Sunday, 20 March 2011

A New Low?

Dagenham & Redbridge 2 - Charlton Athletic 1.

In a long and painful series of downwards steps, covering the last 5 years or so, yesterday really did feel like rock bottom.

Rather worryingly, it might not be 'the bottom' but the opposition, coupled with our own complete capitulation added together to form a rather bleak picture.

Dagenham were good value for their win. 
A one goal advantage tells little of the story.

Anybody who wasn't there would probably look at the result and assume the Daggers had managed to snatch a victory.
Nothing could be further from the truth.

I really needed to forget about Charlton Athletic last night.
I went to a birthday party but unfortunately I was fielding questions all evening about the decline of our club.
If losing to Dagenham wasn't bad enough, receiving sympathy from West Ham and Crystal Palace supporters just rubbed salt into the wounds.

I was probably one of the very few Charlton supporters who managed to enjoy themselves yesterday.

I was lucky enough to be a guest of Simon and Vicarage Field Barking, one of the sponsors of the Daggers.

The day started off swimmingly, meeting ex blogger Frankie Valley outside the Rose of Denmark on Woolwich Road before we were driven over to Essex by Simon.
The sun was shining, my Oakleys were having their first outing of the year and the company was good.
Simon, FV, myself and JB found plenty to laugh about and we were looking forward to a good day out.

We parked up next to the players cars and wandered inside, pausing briefly to pass a few words with Ketts from Dr Kish.

I've been lucky enough to be invited by Simon to match days at Dagenham on previous occasions but this was the first time I really 'cared' about the result.

If only my interest was writing reviews of catering or hospitality.
I'd be handing out the awards right, left and centre to Dagenham.

We were treated to a sumptuous carvery of roast beef with all the trimmings and apple pie to follow.
I've eaten at 'Legends' at the Valley and to be honest, this was far better, even if you don't get escorted to your table by an ex player or get the chance to have a wee next to them in the Gents*.

*FV and Garry Nelson.

There was plenty of local interest in the Spurs -West Ham game being played as we ate. The game was being shown on large screens.
A very tanned 'celebrity' Charlton fan Karl Howman was sat at the next table, chatting amiably with Peter Varney.

We were treated really, really well.
Even after it became known that I am a Charlton season ticket holder, people couldn't have been friendlier.

The Daggers are a club it would be easy to fall in love with.

They are a 'real' club. Part of their local community, surrounded geographically by their supposed betters who have lost what it means to be a proper football club, and not just a business feeding ridiculous amounts of money to the agents of foreign sulk merchants with attitude problems.

I was having a fine day.
The world was a great place to be.
Then we had to take our places to witness the game.

Despite the very, very poor form, lack of public transport and the general consensus that Bournemouth next week is going to be the 'big' day out, Charlton sold out the away section.
I was surprised.

 There was even a small over flow section for those mad people who had turned up and paid on the day.

The game started with the Daggers battering Charlton.
They could have scored with less than a minute on the clock but Worner blocked well from a hard shot.

Dagenham dropped the tempo after 5 or 6 minutes and Charlton started stroking the ball about a little.
This was really the time when we needed to score but there were very few clear cut chances, despite dominating possession.

Against the run of play, Jon Nurse seemed to have an eternity to pick his spot for the opening goal.
He had time to take 3 or 4 touches such was the lack of enthusiasm from our defenders.
He didn't need them and sent in a rasping shot beyond Worner's despairing dive.

At 1-0 up, the Daggers were lifted, their crowd woke up and the fragile confidence of the Charlton players flooded out of them.

At half time, we retired to our coffee and pastries and wondered how Charlton were going to attack the second half.
Our players had been booed off the pitch and Powell was not exempt from the fans blame.

I was clinging to the hope that we were going to pull out a fairly decent 45 minutes to cover up the rubbish first period.

As it turned out, it actually got worse.

Our seats were directly behind the away team dug out.
My seat at the Valley is in the East stand and prior to that it was in the North and then Upper North.

I've not had much opportunity to listen in on the 'bon mots' of those supposedly commanding events from pitch side.

On the evidence of yesterday, to make it in football you need a speech impediment and the ability to throw random shapes with your hands and arms.

Chris Powell seemed to favour the loud utterance of "Gwooooowarra", while pushing his right hand forwards and spreading his fingers.
FV insisted Powell was conducting his instructions in Swedish.
He may well have been for all the use they were to anybody who uses English to get by.

The Daggers bench were marginally better.
At least I recognised most of the words, even if their combination was alien to those of us who sometimes read a book.
"Oy Nuuurseee! Pull it back again sideways as ya go forwards round the edge!"


Chris Powell started off fairly animated on the sidelines but long gone is that infectious smile and sharp suit.
He looked as if he was trying to blend in and wore a beanie hat pulled down low and a scruffy tracksuit with puffy jacket.

After the second goal, (richly deserved again by Dagenham), Powell stood stock still and looked as if he really didn't know what to do.

We had all witnessed Danny Green double the home team's advantage without being hindered by our defence.

He took the goal well but he again, was given the time to steady himself.

We didn't hear much more from Chris Powell for the rest of the match.

He knew the game was up. We all knew the game was up. Nobody inside the ground even remotely believed Charlton were capable of mounting a comeback.
Our already fragile players were now being booed, told they weren't fit to wear the shirt and ridiculed by their own supporters.
Such was their lack of application they deserved no less.

Most worrying was when Scott Wagstaff was substituted.
Alan Mac was having a complete 'game to forget' so when a substitution was made, we all assumed he would be making way.
Reid came on and Waggy came off.

"You don't know what you're doing!" came the chant from the Charlton supporters.

I hate to agree with the sentiment but Powell was starting to look a little out of his depth.

Eventually, to loud cheers, McCormack was replaced by Ecclestone but it was too little, too late.

Those West Ham/ Daggers supporters in the ground were pleased to witness our, (on loan from the Hamsters), Nouble score a tap in with seconds to go.
Despite where I was sitting and the company I was keeping I still stood up to cheer but the goal meant nothing.

The final whistle blew and there was a bit off 'afters' involving a few players in front of the dugouts.
It's a shame nobody wearing the blue shirt showed such passion while the game was in progress.
Powell stood and waited for it to calm down before offering his hand to the Daggers staff.

The team left the pitch to cat calls and jeers.

Casual Rating.

A fantastic day out, only spoiled by a bit of football.
Charlton keep doing this to us.
If I was enjoying a book as much as I'm enjoying following Charlton I'd have binned it.

As supporters, we are like a battered wife who keeps thinking their husband will change.
We love them and keep coming back for more, despite all evidence hinting at future disappointments.

I know in my heart of hearts I'm still going to keep chugging along, supporting the team and oddly, being proud of the club, even if the present situation is awful to witness.

Ross Worner is receiving the Lacoste polo this time due to stopping the first minute effort.
If that had gone in, heads would have dropped sooner and a 6-0 tonking would have been on the cards.

Take your pick for the Primark novelty slogan tee shirt. More or less anybody in blue under performed.

*** I'd like so say a huge thanks to Simon for another great day out at a fantastic, friendly, family club.
Good luck to the Daggers for the rest of the season.

If you are feeling low about our beloved club, look at this picture and believe things can get better.


Anonymous said...

Keep the faith Marco.

Marco. said...

Keep The Faith.
A good message.

KTF everyone!

Anonymous said...

Marco - where you were was a much happier place than the away end which became very fractious, with a few arguments breaking out amongst the Charlton fans. At the end a few dozen Charlton fans went to the tunnel to shout abuse at the Charlton players, and Chris Powell. Bradley right Phillips was singled out more than most. I might be hacked off with the performance but I just can't see what that sort of poisonous behaviour achieves. To try and counterbalance that quite a few of us applauded most of the teamn off. Ludicrous I know, but you sort of felt that you need to raise them for the next game after the abuse they got.

You were right about their first goal - too mant players just stoodf abnd watched for a second or two when they should have been stretching to challenge and block.

Again our main failing was a failiure to create - I don't remember a shot on target until mid way thoiugh the second half. Our goal was the second shot on target.

We weren't completely outplayed and competed well at times - but when you consider that Daggers are a small club in the relegation fight at the bottom of league 1 that is so depressing it doesn't bear close analysis.

I know we all want to give Chris time, but if you can't motivate a comparatively good squad of players (for League 1 anyway) over a period of 12 games what are the indications? I know we are all thinking that he can rebuild his own team in the summer, but are they really going to be that much better thanh the present lot. So he'll be given until xmas i expect, by when we'll realise that he was just another Les Reed.

Pembury Addick

Marco. said...

Can't argue with any of that Pembury.
I'm sorry you had such a miserable time while we were being treated so well.
There did look to be a hard core of disgruntled Addicks who raced to the front at the end to shout abuse.
We were too far away to hear what was said but sometimes you don't need to do you?