Sunday 30 July 2023

Win a book competition

We never went to reserve games at The Valley like most fans, but there was one exception.   On the 5th September 1953 my father and I saw Charlton beat Aldershot 3-0 in the Football Combination Cup.

I remember the occasion vividly because the East Terrace was so empty.   Also, shortly after we arrived, a group of fans came in and asked for the score.   My father noted that they were Aldershot fans.  Not many people go to away reserve games, but I suppose that The Valley was the attraction.

I know why we went, but I would like a funny or ingenious explanation.   The best one will win a prize of my book Political Football.   OK, it has just been remaindered at 50 per cent, but so has the publisher's whole list!   To enhance its value, I will not sign it.

Place any entries in the comments section and I will contact the lucky winner in due course.  They will also receive a surprise bonus book.

No takers yet!   My best selling ever book was on the Common Agricultural Policy (6.000) and was dedicated to Curbs which he rather enjoyed.

Friday 28 July 2023

The Roland years

This is what I will write about next in my 'What went wrong' series, but I should note that front man Charlie Methven has made it clear that the new owners will talk to Roland at some point about the ownership of the stadium and training ground, but (decoded) not any time soon:

Methven does seem to be saying the right things and saying them often.   My assessment of him from the Sunderland series was that he was a bit glib, the kind of smooth talking Old Etonian who would convince you that you needed a time share in New Cross in February and threw in a season ticket on the Woolwich Free Ferry to seal the deal.

But perhaps Sunderland was a different story:

Monday 24 July 2023

What went wrong - part 1?

I believe that Charlton could have been far and away the leading South London team.  So what happened?

We were at peak just before and after the Second World War.  We lost some momentum because of the war with Adolf Hitler rumoured to be a secret Millwall supporter as in various online spoofs.

In 1936/7 we finished second behind Manchester City and were the fifth best supported club in the top flight,   We were fourth in 37/8 and third the following year.

After the war we were FA Cup finalists and then winners, a much bigger deal than it is today.   League performances were less impressive, even dangerous, although we made 5th in 52/3.

The small seated stand regularly sold out and produced at least five times as much revenue per fan.  But the owners wouldn't build any more seated accommodation, nor would they fund the marquee signings that Jimmy Seed wanted.

Just before one match my father pointed out Stanley Gliksten surveying the crowd.  'He want to know how much he's taking home today.' commented my father.    In 1954 it was 'proudly' announced that the club was solvent for the first time.  It may not have been a cash cow, but it wasn't a benefactor club.

More like benign neglect and we all know what happened.   Visiting my retired uncle in Belvedere I craned out of the train window for a glimpse of The Valley.   I hoped we would return, but all sorts of forces were against us.

As Curbs has noted, the spell at West Ham was vital in giving us a platform to return to SE7/   It was touch and go whether we survived, but we did and under Curbs we won the Greatest Game.  We came down, but were back again as champions - a joyful day away at Blackburn.

A persistent myth has grown up that fans wanted to get rid of Curbs for a manager to take us to the next level.  The facts are that Richard Murray wanted the manager to sign a three year contract rather than see out the year remaining.

'Too slow to hurry mints' should have realised that even if Curbs had gone after a year it would have given time to properly research replacements.  BTW, I do not know how much the decision was Murray's alone or a collective one of the board.   Either way it was a disaster.

Instead we got Dowie and his famous move north, the board convinced by his PowerPoint.   I first saw him warming up the players on the pitch, fixing them with what he thought was a hypnotic stare.   I thought this isn't rocket science, this is a rocket that blows up on the launch pad.

After the Les Reed interlude, we got Alan Pardew.  I thought at the time that it was a good appointment. How wrong I was.   We did manage to get off the ground, but it was a bumpy ride and ended with a crash landing.   He is now managing in the Greek Super League.   Worse was to come.

Friday 21 July 2023

A new chapter begins

I welcome the pledge of the new owners to engage in action not words and avoid grand promises:

I am still uncertain about their strategy, but that will no doubt become clearer with time.  Meanwhile, some familiar faces have returned to the club, Steve Sutherland for the third time.

The open letter from Thomas Sandgaard has had a mixed reception from fans:

Once again the words of the newsreels on the replacement of Neville Chamberlain by Winston Churchill are apt: 'Thanks for all you tried to do.'

Hopefully I will regain better health and join you at The Valley before too long.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Green light for takeover

I have to break silence to announce this:

After the 'spivs', Roland, ESI and the ego trip Danish pastry, I am naturally cautious.   I'm still not clear about their strategy, but will judge them by deeds not words.

Sunday 16 July 2023

100 years of supporting Charlton

The first of three special features.

My father (Robert Frank Grant) was born in North Woolwich and lost his mother when he was about twelve years old from the 'Spanish' influenza outbreak at the end of the First World War. His eldest sister looked after the bereaved family of five children. They were allocated a house on the new 'Progress' estate at Eltham built by the Co-op. My father left school at fourteen and obtained an apprenticeship with the Great Eastern Railway as a carriage and wagon fitter. 

I went to Well Hall for the last tram week.

His cousin Ted was already Addickted and introduced him to Charlton around 1923.  My father earned the admission price and tram travel to matches by looking after horses while carters delivered their goods.

My father was a non-league footballer but was typically reticent about it (a characteristic of those descended from north-east of Scotland stock).   Asked who he played for he would always say 'South-East Ham'.   He certainly retained a residual interest in West Ham United, going to the first FA Cup final at Wembley.

With my father

I think he always hoped I would go one better as a footballer and bought me some expensive boots for my 7th birthday, but I had two left feet.

As well as the game itself, a highlight of the weekend was going to my uncle's newsagents shop in Lakedale Road late on Sunday morning.   With the gas lamps hissing away, and no social media, fans would call by to discuss the latest rumours about tensions between manager Seed and trainer Trotter.

The final games I watched with my father were in the holidays at Falmouth Town, then leading the Western League.   And the pasties were great.

Monday 3 July 2023

All good things come to an end

I have now been a Charlton fan for seventy years.  Addick's Diary has appeared in a variety of formats for over a quarter of a century.   The time has come to close its pages, apart from two special features in the coming weeks. 

Last Friday I had an emergency hospital admission and it is clear that I have a possibly long-term health problem that may prevent my physical return to The Valley.   Not life threatening, but constraining.

Readership figures have fallen and probably rely on a loyal cohort of my post-war generation.   I am more Voice of the Valley than MOTROD.

I can recommend Drinking During the Game for the takeover saga and Chicago Addick for team news.

This early Addick's Diary recalls when I did some reporting for the club webiste:

For the avoidance of doubt, Rick Everitt did not miss a university exam to attend a Charlton game.