Sunday, 30 September 2012

Score Draw

Charlton Athletic 1 - Blackburn Rovers 1

The image of Blackburn Rovers in the media over the last year, has been one of a (chicken in a) basket case of a club.

Rovers have had sections of their fan base boycotting both home and away games, a manager who to the outside world seemed to be a dead man walking, plus a rather odd foreign investment from India, run by people who appear to have little clue about football.

The night before our game, Steve Kean finally cried 'fowl' as the 'poultry' amount of influence he had on affairs slipped from his grasp.
He headed home, leaving Rovers managerless for our encounter.
The fans had got what they wanted and the first fixture of the post Steve Kean era ended with their team grabbing a rather fortunate 1-1 draw.

Had Kean managed to get that point they'd probably have booed him back to the dressing room but all the Rovers supporters seemed to be quite happy with their haul at 5pm.

 Charlton were by far the better team for all but the opening 15 minutes.
 Nuno Gomes and Jordan Rhodes were largely anonymous, despite both arriving at the Valley with reputations to make defenders shudder. 

Morrison and Cort marshalled the defence so well, neither of them got a sniff all afternoon.

Ben Hamer won't be needing to wash his pristine white kit before our next match on Tuesday. 
He was mostly a spectator.
His major act of the first half was picking the ball out of the net when Charlton went 1-0 down.
Etuhu got through Solly and pushed the ball past Hamer, giving Rovers the advantage.

At that point, I imagined the depleted Addicks side were going to buckle but it seemed to be the kick in the pants the team needed.
From that moment on, Blackburn were never in it.

Cort was dragged down in the area and Jackson stepped up to smack the ball home from the penalty spot............... except he didn't.
The trailing leg of Paul Robinson kept the ball out.

Jackson was to wait less than a minute to make amends. 
His cunning deflection gave Robinson no chance and Charlton were flying.

Danny Green hit the post when all around me were already celebrating the goal. 
It was one way traffic towards the Blackburn goal until half time.

The second half was more of the same.

Unfortunately, bad luck arrived again when Jackson went off injured and was replaced by Bradley Pritchard.
Pritchard was lively and had a good game, adapting to the pace straight away.

Blackburn appeared content to sit back and hopefully counter attack. 

BWP got in the way of a certain goal from a Morrison header but the main talking point after the game was another "Did it cross the line?"

It was the first thing everybody mentioned in the post game discussions at the Rose of Denmark.

Odd that the BBC Football League Show didn't even include the incident in their highlights, while also hinting that Blackburn hadn't managed to get the deciding goal their strength deserved.

Anybody at the game knew that was a complete load of cobblers of course.

BWP almost claimed the victory for Charlton in the dying seconds. 

His rather spectacular volley was saved by Robinson and that was that.

It was a game we 100% deserved to win but in the circumstances, a point was gratefully received. 
 The injury / illness ravaged team lined up against what looked to be an extremely strong Blackburn side. 
We seemed set for a torrid afternoon.

As it turned out, the team, (all of them), held firm and gave what we like to believe is a Charlton Performance.
Well done to every one of them.

The anticipated return of former Addick Danny Murphy was a bit of a damp squib as he showed his legs have finally gone. 

His influence on proceedings was minimal, other than receiving the first yellow card of the game.

My memory tells me he left us under a cloud, very late in a January transfer window. 

His D list celebrity wife made enemies of Charlton with her comments about the club, (once he'd gone), in her newspaper column.

She was on the receiving end of what is now called 'banter' but to anybody old enough to vote should really be called 'abuse,' at our FA cup game against Fulham last season.

Some people really do deserve to be mocked. 

(I'm thinking Simon Jordan here). 

Personally, I don't think wives, children (or other relatives) of players and managers fall into that category.

I was quite happy for a chorus of boos to greet Murphy's first touches of the ball but less happy to hear thousands of people singing that his wife earns her money by dropping her knickers.

I think we're better than that.

A Casualty Rating.
I'm hopefully grown up enough to recognise a good performance when I see one, regardless of the shade of shirt the player is wearing. The Man of the Match was surely Blackburn's Paul Robinson. 
He was inspired.
 Robinson gained a point for Blackburn with his fine display.

The Charlton Lacoste polo is heading towards Lawrie Wilson who had a very good game.
I wasn't really a fan of his on first viewings. Of course, I wanted him to do well but things just didn't click for him a few weeks ago. 
I'm holding my hands up and acknowledging he had a good game at Ipswich and yesterday he was part of a fine defensive unit that looked quite unlikely to be plundered for the last 70 minutes of the game.

The Primark novelty slogan t shirt is heading to referee Deadman who had an aversion to any type of advantage being played.
Sooooo frustrating!

See you on Tuesday.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Sammy Clingan to Sign?

There have been rumours all day about the ex Coventry club captain making his way South to the Valley.

The Belfast born player was well thought of at the Ricoh but apparently the thought of playing tier 3 football just wasn't on the cards for him.

At 28 years of age, he's old enough to know the game but still young enough to hare about.

As other Charlton folk have noticed, his Wikipedia page already has him as 'playing for Charlton' but this means very little when you realise how easy it it to change an entry.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

William & Kate, - Topless.

I would really hate to be a 'celebrity'.

I find it bad enough when I'm out shopping and a past or present pupil shouts my name across the supermarket.
 I know I'd find it extremely tough if I was followed by the pondlife known as 'paparazzi', who get paid for taking photographs of famous people walking out and about, just like you and me!

I'd find it very difficult to become friends with someone who's job it is to be such a rodent, (and I can count long standing Palace fans among my close circle so I'm not that picky).

However, I'm nothing but loyal to my readers and today I had a stroke of luck.

By accident, I was forwarded a picture of Prince William and 'smashing' Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
Both completely topless.

I'm sharing it with you.

Because I care.

Promise you won't tell anyone?

Hope I don't get into trouble...

3 Points on the Road.

Ipswich Town 1 - Charlton Athletic 2.

Firstly, I must say I was very impressed with the number of fellow Addicks who made the trip to East Anglia.

The travel gods had made the journey an awkward one by refusing to lay on any trains from London, (unless you were prepared to keep switching between rail replacement bus services).
With this in mind, I used the Charlton 'Valley Away' bus service.

'Away' is a pretty good description of my day.
It did seem as if those people making the decisions were trying their hardest to keep me away from where I wanted to be.

We embarked at Charlton, then instead of heading along the A12 for a nice direct route to Ipswich, we whizzed up to near Stansted airport for a half hour stop over.
We'd only been on the bus 40 minutes when we stopped so unless your bladder is the size of a pea, there was absolutely no need for a break.

I was quite keen to get to Ipswich for a meet up and wander around but apparently this is 'verboten'. You buy a ticket on the bus knowing you are more or less sacrificing any chance of having a look at the place you are visiting.

The time dragged but I was amused by the pictures I was receiving from home. My pocket vibrated time and time again as a new fashion disaster arrived in my inbox.
Top Cat was being dressed in the clothes found at the back of a cupboard. They had originally been bought, many years ago from Build a Bear.
shamefully, not Adidas.
We arrived at Ipswich around 2:20pm and most of the anoraks headed straight to the ground, only about 400 metres away.

I headed to the Waterfront area to have the speediest drink ever and to stretch my legs in the glorious sunshine.

Ipswich does seem to be a really 'liveable' place.

I know I was seeing it at its best but it's a remarkably clean, quiet place with interesting architecture. The town planners of the 60's and 70's don't seem to have completely wrecked it and the previously mentioned Waterfront area is gorgeous.

In all honesty, I can see myself going there for a weekend break when the fixture list allows.

I met up with some of the RoD crowd, who had rather sensibly made the journey by car, and then walked back towards Portman Road.

I like Portman Road.
It's a proper 'football' ground, not one of the identikit bowls we see around the country at places like Boro, Southampton, Reading etc.
There's a sense of history about the place.

However much I like Portman Road, the environment is not worth the quite staggering £34 the away supporters were expected to pay.
I can't make up my mind if they are cunning chancers or disgusting thieves but the hierachy at Ipswich need to take a good hard look at themselves.

I know there are many people who refused to go, purely because they weren't willing to be so obviously fleeced.
When the travel problems are added to the mixture, it was an easy game to miss.

Those of us who did make it were rewarded with a pretty good display from the Addicks.
I've been to see Charlton play at Ipswich many times over the years. Yesterday I found myself in almost exactly the same spot we were when we played there in the Play Off semi in 1998.
An omen?

Who knows but the first half ended 0-0 with Charlton having the lions share of the chances and possession.
From our angle we 'scored' 2 goals but unfortunately the ball slipped the wrong side of the post and hit the side netting on both occasions.

At Half Time we were joined by 'Ted' from the Hungry Ted site and his company seemed to make all the difference.

Jackson scored a belter when it looked as though BWP had missed a wonderful cross.
We jumped about and Ipswich looked crestfallen.

Only a few minutes later, Ricardo Fuller pinched the ball and went on a mazy run, slotting the ball into the far corner.

Charlton went mad but so did Ipswich.
The boos around Portman Road were pretty nasty.

Ipswich looked a beaten side. They lacked ideas and even the moments of good play were coming to nothing when concentration let them down.

A moment of supreme good fortune gave Ipswich a way back into the game when a tame effort from Jason Scotland wrong footed Ben Hamer.
The savage deflection left him no chance.

A combination of poor refereeing decisions, 5 minutes added on time and Ipswich suddenly waking up made the last 10 minutes of the game seem much more stressful than they needed to be.
 Charlton held firm to claim the 3 points that were fully deserved.

The team plus Chris Powell came to acknowledge the Charlton support and love was expressed from both parties.

It was then back to the 'Magic Bus' for a Stone Roses marathon on my headphones.

A Casualty Rating
The regularly awarded Lacoste polo is going to Ricardo Fuller.
The injury in training to Yann Kermorgant definitely speeded up his inclusion in the starting line up. His appearances as an impact sub have been very good but I didn't really imagine him starting just yet.
Ricardo ran and ran, scored a goal and looked a handful all game.
Certainly a new Charlton hero has emerged.

My only slight annoyance is I'd attempted to lay a bet on him scoring while on my way up to Ipswich but I lost all internet strength as we headed through the farmlands.

I took that as a sign it wasn't to be and left it.
My original bet on Charlton winning stood but a very small part of me was annoyed when Fuller struck.

The Primark novelty slogan t- shirt award is clear cut.
I rushed back to the bus after the game and sat in my place ready for a speedy exit.

My companions sat too, waiting.

and waiting.

Eventually, two people who had got 'lost' strolled up to climb on board.
By the time they arrived, we were behind all the other people in the carpark and in a long queue to leave Ipswich.
I know the coach users have a reputation for being a bit simple, (in general the people who wouldn't be able to find their way there if they weren't dropped off outside the ground) but I found this ridiculous and also quite disrespectful to other passengers.

I've now realised why Charlton find it necessary to run coaches to places only a few miles away such as Fulham, Brentford, Palace, Milwall etc.

I sat in my seat, looking at the side of the football ground, trying to understand how it was possible to get lost on such a short journey.

Despite this hiccup, it was all worth it and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Suffolk.

Monday, 17 September 2012

London 0 - Croydon 1.

I've been having a bit of a hiatus of late.
I didn't go to our game at Nottingham Forest and I don't really care enough about the football played during the international breaks to crank up the aging MacBook.

Even the truth finally emerging about the Hillsborough disaster didn't get me going, though of course I instantly remembered where I was when I heard the news all those years ago.
(I was walking with a mate on Queen Street, Cardiff as I was a student there at the time).

Friday night didn't really inspire me to rush away and make any notes either.
 I went to the Rose of Denmark after the game but I was probably the first to leave.
I just wasn't in the mood.
A relatively early night, studiously avoiding all social media as I was convinced there'd be mass wrist slitting and daft accusations from sections of the Charlton support.

I've now collected my thoughts a little so here goes.

When we came down from the Premier league, one of our first games of the new season was an away trip to Selhurst Park.
How we laughed at Palace!
They seemed slow, unable to cope with the skills our players possessed and we absolutely battered them, despite the score finishing just 1-0 to us.

The gulf between our two sides was just too huge. Andy Reid ran the show on the day and Palace were chasing shadows.

On Friday there was another gulf in class.
We may have been streets ahead of anything put in our path last season in League 1 but we are in danger of becoming a team who gives it a go, only to fall just slightly too short if a few problems aren't ironed out.
Only when Danny Green came on late into the game did we properly penetrate down the wing.

There will be many teams much better than Palace who will be knocking at the Valley this season so we should use Friday as a cautionary tale.

Palace looked by far the stronger team for long periods of the game.
They could have been two up within ten minutes but luckily their players seemed more interested in showing how fabulous their close control was than letting off shots at Hamer's goal.

When Palace did shoot, the fashion in their dressing room for smothering the front of their boots with vaseline came to our rescue.

Despite their inarguable dominance, I don't really remember Ben Hamer having to make a proper save all game.
There were quite a few glorious opportunities that ended up being calmly caught in his chest but no diving full length pushes around the post, or 'one on ones' against an onrushing forward.

As the first half went on, Charlton came more into the game, this despite Wiggins going off injured and Chris Solly having to switch to left back.

Probably against the run of play, Charlton had the ball in the net, only to find the linesman was out to make a name for himself and (incorrectly) raised his flag for offside. BWP timed his run to perfection and nodded the ball home.

Had the goal stood, Charlton would have had something to build on but what actually happened was the team looked deflated.

The Palace goal, when it came, was a cracker.
The chesting of the ball onto a volley combination is just the kind of 'goal' I like to score when messing around with balloons.
The Palace crowd went wild as well they should.

A few thoughts on their crowd.
Despite quite obviously not caring about us at all, they filled the Jimmy Seed stand and made a racket all through the game.
I'm not really a fan of the 'Ultras'.
It all seems a bit sad and suburban to me.
Perhaps if I was a spotty teen, the thought of turning up at football all in black, wearing a scarf across my face in an attempt to look menacing might appeal.

As I'm a middle aged fart who started going to football in the early 80's, I fear my window of opportunity has closed.
Can't say I'm that bothered.
I'm sure there'll be many Palace supporters who are painfully embarrassed by their group of cheerleaders.

I wonder how the choir rehearsals go?

"Ok lads, after 3, I'll let off a smoke grenade and then it's straight into Glad all Over......."

Despite them not caring, I have to acknowledge the Palace support was one of the best I've seen and heard at the Valley for many a year.
The flares, bangers and smoke must have made quite a spectacle on the television but I have to question the wisdom of bringing them inside a football ground.

I'm old enough to remember the horrors of the Bradford fire and I was under the impression that such items were forbidden.
Whatever the case, it does seem pretty stupid that kids are having the lids of their fizzy pop taken from them under the guise of Health and Safety but in another part of the ground you're in danger of having the back of your legs burned off - in a non smoking stadium!

A final flurry of activity, all in the Palace penalty area gave the game an exciting climax.
Fuller could have made himself an instant hero but his snap shot squirted just the wrong side of the post.
Fuller also made the keeper pull off a finger tip save to push the ball onto the crossbar but it wasn't to be.

It comes to something when probably the best goal scoring chance Charlton had all night was when Hamer ghosted into the area and had his strong header saved on the line, after it had beaten the opposition keeper!

Despite the Palace superiority, a draw should have been the result but again duff officiating ruined our day.
Our last home game saw another perfectly good goal chalked off.
That's TWO in two home games! Those extra 3 points would make us look far more comfortable on the league table.

The hapless linesman was good enough to apologise to Chris Powell but of course it was too late to do anything about it.
SCP was measured and calm when dealing with the media.
I can only imagine how 'Colin' currently at Leeds United would have reacted in similar circumstances!

Crystal Palace are geographically one of our nearest teams and whatever their supporters pretend, we are a team they'd love to beat.
Friday was the first time they have won at the Valley in the League since I was a babe in arms.
We haven't done so well in the derbies recently.
(I'm not counting the Orient and Brentford 'derbies' of recent seasons. They were fun but only because we took huge crowds and we could all get home on an Oyster card.)

We failed to beat Millwall either home or away last time we were paired with them and our previous meeting with Palace also ended in 1-0 defeat.

I hope we have more luck against Derby County on Tuesday evening.