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.