Tuesday, September 27, 2005


So, the administrators are in at Allsports, and the firm owes us £650,000, if the Kent Messenger's estimable Tony Hudd is to be believed.

Grim, of course, for the 1,200 people who could find a P45 winging their way towards them. Allsports' plight is adequately summed up just around the corner from The Valley - behind a pile of rubble opposite the Rose of Denmark is a retail park containing a huge Sports World barn, pumping out Big Clubs' shirts at massively-discounted prices. Compared with Allsports' tatty Lewisham outlet - a Greenwich store trumpeted when the sponsorship deal was signed never appeared - you can see why its competitors trampled all over it.

As for us, all kinds of rumours flew around during the summer about possible sponsors, and if we keep our current form up, we won't be without a backer for long. ""Behind the scenes, we have been working hard to try and protect Charlton's interests in this matter," assures Peter Varney, which might back that up. Allsports signed up when we'd finished mid-table - it goes without saying that a top six team will be able to command a better deal. And if we continue to play well, we should (in theory) get more TV games.

But there's the practical questions - what do we do with several thousands shirts bearing the name of a knackered firm? Would the Premier League let us play sponsor-free or change our sponsor mid-season? And as for punters who bought the Allsports kit - what happens with those? I don't think there's a precedent for this - Manchester City's backers First Active collapsed just after the 2002/3 season finished, so they didn't have to go through all this.

Otherwise, of course, all is going tickety-boo for us - Danny Murphy and Jerome Thomas getting Tord Grip's nod of approval with England games fast approaching gives us even more reason to be cheerful. I watched most of Spurs v Fulham on Monday and didn't think that much of Tottenham - they seem to lose any sense of team play near goal, and while that was enough to kill off a poor Fulham, I don't think Chris Perry will stand for any of that nonsense on Saturday.

While I can't wait for that, that League Cup tie at Chelsea's feeling increasingly like a trip to the dentist. Any more than £20 and they can whistle for it - although for me it's complicated by the fact that it might actually be easier for me to go to the game than get myself back home in time to watch it.

While on ticket prices, I can't see a huge rush for Portsmouth tickets. At £26 for a Saturday 5.15pm kick off, my message for Pompey is to rearrange the words "arse up it stick your" into a well-known saying. And don't pay £7 to watch it on Prem Plus, you'll only encourage them.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Things ripped off from other people's websites

Number one: This from Kinky Afro.

The Evening Stunted's Michael Herd in the late 1980s:

"Nothing has changed at Charlton for years and nothing will. No matter how hard the club try, no matter on what ground team play and how well, their support will always be poor."

The Sub-Standard's always been a heap of crap, but if Herd is still with us, I hope each time we win away this season, it hurts him like his crap paper's crap coverage hurts us. And if he isn't with us any more, I hope he's spinning pretty fast right now.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

West Brom 1-2 Charlton

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

A satisfying win up at The Hawthorns, although admittedly it was against opponents who were incredibly poor in the first half. Danny Murphy opened the scoring after nine minutes with a penalty (remember those?) after Steve Watson dimly brought down Jerome Thomas in the area. And it was Murphy who netted again from a Rommedahl cross after half an hour, while Baggies rarely looked remotely threatening.

The second half was a different matter, though, with Bryan Robson ringing on Kamara for Andy Johnson, and the home side immediately looked more dangerous. Curtis Davies nodded home for West Brom, and the heat was on. Robert Earnshaw came on as Robson looked for the winner. But while we wilted a little - Murphy and Smertin looked shattered, frankly, leaving Kish to run around like a man possessed - it was our defence which saved us, especially Chris Perry and Luke Young. We held out for the win, while the Baggies left as unhappily as they did last time we came to their place. If you can win when playing poorly, you're on to something good - and we did that today. Bring on the Spurs on Saturday!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Charlton 3-1 Hartlepool

Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports.

The ghosts of Charlton past came back to haunt us as we made bloody hard work of edging past hard-working Hartlepool in what would have been an entertaining game for the neutral, but...

With Shaun Bartlett and Jonatan Johansson up front, and Matt Holland back in midfield, it was tough going at times with all three making daft howlers - at least JJ had his pace, but Bartlett played like a man with flu and Holland seemed scared of getting the ball forward. Lloyd Sam impressed early on, whacking the ball into the side netting, and his speed - together with that of Jerome Thomas, who had a poor game otherwise - showed the difference between us and our monkey-hanging visitors.

Indeed, the League One side will be cursing Antony Sweeney's sixth-minute miss, when with only Thomas Myhre to beat, he skimmed the ball wide. With Alexei Smertin clearly missing the quality of Danny Murphy in midfield, Hartlepool got the goal they deserved after 40 minutes when Jon Daly scored with a fine strike.

But the visitors were a touch unlucky to be awarded a penalty after Lloyd Sam crumpled under pressure in front of the Jimmy Seed stand, and even JJ couldn't miss the resulting penalty.

Second half, and the changes were rung - Darren Bent replaced Bartlett, who presumably had been taken out to be shot, and later Danny Murphy came on for Smertin, rather than Holland. Bent headed home from a Thomas cross, and all seemed right with the world again.

But it was the introduction of Jay Bothroyd for JJ which finally crushed Hartlepool's dreams - Danny Murphy cued up a free kick which curled home beautifully, and was worth the £10 admission to see. It followed a professional foul on Bent which saw Ritchie Humphreys incredibly lucky to stay on the pitch. One rather grim moment at the end, though - Bothroyd and Sam time-wasting over a corner in the dying seconds. Not the Charlton way.

So it ended 3-1 to Charlton, but the fact the home crowd stayed to applaud the Hartlepool players while our own squad skulked off told you a familiar story - it was another League Cup game at The Valley. Manager Martin Scott will be hoping his side - true to the philosophy of Brian Clough, who died a year ago today, they kept their play neat and on the floor - can carry their form into an indifferent League One season.

For us, it's the relief that we didn't do a Spurs (beaten by our friends at Grimsby). And the realisation that while we notionally had a first team on offer tonight, the hapless Holland and Bartlett can only be reserve players now at best.

Premiership malaise (slight return)

Two days off with a minging cold. Good thing I'm in the East Stand tonight for Hartlepool, you don't want to come anywhere near me.

And two days of reading about the Premiership "crisis". Today in the Guardian: "Football is in trouble. Analysis of early-season attendances suggests that the decline in Premiership gates is set to continue." Today in the Independent: "The Premiership is on course to lose half a million fans this season, a record year-on-year decline that suggests the bubble has burst for England's top division." Our own New York Addick: "Over the next few years, the sport will have to rethink its business model because having shrinking revenues and bulging costs is not sustainable in the long-term." Arsene Wenger: "When somebody buys a ticket and spends £50, £60 or £70, it is not because he wants to be bored."

Oh, and this from Netaddicks: "It's alarming how our away support has failed to grow despite (or maybe because of) the fact that we've established our selves as a run of the mill, mid table Premiership team." Ah, that's Netaddicks on 20 September 2004, exactly one year ago.

Yep, and I've been here before too. And come on, we've all been here already. Boring football? Bloody 4-5-1? That was us at the tail end of last season. After the Palace game I found myself lumbered with an unpleasant, finger-jabbing bore who announced Alan Curbishley must leave because our football was dull, everything was dull, and it was all my fault because people like me went along with it. In which case, I'm happy to take the credit for being second, and I hope he's enjoying being dragged around B&Q each Saturday afternoon.

The causes, of course, are glaringly obvious. One team with bottomless pockets buying the league. Too many pointless TV games - apart from the birth of Peter Kenyon, Prem Plus is the worst thing to have happened to the Premiership. We don't need any more than two TV games a week. (Games at stupid times on Saturdays don't just stop us from going to them, they also stop us from going to alternative games because they're scheduled immediately before/after the 2:30-5:15 blackout period.)

Teams scared witless of the consequences of going down. Clubs taking the mickey in their ticket pricing - and before Peter Varney takes to the pulpit, remember we were charging £45 for some games last season. A lack of personalities in the game - is it any wonder that the game's three most engaging characters (Jose Mourinho, Stuart Pearce, Ian Holloway) are managers and not players?

And there's the power held by players of limited intelligence. Wayne Rooney got his arse licked last night by a waiting press pack at the FIFpro awards (Sky Sports News: "Can you get any better?") because any questioning about his recent temper tantrums was barred. And there was the usual defence of Rooney from Frank Lampard, sounding like a speak-your-weight machine about to break down. Yawn.

We can't do much about the players - and remember for every 10 Rooneys, there are articulate players like Chris Powell and Danny Murphy. And we can't do much about Chelsea just yet - it's all very well Arsene Wenger moaning, but I'm sure Chelsea's fans are as happy as his fans were when the Gunners went on that unbeaten run. We'll just have to grit our teeth and put up with this for now.

But we can do something about the league. If we have the balls, we can do something about the TV games too.

And - at Charlton - we can think positive. Teams like Blackburn and Middlesbrough have been the epitome of boredom for years. Cynicism spreads like a bad cold, and dull sides like them deserve all they get.

But we've an exciting squad, one we wouldn't have developed without the previous "boring" season. We're second in the league. Our game at West Brom should be a good indicator as to how the next phase of our season will go. Just because the rest of the Premiership has just discovered it's all crap doesn't mean we shouldn't go on shouting about our achievements, and setting an example for the rest of the league. If it all goes go wrong, at least we'll know we were in the right, and will be in a position to reap the benefits when the recovery does start. Which is better than we did in football's last crisis 20 years ago.

And the fans' attitude has a lot to do with it. It's cynicism - as practised best at Stamford Bridge and in the boardrooms of the G14 clubs - that's our greatest enemy. After all, if the Premiership is so crap, it means you'll all be turning up to see us tonight, freed from the shackles of an overhyped league, to face the honest yeomen of Hartlepool, won't you?

Monday, September 19, 2005

It's all Chelsea's fault, obviously

Of course the Premiership is boring. I told you so last season. All you moaning about it now, you're just behind the times. Because there's a deeper, darker scourge at work.

People chanting "easy! easy! easy!" when a goal has been scored. Stop it. It makes you look like a twit. (It's getting as irritating as us continuing to sing "we sent the Palace down". Get over it.) Just because some crap Saturday morning show on Sky tells you to do it doesn't mean it's funny. It just says you're the sort of idiot who doesn't find Soccer AM a teensy bit embarrassing, and probably has a collection of feeble-looking Soccerettes on your hard drive for when your mum's gone out. Save Chip wasn't funny, and nor is this. So stop it. Now. You heard.

Ah, Tim Lovejoy's a Chelsea fan, isn't he? Told you Chelsea were to blame for everything.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Charlton 0-2 Chelsea

Proper reports: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports, The Observer, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Times, chelseafc.com.

It's tough at the top. Chelsea Blog got it right - 2-0 to the champions and in some style too, Arjen Robben's second goal an absolute beauty from the edge of the box. But we can look them in the eye this time around after a stirring first half performance, Danny Murphy and Jerome Thomas especially impressive in midfield. Indeed, for a while it looked as if we were wresting control of the game, and when Dennis Rommedahl took a shot after 42 minutes, it looked so good... but he let it go just wide, and it was downhill from there. The trouble is, though, is attacking Chelsea is like trying to stab a bloke with a shotgun - their lethal attacks on the break let down by some wasteful finishing. Indeed, Jose Mourinho even returned to his area after leaning on the advertising hoardings.

Second half, Mourinho took a while to resort to the £59m of talent on his bench, and Chelsea came out fighting. Alas, for us, while Bryan Hughes had replaced Smertin for the game, it was Radostin Kishishev who was the weak link, continually giving the ball away. When you give it away to Michael Essien, who promptly allows Hernan Crespo to score from his cross, that's just bloody stupid.

As the game wore on, Charlton's spirits waned - the whole Valley could feel Danny Murphy's head drop, even though Chelsea were content to sit on their lead. But there were signs of hope, with Luke Young making substitute Joe Cole look a fool. Despite all this, it was a more entertaining game than the Tappers' critics would have you believe. We limped over the finishing line 2-0 down, but at least we had some shreds of our dignity this time. It's West Brom next week (after the diversion of Hartlepool in the League Cup, of course) let's make it five league wins out of six.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bring on the Chelsea

The trouble with not having much time to write this rubbish is that I've not really had the chance to revel in just how good we've been lately. So with the Chelsea juggernaught approaching, it's time to take one look at that league table and smile...

And, of course, get ready for the obvious comparisons with the rouble-laden side from the Fulham Road. There's plenty here in a fine Independent interview with Richard Murray.

But the most important thing is that we can look the Tappers in the eye for the first time since that Boxing Day when we kicked their arses 4-2 - and we all know what happened then. Heaven help those who have the temerity to kick sand in Peter Kenyon's eyes.

Of course it's fashionable to hate Chelsea. The Scott Parker affair ruined a fine season for us, all to serve the vanity of this super-rich side which has distorted the transfer market as to make an already bent league an outright rip-off.

But then again, without Chelsea, would Alexei Smertin have come to the country? At least we've one thing to thank them for. Who replaces Smertin for this game is the big unknown - a revived Matt Holland? Darren Ambrose, back from suspension? Some other solution? Oh, and maybe that £10m is finally doing us some good. And hopefully it'll come back to haunt them on Saturday.

And the bookies could well do us a favour. Darren Bent's a staggering 9-1 for first or last goalscorer with Paddy Power tonight, who rate our chances of winning at 6-1. Bent scoring the only goal of the game - 66-1? Bring it on. And whatever happens on Saturday, let's not let the juggernaught throw us off course.

Now, just one question remains. For my fantasy league side - Cech or Andersen in goal?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A night at the movies

An All Quiet gatecrashing party, disguised as waiters, snuck into the impressive new Greenwich Picturehouse tonight to see the launch of the club's centenary DVD - a good turn-out of current players at the reception beforehand, with Danny Murphy, Darren Bent, Darren Ambrose, Luke Young and Dennis Rommedahl among those putting on a decent suit. A late arrival was Chris Powell, cheerfully ignoring the dress code in a white t-shirt... a load of former players stayed on for the screening, including recent stars Colin Walsh, Carl Leaburn and Steve Gritt. Good also to see John Motson open proceedings - the son of a Plumstead minister, his first match was at The Valley - who I can confirm is a lovely bloke as well. He's down to cover the Chelsea game on Saturday for Match of the Day.

And the verdict on the film? It's a hefty old watch - weighing in at about three hours - but it's wonderfully made and contains some priceless footage, especially of the post-war era, while newsreel footage of the Valley Club from the tail-end of the 1960s just has to be seen. Star of the show has to be Derek Hales - but you'll have to watch it to see just what he says about his fight with Mike Flanagan... if there's a downside, it did seem to drag a little by the end and while the interviewees cover just about everything, it would have been nice to have seen Lennie Lawrence's views on his time in charge. But these are trifling criticisms, and those involved should be congratulated. Incidentally, the whole thing's fronted by Michael Grade, and I'm sure the broadsheet newspaper diarists can have some fun with his performance.

All in all, it's a reminder of how much we've got to be proud of, a timely one too when I've just dug open the mailing list for the first time in ages and found some sometimes foul-mouthed moaning about sometimes foul-mouthed footballers not setting an example, especially compared to those lovely cricketers.

Incidentally, the chap from the Picturehouse in charge of the event is actually a Crystal Palace fan. A suggestion he pose for a picture with Dennis Rommedahl was politely declined.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Birmingham 0-1 Charlton

Proper reports from people who went out dressed for the weather: cafc.co.uk, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, Sunday Telegraph, The Observer, Independent on Sunday.

A real old game of two halves led us to second in the Premiership, and the mouth-watering prospect of a top-two clash against Chelsea next week. Heavy rain before kick-off (yes, caught in it before and after the game, plus at North Greenwich just now, and no, I didn't have a coat, cheers) led to a soaked pitch which meant a zippy, accident-prone game which was, frankly, a bugger to follow.

But our first-half performance was absolutely outstanding - the midfield motor of Murphy and Smertin was in tip-top condition, Luke Young looked happy to in a decent team for once, while Darren Bent returned from England's fiasco hungry for a goal, and got it soon enough, a header from a Jerome Thomas cross. We couldn't add to our lead, alas, which meant a nervy, backs-to-the-wall second half.

Because Birmingham came out fighting, and in great spells, we had trouble coping - our defence seemed to struggle at times, the midfield motor started to splutter a bit. Bartlett on for Rommedahl didn't help. Mark Halsey's refereeing left a lot to be desired (accepting that he may have let a bit go due to the conditions). But no matter, we did the job, the defence got stuck in again we and hung on for a fine victory - four wins out of four? If I wasn't soaked through, I'd think I must be dreaming.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Remember the dark days of May

Forgot to mention this yesterday - the Sunday Times featured an illuminating chat with Curbs, in which he cast his mind back to May 1, when we were beaten 4-0 by Manchester United.

Fans said afterwards that the players weren't trying, but it wasn't that. They were scared. They didn’t dare try anything positive, they all wanted to stay behind the ball and defend to prevent a really embarrassing scoreline. I’ve been here 15 years and 700 games and I've not had a feeling like I had that day, never been that down. It was the sheer helplessness.

Eventually I snapped out of it, and the decision I made was, 'I'm not the one who's going, so it will have to be some of the players.' I knew I had to make changes to give everyone here a lift."

Especially looking through my own jottings from that week, it's pleasing that at least that horrible, shameful defeat was the catalyst for our own fruitful form now. Obviously, there's Birmingham to come first, but I'm actually looking forward to our game against Chelsea because I know we'll put up a fight. Which is more than we did against United in May.

No thoughts on Luke Young's England debut - I didn't see enough of it, but he seems to have done a good job. To get an England regular in our side would be a fantastic boost, so I hope he's in the squad for the Northern Ireland game on Wednesday.

They've got Talal El-Karkouri...

Talal's back and he's scoring for Morocco - right-click here to download a video clip (Microsoft Media Player needed) of a goal he grabbed against Botswana on Saturday. Failing that, go to the Atlas Lions website and follow the links. Enjoy the music.