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...