Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The cup that doesn't cheer

A nippy night at The Valley for disappointing 2-1 defeat in the Youth Cup to Sunderland. It wasn't a bad match, actually, but while we looked a bit more creative, the Mackems were a bit more brutal when it mattered (and when it didn't) and we blew too many chances and looked exhausted by the end. Still, hopefully they'll learn from the experience.

A bumper crowd of 1,840 - including a noisy north-east contingent who roared the Black Cats on - squeezed into The Valley's lower west stand; I couldn't help feel some of the sourness you pick up at league games was making itself known at this midweek outing, but perhaps that's me picking up too much on a bit of tutting.

I've had nothing to say on the Blackpool farrago since I wasn't there, and I'm not going to Bramall Lane either - although the Blades will hopefully be blunted by tonight 120-minute boreathon against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup. Paddy Kenny, eh? But generally, I've been avoiding moaners to keep my spirits up, and that's meant keeping a distance from matters Charlton for a bit. It's all good.

See, it's cracking stuff like this which sees this very website nominated for "best Championship fanzine" (yes, fanzine - haven't you seen me hand this out on Floyd Road?) in some awards. No, I haven't heard of them either, but I suppose it's nice to be thought of. And seeing the blog nominees did remind me to pay New York Addick a long-overdue visit. I'm pleased I did, because his musings on our current predicament are well worth a read.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just a small club in Kent?

Yup, an old theme, but one that's becoming a right pain in the arse when I can't make away games.

So, at half-time in a couple of recent matches, we're treated to footage from an ITV local news programme called Meridian Tonight, about some community good works going on somewhere in Kent. According to this list, I'd have to go somewhere beyond Gravesend if I wanted to watch this on my telly. It all feels a bit far-off, a bit distant. I'd like to know what's happening on my own doorstep, mind.

And recently, we've had kick-off times moved to make life easier for people coming in from outside the capital.

Now today, I was hoping to listen to commentary from Blackpool, since the awayday pot isn't stretching very far at the moment. Except there isn't anyway. Well, there is, but only in Kent, on BBC Radio Kent. Which I can't receive (and, of course, can't legitimately hear online due to the Football League's rubbish rights deal). So, I can't listen to Charlton commentary in, er, Charlton. (BBC London has opted to broadcast Fulham v West Ham on all its frequencies.)

Is it just me that finds all this emphasis on Kent disconcerting? We are still a London club, aren't we?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Back after the break

(or try here. Well, I'm not going to Blackpool, so...)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Charlton 2-2 Watford

"Doctor, I've come down with something."

"Oh, what now?"

"It's the malady... it's the Championship, doctor. It's getting me down."

"Ah. So not the Premiership malaise. Tell me what you're suffering."

"It's... oh, it's the crushing pointlessness of it all! It's having to play some oik from Crystal Palace who reckons the league's crap... but his team stinks the place out themselves! It's midweek 0-0 draws against Sheffield Wednesday which may have been figments of my imagination, because nobody else seemed to notice!"

"And today?"

"Watford. Yellow rashes before my eyes. Lumpen, rubbish football. That rat-faced little shit Darius Henderson."

"But weren't you winning 2-0 against them?"

"We were, and we laughed at Danny Shittu's own goal. But then they got one back which was clearly offside, we let our concentration slip, and then a bloke with a mullet got an equaliser. It was complete crap."

"Doesn't sound good."

"And the ref... the ref... useless. Simply useless. I don't think I can take this any more. What if we're stuck here forever? What if we keep on having to play rubbish teams, with crap referees? I'm despairing doctor, I really am."

"Well, this refinancing might make you sleep better tonight."

"And after that?"

"Well, perhaps we need to get you into some talking therapies. You need to adjust your expectations a little. Perhaps you could spend some time with my colleague in Sheffield - he's been dealing with some cases of Robson's Failure. See the state of that? And that case of Dowie's Distress from a while back? It's laid Coventry to waste."

"Okay, okay - anyone, anyone will do. Just don't mention Les Re-..."

"I won't. That's good. You're perking up again. Now, have you heard the Liverpool score in the Cup? I need to clear this surgery..."

Friday, February 08, 2008

Charlton 2-0 Crystal Palace

"A good fight is not one you put up, it's the one you win" - Simon Jordan, August 2007.

'We do take all feedback seriously'

Want to see how seriously the Premier League takes your views on its plans to turn the top tier into a global circus?

Send a blank e-mail to Or ask them what their favourite colour is, or if Richard Scudamore is a boxers or Y-fronts man. Or send them your photos from our win over Palace. Or if they want anything from the shops.

And see what happens...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Erm, Pards...

"It's typical Charlton," said Pardew, who also cited Kevin Lisbie's cosy return to The Valley last week. "It's all 'nicely, nicely' with the 'Red, Red Robin' and all that. It's a club that is quite friendly to their returning players, which is quite irritating for me" - Daily Telegraph, 7 January 2008

"I know there were Charlton fans who had an issue about the travelling and the arrangements for the staff at home games when they were at Selhurst Park, but I always had a good relationship with both clubs. Both clubs find themselves out of the division they want to be in, so both sets of fans, staff and players are committed to take both clubs back to the Premier League.

"Nothing would give me more pleasure than us both making it, but that's going to be difficult."
News Shopper website, 7 February 2008

The day football started to kill itself

You see, if this was a good blog, I'd be getting all excited about the visit of the infidel Palace. But something that's happened today makes me wondered why - apart from treading them back into the filth, of course - why any of us are bothering.

The English Premier League is considering the idea of staging some matches around the rest of the world.

At a meeting in London on Thursday, all 20 clubs agreed to explore a proposal to extend the season to 39 games.

Those 10 extra games would be played at five different venues, with cities bidding for the right to stage them.

It is understood the additional fixtures could be determined by a draw but that the top-five teams could be seeded to avoid playing each other.

For heaven's sake - the Premiership circus finally goes loopy.

So what's the options as a Championship club? Fight for promotion, only to lose your soul chasing games in Saudi Arabia or China? Or stay in the Championship, withering away and dying through lack of funds?

And before anyone asks, no I don't want us to be playing matches in the grim dictatorship which is China in front of 100,000 quickly-acquired fans who've turned out to watch Zheng Zhi. And no, let's not go to the bigot's paradise which is Saudi Arabia, in a stadium where women are banned (as Manchester United did recently.)

If we do return to the Premier League, it's not going to be a very nice place to be in.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Scunthorpe 1-0 Charlton

Oh, fercryingoutloud... well, it seemed a good idea at the time. All up to Scunthorpe, for the match which probably defines our relegation. Glanford Park is tiny. There must be grounds in the Conference bigger than that. In fact, it reminded me a little of a visit to Stevenage Borough. This is the league we deserve to play in, and so this is where we should go.

We nearly sold that away end out. As a place, Scunthorpe's less awful than you'd expect. There's a welcome in the pubs, and even the coppers seemed decent. But Glanford Park is best left forgotten, and their officious stewards too.

And the match? Dire. We struggled to get past the Iron's physical, lump-it style, blew several chances, and paid for it when Yassin Moutaouakil muffed up a second-half clearance, letting Martin Paterson score for the home side, whose fans promptly went absolutely delirious, as if you'd just told them they'd be able to watch their side in a decent ground next season.

My own highlight was seeing Nicky Weaver bound up the pitch in the last minute of injury time for a corner - pausing at the half-way line to check with Pards and Parky - it was a wasted move but as a gesture of commitment, it spoke volumes. Can't think of much else from the match which made me smile, really, apart from the daft song played before kick-off extolling the virtues of Scunthorpe. Dire match, dire pitch, with one of the worst refs I've seen.

So, forget Stoke, it was same old, same old today. The pessimists are expecting us to be returning to north Lincolnshire next season - Friday's match against the infidel Palace will go a long way to proving if they're right.

Friday, February 01, 2008

On Frankie, and community

Like I said earlier in the week, last Saturday I went to Dartford's new ground, Princes Park, to see them win 1-0 and maintain their hold on top of the Isthmian League's first division (northern-and-Dartford bit). And you know what struck me there? The sense of community. A shared purpose. A club shop displaying old programmes from the Watling Street and exiled days, little kids bashing into my shins as they ran around the terrace. A town's pride, and 1,100 fans watching an eighth-tier match. Terrific stuff.

It helps when there's a local council behind you - and when there's a pitchside board proclaiming that this was "built by a CONSERVATIVE council", you know this sort of thing hasn't gone unnoticed, especially when the Tory boys' political rivals weren't so keen on rebuilding the town's football club. That's one in the bag come the next election.

But can we claim the same kind of thing at Charlton? I'll be honest - I was looking elsewhere when others were cleaning up The Valley before the great move back, and squeezing snakebite-and-black out of beermats when we returned to SE7 in 1992. But those days brought the club a lot of respect. To this day, we have a board which is made up of fans.

But as the years have passed, the ground has grown and the Premiership lights have glared and faded, do we still have that community element about us? There are certainly communities - like the denziens of the Charlton Life forum which raised thousands of pounds for charity with their football match last year, and the various supporters' groups dotted around the place. And whoever you go to the match with, drink with, talk bollocks with, moan with, sit with, cheer with and call the referee a wanker with.

But a unified community? Supporters' director Ben Hayes took up this theme by organising the minute's applause for fans and other who had passed away before the Blackpool match. I think it was a fantastic idea, and it worked very well indeed. As Ben writes on the Charlton Life blog:

"Charlton are more than just a football club to me. They are not just some bunch of blokes I happen to watch once a fortnight. They are my team. I feel part of a community of Charlton fans whether that is drinking in the Liberal club before a match, sitting in a board meeting or travelling to an away game." (more)

But ahead of the applause, not everyone was so keen. Frankie Valley, whose blog kicked all the other Charlton blogs up the arse when it appeared a couple of years back, took a more circumspect view.

I am seriously dreading it. Its all so, so - what's the word? - embarrassing.

The thing is - am I meant to be there? I'm not sure I am. Here's my problem: I'm not actually a member of this so-called 'Charlton Community' thing. I'm an outsider. For me, Charlton is just a football club that I've been watching off and on for the past forty years. I don't want or need it to be anything more than a football club. A fortnightly distraction, a bit of a laugh, and occasionally - very occasionally - a feast of rip-roaring entertainment. That's all I want. Simple as that.

Which is fair enough. Sure, Ben's applause was designed to make people feel part of a community - which is more than you'd get being a consumer of a neutral seat at Craven Cottage, for example. In fact, the post probably showed why the applause was a good idea.

Except some people took it the wrong way. Step in the Covered End Choir site - rising from the ashes of the old Netaddicks - whose owner stuck this on its forum in a rage: How disrespectful can some people be?

Had Frankie urinated up a war memorial? No, he'd simply pointed out that some fans may not feel part of a community.

I've got to say that when I look at the average football messageboard posting on a quiet day, complaining about Ken Livingstone/ cyclists/ the trains/ the congestion charge/ Darren Ambrose/ speeding fines/ political correctness gone mad/ tax/ Muslims/ kids/ gout/ electricity/ the wheel/ the onset of the 21st century, I don't really feel part of a community either. (In fact, the reason why I started All Quiet In The East Stand was out of frustration with the small-minded nonsense and bullying on the mailing list - and yep, that was back in 2004.)

But Frankie's post was so awful, it had someone declaring that he "deserved a smack in the mouth" on Covered End Choir, with another calling him "a prize bastard for the first order... whoever you are, die screaming!"

For a start, whoever runs Covered End Choir should be at the very least be ashamed of themselves, and at the most be concerned about a tap on the shoulder from the police, for hosting threats like that.

I don't know if the two events are connected, but last week, the Frankie Valley blog ended. It's sad to see Frankie put away his Blackberry - his often-contrary worldview was a refreshing read and one which had me spluttering with laughter too many times.

It'd be nice to think, though, that someone could post a contrary view without getting threatened on websites. Until then, I'll take talk of a Charlton "community" with a hefty pinch of salt, thanks.