Monday, 29 June 2009

San Miguel

There was a rare snippet of news from the Valley this afternoon.

We appear to have signed a 6 feet 4 inches Spanish central defender.

His name is Miguel Angel Llera. From the look of him, he should have few problems being our new 'one for the ladies'.

His wikipedia entry already has him as a Charlton player.

The news would seem to back up the widely reported rumour about Mark Hudson moving on to Cardiff.

Llera has made the move South from MK Dons. He sees his new job in SE7 as a step up.
That's reassuring.

Saturday, 27 June 2009


Last night I had my first visit to 'new' Wembley.

There was a time when I seemed to be going to Wembley arena, or the stadium, almost on a monthly basis for either music, comedy or sport. Recently other venues such as the more local O2 have taken over for me.

I had imagined my first taste of the magnificent stadium would have been due to a visit with Charlton Athletic.

When we were relegated from the Premier league, I was fairly sure we would be returned to the promised land with haste, ideally by winning a Play Off Final again.

We know what those days out are like and I was anxious to have a second serving.

I was offered a spare ticket for the very first concert at 'new' Wembley, (George Michael) but declined, partly due to wanting to visit for football rather than music for my first experience.

When I drive home from work, over the brow of Shooters Hill, I always enjoy the view of Docklands, the O2, the Millennium Wheel, The Gherkin etc.
If the journey is in darkness, it's also really easy to pick out the well lit arch from Wembley stadium. I was now, finally going to be under the arch rather than spotting it from distance.

I arrived at North Greenwich tube station for my journey to Brent and noticed the television crews, all anxious to be talking to camera with the O2 dome in the background.

They were there to comment on the sad and untimely death of Michael Jackson, who had managed to (over?) book himself 50 nights at the arena.

It reminded me of one of my previous visits to the 'old' Wembley, for Michael Jackson promoting his 'Bad' album in 1988.
He was at the height of his powers then. He was a fantastic performer.

I was much younger then too.
Standing up for 3 hours waiting for the first roadie to come out and whisper " .....two, three.." didn't seem much of a hardship. I was with friends, having a laugh so we made our way to the most crowded, vocal area, almost touching the stage.
We managed to get so close to the front that when Jackson flew out over the crowd during one of his songs, he was actually behind us.
We also got the most amazing view up modern day celebrity gardener Kim Wilde's short skirt, when she tried to raise the crowd as one of the support acts.

Jackson was most certainly odd in those days but we put up with it because his singing and dancing outshone the oddness. Later, not least due to his rather unhealthy interests and his messiah complex there was a switch and his music became very secondary to his 'Wacko Jacko' persona.

Incidentally, did you know that it was Danny Baker, Millwall fan and ex N.M.E writer who first coined the 'Wacko' nickname? Having the world call you unhinged really can't have helped Jackson to live any kind of normal life.
If you are a music superstar, I'd steer clear of Danny Baker. He's also on record as the person who 'killed' Bob Marley.
(He was responsible for the tackle on Marley during a game of football that injured the reggae man's toe. It later became cancerous and Bob checked out.)

In 2005, Baker wrote in the Times about his meeting with Jackson. Well worth a glance if you have the time.

And so to Wem-ber-lee!

As the train got closer and closer to Wembley Park, it filled up with more and more aging rock chicks, men in school uniform carrying blow up guitars, quite fearsome looking blokes with full arm tattoos and hundreds and hundreds of Bill Bailey lookalikes.

I think it's fair to say that I was the only person within half a mile who had picked out a rather fetching pale blue Lacoste pique polo shirt and teamed it with a pair of retro Adidas 'Stan Smith' trainers.
Black, and lots of it were most certainly the order of the day.

We were all there to see AC/DC as part of the stadium leg of their immense Black Ice tour. They had already visited the O2 in Greenwich during the arena leg but I'd missed out when tickets went on sale.

People are often amazed when I say that I'm a fan.
Ultimately, I'd class myself as a fan of indie rock with a fair smattering of classic punk such as the Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Ramones and the Undertones.
How did I get to like AC/DC?
Well, they have much the same way of performing as Motorhead, - they are just totally preposterous!
There's no messing around. Just full on, ludicrous riff after riff with over blown, bombastic power chords.

I looked around me last night and there wasn't even a hint of any aggression from those present. Everyone was smiling, pulling 'guitar faces' as they strapped on their air guitars and thundered on. We were there to be battered into submission by the LOUDEST collection of anthems.

Wembley was packed. The crowd were up for it and 'Acca Dacca' as they are known in the Antipodes were on top form.

Sensibly, they refrained from playing too many tunes from last years most recent album and leaned heavily on the older stuff we had all come to hear.

Highlights for me included the well known 'Back in Black".
Even if you don't know AC/DC, you'll know 'Back in Black' due to it being used so often in films and television sports montages.

Other magic moments were 'Shoot to Thrill', 'Thunderstruck', 'The Jack' and 'Highway to Hell'.
My almost tear inducing favourite moment, was when the crowd recognised the opening riff of 'Whole Lotta Rosie' and bellowed as one "ANGUS! ANGUS!" in homage to the live version on the 1978 album 'If you want blood' .
I was instantly transported back in time to being a 12 year old, pulling devil horn poses while strumming a badminton racket.

They won me over, the black clad army.
By the time I was back on the tube, returning to North Greenwich, I had my Lacoste polo hanging out of my back pocket and I was wearing a rather tasteful charcoal coloured tee shirt emblazened with AC/DC est.1973.

I don't want to beat them but I sure as anything want to join them.

AC/DC, -live at Wembley Stadium, 26th June 2009. -A Casual Rating.

This kind of rating doesn't really work for Angus and the boys but they are getting one regardless.
My ears are still ringing but the joy is still present.
Absolutely, totally flawless.
An amalgamation of a pair of Puma Clyde trainers, a Sergio Tacchini 'Dallas' top and a Rolex watch.

Unadulterated perfection.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Version 3.0

I'm a self confessed Apple product fan.

I love the iPod, I'm a huge fan of my MacBook and my iPhone has almost become part of my arm.

I've really got it bad.

Over Easter, I resembled a teenager who had stumbled inside a sex shop.

I was walking around in a trance, inside the Apple flagship store in New York City. I was also in heaven.
It's open 24 hours a day and 7 days each week. I was there at around midnight but it was still very busy.

I uploaded the new, (3.0), software for my iPhone 3G yesterday.

It's been spoken about in hushed tones for nearly a year now, or ever since the 3G version of the original iPhone was launched last Summer.

Rumour was piled upon rumour as to what new features were to be included.

As an American piece of kit, the European fashion for sending picture messages was a glaring omission from the first two versions of the iPhone. It was widely assumed that this rather ridiculous state of affairs would be rectified.

I found it plainly embarrassing that I owned something generally held up as an icon of style and function, yet I could be outplayed by a small child with a £9.99 supermarket mobile when it came to MMS.

Another problem with the iPhone was the lack of ability when it came to 'lifting' text from emails or websites. Some kind of Copy & Paste surely would be included.

I've now had the opportunity to play with my version 3.0 for a few hours. I'm really looking forward to reading what my favourite gadget magazines have to say about it.
However, before I get influenced by what T3 and Stuff have to say, I thought I'd put my own thoughts out there.

Apparently, there are 'countless' improvements made to the iPhone by this upgrade. Most of them won't really be noticeable so I thought I'd list the functions that I know I'll be using, or think are pretty cool even though I might not use them very often.

A 'Casual' Top 5

1. A massive number one function for me is the widely predicted MMS function. I have already sent some successfully and received them too. I love the fact that the image is included within the conversation thread and then you click on it to make it larger. Easy to open, simple to send.
The only setback that I can see is that one MMS message actually counts for 4 SMS messages when you are using up your monthly allowance. This could be a problem when those 'hilarious' drunken pictures need to be sent.

2. The Copy and Paste function that iPhone owners have been pleading for has finally been included. Despite the Apple people saying how simple it is to use, I must say it has taken more than a little bit of time to get used to. I'll get there I know but at present it's a little frustrating.

3. Widescreen typing is now available for both SMS and email.
This really won't make much of a difference to me as I had already paid for this function from the iTunes Apps store but the new version does seem less 'clunky' than the version I've been using for the last 8 months.

4. Buying films and TV shows direct from the handset, without having to download them from the iTunes website using your computer is a fantastic inclusion. As long as you have a decent WiFi connection you can now buy films and TV shows on the hoof. If it's a shorter show you don't even need the WiFi as you can just use the regular 3G, Edge, etc internet connection. This function will be useful when you find yourself with a spare half an hour, waiting for a friend or for your partner to exit the shoe shop.

5. There is now a Remote Wipe function. If you lose your iPhone the panic is bound to set in pretty quickly. I know my own handset has been set up for one touch purchasing from various companies such as Amazon. I have most of my friends names, addresses and emails in the memory and I'm sure it wouldn't take a genius to go on a spending spree using my details.
It's now possible to 'wipe clean' the iPhone from any internet connected computer, even when you don't have the handset nearby. If you then find your handset again, you just Synch it with your computer where the details are still kept.

There are many more functions that Apple have included but at present, that was my top 5.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

An Empty Chair

By now, we all know the sequence of our fixtures for the coming season. 

This morning, I honestly felt a little bit excited at the prospect of learning what I would be up to over the period until May 2010. 

When would there be that cheeky evening flit up the motorway?
When would a weekend break be possible to coincide with the football?

Just after 10 o'clock this morning, I got to glance at the club website. My initial reaction was a feeling of disappointment.

Yet again, I will be missing our first game of the season due to being on holiday but I was hoping that I'd be absent for an away game - and one that I wouldn't have wanted to go to at that.

It wasn't to be.

My seat will be empty for the visit of the Chairboys.

 I'm not going to pretend that I won't be having fun while I'm away. 
I know for a fact that I'll be loafing around in the sunshine with the occasional swim in the surf when it all gets just too hot to be comfortable. I'll be eating fine food and drinking far too much I imagine.
All year I look forward to the Summer break we take in the sun. Dreaming about it gets me through some of the frighteningly cold weeks around February time.

However, between the hours of 3pm and 5pm on the 8th August, there will be a very small part of a Greek island following the events in SE7 very closely and wishing it was a little nearer.

My other big disappointment is our fixture away at Brighton. 

A midweek evening game was definitely not what we had ordered. I fancied a weekend on the South coast, staying with my sister and her family. I'd even promised my nephew that I'd take him to his first Charlton game when we played in his home city. It's not possible now.

Anyway, despite the moans, it's good to be looking forwards. 

At this time of year, it's all to play for and everything is still possible.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

I've Crumbled.

My resolve was worthless.
I tried hard to pretend I could wait until the last minute before coughing up for my new Season Ticket.

My strong argument of keeping my money, earning me interest rather than going into the coffers of the club was an easy one to announce but much more difficult to live with.

It just didn't FEEL right.

Every year for what seems like forever, by late May, I've had a little white piece of card with my own handwriting on it perched on top of the TV. It was the acknowledgement from the club that I had paid to be part of the following seasons campaign.

Late last week, I tapped on the window of the ticket office so those working hard/checking facebook would notice me and handed over my details plus debit card.

It's a stupid thing to admit but I actually feel a little bit relieved now that I'm back on board for sure.

The whole issue has been put to bed and I'm happy about it.

I'm less happy at my own lack of staying power.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Goodbye Winker!

News reached us this afternoon that Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to be moving from rain lashed Manchester to Madrid. He's the latest in a long line of 'Galacticos' to drive their luxury motors into the players car park at Real Madrid. 

£80 million pounds? Is ANYTHING worth £80 million? Maybe Kent or Somerset but a PERSON? The world has gone cuckoo.

I won't try to put forward an argument that Ronny isn't a fantastic player with superlative skills.
 Unfortunately, his skills,- especially his powerful shot and the ability to hit top pace within 5 strides aren't enough for me.

 I just can't stand him. 

He has the ability to turn a game, single handedly, with his fleet footed abilities. Why resort to diving and trying to con the referee?

Now, if only we could get rid of Didier Drogba, I would be able to sit through Match Of The Day without wanting to kick the screen.

Cristiano Ronaldo - Casual Rating.

Despite officially being one of the top 3 players on the planet, there's not going to be any tears from me when he leaves.

I'm rating him as a superbly well made, perfectly fitting, limited edition green 'Fila BJ' tracktop. These articles of clothing are legendary and if you have one it really is almost one of a kind. 
The Ronaldo version is all of the above with a a great dollop of bird poo running down the shoulder as a metaphor for his flawed character.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Enough is Enough.


 I made a serious error this evening.

Maybe you have made the same error yourself recently.
 I now feel dirty, ashamed and in need of a stiff drink.

I sat down in a fairly carefree frame of mind. A CD of the Stone Roses was chugging away in the background, I had a large coffee steaming away in my favourite mug and I was soaking into a soft, leather sofa.

Within 5 minutes I felt totally aggrieved and more annoyed than I had felt all day.

It's the fault of this lot.    Tosh  

I had no reason to go there. I've been there before and hated myself afterwards.
Why couldn't I just have kicked back, enjoyed the tunes and taken it easy?

But no. I had to open up the old MacBook and have a quick glance at 'Your bloody Whinges' didn't I?

I have no problem with people having a different viewpoint to mine. It's ridiculous to assume that there will be a consensus of opinion among such a wide and diverse set of people, purely because they share a fondness for a particular football team.

Unfortunately, the wide and diverse opinions of the Charlton support are not represented. Most Charlton supporters I know are now boycotting this part of the club site, due to the steaming pile that goes on there.

The 'Your Views' part of the Official Site has been taken over by a hard core of about 15 people.
There would appear to be two camps on Your Views. I won't mention any names as it's plain to see who they are and what their (CONSTANTLY being repeated) positions are.

One group are of the opinion that we are a club who are never going to be Manchester United, we were punching above our weight for a few years and we are now in a position slightly below our 'natural' position. No problem though, we support our team through thick and thin and take the rough with the smooth.

The other group are SO bloomin' angry. They moan about the players, they moan about the coaching, they moan about the manager, they moan about the food and drink available at the Valley, they moan about how the board need to get their act together, they moan about buying season tickets but "not being happy about it" - (??????). 

Both groups of course, can't see any grey. 
It's black and white. 
I'm right and you're wrong.
I'm clever and you're an imbecile.
I have the whole picture and you have a snapshot.
It's not good enough and I have all the answers.
It's not good enough and I don't have any answers.
.......... and the final argument, supposed to have the opposition running for the hills -
               "I've been a Charlton supporter since 19**". (Like it makes any difference.)

As I said above, I have no problem with people making an ass of themselves in public. You can have any opinion you like as far as I'm concerned. My problem is that we have people who are completely rubbishing the efforts of the club, on the club's own website. 

I have complete respect for Matt Wright who has the unenviable task of trying to keep the whole thing just the right side of sane. In his position, I'd have pulled the plug on the whole thing months and months ago.

The club website should be a place where fans and non fans go for information. I've looked at other clubs websites on many occasions for facts prior to Charlton playing their team or purely out of interest.

I've never seen an area of another club website devoted to knocking themselves. It's madness.

If Crystal Palace fans were having a go at Tangoman on their own official site we'd think that Palace had lost it completely. Yet we persist.

There are plenty of places where people can go for a moan but in my opinion, the Official Club Site should not be one of them.

One question. 
Would a successful organisation such as McDonalds have a section on their own official site where people can complain about the service, food, parking, etc?      burgers

I think not.

Your Views: - Casual Rating.

I would rate the Your Views section of the Official Charlton Athletic website as a pair of Bay City Rollers style trousers....... with black greasy stains where the flare got caught in a bicycle chain......... and a wet patch down the front........ and a beer belly spilling over the waist band... being worn by John Prescott.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

60% ?

I took this photograph at one of our final home games in the Premier League. By then the writing was on the wall with regards our survival. It's the view from the seat I've occupied in the East Stand since moving from the North around 6 years ago. I wanted a memory of what a full Valley was like.

Yesterday, we heard the 'encouraging' news that approaching 60% of those who held Season Tickets last season have already shown their desire for more of the same.    HERE.

Actually, they are probably hoping for rather less of the same disappointing football we experienced last time around but I commend their loyalty.

I know in my heart of hearts that I will be purchasing again, I just haven't got around to it yet. The sudden movement on Friday from the previously statuesque communications department caught us all off guard. We'd all got so used to moaning that there wasn't any news, when it came through I didn't really take it in properly until today.

However, as encouraging as it sounds for a tier 3 team to be guaranteed, at this stage, crowds of at least 7000+ it won't be making me drag my camera out again.

Last season, we had many Season Ticket holders who just found that they couldn't face any more. We need as many people as possible to support the club by purchasing but also to turn up to support the team in person.

I imagine that there will be around another 2000 people like me. Those who WILL buy a season ticket, just not yet. That would give a home crowd, including those who can raise themselves on a rather more casual basis of around 11 000 .

 Away support at the Valley is out of our control. With Millwall able to take approaching a very healthy 50 000 day trippers and knuckle draggers to Wembley, we could safely assume that they might bring a few thousand to the Valley. Some teams supporters might fancy coming too, due to our proximity to central London and the chance to see a 'Premier League' stadium. Other teams may only bring a couple of hundred or less.

Unfortunately, I find it hard to imagine that we will be seeing many crowds approaching 15 000 - (a half full Valley). More worryingly, I can see us having many games, especially the chilly or wet evening ones against unfancied opposition, in front of less than 10 000. That would mean for every seat occupied, there would be two empty. It could be a very cold winter.

I'm not the first person to say this, and once tickets have been bought and issued it's too late anyway but why are we persevering with the use of the whole stadium?

Surely it would be much better to close off the top tiers of the North and West stands to keep everyone closer to the pitch, build an atmosphere and make it less likely, (as happened to me more than once last season), that people have practically a whole row to themselves.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

I Love Democracy

The second Reform Act in the year 1867 was a monumental moment in our nations history. This extended the number of people able to vote to include men, (that's me), living in urban areas, (me again) and made it less likely that you had to prove you paid more than £10 per annum in rent or rates, (I'm pretty sure that I'd have scraped by on that one anyway).

Hurrah for those souls who pushed for women's suffrage, including Emmeline Pankhurst who fully understood the impact of a Grand Statement.

I was thinking of Emily Davison and her mad dash towards King George V's nag at the Epsom Derby in 1913 while I sat in the sun today on the beach at Broadstairs.

If it hadn't been for the stellar work of those people willing to put personal comfort and public ridicule to one side, I'd have had to BE IN WORK!!!!

I'm a massive fan of elections. We should vote on everything.... All the time. I think we should be voting next week on the colour of Gordon Brown's shoes. The week after we should be deciding on Yvette Cooper's neckline. Those ancient Greeks in Athens were true heroes.

You see, some of us are fortunate enough to work in an educational establishment that happens to be used, when necessary, as a Polling Station.
We are right behind the notion of 'Majority Rule'.
Even if I'd wanted to go into work today, I would have been sent home. BY LAW!
Beat that.

We cruised out of South East London with the air of kids who were bunking off and arrived at Broadstairs in sunshine. What a gorgeous day. We sat with our toes digging in the sand and watching the beach volleyball and, (I'm not kidding here), the surfers.

No news of course from the Valley. No take over. No new players. A couple of kids who weren't ever going to make it to the first team got released. That is all. Everything else is just conjecture and papertalk. It's all getting very frustrating. It's only a month until the first pre season game and it would seem that the club still haven't got around to doing anything other than washing the kits used in the game against Norwich City.

Casual Rating- Broadstairs.

A pair of vintage Adidas Forest Hills goes to the absolutely gorgeous cafe in Broadstairs called 'Connells'. The most luscious latte, made with 'illy' brand coffee and served in a beautiful garden at the back. A stylish establishment but not one where it's style over substance. Highly recommended.

A Primark novelty slogan tee shirt goes to the ghastly seafood / fish and chip place on the edge of the harbour, (pictured above). To be avoided. That is unless you fancy a deep fried, ten year old shin pad, masquerading as a piece of cod and a load of Lego bricks purporting to be chips. In truth, the mushy peas were fine, as was the friendly girl who did most of the work but the dozy boy who took the order seemed as if walking and talking at the same time was a multi task too far. I won't be back. Ever.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Sharon's Off !

The news that Darren, 'Sharon' Ambrose is due to be joining our local friends from Selhurst was greeted by an almost universal shrug of the shoulders.

Nobody can deny that Darren has had a rather tricky time of it when it comes to his relationship with the Charlton support.

He arrived in South London from Newcastle with plenty to prove. Bobby Robson had raided his old club Ipswich for what seemed like a fantastic player for the future. Unfortunately for Darren, the Geordies only seem to be able to wait five minutes before their team, (or manager) are cast aside in favour of the new flavour of the week for failing to deliver their rightful place as supreme beings of the universe.

Both Robson and Ambrose were to leave, Robson being particularly badly treated. So, Darren started off for Charlton with a bang, showing us all what he is capable of, by being sent off during his debut at the Stadium of Light.

I always found it quite ironic that the first experience most of us had of our new pacy player seemed to be of a ruthless hothead who went crashing into rather unnecessary tackles.

We were to wait another two seasons before Darren went in for another 50 : 50 challenge.

He acquired a reputation for being a bit of a softy. He was nowhere near as bad as our greyhound like Danish winger in this respect but no amount of tattoos, marriages or children could rid him of  being compared, unfavourably, to a rather delicate flower by many at the Valley.

We were unfair to Darren. He played through the pain apparently and it wasn't his fault that we expected too much. However, he had the tendency to go missing in games and though obviously a very skillful player, his final ball was sometimes woeful.

I shall remember Sharon for two things. 
Firstly the sublime goal he scored from distance against Manchester United facing the North stand. It was a peach and no doubt figures heavily, from a multitude of angles, on the DVD his agent has for emergencies.
Secondly, I shall remember the reports of him failing to turn up on time for a home game due to being caught in traffic. That's just SOOO Charlton!
Can you imagine that happening to a Manchester United player?
Actually, I've just thought of Rio Ferdinand so scrub that but you get my point. He was like us. He wasn't a fancy superstar. He got caught in traffic. Oh how I laughed!

So, farewell Sharon. It's difficult to say that you will be missed as you have played no more than a bit part in our lives over the last season. I wish you well and have to agree that any player willing to wave his appearance fee to help out his hard up club can't be all bad. 

Darren Ambrose : Casual Rating. 
 I would rate Darren as a Lonsdale polo shirt. On the face of it, not too different from a Lacoste but just not quite 'there'. 
Totally acceptable for taking home to mum but never going to make much of an impact when you need to make that big impression.
Under different circumstances Ambrose may prove to be a more than solid Blue Harbour sweater but he's never going to be the full Pringle.