Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Marching On.

Franchise 1 - Addicks 1.

I didn't head up to Buckinghamshire this evening but I did have the benefit of the cafc twitter feed, SMS texts and the Radio Kent commentary being broadcast through the Charlton Athletic website.

Despite rather divergent opinions on the penalty ranging from "Never a pen" to "Clear cut, poor challenge", everyone was unanimous the Addicks were pretty dire in the first half.

Charlton went in at half time still unbeaten in open play but unfortunately 1-0 down due to Williams 21st minute penalty.

The second half was much more positive from the Reds.
Franchise were still pressing forward and could very easily have doubled their lead but a combination of fluffed chances and strong defending kept them at bay.

On 66 minutes Green came on for Wagstaff and then Kermorgant  replaced Hayes on 72 minutes.
This proved to be the turning point for our side when the two substitutes combined, Green crossing for Kermorgant to head home the equaliser.

As with any draw, either team could have won the game.
Both teams had opportunities to snatch victory in the closing minutes but a point each was to be a fair result.

At half time, I most certainly would have settled for a point.

So, again, we are still undefeated this season.
We are top of the league with 2 points to spare and unless my maths is a little shaky, whatever the results on Saturday, the worst that can happen is we plunge to the terrifying depths of second place.

It's good being an Addick right now.

Sunday, 25 September 2011


Addicks 3 - Spireites 1.

Since I last posted anything on here there have been three games.
Firstly, there was a League cup game, at home, to PNE that was another run out for the fringe players.
This ended with 'disappointment' though very few people were in fact 'disappointed' to be out of the competition.

The players who had seemed more than a match for Reading in the previous round came unstuck against a bigger, stronger and more direct Preston side.

As I walked home I wondered if I had seen the last of Simon Francis in a Charlton shirt.
He had been magnificent against Reading but had a complete stinker against Preston. He only lasted until half time but was lucky not to have been red carded and quite frankly was a bit of a liability on the night.

A game up at Rochdale came next.
I wasn't there and relied upon a couple of genial Northerners who somehow had managed to get the gig commentating through the Charlton website.
Strangely, when Charlton had a 2 goal advantage wiped out they seemed quite upbeat about our chances to go on and win it.
Anybody with more experience of the Addicks would have feared the worst but Compo and Clegg were proved right when Charlton ran out winners.

Yesterday, the biggest crowd seen at the Valley since last seasons Exeter game witnessed a bit of a cracker.
Football for a Fiver backfired last season.
We packed the Valley with people who perhaps hadn't been in a while and then reminded them why they don't come anymore.
Yesterday those holding the cheapo tickets might just be thinking they'd like to see some more of this particular Charlton side.

The game started with Chesterfield taking command, using their bigger and more powerful players to make inroads into the Charlton half.
Soon Charlton took over and it became a bit of a procession towards the Chesterfield goal.

At half time, if Charlton had been 6 goals up it wouldn't have been flattering.
We had to be content with the dreaded two goal advantage after Hayes had deflected the ball into the net and Jackson had scored from inside the penalty area.

The second half was completely different.
Chesterfield came out believing they could get something from the game - perhaps they'd been told about our record with two goal advantages?
Chesterfield manager Sheridan was sent to the stand for throwing his toys out of the pram when a very hopeful penalty appeal didn't go his way.

Later, Waggy wasn't given a foul - (he seemed to be involved in a personal battle with the East stand lino) and the ball was ushered up towards the Charlton goal.
Morrison missed his challenge and a soft, though correct, penalty was given.
Clarke walked off in a huff as he wanted to take the penalty but Whitaker got the nod and scored with ease.

This seemed to wake Charlton up. After hardly troubling the Chesterfield defence for around half an hour suddenly the team came to life.
We were feeling jumpy as Chesterfield were still pushing forward but we got the chance to relax when Taylor was brought down in the area for the most obvious penalty.
It was at least as strong a case as the one given to Chesterfield but amazingly Taylor got up to be shown a yellow card for diving!

It was an appalling decision.
Having believed we got the benefit of some 50:50 decisions at the last home game, it did seem to me as if there was a little bit of payback going on.

Chris Powell may have been very angry, (I know we were), but he showed Sheridan how to react to a setback.
Our team got what they deserved when BWP scored to finish off a fantastic team goal, diving at the far post to end a magnificent move.

A 3-1 home win to keep us top of the league, with a game in hand.
We've experienced a steady spiral of decline for so long it feels really, really good to be doing well again.
You have to experience the lows to really appreciate the highs - something supporters of the Sky endorsed 'Big Clubs' will never know about.
An Arsenal supporting friend has been almost suicidal over his team due to losing a few games!

I feel we as Charlton supporters can trump that with bells on having had two relegations, falling crowds, financial problems and having to become used to visiting teams where you've barely heard of a single player.

Yesterday, it was a little reminder of what it used to be like.
A nearly full Valley watching our team play well and looking forward to what is to come rather than dreading it.

I'd say I was more than satisfied with the way things are going.

A Casual Rating.
I enjoyed the game yesterday and I believe the majority of the just over 22,000 crowd would agree.
Chesterfield didn't come to defend, they played their part in an open, entertaining game.
The Lacoste polo is going to the marketing team who managed to get around 8,000+ (my estimation), extra people into the ground who probably wouldn't have been coming anyway.
A five pound offer is good enough to get bums on seats for a tier 3 game and hopefully many of those bums will be returning.
(No offence if you are one of those bums).
The Primark novelty slogan t- shirt is heading towards the East stand linesman who most certainly was making some decisions against Wagstaff for personal reasons rather than what he had seen happen.
He also must have had a fairly clear view of the 'dive' for our non penalty but didn't seem keen to get involved.

Ref Watch.
Started off well but got progressively worse as the game went on.
Perhaps, as a tier 3 referee, he wasn't very used to larger crowds?

Finally, in non football matters, I cannot believe it's now 20 years since Nevermind by Nirvana was realeased.
It became one of my favourites very quickly and an album I used to play very regularly.
It will always remind me of mad rushes to Heathrow airport on Friday evenings to head to Amsterdam to visit my ex wife for the weekend (before we were married).
I was actually in Holland visiting her when I heard Kurt Cobain had died which only added to the time capsule feeling of the album.
In Bloom will always be part of my Friday evenings on British Midland to Schipol, being played through a Sony Walkman!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Over the Line.

Charlton Athletic 2 - Exeter City 0.

If I ever choose to think back on the events of yesterday, I won't be remembering a 2-0 win, I'll be remembering the feelings of injustice I experienced throughout much of the first half.

Until yesterday, I really felt I was a true 100% Charlton supporter, totally in support of our team and sod the rest.

I learned yesterday that winning isn't enough for me. It has to be done 'right'.

From our seats in the East stand, it was beyond clear the ball had trickled over the Charlton goal line after a bit of a defensive shambles. Daniel Nardiello really didn't catch the ball with a lot of gusto but it was enough for it to squeeze past Hamer, before he pulled it back, presumably to hide his shame at being beaten by such a tame effort.

We couldn't believe it.
 A clear goal but the linesman and referee seemed oblivious.
The Exeter team didn't seem to complain too much at the time, considering the circumstances but it was clear that we had 'got away with it'.

Five minutes later there was a break in play for an injury to be treated and Nardiello came over to the East stand linesman to have a chat.
Despite it all happening directly in front of us, I have no idea what he was actually saying but his body language didn't look aggressive, it was more of a general, "You've made a hash of that one mate and you'll realise it when you see it on television".

Whatever was said, the linesman took exception, called over the referee and Nardiello was having an early shower.
At worst, I was expecting a yellow card but off he had to go.

I was stunned.
It seemed to me, Exeter had been denied a perfectly good goal and then been double punished by the officials when the error was highlighted.
(Apparently, the error was highlighted using some choice language, which if true was a stupid thing to do but also if the officials had done their jobs, it wouldn't have been necessary at all).

At the time, I had no idea that Chris Solly also had a shot cross the line up at the other end of the pitch, which would have made me feel much better about the situation. I'd have been feeling that as the officials had been crud for both sides, let's just get on with it.
 Congratulations must go to Chris Solly who managed to bite his tongue and carry on playing without going off on one, if he realised his effort had also been wrongly missed by the men in black.

Just before half time, BWP ran on to push the ball past Pidgeley in the Exeter goal and give their  supporters yet another opportunity to abuse him for being an ex Plymouth player.

The teams left the pitch with Charlton 1-0 up.
Most of the talk over half time was how we were lucky to be in the lead.

The second half was frustrating as Charlton seemed incapable of breaking down the ten men from Devon.
The game only became 'safe' from a Charlton perspective, with ten minutes to go when BWP turned provider and teed up Dale Stephens.
Stephens managed to send an identical chance way, way over the bar on Monday night but he kept his head down and buried it this time.
2-0, game over and a chance to relax.

I was relieved the second goal went in as mentally, it had felt like a 1-1 draw up until then.
(As I said before, I had no knowledge of the Solly effort until I got home).

The performance was not a cracker but it's another 3 points and Charlton are currently in an automatic promotion spot.

Things could be far, far worse.

A Casual Rating.
From a footballing perspective, this wasn't one to remember but it will definitely go down as one of those "I was there" games.
I'm not sure the Exeter supporters will want to recall the game though.

I'm awarding the Lacoste polo to Chris Solly who had a fine game, whipping in a few crosses that Waggy now seems incapable of, being solid in the tackle, beating his man and, (as I now realise) fully deserving a goal.
The Primark novelty slogan t- shirt is being awarded to the 'Belmarsh Bullies' who act as our stewards for the away support.
Was it really essential to go in mob handed with at least 10 + running heavies to take out two rather weedy looking blokes who had been banging on the advertising hoardings?
Removing one of them head first seemed rather over the top to me.
Ref Watch.
If I use my usual criteria of not really noticing the officials as a barometer for their performance, added to getting most decisions right and any bad decisions not really changing the course of the game, I'm sorry to have to say this particular showing will go down as an 'epic fail'.

Before the game had kicked off, I remarked that we could be in for some problems as our short in stature referee looked like he was all set for a 'Napoleon' performance.
He generally tried to let the game flow but missed some critical events and did change the game.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Big Brother.

I'm not really- (actually not at all) a fan of this show.
Nobody could have cared less than me last summer when Channel Four decided to scrap it, presumably due to their executives all agreeing they could no longer carry on pushing that crap without it staining their careers.

Unfortunately, Channel 5 stepped in to fill the void and revived the franchise this Summer.

I've just had the misfortune to witness the final 5 minutes of the show, apparently a 'Celebrity' version.

Needless to say, the winner could stand next to me tomorrow morning and I wouldn't recognise him.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Same Again.

Charlton Athletic 1 - Sheffield Wednesday 1.

Well, we didn't lose and perhaps last season we would have done.
Charlton had a fantastic opportunity to take the game to Sheffield Wednesday when BWP scored a wonder goal from outside the area with less than 5 minutes played.

Despite dominating the next half an hour, Charlton couldn't score again and seemed to lack any belief that they could break down the strong Wednesday defence.

Sheffield Wednesday were playing the normal horrible Megson tactics of shirt tugs, nagging niggly fouls and little attempt to make anything of the game, just purely focusing on stopping the opposition.

I was very impressed with the Wednesday defence.
They were strong, well drilled and often didn't seem to make the tackle as they were so good at blocking and harrying.

They gave away lots of free kicks but that was their game plan.

Prutton was very lucky to stay on the pitch after he brought down Waggy.
 He received a yellow but it should have been his second yellow, after an earlier awful challenge the referee decided to treat with just a warning.

Charlton were undone by a set piece (again).
It was the only way Wednesday were going to score quite frankly but score they did.
Clinton Morrison came on as a substitute and with what may have been his first touch, scored at the far post with his head.
He did his best to miss, scoring off the underside of the cross bar from less than a metre out- but the ball crossed the line.

Charlton rarely threatened and Wednesday looked as if they were satisfied with a draw.
The game drifted on until finally the referee put us out of our miseries.

The second half was a disappointment for Charlton, especially after playing quite well for the opening half an hour.

The unbeaten run continues.
I'm quite satisfied with a point after tonight. We could and probably should have won but also it was just the kind of game where we could have lost.

We'll just have to win on Saturday instead.

Can We Beat the Television Hoodoo?

Tonight we play Sheffield Wednesday at the Valley, under the lights with an unbeaten record behind us.
There's always something slightly special about evening games.
The crowd always seems that little bit more up for it and the spectacle on the pitch always seems just a little more exciting, even if it's a dull game.

I remember learning while doing Modern History A level, that Adolf Hitler would always prefer to have his speeches either at night, or indoors, under fierce lights to make himself seem that little bit more special.
He had some dodgy ideas but nobody can deny he knew how to make a speech.

Despite feeling quite excited about our ,(seemingly ever expanding), current crop of players and thinking we have the beginning of a team that might be able to grab a Play Off place at worst, I'm feeling a little worried.

Of course, we will lose eventually. Tonight may be that night, though not because of a superior Wednesday team but because over the last *(insert your own number here)* years, we have consistently saved our worst performances for the television cameras.

Can we put to bed this odd Charlton tradition?
I believe we've already poked the other Charlton oddity in the eye when we won at Bury.
(We always seemed to come away with less than we deserved in the North West).

So, what's going to happen tonight?
Let me know what you think.