Wednesday 30 November 2011

The Eagles Express

No doubt we shall be hearing from crowing Eagles for some time about their victory over Manchester United reserves.  Meanwhile, Rick Everitt had an amusing piece in the programme on Monday about the new Eagles Express service to bring fans from Kent to Selhurst Park.  Imitation is, of course, the sincerest form of flattery.  However, apparently some Palace fans claimed that we had no fans in Kent until we started the Rickshaw.

The Rickster also refers to Gillingham's efforts in this area.   These were satirised in the late lamented All Quiet in the West Stand blog as consisting of a clapped out Cortina going down the A2, although to be fair they could probably run to a few minibuses.

My ambition was to appropriate one of Racing Club Warwick's 'Racing To Get You There' minibuses for a Warwickshire Rickshaw, but their service went belly up with the decline of the club.

When we were in the Premiership, I used to enjoy going to away matches on the West Sussex minibuses which would pick me up en route through the Midlands.   The inimitable Brian Cole often drove, although one of the relief drivers drove a hearse in his day job with predictable consequences.  One Addick who passed us on the M1 thought we were actually going backwards.

The Rickster does make the point that Palace are getting smaller gates than us despite being in a higher division, but no doubt this will all change after their Carling Cup triumph.

I will try and do a preview of Saturday's cup game, but one of the paradoxes of being notionally retired is that your workload increases.   I was quite surprised to be given a role by the University of Oxford, given that I am not one of their graduates (or of the other university).   This is an issue for them as, although I have published three books with Oxford University Press and act as a reader for them, I was gently told over lunch that my provenance was disturbing the Syndics.

However, I do have to spend much of today and all tomorrow amid the dreaming spires, lunching in one college and dining in two others.  If you were doing a review, most colleges would get a top score for ambience, a very good one for wine and a satisfactory one for the food.

Benno deal off

Paul Benson will not be going on loan to the Rocking Robins after all:

What happened was that the wonders of Wiltshire failed to get their paper work completed in time.   I think the magic roundabout isn't there any more, otherwise one might think they have been going round it too many times.  Nothing has been said in the meantime because they have been trying to persuade the Football League to show some leniency, but their response is rules is rules.

So from having three League 2 teams chasing him we have a situation where a presumably demoralised Benno is left at Sparrows Lane, although Swindon still hope to sign him up in January.

This is a problem in terms of match fitness when we don't have a proper reserve team, albeit there are behind closed doors friendlies and Kent Senior Cup fixtures.   A false economy in my view.

Perhaps Benno could be given a seat on the bench and a possible cameo on Saturday.

Perhaps more significant is the official announcement that technical director Jeff Vetere has left the club.  It had been rumoured for some time, but some such rumours turn out to be false.   In a sense perhaps he has made his impact for us and needed a new challenge.

Shrimpers failed to secure Benno

Southend United attempted to make a last minute swoop to secure the services of Paul Benson but could not afford him given salary caps in League 2:

This means that three League 2 club were interested in securing his services with Phil Parkinson's Bradford City being disappointed and the lucky winners being Paolo di Canio's Rocking Robins.

As the Southend article points out, he is a proven goal scorer at League 2 level.   However, defences are of a higher standard in League 1, indeed that is probably one of the biggest differences between the two divisions.

It is evident that Benson has a decent salary, which is fair enough.   There are a few Addicks who think he should have been kept at The Valley as cover, but provided we don't pick up any more injuries Paul Hayes does a decent job in that role, particularly if you look at assists rather than goals scored.

Charlton in the clear on Bribery Act

Not only were legal eagles from Butcher Burns able to enjoy the win against Huddersfield on Monday, they were also able to reassure themselves and the club that they would not be prosecuted under the Bribery Act.  This was not because anyone tried to influence the referee with the offer of a wig or hair transplant, but for more complex legal reasons.   Read more here:

Monday 28 November 2011

Addicks defeat Invincibles

Charlton defeated Huddersfied Town 2-0 in front of the Sky television cameras at The Valley last night to go seven points clear at the top of League 1.   Huddersfield's much lauded undefeated run of 43 games was brought to an end, confounding concerns that I and others had that the draw specialists might go home to Yorkshire with a share of the spoils.   Instead the Terriers were advised by the Covered End to stick their record where the sun doesn't shine.

It's interesting to see that The Times record the defeat in a small paragraph at the bottom of a column.  The media hype has been ludicrous: apparently one of the commentators on Sky was comparing the Terriers to Brian Clough's Nottingham Forest yesterday evening!   But now the media will have to find a new hero or zero (Chelsea having replaced Arsenal in that role).

Huddersfield are a robust side with a lot of skill and I expect to see them in contention at the end of the season, so beating them is no small feat.    The one downside was Kermit being stretchered off, but apparently it was not as serious as it looks and he doesn't have to play on Saturday anyway.

Deustche Bahn had added on extra platforms on Marylebone to make it easier to get in there.   You usually have to wait a couple of minutes at the mouth of the tunnel, but we were there for 10-15 minutes last night.  Fortunately, I set a record last night from Marylebone to The Valley of just 45 minutes: straight on to a Bakerloo train, straight on to the Jubilee line and then jumped on a 161 at North Greenwich whose driver did not hang about.

This set me up well for the match, but it was crowded outside and many Addickted arrived after the game had started which is what happens with a night game.   It is also interesting to see the likes of Paul from Bexleyheath resplendent in a suit, once again giving the lie to the claim that Charlton supporters are pikeys.

I thought that we were quite nervous in the opening ten minutes or so and Huddersfield piled on the presssure which they are well capable of doing.   Most of the game was being played out in our half and the Terriers got a lot of corners (indeed if the game had been decided on corners, they would have won).   However, the important thing is that we stood up to it and didn't buckle.    There may have been nerves but there was no real panic and that is a measure of the current team.

The Terriers would no doubt argue that our opening goal came against the run of play, but you have to capitalise on your set pieces (the visitors failed to do this with one or two truly woeful efforts).   After a rather harsh award to Huddersfield by the referee that had led to a corner, even he could not ignore Rugby League play when it happened right in front of him.   Green put in a superb curling ball and a seemingly unmarked Kermorgant was able to move forward to connect with his head and put the ball in the back of the net, stunning the Terriers behind the goal.

The second goal was created by a shot from Wright-Phillips.   The ball rebounded but Ephraim was alert and ready and put in a shot that was sufficiently powerful and well directed to evade the keeper.  Huddersfield's tally of away goals conceded had now increased by a third.

Half time: Addicks 2, Terriers 0

Town took off Tommy Miller after the break and brought on incredible hulk Anton Robinson.   Within minutes the charm merchant had been warned by the referee about his fouls.   Eventually the referee found where he had put his cards, having brought his Oyster card on instead in the first half, and gave the charm merchant a well deserved yellow card.

Talking of hulks, Parkin was not as much a threat as many of us had feared and his legs appeared to be carrying a big load in his upper body.   All muscle no doubt, but he didn't look fully match fit.

An early effort by Keromorgant came off the bar, but the visitors also renewed their acquaintance with the woodwork, hitting the crossbar while Hamer had to push the ball off the post to make a save. 

The mood around me grew increasingly tense as the half wore on with fears that there might be another goal and it could be Huddersfield's.  They kept their shape well, while we started to look a bit ragged with the service to our strikers deteriorating.  

It was very open play and there was a lot of the ball alternating between the two keepers, sometimes via a defensive header.  However, the Terriers were exposing themselves at the back so we could have scored a third, while our defence held firm even if they had to make the odd hoof.

There was genuine joy at the final whistle.   The fun is coming back to watching Charlton.   Health warning: we will lose another game this season and it may not be to a top side.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible was spoilt for choice in awarding the Silver Bone and had to consult semi-retired match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound who had been watching the match on television at home.   Homer thought that the whole team deserved a Silver Bone, but instead it was decided to give them all a commemorative Silver Biscuit embossed with the legend 'Defeat of the Invincibles'.    The Silver Bone went to Chris Solly who had a truly outstanding performance.   Chris Powell kept the faith with him when some of us had our doubts and he is really developing as a player.

Hamer made a really outstanding save in the second half, pushing the ball on to the post.  If the Terriers had scored then, they could well have gone on to produce one of their famous draws.   I do wish that he would steady the ball when he has the time to do so rather than kicking it right away.  Distribution is an area for further work, but no one can argue with a clean sheet and it was good to see how pumped up he was saluting the East Stand after the match.   Taylor got the Man of the Match award from Sky and he was clearly thrilled to receive it.   I am delighted for him as he and Morrison have given us at last a truly solid central defence.   Very little gets past them.   A friend who has a season ticket at Huddersfield e-mailed me this morning to say, 'Your defenders closed down our attackers very well.'  Wiggins had another excellent game and it is a delight to watch such an intelligent footballer.   Russell had a rather uninspiring start and was withdrawn at half time, but I think there is more in him and hopefully he will be used again on Saturday.   Hollands had a good game, in particular making some important defensive interventions.   Ephraim showed what he was made of with a very well taken goal.  I also noted some good defensive work. If we can sign him up in January we should do so.   He is one of those players who has been undervalued where he is.   He looked genuinely touched by the warm standing ovation he got when he left the pitch.   Green put in an excellent free kick to score the opening goal and is delivering on his promise.  The goal by Kermorgant was well taken and we would certainly miss him as Brad's strike partner if was injured.   Wright-Phillips has the ability of a true striker to suddenly drift into promising positions unmarked, unfortunately it didn't quite come off this time and it probably wasn't his best game of the season.  He was getting too readily by Huddersfield's offside trap.

The mark of a good manager is making the right substitutions at the right time.  Part of the critique of Chris Powell as an 'inexperienced' manager that was advanced in some quarters earlier in the year was that he would not be able to do this.   I don't know whether Russell had picked up a knock, but in any event it was the right decision to bring on Hughes at half time.   His signing attracted some criticism, but once again the experienced player gave his all for the cause and was really thrilled at the end of the game.   I also thought that Wagstaff came on at just the right time when we were tiring and his running could unsettle the Terriers.  Hayes only had a cameo after Kermit's injury, but he did make one important intervention.

Juneau the Soccer Cat did not have to consult her assistant Fleur to give the Hiss of the Match to referee R East.   Despite his name the folically challenged official was not too popular in the East Stand.  I thought he was one of those referees who tries to show he is not a 'homer' by giving very few decisions to the home side.   Lots of fouls by the visitors were ignored, but every time a Terrier fell over, to then stage a recovery once the free kick was awarded, the referee was there to come to their aid.  I would add, however, that I thought that the East Stand lino knew what he was doing which was a welcome change.

Incidentally, a new feline commentator and the first boy member of our team, may be joining us shortly.  Look out for news of Reg.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Media tone changes

Tonight's match at The Valley has been overshadowed by the unexpected death of Gary Speed.   The word tragedy is very much overused but this is truly a tragedy for his family, his many friends and for football.  It reminds us that there are things that are more significant than even the most important game.

Night games at The Valley are very distinctive.   They were not a feature of my youth because there were no floodlights.  But there is a very special atmosphere on those occasions.   The downside is having to travel down with commuters understandably grumpy at having to endure another journey with south-eastern.   However, at least Deutsche Bahn has upgraded its late night service to Leamington so I no longer have to change into a bus at Rugby to get to Coventry or stay in the Holiday Inn Express at North Greenwich overnight.

The media tone towards Huddersfield has changed over the last day or two, if only because it is in their interests to promote it as a real contest rather than the latest stage in Town's glorious progression.   The Football League Paper, which usually falls over itself to big up any team from Yorkshire, even called Charlton 'red hot' yesterday.   Another relatively positive piece is to be found in the Daily Mail, although presumably most of its predominantly female membership do not read the sports pages but want to find out about the latest threat to human civilisation as we know it (falling house prices):

There is no doubt that we are up for a real contest tonight which will hopefully show the strength of our attack.  The contrast between Jordan Rhodes and Bradley ('he's better than Shaun') Wright-Phillips is a fascinating one and is reviewed in depth here:

Our central defence need to show their mettle, but for me, recent forced changes in midfield are a concern.   Johnnie Jackson was not the most obvious player, but he had a welcome habit of appearing in the right place at the right time.

Chris Powell knows that Charlton are going to have to produce something special:

Huddersfield are certainly up for it, captain Peter Clarke claiming it is a chance to 'show the nation what we are all about.'    This statement chimes up with some of the media hype, although I doubt whether the nation are on the edge of their seats.   It has been suggested, however, that we could dispense with selection worries for Britain's Olympic teams by playing the Huddersfield side.   Indeed, I am surprised that Beckham seems to prefer Paris St. Germain to Huddersfield.

The media hype surrounding Huddersfield has irritated me, but I would quite happy to see them come up in second place.   They are a side with a great footballing history and we are tied together by the 7-6 (when, to my everlasting fury, I had been taken Christmas shopping in Woolwich).   A very good friend is a supporter.

Huddersfield have not been beaten in London since April 2010 when they lost 3-0 to Brentford.   I doubt whether we can repeat that and, given that we are up against draw specialists, I am going for a 1-1.  Odds from Coral (as provided by CSP Addick Dick Sheppard): Charlton 11/8, draw 9/4, Huddersfield 2/1.

A tale of two players

Two former Charlton players are in the news, having experienced contrasting fortunes.   Former loan player Elliot Omozusi went on to play for Orient, but has now been sent down for 30 months for intimidating a witness in a murder trial.

Izale McLeod, on the other hand, is described as 'a revelation' since he moved to Barnet but the club has not begun talks to extend his contract, leading to speculation that the kilted wonder may find pastures new.

In the meantime, The Football League Paper have let him choose his dream team.  Needless to say, no Charlton players past or present are featured.

See the conquering heroes come!

Ron Knee takes a break from his duties managing Neasden FC in the North Circular Relegation League to share his thoughts on the illustrious visit of Huddersfield Town to The Valley tomorrow:

I must admit I don't go south of the river very much.   That's what we say in the cab trade: 'Sorry, guv, I don't go south of the river.'   In football terms it's places like our rivals Dollis Hill I am familiar with.

However, even I may go south of the river in spirit tomorrow night, that it to say with a bottle of scotch and some extra strong cider as a chaser in front of my television set.   It will be a rare chance to see the team that has electrified English football: Huddersfield Town.

By some strange quirk of fate, Huddersfield have never played in the Premiership.   Personally, I think the rot started when it was known that Harold Wilson was a supporter.   Another blow was the system of only one point for a draw when, in fairness to Huddersfield, it should be two points for a home draw at least.

It will be a few months yet before Huddersfield can claim the League 1 title that is rightly theirs.  It's a mystery to yours truly how they managed to lose two play off games, but there are some officials who have it in for any team from Yorkshire.

Of course, there was a time when the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea graced The Valley.  Huddersfield have to play a few games yet before they overtake Arsenal's unbeaten record, but that should be a formality.   As for whether United or Huddersfield are the greater team, I guess the jury is still out, but at least Town don't have fancy dan foreign managers like Chelsea.   Their sort wouldn't last a minute in the North Circular Relegation League where only real men play.   Just like Huddersfield in fact.

Despite their great successes, it hasn't all gone to the heads of the Huddersfield players.   Jordan Rhodes could probably win the game on his own (at least that is what The Football League Paper says today). 

However, Rhodes is such a sporting gent that he does not want to upset the South London losers ahead of the game so he has said that Charlton may actually have a chance of winning.   He has said, 'We go to Charlton trying our best to get a result and to keep the run going.   But if you said we'd get beat there and win promotion at the end of the season, I think everybody at Huddersfield Town would snap your hand off.'
What a geezer, thinking about the feelings of the minnows and their supporters!

As for the result, Huddersfield are a very cultured team who don't like to humiliate their opponents.   It's more about quality play.   Charlton have actually scored more in total, although Town have only let in six away from home.

So I think we are in for a match in which Huddersfield exhibit their quality, but win by a single goal.

Friday 25 November 2011

Contested territory

Each year I give a lecture at Wellington College in Berkshire along with some other speakers.   Wellington generally invites some other schools along.   Last year it was another fee paying school, Charterhouse (which is one of the few public schools to specialise in football).

This year I was surprised to find that half the audience was made up of pupils from Chis & Sid.   Wellington headmaster Antony Seldon is very involved in Government efforts to get fee paying schools to help those in the state sector (he is also sorting out Dave Cameron's website).

At lunch I remarked to the master in charge that I thought that he came from Charlton territory, but it turned out that he was a Glazier and argued that it was all Palace down there.   He also claimed that Chris Powell's success at Charlton was down to the fact that he was a former Palace player!

In fact if one looks at the football support map for London it is clearly contested territory:

However, when I talked at Eltham College earlier this year, a fee paying school which draws a lot of its pupils from the same area as Chis & Sid, there were Charlton season ticket holders in the audience.

Another speaker who was a keen Wrexham supporter (and has got me digging out information about the times we have played them which include a 6-0 cup defeat) identified me to the audience as a Charlton supporter, but it remained unclear which, if any, team the pupils supported.  

To cap it all, the organiser of the day was a fanatical Everton supporter.    One might ask what a Scouser was doing at Wellington but it seems that he coaches rugby.

Benno becomes Rocking Robin

It is being reported that Paul Benson has joined Paolo di Canio at Swindon Town in a last minute loan deal after his expected move to link up once again with Phil Parkinson at Bradford City fell through.

The Bradford City deal had been on the verge of going through with a £100,000 transfer fee in January, but it fell through after issues arose in the medical.   The Bantams then tried to get a cut price deal, but Charlton were unwilling to agree:

Thursday 24 November 2011

Daryl Russell in on loan

With Dale Stephens and Johnnie Jackson out for some time, experienced 31-year old central midfielder Daryl Russell has been brought in on loan.  He has appeared just four times for the Lillywhites this season, but the move to Charlton has upset some of their fans:

'Experienced' can be a synonym for 'journeyman', while 'engine room' can be another way of say 'energetic, but not very skilled' but one has to take what is available.   Moreover, he had a good spell with Norwich City, playing a significant role in their promotion from League 1.

The Canaries received transfer bids of around half a million, but valued him then at £750,000.   He left the club in 2010 after deciding not to accept a new contract he was offered.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Invincibles strengthen squad

Huddersfield town striker Alan Lee raised his elbow to Sam Sodje in last week's clash with Notts County.  He was sent off and the FA have refused to rescind his two game suspension, meaning that he will not be available to play against the Addicks on Monday.

This grossly unfair decision shows a lack of recognition for the tremendous contribution that the new invincibles have made to English football, leading some to suggest that League 1 should be renamed the Huddersfield Town League (until such time as they occupy their rightful place in the Championship and then the Premiership).

It is understood that the football authorities may look again at the rule which gives only one point for a draw.  A new rule called 'unbeaten points' whereby a team that has been on an unbeaten run would provide, after a designated time, receive two points for a draw.   To maintain proportionality, they would get four points for a win.   This would recognise the unique contribution of Huddersfield to English football which is now the talk of families up and down the land and provides a welcome distraction from stories of media intrusion.

In the meantime mighty Town have to deal with London posers Charlton Athletic and they are busy strengthening their squad ahead of the exhibition match:

When I was in Aberdeen yesterday, I was talking to the taxi driver about football and he said that he always had Charlton on his fixed odds coupon.    Oddly, he did not mention Huddersfield Town but rather the two Sheffield clubs.   One can only assume that Alex Salmond has ordered a ban of the exploits of Huddersfield out of shame that there is no Scottish equivalent.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Skipper sidelined

Aberdeen: Bit of a blow when you turn on your computer having arrived north of the border to find that skipper Johnnie Jackson is likely to be out for the rest of the year with a hamstring injury he picked up at Griffin Park.

Pravda is saying that Chris Powell is looking for a loan, but our captain can't be easily replaced.   He may not be the most obvious of players, but he has the habit of successfully drifting into a goal scoring position - or delivering from the penalty spot.

It's not the news we want ahead of the big match against media heroes Huddersfield.

Sunday 20 November 2011

Addicks target Bee

The Addicks are reported to be renewing their efforts to bring Brentford central defender Karleigh Osborne to The Valley.   It is claimed that the 23-year old was on Chris Powell's wanted list last summer and that he had a couple of offers rebuffed by the Bees.   Osborne is now in the last year of his current deal at Griffin Park and is yet to be offered new terms.

Osborne is a product of Brentford's youth team and has been watched several times by Chris Powell this season.   Why would we need another central defender?   Possibly it is a question of providing cover for injuries and suspensions which tend to mount as the season goes on.

Charlton have a reputation for fading as the season goes on, although in part that was one of the downsides of the Curbishley era.   Having a squad that has strength in depth is one way of insuring against the problem.

Saturday 19 November 2011

One is enough

Wyn Grant keeps implying I have one sherbet too many, writes Paul May.   All right, I may have had the old technicolour yawn this morning, but I am here at a sunny Griffin Park to report on all the action for you.   Chris Powell has reverted to what he regards as his strongest side this afternoon with Ephraim on the bench.
Llera’s first touch was greeted with a few derisive jeers by the Addickted.    A ball in by Wright-Phillips from a move started in midfield involving Kermorgant led to an early corner for Charlton.   Jackson’s effort was ultimately unproductive.
Ben Hamer made a good save down to his left on a ground that is very familiar to him after the first real attack of the game.    Alexander was putting some pressure on the Charlton defence, getting round Morrison a couple of times.    There was quite a midfield battle going on much of the time.
Morrison put the ball out for a Bees corner, having misjudged the bounce of the ball.   Charlton were able to clear from the corner, Hamer holding his ground well as Donaldson piled in and getting a good fist to the ball.
Brentford  won a second corner after the ball was deflected off the backside of Hughes.     Logan’s header at the far post was off target.   On the whole, however, the Bees were the better side in the opening exchanges.
The Addicks won their second corner of the afternoon, but Lee dealt well with the effort by Green.
Charlton were starting to make more progress in the midfield battles and were putting together some better moves.   The Bees fans were annoyed when Alexander was deemed offside as his bore down on Hamer.
A shot from the Bees came off the woodwork on 25 minutes and went out of play.   Their move started with a mistake by Solly in midfield.
Charlton got a corner to the annoyance of the home fans who thought the officials were against them, but Lee leapt to collect the ball.  The Bees counter attacked, but Taylor blocked the shot and then Jackson cleared for a throw in.
The Bees won a corner after a shot deflected off Hughes.   The ball went out of play and came back in again which the referee spotted.     The Bees were maintaining the pace with which they had been playing.
Morrison delivered a push in the back giving the Bees a free kick some 20 yards out.   The effort went into the wall.   Intelligent work by Morrison caught the Bees offside.
After Solly had not stood up strongly enough, Brentford failed to use a scoring opportunity. 
Charlton had failed to create one serious scoring opportunity against three for Brentford.  Some of our tackling was disappointing.
Half time: Bees 0, Addicks 0
Within a minute Green won a corner for Charlton with a good ball in, but it was headed away at the near post by Donaldson.    The Addicks looked as if they had shifted up a gear.
Morrison did well to take the ball away from Donaldson.   He then had to take the ball away from Alexander.
A ball in from Solly led to a Charlton corner in front of the Addickted.    Green’s poor effort went on the roof of the net.
Wright-Phillips attacked and Logan went down from a collision with his own keeper seemingly knocked out, the stretcher came on and a neck brace came out.  It was clearly a nasty injury.
Wright-Phillips scored his 14th goal of the season from a few yards out making use of a good ball from Green as Lee and Llera had a misunderstanding to put the Addicks ahead.
The Bees won a corner which went from Saunders into the arms of Hamer.   McGinn was replaced by former Addick Myles Weston.   I remember seeing him in the reserves at Welling, but he never made the first team and was let go in 2007.  Morrison had to concede a corner which led to a goal kick.
Jackson stayed down after a collision with a Charlton player, having caught his foot in the turf, but the referee took no notice, admittedly the skipper was off the field.   Signals were made for the substitution and Ephraim came on for his Charlton debut.   Jackson limped off, seemingly have a problem with his right thigh.
Brentford made their third substitution.    A corner  from Green led to a second which Lee collected. 
A shot by Wright-Phillips was deflected for a corner.   There were appeals for a handball, but the referee waved them away.   Wiggins was booked for time wasting.   Donaldson made a claim for a foul, but nothing was given.   Then the Brentford substitute got a card for a foul on Hamer.  The Charlton defence remained calm and controlled, playing more effectively than in the first half.
Ten minutes were added on.    Charlton took a corner short which led to a second chance which was collected.    Douglas added to his collection of yellow cards for a foul on Kermorgant.   Green came off and was replaced by Wagstaff.  
Brentford were awarded a corner which led to a second.    Weston’s effort went to the far post and was punched away by Hamer for a third which Hollands headed up into the air.   This time the corner was taken short and Charlton cleared to the halfway line.
Hamer made a good save as the Bees buzzed forward.    Solly invited the challenge and got a free kick.   Hughes took it short to Wagstaff.    Hamer came out to stop an attempt  by Alexander, he stayed down and there was a frank exchange of views between Alexander and Morrison.   The referee went across to have a chat with the linesman.    He called over several different players.  Morrison was shown a yellow card as was Alexander.
The whistle was eventually blown and Charlton had ground out the result to maintain their promotion challenge.

Parky to splash the cash on Benno

Paul Benson is likely to join Bradford City on loan soon.   The League 2 club managed by Phil Parkinson are then prepared to splash the cash on a six figure fee for the striker.   This will be the biggest sum they have paid for a player since the club went into administration in 2002.

Bradford City fans seem less than enthralled by the price that is to be paid:

Has Waggy got the hump?

There are uncorroborated rumours circulating that Scott Wagstaff may be leaving in the January window and that loan player Hogan Ephraim is being set up as his replacement.   Wagstaff is the player most vulnerable to the arrival of Ephraim, but I doubt whether he will start in front of Wagstaff this afternoon.   Green has also been favoured in front of Wagstaff, so Waggy may think that he is out of favour.

However, I do not see where he would go, unless we got a financially advantageous offer from a Championship club.   Millwall and Palace come to mind but I do not know where their squads might need strengthening.

For me Wagstaff is a player who can rarely deliver the full 90 minutes, although that is not an issue when one has a good substitute and Ephraim may come on in that role this afternoon.   Wagstaff does have a real ability to unsettle the opposition and I think he could also do that at a higher level.   I would not want to see him go and I am still unconvinced that he will despite the persistence of rumours.

I was hoping that Paul May would cover this afternoon's game with his customary speed and élan, but he had a heavy night and his arrival in West London is in some doubt.

Friday 18 November 2011

Recommended feature on Charlton

This in depth analysis of Charlton by the Swiss Ramble blog surveys the recent history of the club, but also includes a considerable amount of analysis of its financial position and ownership structure:

Rick Everitt, who is exceptionally knowledgeable about Charlton has recommended it.

A Charlton fable, part 1

Earlier this week I went to a major conference where one of the events was the reading of a fairy story (nicely illustrated copies were available to take away).   There was also folk singing and for a moment I thought that I had entered a time warp and was back in the late 1960s. 

However, with apologies to J B Priestley's Angel Pavement, I thought I would have a go at writing my own story with a moral.   So if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin.

From his penthouse sute, Blazimir Argonov stared moodily down the Thames.   Hardly anyone in London had heard of his oil and mineral rich Central Asian home country of Burkistan, but once he started to spend his billions, they soon would and then they would stop making bad jokes about its name.

He turned to his aide, Alimir Burpov: 'So you are telling me that most of the wealth in London is north of the river and that is where the top football clubs are?'

'Indeed, Supreme One,' replied Burpov.  'Just down the road is the Chelsea club owned by the one whose name we do not mention.'

Argonov spat expressively at the expensive carpet at the mention of the name of his Russian rival.

'Then in Islington we have the team of the military, Arsenal.    These days it is owned by a rich American and an Uzbek ....'

Argonov threw a gold model of an oil derrick at the wall at the mention of Uzbekistan and let out a stream of unfathomable and unrepeatable oaths.

'Then there is the Hotspur club in Tottenham, but they already have a wealthy owner.'

'So who is left in the Premiership?'

'Well there is Queen's Park Rangers ...'

'The Queen will never sell her club.   I cannot even get an invitation to the Palace.   And I offered some prince or duke several million dollars.   Any other clubs?'

'Well, there is Full Ham and also West Ham may get promoted again.'

An angry glare flashed across Argonov's face: 'I will never have anything to do with clubs associated with pork.  It gives people the wrong idea altogether as if I buy success.  Anyway fancy having clubs named after a joint and side of ham next to each other.'

'Then there is only the south of the river.  No Premiership clubs there.'

Argonov looked vaguely in the direction of Battersea.   'Perhaps we could buy a lower division club and get them promoted.   Give me the names.'

'Well, there is Millwall, they could be quite useful if we wanted some muscle.'

'I am trying to clean up my image.   And I only hire elite bodyguards, you should know that.'

'Then there is Crystal Palace.'

Argonov's face brightened.   'Why didn't you mention them before?   What a name!   I love crystal and I build palaces.'

'But the area is not very glamorous.   And part of the ground is a supermarket.'

'No problem.   We can move the club and build them a new stadium.   What about the seaside?   I like Brighton.   We could move them there and call them Crystal Palace Regents.'

'Brighton has a new stadium.   And the two groups of fans hate each other.'

'What about this place with the new art gallery where the Queen went.    Sheepgate or Marsgate or something.'

'It's on the Isle of Thanet.   We might as well build a stadium on the Isle of Sheppey.   Crystal Palace would not be a good buy.'

'So what is left?'

'Charlton Athletic.'

To be continued.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Benno on his way

Paul Benson looks set to leave Charlton shortly on a loan deal that could become permanent in January.   Signed by Phil Parkinson in what was a big signing in those financially straitened times at the club, he has fallen down the pecking order at The Valley, exemplified by his appearance in the Kent Senior Cup fixture at Bromley on Tuesday.

Understandably, the 31-year old wants to get games so that he can make the best of the remaining years of his career.  The introduction of Michael Smith at Halifax is perhaps a sign of the way in which things are moving.

I know that some Addicks rated Benson, at least as a target man, but for me he was often too static, getting into what may well have been promising positions but then expecting the ball to be delivered to him on a plate.

A busy Bee writes

Apologies for the lack of updates this week, but I am busy preparing for the launch of the commission I am chairing on Monday, 'learning my lines' etc.

However, I have asked a busy Bee about what he thinks about the prospects for Saturday.   My sense is that we find fixtures against Brentford a bit tricky, although I haven't checked the stats.

This particular Bee has lived in the same house in West London all his life (he in his forties).   I wonder how many Charlton fans could claim that.

Anyway this is what he says:

It’s at Griffin Park, so you may be at an advantage – our home form has been the real problem this season. But, since the defeat at home by Stevenage, things have picked up a bit, with two home cup victories on the trot – including a 6-0 hammering of Bournemouth. But – I suspect you will be too strong for us, and I’d predict a narrow Charlton victory or a 1-1 at best

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Book on European football out

Manchester University Press have now published the book on European football I have edited with Borja Garcia from Spain and Arne Niemann from Germany:

I don't set the price!   Hopefully, there will be a paperback version later.   A special 20 per cent discount is available if you are Addickted.   Contact me by e-mail for details.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Job done

4-0 wins are becoming a bit monotonous for Charlton, but it was case of doing the necessary against the Shaymen today to earn a glamorous home time against Carlisle United.   But at least the media attention will be elsewhere, for example at AFC Totton as they take on Bristol Rovers.

Charlton started playing the game as they should have done - cautiously and keeping possession to safeguard against any errors that might give the home side a lead.   Taylor, as he admitted later, missed one good chance, but made amends for it ten minutes later when he scored to put the Addicks one ahead at the break.

Halifax gave a good account of themselves, playing some decent football and threatening more than once.  Sullivan didn't have a particularly good first half, but improved as the game went on.   However, I would be concerned if Hamer picked up an injury.

The Shaymen looked as if they might equalise for parts of the second half, particularly after Jason St. Juste came on, which raises the question of why he wasn't there from the start.   Not sure, though, that it was our toughest test of the season as Johnnie Jackson said afterwards but maybe it seemed like that on the pitch.

Hayes had not looked impressive in front of goal, but he did provide an intelligent assist to allow Johnnie Jackson to score one of his skipper's goals.   It took a slight deflection, but really put the game beyond the reach of Halifax.   Hollands then had a tap in for the third after Halifax had not defended well from a corner.

There was then what was described but not shown on television as a mini pitch invasion.   Given that the Addickted were chanting 'you fat b*****d' one might conclude that a horizontally challenged local bereft of his clothing had gone for a streak.

What I had feared before the game happened when Lowe went in low on Waggy.   The northern clogger was shown a red card by the referee and fortunately Waggy suffered no lasting damage.   (On reflection and having read the comments of others, I do agree that Waggy made the most of it and the card was a bit harsh, but I thought that the referee had a good game on the whole).

The 3-0 lead gave Chris Powell the chance to give Michael Smith his Charlton debut.   Bradley Pritchard made a welcome return from injury and burst through to score his first goal for the club.

It is clear that Hayes and Euell are not our best pairing, indeed Euell contributed relatively little.  Evina is no Wiggins, although he made one nice run.   Solly made some key interventions.

This was a first ever win for Charlton at Halifax and once again it reflected a team full if confidence, even without a few of its best players.

Two wins so far this weekend, so off to the Skydome soon to see if Blaze can overcome Dundee Stars.  Should be able to, but you never know.  

Postscript: Blaze won 4-3 in an exciting game.   Some things never fail to puzzle me in hockey.  Face off was delayed while the ref (often the same one every week, there are only a few of them) had a long and friendly chat with the granite charm merchant minding the Dundee net.   If this happened in football, the crowd would soon have something to say.

Saturday 12 November 2011

Will Aspin get his revenge for St.Andrews?

Halifax Town manager Neil Aspin was the right back in the famous third leg of the play offs at St.Andrew's between Charlton Athletic and Leeds United.   If Charlton had lost that match, it is possible that the club may not have survived.   Will the folically challenged manager of the Shaymen be able to get his revenge today?

However, Aspin, who has been coping with the death of his father and his assistant (a death he took very personally), is remarkably philosophical about it.   He told The Non-League Paper, 'Playing for Leeds then, wages weren't the highest, but the bonus ... would have been massive.  At the time you're thinking "If only"'.

'But there's been a lot of water under the bridge since, so I've no particular dislike of Charlton.   I'd have needed to get revenge a lot sooner than 24 years later.'

Aspin does not seem very confident of victory.  He was interviewed at a M1 service station as he spends much of his life on the motorway in his day job arranging rented accommodation for a logistics firm.  He admitted that he would have liked to churn the pitch up by training on Thursday but the chairman would say that's unprofessional.

'The thing about this game is that it's fantastic for raising the club's profile.  It's a beautiful pitch and that could work against us with Charlton.'

Aspin's emphasis is on how the £92,000 the Cup run has raised so far for the club can help to take them forward.  'I'm under no illusions,' he said.   'It's a great tie that raises the profile of the club, and it's fantastic financially.   We need to then use the money we've generated and make sure this club is strong for the future.'

As another blogger has already commented, this match is a no win situation for Chris Powell.   Lose and we will hear all the stuff again about how he is not up to the job.  Draw and we have an additional irritating fixture we could do without.   Win and people will say it was a foregone conclusion.   And if we only win by one goal the media will say that Halifax 'humbled mighty Charlton who had the scare of their lives.'

I would quite happy settle for a 2-1 win, no injuries and no red cards.

I will be watching the match on television which is an unusual experience for me.   We don't have Sky (although a cable service is now on offer to overcome the local council's ban on satellite dishes), but  even when football is on Freeview, I rarely watch.   I prefer to watch football live or listen on the radio which is what I grew up doing.

Friday 11 November 2011

Danish pastry

Copenhagen: One of the odd things about being notionally retired is that you suddenly find yourself in demand for all sorts of tasks.  I have accepted the chairmanship of a commission which may turn out to be  a poisoned chalice, but one of the more pleasant tasks has been advising on appointments in Denmark.    This is usually done by phone and e-mail, but today I find myself in Copenhagen meeting up friends with old and new and coping with a bewildering mixture of English, Danish and Swedish in the bar.

It's quite a sporting weekend to look forward to you when I return tomorrow: Leamington v. Cambridge City tomorrow afternoon, Charlton on television on Sunday and then ice hockey in the evening.

Sunday's match is a difficult one to deal with.   There has already been some bigging up by Halifax and an attempt to read off from the Northwich result, but our team is far stronger than it was then.   You can get 1/2 on the Addicks for a win and 6/1 on the Shaymen.

We need to win this match simply for morale purposes, but we don't want a key player injured by a northern clogger.   That certainly means starting without Bradley Wright-Phillips and possibly a number of another key players such as Wiggins.   Hughes and Jackson should be able to cope with anything Halifax throw at them.

Here's hoping for a comfortable win on Sunday and no injuries.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Shaymen upset at player ban

Halifax Town have taken exception to a nine week ban imposed on James Dean.  The ex-Northwich forward had already missed three games after being sent off at Guiseley in September.

However, this not being ice hockey, referee Chris Kavanagh took exception to being manhandled by the charm merchant and Dean has been given a further six week ban.

Manager Neil Aspin takes the view that there has been an over reaction to a bit of rough and tumble stating, 'The punishment does not fit the crime.  The length of the ban is excessive.'

Halifax are already without cup-tied loanee James Marwood and injured Lee Gregory for their televised match with the southern softies on Sunday.

Hogan Ephraim in on loan

Winger Hogan Ephraim has come in on loan from Queens Park Rangers while Dale Stephens recovers from his operation:

The loan lasts until 3rd January which suggests that Stephens may be out of action a little longer than was orginally anticipated.

In October there was speculation that he might be joining Palace on loan.   However, they needed to get fringe players out on loan to raise the funds which did not happen.

He has also been linked with a permanent move to Nottingham Forest so the 23-year old is evidently a player with some potential even if he is out of favour at the Super Hoops.

Monday 7 November 2011

Dale Stephens operation

The official site has confirmed that Dale Stephens is to have an operation on his ankle to clear up a persistent problem.   He will be out for a few weeks.

Stephens made a good start to the season and there has been some puzzlement about why he had disappeared from the side, even allowing for the birth of a child with his partner still based oop North.   The reason is now clear.  

Andy Hughes has slotted into the side well with an excellent work rate, showing once again that Chris Powell can make good signings despite his 'inexperience'.   Best wishes to Dale for a speedy recovery to full fitness.

Johnnie Jackson links old and new eras

We are actually starting to get some media attention and the Sub-Standard (which has been getting better recently when I have seen it) has published a good article about us:

The article is focused on Johnnie Jackson, making the point about the skipper that he was the only player in the 5-2 demolition of Preston who was also in Parky's last game at the club.   That brings home much things have changed, generally for the better.

BTW, the Portsmouth Evening News has been arguing that Curbs should be considered for the vacancy at Pompey.   I don't see it happening: it is south of the M25, but still outside it.   And it would be a big challenge, not least given the intensity of the Portsmouth fan base.   I wonder if he will ever manage again.

Bradley: my heavy heart

Bradley Wright-Phillips came to Charlton last January as part of an ongoing fire sale at financially troubled Plymouth Argyle.   They have now been saved from oblivion and the Addicks striker is delighted for their fans.

He told The Football League Paper that he left the Pilgrims with a heavy heart believing that he had abandoned the club in its hour of need.  'We had a brilliant team,' said League One's leading scorer.  'Everyone I spoke to was sad to leave.  We all felt a bit like we were jumping ship.  But the club had to sell players to stay afloat.'

He added, 'It's good for the staff there too.  They are such good people down there and they haven't been paid for so long.'   He also noted, 'At a club the size of Plymouth, nobody was on good money.'   One can assume he got a bit more at The Valley.   Indeed, the key now is to keep him for the rest of the season and then for him to form the nucleus of a strike force in the Championship.   As the chant goes, he is better than his brother.

Plymouth Argyle are the team of choice on the Scilly Islands.   Indeed, they put a lot of work in with young people on the islands which is more important in the long run than visits by the likes of Beckham and Gerrard.   However, anyone who wants more exciting fare than the two club league on the islands would have to leave early on Saturday and come back on Monday if they wanted to go to a game at Home Park.

Radio Scilly supremo Keri Jones always likes it if I can feature Argyle in my Saturday slot on the sports show, but points out that there are no known Charlton supporters on the islands (whereas teams like Manchester City have a following).

Sunday 6 November 2011

Addick evacuated

Stourbridge Addick Geoff Dixon is evacuated from a Virgin train at South Kenton on Saturday

I am just grateful I was able to get off on to a platform at Coventry!   I wrongly said earlier that this was a photo of Walsall Addick Graham Speller, but he took the photo.   I should be able to tell the difference, although they are both gentlemen of a similar age!   I owe them both a drink.

Graham says, 'Easy for us but for those passengers in wheelchairs bit more of a challenge. Support from Virgin staff Ambulance crew and transport police was brilliant. And something of the "blitz" spirit surfaced amongst the passengers too.'

Geoff Dixon can do a marvellous imitation of the Black Country accent.   It's difficult to make people on the tube laugh, but he achieved that once on the Jubilee Line.

One thing I will never know is how the Bloke Behind Me reacted to our victory.   Once when we were 2-0 ahead against Stockport and looked like scoring more he stormed out saying, 'I can't take any more of this.'  Someone said, 'You are going to miss more goals' and he replied, 'That's what worries me.'   (We won 4-0 as I recall).   In a league cup game we were beating Burnley 4-1 and he yelled 'They're all over you Charlton.'

You couldn't make it up.

Kermorgant: I want to face Foxes for Charlton

One reason Yann Kermorgant wants to secure promotion with Charlton is so that he can play against Leicester City where he feels he was not well treated.

For Leicester fans he is the man who missed a £90m penalty.   His chipped penalty in the play-off final against Cardiff City was easily saved, ending the Foxes' hopes of promotion to the top flight.  Of course, they would still have had to win the final.

The Breton is the subject of a feature article in today's The Football League Paper which suddenly seems to have woken up to Charlton as Bradley Wright-Phillips is also featured.

Kermorgant said, 'There is still a little bitterness over my time at Leicester because I think I deserved better and that I never really got a chance.   [As for the penalty] I'd come on ten minutes earlier, I had no confidence whatsoever and there was huge pressure on me.'

'I'd tried the chipped penalty before with success, but I was probably more confident when I'd done it before.  That time I wasn't in the right frame of mind and I executed it poorly.  I became the scapegoat.  I was the only Frenchman, everything was my fault.   It's easy to criticise but there weren't that many people who put their names forward to Nigel Pearson.'

As for the move to The Valley, 'When I got the opportunity at Charlton, it was with Chris and I knew him from my time at Leicester.   I didn't want to end my time in England as a failure.  And it was an opportunity to work with someone who knew what I could do, as well as at a big club in London.'

He notes, 'We've seen Norwich go up two years in a row, Southampton look like they might do the same.  Why not Charlton?'   He probably doesn't know that is just what we did in the 1930s under Jimmy Seed (my father always thought - rightly - that that was a more significant achievement that winning the FA Cup).  Most of us would settle for being in the Championship for now, whether Leicester are there or not.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is actually pictured on the front page of The Football League Paper.  You can buy an online copy more cheaply than in the newsagent.

If like me you find it difficult to stay up late to watch The Football League Show and don't want to use I-player, you can see it (repeated at least once) on Channel 301 on Sunday mornings.  It is then available later in the morning on the red button.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Simon Francis on his way

According to the official site, Simon Francis is on his way to join Bournemouth on loan with a view to a permanent deal in January.   It seems to me that this is good for all concerned.   Francis can put in a decent cross, but he was often poor in the way he carried out his defensive duties.    He is part of a less happy recent past.

There is some talk that as part of any deal Cherries midfielder Marc Pugh may join us.   He joined the Cherries from Hereford on a two year contract.   I'm not sure that we have a need for another midfielder, although our new side has been built in part by recruiting Bournemouth's best players.

The late two goals by Preston yesterday have given moaners a narrative and there is some grumbling that it was Chris Powell's substitutions that led to the Preston goals.   However when you are 5-0 up there is a case for resting your best players, although it did deny Johnnie Jackson the chance of a hat trick.    It also has to be admitted that Euell did not shine in midfield which was certainly the case when I have seen him play there in earlier matches.

However, we have to look at the big picture.   We are five points clear at the top of the league.   As Curbs used to say, it's a long old season but it seems to me to be a good enough position for now, to say the least.  Incidentally, Stevnage are now up to 7th having beaten the Blades 2-1 which puts our defeat there into a little more context.

One of the greatest satisfactions of yesterday's results was seeing a team managed by Phil Brown beaten.  A few weeks ago he was being bigged up in The Football League Paper as a tanned genius who was going to take League 1 by storm.

What sort of judgment did he show in his choice of a back up keeper?   Aristidou was the No.2 keeper at AFC Telford before he joined Preston.   We recently signed the current No.2 from there at Leamington (unfortunately our Sam Bartram style keeper stormed out after a row with the manager so we will no longer see the goalie scoring from the wing).   Hopefully, a No.2 from Telford is good enough for the third tier of the non-league but not much more.

It was very frustrating to miss such a good win and what was evidently a great Valley atmosphere because of the collapse of the train service.   In  a sense I was fortunate because another Midlands Addick was on an earlier train and eventually had to be evacuated on to the track.   He was last heard of in a pub in South Kenton.   Perhaps I should simply pay the extra that Deutsche Bahn demand for using their service from Leamington (they have really hiked the prices up and their much vaunted WiFi doesn't work well).

I have a bit of a record of missing great matches.  When we won 7-6, we were Christmas shopping in Woolwich.

On the subject of coincidences, Solar Radio's Clive R writes: 'The first CAFC game I attended was on Saturday November 5th, 1955-  we beat Man. City 5 - 2; my '50th anniversary' game, on November 5th 2005, was also against Man. City, and was also 5-2, though to them on that occasion;  yesterday, as the stoppage-time board showed 3 minutes to play at a scoreline of 5 - 1, the thought crossed my mind that another goal could/would be scored......and Preston duly obliged. I have no idea what the odds were yesterday for 5-2, but it's likely I would have left the ground a few quid better off!'

Fireworks at The Valley

This is Paul May reporting to you from the Covered End on a murky day in SE7 with Wyn Grant stranded in the Midlands, indeed I hear that some Addicks are stuck on trains.   Contrary to what Wyn says, I don’t over indulge, although I like a few pints to get me in the mood.
Charlton fielded an unchanged side.  The Addicks gave away an early free kick.   Solly was brought down with a crude challenge and Smith was shown a yellow card.   Later in the game it might have been a red.
Neither side was on top in the early exchanges, although Preston had a lot of the ball.   Charlton had to put the ball behind for a corner, but Hamer claimed the ball confidently.    
Hamer was not happy about an under hit back pass from Taylor.    Charlton kept surrendering possession.    Green burst through with a great run, the drive was only half dealt with by the Greek origin replacement keeper and Jackson was there ready to pounce and put the ball in the net.
Kermorgant got a talking to for a challenge, although the away fans wanted him booked.  Charlton won a corner.   Jackson’s corner was good, Morrison put the header in but couldn’t get it on target.
Charlton won a second corner after a great run down the left and this time it was Michael Morrison who scored.   The keeper initially blocked it, but he was unable to keep control.
Hamer’s clearance was hurried and poor, Coutts went for goal and the ball was only just wide.   Nevertheless, Phil Brown didn’t look happy.
The Greek origin keeper, formerly the reserve keeper at AFC Telford, came out and floored Kermorgant.   No card was shown when a yellow was probably justified.   The Preston fans tried to put Jackson off, but he sent the keeper the wrong way and hammered it into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 3-0.
An overhead volley from Preston by Nicholson nearly found the goal.    One of the linos picked up an injury and the fourth official got ready.   This led to a long stoppage in play and it looked as if the referee’s assessor got involved.
Wiggins conceded a corner.   The header went over the bar and didn’t bother Hamer much.   Hamer dealt with a shot from the Scot Nicholson who has played for Aberdeen and Dunfermline.
Charlton got a free kick in a decent position after a shove on Wright-Phillips.   Wright-Phillips capitalised to make it 4-0.   The Preston keeper had words with his defence, calling for a coalition of unity.
Preston got a free kick on the edge of the penalty area about 20 yards out after a sliding tackle.   The effort from Parry went over the bar.   Kermorgant was inches wide after a terrific cross from Jackson on the left.
Wright-Phillips got past the defender with great skill, cushioning the ball with his foot, and put in a volley which wasn’t far off target.
Taylor defended well with a header.   Then Hamer put in a scuffed clearance and Chris Powell looked a bit exasperated.   Wiggins made a good run on the left and Charlton won a corner as four minutes added on were announced.   Green’s delivery was good, it was headed away and then Green received a rugby tackle round his ankles, Coutts receiving a yellow card.   Unfortunately the free kick was overhit into the Jimmy Seed stand.
Half time: Addicks 4, PNE 0
Preston weren’t given a team talk on the pitch, but they were sent out early for the second half and went through a full warm up routine.   They made a double substitution after the break.   
Tsoumou put some pressure on Hamer but he was up to the challenge.    Preston seemed to have changed the position of some of their players.   Taylor and Hamer combined well.
There was a poor challenge on Wright-Phillips by one of the central defenders.   He then got caught offside.   A shot by Green which was close to going in took a deflection leading to a corner.    Jackson’s corner was a good one.
Green fed Wright-Phillips but his header went just over.   Wiggins defended well after he had slipped.   Wright-Phillips put in a shot, but the keeper made a good save, pushing the ball out.
An effort by Kermorgant from 35 yards out was saved.   The crowd was announced at 17,486, the highest attendance of the season without a special offer.
Wiggins advanced down the left, put in a great cross with pace and power and Hollands made it 5-0 with a superb diving header.
Preston advanced down the left, but Hamer made a good save.   Wagstaff and Hayes came on to face his old team and Wright-Phillips and Green who had played well went off.
Hollands tackled Nicholson well.    Jackson went off to fantastic applause and a standing ovation.  Jason Euell came on.   Aristidou made another poor clearance.    Good work by Euell and Hayes led to a Charlton corner.   Euell’s corner was cleared.
Preston beat Hamer with a powerful header by Morgan at the near post into the roof of the net to deny Charlton the clean sheet.    Hamer may have got a glove to it.   Morrison berated the other defenders.
The referee spoke to Kermorgant for his reaction to a bad challenge.   Hayes turned provider for Euell, but Preston were able to clear.  A curling shot from Hayes was easily dealt with.  
Preston then scored a second goal through Daley and it has to be admitted it was a good one from the substitute, volleyed into the corner of the net.   Hamer had no chance.
Charlton started to panic a bit, Hamer should have claimed the ball, but left the work to Solly, and Preston won a corner.
Charlton eased off in the second half which led to Preston winning the half.   But it was another great win overall.

Turned back at Coventry

I won't be able to make it to the game today.   When I got to Coventry and, after I had bought my ticket, I found that there were effectively no services because of overhead line problems at Wembley Central.   Once the overhead line goes down it takes ages to repair it which is one advantage of the more antiquated third rail technology used on south-eastern.  

It was too late to use the Deutsche Bahn service from Leamington.   The reason I don't use that service on Saturdays is that Virgin is cheaper at the weekends, faster and more frequent.   Moral is that I should check online before setting out - I often do but didn't this morning.  Anyway, it's a small thing when you think of all the people who lost their lives on the M5.

I am trying to get hold of Paul May in the hope that he is available and reasonably sober.   He can then provide a match report.   Indeed, given the technology he uses, you will get it much more quickly.


Friday 4 November 2011

Rain, rain, go away

It looks as if it might be raining at The Valley this afternoon and that always makes me uneasy.   It's more difficult to play fluent, passing football on a slippery surface and the ball can do strange things, leading to freak goals for the less good side.

Of course, it's not like the 1950s when players had to skim the ball across the surface of puddles.   Most pitches, even at non-league level, are excellent today (Leamington have received a number of national awards for theirs).   However, I do remember visiting a village club when the Brakes were lower down the non-league system and our first question on seeing the pitch was 'When does the tide come back in?'

I used to regard the tide being in on Deptford Creek as a good omen: low tide meant a loss, and half tide a draw.   Of course, like all such nonsense, it stopped working after a while.

Phil Brown may need an umbrella this afternoon, otherwise his tan could go all streaky.

Let's hope we can get a win, requiring Gabby Logan on Final Score to use the same tone of surprise and disgust that she did last week to state that Charlton were still top of League 1.   I suppose it goes with being an unfashionable club.   I always remember ITV News describing us as 'the tiny London club' when we won the play-off final.

It's actually quite surprising (or perhaps not) that many football fans have no idea how we are doing.   In the past week or so, I have talked about football with season ticket holders at Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Oxford United and none of them knew that we were top of League 1.   Indeed, the Oxford supporter said, 'We could be playing you next season.'    In a nightmare.

Do I know which club is top of League 2?   Well I do, actually.

One good memory is of this day in 1955 when we beat Manchester City 5-2 at The Valley.   There was no room for strikers Bobby Ayre and Jimmy Gauld but manager Jimmy Seed said, 'Both are decent fellows and will understand'

Phil Brown's unorthodox training methods

In the 1950s Charlton players used to train by running up and down the steps of the East Terraces, urged on by trainer Trotter wearing a white coat.   Magical Preston manager Phil Brown has taken a leaf out of this old time practice and has had this team running up and down the terraces and sitting in seats from which fans had directed abuse as they succumbed to the Cherries:

With Preston having taken one point from eighteen Brown reckons that now is the time to restore their confidence with a surprise victory at The Valley.   If they have fallen behind at half time, their team talk will be on the pitch.

With first choice keeper Iain Turner injured and no emergency loan replacement available, Andreas Arestidou steps up to stand between the sticks.   Arestidou said: 'I am indebted to Phil for this chance.  This is not only a great chance for me, it is an opportunity to defend the honour of the country of my forefathers.'

Until last year the 21-year old was the reserve keeper for AFC Telford, but was then snapped up by Preston.  He played for them in the league cup game at The Valley in September and kept a clean sheet.

Some might say that Charlton are at greatest risk when pushing at an open door, but I think we will win 2-1.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Anyone got a keeper?

Well tanned Preston manager Phil Brown is in the emergency loan market looking for a keeper after his first choice keeper Iain Turner was injured in a training ground accident:

I understand that former Addick Paul Rachubka may be available after he let in five goals for Leeds during the week.

Kentish man

Many years ago I had to attend tedious meetings in Brussels which were held either in windowless rooms or with drawn shades.   My spirits only started to lift when the Eurostar started to approach what I regarded as 'Charlton territory'.

This morning the train from Victoria went through Bromley, home of one of liveliest branches of the supporters club and then through Swanley where I know there are many Addickted.   But then the train branched off and we plunged into deep and unfamiliar Kent countryside.

The train did stop at a station for Wrotham which I remember reaching on a Green Line bus from Eltham.   These days, of course, there as many Addickted in Kent as there are in the home boroughs.   Even Rick Everitt is now 'Rick from Ramsgate', although it is said that he has a base in Welling where he was once mayor.

By now I thought that I must be in terra incognita although at West Malling station I did see a bus for Kings Hill, the home of blogger Kings Hill Addick.   Then when I arrived at East Malling reception, someone bounded up to me and said 'You sit in the East Stand.   I am a Charlton supporter as well.'   So they are everywhere in Kent.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Bring on the Invincibles

No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson

A few weeks ago Preston North End were being portrayed as the new invincibles.   Their manager Phil Brown, surely one of the most popular and respected figures in British football, was given a two page spread in The Football League Paper.  However, the wheels have come off since then and we must be reasonably confident of victory.

Iceland Addick and former Voice of the Valley contributor Olafur Johansson has been in touch from with a question.   He asks why, if the North End club of Preston is so designated, why is the Southend club is called just that?   Or do they share a ground with the fans favouring the north or south ends?   If anyone can help, he can be found in a fish shed in Grindavik.

I have some good memories of Charlton playing Preston from the 1950s when, of course, Tom Finney, regarded as one of the greatest players of his day, was in their side.    In the 1953/4 season we played them on a Thursday (early closing day so you could get along if you worked for the Co-op) and the crowd of 18,208 included members of the crew of a Brazilian warship anchored in Greenwich.  We won 2-1 and finished two places above them in the table.

In 1954/5 we lost 0-4 at home, perhaps because Jimmy Seed was away in Dublin signing up Jimmy Gauld (a  mixed blessing) and they finished one place above us.   In 1953 we won 2-1 but Finney was playing in the England v. Scotland match at Wembley.  At the end of the 1952/3 season we finished fifth, but they were runners up which says something about what a force they were in English football in those days.

Today I am off to Kent to give a public lecture at East Malling.   I shall see if I can find my Addicks cufflinks and slip in a reference to Charlton to see if anyone in the audience is Addickted.

Affairs of the heart

I sometimes find print media coverage of League 1 a bit puzzling.   On Sunday The Football League Paper featured Scunthorpe v. Tranmere which could at best be portrayed as a contest between play off hopefuls.  There also seems to be a bit of a love affair with Sheffield Wednesday and Bruddersfield.   Here is a typical example of bigging up Wednesday:

However, I must say that even I was taken aback by the news that a former 'sex symbol of the year' and Playboy model is trying to take over the Owls: