Sunday, 31 January 2010

Trannies Leave Charlton Limp

Charlton Athletic 1 - Tranmere Rovers 1.

It was bloody cold yesterday and our 'heroes' put me in a bad mood.

Tranmere started where Hartlepool and Leyton Orient had left off, making our side look ordinary and devoid of ideas.

The early season panache has now vanished and we are playing with a fear that it's all going to go pear shaped any moment now.

Tranmere, (obviously from their league position), are no great shakes. Despite this, they had done their research and placed speedy full backs on either side and really gave the impression of wanting to take something from the game.
They believed they could too.

The first half was dire.
Tranmere barely registered an attack and we fluffed our only guilt edged chance when Burton shot tamely as the half time whistle approached.

Rob Elliot had not made it through to half time after being clattered by Sodje. Robbie was able to walk from the pitch but he was struggling with a leg injury. It remains to be seen how serious the knock is. Elliot must surely be in doubt for the visit to Walsall later this week.

The second half started with the now, worryingly familiar goal, conceded as many supporters were still settling themselves down after their halftime stretch of the legs.

A freak goal yes, but 'top teams' don't seem to concede them do they? This was no Liverpool beach ball goal - neither Sodje or Randolph could do much about it, however the defence did seem to go to sleep.

At 1-0 down the reds powered back and equalised through Nicky Bailey. There was plenty of time to go on and win the game but again, too many misplaced passes and our midfield being totally bypassed at times made the whole job very tricky.

Debutant winger Reid had been playing well but was visibly tiring.
 He hasn't played much lately for Sheffield United and he is likely to be needed for the game on Tuesday.
Despite what seems a fairly obvious conclusion, when he was replaced there was a moan of disapproval, then boos and finally a loud chorus of "You don't know what you're doing!", from some of the intelligentsia in the Upper North.
Tranmere must have been given a boost from our public barracking of our own team.
Reid was playing well but he is ours until the end of the season so there's no point in crocking him now.

Wagstaff replaced Sam but due to the replacement goalkeeper, no other tweaks to the side were possible.  Mooney obviously expected to be leaving play as he started to run off before noticing his shirt number was not the one on the board.

The end of the game was a mess.
Tranmere missed an absolute sitter, then hit the underside of the crossbar.
A huge let off for the Addicks who then went straight up the other end and could / should have put the game to bed with 3 opportunities that each had me already celebrating the 'goal'.

Norwich and Leeds are moving out of sight and we are now playing to consolidate our Play Off place.
The worrying part about that picture is the way we have been playing lately, we'd struggle to beat anyone in such a high pressure environment.
As it stands, we'd be playing Millwall over two legs.
We know how that particular story ends I'm sure.

We were told to expect a 'reaction' from the team after the Orient debacle.
I'm still waiting.

I was in a bad mood when I returned home, not because we'd failed to beat lowly Tranmere. On another day we'd have been soundly beaten.
I was in a bad mood due to our belief we only needed to show up to win. There were too many champagne passes that didn't come off instead of the basic ball to feet, maintaining possession.

Perhaps away from the increasingly hostile atmosphere at the Valley, the team will get a chance to flourish.
Let's hope so, starting on Tuesday.

A Casual Rating
A Lacoste polo is being awarded to Fraser Richardson who looked sound throughout and generally played the simple ball whenever possible.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is being awarded to
a) all our players who kept passing the ball back to Rob Elliot when he was injured, forcing him to kick with his injured leg.
b) those in the Upper North, and elsewhere, who so publicly and hastily got nasty. It's not big or clever and when push comes to shove, we are a THIRD class team so there's no point in expecting Premiership quality.
It's one thing to boo Jimmy Floyd Piggybanks for lack of effort but totally another to crush young players who need our support. If they are worried to fail, there's no point in trying.
We need all our players to try.
There was a 'togetherness' between players and supporters at Wycombe.
We need to return to that state of affairs and it's not going to happen if we knock our own team.


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Return of the Mac

Well I'm sold.

The biggest ever technology open secret became pure fact this evening when Steve Jobs unveiled the new Apple tablet computer, to be called the iPad.

I really do rate Apple goods.
They are usually so well designed that even a stubby fingered chimpanzee should be able to get them to work without the hours and hours of stress and instruction manuals.

The intuitive features mean you just 'know' how to do things rather than spending time with a quizzical expression, trying to read a leaflet translated from Korean.

I appreciate the Apple ethos of "straight from the box", meaning you don't have to spend the first day of ownership loading countless CD's of the programs you want.
It's just a case of flick on the power and you're off.

I love the fact that as a Mac man I never have to worry about viruses - at least not the kind that are going to mess up my tech.
There's no anti virus programs to feed in.
I'm covered.

My pocket vibrated around 5:45pm this evening with a message from Stuff magazine, letting me know that I could watch a live stream of the events from San Fransisco.
I was a little busy but I've caught up since.

Apple are obviously hoping to do for books what they have done for music with their iTunes store. An iBooks store is imminent, though there are thought to be a few teething problems with some publishers at present.

The iPad will be the perfect vehicle to store your electronic book collection.
I've fancied something similar to the Sony Reader or the Amazon Kindle for a while but held back due to my belief that eventually Apple would release their own, (better), version.

It would seem that they have managed this with the added bonus of the iPad having many other 'toys', plus a cracking (virus free) Safari web browser. Apparently, there will be both 3G and WiFi versions available.

My only surprise is the price.
Last summer when the rumours of an Apple tablet became so loud, (there were even photographs of prototypes posted on techy blogs), most reports were of it costing around $1000.

Today, the price was trumpeted as $499, which I make about £310 at todays tourist exchange rates.

This is very good news. The early adopters won't feel too ripped off at that price plus it's likely that following the usual pattern, the computing power will increase and the price will drop within 12 months.
(The first version of the iPhone went on sale at around the same price).

Have a look at the clip, see what you think.

Monday, 25 January 2010

In a Nutshell.

A brief summary of tonight.

Charlton Athletic 0- Leyton Orient 1.
(The first home defeat since March 2009.)

A poor performance from too many of our players against a team who made up for their limitations by 'wanting it' far more than us.

Charlton had plenty of chances to grab a draw and had everything fallen our way, could have ended up running away easy winners.

It wasn't to be.
Nothing fell the way of Charlton.

Dave Mooney's woeful miss was one of those occasions where you weren't sure if you should shout abuse, laugh or cry at the ineptitude.

 Bailey, Shelvey and Mooney had particularly 'off nights' but in truth, only Richardson could leave the field with his head held high.
Elliot didn't really have much to do and Sam always looked to be a threat but our team looked as if they were all playing in ill fitting boots.

Llera was so bad, he surely won't be holding onto his place when Sodje becomes available again at the weekend.
For the second game running, he made a feature of miss kicks and slices. His distribution was a choice of a ball pumped forward, Jon Fortune style to no one in particular or an over hit ball straight to the opposition.
He has played far better.

We were lucky to keep the score down to the single goal after Orient also hit the post with Elliot well beaten.

Perhaps it's the kick up the bum the team needs but it's looking like we will have to rely on Leeds and / or Norwich imploding in order to end the season with anything other than a Play Off place.

Let's hope the team are forced to sit through a recording of the game when they arrive at Sparrows Lane tomorrow morning.

There was the first "Boo" of the season from sections of the crowd at the end of the game.

We await the reaction on Saturday against Tranmere.

A Casual Rating
Fraser Richardson can have the Lacoste polo shirt for his surging runs and along with Sam, he continued to look dangerous throughout the game.

The Primark novelty slogan Tee shirt is being awarded to all those who booed at the end of the game.
I also expect Big Mig Llera to be wearing a new tee shirt at training tomorrow for the reasons highlighted above.
Nicky Bailey has been awarded a Primark special for his now expected dive to ground, while holding his face, in the build up to Scott McGleish's goal.
He left a huge gap at the back which lead directly to a lack of cover in the penalty area.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A Taste of the Orient

We welcome Leyton Orient at the Valley tomorrow evening for another game under floodlights and in front of the Sky cameras.

In recent years, our results while being broadcast 'live' have been as patchy as our record in the North West but it is clear we are witnessing an altogether 'different' Charlton this season.

There's likely to be huge banks of empty seats on show for the cameras which will only remind the viewing public how far our stock has fallen.
As far as League 1 crowds go, ours aren't bad at all but when there are 10,000 shiny plastic seats blinking in the lights it looks poor.

I thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Brisbane Road back on one of those warm, sunny, long shadowed evenings.
It was my first game of the season after returning from holiday.

We went behind but then came back to win 2-1, largely due to a moment of sublime skill from Shelvey and an atrocious back header, intercepted by Burton.

The sight of our large and loud away following bouncing around in celebration, and then seeing pockets of our supporters all over the ground doing the same sent me a message that this season might be a little better than the previous two shockers.
We had actually sold out an away allocation and then had groups of people attend on the sly.
We rarely sold out allocations in the bigger stadiums but at this level our support looked impressive.

It's likely that Orient will bring far more supporters than Hartlepool did last week.
I admire people who choose to follow Orient.
It takes a certain kind of character to decide Orient are their team and dismiss the heady local delights of West Ham or any of the other more 'glamorous' London sides.

We are of course playing them at a time when we are unlikely to be picking up many 'new' fans ourselves.
We can at least hark back to recent successes against Arsenal, Chelsea etc etc and kid ourselves that we are experiencing a 'blip' while playing in Tier 3.
What can Orient fans look back at?

My own, (admittedly unresearched), memories of success for Orient go no further than remembering them in the 1978 FA Cup semi final.
Surely there's more?

I salute the Orient fans and I am going to add them to my ever increasing list of 'real football supporters' we are meeting this season.

It's another of those, (ahem), 'MUST WIN' games.
There are lots of points still to play for and there will be many more twists and turns at the top of the league but it would make everyone feel good to keep up with Yorkshire and Norfolk.

.................................Now where did I put my mankini?

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Waggy Wins It!

This won't take long.

The highlights of this evening were few and far between.

Charitably, I'm going to say that the extremely heavy pitch on Saturday must have tired our boys out because they really weren't up for it in this rearranged fixture against Hartlepool United.

The first half was so poor, I found myself trying to count the Hartlepool supporters who had made it South and then spread themselves thinly across the Jimmy Seed stand.
Definitely no more than 70.
Surely one of the lowest turnouts ever at the Valley?
Of course, those who did make it down from the North East should be highly commended as it's an awesome journey to indulge in midweek.

(According to one of their supporter flags, some of them had come all the way from Kent so perhaps I'll lay off the commendations.)

Charlton went one nil up when Grant Basey sent over a particularly good cross after chasing the ball and whipping it in, just before it rolled over the line for a goal kick.
Mooney was there to nudge the ball over the line.

At half time I was still waiting for the game to get going.

Soon after the restart, Hartlepool were awarded a penalty that none of our players disputed so I can assume it must have been the right decision.
No card was issued and it was difficult to see who made the challenge. I thought it was possibly Dailly but it could well have been Llera.
Despite Elliot guessing correctly when the kick was taken and looking fairly strong, the ball bounced off him and into the roof of the net.
Hartlepool began wasting SOOOOOO much time and the crowd were getting restless.

Again, Parky brought on the cavalry in the form of Wagstaff, McKenzie and Dickson in an attempt to grab back the lead.

Nothing seemed to change though.
Then Scott Wagstaff let fly from distance.
 I was halfway through saying "What a waste" as he seemed to have so many better options available when I realised the ball was heading for the bottom corner.
A truly remarkable goal and the highlight of the game.

Suddenly Hartlepool found that they didn't want to be so relaxed anymore but their chance had now vanished.

The next highlight of the game was Chris Dickson scoring a goal, rushing off to celebrate then everyone realising that the ref had spotted something and the goal had been chalked off.
Nevertheless, a young man dressed in a green 'mankini' had rushed onto the pitch to celebrate the 'goal' and now found himself caught up in the action.

The overweight stewards were having no luck catching him and he probably would have made it off the pitch and back into the stands if the heartless Hartlepool player Collins hadn't scythed him down.
A definite case of "just because you're losing...."
The stewards now earned their money and got stuck into their job with relish.

I'm sure their training leaflet mentions it needs 4 or 5 heavy set lumps to lie on and restrain a rather slightly built naked man in order to stop any mischief.

A 2-1 win that at no point seemed convincing but it's another 3 points and that's all that's important.

A Casual Rating
The Lacoste polo shirt is being awarded to the Hartlepool supporters who came down to London for quite possibly the worst football experience known to man.
A shocker.
(Those Hartlepool fans who came from Kent aren't included).
Waggy can have one too for his moment of skill that livened up a tedious evening.

The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is being awarded to whoever cleaned the players boots as they must have used olive oil instead of polish. The amount of miskicks and fluffs was astounding.
The feller who ran onto the pitch can have one too as he probably needs it to warm up.
I dread to think what it's like sitting in Greenwich or Plumstead police station dressed only in his Borat beachwear!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Mist Rolling in From the Trees

I had a fairly convoluted, though enjoyable journey to Wycombe yesterday.

I left South East London and trundled my way towards the impressive St. Pancras International station, then headed north, thereby making my rendez-vous with Crispy who has just moved into his new home at St Albans.

We then motored to Wycombe, listening to Liverpool making a hash of their lunchtime fixture.

We drove past, though didn't stop at the White Horse pub. It seemed to be quite a distance away from Adams Park so anyone who had a few drinks there and ogled the boobs, then managed to walk to the game must have really wanted to see the fixture.
We managed to satisfy our hunger and thirst at the Brewers Fayre adjacent to a Premier Inn.
It's all glamour in League one isn't it?

We kept driving towards the ground and eventually, due to a lack of any kind of decision making, ended up parking within 50 metres of our destination. Not bad for only £5 I thought.

Adams Park is a small, though well maintained ground that is unfortunately miles from anywhere.
An out of town ground is all well and good but with only one road to and from it, it's just as well they get such piddling crowds or you'd have to sleep in your car before getting out afterwards.

The Charlton support were there in numbers but were fairly quiet throughout the first half.

A massive let off early on brought the Addicks players and supporters to life when Stuart Beavon had a head in hands moment, missing a sitter of Andy Gray / Luke Varney proportions.

Lloyd Sam was getting plenty of stick from some boo boys near us but I felt he looked dangerous, if a little fancy pants, in his bright yellow boots.
It was good work by Sam that lead directly to Jonjo Shelvey tucking the ball into the Wycombe goal after 11 minutes.
1-0 and the chance to take the game away from the Chairboys.

It didn't quite turn out to be the easy victory that our early goal had hinted at. At half time the score remained 1-0 with Charlton having made plenty of inroads into the final third but with nothing to show for it.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it but the half time entertainment of an under 8's spot kick competition might have been the gentle nudge our support needed to become a little more lively.
The young kids, who started their run ups on the edge of the pitch, must have been shattered by the time they made contact with the ball.
Crispy commented that they were like Russian dolls, as each child seemed to be smaller than the one before, (with the exception of the fat kid who had been made to go in goal but had worked out a rather 'grime' goal celebration when it was his turn to kick).

The Addicks attacked towards us in the second half and much as we willed the second goal, the ball kept skidding across the six yard line or tamely into Shearer's hands.

As is nearly always the way, our failure to put the game to bed came back to haunt us and Wycombe equalised through a well worked passing move which gave Rob Elliot little chance.

We Addicks roared our encouragement to get back on top and Parky sent on Richardson, Dickson and McKenzie.

The winner came after yet more good work by Sam.
There were two shots that were blocked but the determination of Nicky Bailey to reach the ball and smash it past Shearer was a case of the captain leading by example.
The elation shown by the players and supporters hinted at a real 'togetherness'.

Personally, the goal arrived at just the right time.
 I was beginning to get that 'Charlton feeling', -I'm sure you know the one.
It's the one where despite dominating against inferior opposition, I'm convinced we are going to concede again and then have plenty of opportunities to contemplate all the missed chances as we return home with nothing.

The final minutes vanished in the fog but it was a good win on the road and sets us up nicely for our game on Tuesday night.

Unfortunately, due to having to sit in the car park for an eternity and problems on the M25 it was over 2 hours before I found myself waiting for the train back to London at St Albans.
I had to turn on my iPod for the final part of the journey as I was stuck on a '4 table' with three young women who were dressed for a night out and were loudly appraising everyone, both famous and otherwise, as their 'fantasy partners'.
(Barack Obama was in the lead when I could take no more).

A Casual Rating
The first 'twenty ten' style Lacoste polo shirt is being awarded to the Ginger Pele, Nicky Bailey, for his leadership and determination to score while all around him were faffing about.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is being awarded to the doofus in the Buckinghamshire planning office who thought a football ground with only one small road to access it was a good idea.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

The Adams Family

We're back!

Twenty ten hasn't really got off the starting line for Charlton Athletic.

Two games being postponed due to the weather, means we have had the 'Winter Break' many thought would be a good idea in theory but couldn't ever see happening in reality.

Our last game, back in 2009, was one of those glass half full or half empty results.
I was just happy not to lose though it did give our competitors from Norfolk and Essex a chance to grab our coat tails.

So, 1600 Addicks are moving towards Adams Park, (home of the famous under soil heating), to cheer on what is likely to be a refreshed Charlton team. The lack of match fitness will be balanced out by a less ramshackle looking side as some of the illness, injury and suspensions have now served their time.
We will of course, continue to be without Sam Sodje but there are whispers that Richardson may be 'close' and Youga is nearing fitness as well.
Dailly will be back and Burton too.
Burton owes us a good performance after casting 2 points into the wind on his last time out.

I'll see you there, though if the rumours are anything to go by, it'll just be me and a very female heavy crowd who make it to the game as the majority of our male support get stuck here.

Monday, 11 January 2010

A Weekend Off

"You are my Charlton,
My only Charlton,
You make me happy,
When skies are grey....."

I've sang this harmless ditty on many occasions but as yet, no smarty pants has thought of a verse to incorporate the times when skies are white.

No Charlton this weekend.
 Hardly any football full stop in fact, all due to the kind of weather other parts of the world seem to be able to cope with, without their whole infrastructure and society collapsing into panic buying and salt hoarding.

So, another free weekend stretched out before me.
Luckily, I didn't quite get to the stage of boredom where dressing up the cat seemed like a good idea!!!

A lazy morning was followed by a lazy lunch while reading the paper.
The afternoon was spent ambling about in Greenwich, enjoying the cafes and buying books in Waterstones.
As the snow came down I made for the park and watched the families and teenagers sliding down the hill on a variety of airbeds, sledges, bin bags and in one particularly flamboyant case, a snowboard.

A dog ran around enjoying the cold. He was perfectly dressed with his heavy coat and was bombing around, buzzing the walkers and showing off his friendliness.

When it was time to come home, I felt too lazy to walk back so climbed on the 177 bus heading along Trafalgar Road. The Oystercard reader wasn't working so it was a free journey.  
Sunday morning was spent watching a DVD of the BBC and David Attenborough series "Life". Amazing photography and I found it mesmerising.

In the afternoon I took one of my regular strolls down to the Thames Barrier, taking my life in my hands as the sheet ice on the pathway made it rather a challenge to walk in a straight line.

I already have my ticket for next week at Wycombe.
We need to grab 3 points to make our game in hand over Norwich really worth something.

I enjoyed my weekend off but PLEASE can we get back to normal soon?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Brrr, it's chilly.

Happy New Year to everyone and welcome to twenty - ten.

If you are anything like me, you stuffed your face over the Festive Season and you are now feeling a little portly.

I'd decided not to go to Walsall so I didn't experience the extremely frustrating situation of finding out the game was off, while approaching the ground, as some unfortunates did.

I was sitting in a Starbuck's coffee house with members of my family when my leg vibrated to let me know the news. We had arrived early and were killing time before heading into the theatre.
My father had managed to get us some spare tickets on their local Methodist church outing, - a visit to the Cinderella pantomime at Basingstoke Anvil.
I hadn't been to a pantomime in years and really wasn't sure about going but I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were two 'stars' who were very good, (some faces from CITV's Toonattik), and 80's pop sensation Sonia was the fairy godmother. There were also some shetland ponies who graced the stage for about 40 seconds but the smell lingered far longer.

A top tip for anyone who 'likes a drink', is to frequent theatre bars when it's a kids show and the Methodists are in town.
Despite there being over 1000 seats in the theatre, the only person I had to share the bar with at the interval was my father.

Our game against the Monkey Hangers on Saturday is surely in doubt due to the weather.
I popped into a local supermarket on the way home from work, only to find that I probably have more food already in the store cupboard than they had on the shelves.
Apparently armageddon is arriving over the next few days and people had spent the evening panic buying in the way only the British can.

I feel that our game, should it go ahead, is ultimately one we should win, if only for the fact that our players should be chomping at the bit after having 2 weeks since any action.
Hartlepool also appear to be having a minor injury crisis in defence.

Good luck in the snow.