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?

Friday, November 03, 2006

The loneliness of the long-distance fan

Get a load of this:

There, that woke you up, didn't it? The trouble with most reporting of Charlton matters at the moment is that all sports editors want is stories about PRESSURE. "Ask that ugly sod if he's under pressure!," the sports editor barks at his reporter every Thursday. And every Thursday, you get a story like this.

Charlton manager Iain Dowie accepts "pressure comes with the job" as he looks to bring Manchester City back down to earth at The Valley on Saturday.

"Pressure comes with the job. You can have sympathy for people to a certain extent, but I do not want sympathy for me," said Dowie.

Which, to be fair, could have been used at any time over the last four or five weeks. However, there's a new, follical twist to this.

"Is it a difficult time for me at the moment? Certainly - but I am not pulling my hair out." (more)

HAIR? He's hardly got any to pull out...

While the Addicks look to smash a few past Nicky Weaver tomorrow, I'll be either sightseeing in Dublin or visiting a long-lost old pal in deepest County Meath. (But not in the village of Nobber, alas.) It'll be the first home league game I'll have missed since we lost 2-0 to Leeds in September 2001. And even then, it was on the box. Tomorrow, RTE is showing Manchester United at 3pm. Funny, that. People with my number are welcome to text me updates, it's going to be an odd feeling.

So how do long-distance fans do it? With only occasional jaunts to The Valley, and if there's little TV coverage where you are, does the flame fade? Or do you actually start looking at the game a bit more closely, to compensate for the fact you can't moan about the person sitting next to you?

I can't moan about the person who sits next to me, because Stuart's going to make this site interesting and readable for the next couple of days. Please make him feel welcome, and COME ON YOU RIP-ROARING, GOAL-SCORING ADDICKS!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

You'd think that some day, the people who do or the e-mail bulletin would stop and think: "Nah, nobody gives a toss about that. We shan't do it." There is such a thing as "too much information". Now, how many words into this can you stay awake for?

"The next phase of Charlton's switch to a 'one-stop shop' for all commercial transactions took place this week with the decision to refer to the club's new commercial centre instead of the previously used ticket office.

Addicks fans will notice no difference in the way the club sells tickets, either online at, via the 0871 KER CHING! hotline or from the windows in the west stand at The Valley.

But the official website and all club literature will now refer to the commercial centre rather than the 'ticket office'."

I mean, come on, did we really need to know that? Couldn't the poor sod who had to write that been given his Thursday morning to do something more worthwhile? Does it make us look that bit more go-ahead and dynamic? No, it makes us look like a bunch of pillocks who fret about what a ticket office is called. Tomorrow, Sir Reg Varney tells us what he's had for lunch. Only on

Actually, they could have spent the morning using the text message mailout thingy to remind us that tickets for Chesterfield in the League Cup are now on sale, as are tickets to Reading in the league, to lucky holders of season ticket vouchers C and B respectively. A week ago I was pretty excited about a trip to stand on a Proper Old Terrace, but all these instructions from Derbyshire Police make me fear it could be a grim and costly night being treated like idiots by provincial coppers, with no train home afterwards. The romance of the cup, eh? This is probably just me being pessimistic, mind.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Blogs are big and clever (really)

A couple of Charlton things on the interweb which made me chuckle recently...

Charlton Life's AFKA Bartram muses on a BBC Radio Five Live investigation which found Premiership players have become addicted to gambling and porn websites (listen or download it here):

"Blimey o’ Reilly!!! 16 times a day!!! That’s knocking out more than a card shop at Christmas.

If any of ours are involved, no wonder our Throbbin’ Red Red Robin has not been Bobbin’!

No wonder at a set play we can’t lift it past the first defender.

We’re knackered, a spent force."

Which is probably not a good time to introduce Toon blog Black & White & Read All Over's impression of Newcastle's efforts against us: "Impotent".

New York Addick pictures a horrifying vision of Iain Dowie:

"In a sensationally frank press conference, Charlton boss Iain Dowie has admitted that he recently had a negative thought. (more)

And while I'm here, can someone remind the press office that a column written sporadically for its website, by random people, with no way of responding to them and few links back to other connected pieces, is definitely NOT a frickin' blog? Imitation should be flattery, but this is taking the mickey. I expect they've probably given it up as a bad idea already, but if they want to do it properly, there's a few people who really know how to do it...