Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Cheer Up!

A 'three nought' defeat is never a time to start clapping your mates on the back and bursting into song.
Generally, a few moments of quiet contemplation followed by a shrug of the shoulders are what works for me.
Last season I became quite the expert at coping with setbacks.

I cheered myself up after the game this evening by watching one of the clips used to promote the new 'hymn to the 80's casual' version of 'The Firm'.

I sat with some noisy Bexleyheath Millwall 'yoof' last week at Cineworld, watching the film. The clip doesn't actually appear in the movie, it's a viral sent out into the world to pump up interest.
I love the music and I REALLY love the Fila wardrobe.
Adidas, Sergio Tacchini, Kappa and Ellesse also get mentioned in the film.

As I sat with the teenagers last week, I realised they weren't even twinkles in their mother's milkmen's eyes when I was wearing that clobber the first time round!


Colchester Collapse

The Charlton support played their part, showing up in numbers and selling out the away end at Colchester United.

Unfortunately, a mad minute around the half hour mark when 2 goals were conceded, more or less killed any realistic chances of Charlton gaining the 3 points most of the Addicks had hoped for, or in many cases, expected.

The unbeaten record has now vanished. It was never going to last forever and the team should be highly commended for keeping the run going for so long.

I think it's fair to say that whatever could go wrong, went wrong this evening.

After some pleasing early passages of play by the Addicks, Llera managed to undo all the good work by heading the ball into his own goal, much to the dismay of Rob Elliot.
Less than a minute later, Charlton were 2 down when Kayode Odejayi doubled the U's lead.

The second half was a poor performance by the reds. Odejayi scored his second goal, (the Colchester third), around the hour mark.
Charlton were second best for the rest of the game.
The hapless Llera was substituted for Sam Sodje, McLeod swapped with Spring but it was clearly not going to be our night.

All teams lose, it's how you react to the loss that's important.
Chelsea lost their unbeaten record last weekend but they are still a good side.
Charlton are also still a good side at this level. The trip to Yorkshire in a few days time to visit Leeds United is a fantastic opportunity to get the winning feeling back.

The pressure is off.
We aren't expected to get much at Elland Road while a visit to Colchester had the pundits expecting a goal fest.
They got one, just not in the way we had hoped.

Even if we lose at Leeds it's not panic stations. it's a long season and there are plenty more points to be played for.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Izale consolidates second spot.

I was 'Billy no mates' for the first half today as we played our home fixture against the 'Grecians' of Exeter.

Crispy was stuck on the wrong side of the Blackwall Tunnel, apparently due to the lengthy clear up after an accident. He only showed up at half time, looking rather annoyed. He was probably the only person in the East stand who was unaware we were leading 1-0.

I sent regular text updates throughout the first half, letting him know of our progress.
The general theme was that we were comfortably in control but with nothing to show for it.
He missed my message saying that Bailey had scored from a short corner so he was still under the impression we had been plugging away without reward.

The Grecians had brought enough fans to nearly fill the lower section of the South stand. Reports that a large proportion were actually London based means little. They were obviously up for it and tried hard to raise their team. Their local media had likened the trip to the Valley as their 'Cup Final'.

Our support was rather muted.
It would seem that many of us are finding it hard to adjust to playing competitive games against the likes of Walsall and Exeter. A few years ago, it seemed faintly ridiculous when sections of the crowd started half hearted chants when playing against tier 3 teams in the early rounds of the Carling cup. The feeling has remained for many, even though we are now meeting these teams as equals.

One positive from today was the almost total absence of the 'Addams Family' chant. It's run its course now. It was never very clever or witty but probably just about acceptable if it was only sung once or twice a season.
Unfortunately, within the last year it has become a top of the pops anthem for sections of our support.
Enough now. It's a crap chant and shouldn't we be singing in support of our team, rather than perceived social ills of our opponents?
When 'Valley Floyd Road' is sung less frequently than the 'Addams Family' we really have our priorities wrong.

The second half was dull until the last ten minutes.
The highlight until then was when Exeter carried on playing after the linesman had raised his flag for offside.
Most of their support didn't realise this so when the ball was smacked into the net in front off the Jimmy Seed stand they went wild.
A shirtless buffoon ran onto the pitch, still unaware that the 'goal' was never going to stand and attempted to celebrate for his easily impressed mates.
The invader was dragged off by security, who no doubt relished the opportunity to give someone a bit of a bruising.
He must have felt really stupid when he realised he had been turfed out for celebrating a Charlton free kick!

Izale McLeod came on for Deon Burton with about 20 minutes to go. He looked lively but was obviously short of confidence when close to goal.
Luckily, he had the easiest opportunity of his career to score and get the 'missing chances' monkey off his back.
He buried the ball in the North stand net when the ball rolled out to him in an unchallenged position.
It looked to me like a bad goalkeeping error which presented the chance but Izale celebrated like he'd taken on the whole of the Exeter side and then broken the net with a thunderbolt.
He was yellow carded for removing his shirt which always seems a bit of a dullard thing to do when we all know the consequences.

At 2-0 up with only 3 minutes to play it should have been a chance to relax.
Maybe our defence thought so too as during added on time, for the second week running we conceded.
Rob Elliot got involved in a bit of 'afters' with some over excited Exeter players in the back of the net. According to the tannoy, it sounded like 'Bertie Wooster' had scored for Exeter.
My programme lists the player as Bertrand Cozic.

The Grecians pushed on, hopeful of another goal but with Sam Sodje coming on to solidify the defence and our midfield and forwards keeping possession we hung on.

For a few glorious moments we were back at the top of the league but as I left my seat, Leeds United scored in injury time against Franchise FC.
Added on time has not been kind to us lately.

Casual Rating
The Lacoste polo shirt is being awarded to Kelly Youga. He looked solid and played some fantastic touches, especially in the first half. His recent surging runs are also something I hope he continues.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt goes to the wally who ran onto the pitch.
I have the feeling he had been a little 'thirsty' on the trip up to town from the countryside. As he left his top half clothing somewhere in the South stand he probably needs something to keep out the evening chill.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Holt Barges City To a Point.

An 'awayday' at Norwich is always only partially about the football.

A beautiful city centre, seemingly untarnished by the architects of the 60's and 70's but added to with loving care by those same professionals in the 90's and noughties.

On my last visit, I would quite cheerfully have stayed in the hospitable Wig and Pen, rather than walk back to Carrow Road for what I was convinced was going to be another terrible display.
I was right of course. My memory is of being totally outplayed in the December drizzle but the records say that we only lost 1-0.

Yesterday, The W&P was equally charming, plus the sun was shining but I couldn't wait to get into the ground.
Football is being enjoyed rather than endured this season.

Surely one of the largest recent Charlton away crowds, (outside London), had made it to Norfolk?
Last season, you'd have had to be a fan of the Marquis de Sade to gain pleasure from following Charlton on the road.
As we were often reminded, our support was a combination of F and S.

I'm not going to type out a minute by minute breakdown of events. What I will say is that yesterday, like last week against Southampton, there were two Charltons on display.

After a few minutes of settling in, the first 45 was when Charlton dominated. A diving header from Burton and a looping, seemingly slow motion header from Shelvey, sent the away fans into raptures.
"We want 7!"
"We are top of the league!"

Both chants were going to come back and bite us on the bum.

Shelvey particularly enjoyed his goal. The home fans had started giving him jip soon after our first goal and he wound them up by signing with his fingers the score of 1-0.

The Norfolk country boys responded as if he had set fire to a ballboy and then ran around the pitch ripping up pictures of Delia.
His every touch was booed, until half time.
His sliding celebration was exactly the one we'd all have done in a packed stadium when we were just 17.
I still do something similar when playing keepy uppy with a balloon in the living room........

Unfortunately, No sooner had we managed to get ourselves into a comfortable lead than Norwich got themselves back in the game. A very quickly taken Holt throw left the defence all out of position and Hoolahan with only Rob Elliot to beat. He took his chance really well and at half time the score was 2-1 to the visitors.

The second half was all Norwich.
Our midfield looked jaded and Norwich grew and grew in confidence.
Holt was a thorn in our side all afternoon.
He went down as if shot from the stands after a clash with Nicky Bailey but surprisingly the referee Tanner only had a chat with Bailey. I was expecting a yellow card or worse.
Holt managed to get Llera booked by performing an impeccable dive after Big Mig had won the ball cleanly. Llera is now one booking from a ban. Worse was to come from Holt.

Surprisingly, even though Charlton looked as if the team were playing to hold onto what they had at 2-1, there were a few chances to put the game to bed. McLeod had two guilt edged goal vouchers but he couldn't cash them in. (Chris Dickson was busy scoring 2 for the Pirates of Bristol while Izale was fluffing his lines.)

As the game headed into injury time, Mcleod received the most ridiculous yellow card. Burton had gone off for treatment but was ready to rejoin the action. The free kick had yet to be taken and Mcleod advanced to the player shaping to whip in the ball, to warn him that Burton was coming on behind him. The referee blew his whistle to caution Mcleod for not retreating. Doh!

The Norwich goal that had seemed inevitable midway through the half had not materialised. Had it been scored when Norwich were stroking the ball about and bypassing our midfield none of us would have cared so much.

To lose the extra 2 points in injury time was most galling.
When the ball looped into the net off Holt, (him again,) I wasn't too concerned.
There had been the clearest of clear fouls on Rob Elliot, (and as we all know, you only have to stand next to a keeper nowadays to give away a foul.)

I was astounded when the referee played to the crowd and awarded the goal. I've seen television pictures which aren't really at the right angle to show how devastatingly Elliot was taken out by Holt. Kind of ironic that Holt suddenly managed to be a big, tough, hurly burly player who could dive in and clatter a goalkeeper when earlier on he was a timid flower who went down in agony when a butterfly wing touched him, or a Charlton player came close.

There must be the most under reported and largest enclave of displaced Yorkshire folk in Norfolk. News of Leeds winning at a canter against the Jills brought a cheer and sustained applause, at least equal to a Norwich goal.

So, still unbeaten and still in the top two.

On the balance of play, a 2-2 draw seems fair. The way the game finished though it could have been a complete robbery. Dailly managed to keep the ball out with a brave block to preserve a point when 3 had seemed ours only moments before.

Casual Rating
The Lacoste polo shirt goes to Norwich as a city. A beautiful place with friendly locals. We chatted to a really nice feller and his wife in the station after the game and could have stayed there for ages. Shelvey gets a shirt too for his very juvenile but always highly amusing reminder to the home fans of the score at the time.
The referee had a mixed game. He was strong enough at times to give a decision that he 'knew' was right, even though everyone in the ground thought otherwise.
For the first time this season though, I'm going to award the Primark novelty slogan tee shirt to Charlton's second half, especially midfield performance. A let down. The defence were getting rid of the ball without too much of a problem but it was just coming straight back again within seconds.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Join The Dots

I'm off to Norwich in the morning for game 8 of our League One / Tier 3 experience.

I've had an especially tough week and I'm far too tired to write a proper preview for our match at Carrow Road.

So, here's a build your own preview. All you have to do is join the dots between these well worn phrases and it'll let me off the hook.




pies -(yum, yum),



Complete Angler,

weekend break,


family club,


hat trick.

Good Luck! I expect your work on my desk, first thing in the morning.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Magnificent Seven? Not Quite.

As I returned to my home, I flicked on some music and The Magnificent Seven by The Clash was the track my shuffle selection came up with.
So nearly a perfect seven today but everyone would have grabbed our 6 wins from seven record back in July, especially as our 'duff' result is a score draw.
A measure of our progress since last season is that many were down hearted today about only gaining a point!

It was a strange game today.
Southampton were by far the better team in the first half. They controlled the pace and bossed midfield which made me think that perhaps the injuries to Bailey and Racon should have let in someone else.
Southampton were rightly 1-0 up at the break. It should have been 2-0 but Rob Elliot managed a save that was so good, I have no idea what he did. I could already see the net bulging yet he somehow performed a miracle.

The second half was a much better performance from the Addicks.
Pace, inspiration, flowing football, - it was all there to be seen.

Deon Burton bundled the ball into the net after some trickery by Jonjo Shelvey out on the left and Charlton were flying.

The ball went into the North stand net of Southampton twice more.
The first time I conceded it probably was a correct call to flag offside but the second one I am very, very anxious to see again in slow motion.
The eagle eyed East stand linesman flagged both times but strangely was suffering a case of blindness when the Saints number 12, Trotman, swung a punch as one of the series of handbags episodes began.

The referee lost control for large periods of the game and gave the impression of being quite out of his depth. The players sensed this and some very hard tackles came in from both teams.

Kelly Youga nearly scored the goal of his life when he took on what seemed like the whole of the Southampton team before his rasping shot came back at him from the upright.

Lloyd Sam had to come off after another impressive display. He had stayed down after the action moved away. He was treated and then managed to walk back to the dressing room but he was limping so I'm hoping he will be fit for Carrow Road next weekend.

We really could and should have been looking at a score of 2 or even 3 - 1 to Charlton heading into injury time.
As terrible as it feels to have the ball in the goal three times but still be drawing 1-1, we very nearly threw it away at the death.
The defence went into panic mode and on another day Llera would have had a penalty given against him for dragging down his opponent.

Perhaps we were lucky that the referee was so shockingly bad. Had he been on his game, we could have been on the receiving end of an awful defeat in the 93rd minute.

The pantomime calls against Pardew were little more than a sideshow today. I'm sure that he feels pleased to have got a point from his old employers but his list of draws this season really aren't enough to start overturning the 10 points he has to gain before he can register a positive.

Casual Rating
The Lacoste polo goes to Kelly Youga for his goal attempt and Rob Elliot for his wonder save.
The officials can jointly take home a Primark novelty slogan tee shirt. They were poor for us but the Saints fans would also be able to say the same for them.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

He's Back!

Southampton arrive at The Valley on Saturday for a fixture many have been looking forward to.

There has been some less than friendly 'banter' between both sets of supporters over recent years, some of it becoming far too physical for my liking.

The press will no doubt remind us that only a few years ago, this was a Premier League encounter and that it's a shame two great clubs should find themselves ..... blah blah...,(yawn).

Most of the Charlton support will be very aware of the last time we saw the current Saints manager, Alan Pardew. He was being booed off the pitch as we were completely outplayed and out thought by Sheffield United. Then he was gone and there were no goodbyes.

Despite bringing many of our current 'star' players to the club such as Bailey and Racon, Pardew will be remembered for the expensive flops and having the list of players available for loan on permanent 'Favourite' at the top of his computer homepage.

Andy Gray and Luke Varney may be lovely fellers but I defy anyone to put forward an argument supporting their value for money at Charlton. Pardew spent money with a machine gun approach.

Luckily for Pards, Southampton seem to have some fresh funds for him to spend or fritter/waste/get lucky with.

At Charlton, every new Pardew player was potentially that final piece in his jigsaw, until a few weeks later of course.
I read what was said about Mark Hudson when he arrived and with the benefit of hindsight it all looks so doomed to fail!

So, predictions.
Pardew knows most of our squad and will be hoping to use his familiarity of our set up to his advantage.
Reports of Nicky Bailey being injured would be a shame if true as our midfield has looked a class apart.
I am going for a narrow 2-1 victory, partly because I don't want our good run to end and partly because it will be my birthday and birthday boys are always allowed a wish.

I spent my early teens as a schoolboy who was asked to train with Southampton.
I had been 'spotted' and my parents spent many an evening ferrying me to sessions. It was the period when we occasionally got Kevin Keegan or 'Big Lawrie' coming down to impress us just by turning up.
Happy Days.
Due to my positive experiences of Southampton as a club, I wish them every success AFTER Saturday.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Six Packed!

Charlton won for the sixth consecutive league game, without having to work too hard in this lunchtime fixture.

Brentford put up more of a fight than either Tranmere or Walsall but after the tenth minute first goal, Charlton only ever looked like taking the three points.

That first goal was due to an amalgamation of tremendous work by Lloyd Sam and the most appalling defending. Deon Burton has scored three goals this season due to poor defending - and long may it continue! Burton didn't seem to hit the ball cleanly but it was well enough to set off early celebrations and reminders to the 'live' television audience that we are, in fact, top of the league.

There was a slight wobble in defence when the ball bounced up and clearly hit Nicky Bailey on the arm while he was inside the penalty area. Neither the linesman or referee seemed remotely interested but it is just the kind of decision that would have gone against us last season.

The defence looked able to repel the Brentford forwards without being spectacular or diving in making last ditch tackles. They were soaking up attacks before they really became worthy of the label.

Sam was having one of his better days. -He was fantastic!
Had he been playing less well, his lime green boots would have looked stupid but today they just helped highlight that he was a class apart from his opponents.

Bailey, Sam, Semedo, Racon and Shelvey all look remarkably comfortable at this level. We all know they should be playing in a higher league but for now, it is a joy to see them perform with the extra time allowed on the ball. Mistakes aren't punished quite so severely either.
Last season, a mistake in midfield often seemed to bring about a collapse and then conceding a goal. This season a mistake has meant the players behind having to stretch a little to mop up the ball and retain possession.

The second Charlton goal, after around half an hour, was scored by Sam after a glorious piece of pass and move football. It was so good, it was replayed on the big screen. Remember when that used to be normal?

We could have all gone home at half time. Nothing much changed during the second 45 minutes. Charlton still dominated but the heat had gone out of the game.

Despite supposedly being injured, Charlie MacDonald came on as a substitute and received a warm welcome from both sets of fans.

Brentford kept plugging away but never really looked likely to score. They did manage to hit Rob Elliot's woodwork from a free kick but Charlton were worth a two goal lead. It nearly became a three goal lead when Izale McLeod, who had replaced a very tired looking Shelvey, managed to tuck the ball into the bottom corner of the Brentford goal but the East stand linesman had spotted an infringement in the build up.

It's a good time to be a Charlton supporter. Last season every game became a 'tricky' fixture and for what seemed like an eternity, I couldn't see where the next win was coming from. Now every game is starting to look like an opportunity to pick up some more points.

Next week we have the return of 'Super' Alan Pardew and Southampton. Can we make it seven from seven?

Casual Rating
A Lacoste Polo shirt to both Lloyd Sam who has hit the rich form we all believed was in there somewhere and also to the Brentford support. The Bees crowd tried their hardest to raise their team but to no avail.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt goes to the Brentford number 12, Cleveland Taylor. What a horrible little boy. He yacked away at the ref, complaining about everything. Even after being given a yellow card he didn't calm himself. He was replaced before he had a proper tantrum.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

The Joy of Six?

We are possibly on the cusp of history being made.

A win against Brentford on Saturday lunchtime, (live on Sky Sports), would make an unbeaten run of six league games,- better than last weeks best ever start to a Charlton season! Only a minor blip against Hereford in the 'Who Cares cup' has spoiled the perfect start to the season.

Brentford are famous for Greg Dyke, unbelievably Cameron Diaz and the lead singer of Hard Fi as celebrity fans.

Assuming that Cameron is a little busy to rock up at the Valley, it's ex Addick Charlie Macdonald I was looking forward to seeing. Unfortunately, it would seem he is in the middle of a fairly long term injury lay off so he won't be coming back to poke us in the eye.

Another of our ex-files, Myles Weston will be hoping to show us what we missed out on but it's Carl Cort who we should be most wary of. It wasn't so long ago that he was part of the 'humorous' Newcastle line up that became a punchline.

Newcastle are for it. Why? Bobby Robson Cort Bowyer Given Shearer Speed!

Not quite as good as Young Fish Costa Fortune but still not bad.

Brentford are struggling with injuries in defence which means I'm very optimistic of taking all 3 points. Our fantastic run of results has to end sometime but I don't see it being this weekend.

In summary, I see our team being far too strong in midfield for Brentford to compete. Our defence is becoming a well oiled unit and our attacking players against a make shift defence is just too juicy a prospect to miss.

I'm not expecting a walk over like we experienced against Tranmere but I can see a win, hopefully by more than one clear goal.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Happy Me.

Happy Days.

Other people have written at length, showing far more insight than me, about what happened yesterday,(now that the transfer window has slammed shut), so I won't repeat it here.

Let me just say that I've always been really pleased with Richard Murray and his team of directors.
However, my belief was the only way we were likely to have a chance of keeping our 'jewels' was with an input of fresh cash and that outcome, I felt, was only going to happen with a T*** O***.

I woke up this morning to find that all of our most likely involuntary sales were still signed to us.
I also found that one of my favourite Charlton players since our Premiership exit, Sam Sodje, has returned.
He is locally based and made no secret that Charlton are 'his team', when he was here before.

I feel that we have got the best of both worlds, at least for the moment.

We have an 'upstairs' who I trust and even though they have made mistakes, they have proven to be genuine Charlton fans and want the best for the club and the supporters. I don't know how they did it yesterday but a huge thanks is coming from me.

We also have everything on the playing side of things I'd hoped / dreamed for, plus cover in defence which was the glaring hole.

Well done to everyone involved.