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.