Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

2009 is busy doing it's warm down exercises and 2010 is coiled like a spring, ready to rush into play.

Only 12 months ago, on NYE 2008, Phil Parkinson was accepting the Charlton Athletic manager role, in a permanent capacity.
We suffered relegation but ultimately I think PP will be fairly pleased with his 12 months at the helm. Being in 2nd spot, at the halfway stage in the season is beyond most of our hopes back in August.

I'd like to wish everybody, Addicks and all others, a fantastic New Years Eve celebration and a healthy and happy 2010.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Charlton (9 men) 2- Swindon (12 men?) 2.

A proud record at the Valley was upheld yesterday.

Most of us are aware that 'Fortress Valley' has not been breached since March 2009 but another record, going back much further, was kept intact due to Llera's last gasp lob over the onrushing David Lucas.

Crispy's daughter Hannah was present for the visit of the Swindon Robins and she has the enviable record of never having seen Charlton lose!

Get her a Season Ticket Crispy!

As the clock ticked into added on time, we all feared the inevitable.
The scenes of jubilation around 3 sides of the Valley really did come from deep inside our souls after what had seemed an unlikely comeback only moments before.
 I defy anyone not to scream like a banshee after experiencing anything similar.

Charlton started off the game completely in control. Burton missed an absolute sitter when he headed over the bar from an unchallenged position.
Burton has been 'Mister Consistency' lately but yesterday he not only let himself down, he also let his team mates down.

The referee had an absolute stinker yesterday.  He sent Sodje off after only 20 minutes, though for around 10 of those he had been off the pitch anyway having his head stitched up.

Sodje's challenge may have been 'wild' but as Crispy said at the time, perhaps his reputation for getting sent off preceded him. The straight red did look harsh but these things happen. It seemed an odd position to perform a last gasp challenge, (just outside the opposition penalty area), but SS dived in and didn't get much of the ball. The referee made no friends but it was an understandable decision.

The referee was at least half to blame for Burton's dismissal.
Had he had his eyes open, he would have seen Akpo Sodje clearly fouled inside the penalty area.
Burton decided he would remind referee Miller of his duty to control the game, rather than just jog around, trying to work off his Christmas dinner. Burton was duly carded.

Shelvey put the Addicks one nil up with a very well placed shot from distance and despite their superiority in numbers, Swindon were chasing shadows.

Unfortunately, with only 5 minutes of the first half to play, Burton had a moment of madness and made the most obvious attempt at pushing the ball past the keeper with his hand.

The referee put down his white stick and gave Burton his obligatory second yellow card, meaning we were down to 9 men.

At 10 against 11 players, I still felt we had more than enough for a very poor Swindon side. With 2 players having an early bath it was going to be tough leading to impossible.

The second half should have been a walk over for Swindon but they created very little. They scored 2 goals but neither came from stroking the ball around in an attempt to tire our side, they just came from us not having enough players to cover all the options in our own penalty area.

Parky should be praised for really giving it a go and sending on Dickson, McKenzie and Wagstaff to give us some bite and legs up front.

The game seemed to be up as the clock touched 90 minutes.
I thought to myself that we may have lost but we haven't really been beaten. Despite being 2 players down, we had fought and showed resilience that none of the Charlton Pardew teams even hinted at.

Then the most dramatic of endings that had supporters hugging and high fiving all around the Valley.

Swindon should be ashamed of themselves.

A Casual Rating
The Lacoste polo shirt is being awarded to all the Charlton players, (except Sam Sodje and Deon Burton), who ran and ran and made us all proud to 'be Charlton'.
The crowd were, as usual, fairly slow to get started but by the second half, were really getting behind the team despite the setbacks.

The Primark novelty slogan tee shirts are awarded to Sam Sodje and Deon Burton for losing us the extra 2 points.
At 11 v 11, Charlton would have won at a canter against a poor side. As it was, it became a very tough game.
The referee is getting another Primark tee shirt.
He entered into the spirit of the Disney link up with Swindon by being completely Mickey Mouse.
He might have had little choice with the sendings off but for the rest of the game he was almost Swindon's best player.
He broke down Charlton attacks to stop play, he waved play on when there were obvious fouls and throughout the entire game, never gave Charlton the benefit of the doubt in a 50:50 decision.
Even had he not reduced Charlton to 9 men, he still would have been complete pony.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

It's ChristMaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!

Swindon stroll into town on Boxing Day, hopefully without the same swagger as the muppets from Bermondsey last weekend.

Well done to any Swindonians who make it to the Valley as the transport system serving SE7 seems to have taken the obligatory break.
Perhaps there will be a fleet of Swindon based, factory fresh, Honda cars parked on the Woolwich Road due to the train 'service' being token at best.

My memories of recent encounters with Swindon are probably the same as everyone else.
I stood in the rain and got DRENCHED at the County Ground in our first successful promotion season to the Premier League but at least I could still see the game. Crispy, who was next to me, had his glasses steamed up so badly he may as well have stayed at home.
In our second promotion season I have memories of Charlton presenting Willie Carson with some cash to help out their club prior to the game, then Dean Kiely making a hash of a tame cross and pushing it into his goal.
I believe we lost 1-0 despite attacking for the rest of the game.

On Boxing Day I'd settle for a clean sheet as I feel we are likely to score.
Parky has to earn his corn after the exciting but ultimately disappointing draw with Millwall last week.
How he tweaks the team to cover for the suspended Sam will be interesting to see.
Along with local derbies, Boxing Day has a history of throwing up odd results - anyone else 'enjoy' Boxing Day at West Ham a few years ago?
I had more than enough excitement last week and hope a solid professional performance will be the Christmas present from the players to the supporters.

I'd like to thank everybody who has found the time to glance at my blog this year and to wish each and every one of you a fantastic Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.

I'm off to listen to my favourite Christmas music. here, here, here and here.
I'll probably watch Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation too, if only for his attempts at Christmas shopping.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A Visit From The Neighbours

If ever there was a game to be described as 'rollercoaster', our 4-4 draw with Millwall was the one.

What a horrible bunch of arseholes some of their despicable 'supporters' were.

I encountered a group of (ticketless?) thugs, roaming around the Victoria Way and Delafield Road area around twenty minutes before kick off.
They were quite clearly searching out an opportunity to have a ruck. Finding no like minded idiots they resorted to following and chanting at local residents who just happened to be outside their homes.
To say it was intimidating is rather the understatement.

Due to the snow and ice on the paths, I was already feeling a little unsteady as I walked towards the Valley but having a group of around 20 to 30 morons shouting "Charlton, Charlton, you're a C***" at me was hardly the start to the afternoon I was after and only made it more likely I would take a tumble due to anxiety.

The dickheads then played up to their deserved reputation by abusing an Asian supporter who was mildly walking with his head down.

(I'd imagine Millwall will try to justify the abuse by saying the Asian guy was "asking for it".)

By the time I took my seat, I was desperate to send them home with their tails between their legs.
It didn't really turn out that way though.

Fairly rapidly the day turned very bleak.
Two awful errors lead to the Lions going 2-0 up.

The first error was a complete howler in defence whereby young Wagstaff ended up playing the ball through for Morison to score.
The second error was by referee Jones. The whole ground could see that the ball was being shepherded out for a goal kick yet he gave the buoyant away side a corner.
Of course they scored from the corner, leading to the second wave of Millwall supporters jumping up and down in home sections.

We had been lead to believe that Charlton would deal severely with any Millwall supporter found in home areas.
What a useless bunch of lightweights the stewards turned out to be.
Surely after the first Millwall goal it was obvious who the miscreants were?
They were left in their places to jump up and down a second time.

Crystal Palace supporters complained last season about our heavy handed stewards, yet yesterday they welcomed the away supporters and did nothing, even when they were mouthing off in home sections and visibly antagonising home supporters.

Unbelievably, the few Millwall 'fans' who were removed, were just taken to the Jimmy Seed stand and left there.
Gently, gently wasn't really what was needed in my opinion.

The Jimmy Seed stand had some advertising boards ripped off by jubilant Lions but, again, the advertisements were "asking for it".

Considering how much guff we have read about Charlton taking every possible step to keep the rival fans apart, it was rather surprising to see and hear Millwall supporters celebrating in and outside one of the corporate boxes in the East Stand.

We can't be too puritanical about all this though as Charlton had supporters all over the ground when we played at Priestfield. The major difference though was to my knowledge, Gillingham only decided while the game was in progress that it was a crime for away fans to be in home sections.

I heard at half time that some people had been attacked by Millwall plums in the toilets throughout the first half, (classy eh?).

The game turned on its head due to two penalties.
Mooney was tripped as he made his way towards goal but the fairly obligatory card of any colour wasn't produced by the out of his depth referee Jones.
At the time, I wasn't too sure of the validity of the penalty but having seen it again, it seems a fairly clear cut.
Burton scored the penalty to bring the home support some belief.

Later, Forde the Millwall keeper, came rushing out to the right side of the his area and got beaten. Mooney shot from a tight angle, the ball hit the post and bounced back into the six yard box. As Lloyd Sam shaped to tuck the ball away he was scythed down from behind.
Unbelievably, the Millwall defenders tried to say that he had dived and due to this, some people near me thought the referee was going to book Sam for diving!
With the benefit of TV pictures, it is clear that Sam would have much prefered to score.
Abdou was shown the red card and Burton scored the resulting penalty.
Surely this was now going to be our day?

The second half started in the most perfect way possible.
Bailey scored a rasping volley with less than a minute on the clock. It was the kind of goal worthy of winning any game.
If only.

We all know what happened next.
Despite Charlton having a one man advantage it really didn't show.

At 3-2 up, the game was 'won' and we really should have pushed on.
The team took their foot off the gas and a combination of good saves by the Millwall keeper Forde and the extra lick of paint on the woodwork denied Charlton the opportunity to take the game away from the visitors.

A ridiculous end to the game saw Millwall score an unlikely equaliser due to more sloppy defending and then Charlton to go ahead with only 5 minutes to play, from an own goal.

When the signal came that there would be 5 more minutes as the clock clicked on to 90 minutes played, I just knew what was going to happen.

Millwall visibly stepped up their energy levels and due to more shambolic 'defending' the final goal was scored, leading to the visiting supporters going ape.
They celebrated like they had won a major title rather than merely drawn a league game.

They don't care about us of course but as their boss Kenny Jackett said afterwards, they are really pleased to get a point at such a "big club".

It felt like a loss to us, but at 2-0 down I would most certainly have grabbed an opportunity to end on a draw.
It might be 2 points dropped but we are still in a promotion spot at half way point in the season.
We can just win on Boxing Day instead!

Walking home, I heard some awful reports of a disabled Charlton supporter being pushed out of the way so some ticketless Millwall fans could gain access to the West Stand, while the gate was open for him.
If this is true, I am appalled.
(No doubt the disabled guy was asking for it.)

Casual Rating
As a game, it had everything.
Two penalties, a sending off, too many lectures from a very fussy referee, yellow cards more prevalent than Christmas cards, 8 goals and one own goal.
I'm disappointed that Charlton didn't win but relieved that a draw was the result after being 2-0 down.

The Lacoste polo shirt is almost impossible to award as it was a game of errors, connected by poor decisions but purely for the technical brilliance, Nicky Bailey is the recipient for his perfect and unstoppable long range volley.
Get in there!
The Millwall team deserve some credit for making it impossible to tell which side had the man advantage in the second half.

There's a whole raft of Primark novelty slogan tee shirts being awarded this time.
The stewards can have one for being chocolate tea pots, our defence can have one for letting in 4 goals at home, (though we were of course playing without both of our first choice full backs), the referee can have a whole outfit of poorly made Primark clobber for getting completely carried away and getting too many basic decisions wrong, the Millwall supporters can have one each for being just the stereotypes they try and tell us are all in the past, plus I'm giving one to myself for completely losing the faith at 2-0 down.

The crowd were fairly lively throughout, though the Millwall support were very disappointing.
Around 3 or 4 outings of "No one likes us", one outing for "Let 'em come" aside, they really didn't take advantage of the fantastic sound that the Jimmy Seed stand delivers.
To have around 3000 souls crammed in and then to keep quiet was very surprising.

But then they don't care about us do they?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Police Leave Cancelled

The cold snap being experienced in South East London has completely ruined the Met's efforts to keep an eye on our friendly neighbours from Bermondsey on Saturday.

Government scientists have predicted that "around 84%" of Millwall supporters will own a coat and of the 16% left over, most will own some form of heavy sweater, or will have 'borrowed' one from their big brother before the weekend.

The Met have been thrown into chaos as the wearing of outer garments will make it impossible to see the regulation dodgy pink shirts that Millwall supporters are forced to wear.

"It's all gone pear shaped" remarked W.P.C. Nicola Bailey.
"We have received intelligence that many Millwall supporters have even gone so far as to purchase gloves in an attempt to hide the hand tattoos, acquired in double maths last year".

Charlton supporters have been encouraged to stay at home with their flasks.
"It's better to be safe than sorry", continued W.P.C. Bailey. "Those Millwall fans can be a nasty bunch, especially if they arrive home late from their paper rounds and miss the start of Soccer A.M"

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Touch the Sky

The anticipation for the weekend visit of near neighbours Millwall is reaching fever pitch in some quarters.

We have learned that any Millwall fan found in a home area will be ejected and the person who secured them a seat will lose their season ticket.
Normally sane and calm people are saying they won't be coming along to support our team due to the perceived threat of the opposition fans. All the usual freebee tickets, normally given to youth groups and friends of the club, were not made available this time.
Local pubs may or may not be open, (it depends on who you believe).

I was going to write something imploring everyone to make sure that they turn up on Saturday.
It might be cold, it might be only a few days before Christmas but it is undoubtedly one of our most eagerly awaited home games this season.
We need everyone to get behind the Reds as I'm sure the Spanners will give their boys unflinching support.

 I'm now leaving Millwall on the backburner as something caught my eye earlier today that I haven't stopped chuckling about.

Like most kids who grew up in the 1970's, I was consumed by the daring escapades and borderline suicide attempts of Evel Knievel.
Friends had the wind up toy that sent a doll on wheels careering into chair legs.
We all tried to break our bicycles by building ramps to jump over piles of skateboards or press ganged younger siblings.
Our worlds seemed to stop the day Knievel came to Wembley so he could clear 16 London double decker buses.
He didn't make it.
He ended up a series of injuries barely held together by his battered skin.

If anything, his failure and subsequent short lived retirement made him more famous. We continued to try to emulate his stupidity, at least until the heady aroma of 'girls' wafted towards us and we decided we now wanted to be David Soul.

Evil Knievel has a son who has now decided he wants to try to clear the 16 buses his father didn't manage.
I'm all in favour of people doing things in memory or honour of their parents but surely this is a little, well, nutjob?

However, I couldn't leave it alone when I read the quotes attributed to Knievel Junior.
Apparently, daredevils are a "dying breed".
Arf, arf.

I leave you with Kanye West playing the part of Evel Kayevel in his Touch the Sky video.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

"Oy- Elbows Sodje!"

While the majority of Charlton supporters were either at Stockport watching our heroes, or doing the appalling pre Christmas Bluewater shuffle, I was to be found yesterday taking in the delights of East London / Essex.

It was a thoroughly entertaining day and one which I hope to repeat when the opportunity arises.

With Charlton playing in the chilly north at somewhere I've already been, it was a no brainer when Sledge asked if I wanted to be spoiled at Dagenham and Redbridge!

The walk from the tube station to Victoria Road was punctuated by posters promoting local girl Stacey Solomon in the X Factor final. As you may already know, she came third but she carried my vote.

I met up with Frankie Valley in one of the bars at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium and waited for Sledge's other guests, JB and Nigel to arrive. Westie had already sent his apology due to work commitments.

We were all there to indulge in a spot of corporate hospitality, as the guests of Vicarage Field shopping centre in Barking, watching the Daggers play Bury in a 'vital' League 2 encounter.

Despite being born in Dagenham, (thanks mum!), I don't really keep up with the fortunes of the club. I'm ashamed to say that I had to go online on Friday evening to check who they were playing.
I was, in all seriousness, here for the beer.

We sat down to a three course carvery Christmas meal, then made our way up to our own private box overlooking the pitch, just behind the home dugout.
I've never really fancied watching football from behind glass but on a cold day, with the wind blowing in your face, it really does make the world seem a glorious place.

Did I mention that there was a fully stocked fridge, laden with beers, lagers, soft drinks etc. and a steaming pot of coffee waiting for us? The nearby toilet was a godsend.

The one player I was looking out for was the Bury defender Efetobore Sodje.
He is an instant target for the opposition crowd as he stands out like a sore thumb. He is big, strong and powerful and he also still wears the bandana he made famous when playing for Stevenage.

Within seconds of the start, the home crowd were on him, booing his every challenge. One loud local constantly bemoaned Sodje's use of his elbows. Even when he made the cleanest of tackles there was a murmur leading to a crescendo of displeasure.

It was a little ironic when it ended up being Sodje who was on the receiving end of a clattering. He had to go off the pitch for treatment on a blood injury. Strangely, he had a Terry Butcher style head bandage placed over the top of his bandana.

The game was a little stodgy in the first period but really came to life in the second half. Excitement tripled when one of the lady staff members came speeding into our box to grasp the drinks from our hands. We were not allowed to drink in view of the other supporters apparently. We felt like naughty schoolboys.

The Daggers ran out 3-1 winners with my man of the match, Paul Benson scoring two goals.

It was then back downstairs to watch the Man of the Match award and mingle with the players as a pasta dish was being consumed. The official M.O.M was Scott Doe who had a very tidy game in my humble opinion.

I'd like to thank Sledge and all at Vicarage Field for a fantastic day out.

It's not the way I'd like to enjoy my football every week but as a special treat it's a wonderful experience.

Dagenham and Redbridge are a very friendly club, living hand to mouth. It felt like indulging in 'real' grassroots football.
We do need to remember though that when looking at league positions we are far closer to the Daggers than any of the Premiership teams we used to count as peers.

If Dagenham get promoted, (they currently hold a play off place) and we don't, then Charlton would be playing at Victoria Road next season.

Can you pencil me in for that one Sledge?

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Shrimpers Sunk

"Ah, Mister Parkinson, with all these goals you have been spoiling us."

Yesterday was a little like being a frequent guest at one of the Ambassador's receptions, only to find that at the critical moment, the chocolates had now been replaced with a polo mint.

The last two Valley games have been crackers. Six goal thrillers with inventive play, opportunities to 'discuss' the merits of the referee and goals at each end.

We were now fed a diet of footballing scraps on a wet (but not windy for a change) afternoon that was low on both incidents and action.

Southend really gave it a go. The first ten minutes showed their  intent. They had no intention of 'parking the bus' and pushed forward. They carried on in this fashion throughout the entire game, only for their finishing to be more of a danger to those sitting high in the stands than the back of Robbie Elliot's net.

As a proportion of their paltry home support, Southend brought an astonishing number of supporters. They seemed more interested in pointing out the empty seats in the home sections and booing Nicky Bailey than getting behind their team.
The crowd of seventeen and a half thousand were practically mute. Support for Nicky Bailey aside, the atmosphere was very poor.

Crispy arrived late due to Thameslink/Jubilee line/ Network South East hassles.
Soon after he had taken his seat, Lee Barnard took an eternity to steady himself, calibrate his boots, take in the view of the North stand, check wind speed and add a few more items to his list for Santa before taking his shot.
His shilly shallying gave Rob Elliot the time to rush out and smother his drive with his legs. Had Barnard shot quicker, Charlton would have been certainly one nil down.

Racon started on his quest to gain a yellow card with persistent fouling in dangerous positions but Southend didn't punish us.

On twenty five minutes, Lloyd Sam whipped in a speedy cross for Deon Burton to head home in front of the away support.

Half time was spent queuing for a hot cup of Bovril. The second half had already started by the time I got back to my seat. The school leavers who are the public face of the catering seemed totally surprised that there should be a rush of customers around 3:45pm.
TWO people serving?
Someone needs to have a word.

The second half was a yawn.

Richardson didn't make it back for the second half so perhaps he was brought back from injury too early.
It was almost a relief when the referee blew his whistle to end the game.

Southend looked the better side, without actually creating any danger. I don't remember either keeper making a save after Elliot's effort to foil Barnard.

A win is a win and the three points are very useful but this was a game to be endured, not enjoyed.
The result was ground out, against stubborn opposition.
Just the kind of performance that is needed to continue our progress towards the target of promotion.

A Casual Rating
I've been less than impressed with some of the officials at the Valley lately. Yesterday the East stand lino managed to find himself waving a naked stick after losing the fabric from his flag!
I am however, awarding the Lacoste polo shirt to the referee, a Mr. D McDermid. He realised that none of us had come to see him and let the game flow whenever possible. He played some good advantages for both sides and no doubt raised his stock with the Football League.
The dreaded Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is going to Nicky Bailey.
It must have been a tough afternoon for him, being centre stage and everyone watching to see how he reacted.
Unfortunately, he let himself down badly.
When the game plodded on into a period of added on time, he was guarding the the ball against the line by the East stand. A Southend player gave him a gentle nudge but he went down as if he had been shot from the stands and then proceeded to roll around on the floor like a five year old having a tantrum.
While rolling, he was grasping his calf and looked to be in real trouble.
He was obviously seriously injured.
I wasn't sure we would be seeing him again until January at the earliest.
It was very odd and highly shameful when he suddenly jumped to his feet, then sprinted to rejoin the action.
When compared to the appalling bad luck of Jimmy Bullard and the real tears he showed yesterday, Bailey did himself no favours at all.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Happy Anniversary

The 5th of December 1992.
The day Charlton Athletic came home after being nomads, taking in a hated period at Palace and then a briefer period at West Ham.

That first game back at the Valley went ahead without me but I have seen some fantastic games on or around the anniversary since then.

Others will have their own favourites but my most cherished memory was at Selhurst Park on Sunday 5th December 2004.
Despite conceding a penalty, (saved by Deano, fluffed by Johnson), and our team being dressed as canaries, a fantastic last minute strike from Dennis Rommedahl sent our extremely vocal and packed section of the cowshed into raptures.

Even managing to sit in a carriage back to London Bridge that was completely full nigels, who had 'taken it badly', and then stepping in dog shit while walking home from the station didn't ruin a perfect Sunday evening.

We aren't the only people who are casting an eye towards the events of 1992.
The world's 'First Couple' celebrated their own 17th wedding anniversary only a few weeks ago.
Hats off to Mr and Mrs Obama but I don't think I'll be buying the book.

Today the lambs to the slaughter are Southend United.
I'm never, ever completely confident about Charlton Athletic but today I've woken up feeling full of optimism.
This could be to do with a) Having my 'flu jab yesterday afternoon. (I'll have anything for free). b) spending last night at 'Up the Creek' in Greenwich. c) Having just finished the mother of all breakfasts.

I feel if we can nullify the threat of 'goal machine' Lee Barnard, then we are on the way to victory. I'm anxious to see how Nicky Bailey performs against his old mates. If he scores, will he go haring towards the Jimmy Seed stand to give them some in the fashion of Adebayor while playing for Manchester City against Arsenal or will he just stand still with his head down, looking all apologetic?

Come On You Reds!

p.s. Welcome home to New York Addick.