Friday, March 31, 2006

Operation now you tell us!

For some of us, it came a week late...

Charlton fans will descend on Teesside by road, rail and air as part of Operation Riverside for the club's FA Cup quarter-final replay against Middlesbrough. (more)

A £50 plane? Two free trains? With this generosity, you are spoiling us, Mr Murray! A brave and thoughtful move by the club to try to shift our 5,000 allocation for the Boro replay.

Now, hands up who spent cash on train tickets and hotel rooms last week, blissfully unaware the club had this up their sleeve? It's a wonderful gesture, but... couldn't we have had a hint last week?

Oh well, at least I can have a drink on my train...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Chelsea's Dome firm deal

Remember the rumours a year back that Anschutz, the US corporation which is now redeveloping the Dome, was planning to invest in Charlton? Well, AEG has signed a deal, but across the other side of town...

Chelsea have announced a link-up with AEG, the group that own or operate the franchise for four clubs in the USA's Major Soccer League.

The agreement will come into effect in the summer of 2007 and Chelsea will have a special relationship with MLS champions LA Galaxy.

Chelsea will have first option to sign LA players and loan them youngsters.

It could come to nothing, of course - much-trumpted foreign tie-ups have a habit of coming to very little, as Charlton found with our Inter Milan deal. That horrible little runt Peter "please love us" Kenyon calls it "a unique, ground-breaking relationship", so that could be a sign...

As commuters at North Greenwich station can't miss, Anschutz already have a working presence on Charlton's doorstep, at the David Beckham Academy. (Get ready for "2 + 2 = Beckham to Chelsea".) Whatever happens, they'd better make sure Roman's rouble boys leave this patch well alone.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The people's pigeon

News from the Netaddicks board:

Following its exploits on Sunday it seems the Valley pigeon is no more.

I was told by a steward at the reserve game that he was still hanging around the pitch on Monday morning (obviously a not very well bird) and was subsequently picked off by some kind of hawk. Must have been a sitting target I suppose.

He is now, alas, in that great pigeon loft in the sky!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Telly Addicks on top

A bit late with this, but BBC2's coverage of Charlton v Middlesbrough on Thursday pulled in an average of 4.2 million viewers, and was actually the country's top-rated programme between 9pm and 10pm, beating ITV1's Footballers' Wives and BBC1's The Family Man. Not bad for a no-score draw.

A bit of an ex-Charlton reunion at White Hart Lane tonight, where Danny Murphy was a late sub as Spurs stumbled to a win over West Brom. Up in the gantry summarising for Radio Five Live was Dean Kiely, who actually doesn't sound at all bad as a pundit. In yesterday's Sunday Times he spoke (again) of his bitterness over the way he was treated by Charlton - "Would it have happened to Shay Given at Newcastle or (Jussi) Jaaskelainen at Bolton or (Brad) Friedel at Blackburn? I don’t think so." Raging against the dying of the light, or justified anger? He's got six weeks to prove it. Otherwise he'll be back up on that gantry a lot more.

Planet Parker, and other media tales

All Quiet In The East Stand hit its second birthday last week. Remember what the world was like before 23 March 2004? Nobody was writing Charlton blogs then. I wasn't struggling to hold on to the English language while trying to knock out some impressions of games after spending hours in the pub. Forever Charlton was a list of news stories and match reports. The world was a peaceful place.

We'd just played Newcastle, and we were just getting over losing Scott Parker to Chelsea. Fast foward two years, and we were playing the Toon again, while the anger felt at Parker's move was finally vented.

Not, of course, that the media understands.

In the programme and on the pre-match video Curbishley had praised Parker for his contribution to the club - not least for the funds his transfer released. This did not prevent some gormless Charlton supporters chanting: "There's only one greedy bastard." (more)

Gormless, eh? That was Guardian scribe Paul Weaver's take on yesterday's game. Now, what's not being discussed here is the rights and wrongs of Parker's move. That was done two years ago. But what always amazes me is how the media - and the game itself - remains stubbornly ignorant of anything real fans may think.

I mean, how dare Charlton fans boo a player who refused to play for their club as soon as Peter Kenyon started waving fivers under his nose! They should have been grateful Parker even bothered to return to their mucky little ground! They're only fans, they've no right to express an opinion!

The Graun has form in this - check this out from February 2004: "There is barely a Charlton supporter alive who would have shunned the rewards that he has been offered. Their bitterness is based on envy and small-mindedness." I actually complained and had this patronising reply from reporter David Hopps on why he stuck that line in a Chelsea-Blackburn report: "It is about time that football controlled its more fascistic tendencies and protested with a measure of decency. Sometimes it can be important to read what you don't want to hear."

Sit down, shut up, don't complain. Of course, time has shown Parker's transfer to be one of the most disastrous transfers an English player has made. He barely got a game for Chelsea, while he completely crashed out of the England squad. He still hasn't really recovered from his period in the wilderness, while he alienated a large number of fans at his former club thanks to the move's bad timing. He may well prove to be the only memory of Graeme Souness' reign Newcastle fans will cherish, and he should be in the England squad now. Moves made from greed, such as Parker's to Chelsea, are rarely fruitful.

We're at an earlier stage of the Parker process with Shaun Wright-Philips. He should still be banging them in for Manchester City. But somehow he's no more than an intermittent part of the Chelsea diving team, with a dim chance of being on the plane to Germany. Yet SWP's move is another one treated as inevitable, and not what it really is, which is proof that Chelsea's desire to buy trinkets from other Premiership clubs is going to harm the England team, if it hasn't done so already.

The jeering Parker got should stand as a warning to England's best young players - the move which pays the most money may not be the best move in the long run. Even if the fans' anger is misguided, players should have to face a rocky ride if they alienate supporters. Because without fans turning up, they wouldn't be able to earn thousands living their own personal dreams.

Players live in enough of a bubble as it is without journalists sticking up for them. The fans don't answer back, though - so they take the stick while players' foolish moves are cheered by the media - whatever damage they may do to the national side. Player are only human - so why aren't supporters allowed to be?

Charlton 3-1 Newcastle

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sporting Life, Sky Sports,, The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Newcastle Evening Chronicle,

Cup hangover? No way. The energy from Thursday's tie against Middlesbrough was put to good use against Newcastle at The Valley, with a tense yet open game resulting in a win for Charlton. The noise from the stands against Boro returned against the Toon Army, helping a tight and organised Charlton team to three points.

The stand-out points for me? Simply our organisation. Not sexy, not exciting, and we still struggled to get the ball up to Darren Bent, while poor Marcus Bent seemed cursed with having act as a climbing frame for Newcastle players while he couldn't quite get a decent shot on goal. Indeed, it wasn't until subs Rommedahl and Bothroyd combined until the end of the game that we sealed the victory and eased our nerves - credit to Curbs.

Scott Parker's departure seems an age away now - but as soon as it seemed the smattering of boos were affecting the former Chelsea trinket, the jeers grew louder and louder until... the little sod scored probably the best goal we'll see all season (remember Southampton away a few years back?)

No doubt there'll be debate over whether he deserved the stick he got, but I still can't forgive the torpedo he delivered to our 2003/2004 season. After all, if you quit your boss to go and work (unsuccessfully) for a bigger firm in a move you knew would end in tears, would you expect your past employer to look kindly upon your future endeavours?

Mind you, Lee Bowyer's own goal was a reminder that there's one old boy who's likely to be returning to The Valley next season. As for our opponents - whose yellow shirt numbers rendered their non-household names unrecognisable - the post-Souness Newcastle seems like a sensitive artist. Odd flashes of inspiration - Ameobi in particular was a first-half worry - followed by deep troughs of self-doubt.

There's a "build your own world-beaters" kit ready to be completed somewhere, but whether anybody will have the brains to finish the Barcodes puzzle off is another matter altogether. Perhaps once the Shearer ego's lifted they'll get their act together.

Still, man of the match was that pigeon, which parked itself in the north-east corner, invited friends over, and didn't leave. Definitely more of a presence than the cat which appeared in a game against Blackburn in 1999, and he definitely gave us a bigger laugh.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Eyes on the prize

An season-ticket cut and a possible semi-final in the Cup against West Ham? Ah yeah, just another quiet news day.

I really don't want to think about the semi (I don't even care where it is yet) because we've three weeks to go to the replay at Middlesbrough - don't want to tempt fate and all that. Early indications from internet chatter suggests we'll take a decent number to the north-east - including myself, because I've just managed to swap a bit of work around.

But of course, it's an amazing chance to get our first proper final in gawd-knows-how long. Especially now the media's written us off (Sky Sports News salivating over the Hammers, big-nosed Phil Thompson going off on one about Middlesbrough) - it's a good chance to tell them to shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

But that's all in the future. We've still got to beat the Boro first. And they'll be tough nuts to crack, judging by their defence last night. I actually gained a bit of a sneaking respect for them. Should be a good game up there, too. Now, change at where on the trains?

In the meantime, to remind us there are other things than the Cup, the board's decided to bring in a new price structure for season tickets, cutting or freezing tickets, and making tickets at the end of the east and west stands cheaper than those above the half-way lone. They're also slashing tickets for under-21s, a fantastic idea. There's no five-year tickets from now on, though - but the price cuts have got to be paid for from somewhere. It's a brave gesture, and the board deserves full credit for this. I hope their faith in the fans is repaid.

We support our local team

While Charlton prepared to play Boro last night, what was London's only evening paper promoting?

The Sub-Standard - always backing London football.

Pains on the trains and the Tubes

A quick warning if you're travelling from anywhere by rail or tube to the Newcastle game on Sunday.

Lack of trains: There's no service between Plumstead and Dartford on Sunday, with just two trains each hour (instead of the usual six) running between Charing Cross (departing at 01 and 31 past each hour), Charlton and Plumstead.

The trains that would usually run from Gillingham and Gravesend to Charlton are being diverted and will stop additionally at Eltham, Blackheath and Lewisham - my advice would be to take one of those, hop off at Blackheath and get a 54, 89 or 380 towards Charlton. Or you could get 161 from Eltham to Woolwich Common and walk from there if you're feeling brave.

Lack of tubes: There's no Jubilee Line through central London all weekend - it's only running from Waterloo to Stratford on this side of town. The Bakerloo Line will fill in if you're heading through town. This usually means they cut back on the number of trains too, so be patient if you're going via North Greenwich.

And don't forget the clocks go forward, making a 2pm kick-off seem even earlier. The weather's due to be wet as well, so steel yourself!

Charlton 0-0 Middlesbrough

Not sure what to make of that - two sides giving it their all but not having the final touch when it mattered. But what an atmosphere tonight - the best I've heard in a couple of years at The Valley. The Covered End choirs deserve our thanks. Up in the silent heights of the East Stand, I'd partaken of a few whiskys to loosen the midweek vocal chords. I don't think I was the only one.

But it was all sober effort on the pitch, Charlton dominating the first half but never making it work where it counted - getting it up to Darren Bent. Mark Schwarzer made a few great saves, but despite some fantastic teamwork - Kish once again the engine of our midfield - we couldn't make it count where it mattered.

Whereas Boro were good at going forwards. They just couldn't score for toffee, and gave Thomas Mhyre a relatively quiet night.

Things were a but more cautious in the second half - a few "same old Charlton" faults crept in, while Boro looked stronger than ever in defence. Swapping Kish for Dennis Rommedahl gave us potential pace but actually slowed the game down. Will Boro be happier with the replay than us? Who knows. But tonight was something to be proud of for Charlton - we didn't do it on the field, but we live to fight another cup tie and we're in the hat for tomorrow (12.55pm, BBC1). Now, who's going to be crawling to their bosses in the morning?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A call to arms

There's been big days in the past few years at Charlton. But since our promotion, they haven't come bigger than this. The sixth round of the FA Cup. At home. To Middlesbrough - strong, but beatable opposition.

Over the past few weeks, any twerp will have noticed that All Quiet In The East Stand has not been the most chipper of websites. We know there are serious failings in our team - it's obvious to all. Yes, we know Matt Holland and Bryan Hughes aren't the most inspiring of midfielders. But who was it they helped beat in the League Cup at Stamford Bridge? The pressure will be on Darren Bent to perform - on his own or alongside Bothroyd (or Bartlett?). Kish will need to have an "on" day. Whatever our defence shapes up as, it's got be able to work together.

But what the side needs is our support. And it needs it badly. We know there's discord off the pitch too. We've hit growing pains as we mature as a top-flight club. But that's no excuse not to get behind the team.

This game represents a turning point in Charlton's Premiership history. Will we have something to show for six seasons in the top flight? We need fear nobody who remains in the competition - we've seen off West Ham, beaten Chelsea and embarrassed Liverpool. Only Middlesbrough stand in our way of a day out which could lead to something even the oldest, most bitter moaner would love to see.

So get behind the team. (If you're not going and can make it, go. 3,400 tickets remained on sale on Wednesday lunchtime.) There's no excuse not to. And if we go one-nil down, if we screw it up early on, shout louder. We can't afford to give this up.

Whatever happens tonight, we need to be able to look back on tonight with pride. If we boo, or if we're silent, there's no way we'll be able to do that. So put your all behind us tonight. Let's be part of history. Come on you Addicks!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Away support - a way ahead?

The poor away support at Highbury's already generated a lot of heat - especially when I steam onto messageboards at 3am after a night on the Guinness, ahem - but a little bit of light has been provided by Netaddicks and All Quiet regular Rothko.

It's an old chestnut, but there's something in it. Anybody who's ever visited the City of Manchester Stadium will know two things. One, they sell cider in the bars. Yum. Secondly, Manchester City uses smartcards instead of our crappy old paper tickets. If you've not been, they're like the Oystercards used on London buses and the Tube - away fans even get issued with them.

It means ticket sales are less fiddly - tap at the website or give Citeh a call, your card gets authorised for that game. The club has a record of your season ticket, your away games, your cup games - everything you do with the club. Which means they can have... loyalty points.

Go to a home game, you get 10 loyalty points. Attend a crap cup game, you get more. Go away, you get more points, Go to a fiddly away game, you rack up more away points. And so on.

So when it comes to ticket sales for away games, priority is given to those with high numbers of loyalty points. Loyalty card holders with 2,500 points get first dibs at their trip to Spurs, followed by those with 2,200 points, and so on.

If we had such a scheme in place for Saturday's game at Highbury, it's fair to say the once-a-season mob wouldn't have got a look in. It'd make sales for games where we have a reduced allocation a lot less fraught. A loyalty scheme would allow fans to prove their commitment to the cause - who knows, it might make fans feel they've got a relationship with the club beyond that of the passive consumer.

With the five-year season tickets coming to an end this season (I'm among those who are wondering whether a new five-year ticket would be worth it) and many people questioning their commitment to Valley Gold, it's time the club reviewed the relationship it has with its fans. The current arrangements reward an initial financial outlay rather than the costly, and more mundane, habit of following us home and away. A loyalty system might help the club's more dedicated fans get a proper reward for their backing. After the Highbury fiasco, it's got to be worth a try.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Arsenal 3-0 Charlton

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

A washed-out Charlton were frozen out by an outrageously good Arsenal side on our final visit to a chilly Highbury. A Charlton flag attached to the Emirates Stadium could have been a good omen, but in the end we were lucky not to leave humilated. I've no complaints with the result, we looked out of sorts and Thierry Henry was in sensational form, setting up Robert Pires' opener and staying at the heart of all the Gunners' best moves. Frankly, they were a bloody joy to watch and I'll be amazed if they don't claw their way back into the Champions League places.

Unfortunately, our players were also in awe of the skill on offer - apart from a lively opening 60 seconds or so, we were permanently under the cosh and mostly shy at going forward, Jerome Thomas in particular coming up short going forward, although he did defend well when needed. We played a 4-5-1 formation for the first half and seemed ill-at-ease with it, JT and Dennis Rommedahl returning to give us pace to match the Arsenal gazelles, but somehow the plan didn't really come off, with errors punished mercilessly by our opponents. Frankly, Arsenal could have beaten anybody today, and I'm more impressed by their abilities today than our deficiencies.

In any case, our appalling away crowd got the result it deserved. I don't have a huge track record of away support, but I do know that a visit to another London club should be more raucous than the dour, mute support from our corner of the Clock End. A staggering proportion of senior citizens and "SIDDDAAAHN!" moaners (I actually turned around and told one to shut up), who'd managed to get tickets ahead of anybody with any passion for the game. Another fan reported large numbers of non-Charlton fans - how did they get tickets? - and another sad he was chided by fellow "fans" for swearing! I'm more ashamed of our support today than anything our players did on the pitch - however limited our abilities were this afternoon, they deserved much more than they got today.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Nag nag nag

I've a lot of time for Sir Reg Varney. But I really wish he'd abandon his habit of preaching to Charlton fans - especially when many are questioning whether life as a mid-table Premiership club is all that it's cracked up to be...

Charlton chief executive Peter Varney is urging Addicks season-ticket holders to take up their places for this month's FA Cup quarter-final clash against Middlesbrough.

Club officials have thus far been disappointed by ticket sales for the Valley game on Thursday, March 23rd (8.05pm) - which could see the club reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 1947.

Sales have reached 20,000 (including Boro sales of 2,000) - which doesn't seem too bad in my book, with a week to go until the game. But instead, we're in for a telling off from the headmaster...

To be at this number almost a week before a match that could see the team progress to the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in more than 50 years is hugely disappointing," he said.

Well, Reg, that's the way to lift spirits, isn't it? There's even a desperate line in the story about weather conditions being expected to improve by next Thursday, although my forecast predicts rain. Whoops. Best hit that 10p-a-minute phone line quickly, eh? If you must treat fans as customers, never take them for granted.

Oh well. Speaking of Boro, congratulations to the smoggies for getting through to the Uefa Cup's quarter finals. Hopefully this will ensure they'll be suitably distracted - they'll be playing on Sundays and Thursdays for at least a couple more weeks yet. Mind you, if their fixture list is bad - West Ham suddenly have 6,000 tickets to shift for their away tie at Man City on Monday night, and they've got a league game against Portsmouth to come on Saturday too. I don't even want to think what would happen if we were in their shoes!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Smertin's farewell

Despite the angry words flying around after Alexei Smertin's departure, he seems to have warm words for us on his website,

"I think Charlton have every chance of beating Middlesborough and getting through to the semi-final of the FA cup. - I learnt different things from all the managers I worked with including Mourinho and Curbishley. The Charlton fans are real enthusiasts and gave me a warm welcome from the first, for which I was very grateful."

Thanks to the All Quiet reader who sent me the translation. But Richard Murray is still fuming...

"No words can adequately express how angry and disappointed we are that the player felt unable to honour his obligations to us, especially with so many important games coming up." (more)

The more pertinent question is, of course, why the hell did we sign him on loan in the first place if an early departure was going to be a possibility? It all seems a little odd to complain when we must have entered this deal with our eyes open.

Anyhow, that's all in the past. Also on his way out - reserves boss Glynn Snodin, off to resurrect South Coast jokers Southampton. With many of our younger players being shown the door this summer, I wonder if he's got his eye on taking a few down there?

Here's a thought-provoking Netaddicks thread - would it really be a tragedy if we went down? The turmoil Southampton find themselves in would suggest otherwise, but it's an interesting read nonetheless.

Stand up if you love Charlton

An appeal for help from Stand Up Sit Down, which is campaigning for standing to be reintroduced at football matches.

Stand Up Sit Down are at the stage where we need to take advantage of the momentum that has been building of late. We arranged a successful Yellow Card protest at West Ham last week, Crystal Palace, Leeds and Man Utd are talking about organising similar in the coming weeks. Furthermore, we've had our biggest expansion in membership over the past couple of weeks as we've had in a year.

What we need now is more people on board enabling us to move on and move on faster. There are currently just two of us behind SUSD (plus a website administrator), and while we wouldn’t go so far as to say "we’ve created a monster", the pair of us cannot do as much as we’d like and as we both work full time our efforts are confined to what free time we have meaning we’re not making as much progress as perhaps we could with more people active behind the scenes.

You may already be involved with your own supporter driven initiative but even if you can offer us an hour a week, your time would be invaluable. Obviously, if you can give us more time we’re not going to say no!

We need help in the following areas:

• Administering our membership
• Getting more media awareness
• Writing to various authorities using the Freedom of Information Act to see if we can unearth information we can use to our advantage
• Spreading the word on websites
• Organising protests at your club
• General raising of awareness
• Letter writing to MPs, clubs etc
• Anything else you can think of…

If you can help us, please reply letting me know your name, the club you support and what you feel you can offer. I’ll then reply to you all with details of who can do what and with a co-ordinated plan and then we can really move forward with Stand Up Sit Down.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Vive Le Revolution!

Peter Caton & Amanda Matthews

Monday, March 13, 2006

Charlton 2-1 Middlesbrough

What a difference a little Bent makes. Remember when we had strikers who couldn't be arsed? Darren Bent's conversion of a fabulous Chris Powell header in the 72nd minute, and his poking-in of a ball from Luke Young just before the end of today's game showed the class of our best signing in years. Seriously, what would we do without him?

Otherwise, it was hard work which won us an even game against a side we'll come up against in the Cup next week, and whose minds were probably on another date in another cup in Rome this week. Thomas Myhre pulled off some fabulous saves, Kish worked his arse off as ever, while Curbs showed a bit of tactical nous by getting rid of Jay Bothroyd and Bryan Hughes and replacing them with a lively Jason Euell and an even livelier Jerome Thomas, whose energy probably sparked us off on our way to victory.

Mark Viduka's equaliser for Boro was a beauty, and they were as industrious as you'd expect a Boro side to be. What happens between our two teams next Thursday may well depend on what they do in Rome this Wednesday. A bloody good three points for us today - but our season - and maybe Boro's - will be judged on what happens on the 23rd.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bear craps in the woods - EXCLUSIVE!

So Alan Curbishley has had a little chat with Brian Barwick about the England job. Big deal. The real story would have been if the Scouser with the 'tache hadn't got on the blower to Curbs, and the two hadn't met. But this is the national press on the England team, where it's simply not possible to be anal enough. It's a reminder that, especially after Sven's bedroom antics, the new England manager will be pursued by an army of snappers wherever they go, which would be enough to put most sane Englishmen off the job.

As I've said before, I doubt the next England manager will be Curbs, due to his lack of international experience and since his bad man-management lets him down. However, the FA could accomodate this in the same way Curbs allows for this at Charlton with Keith Peacock acting as the "go-between" between the players and the boss. However, that's England's problem, and we've enough of our own to be bothered with.

Alexei Smertin has finally slung his hook, with Sky claiming he criticised us for a lack of ambition. Easy to say when you've spent the past few years doing not a lot at the behest of a billionaire, and it'd be dim to read too much into something that could be just a poor translation. Any Russian Addicks are invited to look at Smertin's website for clues.

However, "lack of ambition" is going to strike a chord with many of the disaffected. Especially when you look over the water and West Ham doing so well under Alan Pardew, a man whose management style Steve Brown has called "refreshing". Whatever happens in the summer, we need to have a more positive mindset.

Positivity can go in both directions - as Kish reminds us in an interview with the South London Press.

I hear some of the Charlton fans boo me at The Valley - but I don't know why. I always try my very hardest in every game." (more)

Hopefully the boo-bores will stay at home for today's match with Middlesbrough. That said, if it's a 4th 0-0 draw in a row, I'm going to run off and join the circus.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(Is this the way to) be a laughing stock

Tony Christie? Singing (Is This The Way To) Amarillo before the Middlesbrough FA Cup game? Surely an early April Fool joke?

Charlton fans have been singing it in the Avenues And Alleyways of SE7 throughout the season, now the man that made (Is This The Way To) Amarillo? famous is coming to The Valley to join in the chorus.

Tony Christie will perform his massive hit on the pitch before the Addicks take on Middlesbrough with a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup at stake on Thursday, March 23rd (8.05pm).

Whoever thought of this idea should get out of our club now. Amarillo was funny when we drew with Palace last May, vaguely amusing during the summer, and thankfully all-but died off in the autumn. We sent them down, that's it. Get over it. It's history. It's a bit embarrassing when it's dug up now.

But no. Palace fans (a number of whom I know are now reading this thanks to this) must be pissing themselves with laughter. It'll probably spur the buggers onto promotion. Why, why, why would ANYBODY think singing a song about another club would assist us in our quest for the Cup? It's not even our song - it's Bolton's song!!

Maybe it's his easy-going cabaret stylings. But for heaven's sake, this is football, not a scampi-and-chips night. We might as well be bloody sponsored by Saga Holidays. Not content with bussing the oldies and the kids in from Kent, let's now put on some cosy old crooner to whip the crowd into a frenzy! Yeah, great idea! Take a pay rise!

NO. What direction are we heading in, for heaven's sake? At least a little bit of football is about pride. And passion. What's having a 1970s MOR singer going to do to help us? Nothing, apart from make us look like idiots. On telly. How divorced from reality are our commercial department? It's the most stupid idea we've had since the "let's go and play Franchise FC" folly. And we know what happened to that.

We cannot allow this to happen. E-mail the club. Contact Tony Christie and tell him it isn't a good idea. Apparently, he's a nice bloke, and it wouldn't be nice if he was jeered off, would it? (Or tell him you're a Palace fan and you're deeply hurt, and won't go to see his next gig at the Fairfield Halls.)

If there's a time to show we care, then this is as good a start as any.

What a waste of money?

Valley Gold members who are forking out £10 each month to help fund the club's academy must be scratching their heads and wondering where their money's really going after news of the latest bunch of academy scholars who are being released by the club.

Among them, strikers Onome Sodje, who's been turning heads at Ebbsfleet Gravesend & Northfleet and Welling, and James Walker, who has been on loan at Hartlepool. Both have shown promise, although they may not be up to Premiership standard, they've been players we can be proud of. They'll surely go on to careers elsewhere in the league.

But what are we doing funding the development of players for Football League clubs? It's bad enough us paying Franny Jeffers' wages each week, why should we be coughing up so some League One club can get a decent player who'll no doubt knock us out of a cup?

The fate of the youngsters who have come through the system is instructive. Osei Sankofa? Lloyd Sam? They've hit a ceiling in getting through to the first team, with Curbs unwilling to take a gamble on unproven youth when the stakes are so high in the Premiership. All understandable, but what would have happened to Micah Richards if he'd been stuck in the Charlton academy? If the players aren't coming through, then what is Valley Gold for?

If it's a guilt trip to fund the development of players for the lower leagues, then let's be honest about it and get it funded by Premiership lucre. Or is it just a charity, to use our expertise to help promising footballers from our patch? Or is it a serious attempt to develop new talent for our club?

Valley Gold members, and all other fans, deserve a proper explanation.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Seeya Smerts

Remember the summer of 2005? Seems a long way away now...

Alexei Smertin believes he is on the brink of wrapping up a move back to Russia with Dinamo Moscow.

The 30-year-old midfielder, currently on loan at Charlton from Chelsea, claims there is a provisional agreement between all parties.

Just think back. As summer turned to autumn, Charlton fans could face the dark evenings safe in the knowledge that their new midfield duo of Murphy and Smertin were kicking the arse of all comers. It would surely be a bright future. It was even safe for kids to play out in the street then, you know.

Now as winter fires off its last icy blasts, Danny Murphy is now desperately clinging onto a bit-part role in The Great Spurs Revival, while his mate Smerts decides he wants to go gome now his pal's crossed the Thames. Farewell, fair weather friends.

To be fair on Mr Smertin, though, he's in an odd position. Bought by Chelsea to prove that Roman Abramovich is interested in other things in his homeland than its oil revenues, he's sat on the bench, gone to Portsmouth, sat on the bench some more, and landed up with us. We're hardly going to match the filthy money they're paying him, so he might as well sod off while the time's right. He's not played well for us since Cry-baby went - indeed, he's not really done that well for us since our great slump.

So Smertin goes off to Moscow, and we're left with those stellar box-office draws, Matt Holland and Bryan Hughes, to thrill us in midfield. Thank God we've still got a Cup run to enthuse us (and them, because they'd better have something to play for).

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Staying out of the Myhre

Not even frequent sightings of the All Quiet pint glass could furnish me with the illusion that our 0-0 draw with Liverpool was in any way exciting. Not quite prime-time viewing, nor the game to send you out on Saturday night with a lift.

But four points from the European champions ain't to be sniffed at. And when you've got to dig in, you've got to dig in. Even if Liverpool's strike force are as unimpressive as they were at The Valley - what did Cisse do other than just complain all the time? Thomas Myhre was more than a match for him. Where was Crouch? And it was good to see Robbie Fowler's arse send one shot wide.

Marcus Bent's injury's a bit of a worry for us, mind, while Bryan Hughes really could have done better than that puny pass he attempted for Darren Bent in the 75th minute. While Kish worked himself into the ground again, Jason Euell's introduction for us was a breath of fresh air in a game which desperately needed something new.

But we held on for a point, thanks to Luke Young, Jonathon Spector, Chris Perry and Hermann Hreidarsson all putting in solid performances in defence, and Thomas Myrhe being peerless in goal. Nothing was too tough for Tommy. Poor old Deano (lost 1-0 to Villa) might have seen it and wept.

Could we have gone for a win? It's a moot point. But frankly, we didn't really look capable of another Liverpool double. Instead, we frustrated the European champions. It wasn't pretty, but it's one of the most well-deserved points we'll get all season.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bent into shape?

Not even the bottom of the All Quiet pint glass could really determine for me how Darren Bent did for England against Uruguay at Anfield. I don't wake up in sweats worrying about England, so it's hard for me to judge the way they play, but he did look a little isolated, a little out of things in the first half, and barely getting any service from the rest of the team while Rooney charged back into midfield. Failing that, could he have been any more adventurous or incisive? Possibly, but his style of play for England didn't differ too much from how he plays for us, although he did seem to cling to Uruguay's defenders a little too much. He livened up in the second half, but that seemed to be a different matter for England as a whole, mind.

On balance, a respectable debut, but did he do enough to get to the World Cup? You could always vote here, but you could always leave a comment below too.