Last night I saw the top-uf-the-table Elite League ice hockey clash between Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers (you can see it on Sky on Friday). Whoever won would go top and the Panthers were deserved victors at 3-1. They were just faster to the puck, quicker on the counter attack, better at keeping possession and more solid in defence than Blaze.
Sound a bit like Charlton? I might add that Nottingham are the Manchester United of British ice hockey with their big rink and large following (4,500 at home games).
Incidentally, the game ended with the fight of all fights right in front of us which included a di Canio style shove on one of the officials; a blazing row all round the rink between the player and the lino; and the rare award of a penalty for 'abusing an official' on the Panther responsible.
I stayed behind rinkside afterwards and it was interesting to observe the mood of he crowd: subdued, disappointed, upset, even frustrated, but not angry. And believe me, for some of these people ice hockey is their sporting life, no great surprise when you learn that some of them are former Sky Blues fans.
There was quite a contrast with the febrile atmosphere at The Valley despite the team exceeding my expectations this season and still being in contention for automatic promotion.
Of course, the British love to whinge. I have never noticed the same level of complaining at baseball matches in the States or rules matches in Australia. They like to complain about the weather, the government, their boss, their relatives, South Eastern trains (with good reason in that case) and above all their own football team.
I listened to the Hartlepool match and it sounded like quite a good performance which was confirmed by the BBC report. Yet the very firm consensus of those who were there was that Charlton were awful despite winning. I suspect that part of the story is that Hartlepool's young side played well above their usual standard, motivated by the fact that they had nothing to lose but might gain a 'scalp' from the big club.
This is League 1 and we are a League 1 team. We have very few really talented players (ones that other clubs might pay a significant sum to buy) and two of them are very inconsistent within a game (Sam and Shelvey). Bailey is my candidate for player of the year, but he cannot run the whole game or compensate for the deficiencies of other players.
I also think that the margin between teams in this league, although it certainly exists, is not so big that any team cannot be defeated by any other team. We did the double over Hartlepool and Wycombe, but it wasn't easy in either case.
No doubt Sky will try and big this up as a local derby and it is a short trip through the Blackwall Tunnel for Orient. But I can't say that I have ever thought of Orient as major rivals. We have never been in a division together for all that long.
Orient have undergone some strengthening through loans and Scott McGleish is a player who knows how to operate at this level and may relish a goal at the club where his involvement was limited to cameos as a late substitute.
Although a 1-1 is not an impossible outcome, I think that we probably have enough in the locker to beat Orient. The television cameras used to be a bit of a bogey for us, but not for some time. Incidentally, the £30,000 fee we will receive is not great compensation for the loss of 'walk up' sales on a cold winter's night.
Philppa Nicholson will be leaving chambers earlier than usual (I nearly said 'drop her briefs') to get to the game. The legal eagle will bring the zest and confidence to her report that she deploys in court, in so far as one can on obscure commercial cases.
Talking of the law, Norwich have emphatically denied that they are in any danger of going into administration and have indicated that they will issue legal proceedings against the Sunday newspaper that made such a claim.
Leeds have now decided to concentrate on the cups (they still have to go to Carlisle in the JPT) and are showing signs of faltering in the league, but with Norwich they must be (and are) odds on favourites for automatic promotion. BTW, Northwich Victoria's win over us did them no good as it looks as if they are going to be relegated again for failing to pay football debts.
If you are going, enjoy the game and wrap up warm.