Thursday, December 17, 2009

From silence to a roar

Not much to complain about over the past few weeks, eh? You know what? I'm actually enjoying this season. Football's become what it should be - something to help us escape from everyday life. We know we're financially secure for this season at least, and there's the hope we will be in future ones. Is it the fact that we're winning so much which is making League One enjoyable? Or is it being back to basics, reliable 3pm Saturday kick-offs, instead of being mucked around for TV, or having loads of it shoved into weeknights like in the Championship?

Yeah, it's probably the winning. In the weeks since the spineless surrender at Northwich, we've developed a pleasing ability to win while playing poorly. Not every game's going to be an all-guns blazing thrashing of MK Dons, but there's going to be quite a few Southends and plenty of Stockports. It's those matches that'll determine our fate, not the joy of beating one of football's vermin clubs.

Which brings me to... ah, yeah, you've beaten me to it. My hatred is of Crystal Palace rather than Millwall, and I'm frankly revelling in the Nigels' financial woes. Those who try to kill other clubs should not expect any sympathy. Whereas Millwall - feh, may our spell being on the same level as them be brief and fleeting.

On a basic level, the decision to dedicate the match to murdered SE Londoners Rob Knox and Jimmy Mizen - one a Charlton fan, the other Millwall - is a wonderful gesture from both clubs, with both teams wearing a special kit for the day. It also takes some of the sting out of our first match with Millwall for 13 years.

Emotionally, it's a reminder of the immediate communities around both clubs. You can show as many videos of good deeds in deepest Kent as you like, but in places like Lee, Sidcup, Lewisham, Bexleyheath, Eltham, Greenwich, Catford, and Kidbrooke - those places contain the streets in which our two clubs' rivalry was formed. It's good to see Charlton and Millwall remembering their responsibilities to those streets.

And, frankly, it is very, very difficult to imagine Crystal Palace taking part in such a scheme.

There will, of course, be some idiots that don't get the message. But hopefully, enough of both clubs' resident cretins will take heed of it.

With all the hype, I'm actually expecting a really good match. I went to the New Den to see Millwall beat AFC Wimbledon last month, and while the Spanners started sluggish, and the Dons bested them for chunks of the match, their speed and strength won out in the end. Forward Jason Price seemed to be the key to their victory after he came off the bench, and he played a key role in their defeat of Walsall last weekend.

The pressure will be on both sides. I'm sure Lions icon Neil Harris would love to put one over us, but we've got two Sodjes... and they know the score too. Hopefully it'll be the right one at 5pm.

But whatever, considering his disastrous loan spell down there, news that Hearts are interested in taking Izale McLeod on loan will be news to unite fans of both Charlton and Millwall in merriment. Reports of a queue of Charlton fans waiting outside Sparrows Lane to drive the duff striker to Edinburgh in the snow cannot be confirmed...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Wheels come off up Victoria way

"One day, he'll be able to say, 'I was there...'"

The youngest of the All Quiet travelling party had just been dropped off and we were winding our way through the streets of Eltham, his uncle rediscovering his swearing muscles and telling us why he'd taken the youngster to the match. In football, it's best to get your disappointments out the way early. At five, it's unlikely he'll remember much of today at Northwich. He's the lucky one.

You've probably seen the game, you may well have read semi-literate rants from fans who didn't travel much further than the "on" switch on their TV, questioning the commitment of our team. So you won't need me to tell you that today's performance at the Victoria Ground was embarrassing, a low to rank alongside the Wycombe League Cup defeat in 2006, the 6-1 home thumping by Leeds in 2003, and the Dagenham & Redbridge FA Cup fiasco of 2001. Oh yeah, and it was on TV, so all your mates saw it too. Thanks.

Northwich fully deserved the win. They invested in a Haynes Guide to Televised FA Cup Giantkilling, highlighted the words "hustle", "harry", "intimidate", "pass the ball" and "just bloody go for it", and, well, bloody went for it.

We, collectively, crapped ourselves under pressure. There is no other way of describing the spineless scenes. Early in the second half, you really could see the dread in Lloyd Sam's eyes. Phil Parkinson had picked a team which wasn't up for it at all. Like Leeds at Histon last year, Charlton faced a modest team at a modest ground, far from their comfort zone... and buckled.

To a great extent, though, this was a match lost before a ball was kicked. The stubborness of Phil Parkinson has intrigued me. In good times, this has been steadfastness. In bad times, this looks like lunacy. Playing 4-5-1 at a Conference North ground? With Izale McLeod up front? Even fewer Charlton fans would have made the journey if they'd known that in advance.

On the pitch, this was a terrible collective failure of nerve. With Rob Elliot injured, it's unfortunate that Darren Randolph - so strong in our last Premier League match at Anfield two-and-a-half years ago - dropped a horrible howler in humbler surroundings today.

After the disappointment of Gillingham and the defeat at Carlisle, the sheen of the start of the season is a distant memory. With the Football League Trophy match at Southampton and a home match against MK Scum coming up this week, this doesn't leave us in a good position. And it also makes you wonder whether this team really can cope with high-pressure occasions. At the moment, it appears not.

I'm left with some odd memories - parking at neighbouring Witton Albion and clambering over a muddy embankment to get across the river to the Victoria Ground; the shudder at seeing a Charlton flag tied to a Blue Square hoarding and realising how close we were to the Conference; the bar where, after queueing, one of the staff announced she was too young to serve alcohol; and the bantering ginger-haired steward in the corner. "Highest earnings per head in the country, Cheshire!", he chirruped as "we pay your benefits" sort-of erupted from the away fans.

Just like their steward, Northwich had all the answers today and fully deserve their day in the sun. The questions left behind for Charlton won't feel anywhere near as comfortable.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Of Parky, ethics and Kent

Sorry for the lack of posting recently - the slow burn of the third tier doesn't do much to spark a desire to hold forth on this and that. And, to be honest, the Thrilling Big Match Action has spoken for itself.

Firstly, there was the drudgery of the Oldham game. What did we do to deserve that? The Latics proudly parked a fleet of buses in front of our goal, and we struggled. A week later, Huddersfield at least did us the honour of coming to play a game of football. I thought Phil Parkinson flattered them by praising them, but by starting Izale McLeod up front and giving Jonjo Shelvey a rest, he showed that yes, he actually does have a Plan B that can come into use from time to time.

I've been fascinated by how Phil Parkinson has quietly put his stamp on the team, and on the club as a whole. A couple of weeks ago, I stood at the back of Bartram's as he spoke to a meeting of the Charlton Athletic Disabled Supporters' Association alongside Rob Elliot. He was disarmingly frank about the failings of last season - in particular, the egos that weighed the side down. The Parky creed is all about the work ethic, and as he spoke, I couldn't help thinking that he's probably Alan Curbishley's true successor. (Remember, Charlton approached Colchester to speak to him in June 2006.) I think he may want to be recognised in that manner. So far, he's doing a good job in achieving that honour.

Unlike Curbs, though, he's actively seeking out opportunities to talk to fans, and seems to enjoy it. When a mother spoke about how she and her son follow Charlton both home and away, and pick a European side to follow each season, he called for a round of applause for them.

With all this in mind, it seemed particularly cruel for one of last week's papers to suggest he'd lose his job in a possible David Sullivan takeover of Charlton - in favour of Mr Curbishley. With Crystal Palace now mentioned as a possible target it could well be that all this is part of a big game to make sure the ex-Birmingham City boss gets control of West Ham. Sullivan, David Gold and Karren Brady turned round the Blues over a number of years, but the porn baron's background and poor relations with City fans may suggest he's not one for us. We'll see.

And then there was the odd Sun story about Tony Jiminez - the fixer who almost pulled off the Zabeel deal last year - being involved in another bid, which, unhappily, featured Dennis Wise. Which led to a surreally bad South London Press story misquoting the boss of a moribund supporters' club as saying he was backing it.

It's all noise, though, because the real deal is still what happens on the pitch. I[ve still got to get my tetanus jab for the trip down to Gillingham tomorrow, which for me feels about as much as a derby as playing Reading, but there you go. At least it's one train all the way. Gillingham fans on BBC London News were itching to teach us a lesson. They were probably itching as well. Test of character, crappy old away stand, nasty dump, blah, blah. With many Charlton fans having far shorter journeys than me to Priestfield, and feeling this one a bit more personally than me, we're sure to have some decent support tomorrow. It could make all the difference. We'll see in 24 hours.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The perils of fearing failure

Ladies, gentlemen, I return from Essex with news. We are mortal, my friends, and as liable to a deserved stuffing as the worst of them.

If it wasn't for being in rollickingly good company, Tuesday's trip up the A12 would have been swiftly consigned to the bin marked "bad memories". We overcame dreadful traffic conditions to get to the Care In The Community Stadium on time... except there's no signs to direct drivers to the ground. Up, down, and back up the A12 again, signs were finally tracked down somewhere off the dual carriageway, leading to a traffic jam. At 7.50pm. Colchester had also banked £7 in car park money... and then told us it was full up and we should park anywhere.

No sooner had we settled in our seats than Miguel Angel Llera guided the ball towards Rob Elliot... well, so he thought. He actually guided it into the back of the net, a furious keeper unable to do anything about it. Llera continued to have an awful match, and wasn't much use for Kayode Odejayi's second goal a couple of minutes later.

And apart from a couple of second-half spells, it didn't get much better than that, with Odejayi scoring again after Elliot collided with Nicky Bailey. Charlton were outmuscled, out of sorts, and looking knackered. I couldn't help wondering if too much is being asked of Jonjo Shelvey, while Bailey looks like a man desperate for a rest.

With Colchester's new boss Aidy Boothroyd winning friends and influencing people at the Us, it must have been galling for their old boss to be thumped there. But while Phil Parkinson's fine start to the season has lifted his stock at Charlton, hopefully he can deal with the first major hiccup of the season and make sure he and the squad learns from it. His decision not to substitute Llera until welll into the second half was a worry, though...

Colchester will, no doubt, be there or thereabouts when the League One spoils are handed out at the end of the season. With a tiny, tidy, if inaccessible new ground, it doesn't seem there's much to lose for them. But the fear of failure is going to haunt Charlton all season. Having been away for a few weeks, our nervy performance against Exeter (whose substitute goalkeeper was spotted in Harvey Gardens minutes after the final whistle picking up and paying for post-match pizzas) showed the early-season sharpness was wearing thin.

While last week's news of boardroom changes and a £7m investment in the club was welcome, it was also a reminder of how fragile Charlton remains. The directors' cash will plug this season's financial gaps. With big debts still lurking below the surface, it remains to be seen how we'd cope with a second season in the third tier, if that was to come about. There's an underlying assumption that we cannot afford to fail this season. And that's an awful amount of pressure to wear on anyone's shoulders.

If Colchester was tough, Leeds will be tougher. But they also know more than most the perils of fearing failure - in their third League One season, but now the only unbeaten team in England. They'll hit a rough patch soon. We just have to have the strength to guide them there on Saturday. And that'll mean overcoming the fear of failure. We can do it... can't we?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So, who's up for the Trust, then?

A potentially significant moment in Charlton's history took place on Tuesday night - I nearly missed it, eyelids drooping due to jetlag (thanks to Stuart for holding the fort while I swanned around the US and Canada), but it definitely happened. The Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust has been given fans' backing.

Well, I say that, but only about 20 people bothered to show up at the Charlton Conservative Club. A show of hands revealed about half came from the immediate locality. True, the weather was dire, and almost three times that number had attended the putative trust's first meeting in early August - and had been warned the second meeting (a technical formality) would go over much of the same old group.

But really... 20 people? Is that really how many people care about our club? It's worth pointing out, as Ben Hayes - the prime mover behind setting up a trust - said, early meetings of the Valley Party were also poorly attended.

Some things need pointing out, though - yes, we may be unbeaten and still be top of the league. Yes, things are looking rosy at the moment. But what would happen if we fail to win promotion this season? What if a takeover or outside cash doesn't materialise? Charlton are still in a perilous state, and have the highest wage bill in League One. Quite simply, it's time for us to be a little more vigilant about what happens to our club in the years ahead.

The next meeting is on 14 October, when roles like treasurer and secretary will be decided upon. Want to get involved? Or just want to see what goes on first hand? Don't rely on other people to do the work for you - get the date in your diary now and come down.

Tonight (Thursday) sees Phil Parkinson's Q&A at The Valley - I can't make it, having had something planned for ages that night, but tickets are still available if you want to go.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Put your Trust in Charlton shares

As many will be aware, some people believe that an independent Trust should be set-up to deal with the uncertainty that surrounds Charlton's finances and long-term ownership.

Personally I remain on the fence about the pros and cons. But the idea seems to have got a shot in the arm today, with the announcement that a mystery Charlton shareholder has 'donated' 524,894 shares.

The press release issued states that:

Assuming a decision is made to establish the Supporters' Trust (ST), we will grant it voting control in respect of the 524,894 shares that we own. As I mentioned before, if it were necessary or beneficial to the ST, we would be prepared to go further and actually donate the shares to the ST providing that, in the event of a financial return upon the shares, the net proceeds of that return were donated to a charity (say Demelza House), assuming that the legal advisers to the ST don't see any difficulty with that.

The press release gives the motive as:

While, in my view, my shares now have limited economic value they can regain meaningful value if they can be combined with significant voting proxies and/or share donations from other shareholders (large and small) with the aim of empowering supporters collectively with a permanent and independent voice with the owners of the Club, whoever they may be. If that were achieved, in current circumstances I am sure that all who contribute their voting proxies or make share donations to the ST would, like me, consider it a very satisfactory "return" on our shares.

Curiouser and curiouser. If you'd like to know more there is a Supporters' Trust meeting at the Conservative Club, 51 Charlton Church Lane on Tuesday 15 September at 7.30pm. Kent football journalist Tony Hudd, former AFC Wimbledon Chairman Kris Stewart and a representative from Supporters' Direct will be answering questions. All Charlton fans are welcome.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pardew's welcome?

Well, will you be booing?

I personally don't know. He didn't do his job and deserved to go, but are we making him shoulder more than his fair share of blame?

Either way, I'm wary of his return. His record against previous employers means no-one should expect a walkover against our fellow travellers from the Championship, Southampton. The thrashing of West Ham that arguably gave us false hope of Premiership salvation. Regular wins against the Palarse too. I reckon Pards knows how to motivate a side against those he thinks wronged him.

Nice to see a mention in Dispatches for the brilliant start Lloyd Sam has made, albeit with a bottle of Coke for a trophy. I'll bet that one will take pride of place in the fridge. Shocked but not surprised to hear that Sam's award is the first monthly prize a Charlton player has won for almost two years. Here's to more regular prizes in the rest of this season.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Can I look yet?

Is the deadline passed? Can I count our midfield and not see some conspicuous holes?

Sad to see Yassin Moutaouakil leave. I always thought he looked quality. But good lord, players IN.

Anyone care to comment on quality or otherwise? Have we bought another member of the walking wounded in Leon McKenzie? And of course I'm sure AQITES' large Rhyl-based readership will have a view on Luke Holden.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On the road

"You're too excited," the doctor said. "You're top of the league, and you can't cope with the change in emotion. You didn't even write anything after the Walsall match, for heaven's sake. I suggest you take a holiday. A long one."

So Stuart gets the keys to the shop and the Twitter feed between now and, er, some time after the Southampton match. Let's hope things are still going well - and hopefully the mooted takeover will be resolved by then (or by the end of the transfer window)...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

From Hereford to Hartlepool

Free wi-fi on trains? Whatever next, Charlton winning away? Welcome aboard the Grand Central service to Kings Cross, where I'm slunk in an unsociable corner hunched over a tiny laptop. Every now and then, there's a sing-song - because Charlton won away. (in fact, as I type, two are being turfed off the train at York...

I didn't go home after the Hereford match, instead opting to use our first two away games to bookend a little cross-country jaunt to visit pals and see bands. The keys to our victory at Hartlepool were also the keys to our defeat at Edgar Street - teamwork, hard work, and belief.

At Hereford, our weakened side were never at the races. Rob Elliot put in a cracking save at the end of normal time which made my heart sink - I wanted to go to the pub. Izale McLeod was dreadful, and dragged the rest of the team down. Andy Gray was awful, exposing the lack of options Phil Parkinson has up front. Neither really looked like they wanted to be there, and with booing from the away end, it was as if last season hadn't finished.

But there were positives - I thought Alex Stavrinou and Chris Solly were great, and Rob Elliot improves with every game. And for me, the novel experience of watching on a terrace, so close to the action that I felt the breeze whenever the linesman ran past and could listen to Elliot bark instructions at our defenders. And there was local beer and cider for me too, and a night spent in the Forest of Dean at the home of an exiled Addick, ("Look, stars!")

With one or two exceptions, Elliot wasn't seriously tested at Hartlepool, who put us under pressure at the start but faded as soon as Deon Burton got a fairly lucky opener. Nicky Bailey's header completed the job, but the real hard work was in defending that lead. Burton, Dailly, Llera - three Parky signings, three terrific grafters, while Frazer Richardson gradually warmed to his task. Even Lloyd Sam had a good game.

In the blustery conditions, the 505 away fans made merry - it's the first away Charlton win I've seen since beating Crystal Palace the season before last. The merest hint of good times is something to embrace after being kicked in the teeth for so long.

And it's those qualities I mentioned earlier that will be key. We're playing as if a cloud has been lifted from us - we have a collection of players that actually want to work, and work together. The sooner we can cut out the the likes of McLeod and Gray, and replace them with men who are capable of dealing with the job instead of infecting the team with their lack of belief, the better. Phil Parkinson must be praying harder than most for a takeover to prove fresh funds for him to do this.

Crikey, it's strange to have something to be positive about, isn't it?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's Takeover Tuesday! Or is it?

It's a lovely sunny Tuesday in SE7, and can you feel a sense of anticipation in the air? A takeover announcement, perhaps?

The Mail on Sunday carried a short story saying things were just about dusted and things were due to be announced early this week. Tuesday's been a date I've heard, but it strikes me as a bit daft to be adding further fuel to the rumour fire. Especially as it's just turned 1pm and nothing's happened yet...

But what does seem clear is that a resolution to the problem of finding fresh investment for the club is on its way - but when this will come, and who it involves, is still unclear.

So for now, it's wiser to worry about matters on the pitch - Saturday's two-thirds great, one-third awful win over Wycombe shows that while Phil Parkinson has clearly done a lot of work over the summer, he's still got a long way to go before he convinces the fans he's the man to back. That said, Christian Dailly's looking a good signing and I think Miguel Angel Llera is going to become a bit of a cult figure around these parts.

Best of all, though - the noise from the crowd. It was good to hear The Valley getting back towards its raucous best. Long may it continue.

Of course, only real Charlton fans are going to Hereford which is why... I'm going. Surely some mistake? Thoughts may be a while in arriving, but I'll post what observations I can to the All Quiet Twitter feed.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Here we go again

As usual, I've completely failed in the task of writing a preview for the new season. Even got scooped to my own Charlton Pathe newsreels post that I didn't get around to writing. Times is hard.

It's hard to say anything about the next season with much certainty, though. Off the pitch, we've turned into a mini-Newcastle, a basket case waiting to be rescued. But somewhere out of this, some money has been found to keep us going for a bit, to give Phil Parkinson a bit of backing and to appoint Tim Breacker as his assistant.

Now it down to Parky to repay that backing and show us what he's worth. The pre-season friendlies weren't all that bad - I actually enjoyed the Ipswich match - and while Frazer Richardson and Miguel Angel Llera look like solid signings, I'm hoping the experience of Christian Dailly will help steady the CAFC ship as it sails through uncertain waters.

And for many of us, the third division is unchartered waters. Today's match against Wycombe should give us an example of what to expect - they're newly-promoted, but they're no mugs. The next week - including away trips to Hereford for the League Cup and Hartlepool in the league - will be invaluable in determining our mood for the coming months.

Today also sees the launch of All Quiet in the East Stand's experimental Twitter service - assuming I can get a decent data signal in The Valley, which will hopefully prompt me into updating this blog a bit more often as well.

It coincides with Charlton's press office launching their own Twitter feed. Twitter's a bit like Marmite - you either love it or hate it, but it's good to see them trying out new stuff. I hope they use it to listen to fans as well as telling them things.

Guess what? The sun's out! I'm nearly excited about the new season now...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Supporters' Trust meeting - 4 August

In response to the current crisis, former supporters' director Ben Hayes has called a meeting to discuss setting up a supporters' trust for 7pm on 4 August at Charlton Conservative Club, Charlton Church Lane.

More on this Charlton Life thread.

If you want inspiration, look here. We've history to live up to.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

About that Mail on Sunday story

I stuck this response to the Mail on Sunday's claim we're close to administration on Charlton Life, and I should probably stick it here too.

Here's how I see it. I've returned too late from the pub to add much new, but hopefully this brings some threads together.

1. The Mail on Sunday has impeccable contacts within and around Charlton Athletic.

2. Unattributed quotes *often* come from journalists' keyboards. Nobody will say anything on record, but a hack can cobble together a quote based on what s/he knows and attribute it to a "source" or a "friend". It may well be close to what someone's said. But don't imagine someone's rang someone up out of the blue - the MoS has great contacts, and that quote is *probably* the result of at least one conversation which didn't include those exact words.

3. But why would this story appear? Yes, horrors could have shown up in due diligence. But Richard Murray - who, yes, is responsible for past sins, but also knows the books inside out, is on record as saying we will not go into administration. The SLP, Murray's trumpet of choice, reported the board was ready to write off £30million to ease the takeover.

4. So if we were going to write off that debt anyway... is a board member not playing ball? As is mentioned above, when does friendly debt become unfriendly? Or, as is pointed out elsewhere... is this brinkmanship from the consortium? And in any case, who is this "consortium of local businessmen"?

I'm worried. But I think the best thing is to think about *why* that three-paragraph story appeared. If we really were in such very deep shit, it could be a bigger story. Fingers crossed it isn't.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cut the fancy talk and get to work

While some of you were braving the elements at Park View Road last night, I braved the crush at the bar in the Lord John Russell in Bloomsbury, drinking in good company and plotting for the future.

There are many, many better things to do at the moment than worry about Charlton Athletic. The reason I packed the blog in during February is that the last thing I needed was to depress myself, and because 26 consecutive posts moaning really doesn't do anyone any good. This club had enough moaners when we were doing alright - it didn't need more corrosive criticism while in a tailspin.

But with pre-season under way, what do we find to lift the spirits? Sweet bugger all. Even basketcase Southampton have got new owners, meaning its fans can now get on with their proper task of hunting down Rupert Lowe and throwing him in the Solent.

We have no such new dawn. Yet. The cancellation of tonight's fans' forum meeting - which I had a ticket for, but anticipated like I'd look forward to a root canal operation performed to a sell-out O2 arena - may mean that, finally, the long-drawn-out process of flogging the knackered Addicks is approaching an end.

Because ever since the Zabeel deal fell through, the club has been in suspended animation - eyes wide open, terrified by what might happen next and memories of past mismanagement. Under uninspiring Phil Parkinson, relegation was a certainty at Christmas. It happened, lots of people lost their jobs.

And now where is our shrunken club in July? We've finally said farewell to Zheng Zhi, in retrospect a purchase of Premier League vanity, who'd help us invade China when we can now barely invade our own back yard. Rarely fit due to the demands of his national team, it was no wonder we couldn't sell him in 2008, as the weight of his wages held down the sinking Charlton ship. It's incredible to even imagine we offered him a new contract.

Other barnacles scraped off the hull include Mark Hudson, off to Cardiff in a staggering bit of business, while the club's accountants can breathe a sigh of relief with the departures of Darren Ambrose (off to take his all-out, all-winning mentality to, um, Palace), Svetoslav Todorov and Nicky Weaver.

Coming in, though, we've only seen Miguel Llera, out of contract at MK Scum, arrive - not really a reason to haul myself to Welling to see a team of busted flushes and a manager that hopefully will be given his P45 soon.

The media hates a vacuum, and has struggled to fill it - watch our cleaning lady stick a brush down the boardroom toilet on CAFC TV - only £9.99 until August! No thanks.

Unveiling a pretty bog-standard new kit piece by piece was just patronising, and pretending that our sponsorship deal with Medway Towns Credit Union is something incredible just comes across as daft, even if they're paying you to talk them up. I don't think we were beating sponsors off with a stick, were we?

And banging on about being a Kent club - sorry, but shut up. It may have been a unique selling point in the Premier League, but Kent already has one two-bob load of shite in League One. I don't hear any great demand for another.

Let's get back to basics. We're a two-bob load of shite in south London, bob-bob-bobbing along with our fellow two-bob south London club Millwall, and looking to get out of this mess pretty damn quick. No fancy talk, no wishful thinking, is going to help. Investment and, more importantly, fresh thinking is needed at The Valley. The golden days have gone - and we now all have to work our arses off to bring them back again. Now get to it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The magic of fixture list day

These kids are up for the new third division season - are you?

It's good to be back - what have I missed? Relegation, you say? I dunno, all I see are the same old miserable faces I saw a few months back. Are you sure all that much has changed?

Fixture list day remains, though, a day that can puncture the gloom of most miseryguts. Years back, it was the only reason to buy an evening paper. Now, for the vast majority, it's click-refresh, click-refresh, click-refresh at 10am as the embargo gets lifted. Dimmer souls will never be satisfied, demanding someone cut and past the entire bloody thing onto forum posts instead of simply clicking on a link, but for the rest of us, it's a glimpse into a future that allows us to dream. Yes, it's Charlton's FIRST EVER League One season! (Well, if it's good enough for Sky Sports News and Burnley...)

In our case, it's the a future that allows us to dream of getting our dignity back. Unsurprisingly, we kick off at home on 8 August to Wycombe, a side we played in the Cup as a Premier League side and a team whose League Two trophy is gleaming in their boardroom. Then it's from bulls (Hereford away in the League Cup) to monkey-hangers at Hartlepool on 15 August.

Other highlights...

18 August: Leyton Orient (a)
- a proper midweek London derby! Yes!
29 August: Tranmere (a) - a night on the tiles in Liverpool!
26 September: Exeter (h) - remember when we played them in the Cup in 2003?
3 October: Leeds (a) - strange memories of happier days
31 October: Carlisle (a) - for the hardcore, just as the nights get dark too
21 November: Yeovil (a) - bet this is popular, a first-ever league meeting
1 December: Brighton (a) - inconveniently scheduled for midweek, as is the return fixture
19 December: Millwall (h) - Unlikely to be on that day as aged hardnuts dream of exercising creaking fists
26 December: Swindon (h) - Unlucky Swindon
28 December: Brentford (a) - A festive treat on the terraces
13 March: Millwall (a) - again, unlikely to be on that day and/or time
3 April: to be decided as the Conference fixtures aren't out until 3 July
17 April: Norwich (h) - Will be a big match if we do well
24 April: Exeter (a) - Will be a big match if we do badly
1 May: Leeds (h) - Will be a big match, whatever
8 May: Oldham (a) - Where will be we be by then? Cigars or sobbing in Manchester city centre after?

Full fixture list from the BBC - one element yet to come is the Football League Trophy, to be drawn on 8 or 15 August for the week commencing 31 August. Bet you can't wait.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The moment the rebirth started

Bring on the fixture list - and bring on a fresh start. Come on you reds!

Monday, February 09, 2009

If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say it

You might have noticed a drying-up of posts lately - as mentioned before, watching and thinking about Charlton Athletic haven't been experiences I've been in a hurry to revisit, the Palace victory aside.

With relegation looking likely, I'm going to put this site on hold to regroup and reassess things, and to gather some strength for the climb out of League One. You'll still find some of my nonsense from time to time on Charlton Life, but after nearly five years, I need a rest from feeling "obliged" to write about miserable experiences. Thanks to everyone who's made constructive and enlightening comments, and to Stuart for chipping in over the past couple of years. This isn't the end... just a bit of a pause.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Charlton 1-0 Crystal Palace

Bloody hell, how good was that? 1-0 against the Palace, and we were simply too strong for them, putting in the kind of performance that hasn't been seen at home since maybe the day we beat Reading. For me, it was two of our loan stars who shone the brightest - Matthew Spring's goal was of the kind we've been praying for all season, while I thought ex-Nigels star Tom Soares was terrific. Also immense was Nicky Bailey, while tonight was the night that young keeper Rob Elliot became a man - some great saves and the look on his face after the match was unforgettable.

Okay, the match had some scrappy moments and saw some dreadful refereeing - where did that five minutes added time come from? - but we played hard and outfought Neil Warnock's niggly tactics. Speaking of which...

"We let them get a grip and they got a goal. Then it was a lesson in time wasting and I think they should have added on 15 minutes at the end." (more)

Shove it up your bum, you bitter old man. Now, who else is full of false hope?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Staggering already

I suppose the result of tomorrow's match against Palace will set the tone for the rest of the season - a surprise win could set up The Great Escape, another defeat will lead to more unhelpful recriminations. The dimwitted plan to have the match at 7.45pm on a Tuesday, colliding with the evening rush hour, isn't going to help matters - and won't win the club any friends among its neighbours.

Still, it's time for to wag its finger...

British Transport Police (BTP) is urging fans to stagger their journeys and exercise patience before, during and after Tuesday night's derby between Charlton and Crystal Palace at The Valley.

The Addicks' clash with Palace starts at 7.45pm, and in a statement issued by BTP, chief insp Jim Little said: "We're expecting in excess of 15,000 people to attend the match, with a large number of people expected to converge on the London Bridge area and travel from there.

"Busy rush-hour commuter rail services will run before the game on a normal schedule, and no extra train services will be available.

"Fans are reminded that the kick-off will not be delayed for them if they do not make it to the ground before 7.45pm, so they are urged to arrive at the Valley turnstiles in plenty of time to assist police and stewards."

Of course, if Charlton hadn't moved evening kick-offs forward from 8pm to suit fans from distant Kent and beyond, then getting to Charlton wouldn't be such a hassle for fans, police, and locals alike. It's going to a fraught night.

Anyhow, if Chief Inspector Little (who clearly is also taking our published attendances with a pinch of salt) is so determined the match will kick off at 7.45pm, come what may, perhaps the best we can hope for is that Palace's team bus breaks down somewhere on the South Circular, and Neil Warnock's still installing the spare tyre come kick-off.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Izale like a Lion at the Den*

In an attempt to bypass my current inability to say anything sensible about Charlton's current plight, All Quiet In The East Stand is going to take a feed of stories from the official site, Hope you enjoy them - here's the first.

Charlton striker Izale McLeod enjoyed a winning start to life on loan at Millwall as the Lions snatched a 1-0 win over Tranmere Rovers on Saturday.

After a poor first half, proving just why two Charlton managers have barely played a striker they've wasted several hundred thousand pounds on, McLeod (right) stepped off the substitutes' bench for the start of the second period and instantly provided the cutting edge Millwall were lacking, latching onto Super Neil Harris' header and firing a shot against the upright on 50 minutes for the Mighty Lions.

Mugs could be heard banging against cell doors from Belmarsh to Brixton as the Lions made the breakthrough on 71 minutes as Marc Laird headed past Danny Coyne from six yards.

Afterwards, Millwall boss Kenny Jackett paid tribute to the judgement of Alan Pardew and Phil Parkinson.

"They're right, McLeod's awful. He's so bad for Charlton, I've got him here for the rest of the season - it's best for them," he chuckled.

"I'm sure Charlton fans will be delighted to hear that south-east London will be represented in the Championship next season by a team of hungry youngsters, with a team spirit moulded through adversity and persistence. Maybe we'll play them in a friendly next season."

After Saturday's FA Cup match at Hull City (3pm), Izale's plucky Lions go on to face Scunthorpe United at the New Den on 31 January (3pm, tickets 0870 403 3357, 53 bus from Charlton Village to Ilderton Road, special charabanc from the Isle of Sheppey).

McLeod is eligible to feature in the FA Cup for Millwall against the Tigers, having not played for Charlton in the competition this season, or, indeed, hardly at all. The Lions have yet to ask Charlton permission for the forward to play in the tie, although we have asked them nicely if they'd take him off our hands.

In League Two, Addicks midfielder Dean Sinclair made his debut for Grimsby Town and played the full 90 minutes as the Mariners inflicted a first home defeat of the campaign on leaders Wycombe Wanderers with a 1-0 win.

Town boss Mike Newell stated: "I didn't know this bloke Sinclair existed. I'd heard about Charlton throwing money at players that clearly didn't exist, and was about to complain to the FA when he suddenly turned up on my doorstep. He ain't bad, you know.

Grimsby will be looking to build on the victory when they host Rotherham United at Blundell Park on Saturday (3pm, tickets 01472 605050, "Cod Express" bus leaves Billingsgate Market at 10am).

Back in League One, Addicks striker Stuart Fleetwood was on the losing side as Brighton & Hove Albion slipped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Leeds United.

"It's not easy for Fleetwood," said Seagulls gaffer Micky Adams. "He's forgotten who Charlton are. He thinks we're playing them next week when it's actually Cheltenham we're playing."

Meanwhile, ex-Addicks striker Francis Jeffers fired one home for the first time since the invention of the internet as Sheffield Wednesday hammered doomed Charlton Athletic 4-1 at Hillsborough (hold on, have you got the point of this? - Ed).

Jeffers, injured when his shell suit caught light in a cheap nightspot in South Yorkshire, was the man of the match for Owls boss Brian Laws.

"I was told he was one of the biggest wastes of money Charlton had ever signed," Laws told the press. "But at least he got a few games."

(*does anyone else remember that graffiti outside London Bridge station?)

There's more to life (etc)

Normal Charlton service was resumed with a defeat at Sheffield Wednesday which was, by all accounts, abysmal. Did I go? Nope. I can't really add anything that hasn't been said already, and I just feel spent with the whole thing, really.

So, in the meantime, here's an amusing video of some kittens.

See, that made you smile a bit, didn't it? Oh...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Crikey! We won a match!

We won! We beat a team!

If only it was a league match... but you've got to take your bonuses where you can get them. And it does prove we can beat other Championship sides, even if it's one as crap as Norwich. Sheffield United beckon at Brammall Lane in the fourth round.

Not had much time to digest the annual report and the Forest farrago, a gigantic huge thinky post may follow soon, if you're really unlucky.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

'Wage bill nearing 100% of turnover'

After yesterday's draw with Norwich (some encouraging bits, like Jonjo Shelvey, and some bad bits, like Parky's oddly-handled substitutions), a worrying story in the Mail on Sunday. This doesn't appear online, but was fished out by the Charlton Life forum.

Great Dane too dear for The Valley

By Mick Collins

Charlton Athletic are fighting for their Championship survival but are unable to field a player for whom they paid £250,000 because it would cost the cash-strapped club an extra £100,000 if they picked him.

The financial plight of the Championship’s bottom club means that they could pay out as much as £1.5 million without Martin Christensen ever tasting competitive action at The Valley.

The 21-year-old Dane was signed by former manager Alan Pardew in 2007 on a four-year, £5,000 a week contract from Danish club Herfolge Boldklub on the understanding that Charlton would pay an additional £100,000 when he made his first-team debut.

He was signed a week after 28 staff were made redundant following Charlton’s relegation from the Premier League.

The deal also involved Herfolge receiving £50,000 a year for the remaining span of the contract in exchange for Charlton having first refusal on their young players.

“There was a lot of opposition,” said one board member. “But Pardew was determined. He dug his heels in and insisted we sign him.

“Christensen will never play. It’s just not going to happen. First, there’s not the money and secondly, he’s not the player we were lead to believe he was. The whole situation, to be honest, is a complete mess.”

With Charlton’s wage bill now fast approaching 100% of their turnover, their position is a precarious one on and off the field.

Club chairman Richard Murray declined to comment about the situation after Phil Parkinson’s men drew 1-1 at home to Norwich in the FA Cup yesterday.

Mick Collins is a Charlton fan and respected football writer and broadcasters, so it's safe to assume his story is impeccably sourced. Beneath the "we must find a scapegoat" game of blaming Pardew or board members for the fiasco of Christensen's signing is a very, very, scary assertion...

With Charlton’s wage bill now fast approaching 100% of their turnover, their position is a precarious one on and off the field.

I hope this gets raised at the shareholders' annual general meeting on 28 January.