Monday 30 April 2012

Football thoughts on the train

I left Leamington yesterday and the train goes immediately under the stands at St.Andrews. Birmingham City could go up through the play offs, but somehow I doubt it, so we could well enjoy the renowned hospitality and warm welcome of the Blews next year.

The train sped through Tamworth (Conference) and Burton (League 2), but as we approached Derby we went past the now derelict platform that served the old Baseball Ground, rumoured to have a toxic pitch contaminated by local industry. The new ground is squeaky clean and we should have competitive fixtures against Derby County next year. A Derby fan is a work colleague and he goes around with a constant cloud over his head as far as his club are concerned.

The train sped through Chesterfield (now League 2), but slowed to a respectful crawl as we approached Sheffield. You can just glimpse Bramall Lane from the train, but the home of the Massives is well out of sight. However, as I had to change trains there, I was able to tread the soil of the mecca of football. (Indeed, when I watched the regional news later Sheffield United were discussed in terms of near awe).

The train stopped at Barnsley Interchange, quite an appropriate name when one considers that Barnsley may well interchange divisions downwards next season if their form in the second half of the season is anything to go by. Another change of trains at Leeds and time to reflect on the regime of the ever popular Ken Bates and gobby manager Warnock. Finally to Bradford and the new home of Phil Parkinson.

That reminded of a story told to me by an expat living in the US. They organised a kick about for expats, everyone to turn up in their club colours. One shirt could not be recognised at all: it was Bradford Park Avenue.

For those who like away trips 'oop North there will still be quite a few next season.

I got hoist with my own petard this morning as I had to go into the BBC Bradford studios to answer questions on the Radio Sheffield breakfast show.

Sunday 29 April 2012

Massive honour

Former Addick Miguel Llera assisted Sheffield Wednesday to a key victory at Brentford yesterday, while Sheffield United could only draw against the heroes of Hertfordshire. Llera has scored a few goals for the Massives which isn't to say that I think we should have retained him.

The Massives are at home to Wycombe Wanderers next week, while Sheffield United are away to relegated Exeter. Both the steel city sides should be able to win these fixtures which would leave the Massives automatically promoted with Sheffield United favourites to win the play offs.

This means that Charlton will have the massive privilege of playing Sheffield Wednesday for one more year. It will be only one year as the Massives secure promotion to their natural home in the top flight.

This year Charlton (once described by ITV as the 'tiny London club') had the effrontery to be unbeaten against the Massives, winning at Hillsborough, but they may adopt a more respectful attitude to the bigger club next year. Or perhaps not.

Saturday 28 April 2012

Heading south to Preston

No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johnansson makes a rare return to these pages to report on Charlton's 2-2 draw at Preston:

Seeing my beloved Addicks return to a higher level of the game was something I had to celebrate in person. I was able to get a flight to Edinborg, recalling that is where Wyn Grant first met our president (and my distant relative) Olafur Grimsson in 1976. From there I got the train to Preston.

Now here is something that is confusing for an Icelandic person. Some of you may remember that when I was living in England I went to an away match in Tranmere thinking it was a Lake District club, so I overshot my target by a long way. I knew today that it was the North End club of Preston we were playing. But here is the confusion. The South End club is called just that or even Southend. Why not have not have Preston in both names or call them both just Northend and Southend: everyone would know it was Preston as no one else has clubs with such geographical titles.

Anyway I knew that I had to get to the Deepest Dale ground which I thought was in a valley just like The Valley but it seemed pretty flat thereabouts. When I got to the ground an Addick asked me if I was dressed as a fisherman in honour of the haddock origin of the Addicks name, but I explained that oilskins were my normal working wear in Grindavik. At least I was not dressed as a pussy cat!

I was hoping to see Mr Benjamin Hamer and assess him as a keeper, but his assistant, Mr Sullivan, was in goal, also some of the other players seemed to be changed around.

It was very nice of the home players to form a guard of honour to welcome the Charlton players on to the pitch. Charlton made the early running. Mr Daniel Green fired wide from outside the box then Mr Andreas Arestidou in the Preston goal had to make a diving save from Mr Daniel Haynes. On 11 minutes Mr Haynes ran through on goal. His progress was halted by a tackle by Mr David Gray, but the ball spun loose in the box. Haynes got to it before the keeper and managed to get it past two covering defenders and into the net to make it 1-0 to the southern side. However, the North Enders responded with a 25-yard daisy cutter from Mr Coutts who was wearing the armband of captain. I did not think that Mr John Sullivan dealt with this very well, but he managed to fumble it past the post.

Mr N'Guessing shot straight at the keeper who then had to race from his box to kick clear after a back pass fell short, almost letting in Haynes. However, Mr N'Guessing made it 2-0 to Charlton before the break on 35 minutes, taking advangtage of some poor play by Mr Gray.

Mr Nicholas Hunt pulled one back for Preston on 53 minutes. On 84 minutes the 40-year old Mr Graham Alexander was invited on to the pitch as a substitute player. This is on the old side for an outfield player, but I understand that he has made 1,023 senior appearances in a career dating back to 1991. He then scored the equalising goal on 90 minutes.

The result really did not matter that much as it was a chance for the No.1 Iceland fan of Charlton to salute the team. Surely Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II must give some recognition to Mr Chris Powell in her list of honoured persons as he is an all round good fellow.

Friday 27 April 2012

Morrison can't wait to face the Tractors

Charlton centre back Michael Morrison puts his good form with the Addicks to his move back to his native Suffolk. He told the East Anglian Daily Times that one of the highlights of next season for him will be playing the Tractors at Portman Road.

Haverhill lad Morrison has given a longer interview to his local paper which contains some interesting reflections on last Saturday: Haverhill .

Thursday 26 April 2012

Preston 'clueless' says manager

Preston manager Graham Westley has directed a new blast at his squad, saying that they haven't a clue about what is required to get success and that he has never encountered such mediocre standards before: Clueless

I cannot imagine any Charlton manager making remarks of this kind in public. Following this morale boosting move by the manager, we had better beat them comprehensively.

Football is known for its charm merchants, but Westley is an outstanding example. During his non-league career, he was not exactly popular because of his ability to wind up opposition managers and fans.

Preston aim to spoil promotion party

As the Addicks head for the ton in terms of points, Preston North End aim to spoil Charlton's promotion party on Saturday: Preston

In any event those Addicks planning to go in fancy dress will no doubt enjoy their day out. I still remember the fans dressed as the Blues Brothers when we won promotion back to the Premiership at Blackburn.

Preston got rid of manager Phil Brown earlier in the season after they saw through his fake tan but things have hardly improved for them since then. His successor Graham Westley is a controversial figure, notwithstanding his success with the heroes of Hertfordshire, and there have been reports of trouble in the dressing room. Westley claimed that his team and plans were leaked to Sheffield Wednesday before the game at Hillsborough: Leak . However, the Preston players may simply have been overcome by playing such a massive club.

Westley does not seem to have gone down too well with the fans at Deepdale: Westley . It makes you glad to have someone of the calibre of Chris Powell in charge.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Will fair play tax hit Charlton?

Championship clubs have voted to adopt stringent new rules on the extent of losses that clubs can make, backed up by a 'fair play tax' and a transfer embargo. Will Charlton be hit by these new rules?

One of the difficulties is that we do not know exactly what the club's losses are. However, the New York Addick has undertaken a recent careful analysis based on accounts lodged at Companies House and it would seem that the most recent reported operating loss is £6.1m: Losses

That figure could, of course, increase or decrease in the future depending on revenues and expenditure. However, Charlton would not be affected next season when the permissible loss is £10m. However, by 2015/16 it decreases to £5m, of which shareholder equity investment can be no more than £3m. Clubs who break the rules will be subject to a transfer embargo and to a 'fair play tax' if they are promoted to the Premier League.

The new Steven Gerrard?

After a successful spell at Blackpool, Jonjo Shelvey has returned to a role in the Liverpool side. This leading Liverpool fan blog reckons that he could have a key role in the club's future: Shelvey

Sunday 22 April 2012

Four Charlton players in team of the year

Four Charlton players are in the PFA League 1 team of the year: Hamer, Wiggins, Morrison and Jackson. One surprise is that the team contains no players at all from Sheffield Wednesday which is something of an insult to such a massive club whereas there are three from the smaller Sheffield club, although one of those is no longer available for selection.

The full list is: Hamer (Charlton), Hunt (Huddersfield), Morrison (Charlton), Maguire (Sheff Utd), Wiggins (Charlton), Jackson (Charlton), Quinn (Sheff Utd), Gleeson (MK Dons), Potter (MK Dons), Rhodes (Huddersfield), Evans (Sheff Utd.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Addicks interested in Vardy

Charlton are interested in signing Fleetwood Town striker Jamie Vardy. Chris Powell believes that Vardy is a player who can make the step up from non-league where he has also played for Stockbridge Steels and FC Halifax Town.

Leicester City and Crystal Palace were watching him earlier in the season, but are thought to be no longer interested. However, Fleetwood's local rivals Blackpool are thought to want to secure his signature. The Cod are under no pressure to sell and are likely to want around £1m.


When we heard that the departure of the Rickshaws had been delayed, then we knew that the championship was in our grasp. 10-man MK Dons duly obliged by beating Sheffield United 1-0 to cue warm celebrations. It had been achieved with a rather laboured victory over Wycombe Wanderers who were not without quality, but they were fighting to beat relegation.

Before the match started it was good to see the owners on the pitch with Chris Powell, but above Richard Murray recovered from his recent stroke.

We started the game by changing ends which always makes me uneasy. I thought that we were a bit casual in the opening stages and Wycombe won an early corner. They decided to take this short which in my view rarely works and demands a level of skill which the Chairboys did not possess.

We then won our first corner taken by Stephens. The ball was cleared off the line and then saved. Wycombe then demonstrated their ability to counter attack and they were not far wide with their attempt. They then broke again, but this time the ball was well over.

Wright-Phillips shot at the keeper who made a double handed save. Then Kermorgant won a free kick which he took. His excellent effort went over the wall and into the net to make it 1-0.

The Covered End told us that MK Dons had gone 1-0 ahead. Wright-Phillips was one on one with the keeper, but he made the save. Hamer had to save from close range, not the easiest of saves to make. Charlton won a corner taken by Jackson but it was unproductive. A free kick was awarded against Pritchard, but the Wycombe effort went off the wall. Solly provided good defensive work to clear.

Scott Wagstaff was fouled as he advanced on goal and Eastmond received a yellow card. It was in a similar position to the free kick from which the goal was scored, but Jackson's effort went over. Wright-Phillips had a chance, but put the ball just wide. Hamer made a good save.

Then on 45 minutes, with Kermorgant down from a head injury, Wycombe danger man Stuart Beavon made it 1-1.

Half time: Addicks 1, Chairboys 1

Wycombe were boosted by their goal and gave Charlton some nervous moments in the first twenty minutes of the second half. This started the usual suspects in the East Stand moaning, so it is probably worth quoting what the Football League Paper had to say this morning: 'As is the sign of champions, Charlton were resilient in defence and ultimately clinical in attack.'

Scott Wagstaff had the opportunity to create something, but instead of keeping the ball on the ground but sent it sailing over. Wiggins won Charlton a corner. Hamer made a great save at the expense of a corner for the Chairboys which for some reason they took short again. Wright-Phillips received a yellow card. This gave the Wycombe fans the chance to proclaim, 'Bradley Wright-Phillips you're more **** than Shaun.' In any event he was withdrawn on 70 minutes and replaced by Haynes who offered more pace against the suspect Wycombe defence.

It was Haynes who set up Kermorgant whose pull back was placed in the net by Stephens. Haynes burst through but his effort was saved. Grant Basey was taken off and received warm appluase from the Addickted. Hamer made another good save. From the resultant corner, Hamer claimed the ball authoritatively.

After the four minutes added on, we had to wait a few minutes more while the match at MK Dons was finished and then Big Dave Lockwood told us that we were champions. One fan managed to evade the heavy security cordon and did a good job at dodging the security men before embracing Bradley Pritchard. Some Wycombe fans stayed behind to applaud our players.

Congratulations to Charlton fan Jane who managed to make an excellent statement in support of the team on the six second spot on 606 last night.

Match analysis

The coveted Silver Bone has gone to Ben Hamer who now has quite a collection of them. A couple of great saves in the second half kept us in the game and he was not really at fault for the goal.Solly had another very competitive game and is very likely to pick up Player of the Year. I voted for Wiggins because I think Solly is going to get it anyway (or Kermit) and I wanted to see Wiggins get a placing in recognition of his contribution. However, he did make a few errors today. Morrison also created a few problems through misunderstandings with Hamer. Cortwas solid, although I am not sure where he was for the goal. Stephens started well, but then faded and started making unforced errors, although he redeemed himself with a well-taken goal. Pritchard stuck to his task with dedication and energy. Jackson still seems a little off the pace. Wagstaff tends to be inconsistent and spoilt one potential scoring opportunity through a lack of thought. Wright-Phillips missed a couple of good scoring opportunities. The goal scored by Kermorgant was a classic. Haynes not able to make use of his one scoring opportunity, but did play a part in the winning goal.

There is no Hiss of the Match. The officials were generally competent and the game was played in a fair, competitive spirit with relatively few fouls and only two yellow cards. However, why is it that couples now feel that they are entitled to stand alongside one another on escalators on the tube rather than allowing those on the left to pass?

More positive news

Our return to the Championship has been generally welcomed and here is the latest positive story: Mirror .

Wycombe Wanderers are saying they can spring a surprise today, but I am confident that we can take a step towards the title, perhaps a big one depending on what happens at MK Dons.

There have beeen criticisms during the year for our failure to play stylish, expansive football but I think it was important to secure promotion by grinding out results. Today, however, against a weakened Wycombe defence, we can afford to be more adventurous. 3-0 to the Addicks.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Injury crisis in defence for Chairboys

Wycombe Wanderers face something of an injury crisis in defence after Charlton turned down a request to vary the terms of their loan agreement and let Gary Doherty play:

I think this was the right decision.   Whilst I have no particular wish to see the Chairboys relegated, we need to press on and seal the title,

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Elliot congratulates Charlton

Former Charlton keeper Rob Elliot gives his congratulations to the Addicks and his thoughts on their prospects in the Championship:

He does, however, say that they are a 'massive' club which is an honour reserved for Sheffield Wednesday.

Monday 16 April 2012

Double promotion?

Can we get back into the Premier League next season like Norwich and Southampton?   It's interesting to speculate about it, Jimmy Seed did it in the 1930s and we might have eventually won the league if it was not for Adolf Hitler:

Of course, presumably the Massives (having won the play offs) will be going straight back up to their rightful home in the Premier League.

My inclination is to go for the more cautious target of consolidating in the Championship given that our financial resources are probably not as great as those of Norwich and Southampton.   But why not dream?

A note of caution: The Times reckons today that Chris Powell could himself be a target.   I am personally confident that he will stay.

Saturday 14 April 2012

Ten things I won't miss about League 1

1. Appalling referees and linos.   Surely there can't be anyone as bad as Kettle in the Championship?
2. Teams whose ambition is to stay in League 1 but want to enliven their season by taking a scalp off a 'big' club.
3. Pitches the standard of that at Oldham.
4. Playing away at Yeovil.
5. The media obsession with the two Sheffield clubs and Huddersfield.
6. Northern cloggers.
7. The paint pot trophy.
8. Having to play in Rounds 1 and 2 of the FA Cup.
9. Being a division below Palace and Millwall.
10. Pessimists pointing out we could be playing Ebbsfleet in the Conference in two seasons.

What will you miss least?

The Reds Are Going Up

Charlton repeated history as they were promoted at Carlisle, the Massives having drawn at Colchester.   Paul May is among the Addickted celebrating and here is his report brought to you via Tokyo:

The 930 Addickted were in good voice as an unchanged Charlton came on to the pitch at Brunton Park, reports Paul May.  Carlisle won an early corner.  It was cleared and the ball was forced back to the orange clad Carlisle keeper. 

Wiggins put in a cross after a great goal kick by Hamer.   N’Guessan’s shot led to a corner.  The ball was cleared off the line from a header by Morrison at the near post.    A header from Cort was saved as news came through that the Massives had gone behind at Colchester.

The game went through a quiet phase.    Charlton didn’t clear their lines, but Noble’s effort from 25 yards out was poor.   Jackson was alert after Carlisle threatened.    Jackson advanced and put a great ball in, but N’Guessan’s effort went over the top from six yards out.

Solly crossed, but Wright-Phillips couldn’t bring the ball down.   The ball wouldn’t fall for Jackson and he couldn’t get a shot away.   Cort delivered a powerful header to deal with a Carlisle counter attack.  Pritchard read Carlisle’s intentions well.

Cook had a chance after the busy Noble had turned provider but Cort put him off and he put the ball wide from inside the area. 

A shot from Noble was blocked by Cort after the Addicks hesitated.    Charlton put in some good approach play, but N’Guessan’s effort was too close to the keeper.   Wiggins put in some great defending and drew a foul.

Carlisle won a free kick in a dangerous position.   McGovern’s curling effort was defended well.

Good play by Solly won Charlton a corner.   Jackson’s corner put the keeper under pressure, but ultimately the move was unproductive and Carlisle applied some pressure.

Stephens tackled well and then Cort headed away.    Charlton had done well in the midfield battle, but had been somewhat lacking in the final third.

HT 0-0

Charlton advanced well through Kermorgant and Wright-Phillips who won a corner.    The ball was whipped in with pace but evaded both Morrison and Cort.    Cook shot straight at Hamer.

Cook turned provider for Noble who put one against the upright and Morrison was able to clear, as word came through that the Massives had equalised.   Charlton broke and an effort by Wright-Phillips was saved.   Kermorgant was down injured.

A shot from Jackson took a deflection for a throw in.   Jackson put in a dangerous cross, but Carlisle were able to get it away.   Charlton won a corner taken by Jackson.   There was a bit of a scramble but the keeper eventually recovered.

Cort defended well, but Cook got a shot away which was just over the top.   Wiggins advanced but couldn’t quite pick out a Charlton player.   Carlisle advanced but Pritchard put in a superb challenge just outside the ‘D’. 

Wagstaff came on to replace N’Guessan.    Kermorgant fed Wright-Phillips who was clean through but the keeper saved at the expense of a corner.  The keeper scrambled the corner away as Kermorgant headed it goalwards.  

Wright-Phillips turned provider for Kermorgant, but the ball was blocked by a Carlisle defender.  The corner wasn’t the best from Wagstaff and went out of play.

Cort was shown a yellow card for a foul.   McGovern’s free kick was headed away.    The flag was raised against Zoko after Cort slipped on the well watered pitch.

For some reason Carlisle took off Jordan Cook who had been one of their best players.    A cross by Wiggins led to a corner for the Addicks.  Kermorgant’s header was tipped over the crossbar by the keeper.    Bradley Wright-Phillips scored from Jackson’s corner, stabbing it in after Stephens got the ball down.

Jackson curled the ball in, but Wright-Phillips couldn’t get enough on his shot.   The Cumbrians won a corner kick after Wagstaff failed to clear.   Carlisle made a double substitution.   Charlton tried to take the ball away, but Carlisle won a free kick ten yards outside the area.    Murphy’s effort was stopped by the wall, Carlisle tried to keep up the pressure but their shot was blocked.

Kermorgant advanced but the keeper made a great save.    Taylor came on for the Addicks and Wright-Phillips went off.   The keeper punched the corner clear.    Morrison headed away from a Carlisle free kick.

Carlisle put a shot came in after Wagstaff failed to clear and it went off Taylor’s chest to Hamer.   Four minutes were added on.   Zoko forced a corner.   Carlisle kept up the pressure, but Noble’s effort was poor and gave the Addicks a goal kick.   Wiggins was fouled and Charlton won a free kick and the whistle was blown.

Friday 13 April 2012

Charlton fly in

A few sponsors have put together the funds to fly Charlton to tomorrow's match at Carlisle.  In this article tribute is paid to the achievements of Chris Powell:

Thursday 12 April 2012

News from another planet

Tokyo: They say that Japan is like being on another planet but reading some of the negative comments from Charlton fans recently I sometimes wonder what planet they are on.

Up in Carlisle, they are clearly quite apprehensive about our visit on Saturday and trying to work out what our tactics might be, particularly given that they will miss one key player.   But they are hoping for a point and that may not be unrealistic but will set all the jeremiahs off again:

Monday 9 April 2012

One Is Enough

To get automatic promotion Charlton need to grind out results.   And that's what the Addicks did today with a 1-0 victory over Walsall at The Valley.   It was a nervous second half, after Charlton's performance dropped away, but the Addicks stood firm to claim the three points.

Central midfield was a problem throughout the match.   The back four looked more exposed without Hollands which suggests that he does more than we often realise.   Stephens had a 'mare of a match and Bradley Pritchard was no more than adequate.

Rather than defending for a draw, Walsall showed some creative attacking play but ultimately their lack of accuracy in front of goal let them down.

In many season 91 points would be enough to guarantee promotion, but with the two Sheffield sites in a race to the wire it's no longer enough. As it is, Charlton could well do the ton.

We changed ends at the beginning of the match which always makes me uneasy as I prefer to play towards the Covered End in the second half.   However, we startly brightly and N'Guessan put in a good effort.   Wiggins won Charlton a corner which was followed by two more but unfortunately we were unable to make them count.

A mix up in defence led to a break by the Saddlers and a corner for them.   The corner was well taken and led to a second.

Chris Solly put in some good defensive work in front of goal.  Kermorgant turned provider for Wright-Phillips but his shot went well over.   Kermorgant went down.   Walsall won a corner and Bradley Pritchard received a yellow card for a foul.

A Charlton corner led to an effort by Jackson which tested the keeper.  Kermorgant was brought down again.

Charlton were awarded a free kick for obstruction on N'Guessan, an offence that is often overlooked.  Jackson delivered an excellent free kick from near the byline on the East Stand side and N'Guessan's bullet header gave the keeper no chance and put the Addicks 1-0 ahead on 33 minutes.

Walsall were given a dubious free kick which I think should have been awarded to us and this led to a Walsall corner.  Hamer had to make a save on the ground in the three minutes of time added on.

Half time: Addicks 1, Saddlers 0

The Addicks looked lacklustre after the break given plenty of opportunities to moaners in the East Stand to find their voices.   An effort from Wright-Phillips was well wide.    Pritchard turned provider for Wright-Phillips and this time he drew a save.

Solly was given a yellow card and the referee could well have been justified in giving a red for the challenge.   A Walsall free kick led to a Walsall corner but it was unproductive.

The Saddlers withdrew Hurst and brought on Paterson.   Walsall won a free kick in a dangerous position but blasted it over the goal which says a lot about why they are in a relegation dogfight.

Stephens gave away a free kick.  The Argentinian Ledesma was given a yellow card for a foul.

Walsall won a corner when Morrison should have blasted the ball clear.   This led to a second and they had another shortly afterwards.  But then the battling Kermorgant won Charlton a corner.

The relatively uninvolved Wright-Phillips was replaced by Haynes.   Good play by Solly won Charlton a free kick.  N'Guessan was replaced by Cook.  Walsall won a free kick for what looked like a dive to me.

In the four minutes added on, Charlton won two corners.   It's a mistake to try and keep these by the flag because we are not good enough to do that.   We might have created a goal scoring opportunity and if the ball had gone out for a goal kick it would have eaten up some time.

Some were disappointed with the attendance of 15,253 but there are many other attractions on a bank holiday and the match was hardly a big draw even if it turned out to be compelling to watch.

One well-known grumbler has said that we are 'struggling', but I think I will take our points total which exceeds those of the teams leading other divisions.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Dany N'Guessan not just for his well-taken goal but for his contribution throughout the match.   This is our third clean sheet in a row and Hamer deserves credit for some good saves, although once or twice he would have saved his defence trouble if he had come for the ball.    Solly was very solid and had some moments of sublime skill.   Wiggins was always a potential threat down the left.   Cort was generally very solid, providing good defensive headers.   Morrison was below his usual standard, creating danger once when he should have booted the ball out.   It was good to see Jackson return and his free kick led to the goal while he drew a save from the keeper.   Pritchard did his best but unfortunately his best is sometimes not good enough.  Stephens was poor, giving away unnecessary free kicks and losing possession.   Kermorgant was battered as usual and at one time I thought he might have to come off as he was limping but he continued to be involved.   Wright-Phillips had a rather tepid game and his efforts were either straight at the keeper or well off target.   Haynes livened things up when he came on and showed real skill.
Cook and Taylor had cameos.

Hiss of the Match: Referee D Phillips made a number of odd decisions and he and the other officials were booed off at the end of the game.

Saddled Up

An advert on Midlands TV yesterday evening for a discount warehouse in Walsall pointed out that it had a coffee shop as well and boasted 'you could spend practically all day there.'   Given the lack of alternative attractions in Walsall on a wet bank holiday Monday, some people might well do so.   Even the Saddlers are not at home.

What's that double decker bus I see heading for the M1?   It contains the Walsall team and once they get to The Valley they will park it in front of the goal.   We can expect Walsall to put ten men behind the ball today in the hope of a 0-0.   If things go well for them, they can hit us on the break and win 0-1 as they did last season.

The Saddlers are out of the relegation places, but they are still in a relegation battle and we can expect them to give us a hard ride today.   Rain and gusting winds won't help, particularly if we resort to the long ball in frustration at not being able to break down their defence.

Walsall have only won two games away all season, but they have drawn eleven, a figure only matched by draw specialists Huddersfield.   The Saddlers are currently 11th in the form table.

After Mr Kettle boiled over on Saturday, we will have to make a couple of changes.   I assume that Green will come in for Wagstaff and that Bradley Pritchard will replace Hollands.   Hughes is still not match fit.   At least the referee today is from West Sussex.

On The Football League Show Chris Powell paid tribute to the spirit of the team and the way in which they were playing for the club, the fans and him personally.   I expect this to carry us through to victory in a tricky match.   Even though Sheffield Wednesday can be expected to beat Oldham, the Massives will start to run out of road if we win today.

Sunday 8 April 2012

Two Charlton players in Top 10

Two Charlton players are listed in the top ten of the top fifty Football League players chosen by Four Four Two.  The only other club to have two players in the top ten are Southampton.

Skipper Johnnie Jackson is the top ranked League 1 player coming in at sixth place.    He is described as a 'cultured left-footer [who] has been the driving force behind the Addicks' promotion push.'

In tenth place is Bradley Wright-Phillips who is described as 'showing the same pace, tenancity and eye for goal as his famous father.'

Of course, one shouldn't take these listings too seriously and it is a bit of surprise to find Izale McLeod from relegation threatened Barnet in 13th place.  Remember him?  We paid £1.1m for him.

Apparently McLeod owns a coffee shop in Milton Keynes called the Coffee Boutique.   If you happen to find yourself in Milton Keynes through some misfortune, you can call in and who knows who might serve your latte?   Should it be the kilted wonder himself, however, do not be surprised if the mixture misses the mug.

Saturday 7 April 2012

Nine man Charlton take the three points

A battling performance by Charlton saw them 1-0 at Oldham with nine men to preserve their lead at the top of League 1 after both Sheffield teams won their games.

Bradley Wright-Phillips is dropped from the starting line up at Oldham this afternoon and is replaced by N’Guessan reports Paul May.  Chris Powell had said that he would rotate players to keep them fresh and hungry.   Johnnie Jackson returns to the bench.   Meanwhile, the travelling Addickted were able to contemplate the 2-0 victory by Sheffield Wednesday at Huddersfield.

Charlton won an early corner.   Cook’s effort was put over the bar by Hollands.

Wagstaff was in a good position and should have made better of it after Kermorgant set him up.

Neither side dominated in the early exchanges.   Quality was that not that much in evidence.   The pitch didn’t help much with big strips of sand on either flank.   The pitch was sticky and players were losing their footing easily.

Kermorgant was flattened by Mvoto and the referee from Rutland reached for his book. 

Stephens was given a yellow card.    Wagstaff lost possession and gave away a free kick in a dangerous position and received a yellow card.   The effort from Morais led to an Oldham throw in. 

Diallo pulled down Wagstaff on the edge of the area and was given a yellow card.    The free kick by Cook led to a corner.   The corner from Stephens was curled out of play.

Charlton were not being allowed to pass the ball by Oldham and were resorting to lumping it forward. 

Hollands was sent off for a lunging challenge on Lee, a decision hotly disputed by Kermorgant and other Charlton players. 

Kermorgant was flattened by Mvoto and received the second yellow card and the red.    Bunn was taken off and Tarkowski came on.   Kuqi was booked for saying something to the referee.

Neither keeper was really tested in the first half.

HT: 0-0

Wiggins whipped in a great cross from the left-hand side and Kermorgant made it 1-0 to the Addicks at the far post.   The chant ‘Charlton Athletic, we’re top of the league’ started up.

Stephens put in a good defensive header as Oldham advanced. 

Adeyemi had a chance but Cort blocked well with Oldham winning a corner.  The ball was clattered clear by N’Guessan as Adeyemi threatened.

Kermorgant was shown a yellow card for fouling Simpson.    Kermorgant was hauled down by Tarkowski, but the referee gave nothing.

Cort had to concede a corner kick as Adeyemi advanced.  The corner was unproductive.

Kuqi shot straight at Hamer after Oldham tried to produce some football.    N’Guessan, who had been asked to drop into a midfield berth, was withdrawn in favour of Bradley Pritchard. 

Wagstaff slipped on the pitch and caught Furman, he was shown the second yellow and sent off.  It was a poor decision by the referee.

Lee Cook was withdrawn and replaced by Matt Taylor.    Charlton were playing a 3-4-1. 

Kermorgant had a go from inside his own half when he saw Bouzanis off his line and it was only inches past the left hand post.

Morais came off and was replaced by Hughes.  

A free kick from Simpson was defended well by Cort.    Simpson was shown a yellow card for not pulling out of a challenge on Hamer who required some treatment.

Five minutes were added on.   Oldham won a corner.    Stephens smashed the ball away.   Cort made a powerful header clear.

Oldham won another corner and kept up the pressure, but the move eventually ended in a goal kick for Charlton.   Hamer was booked for time wasting.    Morrison was given a yellow card for a poor tackle and Oldham won a free kick.   Simpson’s free kick was poor.

The 600 Addickted celebrated the win.

Friday 6 April 2012

99 per cent chance of automatic promotion

Charlton have a 99 per cent chance of automatic promotion from League 1 according to Daniel Finkelstein of the Fink Tank writing in The Times this morning.   Sheffield United are on 69 per cent, Sheffield Wednesday 24 per cent and Huddersfield Town on 24 per cent.

Milton Keynes Dons are almost certain to be in the play-offs (96 per cent) as are Huddersfield (92 per cent).   The Massives are also likely to be there (76 per cent) with Carlisle United (58 per cent) likely to take the fourth spot, although Stevenage (28 per cent) still have a chance.

Chesterfield, Exeter City and Rochdale are going down.   Wycombe Wanderers have a 60 per cent chance of joining them.

Dickov: I'm not as stupid as I look

Oldham manager Paul Dickov has declared that he is not as stupid as he looks, but goes on to claim that the Lactics will take six points off Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday over the Easter weekend:

Dickov is under pressure from both the board and disgruntled fans on social networking sites.   Could he be the latest manager to succumb to the curse of Charlton?

Thursday 5 April 2012

Onward to Oldham

Yesterday television showed pictures of the Oldham Mountain Rescue Team in operation.   It's grim 'oop North, but hopefully Charlton will not need rescuing on Saturday.

Oldham are currently 14th in the table.   There is a nice symmetry about their home results: won eight; drawn four; lost eight; 23 goals for, 23 against. They are out of the promotion race but are not really threatened by relegation.   However, given that they are just seven points clear of Wycombe and not technically safe, they will want to get points on the board.   I also suspect that they may be one of the six clubs in League 1 listed but not named by administrators Begbies Traynor as financially challenged.

They have lost their last two matches, but on Sunday were only one place behind Charlton in the form table.  Charm merchant manager Paul Dickov will no doubt want to put one over the Addicks.   Doubtless the instruction will go out to foul Kermorgant at every opportunity while the referee smiles beningly (indeed, last week's hapless referee was smirking at one point in the game).

A comment on another blog said that we have not been convincing in recent matches.  Well, we don't need to be convincing, we just need to grind out results so that we can get out of League 1.   This is the third division and we shouldn't expect quality football.

Given the amount of grumbling this season when we have been top of the league since September, goodness knows what the volume will be next year when we could well be in a relegation fight and can perhaps hope to be a mid-table team like Burnley at best.

I do have some concerns about the central midfield.   Stephens has never been the same since he came back from his operation and Hollands is inconsistent.   However, we don't have that many options.   Bradley Pritchard is liked by many fans because he displays enthusiasm, energy and commitment but this is matched by a lack of guile and sophistication.   It isn't hard to work out what he is going to do.    There might be a case for at least having Hughes on the bench.

On the more positive side I think that Hamer has been looking strong and Cort has been very solid in central defence, while Solly and Wiggins both continue to play well.  

It's remarkable to contrast the lack of confidence among Charlton fans with that exuded by the two Sheffield clubs, especially the Massives.   However, I think that we can get at least a point out of this match, although we may face another northern referee.   Paul May will be providing a match report.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Where are they now? The players of 1974-5

What has happened to the players and other key staff involved in the 1974-5 promotion?

Peter Shearing (coach) Now retired after running a post office in Leeds near Maidstone.

Les Berry Still in the local area running the family electrical wholesale business/warehouse in Greenwich.

Ray Tunbridge Died after a long battle with cancer in June 2009 aged 54.   Had been working in financial services.

Bob Goldthorpe Works for an American facilities company Johnson Control in Canary Wharf.

Mike Flanagan After managing Gillingham, Waterford United and Millwall's youth team, as well as being assistant manager of Margate, turned to painting and decorating.

Graham Tutt Settled in the US and is currently commissioner of international indoor soccer.

John Dunn Became a PE teacher at Barking Abbey Sports College.

Paul Davies Lives in Hatfield, Herts, became a black cab driver.

Danny Jennings A successful businessmen living in Berkhampsted, has spent 12 years in telecoms.

Bob Curtis Died on March 2010 in his native Langley Whaley-Thorns, Nottinghamshire, aged 60, after a lengthy battle with motor neurone disease.

Charlie Hall (physio).  Served the Addicks as player, trainer and coach for 44 years until retiring in 1987.  Lived locally until his death in 2007 aged 84.

Arthur Horsfield  Was manager of the Thurrock depot of Parcel Force and retired after seven years as a shift manager for Royal Mail.

Eamon Dumphy Writer and broadcaster in his native Dublin.

Keith Peacock Back at The Valley as football advisor.

Phil Warman Settled in Gravesend, most recently working for BMW.

Peter Hunt Lives in Laindon, Essex and works in the car trade.

Derek Hales After running a pub in his native village of Lower Halstow, now undertakes PE teaching for the Howard School at Gillingham.  Occasionally writes in the programme.

Richie Bowman Running his own sandwich bar near London Bridge stadium.

Alan Hart Living in Wickham Bishops, Essex and is a director of independent window specialists West Leigh, also manager of Heybridge Swifts U16 side.

Mark Penfold Now manager of a cleaning company and has been a matchday host at The Valley.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Recalling the 1975 promotion

In 1975 Charlton were promoted from the third division to the second tier in third place, behind Blackburn Rovers and Plymouth Argyle.   There were no play offs then.  Charlton secured promotion with a 3-1 victory over Preston at The Valley in the last game of the season.    If they had lost, they could have been overtaken by both Crystal Palace and Peterborough United.

The Addicks had been relegated to the third tier in 1972.  Support was dwindling and in 1974 Theo Foley was replaced as manager by Andy Nelson who had just led Gillingham to promotion.  Nelson had to make do with the team that Foley left behind: the only signing he made was of David Young.

Colin Powell recalled in an interview with The Football League Paper, 'Theo had signed me, Derek Hales and Mike Flanagan for about £8,000-£9,000.  Andy used to put us through set-plays for hours and hours.'

'We were difficult to beat even though we used to give quite a few goals away.   We used to score a lot, too, with Derek Hales, who got about 20 in a season.'

'Derek would have got more, but the Daily Express were offering something like £5,000 to any player who scored 30 goals.  He had quite a few until the club said they would keep £2,500 and give the players £2,500.   Then Derek said he wasn't going to score again!'

'We faltered towards the end with a dodgy run in, and that cost us the title.  We went from winning most games at gome to not being able to win anything at home.   That was disappointing but it was nice to go up anyway.'

Surprisingly the top team in London that year were the Super Hoops and they only finished 11th in Division 1.