Wednesday 31 October 2007

Smith backs Faye

Rangers manager Walter Smith has given the vote of confidence to Charlton loan player Amdy Faye, despite his being substituted at half time in two matches. He also survived a whole cup game against mighty East Fife. Story here: Faye

Tuesday 30 October 2007

Brakes Win Again

Just as Charlton have had a run of defeats, Leamington keep on winning. Admittedly, it is often only by a margin of one, but one is enough. Tonight they defeated Bedworth United 1-0 at the New Windmill Ground to go through to the third round of the Errea (Southern League) Cup.

It was a niggly match with one case of handbags at six paces. Richard Adams burst through to score the only goal in the first half to please the crowd of 426. Clunesie scored in the second half, but it was ruled offside.

Brakes also hit the post, but Bedworth kept fighting to the final whistle and came close to scoring. I took a visitor who had just arrived from California to the game, but quite what he made of it I am not sure.

A Pilgrim visits Charlton

An away fan's perspective on an evening at The Valley. Other away fans have complained to me about the poor facilities in the Jimmy Seed, but then we hit the same problem at many grounds:

Monday 29 October 2007

For Kent Addicks

Kent Addicks may enjoy this portrait of the chequered history of Margate who face Leamington in the FA Trophy next Saturday:

There are also some quite amusing typos: building 'woks' being one.

Charlton linked with Big Pole

Charlton may make a £2m bid for Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak in the transfer window. However, Saints supremo George Burley is confident that the imminent takeover of the club by a hedge fund will enable him to head off any bids.

One Addick described him as another big lump of a centre forward who would encourage even more of the hopeful long ball rather than playing to feet and using the skills of our midfield. 'Hit and hope' would appear to be the new motto.

There are also rumours that Chris Dickson may be recalled from the Gills.

Sunday 28 October 2007

How much do Charlton fans want success?

This might seem a strange question to ask on the back of three defeats in which the only Charlton goal has been scored by that famous Welsh international, Owen Goal. Writing in the programme for QPR, chief executive Peter Varney reflected on the trauma of relegation.

During that period he notes that he received a lot of personal abuse and no doubt there will be some in his in box tomorrow. I have never met Peter Varney, although I have had some electronic arguments with him and I think that we have different views about a number of things. But there can be no doubt that he is Charlton through and through and strives to make the club a success.

What many Charlton fans evidently like is seeing Academy players on the pitch. Indeed, one reaction to difficulties is to play even more of them as 'they couldn't do any worse.' Well, they could.

Crewe have had a great record of bringing on young players. Charlton could carry out that role very successfully as a League 1 club. But is that what we really want?

I am all for Charlton's community work and its development of young players. But at the end of the day what I want is success on the pitch - by which I mean Charlton established once again in the Premiership.

The difference in levels

Josh Blake

Leamington faced a tough test away at Chesham yesterday, given that the Buckinghamshire club had been on a run of four wins. However, Brakes recorded their sixth league win a row, completing the double over Chesham with a 1-0 win. A parried shot from ex Coventry City ace Ben Mackie enabled Josh Blake to finish off a week on the moving van by removing Chesham's hope of victory.

Brakes are now seven points clear at the top at the BGB Midlands Division which contrasts with Charlton's plight in eighth. One of the calls from Charlton fans is to bring back Chris Dickson given that he has been scoring for Gillingham in League 1. They seem to forget that Luke Varney was playing in the non-league not so long ago and it shows in a lack of polish.

There is a real difference in level between the leagues. I have been surprised this year by how much lower the skill level is in the Championship than in the Premiership. For example, consider Chelsea's second goal yesterday which involved a brilliant pass from Lampard to Drogbha. You will never seen that in the Championship which depends much more on physical strength, something which has worked to Charlton's disadvantage.

It's a few years since I watched quite a bit of League 1 and League 2 football with Rushden and Diamonds. But my view was that League 1 was well above League 2. In particular, it was faster and more accurate. League 2 depended more on hoofing the ball out of defence with no particular object in mind. The difference between League 2 and the fourth level of the non-league where Leamington are is probably less than that between League 2 and the Championship. Hence why McLeod was a great success in League 2 but is not in the Championship.

Leamington is full of ex Academy players, even ones who have played in the Championship. The line between success and failure is a thin one and there is probably an element of luck. However, players who revert to the non-league lack the polish that comes from playing regularly at a higher level.

As I have said for some time, Richard Murray and the board have done a marvellous job for Charlton. But if we are going to succeed, then sooner or later we will need at least an injection of capital.

In this connection, note that a hedge fund has acquired a majority stake in Southampton: Saints . They will be providing funds. The advisers were the same firm (Seymour Pierce) who has so far been unable to find a buyer or investor for Charlton: not their fault as we are a less attractive investment prospect.

Saturday 27 October 2007

Wake up call is more trumpet of doom

In the programme Pards referred to Charlton's two defeats in a row as a wake up call. Their third defeat in a row, a 0-1 home defeat at The Valley by Queen's Park Rangers, was more like a trumpet of doom. Admittedly, QPR have turned things round under their new manager and have avoided defeat in their last three games. But Charlton were effectively turned over by a team of journeymen who wanted it more.

It was a disjointed performance by Charlton and only the incompetence of the Super Hoops in front of goal stopped it from being 0-3. What can one do with a team that has a suspect defence, strikers who can't find the target and a midfield that has some talented individual players but at the moment is playing well below what it is capable of? Certainly the three substitutions made did little to help and, if anything, made things worse, as Pards has subsequently admitted.

Throughout the match, there was too little reliance on the hopeful long ball. We could also have tried to attack through the middle more, given that their defence had even more weaknesses than ours. Writing in the programme, Rick Everitt referred to the difficulty of selling matchday tickets. Today's performance won;t help.

We had difficulty in getting to the match on time, but apparently Darren Ambrose had even more trouble and did not arrive in time to warm the bench. To be fair, there were serious problems on the M25 and the Swanley Rickshaw had to be cancelled because the coach couldn't get there.

The team went into a huddle before the match and Steve from Sidcup said presciently that this was not a good idea as it suggested we were frightened of QPR.

Charlton won an early corner which showed how shaky QPR were at the back but, as usual, we didn't make anything of it, delivering the ball straight to the keeper (a Rams reject). Basey showed his calibre with a good pass back to Weaver. Then Mills had to concede a corner to avert danger and there was a handball shout in the subsequent play.

Basey put in a great angled ball across the pitch to Sam. The Hoops made a rare good move down the wing, leading to a corner, which was cleared to a throw in. Basey delivered a good cross, but there was no one there to connect. With QPR threatening, Mills got the Addicks out of trouble. Grant Basey won Charlton a corner, but, to his despair, the well positioned Sodje headed over.

Varney advanced threateningly, but Iwelumo managed to fall over at a crucial market, perhaps suggesting that watering the pitch before the game is not a good idea. Sam won Charlton a corner but it was caught by the keeper. Basey stopped a break by the Hoops. Luke Varney was played through so that he was one on one with the keeper. It was a chance to score but, under some pressure, he put the ball over.

A Charlton corner led to a break by the Hoops. Another Charlton corner was taken short, but there was no one in the box to collect the ball. Mills conceded a free kick in a dangerous position, but the ball went straight to Weaver. Reid combined well with Varney and a cross was provided for Iwelumo but he headed over. Varney burst through, but was offside.

Non-interventionist referee Lee Probert had a word with charm merchant Damion Stewart. Rangers were given a free kick in front of the D, but it came off the wall.

Half time: Addicks 0, Super Hoops 0

Thomas was brought on for Semedo immediately after the break. Zheng Zhi put in a shot. Fortune fouled an attacker in the box and a penalty was awarded. I could not read the number of the lump who took it but it came off the post and was cleared. Varney got himself in a good position, but was unable to take advantage. A Rangers corner had to be cleared off the line. A basic error by Mills put an attacker one on one with Weaver, but he put his shot wide.

Luke Varney put in a decent shot which was saved for a Charlton corner. Thomas went down and required treatment. Thomas won a rather lucky free kick for Charlton in a promising position. On 71 minutes the inevitable happend and with Weaver come off his line and then being fouled, QPR were able to score their winning goal.

Sam and then Zheng Zhi won Charlton corners, but they are rarely productive. The Wiltshire Wizard, Lee Probert, realised that his cards could have a magical effect and booked Sam for a foul that was no worse than some of the efforts of the Hoops. Sam won the Addicks a free kick on the edge of the box which led to a Charlton corner, but his reward was to be taken off in favour of Racon.

Reid received a yellow card for dissent. The match was running down, the Addickted were streaming out and nothing could be done to avoid a humiliating defeat.

Match analysis

Monty Martin was brought in as match analyst in place of Ivy the Terrible who spent the day on a refresher course with Hooch the Pooch who urged 'we dogs know more about the game than Rob Styles.' Monts left his usual luck behind in Blewbury, Oxon but he did have the honour of presenting the Silver Bone to left back Grant Basey on his first ever appearance from the Addicks. The youngster looked very nervous before the match, but rarely put a foot wrong and provided some precision passes. Weaver made two great saves. Although he was at fault for the goal, Joe the Saint texted us to say that the television replay showed that he was fouled. Fortune showed as usual that he does not deal with pressure well and is error prone, giving away a penalty. Sodje was no great improvement as centre back. Mills had a mare of a game, nearly gifting a goal to the opposition. I thought that Semedo played reasonably well in the first half and was disappointed to see him taken off. Zheng Zhi showed a few flashes, but lacked consistency, particular in front of goal. Sam was one of the better plays on the park, showing an ability to penetrate the opposition defence and it was disappointing to see him withdrawn. Reid has been below par since he returned from the international break and it affects the whole team. Varney came as near as anyone to scoring. Iwelumo gets hustled off the ball too easily. Thomas more sulky than silky when he came on and contributed little to the game. McLeod once again showed that his League 2 pedigree cuts no ice in the Championship. Racon had a cameo and was anonymous.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to London Underground. Our train was halted at Waterloo and Waterloo East, but no explanation was given of how long the delay would be, otherwise we would have got off and got a surface train earlier. I nearly missed the match and Maggie only got there at the start. Sort it out Ken!

Crowd rating: Very subdued in the first half apart from one shout of 'You're going down with the Palace.' Got behind the team more in the second half, although there were sprinkled boos of exasperation.

Friday 26 October 2007

Dowie favourite for Foxes

The bookies are offering 6-4 odds on Iain Dowie being the next manager at Leicester City after Gary Megson left to join Premiership Bolton. Dowie has shown that he can talk the talk, relegating Palace; instigating the relegation of Charlton; and now seeing Coventry City head towards administration.

However, Dowie is refusing to be drawn, emphasising that he is preparing his squad for tomorrow's big game against Colchester United. Ticket prices have been slashed to £10 in a bid to tempt fans into the Ricoh.

Match preview

Iain Dowie's saviour, Faye Tozer

My perception of football clubs tends to be influenced by where they were in the 1960s. So I always think of QPR as a third division (south) team, even though they had a period when they were riding high in the top flight. Of course, it is always possible that some day an often projected merger between Brentford, Fulham and the Super Hoops might produce a West London team. I hope not.

Fans who delight in reading the next result off the last one (or two) are forecasting a home defeat tomorrow, but I am (somewhat rashly) going with Killer's prediction of 2-0. After all, we will have Lloyd Sam back and I am predicting that both goals will come from midfield.

If you want to feel really gloomy, then try being a Coventry fan. The club is hovering on the brink of administration and a campaign by the Coventry Evening Telegraph which has now enrolled a relatively unknown actress who once played Lady Godiva failed to boost attendances at the Ricoh earlier in the week (just over 17,000 to see the Sly Blues play Watford).

Midlands Today interviewed me in my office yesterday, possibly to be shown tonight, in the hope that I could offer a few words of comfort to Iain Dowie. Although they may be in for a bumpy few months, I think that Coventry will survive as a club. But it reminds us how quickly things can go badly wrong.

It's Lee Probert

Lee Probert

Lee Probert from Wiltshire is the referee at The Valley tomorrow. Will he play to the cameras or get on with quietly and efficiently supervising the match? He has refereed at least two Premiership matches this season: watch out for yellow cards for over enthusiastic celebration as he gave one at Villa.

He is obviously a fit guy, but rates less well on communication, fairness and flow, but that could be true of many referees this season:

Communication 2.92
Consistency 3.07
Control 3.13
Fairness 2.87
Fitness 3.50
Flow 2.89
Positioning 3.18
Total 21.56

Over fourteen matches, he has given four penalties which suggests a 1 in 3 chance of seeing one at The Valley tomorrow, possibly as a clumsy Charlton defender brings down a Super Hoop. He has only given out one red card, but gives out about three yellows a game which is 30 per cent of the level achieved by Rob Styles at The Valley. He can't be any worse.

However, he is strongly disliked by the Super Hoops. One of their sites is running a Lee Probert award for gross incompetence, forecasting that the man himself will be the winner this season.

Special Halloween offer

If you go into the club shop tomorrow, you will find a special offer guaranteed to scare friends and neighbours, and especially fellow Addicks, over Halloween.

Yes, it's a Rob Styles mask! It comes with special restricted vision goggles to prevent you seeing injury causing tackles and a hearing aid to pick up derogatory comments from players. Fully equipped with set of red and yellow cards, including replacements if the first ones wear out. There are also instructions on strutting up and down in a self important manner and a card stating 'Please give me police protection.'

A club spokesperson refused to comment on reports that there would be a special Rob Styles guy for the bonfire. 'At the moment we are concentrating on our popular Orange One line.'

Thursday 25 October 2007

After Todorov?

With Todorov out for the rest of the season, there is now a range of attacking options for those who like to play the Charlton version of Championship manager. Iwelumo and Varney in a 4-4-2 is the conventional solution likely to be favoured by Pards. Others see merit in a 4-5-1 with Zheng Zhi in the hole behind Big Chris (who seems to show a remarkable inability to score with his head).

Others are advocating the merits of McLeod even though he has leapt two divisions and has so far failed to impress. Could he be the new Lisbie? One experienced Addick commented, 'at the present, it appears he offers a lot of the same things that Lisbie did (speed, opening space) and did not (finish, score goals).
So it is amusing that some who were so anti-Lisbie are now baying for McLeod.'

Meanwhile it has revealed that novice commentator Ivy the Terrible has been dropped from Saturday's match. A visit today from her personal trainer led to the verdict that she was 'too nervous' about the fixture. There is also an advantage in having a dog reporter who lives nearer the ground for such an early kick off so lucky spaniel Monty 'Monts' Martin has been drafted in from Blewbury, Oxon. It is rare for him to come to a match that Charlton fail to win.

Time for a reality check

Electronic discussion of Charlton has seen some complaints about Pards surface. Every fan is entitled to express their views about team selection and formations, but I doubt whether we would get a better manager at the present time. Of course, no one is (as far as I know) demanding his removal, merely saying 'Sort it out, Pardew' (which somehow doesn't have quite the same resonance as 'Sort it out Curbishley.'

I think it is time for a bit of a reality check. We are not going to get back to the Premiership easily. In fact I don't think we will in one season. I think we could well make the play offs this year, but they are always a lottery.

The club's financial position, according to some sources, is more difficult than has been revealed. Richard Murray may well feel that, after years of selfless effort, he has taken the club as far as he can. But at the moment there is no sign of a bidder. And, indeed, clubs like Coventry City are likely to be available at a knockdown price.

Gloomsterism is extending to Saturday's match against the Super Hoops. I was pessimistic about the Plymouth match: I hoped we might get a point, but my sense was that it was an away win. QPR will play the same game at Preston, defending doggedly for the point and hoping to sneak a goal against our porous defence. Nevertheless, I think that we will actually get three points on Saturday.

But it's going to be a long hard season. Supporting Charlton is rarely an easy ride, particularly at the moment.

Wednesday 24 October 2007

Club picks up fine

Charlton have been fined a mandatory £5,000 for the six cards picked up last night. From what I've heard of the match it was referee Styles who should have been fined. At least his request for a police escort from The Valley was reportedly denied.

Todorov is going for a scan on his knee injury today and it doesn't look good. The tackle that produced the injury did not even merit a yellow card, although Plymouth manager Holloway had the good grace to admit that his player should have been booked.

It's a small world. One of the people I met at my CEO's last night asked me if I was a Charlton supporter. Today he sent me this message:

'I used to be coached by keith peacock years ago in my school football team [Alexander McLeod, Abbey Wood], and have fond memories of saturdays spent at the Valley cheering Charlton on. Gavin peacock, keith's son, also used to stand on the touch line sometime and cheer us on in the school team: all a long time ago now, but formative stuff nonetheless.'

So he'll be a good person to work with ...

Can Youga be brought back?

One of Charlton's greatest challenges at the moment is the left-bank position. Sir Chris Powell is out for a few weeks and was being asked to do too much anyway. Thatcher has just had another op on his knee and will doubtless spend more time on the dreaded Sparrows Lane treatment table. A lot of the Addickted favour bringing in Grant Basey to start, but in my view that is a high risk option.

Kelly Youga has been filling the position in the Championship at Scunthorpe. Could he be brought back to The Valley? Only someone like Peter Varney or one of his acolytes could give an authoritative 'urbis et orbe' pronouncement. But the Scunthorpe site and a Sky Story suggest that Youga is on a 'long-term' loan that cannot be ended before 6 January 2008. Close, but no cigar.

Canaries interview Parkinson

The South London Press acts as a kind of Pravda for Charlton so we have to take a report that Norwich have interviewed Phil Parkinson for the managerial vacancy seriously, although he is not the only name in the frame:

Should Pards ever get fed up with trying to get Charlton out of the Championship, it has always been assumed that Parkinson was being groomed as a replacement, hence the efforts made to stop him going to Huddersfield in the close season. Of course, we already have two ex Charlton players on the coaching staff (Kins and Mark Robson), while Paul Mortimer is with the women's team. In the longer run, many Addickted would like to see Sir Chris Powell as a coach.

A new explanation has emerged for Charlton's defeat yesterday: Rick Everitt travelled to the game on one of his own Rickshaws, thus bringing bad luck from his half term break location.

Calls are already being made to strengthen the side at Christmas and while there are obvious gaps, it is far from clear how much money is available. Unless someone with substantial funds acquires the club, it is always going to be limited for resources.

Tuesday 23 October 2007

First home defeat of season

Charlton were beaten 2-1 by Plymouth at The Valley this evening to suffer their first home defeat of the season. Ten players in total were booked, four from Charlton, by referee Rob Styles. I had been feeling pessimistic about the match and made the right decision in going to my CEO's farmhouse to be invited to join a small planning group for a key project.

The Pilgrims went ahead within five minutes, but Charlton equalised after 12 when a Danny Mills effort rolled off the keeper. Charlton suffered a blow after 31 minutes when Todorov, part of a three man attacking formation including Varney on the wing, was taken off with an apparently serious injury and replaced by McLeod. Seven minutes later Plymouth went ahead with Hales.

Charlton piled on the pressure in the second half with Semedo and Zheng Zhi looking lively. However, Iwelumo and Reid missed chances to score, the former putting his effort just wide. Thomas was brought on after 71 minutes and managed to put in some good crosses. However, the Pilgrims were camped out in their own half and were able to withtstand Charlton pressure.

No doubt excessive Charlton expectations will now give way to an outbreak of gloomsterism. But we are still in the play off places and I think we can be there at the end of the season.

Watford surged ahead with a 3-0 win over troubled Coventry, West Brom managed to beat an impressive Blackpool at home 2-1 and Palace celebrated the arrival of Neil Warnock with a 1-3 home defeat to Stoke.

Rob Styles shock

Controversial and error prone referee Rob Styles from Waterlooville, Hants. is the referee for tonight's clash at The Valley. Earlier in the season he was suspended from Premiership refereeing for one week after some bizarre decisions in the match between Chelsea and Liverpool.

A surveyor by trade, Styles seems to have some difficulties in relation to penalty decisions and issuing cards. Goodness knows how he will affect the match tonight, but it adds an additional element of unpredictability.

More trouble for Dowie

Reasonably successful clubs seem to run into problems when they encounter Iain Dowie.
I have just been on air on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire trying to calm down agitated Sky Blue fans.

Not because of tonight's clash with Championship leaders Watford, but because the Football League have banned the indebted club from transferring and loaning players.
In practical terms, Coventry have little option but to go into administration and incur a ten point penalty. They have sky rocketing debts and few assets as they rent the Ricoh.

It shouldn't be a problem for Dowie if he can't spend his way out of trouble as having a lot of money available to him at The Valley saw most of it wasted, creating ongoing financial problems for the club which, it has been suggested, are more serious than is generally realised. Perhaps he will find his level in League 1.

However, one has to feel a bit sorry for someone who is being pursued by the Orange One for a court settlement arising from his move north to Charlton.

Plymouth fly in

The Plymouth Argyle team is flying to tonight's match at The Valley. They will then spend the night in the capital before returning to the banks of the Tamar tomorrow.

I lived in Devon for two years, but the view was always that Plymouth was not part of the Royal Duchy and I can see why. It reminds me of Ali G's remark about Wales, 'I don't know much about Wales, but I hear it's crap.' Of course, the city took a real pasting from the Luftwaffe in the Second World War and an even bigger pasting from post-war civic planners (who also afflicted Coventry), although I heard that the city centre is now being spruced up.

To be fair when we went to Home Park a few years back for a pre-season friendly we got a warm welcome from the locals who thought we had come 'frommm Lonnddon'. This was at a time when Jason Euell was really on song and he scored a superb goal that was applauded by the home fans.

Much of the attention on the other blogs is understandably on the left back dilemma. There is talk of Semedo being moved there, but he has been playing well in midfield. In my view he is a fluent passer of the ball.

However, he is already No.2 scapegoat (after Ambrose) for the Bloke Behind Me and his electronic equivalents. I was puzzling why this was and it occurred to me that defensive midfielders have never been that popular at Charlton. It was the case with 'Squib' Hammond (although he was called a half back in those days) about whom I had my first football argument with my father who understandably thought he knew more about than he did given that he had played left half in non-league football. Keith Jones also attracted derision. Many fans favour all out attack and resent the player who keeps possession even if it means retreating (although Semedo is very good at putting long and accurate passes forward).

There is also talk of McCarthy moving into the position, but given that Bougherra has been ill, McCarthy may be required to create a gaping hole in the central defence, not that it isn't weak enough already. Ambrose is also doubtful, although many Charlton fans think he is downright useless. He does at least get himself to good positions, but then panics and fails to exploit them.

Charlton fans always like to see a youngster from the Academy in the team, being rather prone to a romantic 'Roy of the Rovers' view of football so the call has gone up for Grant Basey to play (or at least be on the bench, which is a more reasonable request). There is a big difference between success in League 2 and success in the Championship.

Indeed, the line between success and failure for any young player is thin. Take striker Ben Mackie at Leamington. At 16 he was the youngest ever player to feature in the Coventry first team for a league match. Now he is at the fourth level at the non-league, albeit under contract as it is thought that a higher level non-league team will sooner or later come in for him. Take a look at one of his latest goals here: Mackie (Scroll down, you may need to click twice). He has a good eye for goal and can turn well, but, as you can see, he's carrying a bit of weight and is alleged to like a burger washed down with a can or two of lager.

I have always thought that we would be in the mix this season, but not automatic promotion candidates. There has to be some lowering of unrealistic expectations. I think we should manage to just beat Plymouth tonight by a margin of 2-1, but if we start giving away easy goals again it could easily be 2-2 or even 2-3.

I can't be there but, in the words of Peter Varney, enjoy the game.

Monday 22 October 2007

Pilgrims to play unchanged side

West Country teams have been the surprise package of this season's Championship competition and a confident Plymouth are expected to field an unchanged side at The Valley tomorrow night, while Pards struggles with selection dilemmas at left back with Sir Chris Powell out with an ankle injury:

I won't be able to make tomorrow night as I have been asked by my CEO to his farmhouse for drinks. This is a very rare invitation, not surprising given that he employs 6,000 people. I haven't met the current CEO, so I had better go!

Saturday 20 October 2007

Half full and half empty

Charlton's 2-0 defeat by Wolves today was a case of the glass being both half full and half empty. Charlton were not at their best: defensive errors led to an easy opener for Wolves; the midfield was often off the pace; and there too many off target shots. However, it has to be admitted that Wolves played with determination.

Charlton had at least two chances to go ahead in the first half but they were wasted by Ambrose to whom they fell. Charlton edged the first half, but failed to score, but then some casual play by the Addicks allowed Wolves to take the lead immediately after the break. Charlton were then chasing the game and it was killed by a second Wolves goal.

Pards said afterward, 'In the first half we were in control, we should have got a goal in that period. Chasing the game was very difficult. Ultimately we have come away from here very disappointed and we must sort that out for Tuesday night.'

The game was preceded by a buffet lunch generously provided by Pelsall Addicks Graham and Jo Speller. Defrocked pitch announcer Brian Cole was among those there. As we set off for the ground in their people carrier, we decided that it could be designated an official 'Pelsall Rickshaw'.

Charlton started well, winning an early corner which led to a Wolves free kick. But then Chris Powell was brought down by a heavy tackle and in many ways this was the start of our troubles.

Zheng Zgi, Ambrose and Big Chris combined in a fluent move, but the ball was caught by the home side's impressive keeper. With Wolves making their first real attack, Ambrose averted danger at the expense of a corner which was punched out by Weaver.
Danny Mills intercepted well. Wolves broke and the ball flashed across the front of the Charlton goal. Even so, I thought that the Addicks were the better side in the first quarter of an hour.

Weaver made a great save, but perhaps should not have been exposed to danger in the first place. Ambrose won Charlton a corner taken by Reid. Wolves broke and Chris Powell was able to intervene to deal with the threat. Reid turned provider for Big Chris, but his effort went just wide. Although the officials generally had a good game, there was there an incident which looked like a Charlton corner to me was refused.

Ambrose found himself in front of goal, but possibly felt under pressure from defenders and blasted the shot over. Ambrose and Zheng Zhi ended up on the ground and both required treatment. Big Chris won Charlton a free kick and the effort from Ambrose went just over the bar. Bougherra provided good defensive work. Luke Varney, featured in the programme as a former factory worker, got a talking to by the referee after a vigorous tackle with the home crowd baying for a card.

The battering he had taken was too much for Sir Chris Powell and he was withdrawn in favour of Sodje. Wolves were stepping up the tempo in the hope of a goal before half time and in the three minutes added on Fortune made one of his trademark errors. Fortunately, it went unpunished.

Half time: Wolves 0, Addicks 0

At half time some lucky individual had the chance of winning a free pizza if he was in his or her seat when the Domino's man called. Two small cars were driven around the perimeter. For a moment we thought that Portchy had turned up in his cab, but they were too small for that purpose. 'I'll give you fifty for it,' shouted one Charlton wag. There was also a parade of primary school children as part of the 'Kick It Out' campaign. One reliable Charlton supporter told me that he thought he heard racist chanting later in the game, although I did not hear it myself.

Immediately after the break, Wolves looked determined and Charlton looked casual. Danny Mills unusually lost a tussle on the right, the ball was played in and former Addick Jay Bothroyd was able to score a simple goal to make it 1-0. Weaver was not really at fault, but Bougherra possibly was.

Luke Varney put in a shot that was saved. Zheng Zhi was brought down and the referee produced the first yellow card of the game. Danny Mills put in a shot from distance that clipped the top of the bar and was the nearest we came to scoring. What sweet revenge that would have been for the abuse he received!

Zheng Zhi was brought down yet again by one of McCarthy's charm merchants and Pards used the break in play to take off Bougherra and Ambrose and bring on Ambrose and Todorov. Zheng Zhi put in an effort that was just over. Then Varney put in a shot that drew a save from the keeper, but he put the rebound wide. It is in these situations that lack of top level experience shows.

A Charlton corner was over hit by the off form Reid. Another Charlton corner ended in a break for Wolves. It remains one of the areas of our play that needs most work. Another Charlton corner led to a break and a corner for Wolves. Thomas put in some good play down the wing, but, as is so often the case, it ended in nothing with the ball going into the side netting. As someone remarked, 'you can take the player out of Arsenal, but you can't take Arsenal out of the player.'

In trying to get the equaliser, Charlton exposed themselves to counter attack and Wolves were able to use a simple break to make it 2-0 through Henry. It was then game over, with Charlton's play becoming increasingly desperate and ragged. A Charlton corner gave slight hope of the possibility of a consolation goal, but Thomas blasted wide. With four minutes of time added on, many of the crowd of 24,058 began to drift out of the ground.

We are going to lose some matches even if we do get promoted and this was one of the more likely ones. But we have no divine right to go up and although the home matches against Plymouth and QPR offer the hope of six points, like any game in this division they will be tough and competitive.

Driving home we heard Scott Carson being sent off at Villa. At least we had the consolation of learning that Leamington had defeated higher level opposition in the FA Trophy, beating the Puritans (Banbury United) 2-0 in a local derby.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone and a special pair of silver ear muffs to Danny Mills. For reasons that were unclear the right back was booed and barracked throughout the game with repeated accusations that he was an Onanist. However, he came as near as any Charlton player to scoring. Weaver was not really at fault for the first goal, but could have done better for the second. The demands being made on Powell are taking their toll and he had to be withdrawn injured in the first half. Fortune made fewer errors than usual, although it would be interesting to study where he and Bougherra were for the first goal. Bougherra was eventually withdrawn, but it was not clear why. For me Semedo was one of the better players in the game, making some nice runs forward. Reid seemed to have suffered a bit from his two international matches with Ireland and also seemed to be drifting to the left a lot.
Ambrose seems to completely lose it in front of goal. Zheng Zhi forged forward from time to time, but his attempts on goal were poor. Varney looks promising from time to time, but often seems to lack that final polish. Iwelumo was closely marked and had relatively few opportunities to display his skill. When Sodje came on he at least showed versatility in what he was required to do. Todorov has some nice ball skills, but it doesn't lead to anything. Thomas made some good runs down the wing after he came on.

Hiss of the Match This was awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the continuous moaners among the Charlton crowd. OK, Charlton were not at their best, but a continuous stream of incentive, when linked with dubious football judgements, does little to improve one's mood. However, at least those people were there. What is even more annoying is electronic commentators who listen on the radio and then tell Pards how to sort it out.

Crowd rating: The thousand or so Addicks were up against a partisan Wolves crowd and were understandably subdued. It was also difficult to watch the match with the sun in one's face. 4/10.

Friday 19 October 2007

Wolves plagued by injury problems

Wolves continue to be plagued with injury problems in the run up to tomorrow's match against Charlton, smiling supremo Mick McCarthy having more than a little to worry about:

Things are looking up for Charlton with stories about Reid's ankle coming out of the Ireland camp looking as if they were exaggerated. The Charlton captain should be fit and available for tomorrow.

My favourite match at Molineux was on 11th January 2000 when the Addicks won there for the first time in 47 years. It was my 53rd birthday; Charlton had last won there in 1953, which was the year I started supporting the Addicks; I used to travel to matches on the 53 bus from Plumestead Common; and victory gave us 53 points. Moreover, five goals were scored in total, three of them for Charlton.

Nothing so dramatic tomorrow, I'm afraid. I'm agreeing with Killer and going for 1-1, which will leave us further behind Watford, as they have Hull at home.

Your referee tomorrow

Richard Beeby from Northamptonshire. He has been on the national referees' list since 1999 and in his mid-forties.

One comment I have found on him: 'Mr Beeby gave an atrocious performance in the Doncaster-Huddersfield game earlier this season, so imagine my surprise when he was given a couple of Premiership games and a big Carling Cup tie (which he ruined via his totally incorrect decision to dismiss the Barnet 'keeper). Either the system of assessment is totally wrong or the FA's approach is back to front- or both!'

Gooners left back turns down loan move

With Ben Thatcher out for the forseeable future, Cory Gibbs in his usual position on the treatment table and senior pro Sir Chris Powell being asked to play more matches than is reasonable, the Addicks badly need left back cover, but a young Gooner has turned down a move that Arsene Wenger was prepared to permit:

Talking of Gooners, did anyone hear one of their supporters giving it large on Radio 5 yesterday morning about the great history of the club. How they started off as Dial Square, then became Royal Arsenal and finally Woolwich Arsenal.

Nothing was said about how, after being Woolwich rejects, the Holloway club managed to get back into the top flight after the First World War despite being relegated before the war and then failing to finish in a promotion place in the then 2nd division. Glorious history?

Thursday 18 October 2007

Striker crisis at Wolves

With Freddy Eastwood now injured, Wolves supremo Mick McCarthy has only two of his five strikers fit to play against Charlton:

At nearby Halesowen Town, the subject of a takeover, it has been announced that Big Ron has join the management team. Get your translation pack here: Ronglish

At The Valley, Matt Holland is injured and looks like he will be out for three weeks.

Bothroyd and Eastwood likely to start

Jay Bothroyd and Freddy Eastwood are likely to start for Wolves against Charlton on Saturday:

It looks as if Pards may bring Alexandre Song back to The Valley on a loan in January which I think would be good news.

Andy Reid took part in Ireland's 1-1 draw with Cyprus last night which saw boos directed at hapless manager Steve Staunton.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Reid injury problems persist

Andy Reid has been sitting out training with the Ireland squad because of his ankle injury and is highly doubtful for the match against Cyprus:

This must make him doubtful for the match against Wolves on Saturday - and we badly need him for that game.

Apparently, Cory Gibbs has suffered a broken foot after falling awkwardly and will be out for eight to nine weeks. One has to feel sorry for him, but will he ever be fit?

Tuesday 16 October 2007

Let me loose on Addicks pleads Bothroyd

Former Addicks player Jay Bothroyd has pleaded with Wolves supremo Mick McCarthy to be let loose against his former club at Molineux on Saturday. The news has caused fear and consternation at Sparrows Lane where Bothroyd was known for his eye for goal against lower league clubs and his high work rate.

You can read the full story and the perceptive comments of Wolves supporters here:

Praise for Randolph

Republic of Ireland U21 boss Don Given has revealed he rates Darren Randolph as possibly the next great Irish goalkeeper, reveals Charlton's official E mail Bulletin.

The 20-year-old Addicks stopper was in top form as Ireland beat Sweden 3-2 in a friendly in Uppsala on Friday night, making some crucial saves, particularly in the first half.

Givens said: 'He is very laid back and takes everything in his stride. We'd have been 4-1 down at half-time if he hadn't been at his best against Sweden. The Swedes probably would have been choked to create that many chances and not scored, but Darren was very impressive.'

'I feel he has the potential to be the best Irish goalkeeper we've seen in years.'

Basey is back

Left back Grant Basey is back from a three month spell with Brentford during which he became a popular figure among Bees supporters.

The 18-year-old made 10 appearances for the Bees and impressed manager Terry Butcher during his stint with the League Two side. The supremo said that Basey had been 'terrific for us.' He received a round of applause from the other players in the dressing room when he left.

No doubt the left back curse at Charlton will now hit him and he will suffer an early injury in training.

Sir Bobby praises Reidy

Sir Bobby Robson has warm praise for Reidy and the way he ran the game against Germany, despite playing with a swollen ankle (not such good news for us though):

Cory Gibbs injured shock

Cory Gibbs was injured in last night's 2-0 reserves victory over Brighton and Hove Albion. Only a small band of the Addickted have ever seem him play, given the transfer of reserve games to Ebbsfleet Station. It increasingly looks as if he may not be the first Ivy League graduate to play for Charlton's first team.

Monday 15 October 2007

Miracle at Selhurst Park: image of Killer on pitch

An aerial photograph of Selhurst Park appears to show the face of 'Killer' Hales superimposed on the pitch. Decide for yourself:

What can this mean? Is it a sign that the Organge One will turn green? Or that Palace will be relegated?

The dream ticket at Selhurst

The Mail is not my favourite paper but Patrick Collins is a first rate football columnist and Charlton through and through. What he has to say on recent developments at Selhurst Park is well worth a look:

Llanera file for bankruptcy

A spokesman for Charlton said Llanera’s bankruptcy would have 'no immediate impact' on the club. He said: 'We’ve not had much luck with sponsors. This is somewhat ironic give that Llanera came in to rescue us when All:sports collapsed.

'The club’s stance has not changed considerably since Llanera’s financial difficulties first emerged. We were hoping they would come through it although it appears that is no longer going to happen.' [I do find this very suprising as central bank and other reliable sources in Spain were telling a very different story. I would have thought the club would have better information sources.]

'There is no affect [sic] on the club in the short term as they have already paid for their sponsorship this season, and it is too early to say what will happen in the close season.'

Presumably, there will be some elaboration of the short and somehwat bland statement that appeared in the last programme.

On the football front, former Addicks captain Luke Young has been called up to replace the injured Ashley Cole in the England squad for the key game against Russia.

Sunday 14 October 2007

Sunday joke from New Cross

According to a Sunday 'newspaper', the Spanners want Phil Parkinson as their new manager. Just think of the attractions:

* Rapid turnover of managers
* Support base weakened by numbers who are guests of Her Majesty
* Rusting stadium in salubrious setting

Remember that Parkinson turned down Huddersfield who have a good stadium and some prospects of getting back to the Championship.

Reid is Man of the Match

Charlton captain Andy Reid was Man of the Match in Ireland's goalless draw with Germany last night, following in the footsteps of Mark Kinsella as an Addick making a major contribution to the Reopublic's international side. Concerns that a swollen ankle would lead to Reid being substituted by a Mackem came to an end when the injury cleared up.

Just as he has recently expressed his optimism about Charlton, Andy Reid is also optimistic for the future of Irish football:


It's interesting to reflect that Ireland has a 32 county rugby team in international competitions. Will that ever happen in football?

Saturday 13 October 2007

Dickson scores against Spanners

Chris Dickson scored his fourth goal in two games when he scored the only goal in 1-1 draw between the Gills and the Spanners. According to the BBC: 'Dickson put Gillingham ahead when he collected Delroy Facey's pass on the edge of the box, side-stepped Paul Robinson, and fired home.' Sounds like a good goal.

The former Dulwich Hamlet ace looks as if he is making good use of his loan spell at Gillingham, although there is a gap between League 1 and the Championship.

Elsewhere, Leamington consolidated their lead at the top of the British Gas Business Midlands Division with a 1-0 win over Rothwell Town at the New Windmill Ground. Attendance was down to 354 with many people preferring to watch England's win against Estonia.

I was in Oxford where I saw students in subfusc process to the Radcliffe Camera in the morning to matriculate, heard an address by Chris Patten, the Chancellor and saw Shirley Williams who is in great form. There was also some discussion of the prospects for Southampton v. Charlton, the Saints having their following among college fellows.

Friday 12 October 2007

Poll slags off Warnock

Seems a bit of a case of pot calling kettle black, but Tring (and former Uranus) resident Graham Poll reckons Neil Warnock is one of the most unpopular men in football: Warnock

Thursday 11 October 2007

Brakes move for Blossom

Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Leamington have made a move for creative Banbury United midfielder Wayne Blossom. A number of players have left the club in recent weeks because the size of the squad means that they cannot all be guaranteed a regular game.

Enjoy the discomfiture of Marlow's keeper here: Brakes Scroll down and click twice.

Leamington's Friday night game against the Bones has now been re-scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the New Windmill Ground after Rothwell's floodlights were vandalised.

I still can't go as I'm 'in attendance' at Worcester College, Oxford, all day Saturday. At least I don't have to wear subfusc which makes you look like a superannuated waiter on the train. I remember once examining someone at Balliol on a hot summer's day and we only had to do a quick procession round the courtyard, but the candidate had to walk from near the railway station in full regalia being photographed by tourists: it probably made their day.

Worcester College is known for its extensive gardens which are not that visible from the road, hence why one of the key posts in the College is 'Master of the Gardens'.

One of the real treats in Oxford is All Souls with its hexagonal lunch room for the Fellows which was meant to encourage conversation, although in practice it doesn't. Another room has a network map of the powerful in Tudor England painted on the ceiling. The Mallard sign of the College is liberally in evidence: apparently at the turn of each century, the Fellows appear on the roof to sing 'The Mallard Song' but I missed that. I wonder what the tune is and if we could use it at The Valley.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Timing of Baggies match changed

Yo-yo team West Bromwich Albion are one of Charlton's main rivals for promotion and this has been reflected in a change in the timing of our away match at The Hawthorns. The December 15th contest at England's highest ground, Charlton¹s final away day before Christmas, has been moved forward to 12.45pm when it will be transmitted by Sky Sports.

The home match against the Super Hoops and the away match at Preston have also been affected by television requirements. But it's not as bad as in the Premiership.

Andy Reid picks up knock

Andy Reid has picked up a knock to his ankle which has swollen. However, a scan has not revealed any lasting damage and he should be able to start for Ireland against Germany on Saturday. Full story at: Reid

Reid is a key player for the Addicks and we can do without injury scares.

Warnock for Palace

Crystal Palace have called a press conference for 11 a.m. tomorrow at which Neil Warnock is expected to be unveiled as the new manager. It is anticipated that the conference will proceed without interruption from writ servers.

The Orange One commented: 'Leaders lead and the future has to be shaped. I am looking for a manager who knows the Championship inside out and who will make my players compete and thrive.' We shall see.

Greg Bone resigns

Greg Bone has resigned as a director of Charlton. He had been on the football and plc boards since 1994. He is thought to have been one of the initiators of the free season ticket idea.

His resignation was for 'personal reasons'. Nevertheless, it may revive speculation about the future course of the club, in particular what the extent of any debt is, how easily it can be serviced, and whether Richard Murray would like to move on.

Nothing more has been heard about a possible acquisition of the club which suggests that something has deterred prospective purchasers (or that they only exist in the imagination of journalists).

Fans at the moment are very pleased with the progress of the club on the pitch which has to be our main focus. We have a team that should get us to the Premiership, but not one that would keep us there, so more investment in the squad will (hopefully) become necessary.

Tuesday 9 October 2007

Dowie to face down Co-op

Former Charlton manager Iain Dowie is not going to apply for the vacant Palace job, but will tough it out at financially challenged Coventry City.

'It shouldn't happen to a club like Coventry, but if it does we'll have to cope,' said the embattled supremo. 'I've got a fantastic bunch of players who are giving me everything and I know they won't let me down, whatever happens. I've always said that more erudite people than me [I thought he was a rocket scientist - ed] have got to deal with the finncial situation.

'The take-over bid has been a longer-running saga than Crossroads.' [Please check if this is his favourite soap - ed]

Departing managing director Paul Fletcher has hinted that he was quitting after failing to provide Dowie with funds, even if not on the scale he had and spent so wisely at The Valley. Dowie commented, 'We all make mistakes in life and Paul at the time thought there would be money available to spend. I think everyone did and I certainly did.'

Coventry City owes the Co-op Bank £18 million and the Inland Revenue £3m, but the Co-op has refused to comment on what it will do, although local sources told me yesterday they were 'knocking at the club's door.' Multi-millionaire Coventry MP Geoffrey Robinson stands to lose a slice of his substantial fortune (around £18m), but had gone to ground yesterday and subsequently refused to comment.

Leave the final word to Dowie: 'everything at the club is set to move forward.' But in reality Project Premiership may be on hold.

Sacking at rust bucket

Both Charlton's South London 'rivals' had now sacked their managers in the last 24 hours. Following Millwall's 4-0 defeat at Carlisle, Willie Donachie has got the order of the boot at the Rust Bucket. In fact since George Graham left for Arsenal in 1988 the Spanners have had 15 managers in 21 years.

These events are a reminder of how well Charlton is run in general, whatever particular compliants we may have. It's difficult to think of the Spanners as serious rivals any more.

The club has made a serious effort to clean up its act, but it is doubtful whether it will benefit very much from the gentrification of Deptford which in any case is a slow process.

I note that the old Mercury offices by Deptford Station where Rick Everitt used to toil as sports editor are now home to a Christian outreach organisation. I think one could still get long odds on Rick becoming a preacher man though. Or at least he would only preach for Charlton.

Llanera latest

It appears that Llanera has received some bank funding to continue its projects, but the emphasis is on social housing and infrastructure rather than apartments for British expats:

In a short statement in the Charlton programme, Charlton chief executive Peter Varney emphasised that the collapse of Llanera had had no financial impact on Charlton. Presumably a substantial proportion of the season's sponsorship was paid up front. What the longer term implications will be remains to be seen.

In his regular column in the programme Varney called for more transparency in FA decisions, noting that the decision not to set aside Lloyd Sam's suspension was communicated in a one line E mail with no explanation of the decision. In fact Charlton paid £750 for this summary rejection.

Charlton has clashed with the FA on this subject in the past, but I think that Peter Varney is right to take up this matter. Too often football thinks that it is not subject to the same procedural requirements that apply elsewhere in society because matters should be settled in the 'world of football'.

At some point someone should seek a judicial review of these procedures, although one can understand why no one club wants to be the first to do so.

Monday 8 October 2007

Ex Addick granted bail

Former Addick Jamie Stuart has been given police bail until December 7th after voluntarily handing himself in to Essex Police. He gave his version of events that left York striker Chris Beardsley having to have two metal plates inserted into his broken jaw. Essex Police are now appealing to Grays and York fans who attended the game on 22nd September for their account of the incident.

Grays supremo Mick Woodward did not see the incident, but explained that it was due to an inadvertent movement of Stuart's elbow after his shirt was pulled by Beardsley. 'When he moved his arm to try and pull away, the other lad copped one,' explained Woodward.

Glaziers Sack Taylor

Crystal Palace have sacked Peter Taylor as manager after a poor start to the season even by their standards. The Glaziers have looked as if they might drop into League 1 (from whence they came when it was the Third Division South) rather than regain their rightful place in the Premiership.

It is not known yet who will have the privilege of being under the direction of the Orange One. However, it has been suggested that Neil Warnock is in the frame. The mouthy Cornish smallholder would be just about right for Palace.

Telephone conversations with local sources I have had today suggests that the seriousness of the situation at the Ricoh is beginning to sink in.

Sunday 7 October 2007

Coventry City face collapse

Coventry City, managed by Iain Dowie, face collapse after managing director Paul Fletcher resigned. All five potential investors have withdrawn their interest in the club. One of the most serious groups of investors appears to have been in the city in the past week, but felt unable to proceed with the deal.

Coventry have around £28m in debts and have no tangible assets as they are tenants at the Ricoh Arena which was built as part of efforts to regenerate North Coventry. It seems likely that the club will have to go into administration and it is possible that a buyer may then come forward.

Coventry City Council will not want to see the club disappear, given that it is an important flagship for a city that has faced many challenges. Given its emphasis on a West Midlands dimension to its current strategy, it is conceivable that Warwick University, located in Coventry, could be one of the parties that become involved in finding a way forward.

Saturday 6 October 2007

Valley of Disappointment

After going 1-0 ahead against Barnsley through a Zheng Zhi header, Charlton conceded a late goal so that the match ended in 1-1 draw. Once again the Addicks failed to hold on to a lead, but they also failed to take advantage of some chances earlier in the game, not least when Ambrose had the goal at his mercy.

So it was very much a Valley of Disappointment. Admittedly, the defeat of the Baggies at Southampton kept the Addicks 2nd in the table, two points ahead of the Baggies and also Bristol City who won the evening game. However, Watford increased their lead at the top of the table and we may come to rue these drawn games later in the season.

Maggie and I hunted around in the drawers for some shirts that did not have the name of an insolvent company on them. In the end we found a Mesh shirt signed by Keith Jones for me and a Redbus shirt for Maggie. Peter Varney had some reassuring words in the programme about Llanera and it may be that the Spanish central bank sources we have been relying on are unreliable. Given the uncertainties, I am pleased that Richard Youngs, who lives in Madrid, has agreed to act as our special correspondent on Llanera.

The pitch announcer was back, giving it large as if it was a boxing contest, 'a top of the table clash'. Interesting to see that Iwelumo and Barnsley front man Keyoda Odejayi warmly greeted each other, I don't know where they came across each other before.

Charlton started brightly and Andy Reid, who in my view was on top form, put in a great ball to Luke Varney but Barnsley's giant German keeper, Heinz Muller, whose diet clearly does not consist of yoghurt, saved easily.

Barnsley put in a shot through Grant McCann which was not too far wide, but putting them wide seems to be his speciality as we were to learn to our advantage later in the game. Barnsley's finishing was often quite woeful, particularly when Peruvian llama masquerading as footballer, Miguel Mostto, was involved. It was therefore even more frustrating that we were unable to finish them off and they got the point they came for.

Charlton broke, but then Barnsley launched a counter attack and one has to admit that they were pretty fast when they got going, but then llamas are quite speedy animals. On this occasion Chris Powell dealt with the threat well.

Good work by Big Chris led to a Charlton corner. The ball was played out to Andy Reid who rattled in a shot from distance that went off the crossbar. Iwelumo then won a free kick but it went straight to the keeper.

As the twenty minute mark passed Jose Semedo put in a great long angled ball to Danny Mills on the opposite side of the pitch. This to me showed Semedo at his best. Reid got through but was not able to take advantage of the situation. Reid then won the Addicks a corner but it was caught comfortably by Muller.

Jamal Campbell-Ryce won Barnsley a corner. He is another of our former players who many thought we should have kept and he certainly showed some agility for Barnsley. However, when he was out on of his loan spells I saw him play for Orient against Rushden and Diamonds and at that stage he failed to impress at that level. In the subsequent play after the corner, when Charlton had difficulty in getting rid of the ball, Luke Varney defended well. I think that one of his merits as a player is that he can help out in defence.

The problem in my view about Varney is this. He used to play in the league that Leamington were in last year. Leamington have some talented young players let go by academies. But, even if they had a few years at a club like Crewe, I still think it would take them a time to adjust to the Championship. (Leamington beat mighty Marlow 2-0 in the FA Trophy yesterday).

To return to the match, Danny Mills put in a rare poor ball. It was interesting to see Reid take his captain's role seriously and tell him in no uncertain terms. Set up by Iwelumo, Reid put a shot just wide.

The Tykes won a corner and for a short while the defence started to go into panic mode. There was then a crucial miss. Reid turned provider for Zheng Zhi who was just in front of goal but put his header over.

Iwelumo won Charlton a corner. Fortune had to go off, evidently ill rather than injured, and was taken down the tunnel while Sodje came on. The corner from Reid was rather a good one and flashed across the face of the goal, but no one was able to connect.

Charm merchant and persistent fouler Dennis Souza went down. A free kick led to a Charlton corner, but it all ended in a free kick for the Tykes. Semedo put in some more good play which makes me wonder why the likes of the Blokes Behind Me are having a go at him (but then they always have a go at defensive midfielders because they don't understand the role). Bougherra created needless danger by passing to a Barnsley player.

The match was getting a bit flat from the Addickted point of view, but then chants of 'Enger-land' started at both ends of the ground as the news filtered through of England's surprise victory over Australia in rugby. The Covered End saluted the egg chasers with a chorus of 'God Save Our Team'. As the half came to an end, 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' was played over the tannoy. Although the only sport I watch live is football (or Australian rules when I get the occasional chance), it was satisfying to see both Antipodean teams knocked out of the competition by European teams.

Before the half came to an end, Barnsley were still able to apply some pressure as they sought a late goal. They won a corner and Chris Powell conceded a second one. Bougherra defended well in front of the goal. Sodje put in a good defensive header.

Charlton failed to impose themselves on the game in the first half. One of the problems was that long balls were sent to Iwelumo who then got lumped down by a Tyke with the referee taking no action. As Peter Varney observed in the programme, Premiership referees observe the letter of the law. In my view Championship referees seem to take the 'it's a man's game' perspective which means that Australian rules type tactics are permissible.

Half time: Addicks 0, Tykes 0

Luke Varney was replaced by Todorov at the beginning of the half which was a good move by Pardew. Todorov had his shirt pulled in the box right in front of the lino who took no action and the referee waved play on. The lino received considerable advice about how to find details of his local branch of Specsavers on the internet.

Big Chris won Charlton a corner which was taken by Reid. It was a good one, but unfortunately Zheng Zhi's header skimmed along the top of the bar. Chris Powell went down and required quite extensive treatment. If he had had to go off, Semedo would have been switched to left back and Holland brought on.

Charm merchant Souza committed another blatant foul, but the referee took the view that such things are routine in the fourth division of the Newark Alliance from whence he came (or at least if he did blow he might not have a safe journey home). Barnsley put in a speculative shot from distance which was only just over.

Danny Mills won Charlton a corner which was taken short and was ultimately unproductive. Reid passed to Ambrose but his effort was saved. Then with an open goal before him, Ambrose put the ball just wide. Instead of blasting the shot in, when the worst case would have been a rebound from which someone else would have scored, he used the outside of his foot.

Shortly afterwards the hapless Ambrose was replaced by the sulky but silky Jerome Thomas. He quickly won a corner for the Addicks. Dominik Werlng, a German who was most recently playing in Turkey, and somewhat oddly was wearing the No.55 shirt, was booked for a foul on Mills. The charm merchant then had to be bandaged round his head as unfortunately a part of Danny's anatomy had inadvertently made contact with him. We were all very sorry to see a Tyke get a taste of their own medicine.

Reid won Charlton a corner. An effort by the tireless Mills went over. A Reid free kick led to a Charlton corner. A Sodje header looked as if it was going in, but somehow it was cleared off the line.

The pressure was mounting and on 86 minutes Zheng Zhi headed the ball in the net. It's a long time since I have enjoyed a goal so much. Unfortunately Davey decided to take off the hapless llama Mostto, who could have a taken a southern cone for all I know so useless was he, and brought on Dane Kim Christensen who proved to be our nemesis.

The referee was finally waking up to the fact that he was supposed to regulate the game and booked charm merchant De Silva for going in with his studs up. The resultant free kick led to a Charlton corner. This was taken short, but despite good work by Zheng Zhi the decisive second goal failed to come.

Barnsley won a free kick in a dangerous position on the West Stand side. Weaver saved on the line, but he came closs to spilling it. Then on 90 minutes a decent cross allowed Christensen to put the ball in the net to make it 1-1.

Five minutes on time were added on. A Charlton corner was wasted. There was also the risk that Barnsley could take all three points and McCann found himself one on one with Weaver, but put the ball wide. Todorov had a half chance, but sent the ball straight to the keeper.

The visiting fans, who had been noisy all game. went beserk at an away draw (whereas our draw at Coventry was greeted by warm applause but nothing more). It's all about expectations, but when Barnsley did have a season in the Premiership they didn't take it seriously and were hammered.

Barnsley are a well organised side, but we should have imposed ourselves on them more in the first half. Some people think that we are a bit too much like Arsenal, spending too much time on slow build ups and fluent passing. However, I am not sure that speculative shots would get us anywhere. As we know, it's a tough league and we are seen as a team to draw against or even beat.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible awarded the Silver Bone to Andy Reid for his excellent passing throughout the game. Indeed, he nearly scored once when he rattled the crossbar. Weaver could not do very much about the Barnsley goal, but until then he had only really been tested once. Bougherra and Fortune always make me nervous when they have the ball and although they were generally solid today, it would be interesting to look at Bougherra's positioning in relation to the goal, Fortune having gone off injured (or ill) in the first half. Bougherra has a strange habit of slipping up on the pitch which he did twice yesterday at crucial moments, can someone have a look at his studs? Chris Powell generally positioned himself well and made some good contributions. Danny Mills was once again one of the better players on the pitch, often posing a menace in attack. Semedo busied himself and, apart from a couple of errors, made some good contributions. Zheng Zhi came into the game much more in the second half and was looking increasingly threatening in the period leading up to his goal. Ambrose once again disappointed and didn't look too comfortable in his assigned position. Varney lacked a real edge and it was no surprise when he was withdrawn at half time. Iwelumo tried to get himself in promising positions, but was constantly being fouled. Sodje was generally solid and nearly scored, although he also made one or two errors. Todorov displayed some excellent ball control but never looked threatening. Thomas made some good runs down the wing, but had insufficient time to make a decisive impact.

Hiss of the Match This was given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to inept referee Mr Joslin. He was very reluctant to punish persistent fouling by Barnsley. He should go back to the Newark Alliance from whence he came.

Crowd rating: Took a time to get going, but better as the second half went on. 6/10.

Industrial language

There's been a certain amount of debate on the mailing list run by Glynne Jones about offensive chanting at football matches. The debate was started by Richard Redden, one time club historian (a good book), but now apparently more interested in being a moral policeman. Perhaps he could re-start one of those 18th/19th century societies for the 'Preservation of Public Morals'.

People today have increasingly pressurised jobs in which they also have to be careful about what they say to whom. No wonder that sometimes they let off steam at a football match. That doesn't mean that persistent abusive swaring is ok. Fortunately, in the UK at any rate, racist chanting seems to have been more or less stamped out,

Have a look at this clip of a match between the Bones and the Brakes for some 'banter' between fans, but be warned that there is industrial language (scroll down, you may also have to click on twice to get it started):


Friday 5 October 2007

One Nicky Weaver

Interesting interview with Charlton's keeper as he aims for another clean sheet at The Valley and talks about why he decided to leave the Premiership for the Addicks:

Your referee tomorrow

After two stellar performances by referees at Coventry and Hull, look forward tomorrow to meeting Phil Joslin from Nottinghamshire. Not so long ago Phil was refereeing in the Newark Alliance, 4th Division. Don't expect the game to flow too well, as that's not his strong point. More here:

Come back Graham Poll, all is forgiven!

Barnsley preview

One of the biggest challenges tomorrow will be finding a shirt that doesn't have the name of an insolvent company on it. Are Viglen still in business? Someone I know still wears his Woolwich shirt.

Barnsley are clearly a well organised side who have got to fourth in the table. They are going around saying that that it's a big test against an ex Premiership side, clearly hoping for a draw and bragging rights. All this overlooks the fact that very few of the Premiership players are left.

Their main man seems to have been Brian Howard who's nabbed 6 goals from midfield this season, plus 4 yellow cards already. Unlike the Chicago Addick, I don't remember any really great games against the Tykes, although I seem to remember Sweaty Balmer getting sent off for a second yellow in one encounter.

Sam's suspension clearly poses a few problems, plus the fact that Ambrose may be injured. Given that we need width, it would seem to be a case for the recall of the sulky but talented Jerome Thomas. Matt Holland looked well up for it at Coventry and could be back in if Ambrose is not available. At any rate he should be available on the bench for a rough and tumble game.

It should be a 2-1 win for the Addicks, but I feel a bit uneasy about this one and it could be a 1-1 draw.

Cruise control ends in Brakes failure

Leamington crashed out of the Birmingham Senior Cup last night at the New Windmill Ground, defeated 0-1 by Midland Alliance outfit Studley in front of a crowd of 262. There were a number of signs that the game was not being taken that seriously: the loudspeakers on the Sheepside were not working; there was no raffle in the Vice-Presidents' lounge; and the Darren Randolph of Leamington, Chris Gibson, was in goal. Clearly and understandably the focus is on Saturday's FA Trophy clash with mighty Marlow.

Brakes started the game as if it was a training match, fluently passing the ball around and keeping possession in the anticipation that a goal would come sooner or later. It didn't, the best chance coming just before half time through Jon Adams who had come down for a game as he has not been getting much of a chance at Telford United. He was partnered in midfield by veteran Morton Titterton who is normally assistant coach.

Studley were clearly up for it and scored a simple goal on 46 minutes through Bryan Field. Brakes increasingly laid siege to the Studley goal, but were unable to penetrate the flat back eight maintained by the visitors. Richard Adams was brought on to join his brother and even Ben Mackey, but it was to no avail.

It's a kind of non-league equivalent of the Carling Cup, but one was still left with a sense of disappointment, knowing that the side is better than this.

Thursday 4 October 2007

Same old Charlton, always cheating

Judge for yourself at:
Hull brawl

I think it will be difficult for the FA to make a federal case out of it, but I am not too optimistic about Sam getting his red card rescinded.

Breaking News We had just posted this when we heard the appeal had failed and the three match ban stands. Apparently the ref thinks that he got in a couple of punches not seen by the camera.

Thursday night is football night

Leamington have to play three matches in five days, with a FA Trophy match at home against Marlow on Saturday. Thursday is one of the least used nights in the week for football. However, tonight we won't be going to Tesco's as it's Studley at home in the Birmigham Senior Cup.

Studley are still in the Midland Alliance and no doubt we will be eager to put one over the Manchester United of Warwickshire non-league football as Brakes are perceived to be. When Boldemere St.Micheal's inflicted a rare defeat on Leamington last season, you would think they had won the World Cup.

Away fans in non-league football can be really fanatical and no doubt we will hear the dulcet west country tones of Worcestershire tonight. It's remarkable how much accents can change over twenty miles or so. The Leamington accent is an underlay of rural Warwickshire (of the kind one of my sons-in-law speaks) and (to my ear) an overlay of Brummie. It's like the old South-East London accent was a mixture of rural Kent and 'Cockney'.

We complain about referees in the Championship, but apparently the referee at Malvern on Tuesday night was blind in one eye. That's all right if you are prime minister, but it's a bit of a problem for a ref and gives the shout of 'Are you blind?' a new edge.

It's not easy for Cadzy with so many players having work commitments, but fortunately the squad is large, so we will surely see some rotation from the 'Tinkerman'. We hope to have a match report here by around 10 p.m.

Baggies do us a favour

The Baggies did us a favour by drawing 1-1 against Stoke last night and we remain 2nd. It will be a tough encounter against Barnsley on Saturday, but I am confident. Remember this is not the same as a Premiership team that is 4th. I was struck at the Coventry match how big the gap was in standard compared with a Premiership game.

Meanwhile, we can offer you a preview of Peter Varney's remarks on Llanera in the programme: 'You may have read in the newspapers that our sponors, Llanera, have gone bankrupt. Naturally we are disappointed that such a fruitful partnership has ended in this way and we extend our best wishes to our friends at Llanera as they enter insolvency. I appreciate that some Charlton supporters have bought apartments which have not been completed or even started, but in a sense this is not so different from buying Cory Gibbs and finding out that he cannot play.'

'The board is already in informal discussions with a number of new potential sponsors and we hope to make an announcement before long. One avenue we are exploring is getting a Welsh sponsor so that one could simply post a patch after "Llan" as in 'Llandrindod Wells Hotel'. This would enable us to make the best possible use of our existing stock. Meanwhile, wear your shirt with pride and enjoy the game.'

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Llanera declares insolvency

As predicted by Spanish sources on this blog earlier in the week, Llanera has declared insolvency with debts approaching €750m:

Presumably Charlton will now look for a new sponsor, indeed informal feelers may already have been put out. Perhaps a firm specialising in insolvency might be appropriate?

Although the deal was worth over £600,000 in the Premiership, it was presumably worth less in the Championship. It is not known if any of this year's money has been paid. To put the sum involved in proportion, the 'parachute' payments provide around £11m.

Brakes ahead in places race

Leamington are now ahead of Charlton in the places race, leading the BGB Business Midlands Division in their first season at the fourth level of non-league. They beat Malvern Town 2-0 at the Waterboys' ground last night. Their next match is at home tomorrow night to Studley in the Birmingham Senior Cup and once again we will be the only Charlton site offering a report of the action from The New Windmill Ground.

Referee gave in to Addicks pressure

Hull manager Phil Brown has claimed that the referee was swayed by pressure from Charlton players at last night's clash. Following an eighteen man brawl, he was going to send off Lloyd Sam but only book Hull charm merchant Iain Ashbee. However, Charlton players then intervened to tell the referee what to do. Reading this shocking story of big club dominance here:

Both clubs may face a FA investigation after the ruckus in which Danny Mills tried to act as peacemaker.

Charlton's unfair victory at Hull follows the failure of Coventry to defeat a poorer side on Saturday. Sometimes I wonder what these provincial dailies are on. At least the reports in the Greenwich Mercury can be critical of poor performances by the Addicks.

Maggie listened with amusement to two Coventry fans on the bus yesterday complaining that their players let them down by failing to beat a poor side like Charlton.

It's a crying shame.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Job done

Charlton took an important three points by winning 2-1 at Hull City tonight. Bristol City went down 3-0 at Barnsley, but Watford won 2-1 at home against Sheffield Wednesday. Palace went down 1-0 at Plymouth.

It was Luke Varney who put Charlton ahead after 41 minutes. But then Lloyd Sam was sent off for violent conduct after a tussle spotted by the lino between him and Hull charm merchant Ashbee. This means that he will miss three matches. Pards chose a 4-4-1 after the break while the Tigers went for 4-3-2.

Danny Mills hit the crossbar in the second half, but then Chris Iwelumo seemed to put the game beyond doubt on 89 minutes. However, a pass from ex Addick Bryan Hughes set up McPhee to get Hull back in the game on 90 minutes. There was some twelve minutes of time added on as Hull blasted hopefull balls into the box. Clearly the referee needed a whip round for a watch.

One positive was the performance of the defence with Weaver making good saves in each half. Both strikers scored after a slightly below par performance at Coventry. The result put the Addicks back in 2nd place, although the Baggies did not play tonight.

Some Addicks claim that Charlton are an average team. But if they can beat below average teams away, that's good enough.

Former Addick is up for game

Former Addick Michael Turner will feature against Charlton at the KC Stadium tonight. Some Addicks think he was one of the best younger players we have let go in recent years and should have been given a chance in the Charlton first time. He found his way to Hull via Brentford.

'It's always nice to play against your former clubs because you're up for it and ready to prove a point,' he told the Hull Daily Mail. 'I've obviously got fond memories of the place and had some great times. I had a memorable time in Italy with Internazionale as part of a youth team swap, and we also managed to win the reserve league when I was there.'

'I was disappointed at the time that I didn't manage to get a first-team appearance, but it was at a time they were doing well in the Premier League.' He did make an appearance at The Valley for the Bees in the FA Cup in February 2006.

Can we twist the tigers' tails?

Here is your cut out and keep picture of Dean Windass. It may useful at Halloween

The Addicks face a tough challenge at Hull City tonight. The Tigers are not far behind Charlton and are on a roll after snarling up The Tractors. Very few Addicks will be able to make the journey. Even Paul May cannot go as it would have meant two days off work, so we will not have a live report tonight.

Some doubts have been expressed about the performance of Iwelumo and Varney at Coventry and Todorov may be recalled given that he is probably better at holding up the ball. Or Pards may switch to a 4-5-1 with Matt Holland added to the middle of the park, although he went for 4-4-2 at Coventry.

Let's hope they have a better journey up than they did on Saturday. Of course, they could fly from London City to Humberside, but those days are over, for now at any rate.

I'm not too confident as I think our central defence is unpredictable and I am going for a 2-2 draw.

Leamington travel to the attractive town of Malvern, although I can't make that match either. The Waterboys are currently at the foot of the Southern League Midlands Division (sorry, BGB Business League), having been promoted from the Midland Alliance the year before Leamington.

Having only collected one point, an early return looks on the cards. Provided too many players are not unavailable because of work commitments (e.g., PC Richard Adams) or have not had too hard a day on the removals van, Leamington should manage to win 2-1, perhaps going ahead of Charlton in the places race.

Monday 1 October 2007

Tigers attack has combined age of 69

Henrik Pedersen and Dean Windass will again lead the attack for Hull against Charlton tomorrow. The Tigers are set to name an unchanged side following the 3-1 home victory over Ipswich.

Pedersen is 31, but Windass is 38, giving a combined age for the strike force of 69. Windass was born in the former fishing port and after being a YTS trainee at the club played for North Ferriby United. He has now returned to his native heath. Whilst playing in Scotland, he received the dubious distinction of earning three red cards in one game, the last for taking out his rage on the corner flag.

I saw Hull play at Turf Moor last season when Phil Parkinson was still in charge. They were rubbish that day and were lucky not to lose by more than 2-0. On view that day was Danny Mills who was then on loan with the Humberside club.

We went to Hull once on our way up to an away game at 'Boro to visit an old university friend. We knew she had recently been divorced in somewhat acrimonious circumstances. What we didn't know was that her husband claimed to be the No.1 Addicks fan on Humberside, coming from SE7 originally.

Coventry were the better team, dominated game

That's the unsurprising verdict of the Coventry Evening Telegraph in relation to Saturday's game at the Ricoh. But then as an advert at the stadium says the Telegraph is 'Sky Blue through and through.' How, then, did Coventry fail to win if they played the better football? Apparently they 'lacked guile in the final third' which is something given the performance put in by our central defence. Read the whole story about the attempted 'smash and grab raid from London' here:
The Sky is Blue

We contract with a private hire firm and my favourite driver is Keith, not only because he is an excellent driver, but also because he is a Coventry City fan, so we talk about football and the trips go very quickly. On the whole, he is usually quite pessimistic about the team's prospects, but then fans often are.

Ex Addick could face criminal charges

Ex Addick Jamie Stuart could face criminal charges after York City's Chris Beardsley was left with a broken jaw following an off-the-ball clash last weekend. Essex police have confirmed that they are investgatng the incident and have spoken to Beardsley follow his release from hospital, whilst they are also interviewing eye witnesses. The incident is described as involving a '30-year old footballer from Kent.'

Much will depend on whether Beardsley, who had to undergo a one hour operation and have two metal plates inserted in his jaw, wants to press charges. Last January a Barrow defender was imprisoned for four months after a punch that led to a jaw fracture.

Grays supremo Mick Woodward, who has threatened to lock out fans and take the club back to the Essex Senior League, confessed, 'At the moment we are bit of a laughing stock.'

Stuart was sacked by the Addicks in 1997 and given a six month ban by the FA after testing positive for cocaine and marijuana.

He also was indirectly responsible for me getting my only speeding ticket. At the time of the drugs test incident, I was writing reports for the club web site as Rick Everitt had taken a rare holiday in Australia. We lost unexpectedly at Reading and when I interviewed Curbs on the pitch afterwards it was clear that he was badly shaken by what he perceived as a breach of trust by Stuart. I stormed off from the ground in a foul mood and was caught by a speed camera.