Saturday, March 31, 2007

Charlton 1-0 Wigan

Some very quick observations:

1) Wigan are a terrible side. A bunch of great lumps who are effective at preventing football being played, but are barely able to play it themselves.

2) Those "clapper" things are great fun - did they really work, or were they there just to send a message to our quieter fans?

3) It was one of the worst games I've seen for a long while.

4) Benty's penalty was a work of genius. And sorry, Paul Jewell, it was deserved. Erm, I think.

5) We're still too quick to get on players' backs. There was no shortage of effort on the pitch today, but we struggled under pressure from Wigan's lumps. No shame in that.

6) We looked weak up front until Marcus Bent came on for Rommedahl. But we still couldn't quite make it add up until the penalty.

7) Blimey, a bit of luck at last.

8) Paul Jewell really is fat, isn't he?

9) Off to the pub.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A couple of beers with Reg

I wasn't going to write about last night's gathering of internet types at The Valley, but since accounts of it have popped up around the place as well as a couple of other mentions, I might as well chip in my tup'pence worth. (After all, it means I can put off cleaning the flat for another 30 minutes...)

For those who aren't immersed in Charlton websites, most of the people behind most of the unofficial sites were invited to the boardroom last night for a drink and a chat with Peter Varney. It was organised by Forever Charlton's Dave Roberts, with the help of supporters' director Ben Hayes. I'll be honest and say I groaned a little when the invite came along - I'm always more than a bit wary of things like this, and I really feared it'd feel like a meeting of Geeks Anyonymous.

But it wasn't too bad, to be honest, and while I take the mickey from time to time it's always good to hear Reg give us the benefit of his wisdom on matters football and Charlton. I managed to put a few names to faces (and missed a few people as well) and a few ideas were kicked about afterwards.

It's clear that unofficial media like message boards and blogs do have an impact on Charlton - frankly, there isn't much the club can do about it, unless you're stupid enough to start defaming people or infringing on copyright. And it's easier than ever. Want to start your own website? It takes two minutes to start a Blogger blog up - look, someone's just done it.

We're lucky to have a club that doesn't stick its nose where it's not wanted - other sites have had far trickier relations with their clubs. Yet I don't think unofficial sites should be jumping into bed with the club either - mutual respect's the way forward.

But these are still early days. None of the Charlton blogs claim to offer in-depth analysis or exclusive journalism, most of them are just commentary, a few jokes, and links to a few things elsewhere. Maybe someone will in the future - I hope so, bearing in mind most journalists concerned with Charlton are happy to be drip-fed stuff by the club. But that's for another day. For now, people don't need special access, off-the-record chats or logos to create their own Charlton content - all they need is their own creativity. It's a bloody good thing we've got the technology to do it now, and it's good the club acknowledges and respects it.

Of course, technology also means you can now watch this...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Manchester - rave on

So, there's more tickets available for the Man City game. Hmmm...

(strokes chin)
(strokes chin again)
(consults wallet)
(gets out credit card)
(buys train ticket)
(buys dirt cheap hotel from

That's that done, then. Hotel rooms are still plentiful in Manchester, should you have an aversion to coaches, and I've just paid £42 to go first class to Sheffield and then hop on the Transpennine Express to Manchester. If it's Charlton coaches you've a specific aversion to, National Express should be able to do you a five-hour coach ride for a tenner each way.

Now, we'd better not bloody lose... although if we do, there's a Morrissey night at the Star and Garter. Wah-hey!

PS. In the latest "bussing in 4,000 fans is great" communication from the club, there's a mention of the Valley Express coming to the Wigan match from Erith. Why would you pay £5 to go by coach from Erith when it's cheaper and quicker by train?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Help some Charlton fans raise charity cash

This has been organised through Charlton Life - if you've got payday approaching, go on, give what you can...

On 22nd May 2007, a collection of unfit, untalented and overweight Charlton supporters will participate in one of two charity football games at the Valley, to raise funds for Demelza House.

Demelza is a fantastic children's hospice that cares for children with life-limiting illnesses, and their families.

We would be delighted if you could contribute in some way towards our fundraising target. All players need to raise a certain amount of sponsorship to particpate, so if you are sponsoring an individual then please mention their name in your comments. If you just wish to make a donation, then thank you very much.

The fundraising site is here - And if you want to find out about south London's first children's hospice, look here.

More junk phone-calls from Charlton

I'd best remember not to let Charlton have my telephone number when I renew my season ticket. After a week of travelling and working, a healthy lie-in yesterday round at All Quiet Mansions was interrupted by a phone call. I stumbled out of bed, just missing bashing my big toe on something, got to the phone, to find... it was a recorded message from Alan Pardew thanking me for my support. Considering I've missed two home games this season, that's rather generous of him. And then there was an invitation to be put through to Charlton's commercial centre. Erm, no thanks.

I wonder how many people actually appreciated this call - clearly it's a nudge to get people to renew their season tickets, but there's still a month to go yet, one which contains a whole new pay packet. For every Charlton fan it reached, how many spouses, partners, flatmates and work colleagues were bemused by it?

I imagine there's plenty of backslapping and congratulations in Charlton's commercial department because they've used their new toy again, but really, this should only be used on rare occasions.

And now Charlton's marketing efforts are becoming more aggressive, there's a blur over how they're using our information - sending messages from Llanera flogging bits of dirt in Spain could well breach the law, for example, if you've previously asked for your details not to be passed on to other firms.

The other funny thing is with the e-mail bulletin - which I've had at two addresses for a long, long time. Neither of which I've ever given to the club for any other reason. I deliberately didn't re-subscribe because I don't feel I can trust Charlton with my details... but then I continued to get it - at both addresses!

Apparently this is because I'm in the Red Card scheme, but I only got one because I'm a season ticket holder. And they've never had either e-mail address for that.

Petty complaints? Well, I'm pleased to still be getting the e-mail bulletin. But I think it's legitimate to ask questions about how the club uses fans' contact information. Unless you're happy to be buried in an avalanche of junk mail, junk phone calls and e-mail spam, that is.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Catch-up weekend

Back from Valencia safe and sound - thanks to Stuart for minding the shop while I've been taking in Las Fallas and escaping from the return of winter. I also managed to take in the odd sight of a Valencia v Colorado Rapids friendly (seats just above the dug-out for six euros) which ended 4-3 to the hosts and was damn good fun. The Mestalla's a huge and mad stadium, with its steep rake open to the elements, but it kept out a nippy wind from the Mediterranean.

I've barely been home since my return so I haven't actually seen very much at all of the Newcastle win - needless to say I was going a jig in Valencia airport on Sunday afternoon, and was dead pleased to find it on YouTube while checking my e-mails on Tuesday... couldn't be a long-distance fan, me. It'd drive me nuts.

Oh, and the tale of Pompey tapping up Llanera made me laugh - our sponsors' name is all over Valencia, and even appeared in lights for Las Fallas.

Not much to report since my return - I see England are getting closer to blowing their chances of going to Austria and Switzerland next summer. At least Luke Young isn't implicated in this debacle. Anyway, sod England, stick him and Benty in cotton wool...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thanks but no thanks

Congratulations and all, but isn't this the last thing we need?

We gave L'il Bent a note for the teacher to get him off games. But now England needs our fragile right back.

Let's hope our Luke only gets a five minute confidence boost at the end of each game.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Charlton 2 - Newcastle 0

Well. The Inspector's absence does the trick once again. Another Charlton win to celebrate while the old chap is taking in foreign sights and (very loud) sounds.

It didn't look promising to begin with. Bitterly cold winds and rain at kick off. Dire, dire football on offer for Sunday lunch. No shots and you could count the chances on one finger. The only bright spot being L'il Bent's Lazarus like recovery to play from the start.

The barcodes looked tidy in midfield with lots of pretty movement. Charlton looked like the team just off the plane from the Netherlands. But we pulled ourselves into it and just about matched the Geordies by the break.

Alex Song was added to our injury list, limping off with a hamstring pull and replaced by Amady Faye. The barcodes booed. But didn't they think he was pony anyway?

Half time brought more walking wounded. Marcus Bent, who looks quite quick across the park these days, had to be withdrawn. Our own red Romm coming on.

The loss of Big Bent had a silver lining though. The Chinese Zheng Zhi appeared to be playing upfront alongside L'il Bent. "Strange decision", I thought.

"Stunning decision" would've been more accurate. The guy was outstanding. Running the Newcastle defence ragged at times, his movement created space for Thomas and Bent in particular. He scored the first, following up a cracking free kick from Benty which rattled the crossbar.

After that we all but tore Newcastle a new one. Shay Given kept them in it with two world class (and I mean world class) saves from Bent headers. Bent also missed a good chance inside the box. I expect him to score whenever he shoots, don't you? It has been a long time since I could say that about a Charlton striker.

ZZ put the cap on his man of the match performance by being clattered by Nobby Solano, following one of literally dozens of surges into the box. Jerome Thomas slotted the penalty.

So, from a first half which I'm sure reassured Sky executives that they'd made the right choice picking Aston Villa vs Liverpool, we looked stylish, composed, and able to attack in waves. Whatever Pardew put in the the tea, it has worked wonders on a squad which would've crumbled three months ago. L'il Bent didn't look too hot after coming off before the end though. Gulp.

But for now we're four points off the magic safety mark, with the team occupying the berth, Sheffield United, still to come to the Valley. Keep the faith, this one has got plenty left in it.

I missed the giant flag, so can say nothing about how it looked. Please let me know below what you thought. I might get some pointers from the fundraisers at Valley Flags for my Send Inspector Sands Abroad More Often Campaign campaign. Please give generously.

Oh, and can I just applaud the 'genius' at Network Rail / South Eastern trains for the decision to all but suspend trains to and from Charlton on the day of a game. I'm sure the weary Geordies trudging back to the station will want to add their congratulations for such wonderful judgement. Thanks.

A trip to Wem-ber-lee

An ill-advised spot of Paddy's Night drinking means I don't have enough time to tell you about my visit to Wembley Stadium for yesterday's community day - I snuck in with a couple of Brent borough "residents" (they weren't, but an NW10 postcode was good enough for them to get tickets).

What can I tell you? It's AWESOME, light years ahead of the crumbling dump which replaced it. From top to bottom the views are superb, and guess what? The loos work too. Watch for the nuclear-powered hand-dryers, though. Pies are a bit pricey, there's probably a few teething troubles with the way people enter the stadium, but forget the delays and the hassle - it's something England can be truly proud of.

I'm ignoring yesterday's results - and I'm going to spend an EasyJet trip praying...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two things which are worrying me

If Stuart Pearce leaves Manchester City... I really hate Massive Club at times like this. I hate the fact it's such a woefully-run club it leaks like a sieve. I hate the way that so many of its media cheerleaders revel in its failure to live up to its Massive Club billing. And I have a nasty feeling Stuart Pearce will have gone by Good Friday. Or even this Monday. And we'll have to hope they don't get a new manager bounce...

Darren Bent's injury. Uh-oh. Wrap him up in cotton wool and keep him away from England. But I'm also worried about Sunday. I'm worried because Newcastle were so dire in Thursday's Uefa Cup defeat that they'll be looking to bounce back against us. Marcus, son, it's down to you. Believe.

There is one omen for Sunday which could be positive - I won't be there. Two months ago I booked a few days in Valencia, taking care to leave on Sunday because, of course, we'd be playing on Saturday, wouldn't we? Duh. I'll be on a plane for most of the match. I'd be happy if it meant I could see Valencia v Racing Santander on Sunday. Except that match has been moved... to Saturday. Terrific.

And I'm going to miss the huge Killer flag too. But there's a small chance I might see it from 15,000 feet above London...

I'm pleased to say that Stuart (not Pearce) is primed to come off the subs' bench in my absence. But my weekend won't be completely free of visits to football stadia - come back tomorrow to find out more.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Hamlet fan on Chris Dickson

From the eighth tier of English football to the Premiership? It's a long while since we made a signing from outside the League (Sasa Ilic?), but Dulwich Hamlet striker Chris Dickson made the leap from the Isthmian League South to the Premiership today when he signed for Charlton for £35,000.

It's a rare old thing these days for non-league players to rise up the leagues so suddenly (DJ Campbell springs to mind) but a few connections can help - ex-Dartford manager Peter Taylor took Dave Martin from Princes' Park to Crystal Palace in the transfer window and he shot straight into the first team. And so it is with us and Chris Dickson, with Alan Pardew having played for Hamlet in the mid-1980s.

The deal could rise to £50,000 if Dickson makes a first-team appearance, with a 5% sell-on clause and two first-team friendlies planned at Champion Hill. Which is a good bit of work in what's traditionally Millwall territory. He can't play in our first team until next season anyway, so the pressure's off him for now. And if he doesn't make the grade, it's hardly a disaster for us, and he'll learn from his time with us. It's good all round.

Dickson's goals have seen Hamlet rise to third in the league - bringing back the good times for a club that's been short of them recently. My fellow blog-scribe Onionbagblogger tells us more:

He's an absolute goal machine and has easily been playing below his level in Ryman Division One South. The Premiership may be a step too far for now, but that might all change around May...?

A lovely bloke as well. He was celebrating at the ground on Saturday, buying brandy for all.

Dulwich fans are really happy that a former Hamlet legend (Pardew) has come back for one of our kids.

Try and come up with a better chant than: 'Dicko! Dicko! Dicko!' though.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bank on Valley Flags

It's a quiet weekend, but the Valley Flags Campaign has been beavering away, the Derek Hales/ Che Guevara flag is all set to be unveiled at next Sunday's Newcastle match, and it's now got its own bank account, making donating so much easier. Don't forget you can also do your shopping at Amazon, Tesco and iTunes via Valley Flags and also do your bit to help the cause.

Elsewhere, it sounds like Kish had an eventful time for Leeds yesterday, giving away a (missed) penalty but inspiring Dennis Wise's side to a win against Luton.

And Jon Fortune scored for Stoke? Heavens.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hopefully, a greater Dane...

An exciting Danish winger? Hold on, haven't we been here before?

Charlton have swooped to sign Denmark U21 international Martin Christensen from Herfolge Boldklub on a pre-contract basis.

The Addicks have paid an initial £250,000 for the highly-rated 19-year-old right-winger, who has signed a four-year contract.

Charlton manager Alan Pardew said: "Martin's a great prospect and we think very highly of him.

"It's going to be a big step-up for him to this level of football, but he's of a good age and we feel he'll progress very quickly with us."

Well, at least he's young enough not to be a huge let-down like poor old Dennis has been. (Although I'm still hoping Romm has a final burst of confidence...) Sounds like a very good deal - young talent will be useful if the unthinkable happens, but whatever, definitely one for the future. Although from the picture on - huge open-necked shirt - do you think he's been taking fashion tips from Dennis?

A petition for you to sign

I don't know if you're aware of the saga surrounding AFC Wimbledon's 18-point deduction after unwittingly fielding a player - ex-Charlton trainee Jermaine Darlington - who hadn't had international clearance from Cardiff City, but if you are and you're unhappy about it, you can sign this petition from a Dons fan to 10 Downing Street:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to I am asking the Sports Minister, RH Richard Caborn MP, to intervene with the Football Association after my football club was "unfairly" docked points and thrown out of the FA Trophy, following a technical administrative error."

It's been one of football's dimmer decisions - Darlington had been allowed to play for a number of games until he was booked in an FA Trophy match against Gravesend. If he'd been booked in his first game, then the oversight would have been picked up sooner, and the punishment less severe...

You'll find the petition at, and once you've signed, pass it on.

If you're not familiar with the case, you can find a handy summary here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

City for a fiver

So the club are putting on coaches to Manchester City for £5 - a generous move which is to be applauded. Now, will we fill our 1,689 seats? Apparently there's a possibility of getting more, but a lengthy coach journey isn't going to be everyone's flask of weak tea. The take-up's also likely to be dependent on the results of the TWO (count 'em!) matches in the month between now and the match.

The discount is especially nice considering Citeh have decided to charge £27 for it (compared with £26-£33 for home fans). Which seems a bit pricey for a stupidly-timed kick-off on a bank holiday. No wonder why we're likely to be deluged in newspaper columns about malaise at the Massives over the next few weeks. Now, which board would you rather have running your club - ours or theirs?

On a sort-of related note, the latest Premier League fans' survey reveals that just 9% of supporters at league games are under 24, with ticket prices up by about 600% since 1992. Best league in the world, eh?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Easter passion in Manchester

No, it couldn't be at a worse time.

5.15 on bloody Good Friday. Well, there are worse times than that, admittedly, but teatime on a bank holiday at the end of the week is a ridiculous time to be playing a game of football. Thanks, Rupert Murdoch. Sod that for a game of cards.

But Manchester City v Charlton could be the most important game of our Premiership lives. Yet it's one that, as things stand, is going to be very difficult for many fans to attend.

A cursory search on the National Rail website reveals... no direct trains between England's two most important cities on Good Friday, and no chance of getting home by rail that night either. All for a bargain £57.

(A moment of silence, please, to wish hateful thoughts upon those responsible for this.)

So, how do we get around this? It's possible the club could step in and arrange something - Valley Express kingpin Rick Everitt has suggested in response to the post below that something will be announced soon. The Charlton Life board is collating suggestions for what to do. Chastened by the experience of Operation Riverside, I'm not quite sure what to suggest myself. The stakes are much higher than they were on that beano to Teesside.

But all I can suggest is... don't just rely on the club to do something. If you're friendly with anyone who can get hold of a minibus or something, get working on them now. If you're thinking of driving up, think about offering a lift or two. (I'll be more than happy to publicise it.) This could be something big, and we can't let this match's daft timing derail our survival bandwagon.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Free tickets! (With a catch)

So, you've had a chance to digest the news about our season tickets - what do you reckon? In case you haven't heard, we're cutting season ticket prices for next season, regardless of whether we're promoted or relegated, with non-family tickets ranging from £315-£475 (meaning a slight cut for the Covered End choir, and cuts of up to £75 for East and West Standers). And if we are relegated, and gain promotion at the first attempt, then tickets for a 2008/09 Premiership comeback season will be free so along as you renew before 30 April.

It's not entirely a new idea - Palace fans who bought 5 or 10 year tickets will get another year if the Eagles go up before 2010. But to offer the deal to everyone is a headline-grabbing novelty.

All this comes against a background of the ongoing furore over the cost of watching Premiership football, with Peter Varney grumbling recently that the club had received little praise for its already-cheap prices. And while Bolton managed to grab a Sun front page by offering a 10% cut in ticket prices, Charlton's deal could well end up being more substantial.

And there's also the possibility that we'll be trying to keep bums on seats in the Championship next season.

If we stay in the Premiership, the new TV deal means season ticket income will - hopefully - become a little less important for clubs. So a cut to keep people coming is good publicity. If we go down, our prices still compare well with Championship clubs (in fact, our cheapest seat is only £45 more expensive than the cheapest seat at Millwall). But the finances become precarious with the loss of the Premiership's millions.

But can we afford it if we boomerang back up? Well, let's say 16,000 free season tickets will cost the club £6m. That money will easily be covered by the return of the Premiership money, and a Charlton which returns to the top flight after a year out will be a leaner operation than it is now. And how much have we wasted on wages for dud players this season? The real worry is what kind of league the Premiership will be in August 2008 - will wages have spiralled by then? Will that £6m cost prevent us from competing? Or is it already budgeted for, the cash squirreled away just in case? Judging by the way Charlton have been run over the years, I reckon it's the latter.

But this won't matter, because we're staying up. Aren't we?

Hammered to the bottom

Well, at five to six on Sunday evening my feet did something I never, ever expected them to - they left the ground in celebration of a Spurs goal. In truth, that match could have gone either way, and at 3-3 I actually said to the Tottenham fans I was watching the match with that I thought there'd be another goal in it. I just didn't know which way it would go.

But then again, we all know what it's like at Charlton to be leading 2-0 at half-time, and to see that lead overturned. (Especially by Spurs...) It's almost unsettling to see the weaknesses of Curbishley's Premiership years played out once again in claret and blue. Personally, I just hope that the increasingly strange-looking Eggert Magnusson really does show some faith in Curbs and lets him rebuild next season.

Sunday's papers were full of West Ham woes before the game - the Observer claimed the squad was "out of control" while Stuart Houston in the Sunday Telegraph says West Ham "spiralled out of control" under Alan Pardew. Should this be a worry for the future?

But even this weekend, news emerged that the world's thickest man, Anton Ferdinand, had lied about having a sick relative so he could go partying in the US. Pardew can't be blamed for that. And since he's been here, he's been careful to talk up the unsung qualities of 32-year-old family man Matt Holland. Perhaps Pards has learned a lesson from his West Ham experience. While poor Curbs is going to have to learn very quickly...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Watford 2-2 Charlton

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

An odd match with a result you'd have sold your grandmother for at half-time, but one which feels disappointing now I'm safely back home. But a point is better than none, and the flame's still burning. It should never have been snuffed out in the sleepy streets of Watford - but it was a close-run thing.

The first half was wretched as Watford played with a speed and efficiency which they haven't really displayed this season, while we played like fat old men struggling to catch up. Our injury-hit back four were woeful, especially Talal El Karkouri and a recalled Jonathan Fortune, while - guess what? - Jerome Thomas had been believing his own press and played like an idiot. It wasn't a surprise when Damien Francis and Hameur Bouazza combined to score the Hornets' opener, with the Charlton defence the spectators with the best view of the action. The atmosphere was weird - Vicarage Road is hardly a cauldron, but the tension between the stand-up/sit-down brigades wasn't fun.

But at half-time, inspiration. "We will come back. This is going to be the moment Pardew proves himself. If I was a betting man..." five minutes later I returned from the fat bookie clutching three 40/1 wagers on Charlton scoring three goals in the second half. And of course, we only nearly bloody did it as well. Luke Young in the right place at the right time, Darren Ambrose with a fine header. Bringing on Zheng Zyi for that old lump Hasselbaink ensured we were a different side - fitting in snugly behind Darren Bent and chasing every single bloody ball.

But despite the roar of the crowd, and our domination for great chunks of the second-half, the ultimate comeback wasn't to be - Watford keeper Richard Lee was in good form, and when Matt Holland came off towards the end, in favour of Kevin Lisbie - we lost our cohesion. Lisbie's late cameo saw him blow the ball wide with seconds to spare - horrendous, but the real cock-ups had taken place before he'd even started to warm up. And he could have won me £80 and my mates £40 each. Tsk.

Defeat would have been harsh on Watford, and in truth we were a little lucky to get the point. Wigan's win at Manchester City puts Massive Club in 17th - the game's still the same, but the names in the frame have changed. The Good Friday game at Eastlands is looking eerily big already.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The big Kish-off?

Nervous about tomorrow? You bet I am. It's another Must-Win Saturday, this time up at rickety old Vicarage Road. The point I made about pressure last week still stands with Watford, because they're under no pressure at all. Everyone thinks they're going down, so they can relax. But for us, anything less than three points will feel like a slap around the chops. We'll see.

But for me, it's overshadowed by the news that Radostin Kishishev is off on loan to join Dennis Wise's kamikaze crew up at Leeds. The shortarse tosser has done fine work in stripping the once-proud Yorkshire giants of their dignity, and they're currently anchored to the foot of the Championship - which, even considering Leeds' horrendous mismanagement over the past few years, is quite an achievement. It seems a pretty harsh job for Kish, whose commitment and dedication to the cause at Charlton over seven years deserves saluting. I hope he comes back, if only so we can say a proper goodbye to him.

Did you see Jerome Thomas claiming Les Reed wanted to sell him to Fulham?

"Les basically told me I wasn't needed at the club,which was disappointing because he was my manager at England youth level.

"But things can turn around quickly in football and I'm enjoying playing for Alan Pardew.

"When he arrived, he told me to get fitter,work hard and improve on the defensive side of my game and that if I did, he'd put me in the side -and he's kept his word."

It's getting clearer the players couldn't perform for Reed - "the less said about that spell the better," Marcus Bent said last month. I wonder who damaged the club the most - Dowie or Reed? It's starting to look like the latter... after two goals last week, JT's got to keep this form up, though, or he's going to look a bit of a prat if he keeps on mouthing off about how good he is.

Finally, West Ham are now charged with breaking Premier League rules over Argentine showponies Tevez and Mascherano. Amazing. Would it be cruel to laugh?