Saturday, 21 September 2013


Charlton Athletic 0- Millwall 1

....and so it came to pass that as usual, Charlton bent over and offered their submission to Millwall.

On paper, Millwall should have been there for the taking but we know differently.

If Millwall had gone 1-0 down in the first half, they'd have fully believed they only needed a brief moment of good fortune to regain parity.
They'd have gone for it, as we would have done against any other opposition except perhaps Manchester United, who also hold the Indian sign over us.

Charlton went 1-0 down and we already knew the game was up.

The weight of history on our players was too much to carry.
 It doesn't matter how poor Millwall are, they always seem to have the grit and good fortune to turn over Charlton.

Today had 0-0 written all over it.
Millwall were rubbish.
Charlton were equally so.

~One moment claimed the 3 points and local pride.

Pritchard lost possession after Charlton had been denied a penalty claim. A speculative shot deflected viciously off Dervite leaving Ben Hamer stranded.

1-0 down and that was it.

One day we will beat Millwall.
I refuse to believe that witnessing the wins in 1996 is going to be it for me.

The odds were stacked precariously against Charlton today.
The most one sided local derby featuring the team with surely the worst record on live television, being officiated by a referee who has probably given Charlton more reasons to complain than any other, was never going to end on a happy note for the Addicks.

So, bragging rights can go to Millwall.

Sometimes football makes me unbelievably happy.

Then there's days like today.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Point Gained

Watford 1 - Charlton Athletic 1

Celebratory smoke bomb after Yann's goal

There is nobody you dislike more than somebody who you used to really admire, only for them to let you down.

Many people who normally seem quite placid and carefree suddenly turn into the most vitriolic wounded animals, filled with hate when the subject of their previous partner crops up, especially if they feel 'wronged' by their ex beau.

In this respect, I have a massive problem with Watford and Gianfranco Zola.

I really dislike Chelsea. 
When I say really, I mean *really*. 

I'm not sure where this irrational hatred comes from.
 I just cannot remember a time when it wasn't there. 
Perhaps it comes from my grandparents who were season ticket holders at Leeds United through the late 60's and early 70's, during a period when Leeds and Chelsea were constantly at each others throats? 

Whatever the history, Chelsea and me just don't get on.

For a few seasons though, I not only suspended my dislike, I actually enjoyed seeing Chelsea and found myself purring with delight at some of their play.

The reason?

Gianfranco Zola.
I adored him. Truly one of the greatest players ever to play in our country. 

I've been let down by them too.

Not so long ago, Watford were a club I know I'd have supported if I'd grown up in Hertfordshire. 
They had a pretty good academy and brought through some exciting local youngsters who made it to the first team. 
I remember Graham Taylor insisting that all his players lived within a few miles of Vicarage Road and were involved in grassroots projects to benefit the local community.
I was impressed. 

Today, Watford are everything I despise about modern football. 
Foreign owned with very little 'local' influence and a method of play that while looking attractive to home support, has cheating so far ingrained it makes me really dislike what football has become.

Gianfranco Zola has managed to harness all the aspects of the Italian game I find most repellent and transfer them to Hertfordshire. 
The diving, the waving of imaginary cards when 'winning' free kicks, the kicking out off the ball, the gamesmanship etc etc. just leave me shaking my head and wishing for those older, less 'win at all cost' days.

The fact that at the end of the game, many Watford fans booed the ref because in general, he hadn't fallen for the diving and rolling speaks volumes for how normalised the cheating has become at Watford.

The day started with a bang, meeting Hungry Ted at Euston before popping up to Spoons on Watford High Street.

The RoD on tour were already there, tucking into liquid lunches with gusto. We also met up with Rob from The Wrong Side Of The Thames who was excellent company, not least because of his clear love of a beer.

As ever, I was convinced we were going to be on the receiving end of a pasting, and announced I'd consider a draw a decent result.

Last season, Watford were a bit of a surprise with their (Udinese B) squad playing possession heavy football, then utilising swift attacking breaks, usually leading to Forestieri running onto a ball and doing a Tom Daly to win a free kick in a dangerous position. 

This season, we all know what to expect.

Something must have gone wrong though as at half time, not only had Charlton kept the score at 0-0 but were trouncing Watford in the possession stats. The BBC had Charlton keeping the ball over 70% of the time!

Watford looked dangerous but their final ball was woeful. 

The two talking points of the first half both happened up at the other end so they may as well have been on the moon. 
Some ants wearing red and yellow shirts seemed to clash while waiting for a corner, the home support erupted and the referee got involved.

Watford wanted the referee to believe Church had thrown a punch. He may well have done, I couldn't see, but the referee obviously didn't believe it so Church was left to carry on with just a yellow card to his name.

The other incident had Charlton poking the ball home, only for a flag to be raised.

Vicarage Road was more or less full. I couldn't see many gaps, other than the third side of the ground that has been a building site for the last few years.

Despite the home support having turned up in numbers, they really, really didn't get behind their team.

I'm not pretending the Charlton home support is anything wonderful as I know we can be somewhat timid at times but compared to Watford's yesterday, we are like a seething mass of Galatasary supporters!

Perhaps there's a hangover from last season?
If their bunch of foreign mercenaries had got their act together at Wembley to beat a clearly inferior Palace side, they'd have been at Old Trafford yesterday, instead of at home to Charlton.

The second half couldn't have started better from a Charlton perspective. 
 Wilson was brought down by a rather needless sliding challenge. A clearer penalty you couldn't wish to witness yet the Watford players all waved their hands as if Wilson had dived and the referee had been conned.


Yann stepped up, and calmly blasted the penalty into the roof of the net.
 It was the turn of the away end to erupt. 

The rest of the half was Watford trying to equalise, with one eye on trying to fool the officials (natch).

Watford got the goal they deserved when Hamer couldn't hold onto a long shot and the ball fell kindly for Pudil to poke home into the unguarded net.

Watford had a few chances to score a winner but the defence held firm. When they didn't Watford gave a masterclass in wasting good opportunities by blasting over the bar or choosing the wrong pass.

Johnnie Jackson could have won it for Charlton when a ball evaded everyone, coming in from the left, and he ghosted in at the far post.
Just the kind of chance he'd have gobbled up 9 times out of 10 but this time he sliced wildly.

The game ended with Watford feeling disappointed but Charlton considering it a a worthwhile point.

We all met up back in Spoons, to hear next weeks opponents Millwall had been turned over 5-1, at home.


Hungry Ted, Rob and myself headed back to Euston to pop into one of our friend Al's favourite pubs, the Mable.

We bumped into some Millwall fans and I couldn't resist asking if they'd had a good afternoon.

Eventually, traditional kebab in hand, i sauntered home in time to fall asleep with the soporific MOTD pundits.

A top day out.