Wednesday 30 April 2008

Brakes through to final

A 49th minute goal from ex Reading ace Guy Sanders was enough to give Leamington a 1-0 victory over Rushall Olympic in the BGB Midlands Division play off semi-final last night. Apparently the New Windmill Ground was wetter last night than Montreal has been in the last 24 hours.

Now Brakes face Stourbridge in the play off final at Harbury Lane on Saturday. The Stour have beaten Brakes three times this season (once in the FA Cup) and are very much Leamington's bogey team. If they did win again, it would be interesting to see if the curious three sided ground of the Glassboys met grading criteria.

Monday 28 April 2008

Welcome Steve Waggott

Montreal: It is raining very heavily here in La Belle Province today and I have got dragged into yet another row emanating from Chilean politics. But I have been heartened by the news that an 'insider` in the form of Steve Waggott from the Charlton Community Trust has been appointed as chief executive.

Peter Varney will be a hard act to follow, but Waggott brings with him an in depth knowledge of the club and its particular traditions and outlook. At the same time he will hopefully be able to take a fresh look at things. This is only speculation, but one reason why Peter Varney may have felt that he had to go was that after so long in the post he was getting a little stale and the club needed someone who could bring in some new ideas.

Although Waggott will not be responsible for on pitch matters, he will have to respond to the deep disllusionment of many of the Addickted who have endured two very disappointing seasons.

Interesting to see that Thierry Racon has been recalled for the match against Chaventry City. Perhaps he will be given a chance to show what he can or cannot do.

Saturday 26 April 2008

Je me souviens

Work takes me to Quebec for a week (for work). The translation of the motto of Quebec has always been the subject of debate. What exactly is it that they are remembering? I certainly won't be remembering this season as a memorable one. I shall miss the final game of the season which will be the first time for many years.

I shall also miss Leamington's two play off matches (two if they win the first one) which will decide whether they are promoted to the Southern League Premier Division.

Meanwhile, there are many other Charlton blogs to keep you informed and entertained (although none others covering the Brakes as well). Enjoy the games.

Friday 25 April 2008

Cook returns to Putney

Lee Cook has followed Leroy Lita in returning to his home club. Luke Varney and Scott Wagstaff are in contention for his place on the left in tomorrow's clash at Barnsley.

Cook had expressed an interest in remaining at The Valley, but it was no dice with the Charlton supremo: 'He's a Fulham player and I didn't feel we had any chance of signing him permanently. There's no point keeping him here so I've sent him back and his position will be taken by one of the players who will be here next year and who is looking to make an impact.'

Leaving aside for a moment the question of whether we would want to keep him, why was there no chance of keeping permanently? Was he needed by Foolham for their bid to return to the Premiership? (No hope) Or couldn't we afford his wages? If that is the case, it is another worrying sign of the club's financial condition.

I thought that Cook was a good technical player who was adept at taking corners, at least sometimes. However, there were always doubts about his fitness and we don't want another player on the dread Sparrows Lane treatment table.

Pards has also admitted that the injury that Zheng Zhi picked up against QPR was partly a consequence of fatigue and that the Chinese player was tired out. Actually some of the fans spotted that some time ago.

Thursday 24 April 2008

Addicks boost for Swansea

Newly promoted Swansea City are hoping to boost their season ticket sales and are flagging up the visit of Charlton as a big attraction. A Swansea site reports, 'Season Ticket sales look set to rise from the 8000 or so holders now as fans flock to get their seats for next season and with the likes of Derby County, Norwich City and Charlton Athletic gracing the Liberty Stadium next season, club officials will see gate revenue rise.'

You couldn't make it up. The worrying aspect is that it is yet another 'smaller' club who are going to treat our visit as their cup final against a 'Premiership' side and consequently raise their game. I was hoping we would be over that next season and that it would be one thing that would give us a minor boost.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Free season ticket offer repeated

From the E mail bulletin, hence the hyperbole (my comments in square brackets):

Charlton fans will get a second chance to receive a free Premier League season ticket, plc chairman Derek Chappell announced this afternoon. The club has decided to repeat last year's sensational [somehow it doesn't seem so sensational this year] offer to provide a season's top-flight football at no extra charge if the Addicks are promoted at the end of the 2008/09 campaign.

And Chappell promised that everyone at Charlton will be pulling out all the stops to make the free season ticket become a reality. [It's getting it right, not talking us up that matters: walk the walk, don't talk the talk]

'Our fans have been tremendous this season, which is reflected in the fact that we have recorded the highest attendances in the club's history outside the top division,' said Chappell. [Don't worry how dire the football is, they will turn up. Actually, some big away crowds must have helped]

'The manager, players, staff and directors are all determined to bring Premier League football back to The Valley, but we need everyone to play their part. [Does that mean we all have to start training?]

'The board felt that continuing the offer was the best way we could show our thanks to the supporters and encourage them to carry on their magnificent backing of the team next season.' [As Dave Roberts has said, do these people get out much? Is there some special sound insulation round the directors' box that stops them hearing the booing and the negative comments?]

Monday 21 April 2008

Homer has something to celebrate

The president of the Association of Canine Match Analysts, Homer the Cherry Hound, has a full time job as match analyst at promotion chasing Didcot Town and only makes rare appearances at The Valley. However, he also keeps in touch with his New Forest roots and is seen celebrating AFC Totton winning the Wessex Senior League. Come on you stags!

Sunday 20 April 2008

Amazing plan for soccer success

Advertisement in the Mail on Sunday:

Turn Soccer Failure Into Success?

Has your team failed to deliver the goods this season? Have you sunk into mid-table mediocrity? Are the fans on your back? Is your job on the line? Then send for our GUARANTEED five point plan for soccer success for you to study in the COMFORT AND PRIVACY OF YOUR OWN HOME. Please send a large SAE and postal order for £5 made out to 'Old Bexley and Sidcup Labour Party' to Uncle Rick, Rickster Enterprises, P.O.Box 69, Sidcup, Kent. MONEY BACK if your team does not shoot up the table next season, plus free draft of resignation letter. For £10, you can have our SILVER plan which is tailored to the NEEDS of your team. Just state team name and we will do the rest. For £20 we will RUSH the plan to you by SPECIAL DELIVERY.

Satisfied customers say: 'It's not rocket science.' ID, Bolton. 'I wish I had had this plan available to me before becoming a manager.' LR, Sevenoaks. 'It may be just what I need.' AC, Loughton.

Ferrari Villas,
Dunwinning, Kent

Dear Uncle Rick,

Please rush me your SILVER plan by special delivery. There is a slap up meal in this for you and your lady wife if this works.

Yours, in desperation,

Alan Pardew

Dear Alan,

Here is your five point plan:

1. Only bring in loan players for emergency cover
2. Keep a settled side, only making changes because of injuries or suspensions or for good tactical reasons related to the particular game.
3. Play the ball to feet, do not hoof it up in the air.
4. Strengthen the central midfield.
5. Make sure your strikers know how to hit a shot on target.

Put that into place and you will be AMAZED at the results!

Uncle Rick

PS Thanks for the slap up meal offer, but can we bring back Rickshaw services in Essex instead?

What is Charlton for?

The following article is based on the case of Bolton, but has some comments on Charlton (for an audience of the Addickted I might add that we don't do cups):

Saturday 19 April 2008

And now it really is all over

Queen's Park Rangers ended Charlton's slim remaining hopes of making the play offs with a 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road this afternoon watched by over 2,000 Addickted. Blackstock scored the winning goal in the 15th minute after he had got past Paddy McCarthy.

Iwelumo had a chance to score in the second half, but put the ball over. Nine shots on target for the Hoops compared with two for the Addicks really sums up the game. Four Addicks were booked, three for dissent (Iwelumo, McCarthy, Varney), the fourth booking being collected by Bougherra.

Promising youngster Scott Wagstaff feature on the bench.

Charlton's performances have simply not been good enough over the season to merit a play off place.

Brakes Take Pole Position

A 2-0 victory over Aylesbury United at the New Windmill Ground assured Leamington of 2nd place in their first year in the BGB Business Midlands Division, meaning that they will be at home for the play off semi-finals and at home again if they win through to the final.

Quacking sounds coming from the Sheepside Stand puzzled us until we found that a large number of Ducks were already in place. Aylesbury defended doughtily in the first half and Brakes found it difficult to create chances, while the Ducks threatened the Leamington goal from time to time. The crowd of 730 had to be satisfied with 0-0 at the break.

In the second half Brakes livened up when former Villa Youth Cap finalist Shay Morgan came on. Mackey missed a chance to score with the goal open in front of him, but redeemed himself by putting Leamington 1-0 ahead on 73 minutes by firing a shot into the top corner. A great run by Ryan Parisi saw a brilliant save from young Ducks keeper Tom Vincent that put the ball over the bar.

A free kick taken by Marcus Jackson on 83 minutes saw the keeper fumble the ball, allowing Scott Hadland to put it in the net. Referee Miss Sasha Ihringova had a generally quiet game, but did issue a yellow card to Aylesbury's James Faulkner.

One hundred years ago

One hundred years ago this week my father was born in North Woolwich which was then part of the Borough of Woolwich in spite of being on the north bank of the Thames. My father's initial allegiance was to West Ham United and he retained enough of an affiliation to them to go to the famous first ever cup final at Wembley.

Just after the end of the First World War, tragedy struck the family of five children. My grandmother, Elenor, died in the influenza outbreak when my father would have been about eleven. The family was subsequently allocated a house on the new Progress Estate at Eltham. His older sisters helped to bring my father up, but his older cousin, Ted, also took a hand.

'There's a new football club playing in a ground they have made out of a quarry over at Charlton. Why don't we go and see them?' By looking after horses and carts while their owners went about their business, my father put together enough pennies for the tram fare and admission.

My father was quite a decent midfielder himself. In fact the only time he went abroad in his life was to play for a representative London non-league side against Paris and Brussels. He played for the predecessor side of East Ham United in the London League, but also I believe he had some connection with the mysterious and ill fated Thames club which he would only refer to under the code name of 'South-East Ham'.

When I was six my father took me to The Valley for the first time and began my Addicktion. My mother would often come as well, but one of her main interests was to spot a 'dirty ref' and then advise him about where he should put his notebook. Such a vociferous tirade from a woman was enough to turn heads on the East Terrace in the 1950s.

When I was seven my father spent what was quite a lot of money for him on football boots for me, hinting that I might aspire to go one better than him and seek to play for Charlton. Unfortunately, I had two left feet, rather than one good one like him and the only sport I ever participated in competitively was orienteering.

When we moved to Essex, my father continue to follow Charlton's fortunes, but started to watch Southend United, in large part because a good friend supported them. After his retirement to Cornwall, he started to support Falmouth Town who were then dominating the Rothman's Western League, winning the title three seasons in a row. There was a great Cornish pasty available at half time. The last game I can recall watching with him was seeing Falmouth beat Mousehole 10-1 in the Cornwall Senior Cup.

A long way from The Valley. He did not live to see the humiliation of The Valley's abandonment, but my mother was greatly heartened by the return of the team and enjoyed hearing about the re-development of the ground. One of the last games she was able to follow on the radio was the quarter final defeat at Manchester United in 1994.

My father was a great fan of Billy Cotton and always enjoyed The Red, Red Robin and I always remember him when it is played before games. He would be amazed by the stadium we have today and the progress the team has made, despite recent setbacks.

Friday 18 April 2008

Addicks Face Super Hoops

For some reason I find Queen's Park Rangers and their fans irritating. They have always been well up themselves, based on the fact that they had a short spell in the Premiership after its formation. I always think of them as a third division (south) side. Of course, they have been more up themselves recently since they were taken over by one of the richest men in his world (or at least his son-in-law). Super Hoops could be heard on 606 debating in all seriousness whether QPR or Real Madrid would be the top team in Europe in three years' time. However, the new owners have not exactly been splashing the cash - yet.

And another thing. Rodney Marsh. In his capacity as a pundit, he would never treat the Addicks seriously or give them any credit.

Pards said in the E-mail Bulletin that the match could be in Timbuktu as far as he was concerned. Loftus Road is in rather nondescript, if somewhat dodgy, surroundings. The ground itself is based on the 'shoeboxes on their side' design principle and the security staff are some of the peskiest in London.

Anyway, that's enough of slagging off the Super Hoops. What about Charlton? Arithmetically, they still have a chance of getting sixth place in the play offs. However, that would require a final burst and it is difficult to see where it would come from. If we did get into the play offs, I could not muster the enthusiasm I had a decade ago. To relive those glorious days, go here: Wembley

Charlton will be without Jerome Thomas, who has pulled a hamstring in training, but given his sulky performances, I do not regard that as a great loss. Weaver will be back in goal and I think he has been a generally reliable custodian this season, probably about the best we can afford. To me, this looks like another of Charlton's famous 1-1 draws.

As Leamington continue to chase the possibility of automatic promotion from the BGB Midlands Division, it's Brakes versus Ducks at Harbury Lane tomorrow and we expect to be the only Charlton blog covering the match against Aylesbury United.

Thursday 17 April 2008

Zheng Zhi Sued in Shanghai Court

An action against Zheng Zhi has begun in the No.1 People's Intermediate Court in Shanghai, Chinese wire services are reporting:

As The Guardian puts it, 'Rarely has so much passion been expended over a Charlton Athletic midfielder.' But as they also point out what this is really about is the battle for the rapidly expanding Chinese consumer market.

Wednesday 16 April 2008

Summer speculation starts early

It's a cold, foggy November like morning here in the Midlands but the summer transfer speculation is already under way with the Addicks being linked with Robert Earnshaw: Gossip

I know that a lot of Addicks rate him, but for me he is one of those promising players who has always been on the fringe of being a real class act. I'm far from sure that bringing another striker is in where we should start rebuilding.

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Season tickets

I see from the E mail bulletin that season ticket prices are to be announced soon. Many fans have been predicting that many will of the Addickted will not renew, although these predictions are made every year and the more gloomy ones are never fulfilled.

Nevertheless, many people will not renew because it will easy to turn up on the day and get a ticket. Of course, a season ticket is a 'bundled good': one is not just purchasing access to games, but convenience and the familiarity (in my case) of being in a good position in the East which I have had since shortly after it opened next to Steve from Croydon (formerly Sidcup).

I think it would be a good idea to repeat the offer of a free season ticket if we are promoted, even if it will have less credibility next season. Of course this may not be enough to tempt those who signed up because going to Charlton was a cheap (and family friendly) way of seeing Premiership football.

Prices also need to be held down. Inflation on everyday items is increasing rapidly. For example, since Deutsche Bahn took over Chiltern Railways, the cost of parking at High Wycombe on a Saturday has gone up from £2.80 to £5.50. Family budgets in particular are stretched and realistic pricing is essential. If people come to the match, they may spend money on a programme, refreshments, merchandise, draw tickets etc.

Above all, the product on the pitch needs to be improved. I know some people have said they have been enjoying their football more this season, but the gap in quality between the Premiership and Championship has widened. But, above all, our perfomances have often been dire. I did think that relegation would at least lead to a better than 1 in 2 chance of a home win at each game at The Valley. How wrong I was.

Sunday 13 April 2008

The final curtain

Yesterday was my last Charlton match this season as I shall be flying back from Montréal on the day of the Coventry match and I don't feel inspired to go to the two away games. So on this occasion I will not provide a detailed match report (not that there was that much to report anyway) but give some preliminary reflections on the season.

Talking to Joe the Saint in the Rose of Denmark (which was taken over by noisy 'Yellows') before the match, I predicted a 1-1 draw. This was not a difficult thing to do as Charlton have become 1-1 draw specialists. They started the season with a 1-1 draw against relegated Scunthorpe: someone from Scunny was saying on 606 yesterday that they 'knew what they were up against' after the match against Charlton, which suggests an inability to turn (then) fluent football into results. Over the season, including yesterday, we have had six 1-1 draws at home and four away. I wouldn't be surprised if we had a couple more away at QPR and home to Coventry.

If just a few of those draws at home had been wins we would be in the play off places. Admittedly, my expectations for the season were not as high as some lazy sport journalists. I thought we would be 'there or thereabouts' which for me meant that we would get into the play offs at fifth or sixth. And for much of the season we made the 5th spot our own.

I liked Alan Pardew as a player and I was pleased when he became manager. But I think he has got it wrong and I hope he can learn from his mistakes. He did, after all, have a far better second season at Wet Spam.

The first mistake was to have far too big a aquad. If players like Racon are not good enough, why sign them in the first place? We (and the management) never know how good they are at Championship level because we never (or hardly ever) see them. Because Pards was 'spoilt for choice' it was difficult to settle on a core sixteen who would get to know each other as a team and learn how to play effectively with each other. The sqaud is going to have to be pruned over the summer (apart from anything else we have too many left backs).

The second mistake was to bring in too many loan players who were not good enough Lita is an exception, although even in his case he was rusty and took a few matches to find his scoring boots again (always yellow, of course). Mills has some talent, but spoilt it with his failure to control himself. Halford is not as bad as some of the Addickted like to make out.

Some would say that the third mistake was to get rid of Reid. No one can say whether we would be in the play off places if he had stayed. I would have certainly preferred to keep him. But one has to be aware of the financial realities that the club faces. If keeping him meant trebling his salary, where would the money have come from? Some might say that was a gamble worth taking for promotion, but a football club has to be run on a prudent basis and Reid's presence would not have guaranteed us promotion.

Listening to two Charlton fans on 606 last night, they stated the general preference among the Addickted for the 'Roy of the Rovers' solution: using as many young Academy players as possible. But we saw the risks of inexperience yesterday with Randolph's fumble that may have cost us all three points. Don't get me wrong: I would like to see the promising younger players from the Academy used as the fringe element of the squad, being given their chance from the bench.

However, it does worry me that the answer that many Charlton fans would give to the question, 'Do you seriously want to be successful' is 'Not at any price'. It seems to me that the price that will ultimately have to be paid for success is an injection of foreign capital into the club and the hiring of at least some foreign players. It is the formula that makes the Premiership successful, as is evidenced by the Champions League results. For those who ask, what about the England team? - my answer would be that, like many people, I am more interested in club than international football.

The Bloke Behind Me actually had a reasonable point yesterday when he said that the club had lost its soul and that we had a team of journeymen who didn't really care about the club. To me, sulky Jerome Thomas, who turned it on for the television cameras, epitomises that. But we have to remember that the club's situation is different now from ten years ago. Then we are on a glorious adventure with our backs against the wall. It was epitomised by ITN News describing us as a 'tiny' club when we won at Wembley. Now we are just another formerly successful Premiership club like Leicester or Southampton.

The last point I would like to make is about the negativity at The Valley. The boo boys have been out in force: people around me even booed when we drew at home with Bristol City who are a decent footballing side. Many people would say 'I've paid my money and if I'm disappointed with the product, I will boo', sometimes drawing an analogy with the theatre. Although I don't go to the theatre that much, I have never encountered booing and I am sure that it happens rarely.

It seems to me reasonable enough to boo at half time or full time, but I don't think that it does anything during the match for a team that has been sapped by a lack of confidence. Of course, expectation levels are high today in society generally; people tend to be more aggressive; and we live in age of consumer sovereignty. Nevertheless, Charlton fans were always characterised by their realistic expectations compared particularly with Spurs - one of whose fans was heard on 606 last night saying once again that they should be a top four club. Dream on.

I think there are some grounds for optimism next season. Opposing teams will not see their match against as their cup final against a 'Premiership' club and up their game. We should have a smaller squad and a more settled team with judicious use (but not over reliance on) younger players. The promising Chris Dickson will be back. We may decide to play football again, rather than resorting to hoofing the ball.

Having had a year of the Championship, it is quite clear to me that the gap with the Premiership has widened. I can go ten minutes down the road to Leamington and see players hoofing the ball around rather than make a nearly three hour trip to Charlton. Leamington won 3-1 away yesterday and have narrowed the gap between them and league leaders Evesham to three points.

Match analysis

Homer the Cherry Hound abandoned his normal duties at high flying Didcot Town. The New Forest born labrador spent the night with Joe the Saint. Despite travelling up on one of the Southampton coaches, he insists that he maintained the neutrality consistent with his presidency of the Association of Canine Match Analysts. Having last seen Charlton stage their spirited fight back against Southampton to win 1-0, Homer was surprised by the lack of determination in the team and suggested that they might arrange to always have a man sent off early in the game. Homer felt that there was not an outstanding Charlton player on the pitch but awarded the Silver Bone to Matt Holland for his dedication to the cause, always giving his all over the season.

Randolph made the same mistake as he did at Bury, fumbling the ball into the net. He trudged off the field looking despondent, having messed up his big chance. However, otherwise I thought that he played well and his kicking out or throwing out was well judged. McCarthy was generally solid. Bougherra was one of the better players on the pitch until the end when he made a couple of mistakes. Thatcher was very solid and made some good forward plays. In my view his experience is to be preferred to the antics of Youga. Halford has attracted a lot of criticism from the Addickted and he certainly put in some hopeless balls from distance which were presumably supposed to create opportunities for the strikers but simply went out of play. Anyway, he won't be here next season. Semedo had a poor game and was rightly withdrawn at half time, having picked up one yellow card and being in danger of another. Lee Cook did make some good runs and it was his free kick that led to the goal, but he still seems to lack real consistent quality. Zheng Zhi is more effective in the centre than when he is moved out to the wing and certainly played his part in the enhanced second half performance. Iwelumo is supposed to have developed a good partnership with Lita but it wasn't much in evidence yesterday and he was rightly withdrawn at half time. Lita positioned himself well and did have some chances, but was unable to find the back of the net. Gray at least scored his first goal for the Addicks with a well taken header. Let's hope he can do more next season. Ambrose made little difference when he came on. The season of Thomas was summed up when he failed to break his duck, having a half chance to score in time added on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to Alan Pardew. This was a warning hiss, urging him to do better next season. The large Maine Coon cat of American descent is quite formidable when fluffed up.

Crowd rating Once again the visitors made most of the noise, helped by the acoustics of the Jimmy Seed (not that I endorse Pardew's daft plan to move the opposition out of there which he took from his book of excuses). The spirits of the Addickted have been dampened by the team's performances, particularly at home (we have won as many games away as we have in front of the Valley crowd). When the team lifted their performance in the second half, they lifted theirs.

Saturday 12 April 2008

Marcus Bent to stay at Wigan

Wigan propose to sign leading goalscorer Marcus Bent if they stay in the Premiership:

This would solve a problem for the Addicks. Bent never really impressed at The Valley and it would be difficult for the club to afford his wages if he returned. Alan Pardew has stated for the first time that Bent, who is among Charlton’s highest paid players, had expected Wigan to secure him in January transfer window.

'I think Marcus deserved that for what he had done up until that period,' said Pardew. 'That deal never materialised'. Asked if the sale of Bent would have created room for manoeuvre on his budget to keep former skipper Andy Reid, the Addicks supremo retorted: 'Maybe.'

Pards is even more concerned about the situation with Amdy Faye who has not been playing at Rangers. Faye was bailed by police last year after being questioned in relation to an ongoing corruption investigation. He was also questioned by police recently in relation to another matter.

Friday 11 April 2008

Is Saints boss going for draw?

That is the implication of this report:

To me it is a match that has a draw written all over it. Charlton will be playing an inexperienced goalkeeper, probably Randolph. Saints look like being without their French left back Vignal who hobbled off against Bristol City.

New Forest born Homer the Cherry Hound has been named as match analyst for the game. Homer will be taking a day off from his duties as match analyst at promotion chasing Didcot Town and will be brought to the match from Chilton, Oxon, by his owner who will be joining Joe the Saint in the Jimmy Seed Stand.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

London mayoral contest

When we last had the London mayoral contest, the much missed Casino Avenue website run by Inspector Sands ran an entertaining series of reviews of the candidates. Unforfunately, the good Inspector is so much in demand on the tube that the site is no longer updated. This site would not be an appropriate place to seek to replicate what he did, particularly given that Rick Everitt is not standing, but the following site may be of interest to Londoners (and others):
Voters' Quiz

Saints big up Saturday game

Saturday's clash between Charlton and Southampton is being bigged up in Hampshire as the biggest event since the Saints were relegated. Apparently they are coming over all yellow, but not because they are following the Chinese fashion of wearing imperial yellow:

I wasn't able to make it to Rothwell last night because of work commitments but the Brakes shattered the Bones, beating them 3-0 and securing at least 4th place in the BGB Midlands Division. Rothwell have a young side (it is rumoured that some of them have not started shaving) but they do try to play football, keeping the ball on the ground. However, the quality of Leamington overcame them.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Do we dream enough?

An interesting article on a California site about the Addicks by a Charlton fan. The comments also make interesting reading:

Southampton have now sold out all their 3,000 seats for Saturday and are looking forward to an easy three points to continue their climb up the table. Local reports suggest that having beaten Bristol City, Charlton should be a pushover.

However, football in the Championship doesn't work like that. It's also worth remembering that we took four points off Bristol City who are probably the second best footballing side in the division.

Last night's win at Stoke put the Croydon club into the play offs. In some ways I am pleased to see Stoke to get their come uppance as it is difficult to see why they should be rewarded with promotion for their combination of long ball, clogging and aggressive management.

Tonight Leamington take on the Bones (Rothwell Town). If they win a play off place in the BGB Midlands Division will become a mathematical certainty, although they are already well clear of the pack in second place. The play offs would be tough with bogey team Stourbridge and possibly Chavtown. However, finishing 2nd would give the Brakes home advantage.

Once again we will be the only Charlton blog covering tonight's game at Rothwell.

Monday 7 April 2008

It's all going off at Millwall

This time it's in the boardroom or at least among shareholders rather than supporters. The current chairman put in a £3m loan last week to keep the relegation threatened Spanners going, but now the leading shareholder seems to have the hump:


Millwall's chief executive was on Radio 5 this morning, but I did not find her explanation of why the New Cross club would not call an extraordinary general meeting as requested all that convincing.

Millwall had made a real effort to clean up their act in recent years and somehow I regard them as a more authentic football club than the other South London club. But then perhaps that is because the Spanners are no longer our rivals.

Sunday 6 April 2008

Beneath the Valley of the Super Optimists

All credit to those Addicks who made the journey to Plymouth yesterday. It must have been well worth it. As we suggested in our preview, Charlton often win when they are least expected to, particularly when the opposition regard us as an out of form team presenting them with an easy three points.

It must have been a really difficult challenge for Rob Elliot coming on for nearly the full game away from home in his first appearance for the Addicks at the top level. A difficult decision now will be whether to recall Randolph for the game that Weaver will miss because of his red card.

I have not seen the incident, but red cards are not necessarily given for handling outside the area. I remember Deano doing it in a difficult away game (Manchester City?) and getting away with a yellow. A lot in practice depends on the referee's reading of intent and in Deano's case the offence was more a case of his own momentum carrying him just outside the area.

It looks as if Leroy Lita has regained his sharpness at last. Does this justify the policy of loan signings? Not really because I think there were too many of them and they unbalanced the team. But Lita was one that could make a positive difference, although I don't think we could afford him for next season.

It was also interesting to learn that one of his goals came from link up play with the much criticised Iwelumo. Another positive was the return of Bougherra from a long spell out injured.

The super pessimists have been having a field day for the last few weeks, wallowing in the club's lack of success. The atmosphere at The Valley has become very negative (and that may have been a positive factor yesterday). I myself think that a lot of avoidable mistakes have been made by Pards. However, sometimes expectation levels get out of control.

Is it now the turn of the super optimists? Charlton are now one point off the (effectively) one remaining available play off place, barring a complete collapse by the Baggies which can't be completely ruled out but probably won't happen. However, Wolves have two games in hand over the Addicks and the Tractors have one.

As for the pack behind us, I think they are now are less of a threat. Palace's next match is away at Stoke which will be a clash of the gobby and the ugly. I think that a lot of the not very substantial wind has now gone out of Plymouth's sails. Burnley's 'challenge' is losing momentum. Cardiff may well be distracted by the cup, particularly if they beat Barnsley.

Charlton, of course, have to beat relegation threatend Southampton next Saturday (they beat 'league leaders' Bristol City yesterday). They then have difficult away games against the relegation threatened Tykes and 'well up themselves' Queen's Park Rangers (the fact that they beat us at The Valley is irrelevant, bearing in mind the Plymouth result).

Could it all come down to the final match of the season against Coventry? The first time we got into the play offs we all thought that 1-1 draw at home to Wolves was not enough, until an odd set of results elsewhere which relegated Millwall (remember them, they have just borrowed £3m to keep afloat) meant that we qualified.

To me it looks as if the final play off place could go to one of Ipswich, Wolves and Charlton and it may be that Wolves have the big mo (and the luck). If we got in the play offs, football at this level being what it is, we could go and win.

But would we want that? As one Watford fan said of his team yesterday, 'we don't deserve to go up.' Too true, given what the Financial Times castigated as their 'functional' football. I would find it really odd to go up after the football we have played last season. And, although we would probably better Derby's performance as the worst Premiership side ever, I wouldn't fancy our chances even with some strengthening. But then just think of the readies ...

Elsewhere, Ben Mackie came back from holiday looking podgier than ever and after coming off the bench scored Leamington's winning goal in their 1-0 victory over on form Rushall Olympic to consolidate their 2nd place in the BGB Midlands League.

Ian Dowie has reached an out of court settlement with the Orange One:

Friday 4 April 2008

D-Day in Plymouth

It's going to be D-Day in Plymouth as Argyle face the Addicks tomorrow according to home team supremo Paul Sturrock: D-Day

Sturrock evidently rates Leroy Lita and thinks that our 'wingers' are useful. We learn from the E-mail bulletin that both And Gray and Zheng Zhi have 'heavy colds' with Gray the more doubtful of the two. Perhaps they should take some zinc.

The match will feature Plymouth Argyle defender Krisztian Timar who will tomorrow come up against the Addicks for the first time since his challenges on Svetoslav Todorov and Izale McLeod ended the season for both strikers. However, Alan Pardew
has dismissed the incidents as 'coincidental'. Like incidents involving Muskrat, I suppose.

It's quite amusing to read some of the comments, especially those calling on the home fans to get behind the team and to turn Home Park into a 'Fortress'. I went there a few years ago as part of a Charlton pre-season tour and 'Fortress' was not exactly the word I would use.

I know that there are a few fans who occasionally make the long and awkward trip from the Isles of Scilly. Perhaps they will have an extra incentive to do so now that the football season on the 'rock' has ended with the Garrison Gunners and the Woolpack Wanderers playing a deciding match last Sunday. I'm not sure who won so I will tune into Radio Scilly's sports show at 5 p.m. which can now also focus on close season transfers.

I will be attending a table topping clash between Leamington and Rushall Olympic tomorrow. Remember that we will be the only Charlton blog bringing you coverage of this match.

Thursday 3 April 2008

Argyle look forward to easy 3 points

Plynouth Argyle are looking forward to an easy three points off out of form Charlton on Saturday: Argyle

Of course, this could just be their undoing as Charlton having a habit of winning matches when they have been written off as no hopers.

I have been in Wales (Abertawe) for the last few days and had to come up a short narrative for Bristol Rovers supporters and the like gloating over our run of bad form. For me the simple explanation was 'we stopped playing football' which in fact we have shown we are capable of doing. I haven't followed events at Charlton in the meantime, but I gather from one E mail Bulletin that Pards has been given the vote of confidence by Richard Murray.

It's a sobering thought that Cardiff City could be in the cup final and are still in play off contention. I had quite a surprise in Abertawe when a good friend turned up out of the Welsh mists having suddenly found an affection for the land of her fathers never displayed before.

Coming out of Swansea this afternoon, I had a good view of Swansea City's spendid new stadium. Presumably they still don't have Cyril the Swan who is the only mascot I can remember being red carded. It will be a good stadium to tick off next year, although I am far from sure how friendly the locals are, and I can't muster more than a few words of Welsh.