Saturday, 27 February 2010
Charlton 'Do a Leeds' in Essex.
The journey last night from North Greenwich to Stratford was was child's play on the Jubilee line.
After arriving at the architects paradise of Stratford, I asked a yellow bibbed TFL staff member the simple question
"Which platform for Southend?"
He looked at me as if I'd asked for directions to a holiday home in Devon and replied that there were no trains to Southend from Stratford.
"You need to go to Liverpool Street", he said.
I showed him my ticket, already purchased, showing the starting point of Stratford and the destination as Southend plus a print out of the departure time for the journey.
Someone's made a cock up was his expression.
Within 2 minutes I had located a large sign, "Platform 10 for Southend".
Even if this was his first day on the job, it was still inexcusable.
There were plenty of other Addicks on the train. Many had evidently been rather thirsty throughout the afternoon.
Charlton filled the whole section behind one goal plus a corner section.
The 'facilities' of a toilet block, not much bigger than a family car with a painted wall and a small ditch to relieve yourself into were never going to cope.
Roots Hall was freezing cold and I was happy to have so many others packed in around me, penguin style.
Before the game, there was no doubt who the star of the show/pantomime villain was going to be.
Nicky Bailey was the "Love of our lives" and there seemed to be more ginger wigs on display than at a Mick Hucknall tribute night.
Southend were quiet, other than a group of around 60 kids who had positioned themselves as near as they could to the away support.
The Southend team started brightly and Robbie Elliott made some smart saves.
I'm not sure what was going on at the other end as my view was worth about 20 pence.
The first major incident centred around Guess Who?
Southend were awarded a free kick, just outside the Addick's penalty area.
Bailey did what any pro footballer would do and tried to stop the men from Essex picking up the ball quickly.
A minor scuffle followed, a punch was made and Bailey hit the deck, rolling around like a toddler having a tantrum.
Yes he was hit but Bailey did himself no favours with his reaction.
He has made a reputation for himself as a diver and faker and this time he made sure the red card was brandished to Christophe with a shameless piece of play acting.
Christophe and his team mates didn't complain about the sending off. In their heart of hearts they must have known it was merited but Bailey's histrionics burned any kind of tissue thin bridges he still had between himself and the Shrimpers.
Elliott saved the free kick with a fantastic dive to his right.
Unfortunately, young Robbie came a cropper soon afterwards when a terrible mix up between Dailly and Llera left the ball bouncing towards Paterson who let fly from distance.
Robbie had the ball well covered but we all watched with horrified expressions as the ball squirmed under his arms and trickled agonisingly over the line.
The loud and proud Charlton support were momentarily silenced though Robbie must have been reassured by the choruses of support for him after his error.
The game reverted to the painful spectacle of Tuesday night against Brighton.
Their team looked faster and more up for it than ours.
If you had arrived for the final 15 minutes of the first half, you would not have known Southend had only 10 men unless you were told.
Half time was spent taking a leak somewhere near the official toilet area and wondering why Southend feel the need to have LA Lakers style, hotpant wearing cheerleaders, on a cold February night.
In the second half, the Addicks were attacking towards our support and gradually we became louder and louder.
The referee and linesmen became targets for abuse, due to some blatant home town decisions involving wrongly called throw ins and corners.
I sent a message to Crispy saying that I was beginning to really hate Mooney.
A little harsh in retrospect but he missed an absolute sitter of an open goal when all he needed to do was put his laces through the ball and break the net.
I found myself willing our team to keep the ball away from him as along with the referee, he was breaking down our attacks whenever he became involved.
Semedo had made way for Kyel Reid after around 65 minutes and our toothless attack started to come to life.
The ineffective Mooney was finally replaced by McKenzie after Akpo Sodje had caused the away end of the ground to start bouncing around with 15 minutes to go. He tucked the ball away after some good work from Reid on the left side.
As happy as I was, I did find it hard to celebrate too heartily that we had finally equalised against a poor, 10 man team.
From then on, it was all Charlton.
Wave after wave of attack, all focusing around Reid, had our crowd baying for the winner.
It looked as if a combination of more dodgy calls from the officials and strong, backs to the wall defending were going to see us returning to London with only a point.
When we saw there were to be 6 minutes of added on time, our support notched up the volume again. Only a minute later, there was one of those moments when we all remember why we bother following our team.
Reid took the ball at pace, again down the left, cut inside and then sent an unstoppable rocket of a shot into the far corner.
We had managed to do what Leeds have been doing all season and use the added on time as a goal scoring opportunity to grab a win.
To say that there was delirium in the away section is rather an understatement.
The pent up energy and frustration we have all felt lately came flooding out in a writhing sea of red and white, - old and young climbing on top of each other in unbridled joy.
It's those moments we remember at the end of the season and will often give us the incentive to keep going.
To share that particular moment with 2,300 tightly packed others was just perfect.
A Casual Rating
The Lacoste polo shirt is being awarded, without even a shadow of doubt, to Kyel Reid who turned the game, making our first goal and scoring the second in added on time.
The Primark novelty slogan tee shirt is going to Nicky Bailey, (again), for his histrionics after being hit by Christophe.
He made sure that Southend went down to ten men, (correctly), but I feel very ashamed that a player wearing our shirt feels the need to have this particular aspect to his game.
He is a fantastic player with wonderful match winning qualities but his constant rolling around with his hands on his face always leave a bad taste in my mouth.
A CC special request to all Charlton fans.
If any of you are feeling on a high after our win, I implore you to click here.
Sue is one of those people who is always doing things for other people and this is a fantastic cause.
Five half marathons is five more than I'll ever do.
Come on Charlton, show your support for this local girl.