelligence nor foresight to make rational decisions." (more)

But will Charlton fans who actually made the journey get any compensation? About as much chance as the Premier League turning into a fair competition, I imagine.

But well done to prospective supporters director candidate Vince Nieszwiec for getting his mug on the box, popping up on BBC News 24 to bemoan the situation. Now, if he'd had got his "Vote Vince" badges ready early enough... He also appears in today's Sun. Of course, it's easy to have a pop at him for publicity-seeking, but where was the supporters' club? It's not good enough for CASC to sit on its arse while our fans are stuck at the other end of the country, and its executives should ponder whether or not they're really worth the money supporters pay them for this lack of representation.

Actually, while Vince and company retired to a Euston Road boozer, incumbent supporters' director Sue Townsend emerged to speak to The Times and the Telegraph, complaining that her coaches from Maidstone didn't get back to deepest Kent until 3am. They'd have been a lot later if the game went ahead, of course.

However, bad memories of incidents outside the Den some years ago may have clouded her journey home...

"As we left to return to London, Newcastle fans were coming out and they started throwing snowballs at the coaches. It was quite scary." (more)

Snow fisaco coverage:

The Sun: Blame Sven for snow-offs
Daily Telegraph: Caborn leads icy backlash, Big freeze prompts blizzard of complaint
The Times: Government gets heated, Software finds task hard going, Wasted trips, Festive football feast
The Guardian: League to rethink Christmas fixtures, Festive fixtures debate
Independent: Authorities feel heat
BBC Sport: Christmas fixtures set for review, Clubs angry at late postponement Why snow go?, Newcastle statement
Premier League: ...not a peep.

Transfer window wibblings

The transfer window opens once again next week. Yesterday's Daily Mirror claimed we were ready to get rid of six players to fund a bid for Dean Ashton - who we failed to sign this time 12 months ago. Those players were Dennis Rommedahl, Jason Euell, Kevin Lisbie, Jonatan Johansson, Jon Fortune and Shaun Bartlett. I don't think anybody in their right mind would miss Lisbie, Bartlett and JJ, although Jon Fortune may have something left to offer, Euell's surely worth one last crack and as for Dennis Rommedahl, many would argue he's not been given a proper chance.

And of course, we've not just dead wood to clear out, we've damaged goods to shift in the shape of Scouse layabout Francis Jeffers, who's returned from doing precisely fuck-all at Rangers. Out you go, son.

But Jeffers could well find a home at Sheffield United, according to today's Daily Star. Possibly closer to the money is The Guardian, which says the Blades are after Shaun Bartlett. What we can gather from this is that Neil Warnock may well have taken leave of his senses. Quick, shift them both now!

The strongest hint yet, though, came from Sir Reg Varney on Sky Sports News today, when he not-quite-'fessed-up to our yearnings for Marcus Bent.

"He's a player I know Alan has had interest in in the past but these players have to be available.

"You look at Everton, they're in a bad run at the moment but things can change very quickly and, if he comes back into the team, who knows?

Manchester City have also been linked with Marcus Bent - this one could run for a while, I think.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

White lines

Match off! Despite passing a pitch inspection at 6.20pm, the game was off 60 minutes later, with Sky reporting the safety of the stands at St James' Park being an factor in the postponement. The north-east of England has been blanketed by snow this evening making travel in the region very difficult.

That doesn't make it any better for those who went up there, who have been royally screwed by the Premier League. Sunderland fans have also suffered from a late postponement at Blackburn, while in the Championship, Preston fans have found themselves stuck at Plymouth.

Perhaps the advent of new undersoil heating has actually made matters worse - in days gone by, the match may have been off a few hours in advance, but undersoil heating means the referee keeps on waiting and waiting to make a decision. You can be sure that this kind of fiasco will be an issue for those in the supporters' director election.

At least there are many worse cities to be stuck in than Newcastle, and on the bright side, perhaps many more of us can make a rearranged game at a better time of year that doesn't make rail companies see pound signs. And while our squad gets a rest, while West Ham are running out at Upton Park for their game against Wigan. Ho ho.

Now, I was off to the pub, wasn't I?

Later (back from the pub): The full SP from Mike Dean, a very defensive statement from Newcastle, Graeme Souness says he's frustrated for himself and his players, but forgets the 50,000 Toon fans, never mind ours, and Fat Freddy Shepherd was more concerned about his own team's New Year's Eve trip to Spurs, especially because there's a planned Tube strike which may delay his plans to don his brothel creepers and see the old year out with a bang. Good to know the national game's safe in his sweaty hands.

Plus The Independent and The Times give vent to Charlton fans' anger while, authoritative Toon-zine had sympathy for Shepherd, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and The Sun covered Mike Dean's apology.

Bah, humbug to the Premier League

The world's most bent league has come up with the world's most bent Christmas fixture list, with Charlton drawn away at Newcastle tonight. The highlight, of course, will be to see which candidates for the supporters' director position makes the biggest deal of the fact that they were there, because clearly that makes them bigger fans than the other candidates and... zzzz.... want a prize, boys?

On the pitch, Danny Murphy's out after his tantrum on Boxing Day, Gonzalo Sorondo's expected to be out after that delightful tackle from Francesc Fabregas. Newcastle can have Lee Bowyer now they're appealing after his own bemusing red card on Boxing Day. If there's a team of men looking to improve their performance in the Premiership tonight, it'll be the referees, with Mike Dean taking charge tonight. He was the man in black for our 3-0 win at Middlesbrough, hopefully that's a good omen.

As far as I can gather there's no hooky live coverage anywhere in the world of our game, so I'm heading down the pub for Guinness, whiskey, and the Scouse derby, with fingers crossed for us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Charlton 0-1 Arsenal

You know what? I may be slightly mad, but I can't get too upset about Boxing Day's game. Sure, someone should have stopped Reyes scoring that goal. But we matched the Gunners in the first half, and showed ten times the passion we showed in the game against Wigan, and far more guile than anything we came out with in our last few home games.

Our changed team performed creditably, Thomas Myhre showing both Dean Kiely and Stephan Andersen they're not the only goalkeeping choices we've got - Kiely wasn't even on the bench. Matt Holland and Shaun Bartlett, both targets for stick here, played well, especially while Darren Bent looked all star struck. Gonzalo Sorondo, making his first Premiership start with us, played better than many expected. But late substitute Kevin Lisbie decided he'd spend his 15 minutes on the pitch ambling about - not what you'd expect from somebody supposedly desperate for a chance to show what he could do.

While the Reyes goal came out of a grim defensive screw-up, Danny Murphy's sending-off crowned a bad day for referee Steve Bennett, who - to be fair - screwed up things for both sides before belatedly remebering Premiership refs are meant to back big teams. Murphy was twice the man he's been in recent games, but he was to be booked for what seemed to be a Luke Young foul, and then was sent off after throwing the ball to the floor after intervening following a Herman Hreidarsson foul on Gilberto.

An entertaining and fluid game was over as a contest by then, and Charlton staggered through the final 15 minutes. Arsenal aren't the team they once were - although Arsene Wenger did chose to play a clearly below-par Henry - but their passing was much more fluid than ours, a factor which showed in the final result, crap refereeing or not.

(There's some slightly obtuse criticism of Bennett from Curbs in the BBC report - for a London derby we also had a London-based ref, but with Bennett coming from Orpington... "he is not far from us and perhaps when they come into games refereeing their local teams, it is a bit difficult." To be fair, Bennett's not been shy when dishing out the cards this season, and he's alleged to be a Palace fan, anyway.)

At least we can get over this one with our heads held high. For those who are going to Newcastle on Wednesday, I hope we can build on this.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Season's greetings

Merry Christmas! Feeling all stuffed yet? Hopefully we won't have that feeling tomorrow when Arsenal come to The Valley. I think that by now the players and manager know the fans just won't tolerate another meek surrender like we saw at the JJB. Jason Euell and Kevin Lisbie return to our squad, and while I've never been a fan of the latter, it's good to see them back, and hopefully they'll be hungry too. Maybe we will find out what Lisbie and Bent will be like up front together.

As for Arsenal, there's a late fitness test on a certain Thierry Henry, but they'll be looking to turn over a new leaf too. The Gunners have never been as beatable as this, though, and I'm praying for a repeat of our Boxing Day heroics over Chelsea two years ago. A draw will be enough to lift the spirits, but on what's going to be a cold day at The Valley, I hope we can get behind the team and lift them out of the doldrums.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Who are these people?

Charlton have responded to fans' requests by again making replica shirts available to buy from the Superstore. But the Addicks are warning fans who purchase the shirts, which still display the name of former club sponsor all:sports, that they will be unable to get any refunds at a later date. (more)

Where's the demand coming from? Who'd really want a bit of out-of-date kit in their Christmas stocking? They're hardly going to be collectors' items, are they?

The supporters' director pantomime

With so much turmoil on the pitch at the moment, it's tempting to look away for a bit of light relief. Nominations are being taken for the post of supporters' director, with the poll due to take place in the last two weeks of January, in the lead-up to the West Bromwich Albion home game.

It's a rare role, and it's actually debatable what good a supporters' director can actually do. Although, funnily enough, Millwall have now adopted the idea. But as a symbol of the fans' relationship with the board, it's right to take this poll seriously.

We've had a very low-profile incumbent over the past couple of years, and suddenly she's started popping up on the club's official site, which is certainly raising my eyebrows. Good to know she's discovered the club's press office after all these months. After all, it must be hard to find their number in the match programme.

With all ticking over well in the Premiership, it's easy to argue that a low profile representative has been perfectly adequate. But the past few weeks have sent a chill down Charlton fans' spines. Cast your mind forward and try to think the unthinkable.

If we went down, the club would definitely be rocked. Player sales and a drop in revenue would mean we'd enter the Championship a different club. Who would you want to represent the fans' interests at moments of uncertainty? Somebody invisible whose only contribution has been to talk about how difficult her role is? Or somebody who knows how to communicate with fans, who can dispel the fear that the supporters' director is in the pocket of a distant cabal of fans?

So far, there doesn't appear to be a shortage of candidates. Which gives us a problem. Let's be frank here. Let's say we have 14,000 adult season-ticket holders. How many of those fans are active fans, the ones who make noise at The Valley, the ones who are now passionately debating the manager's future, the state of the team, and eyeing up away games? They could have been going for years, they could have just a few seasons under their belt. But you know they care. You're probably one of them. I can tell because you've taken the trouble to read this site.

We're not that numerous in number, are we? Maybe half the season ticket holders. On the internet, how many of us are there regularly sifting through the message boards, mailing lists and blogs? A thousand, a few hundred? It's a pretty tight community.

Which would leave the other half of the season-ticket base. The consumers. The ones who come in on the fabled Rickshaws. The ones who just come to watch a game of Premiership football. The ones who've never done a full 90 minutes in the East Stand.

I fear it'd be very easy for somebody, especially those with supporters' club connections, to manipulate a large vote for a favoured candidate. Nothing immoral or wrong with this, of course. But if you'd been bussed in from Godknowswhere, Kent, for the past couple of years, and weren't aware of the sound and fury that emenates from the core Charlton supporter base, then you'd vote for whoever sorted out your coaches/ flasks/ travel blankets for your old Nan, wouldn't you?

It's human nature. You'd feel the need to return a favour. A large block vote is believed to have helped out the current director last time. Another block vote could well swing behind a candidate from a supporters' club this time. This can't be allowed to happen again.

But out of the active fanbase, we've already got three candidates showing their hands. All three are capable people with strong personalities, and we're fortunate to have them in our number. But all three people are running a giant risk here - they're very likely to split the vote. I doubt you can put a cigarette paper between their opinions on most matters.

So we could well have three or more high-profile candidates facing a single, low-profile candidate who can literally bus his or her votes in. The more of "us" stand, the more chance that somebody we've never heard of who runs the coaches in from Heavenknowswhere, Kent will get it, because our votes will be split. This isn't the right way to make sure Charlton fans are properly represented on the board at all. In the last election, the present incumbent got in on 20% of the vote, with the rest of the polling being split in umpteen different ways.

However well-intentioned, this isn't the time for exercising egos, bragging about the away games you go to, or settling old scores. This is rare opportunity to help influence the direction of the club - it cannot and must not be wasted on a supporters' club clique again.

It's Christmas, and I hope that over the break, those high-profile candidates have a good think about just why they're planning to stand. Would they really be able to deal with the board and the full spectrum of Charlton fans? I'd hope that at least one swallows their pride and steps back from standing. Because if all three run, it could end up being a futile exercise.

Inspector Sands' Boxing Day travel tips

Just to prove that all bloggers are, in fact, a bit nerdy, here's my tips to help you get to The Valley for our Boxing Day game against Arsenal, which kicks off at 12.45, so don't come grizzling to me when you roll down Charlton Church Lane at five to three to find a wall of people going the other way. The traffic's likely to be particularly bad, especially on the obvious routes, if you're lucky enough to be able to leave the car at home, you should find it easy on public transport if you follow these tips.

TRAIN: For the first time in many years, there's trains through Charlton on Boxing Day. However, it's only an hourly service, which only serves selected stations, with a couple of specials bunged onto the timetable to accomodate the Valley traffic. First train out of Charing Cross is at 09:15, the last one is at 20:15. Here's the timetable from town, with the times of the special train next to it.

Charing Cross 15 past the hour and 1148
Waterloo East 18 past the hour and 1151
London Bridge 22 past the hour and 1155
Lewisham 31 past the hour and 1203
Blackheath 33 past the hour and 1207
Charlton 37 past the hour and 1211
... continues only to Woolwich Dockyard, Abbey Wood and Slade Green.

And the timetable from the Thames-side resort of Slade Green (first 0827, last 1927):

Slade Green 27 past each hour and 1200
Abbey Wood 32 past each hour and 1206
Woolwich Arsenal 36 past each hour and 1211
Charlton 41 past each hour and 1218
... continues to Blackheath, Lewisham and central London.

Coming back there's an extra train from Charlton to Slade Green at 1443 (which will probably wait for 10 minutes or so, looking at the timetable), and to Charing Cross at 1503.

I've missed my train! Panic not. There is also another hourly service, leaving Charing Cross at 45 past each hour, which stops at Lewisham, Blackheath, Eltham, Welling, Bexleyheath and Slade Green only, so you could take that to Lewisham or Blackheath and jump on a bus. Easy. You can also take the train from these stations to Blackheath and change for a Charlton train (15 minute wait).

Further afield? There's a limited service of other trains into Victoria, so you could jump on the tube from there, and from north of the river, there's a limited Thameslink service from Luton to London Bridge. More train information - South Eastern Trains, Southern, Thameslink.

TUBE: There's no Jubilee Line on Boxing Day because of engineering work to add an extra carriage onto the trains. So North Greenwich will be closed. So forget that. But the other lines will be open, including the East London Line to New Cross (53 bus to The Valley), and the District Line to Bromley-by-Bow (108 bus and 15 mins' walk to The Valley). As well as the...

Trains every 10 minutes from Bank to Lewisham, and every 10 minutes from Stratford to Lewisham.

BUSES: Sunday service on all London routes, which should make life very easy indeed. If you're coming from central London and can't get on the train, my advice would be to get to Lewisham or Blackheath and take the 380 to The Valley, which runs every 20 minutes and skips most of the traffic jams. Or you could always take the 54, while the 89 to Shooters Hill Road should avoid the traffic jams in Charlton.

Tube users can get the 53 from New Cross/ New Cross Gate or Elephant & Castle, while Woolwich Road will be rammed, so the 177/180 from Greenwich is best avoided unless you've got plenty of time.

MINICAB: Datacars 020 8850 0000. Or, in London, text HOME to 60835 to get two local cab numbers. Easy.

And finally...

WALK: Well come on, you'll be able to avoid the crowds and ease off all that Christmas grub...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Grasping at straws

From The Sun:

THIERRY HENRY has given Arsenal a major injury scare for the crucial Christmas holiday period.

The Gunners captain and 11-goal top scorer yesterday underwent scans at a private hospital to determine the extent of an Achilles problem.

Here's hoping... I'd like to wish M Henry a very good Christmas and a peaceful, restful Boxing Day.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Wigan 3-0 Charlton

Match reports from those who stayed the 90 minutes:, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, Manchester Evening News, The Observer, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday.

Manchester Piccadilly station, 5.55pm: Surrender at a frozen JJB Stadium as a clueless Charlton side threw away possession, hope, and the game. The All Quiet travelling party took its leave after Henri Camara's third on 68 minutes, groping its way back through Wigan's industrial wasteland. The culprits? Dean Kiely had a howler again, caught off his line for the second and well out of place for the third. At least the first - deflected off an unlucky Powell - was not his fault. The entire back four, though, needs to learn from this, and learn quickly. Especially HH. No player came out of today's debacle well - they let Curbs down, and they let us down. It's going to be a long ride home...

Update, 11pm: Safely home, having had a bloody long train journey and the benefit of a 3G phone with goals to try to work out what's gone wrong. The difference between now and the start of the season is disturbing - and it's essentially the same group of players too. Yet why has the motivation gone? Even the solid Luke Young got a rare public bollocking from Curbs after the game. I think it's rash to blame the manager - when your midfield (Kish excepted) simply can't be arsed to tackle, when all your players look terrified of their opponents, when our passing upfield always seems to end up somewhere near the right-hand corner, there isn't much you can do from the touchline. It seems psychological, although "what we need is a psychopath," I was told when I mentioned this, today's Daily Mirror story about Lee Bowyer thrust under my nose.

My own personal theory is that we dropped after Tord Grip started talking Danny Murphy up for England. That preceded our defeat to Spurs, his lack of a recall to the national side, and his form's dropped off the scale since then. Murphy was hopeless today, his form affects the rest of the side, and that's just one of the reasons for our decline.

Incidentally, while the Wigan fans and staff were a friendly bunch - one even voicing concern that my shoes were undone - the JJB is a strange, artificial-feeling ground, especially with only 17,000 fans there. At least the Charlton fans at the back of the south stand kept their spirits up, apparently perfoming a conga while we were 3-0 down. Me, I was just happy to be out of the place. Bah, humbug.

Friday, December 16, 2005

It seemed like a good idea at the time

Well, come on, it did. A new ground, free tickets from Joma, half-decent train fares... yup, Wigan away on the last regular shopping Saturday before Christmas really did seem a good idea once. But Darren Bent's lingering hamstring worry and Jay Bothroyd's blackout really mean I'm going to go to bed praying I won't be travelling halfway up the country to see bloody Shaun Bartlett piss about up front. Please, Curbs, for the love of the ickle baby Jesus, if our top two strikers aren't available, play Jason Euell, won't you?

An All Quiet travelling party will lurch out of Euston bound for fast food, slow trains, and hopefully three points from the Latics, who I shan't patronise here by going on about their good form/ unlucky run of fixtures.

For those back at home, wrapping the presents and writing the cards, it's on BBC London, and outside London, you'll be able to listen to the game on Five Live Sports Extra on digital radio, Sky channel 894, Freeview channel 706, and online (UK only) if the feed lets you down. It's also on RTE2 in Ireland, but clearly it'd be very naughty of me to mention anything about pubs with Irish Sky cards, wouldn't it? Let's hope it's a happy Saturday, anyway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bothroyd's blackout bother

I can't have been the only one whose heart sank when The Sun ran a story this morning claiming Jay Bothroyd had been arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. With a strong whiff of coppers taking pieces of silver from Wapping's finest, "a source said the Premiership player was 'acting strangely and not very coherent'.

Of course, the story's a load of old bollocks, and an angry statement from Peter Varney was fired off in the middle of the morning. It appears Bothroyd blacked out and crashed his car.

"We are very concerned because Jay had a blackout six years ago, and seems to have suffered a recurrence yesterday while driving.

"The car was only travelling at about 10mph when it hit the post, and Jay has no recollection of the entire event."

Worrying stuff. Bothroyd's been a handy addition to the squad since he arrived in August, although our 4-5-1 system's meant he's been stuck in the shadow of Darren Bent. Fingers crossed for him.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Wot no Netaddicks?

If you see any particularly frustrated Charlton fans wandering around this evening, take pity on them - Netaddicks has been down today and they haven't been able to let off steam. It was taken down on Friday for work to upgrade the always-ropey Rivals network and... hasn't returned.

By Neil Vaughan of
Date: Fri. December 9, 2005 3:56 pm

Dear Visitor, will be carrying out essential maintenance this weekend. The message boards and story pages will not be accessible and therefore not be available from first thing Saturday until Monday assuming everything has gone smoothly.

Whoops. The moral of the story - never let a Spurs fan do a man's work.

In the meantime, an emergency service of heated debate, prediction games, grandstanding, sexual intrigue, futile political point-scoring and bad jokes is no doubt being prepared in a secret bunker somewhere. Probably.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Not available in the shops

See, Curbs knows men of a certain age look silly in football kits, so he's just holding the shirt up rather than wearing it. Sensible man. So our new sponsor is Spanish property outfit Llanera, who've paid enough for us to stick a finger up at Allsports and dream of homes in the sun. Worth £6.6m, it's rumoured to be the sixth most lucrative deal in the Premiership and is a substantial improvement on what we had before. And a genuine surprise, after all the talk of the Dome's new owners or a Far Eastern beer brand during the summer. Looks good in the shirt too.

But don't expect to get your hands on the shirt anytime soon - the old Allsports shirts were pulled off sale on Saturday, and we'll start afresh with new shirts from the summer of 2006. Which means the club has to absorb the hit from nobody buying shirts over Christmas. Although I bet a few creep onto eBay...

But it's not as if people weren't warned about this, with rumours about Allsports' financial situation doing the rounds last summer and it was the last year of the contract anyway - new shirts would be the order of the day next summer, whatever happened.

Now pity the poor sod who's got to go around unpicking all the Allsports signs in The Valley in the middle of winter, rather than during the height of summer. A Boxing Day launch on TV for a new kit? If it's off the back of a win at Wigan, I'll take that.

Centenary Sunday

Sunday's going to be a big day for the club - you can put your shirt on it, I assure you.

And for anybody attending tonight's centenary bash at the Royal Lancashire Hotel, and spots anything interesting happening - never mind the 3am Girls, drop me a line via e-mail (bottom of the right-hand column) or through the comment box. From what I've heard, it promises to be a good night out. If you are going, have fun - and shake Super Clive's hand for me, will you?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Charlton 2-0 Sunderland

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

What a relief! A competent 2-0 victory with goals from Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose earning victory over a determined, but ultimately poor Sunderland side. The first half was fairly even until Bent's fine shot capitalised on poor Mackem defending, while we were dominant in the early stages of the second half, sealing victory with Ambrose knocking one in from close range after some crazy Mackem defending. That's where Sunderland went wrong, despite their dominating a nervy last 15 minutes, along with a succession of hopeful shots which flew wide, high, or anywhere near the goal.

In contrast to last Sunday, it's hard to pick out a player who started and performed poorly for Charlton. Dean Kiely's had some stick, not least here, but pulled off some fine saves in goal and has probably secured his place between the sticks for the foreseeable future. Darren Bent was carrying an injury but didn't show it - to the extent that his replacement by the hapless and hopeless Shaun Bartlett provoked jeers across the Valley. Darren Ambrose didn't stop, Luke Young was commanding, Danny Murphy looked closer to his best form than he has done in a while and Chris Powell justified his return to the first team. Jerome Thomas had a great game too, constantly threatening the opposition.

But while he's had some flak from fans, it's time Radostin Kishishev got his dues on this site. His work in midfield helped unsettle Sunderland, and he kept going where others tired. The parachutes are up, our drop down the table has stalled. Bring on Wigan to see what our revival's really made of.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Cup travel alert

Right, you'll no doubt know by now that our Cup game against Sheffield Wednesday has been set for 3pm on Saturday 7 January - with, unusually, Sheffield United kicking-off at the same time as well against Colchester. Could be a busy day up there.

If you want to go by train, get in there quick for cheap tickets - you should be able to do it for £14 if you're going up and back on the day. That is all.

Monday, December 05, 2005

We live in interesting times

A measure of one's class can be observed in how one reacts to a humiliation like Sunday's Citeh rout. Your humble correspondent, for example, took losing 5-2 as his cue to get rather drunk and forget about the whole thing. Which is all very good until you finally wake up, proceed to work slightly dishevelled, and see the headlines all about how crap we were. Poor old City fans, their side gets its act together and all the press can talk about is "Curbishley crisis" - two words which just don't look right together.

Indeed, it's the manager's comments that have pre-empted all the headlines. And the change in Curbishley's tone towards the fans - from "maybe the fans don't want a cup run" to "they have been fantastic so far" - indicates that things may get worse before they get better.

Looking at the table, we're five points adrift of the chasing pack which starts with Manchester City in eighth, while there's a three point cushion between us and the looking-over-their-shoulder brigade including Fulham and Villa. A home game against woeful Sunderland should be a cue for a recovery, but this is Charlton...

But in the meantime, it's time to get behind the players and manager. We know there's players who had hopeless games - JJ's continued presence in the team must baffle most sane observers, while Matt Holland reminded us why last season ended so badly. For now, forget these clowns, because they're not starting XI material.

Jonathan Spector is a worry, as are our keepers - Kiely's awful game showed he's on the way out, but some will be concerned about Andersen as a replacement.

The likes of Murphy, Smertin, Perry and Young can perform much better than they did yesterday. And they will. Bothroyd's goal was a stunner, while Bent and Ambrose weren't exactly on fire, but they weren't dreadful either. Jerome Thomas performed well as a substitute.

It's down to Curbishley to earn his money - if he pulls Charlton out of this slump, he'll be lauded once again, and probably be shipped off to that Big Club job he's bound to get eventually. (If he doesn't, well, there's Rangers...)

But sod it, it's a tight league so far. A couple of wins and we'll be back in the top half. Promotion and relegation aren't decided at Christmas, while Bolton lost eight and got into Europe. Plus there's the January transfer window. We're not even half-way through the season yet.

Crisis? This is certainly more than a little local difficulty. But be careful what you wish for - if we don't back the team, then a crisis is what we'll get.

"All Quiet On the East Stand"?

Thanks to programme editor Matt Wright for the mention in Sunday's programme - nice to be noticed and all that. Also mentioned was Chicago Addick, for his efforts in covering Jonathan Spector's efforts for the USA at Soldier Field.

Mind you, feeling a bit proud, I mentioned this to somebody today who promptly burst my bubble by telling me that Frankie Valley was the talk of his Upper North neighbours. Damn. Better try harder! In the meantime, should you notice an increase in references to Peter Shirtliff and "the mighty Stags", that's me sucking up to the programme editor...

Charlton 2-5 Manchester City

No, I'm not even going to bother.

But if you were Alan Curbishley, what would you do?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wednesday in the Cup

We've been drawn away to Sheffield Wednesday in the third round of the FA Cup. We haven't played them since they sent us down in 1999, but since then our fortunes have diverged somewhat, with the Yorkshire club having struggled in what's now League One. This is their first season back in the Championship, and they've had a rough time of it so far, currently lying fourth from bottom.

The tie is due to be played the weekend of 7/8 January - I can't see it being picked for TV, but as Sheffield United have also been drawn at home, we could be lumbered with a Sunday game.

In the meantime, it's Manchester City coming up at The Valley, with Dean Kiely keeping his place in goal despite his howlers against Blackburn. And I should be off down there...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Jerome Thomas arrested

Jerome Thomas has been arrested after a fracas outside a nightclub, All Quiet In The East Stand can confirm. Details are pretty sketchy, but Thomas is alleged to have attacked a bouncer, something he denies. He remains on bail. The story was broken in the Daily Mail, but hasn't been picked up by anybody else so far. Thank heavens for being little old Charlton, eh? More information will appear here as it emerges.

But on top of our poor run and everything else, we could do with this like a hole in the head...

Fill your boots

If we're going to be rubbish, you might as well cash in on it - I've just noticed that according to an ad on Manchester City's official site, is offering 28/1 on us leading at half-time on Sunday, and the Massives coming back to beat us. Well, you might as well.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Charlton 2-3 Blackburn

Send in the shrinks, that's all I can sensibly say as we slumped to our fifth defeat in a row after pathetically surrendering a 2-0 win in just 15 minutes. Late last season Curbs talked about getting a psychologist in to try to work out why our seasons almost always end in frustration. Maybe it's time to do it now, before the season can get any worse.

And as for me, I probably need one, because I cut short a refreshing break by the Baltic Sea to get back for this. I knew it was a bad idea on Sunday night, in a Helsinki bar, discussing Jonatan Johannsson's shortcomings with a pissed bloke in an Ajax scarf. And boy, did we see JJ's limitations tonight.

First, the positives. We didn't go 2-0 up by being crap. Darren Ambrose was excellent throughout the game, while Darren Bent looked hungrier than he did during the Villa debacle. Murphy and Smertin's partnership looked on-song again, while Luke Young almost got a goal himself in a fine display. Chris Powell also performed well as we gradually won control of the game from Blackburn.

But now, the negatives. Or should this just be a list of scapegoats? Alan Curbishley, for substituting Young for a poor Jonathan Spector? Returning keeper Dean Kiely, whose muffed-up clearance allowed David Thompson to score Rovers' second? Danny Murphy, whose head dropped visibly in the last quarter of an hour? JJ's poor performance on the wing? (Where's Dennis?) Or just the whole team, for defending a 2-0 lead so deeply, we looked like a beaten team when we were well in front.

This isn't to take anything away from Blackburn's achievement - they showed more guile than we have done all season, while Brad Friedel showed why he's one of the league's more under-estimated keepers.

But the Charlton team - and manager ("Everyone talks about wanting a cup run but I'm not sure how much the fans want it - it was a half-empty stadium out there." - Planet Curbs slips out of alignment with most sane people's ideas about cold Wednesday nights against unpromising opposition) - need to know they've let the fans down badly. This isn't a crisis. But Sunday's game against Man City now looks like a must-win. Or the moaners will become unbearable. Anything else, and I'll start to fear for our already-fragile morale.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Aston Villa 1-0 Charlton

Certainly the worst Charlton performance since the 4-0 Manchester United drubbing last season, and definitely a let-down against a poor Villa side.

There's an opinion piece in today's Guardian about the Manchester United affair called "Time for a serious rethink at Charlton's Valley of confusion". It could well serve as a headline for today's game.

So much went wrong, it's hard to actually put a finger on where the rot began to set in. Exchanging an out-of-form Danny Murphy for a hungrier Matt Holland made sense on paper - it didn't on the pitch as the midfield simply vanished. When Murphy finally did come on in the second half, he had easily his worst performance in a Charlton shirt.

Bringing on Kevin Lisbie in the second half could have been a masterstroke - but Lisbie didn't seem up for it. Funny, that. Talal El Karkouri nearly cost us a penalty, while Stephan Andersen had another mare in goal. In fact, it's hard to think of a Charlton player who even performed satisfactorily. With a disappointing away contingent in subdued mood, it was a game to forget.

How we get ourselves out of our current mess, especially with the masochists' special in the League Cup against Blackburn coming up, is trickier matter, though.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I was told a story last night about a holiday in the Mediterranean in the 1980s. The story-teller was away with some mates, and delighted to find George Best in a bar with a stunning-looking woman. Everyone in the bar queued up to buy Best a drink. "I've just bought George Best a drink!," they boasted. The next day, Best was back. Different woman, same bar. And everyone bought him a drink once again. And he was back the following day as well - with yet another woman. More drinks.

I suppose there's a lot of people who did the same to him in boozers when he was clearly ill over the past few years who'll be pleased with themselves today. I've been reading memories of Best's appearance in a Charlton shirt, at Les Berry's 1983 testimonial. I doubt it was ever filmed, but I'd love to see photos of it.

Whatever your views on his life, whether you remember him as a great footballer, a tabloid alcoholic, or just the softly-spoken bloke on Sky Soccer Saturday, at least his demons are finally behind him now. Rest in peace, George.

Here's a video tribute that's been doing the rounds of Manchester United fans. A minute's silence will be held at all Premiership matches this weekend.

Monday, November 21, 2005

United they fall (on a steward)

The behaviour of Manchester United's fans was alreaady a talking point before the news that one of their number had been charged with sexually assaulting a female member of Charlton's staff. A man in his 20s was held by police over the weekend and charged, one of six United fans arrested on Saturday.

Clearly, with charges having been brought, the specific nature of that incident is out of bounds for discussion. But the news throws a harsher spotlight on the behaviour of United's fans in general, especially as a steward was injured in the melee following Ruud van Nistelrooy's first goal.

United's travelling fans have caused grief at Charlton for a long while. They haven't had a full allocation for a couple of years because of their persistent standing, which only sets back the cause to bring back terracing. But this is United fans, who act as if they can do as they bloody well like. Invade the pitch? Wear our away kits in home areas? Hit a steward? It's okay, they're United fans.

Arsenal and Chelsea fans have their disappointing years still fresh enough in their minds to remind them to show some manners, while Liverpool and Newcastle fans know they couldn't pull it off. But United? The more humble fans went off to FC United - we're left with the lot in the Jimmy Seed on Saturday, the intellectual ones still pretending they're following some socialist dream at MU Glazermugs, while the thick ones just have all the delusions of Millwall fans. Except that some of the Spanners' whines are justified sometimes - a Millwall player would never get away with what Ruud did on Saturday. United get away with it all the time, and I'm sure sour-faced United apologist-in-chief Bobby Charlton will be along to stick up for them soon.

Of course, there are sensible Manchester United fans, like the ones who helped police with the incident involving the female member of staff. But they seem unable to get their own house in order. For a "reduced allocation" in the Jimmy Seed, it looked pretty full - there are rumours of ticket forgeries going around.

In the meantime, Peter Varney wants to ban United fans altogether. It's a matter for the Premier League, but I fear this will be counter-productive. The smirking little bastard in his away top in the East Stand convinced me of this. United fans think they can get away with anything, and our fanbase is too soft to prevent idiots selling on their season tickets to them or bringing along their mates.

Apparently United have a sharply reduced allocation at Arsenal and Middlesbrough, down to as low as 500. Perhaps that's the way to go, and fill the rest of the Jimmy Seed with schoolkids. But banning them altogether will increase the bizarre victim mentality United fans seem to possess - instead of encouraging them to get their own house in order first.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Charlton 1-3 Manchester United

Proper reports not written in a strop:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People, Manchester Evening News,, Manchester Buccaneers ("Darren Ambrose, spending a year at the Valley to attempt to get over his addiction to bubblewrap").

It didn't really matter if we beat them 4-0, frankly, we were just the invisible support act today as United's smug, arrogant following were indulged once more, a Five Live reporter hovering around Floyd Road conducting vox-pops while Sky Sports News set up camp in Valley Grove. Yes, a spoilt hero of the Reds had departed - no, Best was still on his deathbed, but Roy Keane was walking his dog as a free agent. And if you're tuning into Sky Sports News waiting to hear how we got on - it's United all the way, although Curbs gets a look-in just after the half-hour.

I left The Valley feeling gloomier about our performance than most - although my mood wasn't really helped by having an MU Glazermugs fan in a United away top sat six seats away from me, none of the mutes around me doing anything to encourage him do depart. The stewards threw him and his mate out at half-time - to tuts from the family in front of me (with their own United guest) while someone behind me decided I wasn't a "sportsman" because I was grassing up an away fan - but it was clear plenty of arseholes had brought their glory-hunting chums with them and the atmosphere felt muted for most of the game.

So to be honest, I wasn't really in the mood, and the first half was a write-off. But I can tell you that Kish played his legs off, Danny Murphy had a poor game, and Darren Ambrose scored a wonderful equaliser from the edge of the area - that famed telepathy with Darren Bent coming up trumps. And for fifteen minutes or so, it looked like we could grab something out of it.

But the quality of United's passing as they moved up field was the key, the ball moving seamlessly between Smith, Ronaldo, Van Nistelrooy and Rooney. They were wobbly up the back - Rio clearly more concerned about another drugs test than anything we did. But we couldn't take advantage of it.

We weren't exactly sure-footed in defence as well - Talal El Karkouri still can't seem to communicate with the rest of the players, while Dean Kiely's backers saw their cause advanced by another lacklustre performance from Stephan Andersen in goal.

But for all the warm praise from Alex Ferguson for us afterwards, it was a frustrating afternoon, and for most of the game, whatever we threw at United, they had an answer. Ruud Van Nistelrooy's first goal saw him throw himself at the United fans, who then ran onto the playing area, reminding me why, pre-Chelsea, they were the most despised club in the country. "He should be sent off for that," said the bloke next to me - an over-reaction, although I doubt players at some clubs would get away with it.

All in all, a frustrating afternoon. But Saturday saw sobering events elsewhere - no, not Keane's departure, nor the self-destruction of another United player, but a real tragedy at Shrewsbury. For us, at least, life goes on at Villa on Saturday.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Advice for away fans this weekend

You may be going about your lawful business on Saturday, when a gentleman, often in the company of freshly-scrubbed children, will enquire in perfect English where the "stadium" is.

Be warned. This is a Manchester United fan.

You may also be going about your business in the home areas of The Valley, relishing a comeback for Alexei Smertin (here's hoping) and hoping the Darrens can keep their Under 21s form up, when you spot the same gentleman - with the same freshly-scrubbed kids - unsure who these strange-looking players in red are.

Be warned. This is a Manchester United fan.

He will not be violent, but you may wish to pass on some cut-out-and-keep cards All Quiet In The East Stand has prepared, to assist our confused friends in where the football grounds most convenient to their homes are, in order to reduce wear and tear on those pristine 4x4s.

Here they are. Please explain that this is "local football", and these teams may occasionally lose a match, but their lives will not be dimmed by this, and their children will grow up stronger for experiencing it.

Finally, you may wish to suggest FC United of Manchester, although you may need to explain that Manchester is a large English city a few hours' drive away, and while the locals are good and decent people, the accent is a little different.

Failing that, you can rest assured that they may not be back next year. After all, Chelsea are doing rather well, aren't they?

Murray and Murphy speak out

Get yourself here and take a listen to the second link down - it's Richard Murray on Five Live tonight, chewing the fat about the Premiership and our financial results, and giving our Scottish friends a gentle brush-off about our manager. Nothing brand new for those who've heard Murray speak, but in all honesty I can't think of a single Premiership chairman who speaks more sense than he does, as opposed to the usual bullshit from other club figureheads. (Oh, here is on BBC London as well.)

You'll also hear Danny Murphy play down his chances of playing for England ever again - every time he's asked about this, he takes the risk of sounding like he's about to throw a wobbly. It's clear he knows this. The last time I heard him talk about this, he spent as much time bemoaning Darren Bent being stuck on Sven's bench as he did grumbling about his chances. I do get the feeling, though, that he's probably right in thinking he's now missed out. Today, he was careful to praise England's current midfield and joke he's just waiting for an injury. As we now know, he's an articulate and smart guy, so perhaps his biggest decision of the summer will be which punditry job to take - BBC or ITV?

Speaking of the telly, it'll be interesting to see what pans out from the Premiership TV rights deal struck in Brussels - six packages of games, no-one can have more than five - hopefully the non-Sky slack will be taken up by BBC, ITV, Channel 4 or Five, and not disappear down some costly cable plughole. As for the current TV deal, our games away at Chelsea, Spurs and Man City have all been snapped up by Sky - thankfully, they'll be on Sundays rather than stupid Saturday timings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dreaming of the summer...

They'll be cracking open the export Guinness tonight to mark Trinidad & Tobago's qualification for the World Cup - I remember going to a game the Soca warriors played against our reserves a couple of years back and they were dreadful! Mind you, Dwight Yorke turned up this time. Get that bashment turned up, it's going to be a Caribbean summer.

Also turning up on the racks of a Sports World near you soon - Australian tops. They'll stun a few people. And they didn't even have to rely on Terry Venables. Meanwhile, I got tear-gassed in Paris two years ago when Turkish fans started lobbing bottles at Brazillians at a big-screen showing of their semi-final in 2002, so I'm pleased they're out.

But get a load of the qualifying teams for Germany 2005: Germany, Argentina, Japan, Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, USA, Brazil, Mexico, Angola, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Holland, Poland, England, Croatia, Italy, Tunisia, Portugal, Ecuador, Paraguay, Costa Rica, France, Serbia and Montenegro, Sweden, Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Switzerland.

Not a purists' choice, of course. But if you'd have said earlier this year that the only country at the World Cup with a Charlton representative would be England, you'd have been laughed out of town. But that's what - fingers crossed for Luke Young - could well happen. Very strange.

Now, what's my chances of getting over to Germany to see an obscure game? Togo v Ivory Coast, anybody? If Iran v USA gets pulled out of the hat, though...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

England U21s over and out

Bad luck for Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose in the second leg of the England U21s game against France - losing 2-1 on the night and 3-2 on aggregate after Keiran Richardson gave away a late penalty. Only saw the second half, but it struck me again how good together Bent and Carlton Cole are up front. Possibly one to chew on for lovers of "what if...?" questions. Once again, I wasn't quite sure of the worth of Richardson to that team, but if you want wingers - France's goal-scoring number 10, Franck Ribery is outstanding. I'm sure Arsenal have got tabs on the Marseilles player anyway, but he's definitely one for the future.

Battered Fish

Thankfully, not as bad as that, but still pretty grim.

SHAKEN Mark Fish told last night how he became the SECOND top footballer to be robbed after his home appeared on TV’s Footballers’ Cribs.

The ex-Charlton defender was tied up by four raiders who burst into the £1.5million mansion — after it was featured on the MTV show.

The gang stole gems worth £200,000 last Friday night.

That's what happens when you show off what you've got on telly, I suppose. Good to see he's okay, though.

You're taking the pish, David

From the Mirror:

EVERTON are facing a fight to keep manager David Moyes after it emerged last night that Rangers are on the brink of trying to lure him to Glasgow.

The Scottish giants have given Alan Curbishley 48 hours to decide if he wants to quit Charlton and become the next Ibrox boss in a deal worth about £2 million-a-year. He was also promised cash to spend on players.

Rangers chairman David Murray is poised to axe current manager Alex McLeish and would ideally like his replacement in place for the Old Firm clash with Celtic at the weekend.

Really, they're having a laugh, aren't they? Anyone who'd jack in the Premiership for either of those Old Firm clubs as a career progression would be insane. In which wibbly-wobbly world is David Murray living in? One where he and his rival club are giants, instead of indebted, small-minded pygmies, condemned to die in the league they've sewn up between them?

Before they start dancing on the Shankill Road (before another celebratory night of petrol bombs and torching the neighbours', all funded on the social), perhaps they should look at somebody more their level. Colin Lee, perhaps? He's had some time to get used to a club where fans are more concerned about the past and who you are than what you play like, and he might have some time on his hands soon...

(Further reading: Nil By Mouth - Scottish anti-sectarianism charity.)

Monday, November 14, 2005


Yesterday's Sunday Mirror ran a story claiming we're ready to black out our sponsors' name from our shirts when Man City visit The Valley on TV next month, together with an amusing picture of Darren Bent and Alexei Smertin wearing gaffa-taped shirts. All:sports, which went into administration in September, was bought by rival JD Sports last month. Charlton are still owed £1m on the contract - JD Sports don't seem keen on paying up.

JD Sports plans to keep All:sports as a separate brand, although several of its stores have closed, including the one in Lewisham, the closest shop to The Valley. Blacking out a sponsor's name would be an extreme move, not seen since the early days of sponsorship when TV companies baulked at seeing Fads all over our shirts. Indeed, I'm sure Coventry once played a game with Talbot taped up, while Charlton lost 3-2 to Sheffield United in 1981 while wearing Wednesday kits because ITV, who covered the game at late notice, couldn't show our sponsored kit. I doubt we'll be sending a kitman down to get some Millwall kits for us to wear on 4 December, but Charlton's situation isn't comfortable.

As the situation stands, despite my earlier thoughts about Premier League rules, Charlton would be within their rights to to rip up the Allsports contract and start a new one straight away. But that wouldn't get us the £1m we're owed back (JD Sports could claim we've left them in the lurch) and it wouldn't please fans who've bought 2005/6 replica kit. We've all heard the rumours over the past couple of summers linking us with various companies - a new sponsor wouldn't be hard to find.

Or Charlton could just try to get their money out of JD Sports - if they're still going to operate All:sports as a brand, then they shouldn't be getting free advertising.

But whatever happens, we're still £1m down, and that's £1m we'll need when the transfer windows open. I'd suggest fans start covering over those replica shirts anyway - how about selling the gaffa tape in the club shop? I'd do it...

Saturday, November 12, 2005

England U21s 1-1 France U21s

At a tenner, it was too good a bargain to turn down, but as the rain poured down on a lacklustre first half at White Hart Lane - surrounded by armchair fans, Spurs' saddest and the kind of tossers who boo the opposition's national anthem, it was looking an unpromising evening over in Tottenham.

A daft 7.30pm kick-off - and no booze at the bars - was clearly meant to encourage a family-friendly atmosphere, but this was feeling more like the Addams Family. And a 7.30pm kick-off in London? Fans were still streaming in after 8pm. They hadn't missed much.

France - featuring Arsenal's Gael Clichy and Sunderland's Anthony Le Tallec - had successfully closed down England, who didn't look like doing very much at all. All this way to see Bent and Ambrose... for this?

Darren Bent and Carlton Cole huffed and puffed, but didn't get anywhere near blowing the house down. Elsewhere, Kieran Richardson seemed to be wilting under the weight of his Lionel Ritchie hairdo, while the local fans' favourite Michael Dawson didn't impress at all.

It was Le Tallec who lit up the game with his goal for France two minutes after half-time, and the game went up a notch, before France started to sit back on their lead. But two minutes before the end, a bit of Darren Ambrose magic - Peter Whittingham ballsed-up a shot and it went across the goalmouth, and Ambrose got in there and scored. The final, frantic, four minutes saw more action than the preceding 88, but England held on for the draw. Job done, and my bet on Ambrose scoring the final goal (9/1) covered my ticket price. Long may bookmakers under-estimate Charlton players.

Trudging back to the station, we were stuck behind some mouthy Spurs fans, bellowing "Yid Army!" all the way back to Northumberland Park. Until one of their number asked: "Who scored for England?"

Then they all went quiet.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Royal Oak for sale

One of the two top Charlton fans' boozers, The Royal Oak, is on the market. Potential buyers will need at least £75,000 to take on a 24-year lease on a place which makes some £15,000 each year, much of it from Charlton fans on matchdays as it's a very quiet pub during the week. Full details can be found at the agent Young & Smith's website.

Plenty of chat on Netaddicks about this - with the smart observation that it would make an ideal base for the supporters' club, a genuine Charlton pub that isn't that craphole called Floyds, and the chance that some money could be made on the whole venture. It's also got genuine links to the club, having been its base when we played opposite at Pound Park.

As boozers go, it's one of Charlton's better pubs, well-looked after and a cosy little den during the week. It's hemmed in by houses so expansion is difficult, but it's light years ahead of most other SE7 pubs.

Of course, the supporters' club is in a right old mess and couldn't do anything about it, but it'd surely represent an opportunity for some fans with a bit of cash and imagination?

Incidentally, I believe I'm right in saying that Aston Villa own a number of the pubs close to Villa Park - now that's how the Doug Ellis stand was funded...

More Teamtalk twaddle

The worst thing about international breaks is that they give blogs like this absolutely nothing to talk about, other than parroting what everybody else is saying. Obviously, I'll be keeping an eye out for Luke Young in the England team on Saturday. And while I'm at it, congratulations to Paul Konchesky for finally getting back in the squad - he's had a stunning season with West Ham so far, and proved his point about playing at left-back. I hope Curbs is big enough to acknowledge this - in fact, I've no doubt that he will.

The second worst thing is that, in the absence of any transfer deals, inferior newspapers and websites start to punt around the most desperate flyers. Curbs to Rangers? Two words - "Sunday People" - should put paid to that kind of crap. Continued respect in the English Premiership, or appeasing idiots in a tinpot league dominated by bigots? Do me a favour.

And then from laughable Teamtalk -

"Reserve goalkeeper Thomas Myhre has indicated he could leave The Valley in the transfer window due to a lack of first-team chances.

He told Norwegian newspaper VG: "If the change comes now and[Kiely] gets the chance I am finished. He [Andersen] was there a couple of years before me, for that reason I can understand Alan Curbishley's choice.

"Although, it was not what he told me in advance and of course I personally feel I should stand." (more)

Anyone really think that's true? Really? Veteran reserve keeper signed in a rush because of injury threatens to walk out after four months? Don't be daft. And nothing in those quotes stands up "indicating he could leave The Valley in the transfer window" at all. It's bollocks, basically.

Meanwhile, the estimable Tony Hudd of the Kent Wotsitsthingy thinks a start for Dean Kiely is on the cards after Stephan Andersen's nightmare between the sticks at Blackburn. We'll see.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Found out

Well, from what I saw on Match of the Day through the bottom of a pint glass last night, it looked like a wretched afternoon at Ewood Park, and it didn't look like Stephan Andersen's finest hour, which will get the Kiely v Andersen debate heated up again. A shot of a gloomy-looking Sven-Goran Eriksson, peering through the rain as we lost 4-1 at Blackburn, seemed to sum it all up. To be fair, by all accounts Blackburn played damned well and that League Cup tie against them suddenly seems to be a bit more daunting.

I can't find the exact quote anywhere, but Craig Bellamy popped up on Sky after the game to tell the Premiership just how to beat us - make sure Danny Murphy's out of the game, cut off the supply of balls to Darren Bent, and you're laughing. Oh well, at least it's not a secret now.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Reach for the Sky (902)

No, I'm not going to Blackburn either - lack of travelling companions and stupid-costing rail fares saw to that. But I have a digital radio so I can listen to the game on BBC London's digital service. I could also listen to it online thanks to BBC London, but I shan't, because internet listening's a bit rubbish in my book.

(I could also watch it in a hooky boozer, or via various internet trickeries, but this website couldn't possibly endorse that.)

Some people say the BBC has too many football rights. I couldn't comment, but the fact that BBC London is transmitting Crystal Palace's home game on 94.9FM, we're stuck on digital, and West Ham have been plonked onto a BBC Essex medium wave frequency might say more than I could.

But BBC London now has a digital satellite TV frequency - channel 902. And we're on it. However, this only appears if you're a Sky subscriber in the London TV area. For everyone else (eg those who get South East Today or Meridian Tonight at teatime) here's how to get it....

If you want BBC London which is on 902 only in the London area you
must add it using services 4-4

Frequency is 10803
Polarisation is H
Symbol Rate is 22
FEC is 5/6

Store it.

It will then appear in Other Channels (Services 8) .

Hope this helps. After all that effort... fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Uefa Cup splashdown

Managed to catch a little bit of Bolton's Uefa Cup 1-0 win against FC Zenit St Petersburg tonight (blimmin' Kevin Nolan again), which saw torrential rain in the second half making the last 20 minutes or so into a water-sodden farce. Naturally, the ref was unwilling to call it off with 10 minutes to go because it'd have become an expensive waste of time for all involved. It was quite a laugh to watch at home on Five in the warm, although heaven knows what it was like in the Reebok.

The crowd? A staggering... 15,905. It was worse still over on ITV4, where Middlesbrough fans voted with their feet rather than see them wallop Dnipro 3-0, in front of 12,953 at an empty-looking Riverside Stadium.

So far, so good for our defiantly unfashionable Uefa representatives. But those crowds are shockers - and I'm sure the TV rights don't exactly go for top dollar. For all the hassle it causes... is the Uefa Cup actually worth it?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Dr Evil's plans for world domination

"The first objective is to own London. When we talk about internationalising the brand the first thing we want to do is get critical mass within our own territory. I don't think there are any boundaries in terms of attracting supporters. Chelsea is synonymous with London. There's this automatic recognition that Chelsea is London and London we want to become Chelsea." (more)

The most dangerous man in football, Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, is given a platform by The Independent to set out his stall, which includes a London-wide project with Adidas to lure kids into supporting the money boys. While I don't think he's quite sussed the complexities of the capital, it's enough to send a chill down the spine.

Meanwhile, a Mr A Curbishley has jinxed Charlton's chances of success in the League Cup against Blackburn. ""I think a Premiership side is going to win the competition so there's no reason why it shouldn't be us." Oi, Llewellyn, NO! Any more of that talk and I'll book my holiday that week after all...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

From heroes to zeroes

Ooops. So it all went pear-shaped yesterday against Bolton with a depressing inevitability. If our defeat proves anything, it really is that without Darren Bent, out of the squad with an illness, we have a problem. Jay Bothroyd didn't look suited to being the single man up front, and wasn't able to capitalise on any of his chances. A frustrating afternoon started with us being in control, which we relinquished as the second half wore on and Bolton resumed their physical style of play.

So it's back to the old chestnut - why can't we win at home? I'm reminded of a season a few years ago when we had a marvellous away record and a poor home record - the expectations and nerves in the Valley crowd seemed to pass onto the players as the game went on. Yet away from home, there's no such pressure on the players. Indeed, yesterday's crowd noise seemed to die off as the game wore on - it's a nervous, jumpy Valley once again.

Despite their atrocious result at Middlesbrough yesterday, I'm not hopeful our home form's going to improve anytime soon since our next game's against Manchester United. Instead, I'm banking on our away form for an improvement - starting up at Blackburn on Sunday.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

After the Lord Mayor's show

After the excitement of Stamford Bridge, and the stunning publicity coup of having Prince William down at Sparrows Lane, what better to bring us down to earth than a home draw against Blackburn in the League Cup, ahead of a match against Bolton?

I'd actually booked a week off work for the fourth round, just in case, and after Chelsea came out of the hat I was very tempted to book a little holiday for that week, because we weren't going to win that, were we?

Blackburn at home's an anti-climax after Wednesday's heroics, but still offers us a way through to the last eight. I know some will laugh at me for this, but at least it's not Palace or Millwall. I like an easy life around here, ta. Still, Millwall v Birmingham promises to be a nice tie played in the best spirit, especially for those of us that remember smashed-up Birmingham coaches going through Greenwich in a convoy one night in May 2002...

As for today, I'm expecting a swift bump back down to earth thanks to Big Sam's boys. It's never an easy one to call, so I'm going for a slightly disappointing draw.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chelsea 1-1 Charlton aet
(Charlton win 5-4 on penalties)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Stephan Andersen versus Dean Kiely debate is over.

A wonderful, just wonderful night in which every man gave his all. I think I need a few days to get over this. Perhaps the blue-clad children who packed out the East Stand at the Bridge have been taught a lesson. As has the child behind me in the Shed End with a John Terry badge on. A football team or a lifestyle choice? I know which I'd rather back. And to think we didn't have our first team out as well. Now, let's not blow it next round, eh? On that note, I'm off to prepare to walk on air tomorrow. Goodnight.

In case you don't want to buy the morning papers:;BBC Sport; Sky Sports; The Times; The Independent; The Guardian; Daily Telegraph,

Chelsea Blog: "An enjoyable game… until the penalty shootout!"

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Clearly scared of Charlton

Chelsea's England fullback Glen Johnson has resumed training after breaking his wrist punching a wall, media said on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old, who is out of favour at Chelsea and also with England after a poor performance in an August friendly, is reported to have hurt his hand after losing his temper at home.

I'm assuming Jose will field players with a mental age of more than five tonight, although an appearance by Carlton Cole can't be ruled out, I suppose. Hey-ho, off to the Bridge...

Bromley 2-0 AFC Wimbledon

Proper reports: AFC Wimbledon, Bromley FC, The Big Tissue.

As a contrast to Wednesday's trip to Stamford Bridge, a journey to Hayes Lane to see how the Dons are adapting to life in the Isthmian League Premier Division. Three-and-a-half years after I wandered along to AFC Wimbledon's first-ever game, their scores are now in decent-sized print in the Sunday papers, their league table gets on Sky Sports News and their half-times buzz through on the Grandstand videprinter.

But on a windy night, the Dons struggled against a speedy and physical Bromley side, not helped by a poor defence and a midfield which seemed increasingly unwilling to battle for the ball. Things started off entertainingly enough, with Bromley mounting frequent attacks on the Wimbledon goal, but as the match wore on, the finess wore off and the elbows went in. Off the pitch, police moved in to divide AFC fans from an increasingly fractious encounter with their "Brom-er-lee" counterparts - was this a small team aggrieved at a big shark in their midst ("You've got no history..."), or Palarse fans getting narky with their old neighbours? We suspected the latter. (Although here's an alternative explanation.)

Nic McDonnell's goal at the end of the first half focused matters on the field, and with the Bromley fans moving away from the Dons fans in the second half, it felt like the momentum was with the away fans. As the half opened, manager Dave Anderson passed behind the Bromley goal, raising his cup of coffee to toast the fans. As he turned to watch a scramble at the other end of the field, Bromley's Sam Wood fired home a second. The coffee went flying.

It didn't get much better from there onwards - on top of an injury to New Zealand international Shane Smeltz, the Dons' Matt Fowler was sent off while preparing to deal with a corner, after what may have been a clash of elbows, but may have just been the wrong man in the wrong place in the wrong time.

To the sound of the ludicrous marching music which Bromley's matchday announcer specialises in, the home team left the field having asserted their dominance. AFC Wimbledon are in no way struggling in the league - the defeat leaves them seventh - but their experiences so far suggest they'll need a fair bit of patience as they try to rise through the leagues.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Pompey chimes

Great result last night, wasn't it? Even a woeful hangover's not going to wipe the smile from my face. Good to see Darren Ambrose get a full game at last - the lad's quality, no doubt about it. Good also to see Dennis Rommedahl get a goal - wasn't it a beauty? With Danny Murphy and Alexei Smertin in sharp form too, it means we can face Chelsea in the League Cup with a bit of confidence about us.

The match was also good because we came back from a dreadful first half - last season's team would have just curled up and died. It remains a nagging worry that teams may have sussed us out - cut off the supply line to Darren Bent and smother the midfield, and we're in trouble. But last night's second half shows that needn't be the case. Good work, and I'm looking forward to Wednesday now, rather foolishly.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pompey, pah

You won't hear anything from me about the Portsmouth game because I refuse to pay £26 to sit in a dilapidated old dump on Saturday teatime just so Rupert Murdoch can make some money. If you don't like games being mucked about for TV, don't pay to watch them on TV. It's as simple as that. When we're forced to play on Friday or Sunday nights, it'll be those who are coughing up £7 to watch it on Prem Plus who are to blame. Don't encourage them - don't pay to have the game we all follow screwed up by TV.

I'll be watching it in the pub instead, and then staying there. But please feel free to add your thoughts about the game in the comments below. Come on you Addicks!

Friday, October 21, 2005

The ego has landed

Thursday afternoon in Greenwich...

The Blessed David's "soccer" academy gets its finishing touches.

If the little twerp's on our turf, there'd better be something in it for us. But even then, it still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

(No Rebecca Loos jokes, please.)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Kiely's decline?

Snuck into the reserves' game against Portsmouth at half-time (proper report here, 3-1 win to us, Lisbie, JJ and Fuller scoring) to see one of the most painful things I've had to watch in a long while. Not the game itself, which chuntered along rather well with Charlton very much on top - Barry Fuller's thumping goal a treat to see - but the terrible spectacle of Dean Kiely knowing his form's slipped. Badly.

Our reluctant 2nd/ 3rd choice keeper had a shot straight at him in the 65th minute, which he spilled horribly. As the seconds felt like whole minutes, the ball was left invitingly for a Portsmouth player to whack into the back of the net. Deano crashed the ground, looking like he wanted it to open up and swallow him. He didn't really look the same after that.

It could be a long way back for Kiely, if ever, unless Stefan Andersen loses his form dramatically. Along with his compatriot Matt Holland, he's reached an uncomfortable crossroads in his Charlton career. Those interviews he gave declaring he was ready to return to the first team sound a bit hollow now... Darren Ambrose looked pretty damned sharp, by the way - hopefully I'll see him on my pub's TV on Saturday.

(While I'm here - not Charlton-related, but what is going on at QPR?)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

For those who slag off our official site...

(Just to distract you from gloating at Palace and Millwall's results...)

Be grateful we don't have a website like Fulham's, which this lunchtime dutifully reported the death of legendary player Johnny Haynes. It seems like it got the news from the Press Association wire, which flashed the news with a quote Sir Bobby Robson had given to a two-bob website called Nobok Sports. If someone big dies, the news is usually given to PA first to flash to all the other news organisations. So, naturally, Sky Sports News ran with the ball and featured a tribute from Alan Mullery, and a Fulham supporters' representatives was found.

And had a big picture of Johnny Haynes up and a suitable tribute to the club's greatest-ever player. Because most clubs use their websites to break stories, the footballing world began to doff its cap.

Except the hospital, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, denied the story. Indeed, the original story contained no news of how or why he'd died. Cue hasty retractions from the wire services (known in the trade, unfortunately, as a "kill") and a hideously embarrassing apology on Fulham's site - "The Club is deeply regretful that rather than wait for official confirmation from the family of Johnny Haynes, it relied on reports from a succession of news wire, broadcast and former players of the Club and reported that Johnny Haynes had passed away and wholeheartedly apologises for any distress the message has caused."

The Press Association story was hastily revised to "seriously ill", and everybody else followed suit, like Sky Sports.

Tonight, it was finally confirmed that Haynes had died after a car crash. Had someone cocked up badly or just jumped the gun? It doesn't matter, it's a terrible mistake to make. But it's one those who moan about being a tad slow with news should bear in mind next time they get impatient...