Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pards: 'Only the strong will stay'

Wise words from Alan Pardew in a fine Independent on Sunday piece on us:

"If you look through society you could argue that in a lot of trades perhaps the world's an easier place.

"There's more money around and that hunger and desire has to come from within. I'll quickly find out with the players here whether that's in them. For example, someone like Matty Holland could inherit £40 million tomorrow but the hunger and burning desire in him to win games will never cease. It's those characters that you want in your team and the ones who are not so strong will go."

Next year looks even more intriguing - whatever it'll bring.

On that note, thanks for your support of All Quiet In The East Stand during 2006 - see you on the other side, limbering up for a Tuesday date at the Holloway Goonerdrome. Happy new year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Charlton 2-1 Aston Villa

There are howling winds outside and I got soaked returning from a post-match pint but things are looking up after a late winner from Bryan Hughes snatched all three points from Aston Villa's grasp.

The early kick-off didn't suit Charlton and referee Rob Styles acted as if he'd just got out of bed as well - Olof Mellberg smashed into Talal El Karkouri as they prepared for a Villa free-kick. Oddly, Styles decided to give both players a yellow card. We'd been here before...

But Charlton were disjointed in the first half and Villa's penalty, scored by Gareth Barry, knocked the stuffing out of us. We emerged in the second half - with Kish replaced by Hughes - looking only marginally better, but Darren Bent's header got us back in the game, and spirits rocketed. Barry was sent off for a second bookable offence (fuck knows, I was knackered and couldn't follow Styles' crap), but we found it tough to break Villa down until the final minute, when Hughes used his head to grab us a deserved win.

Several individual performances have been better since Alan Pardew took over - Darren Ambrose looks more confident, Marcus Bent is getting livelier, Dennis Rommedahl's even looking threatening, and Matt Holland is looking a bit steely. And it's good to see Darren Bent back on the scoresheet yet again, although he looked to be struggling at the end of the match.

Watford's match was rained off, and West Ham lost (ho ho ho), making our position look that bit less perilous, although like my neighbour's New Year party marquee in these winds, it's still bloody shaky. We'll still rue the lost two points from Wednesday, but we can head towards Arsenal on Tuesday with our heads held high. New year, new boss, new start, eh?

Oh, and notice how Pardew's billed at the front of the programme? "MANAGER". No more of this "head coach" nonsense. It's getting better.

Sun: 'How Dowie got us lost'

A bit more light's been shed on why Iain Dowie was sacked, thanks to this astonishing story in today's Sun. Plenty of rumours have been flying around, the strongest has been that his brother Bob was discovered in the dressing room at Craven Cottage - and that features here. Of course, Bob was still an employee of Crystal Palace at the time. And other theories have been merrily trumpeted around without much foundation, and a few weeks back the News of the World said he'd been sacked for "gross misconduct".

Obviously, there's a pinch of salt to be taken on this, but this story claims a few odd things about his training methods...

The most bizarre moment of Dowie’s reign was when Charlton’s players were in the North East for their match against Newcastle on October 28.

On the morning of the game, which was a 5.15pm kick-off, Dowie took his players out for a run.

Yet the entire squad got lost and the players — just hours before an important Premier League game — were seen running across a busy dual carriageway, dodging lorries in the process.

One Charlton star, who asked not to be named, said: “It was quite funny at the time but it was hardly good preparation. I was knackered.”

Eventually, the players discovered where they were — but they had wandered so far away from their hotel they had to contact the club kitman who hailed a fleet of taxi cabs to rescue them.

Oh, and there was this:

Matters came to a head before the visit to Wigan on November 11.

The day before the game, with the team coach travelling to their Lancashire hotel, Dowie asked the coach driver to drop him off near his Bolton home — and the former Northern Ireland international striker was not seen again until three hours before kick-off the next day.

This was a surprise for the players and the club’s directors were both baffled and angry.

The Sun claims Dowie's likely to sue Charlton - if that's true, get ready for even more lurid tales to emerge...

Friday, December 29, 2006

Pressley leaves the building, Zheng in

So Steven Pressley chose Celtic over Charlton - probably a rare case of a footballer choosing his heart over his wallet, and a bit of security to boot. A shame, but he (and his agent) had nice things to say about us and Pards, at least.

“I was true to my word. I said to Alan I would call him and give my decision, which I did.

“He’s a very persuasive man and a man of great charisma, I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with him.

“Charlton are a very good family club and very well-operated so it was a difficult decision but my heart said come to Celtic and I certainly followed that.”

Hey-ho. But, as widely thought, we did announce the signing of Chinese captain Zheng Zyi, who arrives in England at the weekend. He'll be the first of a few, I reckon, in what could be an interesting few weeks.

Aston Villa at TOO BLOODY EARLY tomorrow, they've not won in a while, so they'll be up to break their duck. It'll be a tough one, and victory will be a massive boost. I hope The Valley roars.

Les says... Pards is the man

Les Reed has given a statement to the Daily Mail defending his appointment as head coach - but without a word of rancour or bitterness about his sacking on Christmas Eve, and urging fans to get behind Alan Pardew.

"It became clear that the continuous speculation surrounding my position was counter productive to our plans and Charlton’s future. We agreed mutually that it was in the best interests of the club for me stand down and this I have done in order that this great club can move on.

"My position had become untenable in circumstances not of my making and beyond my control. I have not run away from this challenge I have done what is right for Charlton.

"I have left the club amicably and remain a big fan. I have an excellent relationship with Richard Murray, the Board and Peter Varney, who have all acted properly and decently, and this relationship will continue. I sincerely hope that everybody will get behind Alan Pardew and pull together to ensure he has the best chance to pull it off. You can be sure I will."

It's the mark of a decent man. Hope we see him at The Valley soon - he deserves to be shown that he's still held in high regard.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Charlton 2-2 Fulham

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, Daily Telegraph.

I don't want to dwell on Graham Poll's awful fuck-up at the end of the game, it'll all have been said already and it's futile going on about it here. Except to say Poll was erratic all night, seemed petrified of pulling out any cards, and the assistant referee in front of the East Stand, Steve Artis (only recently promoted to Premier League duties), was equally awful. And....

1) If tonight means that egotistical prick gets the shove from Premiership refereeing, then at least that's something good.

2) If he was on fire, I'd only piss on him after drinking petrol.

But if it comes down to two points in May, none of this will be any good.

Anyway, there were plenty of positives tonight, not least the news that Steven Pressley's due to sign for us in the transfer window, pending a medical - giving us a much-needed dose of leadership.

On the field, even Dennis "man of war" Rommedahl looked like he was on a mission. Big Bent bucked his ideas up while Little Bent's face when he scored that goal would melt any festive Scrooge's bad mood - good to see him break his duck. We seemed to be playing football again, with dynamo Kish working overtime. Sure, a lot of it was fitful and our defence is still pretty bad. But until arsehole Poll screwed it up, we were getting what we deserved against a niggly Fulham side who irritated more than impressed.

Ho-hum. Hopefully Pardew can lift the spirits for Villa on Saturday. He's been careful to dampen expectations for far, but the Liverpool, Wycombe and Boro fiascos already feel a long way away. Despite Graham Poll's dreadful work.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Christmas thought for Les

Picture this: In a few years' time, you'll be stuck at a train station, killing time in WH Smith. You glance at the magazines - swiftly avoiding an increasingly-haggard Rebecca Loos on the front of Loaded ("that bastard Beckham still won't reply to my texts, nine years on") and Simon Jordan on the front of TV Times, plugging the new series of Stars In Their Eyes. It seemed a long time ago that Michael Grade decided to make him the face of ITV1, but since Grade put his ITV bonuses into Charlton, nobody seemed to mind. Especially after Crystal Palace's catastrophic relegation to League One.

Instead, a familiar name crops up. "How I nearly relegated the club I love," reads a headline reads in FourFourTwo magazine. Inside, a relaxed-looking Les Reed talks about his days in charge of Charlton. His tenure remains the shortest "in Premiership history" - the phrase still jars.

He tells how he remains sure he could have kept Charlton up in 2007, but holds no bitterness over what happened. Instead, after a while out of the game, and a spell working with Curbs at West Ham, he's back in the game. In fact, he's about to take Dartford up into the Conference for the first time. He is content. And the Dartford fans love him.

And this is how we remembered Les - a good man in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was dubbed "Santa Clueless" by the tabloids when he was sacked, but really he'll be remembered for his dignity and determination to do a good job. It didn't work, but hey - if we hadn't been beaten by Wycombe that night, it could have all ended in tears later on. That Christmas was a crucial moment in the history of Charlton Athletic - but eventually, the right call was made.

But this is all in the past now. Somebody shoves a free newspaper, the Evening Standard, into your hand. The back page is all about tomorrow - another FA Cup Final appearance for Charlton. Against West Ham. 2006 really was a turning point, wasn't it?

(Returning to Boxing Day, today's Independent has the measure of events over the past week or so. And with the person who entered "how not to be alone at christmas in dulwich" into a search engine and got this site in mind, I'm off to Fisher v Welling...)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Reed out, Pards in!

Richard Murray - you sly old dog.

Les Reed has left his position as Charlton's head coach by mutual consent, the club announced on Sunday evening.

Alan Pardew will take charge of the Addicks, and has signed a three-and-a-half year contract.

The club is making no further comment at this time, but will be holding a press conference at its Sparrows Lane training ground at 1.30pm on Boxing Day.

The Christmas present we all wanted. Merry Christmas, everybody.

(And Les - unlucky, old son. Have better times in the future.)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The nightmare before Christmas

Despite Les Reed's fine words, it was the same old shit at Middlesborough as Charlton treated the tiny band of fans who made it up to the Riverside on the last Saturday before Christmas with a feeble surrender.

So this is Christmas, a succession of games where we get our arses kicked because we've players who don't try, players whose performances show contempt for those who travel across the country to see their team. But they're also players who are given no reason to try because all we seem to be hanging on for is this bundle of bright new players who'll somehow erase the Dowie era from the history books.

This bundle of bright new players who'll probably take until March to click, by which time we'll be down. Charlton left another junk message on my answerphone yesterday, but this was their real Christmas greeting - merry Christmas, suckers, get ready for the Championship.

After the game, poor old Les really sounded in another world. If only he'd swallow his pride and admit he's not up to the job. If only Richard Murray would swallow his and appoint us a proper manager. And if only we had players who cared, and were given reason to care.

And we have managed to go through 2006 without winning a league match away from home. Thank you, Messrs Curbishley, Dowie, and Reed.

On that note, I hope you find reason to forget about football for a while and enjoy yourself over the next couple of days. Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Please, prove me wrong, Les

Another week's over at Crisis Club Charlton - Richard Murray's frank chat to journalists plus Peter Varney's comments make clear they blame Iain Dowie's signings for our poor start to the season.

Souleymane Diawara was singled out after a string of lousy performances - wasn't he alright under Dowie? - and he approaches his 28th birthday on Christmas Eve slated by his chairman after less than half a season. He's defended himself, telling a French paper he still has to get used to the Premiership style of play.

And Les Reed emerged from the shadows to find himself on the back of today's Mirror:

The under-fire Valley boss spoke publicly for the first time about his terrifying ordeal in 1997 when he collapsed with a brain haemorrhage as he bent down to pick up a ball in training.

Reed maintains the experience has helped him remain calm despite Charlton being rooted to the bottom of the table, dumped out of the Carling Cup by League Two Wycombe and fans calling for his head.

All that said, bookie William Hill is offering odds of 7/4 that he'll last the season.

On the pitch, we've lost Luke Young through injury - what's the odds we'll never see him again? - and it's rumoured we're loaning promising Icelandic talent Rurik Gislason to Valencia. Now that's odd.

So we're turning into Christmas in a right bloody mess. Middlesborough in the fog's an unlikely place for a renaissance, and a tiny number of fans are due to make the trip. But Boro are in a state too, and perhaps old hand Les can show young pup Gareth Southgate a thing or two.

Whatever's been said this week, we still need to go into Christmas backing our head coach - the next four games are too important to do anything different. Les, I really hope you have me eating my words as well as the mince pies on Christmas Day. Good luck, mate.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Murray: 'I had never heard of Diawara'

Richard Murray's in Thursday's Independent - apparently talking in "the early hours" after Tuesday's capitulation to Wycombe. I fear he may have been stitched up, but make of this what you will, in the absence of anything from

"Les is getting hammered at the moment. It is a tough spell for the club and he's taking some unfair criticism, stuff about him being a grandfather and so on which is not relevant.

"We were awful but those who watch Charlton regularly may say it was the same under Iain Dowie. Maybe we haven't got a good enough squad. Les Reed's current record is similar to Iain's - not good enough. But are both managers at fault? Or maybe there is not a right balance in the squad.

"At the moment, we are carrying on as we are. We have got three key games until 1 January, then we will make some changes with the team. We will spend some money but we will have to wheel and deal. We spent £11m in the summer, a lot of money for us. We backed Iain, they were Iain's signings - in no way did we bring them in. I had never heard of Diawara - apparently the best centre-half you've never heard of. We spent £3.7m which for a club like us is a fortune.

"These are difficult times - I am sorry for the fans. I don't think the team showed a lot of passion. The body language was poor.

"I am not going to wave white flags but the way it is looking, Reading and Sheffield United are going to get out of it which means two established clubs will go down.

"People were fed up of finishing 12th each year. You push the boat out and maybe you lose a bit of what you have. We brought players in on bigger wages, but maybe the players don't care much about the club. They are different sorts of players."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stand by our man, says Varney

So, have we turned into a basket case yet? You decide. Here's a statement from Peter Varney on the official site, 21 hours after our humiliation in the League Cup, and 21 hours after Les Reed refused to speak to the press.

"We fully understand the frustration of the fans. But we're urging them to keep giving the management team their support.

"I'm very surprised that professional footballers, players who had the chance of reaching a major cup semi-final, couldn't respond against a team that plays two leagues lower than them.

"There will be funds made available in the January transfer window to bring new players in."

And that is all. Oh, apart from an instruction that there'll be more on BBC London radio and Sky Sports News - can we not afford to pay somebody to transcribe more for our own official site, considering this statement was given this morning? Probably not. Is speaking directly to our fans too difficult now?

So all we have is a desperate plea to stick with the discredited head coach we have, and a bewildered response to a terrible performance from a bunch of overpaid primadonnas who aren't fit to wear our shirt.

This, along with Les Reed's cowardly refusal to face the press last night, or today, amounts to contempt for the club's fans.

I don't care who we bring in next month. We still have four games to go before then. (And shouldn't these signings would already be at Sparrows Lane, getting ready, if they're going to arrive so quickly?)

We look finished. We look finished because we stuck with a man who - despite being an admirable coach and very personable chap - clearly cannot manage a Premiership side. We look finished because the board looked the other way when Alan Pardew became free. Just like Reed looked away last night, instead of facing media scrutiny of his decisions.

Where there is time, mind, there is hope, and time to prove my dire prediction wrong. But the frustration of the fans grows with the amateurish way we're dealing with all this. Sticking your head in the sand isn't going to help us, Reg.

A bit of honesty might, though. And so might bothering to communicate with your fans properly.

So much for your January signings, Reed

Now Hibernian tell us to sod off - those pathetic cries of "we'll make signings early in the transfer window" are looking more like utter bullshit than ever.

Hibernian Football Club can this morning confirm it has rejected a £3 million offer received from Charlton Athletic Football Club for both Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson.

Chairman Rod Petrie said: “I arrived at the office on Tuesday morning to see that an email had been received overnight from Andrew Mills, the General Manager of Charlton Athletic – Andrew is a former Players’ Agent.

“The email from Andrew contained an unsigned offer of £3m for the transfer of both Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson subject to certain conditions. I sent an email back to Charlton Athletic rejecting their offer at 9.17 am yesterday morning.”

Rod added: “Despite the offer having been rejected, Charlton Athletic and their contacts chose to make the matter public for their own purposes. Contrary to all the media speculation in recent weeks, this is the only offer we have received for either player from any club."

So, the chairman of Hibs is accusing us of trying to unsettle his players - not sure what's been in the Scottish press so it's hard to say anything about "making the matter public". But still, it's good to see the secretive Andrew Mills making friends and influencing people.

Incidentally, All Quiet hears that China captain Zheng Zyi is due to arrive in January after a nice day being shown around London by Charlton representatives a few weeks back.

Wycombe fiasco: The papers' view

The Guardian: This was a horror show from which Les Reed's reputation may never recover. Offered a wonderful chance to reach their first Carling Cup semi-final, Charlton were pathetic. Had Wycombe taken a quarter of their chances they would have won by four goals, not just one.

Charlton continued to look like a collection of out-of-form individuals hoping something would happen... the home support were sarcastically cheering every successful pass. When Hughes, required to make a simple square pass to Dennis Rommedahl, knocked the ball out of play it was too much for many home fans, who made an early exit."

The Independent: "The fans have already made their minds up. They booed the team off at half-time and full-time, called for Reed's removal in an after-match protest, and chanted the name of Alan Pardew, who was only deposed at West Ham a week ago. Reed, who played for Wycombe in their Isthmian League days, refused to speak to the media last night, remaining locked in the dressing room with his players more than an hour after the final whistle. Nor was the chairman, Richard Murray, prepared to speak."

Daily Telegraph: "'Premiership, you're having a laugh,' trumpeted the visiting supporters. The home fans concurred loudly. The boos that greeted the half-time whistle were from the heart."

The Times: "Charlton, nineteenth in the Premiership, made seven changes from the team beaten by Liverpool, but the most important was the return in goal of Scott Carson, who had been ineligible to play against the club who have loaned him out. Simply, he kept his team in the match in an embarrassingly one-sided first half."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

CRISIS: Charlton 0-1 Wycombe

The media's smelling blood as a cowardly Charlton side made Wycombe look like Premiership material at a chilly Valley tonight. I spent the day praying the game would be called off after waking in a foggy SE7 - but it was Liverpool's tie with Arsenal called off as the mist moved to Merseyside, shoving a stern spotlight on the failings of hapless Les Reed and his spineless side.

A chorus of boos jeered the players off at half- and full-time, with chants of "you're not fit to wear the shirt" and "Super Alan Pardew" ringing around the ground. The ovation Wycombe - who came to do a job and were clearly surprised with the ease with which they did it - recieved was more generous than that for some Charlton victories I can remember. Scott Carson, whose saves kept us in the game, was also applauded - his ovation stuck out like a sore thumb, but he had a face like thunder as he left the field. And to think he's not even our player.

Tonight has to be a turning point. I honestly didn't expect us to win, and in a strange way I think tonight needed to happen as a catalyst for change.

"I've got a good line!," a reporter barked into his phone as he jogged up Floyd Road only a few minutes ago to catch the last train, while a blogger struggled to keep in earshot... "They're not saying anything, Reed's not saying anything, not even to Sky... just from the chief executive..."

... but Varney spoke BEFORE the game, to BBC Radio Five Live, affirming his faith in Reed.

So nobody from the club has got the bottle to step forward to explain to anybody what's happened. Not the players, not Uncle Les, not the board.

Tomorrow's going to be interesting.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Les Reed's Smart Sessions

Oh no. I'm afraid this isn't a spoof.

"Soccer Coaches! Now YOU can use the coaching secrets of a World Class Professional.

"Give me 12 months and I GUARANTEE I’ll improve your coaching skills... boost your team’s performance... and shrink your preparation time to 5 minutes.

"Or take a year’s worth of my ‘Grab-and-Go’ coaching plans... for FREE."

It's Uncle Les' job on the side, providing coaching tips online, and ferreted out by a reader of the Guardian's Fiver mailout. I suppose it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Peter Varney on Football Focus

You'd have missed it, because it went out just before kick-off.

But you can hear it here.

It's very depressing listening, mind.

(click, scroll down, select "free" in the bottom right-hand corner, follow the instructions on the next page - you'll need to wait a bit. It's a 2.7MB download. BBC copyright acknowledged, but they should have put it on the bloody Football Focus website, shouldn't they?.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The miracle of Green Street

Shows what can happen when you appoint a proper manager, eh?

Shadows crossing over The Valley

Shock, horror - a match report that hits the nail on the head. I hope Richard Murray reads The Sunday Times for Rob Hughes' version of events yesterday:

The shadows crossing over The Valley are deepening alarmingly for Charlton. While Liverpool are a goal-scoring team now, 11 in their past three matches, this could and should have been so many more against a Charlton team that did not defend with the basics, that did not exhibit a true passion for the club or for their own careers.

The sadness of watching that, and of having to communicate the gut feeling is considerably exacerbated by having a true admiration for the way this club was saved by its own supporters. Alan Curbishley has gone for good, gone just up the river to his boyhood home of West Ham. But very quickly Charlton have to realise the old complacency, that while he was here they would find a calm road out of troubles, has to be replaced.

Whether Les Reed, a man in his 50s, one of those articulate technical directors from the FA, can solve their problems, grows more doubtful by the week. He is pleasant, he talks of “identifying and eradicating” causes for the failures, yet surely this club, with highly paid professionals, needs a true football manager? It needs, to be blunt, somebody to say to the likes of Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink that either they put in the effort or they can go immediately, irrespective of the pay-off.

Reed, given a three-year contract just a week ago, still talks with quiet, school-masterly determination, about setting a survival target of 42 points. He talks also and often about the Prozone feedback that, he deems, showed in the 5-1 defeat at Tottenham last weekend they actually outdid Spurs on several counts. Maybe it is late in the day for him to confront the difference between Prozone statistics and motivating overpriced egos. Just about the only real passion we saw from Hasselbaink was after the final whistle, when he expended more energy in haranguing the referee than he had exhibited in the cause of his latest team.

Rafael Benitez will have to start thinking soon enough about how to contain Barcelona in the Champions League, rather than knocking over compliant teams like this, but as someone said as we left the stadium built on fan power, we cannot quite envisage Hasselbaink lamenting, when he leaves here, that he is sad about the club with the community spirit.

LATER: See also Patrick Collins in the Mail on Sunday (ta to Tony B for the tip): "We found ourselves wondering how this decent, well-run, upwardly mobile club could become a basket case inside half a season."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Charlton 0-3 Liverpool

Lost for words after this one, while we matched a poor Liverpool side for some parts of the game, after dim Djimi Traroe gave away a penalty within minutes of kick-off, we didn't play like our hearts were in it.

When Craig Bellamy scored late in the game, our players just waited for the ref to give an offside call which never came. And when Stevie Me scored with a couple of minutes to go, we looked ready to ship a few more. Actually, little Stevie had a crap game, but the bloke with the Steadicam shot straight over to him as the final whistle came. Awww, his mum will be proud.

Stand-in goalie Thomas Myhre - who tried to gee up the Covered End after half-time, aside, like a man who cares about more than his wages - aside, every single one of our players played like an arsehole. Like a greedy arsehole who cares about nothing more than maintaining their privileged existence.

Your hopes and dreams don't matter to them. The jobs of Charlton's backroom staff which are on the line don't matter to them. Propping up their ludicrous lifestyles matters more to them, or the off-chance of getting a nosh off a Page 3 girl in some bling-tastic West End shithole.

Am I wrong? Nothing I saw today suggested I was wrong. And while the Relegation Express stepped up a gear on its journey to away games at Scunthorpe, poor old Uncle Les was left like the coach driver who's got to explain why his bus is four hours late.

I've set a 42-point target, but when you look at the bottom of the table it wouldn't surprise me if a team could survive with 40 points or less.

"There are some must-win games and others which we hope to get a point from - and there are some away games which we need to try and win.

"We're off our target a little bit, not necessarily because of the result today, but because of two results in a row we didn't get. But that can be turned around in the next four games.”

Whatever you're on, Les, make mine a double. Where there's time, there's hope. But where there's no passion, no desire, you can have all the time in the world, but it won't matter a bean.

Still, there's always the League Cup...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Poor ickle Stevie Me

Want to know why England are never going to win a World Cup again? Meet poor, hard-done by Steven Gerrard, who wrote these words about Uncle Les in his autobiography. Turning to Euro 2000, he said...

"To this day, I have no respect for Reed or [Man City head coach Derek] Fazackerley.

"I was a young lad who had never been away from home to play football before. They didn't seem to understand that not everyone can board a plane, settle in a strange hotel far from the family they love, and find it easy.

"In fact they made me feel like shit. My homesickness worsened whenever I was forced to be in their company. I felt they could have shown more care and sympathy. They were always pushing me, always telling me to buck up my ideas."

If you needed motivation for tomorrow, shoving those words down the throat of this pampered little prick might just do it. It's a shame nobody at Charlton briefed poor old Les about it, when he was then left to look a fool by praising Stevie Me to the skies. Ooops.

Actually, when it comes to the England squad's rush into print, I prefer the recently-reported words of Joey Barton:

"England did nothing in the World Cup, so why were they bringing books out? 'We got beat in the quarter-finals. I played like shit. Here's my book.'"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Christmas wish?

A seasonal message to the pessimists from All Quiet In The East Stand collaborator Stuart.

Christmas is coming. Whether you believe in Virgins giving birth, Santa Claus delivering your new Nintendo or three points against Liverpool this weekend. It is a time for miracles and dreams coming true.

Seems like there are plenty of Addicks without much Christmas spirit. I'll declare now I'm in the 'we can play our way out of the shit' camp along with the Inspector. But others think we're relegation fodder.

Ordinarily I'd say: "to each their own" and get screaming drunk. But sucking the life out of any chance the team has of escape with spirit crushing pessimism is madness.

Nothing is pre-ordained in the game we love.

Charlton beating Chelsea away in the Cup. Portsmouth and West Brom beating the drop. Non-league sides bloodying the noses of the big boys. Even, and I can't believe I'm saying this, l'il Man U sticking one on Chelsea in the league this year. The unpredictability is what gets us to games.

Having some pride and some optimism goes beyond our club and our survival though. Its for all the little guys in football. The well managed outfits who look up to our club, who respect what we've done. These people need to believe that we can escape. That their club could do the same.

I remember clearly the year we went up as Champions, we beat Palarse at theirs. They chanted "What's the point in going up?" and we laughed at them. I'm laughing now. If you have no hope you have nothing.

They might as well cart you out in a box.

Reed's new deal - but the knives are out.... is telling us that Les Reed has signed a three-year contract as head coach at Charlton - no story as yet, just a headline on its ticker.

It comes as the Mirror's Darren Lewis reports trouble in the ranks...

LES REED'S grip on the Charlton dressing room is weakening after it emerged last night that he has already clashed with two of his players.

The flashpoint has increased speculation sacked West Ham boss Alan Pardew could be brought in to save the south Londoners from relegation.

Reed dropped wide man Jerome Thomas and only used experienced striker Marcus Bent as a substitute for the win over Blackburn after questioning the attitude of both players for the December 5 clash.

Both players are believed to have insisted that second-from-bottom Charlton are fighting a losing battle in their fight.

100% true or not, stories like this usually have some substance to them somewhere... - hopefully it'll at least see "experienced striker" Marcus Bent on his way out next month. Hey, Curbs, if he was so good a year ago, fancy him at West Ham? Thought not.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

So, what now, then?

Alan Curbishley's going to be unveiled as West Ham's new boss this afternoon, with a press conference planned for 3pm. It'll be a weird moment for many Charlton fans.

But there's no sign of movement at The Valley to match what's going on north of the river, with Radio Five Live's usually-reliable football reporter Gordon Farquhar telling listeners this morning that he understood that our board would be sticking with Les Reed until the end of the season.

Have we thrown the towel in already? Deep down, does Uncle Les himself really think he can keep us up?

But let's assume that the BBC man's right for a moment - and that we're sticking with Les until the bitter end. So what happens now, then?

It's two weeks until the transfer window opens, and it's likely Curbs will be looking across the Thames to take a few parts from the team he made. West Ham fans are already eyeing up Darren Bent and Luke Young (and even Kish!) - the Sun's stirred the pot claiming a £10m bid for Bent's in the offing.

Anyone that believes Bent's definitely going is a mug - let's get that straight. But then Charlton fans seem to revel in a crisis and love dreaming of self-harm. So we'll have to put up with this drivel until Bent eventually goes, whether that be in January, June, or some later date.

Selling Bent at a high price would also signal that we've thrown in the towel. Is this such a bad thing? New York Addick has a blueprint for a New Year fire sale. Me, I'd shift Hasselbaink, Rommedahl, Holland and Fortune. And maybe Luke Young. But without clear ideas as to who we'd get in to replace them, it's hard to say.

But now the man with the Charlton blueprint's installed at Green Street, life's looking very wobbly indeed. Unless we act now and get Pardew in. It's time for a fresh start - and fresh ideas - before it's too late.

(Oh, and best get this page removed from as well...)

The Curbs merry-go-round in full

29 April 2006 - Alan Curbishley announces he's leaving Charlton
mid-May 2006 - Peter Taylor of Hull City interviewed for Charlton job
mid-May 2006 - Billy Davies of Preston interviewed for Charlton job
19 May 2006 - Phil Parkinson of Colchester blocked from Charlton job
22 May 2006 - Iain Dowie parts company with Crystal Palace
25 May 2006 - Billy Davies will not be getting Charlton job
30 May 2006 - Iain Dowie appointed as Charlton head coach
2 June 2006 - Billy Davies moves to Derby County from Preston
13 June 2006 - Peter Taylor moves to Crystal Palace from Hull City
14 June 2006 - Phil Parkinson resigns from Colchester
29 June 2006 - Phil Parkinson joins Hull City

13 Nov 2006 - Iain Dowie sacked by Charlton, replaced by Les Reed
4 Dec 2006 - Phil Parkinson sacked by Hull City
11 Dec 2006 - Alan Pardew sacked by West Ham United
12 Dec 2006 - Iain Dowie in talks with Hull City
13 Dec 2006 - Alan Curbishley is West Ham United manager

As of 13 December: Charlton are 19th in the Premiership, Derby are 2nd in the Championship, Colchester are 8th, Crystal Palace are 17th, and Hull City are 23rd.

Billy Davies. What if..., eh?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pards out! Pards in! Please!

From over the water, a gunshot is fired. A biscuit magnate blows the smoke off his pistol, and returns to the digestives.

11/12/2006 13:50


West Ham United have today announced the departure from the Club of Alan Pardew.

Alan has made an important contribution since joining as manager in September 2003 but this season's results have been disappointing and have left the Club in a very difficult position.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now into the endgame. Alan Curbishley to West Ham, Alan Pardew to Charlton. Please.

Because it hurts to see Les Reed impotent in the face of looming relegation. He's a nice man. A good man. A good man who needs to be placed behind the scenes, to toil without being disturbed, and away from the harsh spotlight.

Because Alan Pardew is a good manager. A man who yanked a modest West Ham side out of Championship obscurity and back into the top flight. A man screwed over by a useless former chairman's ego trips, by the decision to bring in two Argentinian show ponies, and by a team who eventually got a bit too star-struck.

Because this is our chance of survival. Alan Pardew as our next manager, not a head coach. Because if we don't go for it now, we're going to wonder "what if?" for the rest of our lives. Go on, Mr Murray, swallow your pride. Get on the phone now.

And pass on our best wishes to Curbs too.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Tottenham 5-1 Charlton

A terrible mistake from Les Reed presented our friends from North London with an early Christmas present as so-so Spurs side romped home 5-1 winners against a Charlton team which had, at least, matched them in the first half. It'll also hand ammunition to those who believe we shouldn't have fired Iain Dowie.

Reed's cock-up? Taking off Radostin Kishishev early in the second half and replacing him with Dennis Rommedahl. Granted, we were 2-1 down, Spurs having taken the lead against the run of play, Dimitar Berbatov being given the room to slot one past Carson before Teemu Tainio's low shot flew under Scott Carson to double their lead. But with an Andy Reid cross deflecting off Michael Dawson, all was not lost for the Addicks. While Tottenham were the livelier side, and dangerous on the break, if we kept them shackled we could regain control of the game.

Indeed, after a bit of Tottenham pressure, we went about the second half well until Kish was withdrawn in favour of Rommedahl, who then went on to produce almost nothing apart from plenty of space for the Spurs midfield to run riot, and for Charlton hearts to break. Worryingly, Darren Bent looked dreadful today - has he had a decent game since Dowie left? After Spurs' fifth, the early train from Northumberland Park beckoned, as wags broke into a chorus of "we want our money back".

"We've had a very good, strong, heart-to-heart in the dressing room - a real constructive conversation - and we know exactly where we have to go from here," Reed told the press after. I bloody hope they do.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tickets - a load of old Arse

Hooray! Tickets for Arsenal away are on sale - first trip to the Holloway Goonerdrome and all that. But - booo! What's this nonsense about tickets?

The Addicks have been allocated 2,912 places for the fixture in North London, priced £32 adults and £16 over 60s and U16s.

And these will be made available first to Valley Gold season-ticket holders and away season-ticket holders from 2005/06 from 8am on Monday, December 11th.

So far, so predictable. Actually, as an ex-five year ticket holder I even considered joining Valley Gold with an eye on Arsenal tickets, but thought against it. Anyway...

Acting commercial director Steve Sutherland said: "As we have stated before this season, we are trying to give priority to those fans who regularly follow the club away from home.

"We have been urging supporters to save their tickets stubs from away matches, and those that have will receive greater priority when purchasing tickets for the more popular games, such as Arsenal."

Nice idea, but I honestly cannot remember the club urging supporters to save away ticket stubs on any occasion other than before the Aston Villa match - a quick scan through the "ticket news" section on doesn't even show that. So which supporters has Sutherland been urging, then? Perhaps this should have been set up for specific games - buy a Middlesbrough away ticket and jump straight to the front of the queue?

Anyway, I should be okay because I still have that Villa ticket, for some reason the Reading ticket hasn't been binned, I'm going to Spurs tomorrow and.... ah, can't find any of the others in the bin. Hmmm. Will a ticket for Germinal Beerschot do?

Arsenal ticket plan
Valley Gold + voucher E - Mon 11 Dec
4 away stubs + voucher E - Fri 15 Dec
2 away stubs + voucher E - Mon 18 Dec
1 away stub + voucher E - Thu 21 Dec
Voucher E alone - Thu 28 Dec

Spurs tomorrow, cheating scumbag Zakora is suspended for being a cheating scumbag, and Robbie Keane's out too. As for us, apparently Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is close to a return. Hmmm....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's Kins to the rescue!

So Mark Kinsella's coming back to The Valley - he'll be the third man to join Les Reed and Mark Robson in our coaching team, becoming development coach.

He's been player/coach at Walsall for a while now, the Saddlers are top of League Two and he's been in charge of their reserve side. They'll get one more game out of him - against Swindon on Saturday - before he hangs up his boots and heads south to rejoin us, with a reserve match against West Ham to look forward to on Tuesday. Expect a big crowd down at Stonebridge Road...

Is he the right man for the job? I've no idea. But the symbolism of the captain who won us the play-off final and the Championship rejoining us sends out all the right messages - the club being run by Charlton people. Good luck to him, and he's bound to get a huge welcome at the Liverpool match.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Charlton 1-0 Blackburn


Hastily rewritten reports by cursing hacks about to go home:, Sky Sports, Sporting Life, BBC Sport, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, The Guardian.

I'm still jumping around after Talal El Karkouri's injury-time free kick gave us a sensational win over a niggly, diving, cheating Blackburn side who deserved every painful moment of a last-minute defeat.

At times the nerves clearly got to us. But it was surely our best performance of the season so far, with the masterstroke seeming to be in giving Lloyd Sam his first-ever Premiership start. He's 22, it's a bit late to be blooding him, but his calm, skilful performance lifted the spirits around The Valley. He came off looking shattered after 71 minutes, but he's earned his spurs - and maybe he'll get another against Spurs.

Astonishingly, Bryan Hughes also had an inventive game - is there any history between him and ex-Birmingham team-mate Robbie Savage? He seemed to be chasing the obnoxious Welsh pillock like a terrier at times. Andy Reid also played very well indeed, Darren Bent couldn't convert his chances but will hopefully gain confidence from tonight's performance.

But most encouragingly - we seemed to be playing like a team again. Not the dispirited side that saw out the Curbs era, or the strangers fumbling passes during the Dowie interlude. The movement, the passing, the attitude is getting better.

Towards the end, Blackburn - who didn't really look too troubled thanks to their physical game and their immense luck with ref Chris Foy, who had an appalling game - gained in confidence and the Addicks wilted.

But the announcement of two minutes of extra time sent the Covered End roaring, and Rovers got their just desserts after the unlovable Stephane Henchoz held back substitute Marcus Bent for a rare Blackburn yellow card. Talal El Karkouri slammed the free kick home after what feels like a century of luck, and The Valley went mental for the first time since at least the Palace defeat of May 2005.

14 years back at The Valley, and this might have been one of its most important night. Whisper it quietly, but the Borat-lookalike who Curbs was ready to ditch could just have given us a lifeline. Cultural Leanings For The Benefit of Premiership Survival? I'll have that.

Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken


See, I told you Uncle Les Reed believes in The Kids. I told you it'd be alright. Well, OK, I didn't, but anyway...

And it gives me the chance to use an obscure indie band pun once again. I hope it looks even more ridiculous later on.

Kish and Bryan Hughes also start, Holland and Rommedahl on the bench. COME ON!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Believe - because otherwise there's no point

Enough with this pessimism. End the cynicism. It's a wonder how some people get out of bed in the morning. Cast your mind ahead. It's five o'clock on Saturday. You may well be leaving White Hart Lane, quickening your step as you trot down Tottenham High Road. The pessimists and the cynics will probably be watching Sky.

But somewhere, there is a radio. And it is bringing news.

"This Radio Five Live at a minute past five. And this - is Sports Report."

[cue quaint, yet jaunty military marching music]

"Manchester United's lead over Chelsea has been pegged back to six points, after Manchester City's dramatic penalty win over Old Trafford which saw Cristiano Ronaldo sent off for diving. We'll have a round-up of all the results from around the grounds, including Everton storming to third after beating Portsmouth two-nil at Fratton Park.

"Liverpool have failed to win again at Anfield, and has Les Reed turned it around for Charlton? Two wins in two as a Andy Reid condemns his old club Spurs at White Hart Lane. The Addicks are now out of the relegation zone and level on points with West Ham - we're at the Reebok for their match with Bolton at 5.15. Plus there's the latest from the Championship as Colchester edge towards play-off contention after beating Crystal Palace 3-0. But first, the classified pools check, with James Alexander Gordon..."

It could happen, couldn't it?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cup of, erm....

Our destination in the FA Cup third round's to be decided - we've landed an away tie with either Nottingham Forest or Salisbury City, who drew 1-1 at the Wiltshire side's Raymond McEnhill Stadium this afternoon.

It's a strange pairing - poor old Forest fell from grace years ago, but are packing them in at the City Ground as they finally look set to haul their arses out of League One. But their record in the cups is far from glorious, and Salisbury - fourth in Conference South and a point behind second-placed Welling - are the latest non-league team to tweak their noses.

Forest, of course, will smell blood, with Charlton lying seriously wounded at the foot of the Premiership. Oh, and we can sing Valley Floyd Road/ City Ground at each other... Salisbury will just bring back memories of bloody Dagenham. Except it's a bit posher down there. Ho-hum.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Not enough steel (arf) at Bramall Lane as Charlton succumbed to a 2-1 defeat by Sheffield United. I decided not to chance my luck with the knuckle-dragging Scouse-killers of South Yorkshire police, and dipped in and out of Five Live's commentary instead.

It all sounded too familiar - Steve Claridge on my radio telling me how much better we were looking playing a 4-4-2 formation just before Keith Gillespie fired home the winner. Oh, and Tony Gale on Sky calling Dennis Rommedahl a liability. We've been here before.

Poor old Les Reed on Sky looked pretty resigned to our fate. The Blades' success this week shows just how vital a couple of wins can be, and if we don't emulate what they've done NOW, this is going to be another nail in our coffin.

Although I do like the comment left by a reader below... where there's Reid, there's hope.

If you went or watched the match on iffy telly, how did you find it?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In denial, back soon

Following news of this week's results, especially that at Watford, All Quiet In The East Stand has gone into denial for a period. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Charlton 1-1 Everton

An improvement against Everton, and possibly the response we were waiting for after the fiasco at Reading. But was it enough, and will it ever be enough? After all, Everton weren't much cop - missing some bald fella who dives a lot, apparently - and tended to play to their old strengths of elbowing and bargeing. We had a poor first half, and after the break we really did look dead and buried after a Mikel Arteta free-kick went in of Hermann Hreidarsson.

But we fought back, and Andy Reid proved his weight in golden pies when he fired home from 20 yards through a confused Toffees defence. As time wore on the Covered End bayed for a winner.... but it wasn't to be. Dennis Rommedahl was both hero and villain as his pacy running skills again did the business... but his abysmal finishing skills showered him in shame. Somebody desperately needs to tell him he's a world-beater and should fear no-one, because at the moment he'd fear a fly. And this is after two-and-a-half seasons in England.

Darren Ambrose was woeful before his replacement by Marcus Bent, whose lively performance showed he may have some kind of future as a super-sub, since 90 minutes are clearly beyond him. Indeed, he was the better of the two Bents, and while Darren suffered from only getting a few decent balls from midfield, he looked in a bad way at the end of the game. His hamstring could be a worry as we look forward to an away match at Sheffield United next week - but Andy Reid gives us some hope. Let's hope he keeps his form up.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Valley Flags: How to help further

The first fruits of the Valley Flags Campaign are now on display at the back of the Upper North...

It's fine work by Valley Flags head honcho Sacha "Rothko" Zarb and supporters' director Ben Hayes, and proof that all the kerfuffle about the election at the beginning of the year really was worth something.

Overhead flags are on their way, but more funds are needed for more banners to fill in the gaps. Hopefully they'll be able to fill in the biggest gap of all - the advertising space on the lip of the stand, but to get a chance of that, the campaign will need to prove the there's the demand for it. So cough up!

What's that, I hear you say? Christmas is coming? Well, you can help Valley Flags by clicking on its Amazon link and doing your Christmas shopping there, so the campaign picks up some commission. It works - I bought a new camera there and a good few quid made its way into the Valley Flags coffers. Whether it's a camera or a cheap CD, it all helps.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A desperate hunt for good news

I heard a story last night that in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK, every telephone in the country would recieve a recorded message from Joanna Lumley urging people to head for the nearest shelter.

Not sure if it's true or not, but Charlton fans had the equivalent on Monday, with a call from Les Reed to every Charlton season-ticket holder, informing us that there's only four weeks in which to get tickets for our League Cup match against Wycombe. Yup, just four weeks! Poor old Les, he's a smashing chap but he's not exactly got a voice to send you trotting down to the ticket office... and the stunt might just have been a good idea if we'd won on Saturday, but after the debacle at Reading it just seemed a bit, well... odd.

Indeed, it's taking a while to get over the Reading debacle - see this excellent piece from the Charlton Life blog - with the gloom reinforced by the vultures circling over Darren Bent again. Some light at the end of the tunnel was provided by a claim that Chris Powell was to rejoin us as a coach... but then he went and denied it. Booo!

But trust Simon Jordan to cheer us all up with a baffling tirade in the Daily Mirror:

"I know a lot of players at Charlton and they weren't having Iain," he said.

"Whether you believe it was those gutless t**ts at Charlton who fired Iain just because they couldn't get on with him, or it was player power... I think it was a combination of both.

"Iain thinks he knows everything but the one thing he doesn't know is how to manage big Premiership players."

Even Palace fans are baffled. Still, at least it raised a laugh. The first hearing in his case against Dowie (and now possibly Charlton) is due on 6 December.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Crisis management for beginners

If Saturday's result at Reading wasn't bad enough, there was still a tidal wave of bollocks to wade through regarding the departed Dowie. While the reactions of most Charlton fans are pretty mixed, the media is outraged on Dowie's behalf. The pundits on yesterday's Football Focus expressed complete bewilderment as to why Dowie was dismissed, while Gary Lineker was outraged in today's Sunday Telegraph:

"The dismissal of Iain Dowie as Charlton manager last week was an extraordinary decision, and unbelievably premature. Obviously something strange has gone on there behind the scenes, and I was shocked to find out what had happened. If you had asked me last weekend whether Charlton would go down, I would have answered with an emphatic 'no'. Now they have to be relegation favourites.

It might be understandable if something untoward had happened. That is obviously not the case, because if it had been I'm sure we would have heard about it."

Back in the real world, the most widely-accepted view now seems to be that Iain Dowie wanted to get his brother Bob involved in the club - with one story even featuring Dowie senior appearing in the dressing room at Craven Cottage, two weeks before he left Crystal Palace. Of course, the clearest hint came from Richard Murray in his statement last week - "it is also vital that everyone works as a team. Unfortunately, I have to say that has not been the case."

It would be better, of course, if the club had been more upfront about the reasons for Dowie's sacking. Murray's statement doesn't even appear on, for heaven's sake. While there was a laptop ban at the Les Reed forum last week - although that didn't stop Chris from Cynic Athletic valiantly taking notes. Surely it would have been better to invite, say, just one reporter to feed the media machine? Perhaps we simply don't want to drag Dowie's name through the mud out of respect for him. But I suspect that the Simon Jordan court case is a factor stopping us from being honest here. Which is very sad.

Ironically, it took a Palace fan to do a decent piece on us - Kevin Day joining one of the coaches heading to Reading for Match of the Day 2.

Defeat at the poor man's QPR is a horrible start to Reed's regime, but perhaps this is the low we needed to reach from which to bounce back. The crisis talks start here - how are we unfit when Dowie brought in his bleedin' fitness coach?? - hopefully the fightback starts on Saturday.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"...and Reading" 2-0 Charlton

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports.

The confused look on the stupid security guard's face as he opened up my bag outside the Madjeski Stadium, two minutes after kick-off, told me it wasn't going to be our day. I'm staying out in the West End (this post coming to you live from London's trendy Tottenham Court Road) so took a few things along with me to make sure a scruffy Charlton fan transforms into a dashing man about town as soon as the sun sets. He rummaged around, and held up my roll-on deodorant, looking like he'd picked up a fragment of a landmine.

"Can he bring this in?"

"Nah, mate, well..." His dozy mate ummed and ahhed. Finally, our guard came to a decision.

"You can bring this in, but don't take it out of your bag during the game."

Clearly Body Shop Activist For Men isn't acceptable in clone town Reading, where its football team has picked up the prefix "And..." because its fanbase is reputedly more interested in the weightier affairs of Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge.

But Reading aren't a bad side - a voice next to me says they're like us when we returned to the Premiership, I think they're a limited, but effective side. They clearly scared the crap out of us, though.

It was the worst Charlton performance I have seen since we lost 6-1 to Leeds three years ago. Marcus Bent stank the place out, while Dennis Rommedahl was like watching a child with one leg try to win an Olympic shooting race. Lazy and incompetent, while we missed Diawara and Faye, it was no excuse for the crap served up in Reading's horrible stadium.

Les Reed looked like the father of a bride who'd just ran off with the best man, while outside the Sky Sports vultures hovered to pick up bones of pessimism from departing Addicks fans.

However, I've just read Reed's post-match comments, and I pray to whoever that we learn some lessons before Everton. Or we'll be going on a Coca-Cola tour.

"I'm disappointed in the result, nobody likes losing. I'm definitely not pleased with the first half in terms of us being very very disjointed.

"We were like rabbits in headlights and have to put that right but I was pleased with our response in the second half.

"What you saw in the first half was a very confused performance.

"Our possession game and football game was better in the second half but we were not productive enough; we did not create enough goalscoring opportunities so we have got to put that right.

"We need to be committed and determined for some hard work next week and prepare ourselves properly for the Everton game.

"I learned a lot today, and have got some ideas in mind that we can sit down and talk about next week when we have got more time. I'm already thinking about what want to do next week and formulating ideas.

"I said to the players after the game that I'm not one for getting too emotional after the game when I can't be sure if my facts are right.

"What I'll do is look at the video; I've already told our video guy what I want to see. We'll sit down with the players and discuss it next week and have a look at the things I suspect need fixing."

Good luck, Les.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Looking ahead with Valley Flags

Right, enough worrying about the recent past - it's into the future, and the good news that The Valley Flags Campaign has its first banners in production and they'll be ready for the home game against Everton next week.

It's Les Reed's Q&A at The Valley tonight - if you're joining Frankie there and wouldn't mind letting us know what went on, it'd be much appreciated. I'll be at City Addicks with Lennie Lawrence and John Humphrey, where anyone who comes up to me asking "Are you Inspector Sands?" will be ignored unless they buy me a drink. Thank you.

Ranting and raving

One of the kingpins of British sports journalism, Mihir Bose, has his tu'pence worth in the Daily Telegraph:

I am told concern grew as a result of Dowie's alleged behaviour both on the training ground and the dressing room. This involved, it is alleged, much ranting and raving at players and staff, creating a very difficult situation for the club. Even if Charlton had won [at Wigan], Dowie would still have been sacked by Murray on Monday evening.

Bose adds that a compensation package for Dowie - who will still get practical support from the club in his court battle with Simon Jordan - is still being worked out.

Of course, this whole farrago has provided a valuable insight into the bullshit-go-round that is Fleet Street's back pages, aided these days by the number of websites happy to rip off quotes from any old place. In a way, it's understandable that when a club sacks a manager three hours before deadline that most papers will reach for the generic list marked "managers who could do with a new job", and slap that into place.

But it's been baffling to see The Sun declare Souleymane Diawara one of Dowie's "flops" - on Wednesday morning! I also saw Simon Walton labelled a flop, which Ipswich fans will find interesting. And the BBC should have known better than to punt that old bollocks around about Glenn Hoddle. Shows how little most sports journalists know beyond their big club comfort zone, really.

Just been catching up on what other people have been saying, and there's been some excellent stuff on Charlton Life's blog, including a for/against debate over Les Reed's appointment.

And an optimistic note from Frankie Valley:

Our four best players this season? Just my opinion this, but I would say Carson, Diawara, Faye, and Reid. All of them brought to the Valley by Monica. (more)

And you know what? I think he's right.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

John Humphrey's a City Addick too

The good people at City Addicks have asked me to tell you that former Charlton right-back John Humphrey's going to join Lennie Lawrence at their meeting at the City Tavern, off Cheapside, on Thursday night from 6.30pm. So come along and reminisce about the days when the club was in, erm, crisis.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Les Reed: It wasn't me

New head coach Les Reed's been talking to the Daily Mail, showing a clean pair of hands and insisting, "I'm innocent, guv," denying he instigated Iain Dowie's sacking.

Reed said: "Anybody who knows me will tell you that is not the way I operate. I would never do that.

"Football is a cruel game and, unfortunately, opportunities usually arise because of the demise of somebody else.

"Iain is a great manager and an inspirational and charismatic person. He has left with dignity and a lot of chairmen must be keeping an eye on his situation. I wish him well and I hope he is successful."

24 hours that changed us forever

Peter Varney's an unlikely assassin, isn't he? A gentle-looking chap who looks a bit like he's come to sell you some insurance, Sir Reg found himself the frontman for one of the most ruthless sackings football's seen for a few years, while the man who pulled the trigger, Richard Murray - a far more plausible candiate, with his chrome dome and erudite tones - blew the smoke off his gun, and retired to the shadows.

Dowie's sacking yesterday evening (not yesterday morning, causing one blogger to fire one of his sources late this afternoon) kicked off 24 hours that changed Charlton Athletic forever - hours that could determine the future, or even the future existence, of our club. Like most Charlton fans, I was stunned this time yesterday. And I still can't quite come to terms with what's happened.

So what do we know?

- Dowie was fired in a telephone call from Murray at six o'clock yesterday evening, following an internal review of the management structure's performance.

- Richard Murray in a statement issued on Tuesday: "In the situation we find ourselves in, it is also vital that everyone works as a team. Unfortunately, I have to say that has not been the case."

- Peter Varney, to the press this afternoon: "This is not just about results. You hear things internally and you also bear in mind the performances on the pitch and the preparation for matches.

"People will look at it as a mistake now but we interviewed who we thought was the best candidate for the job and backed him financially. This club has the highest wage bill that it has ever had in its history. And there is an element of what Iain said in his interview which didn't happen in reality."

Iain Dowie himself has not commented, although Varney told Sky Sports News that the former head coach had taken the news badly. You can't blame him - he only lasted 15 games, and it must be a devastating blow for a man who prides himself on his motivational techniques, and who'd won over many sceptical fans with his positive attitude. He now finds his reputation shattered.

But something had clearly gone seriously wrong. Varying reports claimed there were dressing-room bust-ups, disagreements with general manager Andrew Mills, and a failure to consult with Richard Murray. Some of this has to be mischief-making - Simon Jordan's ubiquity last night suggests a source. But there clearly was some truth to those earlier reports, even if it didn't include a night at TGI Friday's with Luke Young.

What exactly went wrong, we'll clearly have to wait to find out, if only out of respect to the departed. We don't know if the terms of Dowie's exit commit him to silence, or if we've had to cough up £2.5m as the Belfast Telegraph claims.

Because it all comes down to money - the mind-boggling sums we'd lose out on if we go down, for a start, mean survival stakes are higher than ever in the Premiership. Anyone who thinks relegation would do us good need only look across London. Remember QPR? And that was before the Premiership gap really started to widen.

And the man who, every year, makes sure we're not a Hoops-style basket case, is the same one who pulled the trigger. Richard Murray has invested millions in Charlton, and has staked his own reputation on persuading others to do the same. The stability he's brought to the club means we've been sheltered from the turbulence which surrounds us in the Premiership.

It can't have been easy for Murray to sack Dowie - remember, we were close to appointing Billy Davies before Dowie left Crystal Palace. Because, after all, it's an admission that he got it wrong. Just like the other Premiership chairmen keep on getting it wrong. Only a fool would think Murray acted hastily.

But now his reputation's going to be on the line for the rest of the season. We have to have faith in his decision - and in Les Reed, the man many wanted to have the top job in the first place.

A week shy of 24 years ago, we sacked a manager after 15 games, and replaced him with a man who became one of our greatest-ever managers. This past 24 hours has seen a similar turning point. If Les Reed can save our season, he'll be up there with Lennie in the panthenon of the greats. For that reason alone, he deserves our full-hearted, full-throated backing.

And with our trip to Reading having sold out today, after the traumatic 24 hours we've had, hopefully it's a sign that better times are around the corner.

Iain Dowie in his own words

"The easy option would have been not to have come here. We've got to push for top halves, and push for Europe - I want to bring youn talent to the club, develop young players we've got here, put out a side with energy and drive that also plays attractive football." - upon being appointed, 30 May.

"I want to build a young exciting team at Charlton around individuals like Darren who have a great desire to play for the club and are desperate to learn, to develop their game and to achieve success with the club." - on securing a new deal with Darren Bent , 18 July.

"You've got to be close, tight-knit, like a big family - and that's hopefully what we're going to achieve here."
- before the Millwall friendly, 20 July.

"You always want to win games and you should expect to go and beat Welling but football is like that. If there was a lack of effort, desire or a lack of people trying to pass the ball then I would be concerned - and that wasn't the Charlton first team out there." - after losing to Welling, 2 August.

"I want us to be an ultra-competitive side that plays with honesty, integrity and no mean amount of enjoyment by getting the ball down and playing. That is our minimum requirement, that we are competitive in every game and hopefully that will get us some results." - before the West Ham match, 18 August.

"Are we disappointed with the result? Absolutely. Are we disappointed with the performance? No." - after losing to West Ham, 19 August.

"We've had a disappointing start to the season but we have to get on with it and try and dig ourselves out of this hole.” - after losing to Aston Villa, 23 September.

"It's easy to look back and have recriminations but that's not the way I manage; I want to be positive. Whoever replaced Alan [Curbishley] was going to be under extra pressure. It would have been easier for me to go somewhere else but that's not the way I am. I've taken this on and I'll face it head on. I've never run away from a challenge in my life." - 28 September

"If there are any brickbats to be thrown, throw them at me. I understand that's going to happen because of the position we're in. But I always keep believing. I'm a believer that always sees the good in people." - after losing to Fulham, 16 October

"We've got lots of good players, we've just got to get the blend right. We've got to go to Newcastle now and get a result and I believe we will do that. I believe in these players." - after drawing with Watford, 21 October

"I've had some great letters from Charlton fans, saying they're enjoying watching the football, but not the results. People pay good money to come and watch and we want them to go away with a smile on their face.”" - 3 November.

"We're not there yet and there's still plenty of work to be done, but we're certainly improving and two wins and three draws in five games underlines that.” - 9 November.

"We've come away from home and got beaten again and it's starting to hurt me." - after the Wigan defeat, 11 November.

Dowie: The morning after

A sleepless night, and then... "Five Live understands Glenn Hoddle is being lined up to replace Iain Dowie at Charlton..." NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

What the papers say:

The Independent: Inevitably, stories started to circulate of player unhappiness. Only four turned up to what was claimed to be a bonding session - but that was mischievous as it took place during an international week and was far from an organised night out. Nevertheless there were grumblings at Dowie's methods even if some staff at the club believed he was a breath of fresh air. Dawn swimming sessions, boxing and hour after hour of video analysis were new to Charlton. And because the team were losing the methods brought in were questioned.

The Times: It never promised to be easy for Dowie to follow Curbishley, but he did not endear himself to many within the club. Not every player took to his distinctive ideas, which included using sleds loaded with weights and hauling them up grassy slopes, and one member of the backroom staff was persuaded by the board not to offer his resignation because of his unhappiness with Dowie. A long injury list has not helped, but there have been question marks about some of the signings and their transfer values.

The Guardian:
Dowie's mobile phone was switched off after the announcement that made him the first managerial casualty of the Premiership season. Indeed, it only became clear that Dowie had been sacked when the club's chairman, Richard Murray, expanded on the statement when contacted last night. "It was our decision, that is all I can add," he said.

Neither the Charlton chief executive, Peter Varney, nor the general manager, Andrew Mills, would return calls to explain how the decision had been reached. Sources suggest the mood at the training ground has been more upbeat than in the final seasons of Alan Curbishley's near-15-year tenure.

Telegraph: The swiftness of Charlton's decision will be seen as a major surprise at the Valley. Supporters had not yet turned on the former Northern Ireland international and were prepared to give the new man a chance.

But it is understood that Charlton's board, led by chairman Richard Murray and chief executive Peter Varney, felt they could not afford to risk putting off a decision until it was too late to salvage the south London club's season.

Mirror: While there is no question of Curbishley parachuting back into The Valley, the front-runner to replace Dowie is the man Charlton initially wanted last summer - Derby boss Billy Davies. Cardiff boss Dave Jones, who has steered the Welsh club to the top of the Championship, is also understood to be on the shortlist.

Another possible candidate, who has topflight experience and is desperate to get back into management, is Graeme Souness.

One other option from within Dowie's squad is former Republic of Ireland midfielder Matt Holland.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dowie out - so what's the story?

Well, blimey. "Iain Dowie has tonight left Charlton," trilled my phone half-an-hour ago. So instead of sitting in a Hammersmith pub, contemplating a evening watching The Flaming Lips at the Apollo, I'm sat on an internet terminal in a video shop, with the slowest connection possible, trying to work out just what the hell is going on.

Could be worse, I suppose, I could be watching Sky Sports News go ballistic on it - especially now I've just heard the Tango Man is gloating and calling our board "gutless".

All Quiet In The East Stand understands Dowie's contract was termimated this morning. Despite his morose comments after the Wigan game, it's unlikely he'll have walked out on us a this early stage. Richard Murray is unlikely to have sacked him at this stage on football reasons alone.

So is it something outside football? The forthcoming court case with Simon Jordan has been a distraction - and according to statements issued by Charlton earlier this season, the club's lawyers have been involved in the case. Is it something to do with that? A statement will be issued tomorrow, but I suspect we may discover more below the DOWIE SACKED banner headlines tomorrow morning. For now, all is speculation.

And just who will we have as boss? A fairytale return for Curbs would delight the sentimental, but remember the rot set in under his watch. Is the way now clear for the Pardew conspiracy theorists to be proved correct? Heaven knows.

But, for the second time in six months, our club's in flux again. We seem to have that Chinese curse about "interesting times" all over us at the moment. I just hope our players respond in the right way at Reading.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Hope and fear

Wycombe at home in the League Cup, but defeat to Wigan at a wet and windy JJB Stadium. From optimism to gloom in one short afternoon. And a strange feeling for me, since this is the third Charlton match on the trot I haven't seen! Thank heavens I'm off to Reading next weekend to get back in the picture again.

Firstly, the cup draw - Wycombe at home sounds easy, but they've a good record as Cup conquerors and they'd be looking to expand on that. The match isn't until the week before Christmas, so at least there's a bit of time for us to build up a bit of optimism.

From what I heard of the Wigan game, it sounded as if we had a dreadful first half, but got right back into in the second half. It's hard to know just what to say, though, when you're told yet again that we played well, but couldn't get a win. Not quite back to square one, because it was always going to be a difficult match, but a depressing sense of deja vu's kicking in here. And when are our midfield players going to start scoring?

Still, good news down the road - Dartford moved back home for the first time in 14 years today, kicking off at Princes Park with a 4-2 win over Horsham YMCA. Let's hope we can get down there one day soon and give them a friendly.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Bring on Southend!

Sod it, I don't care that it went to penalties, we're through to the 5th round of the League Cup for the first time, in what was probably our most important win of the season - beating fading stars like Manchester City is all well and good, but going to a side like Chesterfield who play good football, have nothing to lose and who are going to be in your face all night, and squeaking past them, is arguably the most important achievement so far from the team that Iain Dowie has put together.

The view from the back of a car on the M1 (ta, Rothko) is that we should have sealed the win in extra time, blowing chances and eventually letting in a third goal from a set piece. Also news of Iain Dowie being abused by someone in the crowd after our manager lobbed his jacket into the crowd after the game, and Dowie giving back as good as he got.

I'm pleased Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink finally started to show some value by scoring twice - but missing a penalty? Maybe it'll put that ego in check the next time he tries to criticise one of his teammates.

Onwards and upwards, hopefully - and interesting to note the fortunes of two ex-Addicks tonight, with Jamal Campbell-Ryce playing well in Southend's fantastic win over Manchester United, and Danny Shittu scoring for Watford (and Scott Parker equalising) in their defeat on penalties to our fellow basement dwellers Newcastle, who will also take great hope from their win.

The draw's on Saturday - fancy a trip to Roots Hall? Thought not... but before then, have we really turned the corner? Wigan will provide a stern test.

Lennie's a City Addick

Former manager Lennie Lawrence is the guest at the next City Addicks meeting, which is being held at the City Tavern off Cheapside on 16 November. Lennie's now director of football at Bristol Rovers, and is coming up especially for the meeting. 6.30pm start, upstairs bar. A mystery ex-player is also on the bill.

Of course, this clashes with the club's Q&A session with Iain Dowie, Les Reed and Mark Robson, announced on Saturday and to be held at The Valley on the same evening. The City Addicks gang announced the date of their next meeting a month back, and they're pretty sore about the clash of dates - justifiably so, in my opinion.

Shame, really, because with a near-dead supporters' club, they're among the few people who've really put effort into doing things for fans, and they deserve better treatment than this, as well as an explanation as to why the club's chosen a date which clashes with theirs.

Chesterfield tonight, I'm not going, but making sure the Spirites don't make it a hat-trick of Premiership scalps will be another massive lift for us. Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Supporters' director shock

After his little run-in with the leader of Greenwich Council, supporters' director Ben Hayes has decided to consolidate his position as Charlton's Mr Controversy by going on a speaking tour of Ireland. Did anyone see him at Saturday's game, at all? I thought not.

Thanks to Stuart for minding the shop while I was away this weekend - cracking goal, wasn't it? And what a miss from Hasselbaink, which sent the hotel air blue as I watched the RTE highlights. Let's hope the tide keeps turning.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A glimpse of what we've missed?

Charlton 1 - Man City 0

Proper match reports:, BBC Sport, The Observer, Currant Bun.

Well, well, well. It was bitten fingernails time at the Valley as Charlton sneaked past Citeh by a single L'il Bent goal.

On reflection though it shouldn't have to be like this. For all the blues trudging back to the station whining about having 'been robbed', Charlton could and should have had the game wrapped up in the first half. Openings came and went, but we couldn't build on a one goal advantage. And then, inevitably, we began to brick it as we saw the winning post in sight.

Mr Dowie, sum it all up for me please: "I would say that for 70 minutes we performed well. We passed the ball very well in the first half and caused them no end of problems, but when we sniffed victory about 20 minutes from the end we stepped off a bit and invited pressure."

We're hardly out of the woods, but the performance showed much of what we've missed of late. We tackled and defended our box like our lives depended on it. Scott Carson's saves were amazing. We had a cutting edge and some true flair in the shape of Andy 'Tank' Reid. Matty Holland put in another committed performance, earning a hearty slap on the back from Mr Dowie towards the end of the game.

Yeah the performance was far from perfect. We gave the ball away by trying to do too much and we're still shot shy. But even when the lads looked lost, Lady luck, not seen in SE7 for months, donned her Joma kit to protect the precious points.

But all in all the team earned what to me is the sweetest football chant of all: "We're proud of you".

Speaking of chants, the nerves seemed to bring out the best in the faithful, who played their part with a great Valley atmosphere. It might not be Christmas yet but there was even a pantomime villain in Nicky Weaver (oh how he must regret his antics in front of the covered end all those years ago).

So we're on the up and everyone's pulling in the right direction. I don't even care that Watford and Sheffield United won too. They dragged two more sides into the mire with us. If the Arse can smash Wet Spam we've got our own basement mini-league to work with. Add in Citeh too. And with 'high-flying' Reading shipping goals alarmingly, they're welcome to join in. We'll take you all on.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Big game previews

Another must-win, relegation-six-pointer, 'gotta win your home games, Richard' morning of sport broadcasting looms.

I won't be watching. Being a Charlton fan seems to come with an in-built scepticism to the footie media, but normally I'm straight to the back-pages of the paper to see the latest.

Our current situation has finished all that. I don't want to know what hacks and pundits have to say about Charlton, why we're in the doo-doo and how we can get out of it.

It's got to the stage where I physically avoid anything that has football in it. I don't know the top-six in the Premiership. I don't know the bottom-six (well I know one). I don't talk about football with fans of other clubs. I have no view on whether ManUre can win the title or Liverpool's rotation system. I watched ten minutes of Barcelona vs Chelsea before turning off.

The only time I feel safe to talk about football is with other Addicks. Part of it is that misery loves company - like when you wallow in a hangover if your mates feel as rough as you.

But there's a seige mentality too. Everyone has a view or a 'told you so' sneer. But its our business. We'll sort it out together like we always have done.

Am I alone in feeling this way? I see fear in our play and nerves in the stands. I want to see us circle the wagons.

Help yourself. Help your fellow fans. Get to a game. Cheer. Don't boo. Talk to a bloke at the ground you've never spoken to before. Tell your non-Charlton mates you believe. Pick a bookies and put 50p, a pound, ten pounds on Charlton to beat the drop. Make us odds-on favourites to get out of this mess.

Its gonna take a big squad to get us safe. Are you part of it?