Sunday, 23 March 2014

I Don't Know What I Think Until You Tell Me….

Charlton Athletic 0 - Burnley 3

Yesterday we played Burnley and ended up with exactly what I'd predicted. 

Walking to the Valley, I'd even said that if we could keep the score down to three goals, I'd consider it a respectable achievement. 
The bonus 'extra' 2 points we gained in added on time, midweek against Bournemouth, still mean we are 'up' over the two games this week. 
The point gained at the Den last weekend means the period has hardly been a disaster.

Burnley were by far the better side. 
Charlton started well but once Simon Church had let a golden opportunity to open the scoring pass him by, that was it for the Addicks.

Burnley went 1-0 up from a well worked move down the left. 
Collectively all belief and purpose going forwards drained from our players.

It's only due to some inspired defending (and goalkeeping from Hamer) that Burnley stayed at just 1-0 up for so long. 

At 1-0 down, there's always a chance there might be a defensive cock up or the ball might ricochet  kindly off the referees elbow and let you back into the game, regardless of how outclassed you are.

At  2-0 down the game was up. 
The kind of penalty decision Charlton certainly haven't been awarded since our promotion season was enough to kill the game off. 
I'd argue that had it been a Charlton player crashing to the turf, he'd most likely have received a yellow card, such has been our luck in those circumstances this season.

Matt Lucas, the linesman 'in charge' by the East stand wasn't up with play so the referee had to give his decision from probably the 'worst' angle, from a Charlton perspective. 

The game ceased to be a contest.
 Burnley put their feet up and were coasting to a 2-0 victory, safe in the knowledge Charlton still wouldn't score, even if the visiting defence all nipped off the pitch to gargle with gravel, as their manager Sean Dyche evidently does before every interview.

The Valley had almost emptied of home support as the added on time board was held up.
 I said to Crispy that 2-0 wasn't a bad result, especially as the killer goal had been a dodgy pen. 
The words were still hanging in the air as yet ANOTHER deflected own goal sneaked past Hamer, Jackson the unlucky fall guy this time.

So, no points and hardly a spanking but still rather demoralising.

The Charlton support has lost much of the togetherness we once had.  
Whoever was in the managerial hot seat yesterday, we'd most likely have lost, especially with the players available.

I loved Chris Powell. 
I loved him as a player and a manager. 
I was prepared to overlook some of his errors, (all young managers who are still learning will make errors), due to his obvious passion for the club, supporters and our shared history. 
He didn't see the job as a launch pad to something greater, this was the pinnacle of his career up to now. 
I loved him even more for his refusal to walk when he was being hamstrung behind the scenes, purely because he adored being the manager at Charlton.

I am extremely suspicious of the new Charlton regime. 
I don't know what their plans are and the family of clubs across different countries fills me with dread. 

I want the people involved with my club to be only concerned with my club, not seeing Charlton as just one small part of a bigger picture.
Beggars can't be choosers though and what we have is a football dreamer at the helm, who is using us as a play thing to test out his footballing theories.

It's his money and he can do what he likes of course.

My reluctance/ refusal to sing about being part of "Jose Riga's Red & White Army" has nothing to do with with harking back to the halcyon days of Chris Powell, it's more to do with me saying I don't know Riga from Adam and I'm not blindly following some bloke in a cheap Burton's suit just because he happens to have lucked into a job managing my team.

I'll support the team and any of the players who don the red jersey but as for Riga, as countless football supporters have said over the years,
 "Who are ya?"

Until two weeks ago, 'Riga' to me meant a town in Latvia, or what Michael Gove wanted more of when school tests were being designed.

When CP arrived we all knew him. 
His first few months were extremely dicey but the majority were willing to stick with him as he was, well, Chris Powell.

Jose Riga, (should he still be around next season), will start with a fresh page. 

Like Powell, he will only be able to show what he's capable of when he has the opportunity to build his own team, rather than pick up the pieces of some other unfortunates plans.

The new regime will show what they're about once the last ball has been kicked up at Blackpool. 

At that point we will really see who we are dealing with.

As for those people who have questioned me via twitter etc. regarding how 'Charlton' I am because I'm refusing to fall in with the fickle sheep, chanting Jose's name, I'd politely invite you to eff off. 

I can be as passionate about Charlton as anybody else, regardless of who is sitting upstairs.

It's nothing to do with my feelings for Powell, Parky, Par**w, Reed, Rocket Scientist or Curbs, it's just I need to see who we are dealing with.

I'm yet to make up my mind.

I'd also like to remind some of our support that following the leaders blindly is no indication of purity for the cause.

If David Cameron came to my house, I'd pull the curtains and pretend to be out. 
Poking George (Gideon) Osbourne in the eyes might eventually get boring for me after the first five hours, yet nobody questions how 'English' I am, despite holding these supposedly worthy leaders in complete contempt. 

So, in direct contrast to some people who have only been too happy to 'move on', I shall be staying quite still, letting events carry on around me. 
I shall make a decision on my position once more evidence has arrived.

To quote my friend Crispy, I need more to go on than "Jose Riga's red and white tie".

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Nothing To See Here

Millwall 0 - Charlton Athletic 0
Move along, nothing to see here.

Millwall have extremely poor crowds on a weekly basis. 
 Despite protesting they have no feelings regarding us 'trainspotters' from down the road, over the last few years, they've always had their biggest home gate of the season when the Addicks travel the 4 miles West.

In turn, despite having a woeful record at the Den, Charlton supporters have clamoured for tickets at the Toolbox for the recent fixtures, then been really up for it once kick off time arrived.

Not this season.

This was the game that sneaked up on us.  Most supporters were looking at the game last weekend up at Sheffield and since then, events at the club have hardly generated any enthusiasm for people to purchase tickets if they hadn't already got them.

So, just 16,000 at the Den with 2,500 Addicks in attendance, Charlton failing to sell out the allocation.

Both teams were poor - Charlton had the better approach play but never looked like scoring, Millwall looked more likely to score but were often run ragged in the middle. Any Charlton dominance was just window dressing though as we were so lightweight and toothless in front of goal.

If ever there was a 0-0 draw it was this one. 
It was just like the game between the two teams earlier in the season, except on that occasion one side scored with a speculative shot that was more likely to trouble the ball boys, until it deflected into the home goal. 

Yesterday, we could have played a second 90 minutes and I'm pretty sure the score would have remained the same.

The 'famous' Lions roar at the Den never materialised. The atmosphere was fairly flat from both sets of supporters. Charlton fans and Millwall fans united in apathy for much of the game.

Highlights would be very difficult to pick out. 
My memories will all be about the fattest steward I've seen in my life, closely followed by the fattest female steward.

Post game, the Charlton support were held inside the ground until 5:30pm  "for our own safety", (the Millwall supporters can't be trusted to behave), so we wandered down into the main concourse under the stand. We could see it was getting rather cramped so turned around to walk back to our seats.

At that point a neon jacket sporting bloke, jumped out at me demanding to see my ticket!
I pointed out the game was now over and he seemed fairly shocked. 
I wonder how many people he sees arriving at 5:10pm, deciding the best part of the afternoon is watching the players perform their warm down?

In all honesty, if I had purchased a ticket for the after game stretches, I wouldn't have missed a thing.

It was all back to the OLB post game to sink some great beers and talk rubbish. 

Hardly a feast of football but it's a point gained that could be very, very useful over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Thankyou Chris Powell.

I don't mind admitting I'm gutted tonight as I think of the shabby way Chris Powell has been treated.

CP isn't a Yes man and eventually there was only one way this particular chapter in the history of Charlton Athletic was going to end.

Thanks Chris.

It was emotional.

Quarter Final Failure

Sheffield United 2- Charlton Athletic 0.
The dust has now settled and I can put my thoughts in order with regards last weekend.

The final score pops up on my iPhone.

If you were there on Sunday, you know what happened.
If you weren’t, and you’re reading this, then it’s highly likely you were either watching the events on BT sport or you were following the game on t’wireless.
5,300 followers of Charlton made it up the M1 for a midday kick off on a Sunday, when public transport wasn’t an option on the day.
Oop North.

Oddly, pre game, I didn’t speak to anyone who fully believed we were going to edge past Sheffield United. The best most people were prepared to acknowledge was “we have a chance”.
In truth, we really shouldn’t have been there at all.
I sat next to Hungry Ted at the Oxford game, shrugging my shoulders as Charlton performed the traditional CCCC – (Charlton Cup Competition Capitulation), players trudging in at the break 2-0 down.
That should have been it.
A Yann inspired comeback gave us breathing space to try again at their place. Then we went up to Huddersfield, then Sheffield Wednesday, both places I was expecting us to get a whupping.
Yet somehow Charlton won through.
So we found ourselves in a Quarter Final. One game from Wembley.
New Wembley is a place our neighbours Palace and Millwall have both recently had days out. Just maybe we could have one too?  
The last 8 of the FA cup had been unchartered territory since I flew from Gatwick, on a Charlton chartered plane, to see us play at ‘Boro.
We took a ludicrously large following that night considering the distance.
As ever, the Charlton support left the ground downcast after Jimmy Floyd Piggybanks had shown he was just ‘too good’ for us.
“If only we had a player like him”, I remember thinking.
History was to prove me a pretty bad judge.
Charlton are not a ‘big’ team.
We don’t win cups and we don’t generally perform that well in the league. We are a mid table second tier club who have at times, over achieved while at others looked rather hopeless.
Nobody is going to support Charlton in this city if they are a glory hunting pot chaser.
Despite this, we have a healthy support, though it’s obviously dwarfed by the Premier League clubs.
A 'proper' football stadium. I rather like Bramall Lane

Despite my protestations all week that I ‘knew’ we’d lose, I also knew that it was our best chance to visit Wembley in a long time.
I wasn’t alone in this. That’s why so many people felt hurt and upset at the rather feeble performance on Sunday.
At half time, the only kind thing to say was that as poor as we were, Sheffield United weren’t punishing us and at least we weren’t losing.
I said to Crispy and Ted that I believed the first goal would be the winner. Neither side looked like scoring at that point.
Harriot missed (what looked from the other end of the ground) an absolute sitter with the ‘keeper on walkabout. He only had to get the ball on target.
He didn’t.
That was our chance. Within a few minutes, United had scored, then scored a killer (jammy) second goal within another minute,when the ball deflected off Wood.
Game over.
Sheffield United looked like world beaters, Charlton looked like a team who were just begging for the referee to call time.
The Blades were worthy winners and deserve their day at Wembley.
As ever, Charlton had taken me to the closest point, where I almost let myself believe something good might happen, then ripped it away when it was within touching distance.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
When was the last time we took a ‘large’ following and the team responded?
I remember being in a crowd over over 4,000 Addicks at Leyton Orient in League 1 when we roared the team to victory.
Is that it?
Pretty pathetic really.
 I strolled into work on Monday morning to be met by caring and understanding people who all expected me to be rather downcast.
I wasn’t.
I’d had a rather exceptional weekend away with friends.
Charlton Boys on patrol. L-R Al, Me, Crispy, Jim. (Bolts and Ted out of shot). Photo by Ted.

If it hadn’t been for Charlton Athletic, it’s highly unlikely we’d have all been up in Sheffield on a Saturday night, enjoying what the city has to offer.
'interesting' artwork on the wall of the DaDa bar

We drank some of the finest beers I’ve had in a while from some great pubs, that weren’t hampered by the London prices we are used to paying.
When was the last time someone handed you a fiver and expected you to buy two drinks with it?
Before last weekend, I think it was about 1992…. ;-)
A round of 6 beers, (some of them rather show off craft efforts) could be paid for with a £20 note.
My kind of town.
We talked rubbish, we drank beer, we laughed, we attempted to buy each others clothing, (hi Bolts), we found a curry house where none of the staff were Asian, we rapped Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash to the annoyance of taxi drivers and finally went back to our hotel to sleep it off, safe in the knowledge we had a huge breakfast buffet to get stuck into in the morning.
A glorious sunny Sunday morning in Sheffield.

Then we went to the football………………