Monday 31 May 2010

Unconfirmed rumours

It's that time of year. We can find no independent confirmation of rumours that Brest have shown an interest in Moutaouakil, but given his reported wage level, it would be welcome if they had.

Less welcome is a rumour that Caen are interested in Kelly Youga. If he had been available throughout the whole season, it might have made the marginal difference that would have improved our chances of promotion.

However, the official site has confirmed that England youth skipper Jordan Cousins is to be offered a professional contract on his 17th birthday next year. Other clubs had been expressing an interest in a player who has been hailed as the new Jonjo Shelvey, although I would have thought that was a rather ambiguous tribute. But it means we will get some cash for him if he develops as hoped.

Curbs was too loyal to his players

Mark Bright has suggested that Alan Curbishley was too loyal to his players after Charlton's first promotion to the Premiership, commenting that you can't buy team spirit but you can buy quality.

He notes: 'Not wanting to be biased but it was one of the greatest play-off finals ever played. The game finished 4-4 after extra-time and we went on to win on penalties, 7-6. Last weekend I was at Wembley Stadium to see Blackpool beat Cardiff 3-2 in a pulsating match that gifted the crowd five goals in the opening 45 minutes.

The similarities between the two matches brought the memories flooding back. Now Blackpool manager Ian Holloway must learn from previous bosses such as Alan Curbishley.

Curbs said everyone who had helped Charlton win promotion back in ’98, would get their chance to play in the Premier League the following season. Curbs was true to his word but his loyalty to the players came at a price – we got relegated in our first season.'

Sunday 30 May 2010

Daggers join Third Division South

Dagenham and Redbridge beat Rotherham 3-2 this afternoon in the League Two play off final. This means that the place vacated by Millwall will be taken by another London club.

Dagenham and Redbrige held Charlton to a draw in the FA Cup at The Valley when we were in the Premiership and they were in the Conference, but our fates have now converged. We managed to just beat them in the replay, but Alan Curbishley told me at the end of the season that they had 'given us a torrid time'.

The Daggers tend to be a bit of a second team for West Ham fans so perhaps it is just as well that the Spanners are no longer in the division.

The glory that was Charlton

Courtesy of American sports journalist Doug Chapman, here is a list of former Addicks going to the World Cup:

Darren Bent - England
Jonathan Spector - USA
Madjid Bougherra - Algeria
Stephane Andersen - Denmark
Dennis Rommedahl - Denmark

One might also add 'Judas' Defoe considering that he was poached from the youth team. Danny Shittu (Nigeria) was also in the youth set up.

Saints manager blow

Jason Cadden when Leamington played Colchester United in the FA Cup

The world of mid-Warwickshire football is increasingly looking like that of Ron Knee and Neasden. After 'Bazza' Shearsby left Southam United in something of a huff to run village side Stockton, former Brakes supremo Jason Cadden has turned down a chance to manage the Saints. It doesn't seem that money was the deciding factor at the ambitious Banbury Road outfit with Cadzy promised a big budget.

In an editorial about the Leamington Spa Courier described Cadden, who was sacked from Leamington earlier this season, as 'a big name manager with a proven track record'. But they also warned that if Cadden did not accept a role soon, he could be a forgotten name in Midlands non-league football.

Cadden himself said that the timing was not right. However, some felt that he was not keen about dropping two divisions down the non-league pyramid despite the considerable potential in the growing town which now shares the name of a Parliamentary constituency. Cadzy, who turned down a chance to go to Rugby Town, may have set his sights on higher things.

More controversy has been caused by Brakes current manager Paul Holleran. Speaking before he jetted off to soak up the sun in Spain, the supremo slammed departing Brakes striker Mark Bellingham for being over sensitive to comments about him made on a fans' web board. Given that Bello is a sergeant with West Midlands Police in his day job, one would not have thought that sensitivity was his key characteristic.

Saturday 29 May 2010

Palace on the brink

As Millwall prepare for the Wembley final they hope will take them to the Championship, it's all going pear shaped at Crystal Palace: Palace

Could they yet ground share? Has anyone got a spare Portakabin?

Friday 28 May 2010

Addicks chase 'Dale striker

London WC1: The lack of a proven goalscorer has been one of Charlton's greatest weaknesses this season and now the Addicks have expressed an interest in 24-year old Rochdale striker Chris Dagnall: Dagnall

Dagnell found the net 20 times last season, but if promoted Rochdale are short of readies, so are Charlton and at the moment Phil Parkinson cannot make a move. It's not so long ago that a cup tie at The Valley was a 'big day out' for Rochdale fans who include my publisher at Manchester University Press.

There are rumours that Johnnie Jackson has signed from Notts County who have just seen a managerial departure, but such a move might depend in part on the injury prognosis for Kelly Youga. Jackson impressed in his loan spell at The Valley.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Thank you, KRBS

Sincere thanks to the Kent Reliance Building Society for sponsoring Charlton's Academy for two years, in addition to their existing shirt sponsorship deal. The Academy is important in terms of Charlton's distinctiveness, community contribution and success and it is good to know that it is safeguarded in difficult financial circumstances.

Coming out

It's not easy when you're young to come out. I have taught a student all year and I never knew his preferences. Now he has revealed his pain: he is a season ticket holder in the Lower North. The exam is on Friday, but all scripts have anonymous numbers on them.

A good friend whom I see rarely these days (we both have very busy lives) is a Huddersfield supporter. We would have both liked a Charlton v. Huddersfield final because of that famous 7-6 match, the absence of Spanners and the Scumdon, and the chance to meet up. He E-mailed the other day: 'For our part, we are not ready and got classically bullied by Millwall at the Den as so many other teams have been over the years. So on to next season, where we shall both have to watch out also for Southampton.'

What claimed to be China's largest manufacturer of turnstiles contacted me yesterday and said that, although I was not a customer yet, they hoped I would be soon. Do they know something I don't?

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Burnley in for Randolph?

Burnley are expressing an interest in acquiring Darren Randolph, according to local press reports: Randolph

It would be a return to East Lancashire where he spent three months on loan at Accrington Stanley just down the road. The Clarets may have watched him then.

Our latest story at Football Economy has some Charlton content - it's about manager turnover.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Reading after two Charlton players?

Reports have been received from somewhat unreliable sources that Reading have offered £800,000 + David Mooney for Bailey and Semedo. I don't treat these reports too seriously, but what would think of such an offer?

Bailey: I would be prepared to sell him, but I would hope for more than £800,000, but perhaps that is unrealistic in today's market.
Semedo: In my view one of our key players, any offer would have to reflect his worth.
Mooney: Not as bad as some fans make out, but he is a bit of a 'headless chicken' player, racing round the pitch after the ball to no great effect much of the time. Commitment is fine, but is there enough skill?

Brakes kick off against Cheltenham

It's been all action at the New Windmill Ground this week. Brakes will kick off the new season with a friendly against League 2 Cheltenham Town who have promised to bring a full professional side.

Manager Paul Holleran has moved to fill the gap left by the departure of striker Mark Bellingham by signing Craig Wilding from Conference South team Worcester City. Wilding has a Football League pedigree including Chesterfield.

Midfielder Lee Downes has also been brought in from the second tier of the conference, in this case Solihull Moors.

Brakes fans have been relieved to hear that the club will not be transferred to the Evo Stik (formerly Unibond) league. Rather than facing cloggers in small northern towns on away trips, they will be up against other 'southern softies' in the Zamaretto Premiership. This is the Southern League in which Charlton once played.

New destinations this season will include the seaside at Weymouth and Weston and the royal location of Windsor and Eton. Cirencester is another up market location to visit.

Charlton fans have had to cheer themselves up with the permanent signing of Akpo Sodje. It means we will have two Sodjes.


Interesting to compare some of the commiserations I have had this week on the play-off defeat. Some friends who are football fans have decided not to intrude on private grief. Of course, one must not get this out of proportion: one friend was taking his father's ashes to Ireland yesterday after he had died from a long illness.

From a Leeds supporter, I got sneering triumphalism. No surprise there. The local Villa fan displayed studied concern.

Best of all I liked the response from an Oxford United supporter (he actually lives there). He was very sympathetic, saying 'In Oxford we call Swindon Scumdon.' I am well disposed to Oxford as our sponsors, Kingdom Signs, put a special vinyl on one of the coaches going to Wembley. They also do work in the ground, sometimes on a barter basis.

I used to enjoy going to the old Manor Ground, some of whose seats grace the Brakes stadium at Harbury Lane. Once after a match, I heard someone say to his son in a very Oxford accent, 'Tristam, will you please refrain from that behaviour now.'

Only in Headington.

Friday 21 May 2010

Forster looks for new club

Nicky Forster is looking for his ninth club having fallen out with the Seagulls and departed from Charlton, his last act for the club having been to score a well-taken penalty on Monday night: Forster

A number of other players have left the club. Jack Clark was a decent youngster, but never really made the grade. Also on his way is Chris Dickson who may now return to the non-league system, but possibly at a higher level than the third tier he came from.

Leon McKenzie was the latest in a long line of Charlton players who turned out to be crocked for much of the time. Dean Sinclair was one of the players least likely to be recognised by an Addick as he went out on a series of loans to League 2 clubs, most recently Grimsby.

Matt Spring is arguably the least fortunate of the bunch. He always put on a decent performance when he came on a sub, which was his usual fate and even these opportunities have dwindled of late. But the squad has to be reduced in size and any saving is worthwhile.

Five clubs in for Sam

At least five higher level clubs, including Newcastle United, are expressing an interest in signing Lloyd Sam according to this report: Sam

Such is my cynicism about these matters that I unfairly wondered if some of the clubs have been pulled out of a hat by the winger's agent. Nevertheless, he is out of contract and we are almost certain to lose him.

For me has been Mr Inconsistency. When he is good he is very, very good and when he is bad, he is very, very bad. He rarely contributes across 90 minutes of a game and indeed he often has to be subbed. I doubt whether it's a physical fitness problem, sometimes he gives the impression that he can't be bothered. A different club might be able to develop the talent he undoubtedly has.

The Bloke Behind Me will have to find a new name for the slot of Public Enemy No.1

A de facto Premiership 2?

One of the worrying aspects of our failure to get promotion this year, given the club's uncertain financial position, is that there seems to be a gap opening up in financial terms between League 1 and the Championship that is increasingly becoming the equivalent of that between the Championship and the Premiership. For example, the gap in television revenues has widened.

Despite his apparent 24/7 work regime, Charlton chief executive Steve Waggott is not flavour of the month with every Addicks fan. However, I thought that he wrote a good article on this subject in the play off programme and I have featured it at our football economy page: Premier 2?

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Eddie Firmani - Charlton legend

An essay on one of my all-time Charlton heroes: Eddie

Does he ride the Rickshaw?

I note tbat the new sports minister is the Conservative MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent, Hugh Roberston. He was the shadow spokesman.

This is very much Rickshaw territory but I haven't been able to find any comments by him on Charlton. From the cut of his jib it looks as if he might be an egg chaser.

Whether there would be a meeting of minds between him and Rick Everitt is another question as the Rickster was the Labour candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup in the general election.

Any comments from a constituent would be of interest.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Same seats, same division next season

That was the comment of Paul from Bexleyheath as he said goodbye to me after last night's play off defeat at The Valley. It was also goodbye for the summer to Steve from Petts Wood and a less fond farewell to the Bloke Behind Me. Although I was sitting a few seats from my usual place, his complaints were still very audible.

Yesterday I predicted that it would be 2-1 at full time, go to extra time (although no more goals were scored) and would then be down to the lottery of penalties. Charlton captain Nicky Bailey blazed high and wide. I don't think one should blame any one player for a defeat of this kind, but it was typical of his over pumped up approach to the game.

Charlton and Swindon have drawn twice during the season and played over what amounts to 220 minutes or more of football (over 10 minutes of time added on last night) but it was difficult to say which team was the better, as was also reflected in their relative places in the table.

The stats were in Charlton's favour: 57 to 43 per cent possession; 20 to eight shots on target; and 11 to 4 corners. But, of course, it's getting the ball in the net that counts and that has been a challenge all season.

Even when I got to Marylebone there were rocking Robins chanting 'Wem-ber-ley'. Whether they can overcome the Spanners remains to be seen. I doubt whether we would have done, and would have a defeat against them at Wembley being even more bitter? Personally, I think it's our interests for them to go up and cause mayhem in the Championship.

The one thing Wembley would have given the club is a much needed pay day. Others know more about the financial situation at the club than I do, but there are clearly going to have to be further cutbacks.

I was disappointed but not surprised by last night's outcome. I always thought it would take us two or three seasons to get out of this division. At the beginning of the season I thought we would be on the fringes of the play offs, but just fail to make them, so we have done better than I hoped.

The game

What other blogs have already emphasised is that one could not fault the commitment or the passion of the Charlton players to the cause last night. They gave their all and it produced an exciting match, albeit one that ended in deflation. The attendance was a little disappointing, below those against Gillingham and Leeds, but then one has to remember that those figures include season ticket holders who were not in the ground.

Before the game in the pub, Mooney was rubbished and his selection was seen as evidence of Parkinson's ineptness as a manager. Well, he scored the two goals. The first one was a scrambled affair which could well have been an own goal, but they all count. The second one was very well taken. Also one cannot fault Mooney's work rate, although I am not sure that dashing all over the pitch is a sign of real skill.

A word of praise also for the much criticised Burton. He may not score many goals, but he is an intelligent player who can hold the ball up well, read the game and provide good flicks and lay offs. Unfortunately, when had a chance to score and win the match for the Addicks, he could not turn quite quickly enough and that is the downside of an older journeyman striker.

I also thought that Frazer Richardson had another good game and came very close to scoring in extra time with a thunderbolt. Reid also added a clear attacking threat (whereas Sam was a bit of a disappointment) and it is a shame we probably cannot afford him for next season.

As for the sending offs, it seemed to me that Greer actually caught Burton in the neck and I had a good view as it was straight in front of me, but others thought that the contact was lower. In any case, the referee had no hesitation in reaching for his red card. My view and that of those around me was that Llera also had to go, but others disagree with that. It does seem odd that kicking a player while he is on the ground is only a yellow card offence.

The disapperance of the Swindon keeper after the first minute did not have that much effect on the game. His replacement, Phil Smith, might have had a plain man's name, but he was your everyday effective keeper. After all, when Elliot had to be replaced by Randolph, he was at least as good. Looks as if Randolph may be going though as we are apparently bringing in a keeper from Woking as the back up. I'm told he only costs £800k a week, so we will have a player who earns less than many fans.

The Rocking Robins came storming out of the traps after half time which is what you would expect them to do. I don't think we had been instructed to sit back, it was just that they were pumping long balls into the box. Also, Swindon always looked particularly dangerous on the counter attack. Their goal was, however, a result of a mix up in which Bailey just tried to be too clever. Bailey did make some good contributions in the game as a whole, but he can also sacrifice possession needlessly.

I thought that Racon did lift us when he came on and actually posed more of an attacking threat than I saw from him all season. Semedo also did his job very well throughout. However, it was not enough and neither team was really able to break the other down.

Quite a nasty incident outside after the game. The crowd was moving slowly and a fan cut right across it in a hurry, knocking into one person. His wife complained and the fan turned nasty, saying to her husband, 'You are an old man and I will knock your head off.' He continued to make threats. Charming from someone in their early twenties.

However, the fans really excelled themselves in getting behind the team and the mood today is disappointed but upbeat. As our train drew into GX, I saw the Chalfont St.Peter Addick 'Uncle Albert' get off looking understandably dispirited. I got home at 1.30 a.m., but I am glad I went and my allegiance remains as firm as ever.

News developments will be followed here over the summer. When I get time, I will do a re-design as the conceit of 'Championship Diary' will have to be abandoned and there will be a re-launch as 'Third Division Diary'. No doubt some pessimists will say that will have to be replaced after a year by 'Fourth Division Diary'.

I think we will still be in contention next year. Southampton will be a major challenge, but Norwich, Leeds and probably Millwall will have gone and I am not that daunted by Peterborough or Plymouth or the teams coming up, although the Owls will be there or thereabouts. Some teams may start to stop thinking of their match against us as their cup final as we lose the shine of a 'big' club.

Monday 17 May 2010

The 12th man

It's not been the best of mornings: at last civil servants have come officially out of purdah (or at least I didn't get informed until this morning). That's meant I am going to York at short notice (at least from Coventry rather than being sent to it). You would think that organising things online would be quick, but it's not.

As always, Pedro on Charlton Athletic Online has done a first rate match preview. He is right that Racon may have to be sacrificed to give us more of an attacking edge with Reid. I know that Racon has admirers who think he is the best thing in midfield since Mark Kinsella, but I am not convinced.

Sodje apparently made some great blocks on Friday despite being injured, but if his knee problems are serious we have to bring in Llera, even if he lacks pace. The only other question mark in my mind is Randolph. Don't get me wrong, I think he has been a revelation since he has come in, but how is he with penalties? Because it might come to that.

The general mood among the Addickted seems to be that we will lose (or rather fail to overcome the deficit), but I am genuinely uncertain. I do not believe that Swindon are invincible. Their keeper seems to have a bit of a Dracula problem and their defence can be wobbly. Unfortunately, although we won at least 12 corners on Friday, we weren't able to make productive use of any of them. It's been a failing for much of the season: when the opposition gets corners, I get worried.

The rocking Robins clearly have an attacking threat through the former brickie Austin who played at a lower level than Leamington and Paynter, if he gets fit. The second goal on Friday was conceded through poor defending by the Addicks.

So the gloomy scenario works like this: we lose tonight; club declared insolvent tomorrow; club disappears. All complete nonsense, of course, but there are people who seem to get a perverse pleasure from believing that sort of thing. My best guess is that we win the 90 minutes 2-1, it will be 3-2 after extra time. Penalties, like the play off themselves, will be a lottery.

This is where the crowd comes in. Debate rages about whether the crowd really is a 12th man. Players have to say they are in interviews: they can hardly say 'the fans are a bunch of mugs who fund our generous salaries.'

What is clear is that a negative crowd reaction does not help the players or particular individuals. Leamington's goal machine Mark Bellingham has now revealed in yesterday's Non-League Paper that he left the Brakes because of remarks made about him on a fans' message board during the controversy over the sacking of popular manager Jason Cadden. I should think he hears worse when he is on duty with the boys in blue, but he felt the fans should have been big enough to retract their comments when they were shown to be wrong.

Harbury Lane and the Sheepside and Burger Side stands are hardly The Valley or the East and West Stands. My appeal to all the Addickted tonight would be to create a wall of positive noise to support the team. It may not make any difference. We may be doomed. But it is what we can do as Charlton fans to try and make a difference. Come on you reds!

Are house prices in Charlton under threat?

The Mail on Sunday yesterday was focusing on Lord Triesman and his alleged close friendship with a flame haired temptress, but they also found the time to dump the dirt on Charlton in a story that I believe to be highly speculative: Mail . (Apologies for posting the wrong link earlier, but the story does seem to be hidden away. What I originally linked to was a 2009 story which suggests some re-heating and an agenda).

The only surprise was that there was no discussion in the story of possible effects on house prices in Charlton. My view is that the Mail has something of anti-football agenda which chimes well with a section of its 'Middle England' readership. As the old joke about newspapers used to run, the Mail is read by the wives of people who run the country.

That is not to say that the club has no financial challenges. Winning tonight's tie against Swindon is important not just in footballing terms. A Wembley final would give an important boost to our finances even if we lost to the Spanners (which would be more likely than not).

Incidentally in the exile years I met someone who said they had bought a house near The Valley in the expectation that the club would not return and the value of their house would rise accordingly! They were to be disappointed!

More on tonight's game later.

Saturday 15 May 2010

Spanners draw at Huddersfield

Millwall drew 0-0 at Huddersfield in the first leg of their play off final which must make them favourites to win at The New Den on Tuesday night. Should Charlton beat Swindon, it would set up a South-East London final at Wembley and a headache for the boys in blue.

The attendance was only 14,654, of which some 1,800 had made the journey from New Cross.

Bazza quits Saints

The world of mid-Warwickshire football has been rocked by the news that former Brakes ace Barry Shearby has quit as manager of Southam United after four years at the helm. Results at the Banbury Road outfit have been disappointing since Christmas and Bazza feels that some of the players have showed a lack of commitment. A game against Pilkington XXX appears to have been the final straw.

A particular blow for the Saints faithful is that Shearsby has gone to a lower level to manage nearby village team Stockton who play in the Coventry Alliance. Charlton fans may think they have pub team level strikers, but at Stockton's level you are not far off it.

Into the Valley

After Radio Scilly backed Swindon yesterday, station supremo Keri Jones redeemed himself this morning by playing 'Into the Valley'. But then I found out that he didn't know it was a Charlton theme song and his comment on air was that 'it just shows all Welsh people can't sing.'

I had to listen to the match via Charlton Live last night (annoyingly it had a programme about the cup final on for the first part of the game until they found the right feed). We don't have Sky as the local council (quite rightly) bans satellite dishes in conservation areas. The Villa fan down the road gets round this by having a satellite dish in his back garden, but it's an expensive solution and I would rather have plants in my garden than what looks like a booster station for RTL.

The Valley hero Steve Brown was the summariser and he thought that 2-1 was a fair outcome. Owing to Swindon's inaccuracy, we managed to keep them out for the first half, but they were destined to score sooner or later. The second goal was due to schoolboy defending from one of our own corners. Steve commented on these lines, 'They would never have been taught to do that on the training ground. This is not the fault of the manager and coaches. It is the fault of the players who have let their managers and coaches down.'

Moaners have predictably been out in force this morning. Parkinson gets the blame, although as far as I know he is not a registered player. It is true that we don't have a strike force as such, but it's a bit hard to call them 'pub standard' players. Burton's goal was bravely taken according to the commentators. I would give Reid some kind of role, even if not at the start, as I think he is a real attacking threat.

Monday night is an occasion when we have to be united as the 12th man and get behind the team, whatever our reservations about particular players. It is going to be tense and I think it could go to extra time and even penalties.

Friday 14 May 2010

Charlton still in the fight

Sodje recovered from injury to replace Llera in Charlton's line up tonight, reports Erith Addick Paul May from the County Ground. The Robins were without striker Billy Paynter.

Charlton won a corner after five minutes, but a long-distance effort from Borrowdale went well over. Randolph saved from Austin. After Swindon were awarded a free kick, Randolph had to save from Austin. Charlton won a corner as the quarter hour mark approached, but Borrowdale's effort was saved by Lucas. Swindon were dominating the early exchanges, but at least the Addicks held out.

The game was very rushed with Swindon pressurising the Charlton defence. Swindon were blocking any attempts by Richardson to come forward. Sam was not contributing a lot.

Swindon broke from midfield, but they were off target. Ward broke through and had a great chance, but he put the ball wide. It was a mistake by Sodje that let him in. He had sat down in the middle of the pitch earlier and seemed not to be fully fit.

Richardson advanced and put in a decent cross, but no one was available to connect and Lucas was able to collect. Sodje looked more effective in dealing with an attack and won a free kick.

An effort by Borrowdale was palmed away and Charlton won a corner. Richardson's effort did not lead to anything. Swindon counter attacked. Mooney looked lively for once. Charlton were looking a bit better as half time approached, but Dailly hoofed the ball away when he could have played it out.

Borrowdale conceded a corner in the last couple of minutes as Swindon advanced again.
Dailly put it out of play for a Swindon throw. Mooney and Burton linked up well, but it did not lead to anything.

Half time: Robins 0, Addicks 0

Sam tackled well and found Burton. A curling effort from Bailey came off the post with Lucas stranded and was headed behind for a corner.

Swindon took the lead with a downward header from Austin into the bottom right hand corner, following good build up play. Randolph had no chance.

Charlton were awarded a free kick about 25 yards out to right of centre. The ball from Borrowdale went straight into the Addickted. Mooney won another free kick and the ball from Richardson led to a Charlton corner. Another Addicks corner followed.

Charlton won another corner as they kept up the pressure. Lucas palmed the ball out for another corner. Mooney should have scored and the ball was scrambled away.

The Addicks kept up the pressure and won their eighth corner which Sam wanted to take, but Borrowdale took it up. It was clattered clear, Swindon counter attacked and Ward made it 2-0 for the home side, Charlton having left themselves exposed at the back.

Swindon won their first corner of the second half. Randolph made a decent save from Austin after some good defending by Dailly. Randolph put a long ball forward, Burton connected well and put it over the head of the Swindon goalkeeper to make it 2-1 with his 14th goal of the season.

Richardson put in a corner, Lucas flapped and it went behind. Sodje was down again. Bailey put in a good cross, but Swindon came forward again. Sam was fouled.
Bailey put in a good cross, but Burton could not make contact. An effort by Ward went wide.

Swindon were at panic stations at the back with a loss of confidence between Lucas and his defence. Charlton kept up the pressure and won their 10th corner. Forster came on to replace Mooney. Lucas gathered the corner.

The Addicks won their 11th corner with about quarter of an hour to go. Swindon cleared the ball, but Semedo won it back. The 12th Charlton corner followed, but Lucas seemed to have got his composure back and gathered the ball.

Borrowdale blocked well as Swindon attacked. Austin put in a header and some of the rocking Robins thought a penalty had been awarded against Randolph, but the referee from the Isle of Wight gave a goal kick. Wagstaffe came on to replace Sam who had not contributed that much.

Sodje blocked well as Swindon attacked and looked like they might make it 3-1. Ward put in a shot and hit the angle of crossbar and post. Akpo Sodje came on for Deon Burton who had been hit by cramp. A shot from Forster went well over the crossbar.

Bailey was fouled by the Glaswegian charm merchant who got a yellow card. Five minutes of time were added on. Ward headed wide. Swindon came forward again and Borrowdale had to concede the corner, but it led to a Charlton goal kick. Swindon hit the woodwork with 30 seconds to go.

Charlton performed much better in the second half, but Swindon created more chances in the match as a whole. Charlton are still in the tie.

Still not a sell out at Swindon

Earlier today Swindon Town had not sold out all their seats for tonight's clash with the Addicks. No doubt they would have done if it was Bristol Rovers. It's going to be a bit humiliating if we go down to a side which can't even sell out their (smaller) ground for an important home fixture.

It was also a bit of a shock to find on the Radio Scilly sports show tonight that they had a jubilant local Leeds fan as the studio guest, while the station line is to back Swindon as a 'west country' side which seems like stretching a point. I did remind sports show host Merryn that I was a Charlton supporter!

Those Robins are really rocking

There's a whole series of stories on tonight's game from a Swindon pespective here:

I think that a problem for us all season has been that we are seen in League 1 as a 'big' club and a scalp worth taking. We are 'big' by the standards of many teams in the third division and we are punching below our weight which is why we want out. Plus we are fed up with the clogging, foul tolerant referees and long balls that characterise this division. Also, the club's financial situation is desperate, so these are some of the most important matches in our recent history (the play-off final against Leeds at Birmingham was the really crucial one).

Some useful facts about Swindon:
1. There wasn't anything here until the Great Western Railway constructed its 'works'.
2. I once read a book about Swindon called 'An Awkward Size for a Town'. The account of the inhabitants' lives portrayed them as boring beyond belief.
3. It is the home of the 'Magic Roundabout', one of its main claims to fame.
4. I used to have to go to meetings in Swindon. Eventually people got so fed up with navigating the road system and the general depressing effect that we decanted to Cotswolds hotels (one of them used by Swindon loan players).
5. I sponsored the match ball when we lost 0-1 at home to Swindon through an uncharactersitic mistake by Deano and our failure to find the back of the net. I had invited an Addick who lives in Swindon with me and he almost required medical treatment afterwards.
6. Two of our daughters live not so far away on the Berks/Oxon border. One of their friends needed to downsize their house in an upmarket village. Where could they find cheap housing? Swindon.
7. I shall be very pleased if we don't have to go to the County Ground next season, even if it is a nice drive across the Cotswolds - and not because Swindon go up.

Come on you Reds!

Promotion race map

Check this out at Albion Road

I write a monthly column for Albion Road (not on Charlton). The site organiser is an expat living in the Washington DC area.

Thursday 13 May 2010

Fans flock to County Ground

Swindon have confirmed their standing as the biggest club in Wiltshire by selling 13,000 tickets to home fans for Friday's match against Charlton. Rocking Robin fans have also demonstrated their enthusiasm by buying tickets for the away leg with only 600 left.

Drinking During The Game has attempted to calculate Charlton's revenues from the home game. He puts them at £750,000 but I think this is too high. First, not all fans pay £25 which is the basis of his calculation. I pay £17 and the many juniors pay even less. Second, will the away end be sold out? Third, he takes no account of matchday expenses. Top rate blog, though.

The real pay day will be at Wembley.

Swindon are the new Blackpool

Swindon are portraying themselves as the new Blackpool in advance of their semi-final play off games against 'mighty' Charlton. It's always a useful psychological ploy to portray yourself as the underdog: Swindon

I've got nothing against the Rocking Robins, other than getting soaked through once on their open end, but we had great fun 'singing in the rain'. Indeed, when we beat them in the year went up, Swindon fans wished us all the best after the game.

But it is of key importance to Charlton's future to win out over these two games. I think we can, but I don't think it will be easy.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

79-goal striker leaves

Gloom enveloped the New Windmill Ground today after it was revealed that Mark 'Bello' Bellingham was leaving the Brakes. In two years he has scored 79 goals in 87 appearances and Brakes fans will miss his eye for goal.

The news was not unexpected and the 33-year old police sergeant is to seek a new beat.

Bello's strike partner Luke Corbett is staying. His goal tally last season was 26.

A first look at Swindon

Charlton has attempted to dip into the non-league to find recruits. Stuart Fleetwood only appeared in a friendly and while Chris Dickson had a few devotees, he was unable to hack it even at Gillingham.

It's therefore interesting that the 'Rocking Robins' have had some success with a recruit from the Wessex Premier League, Charlie Austin. A year ago he was combining his day job as a bricklayer with a career in non-league football. He joined Swindon from Poole Town in October and has been banging in goals ever since, attracting the interest of bigger clubs.

Goalkeeper David Lucas is a popular figure at the club. He is a devotee of horror films, especially classics such as Survival of the Dead. Given that Swindon had a relegation battle last season, that might be a good theme for them.

How have Swindon done so well given that they would have been relegated last season without the goals of Simon Cox who was then sold in the summer? Doom and gloom merchants at the County Ground (and they do have them there) were predicting another relegation struggle.

The manager did make some shrewd signings on free transfers and loans. Lucas and Douglas came in from Leeds and Ferry and Stephen Darby were brought in from Celtic. Somehow or other the club managed to house its loan players in a posh Cotswolds hotel.

With the departure of Cox, Billy Paynter stepped up to the plate. What we lack at Charlton is anyone who can score 25+ goals a season. It is the team's greatest weakness.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Ticketing arrangements for the play-offs

I have picked up some disquiet about this on Facebook and elsewhere. To put this into context, most fans find the Commercial Office helpful. Like other parts of the club, including IT, their resources have been cut back. Indeed, in any club (note Portsmouth recently) relatively lowly and loyal paid non-playing staff are often the first to take the hit.

I tried to book our season ticket seats online next week. Perhaps I should read the tutorial more carefully, but I was in a hurry as I was getting an early flight to the US the next day. Anyway, I managed to get tickets nearby.

Allocating the limited (relative to demand) number of seats for Swindon away was always going to be tricky. It wasn't practical for me to apply and in any case I didn't feel I should as my away record has been poor this year.

Erith's Paul May has been a regular away traveller and has a ticket for Swindon. Through his usual adept deployment of modern technology (he always seems faster when he has had a few) he will be reporting on the game for this blog.

Monday 10 May 2010

It's just like being away at Millwall

Football in Israel is a bit fraught with some teams supported by particular political factions and others refusing to play Israeli Arabs. Former Aston Villa supremo John Gregory has taken over at Maccibi Ahi Nazareth (that's the home town of the founder of Christianity by the way).

At some grounds stones and rocks are used by home fans against the away coach and rockets are also fired. Gregory is not fazed: 'I've been on the away team coach to Millwall, it's not that different' he told 4-4-2 magazine.

Sunday 9 May 2010

Have we got the big mo?

These figures from Chalfont St. Giles Addick Dick Sheppard show the best end-of-season performance since 1997/8 when we went on to win promotion in the play offs.

The dreaded last 10

1997/1998 D, W, W, W, W, W, W, W, W, D (26/30) - old 1st div
1998/1999 D, L, W, L, D, L, L, D, W, L (9/30 - Prem
1999/2000 W, W, W, D, D, L, D, D, L, L (13/30) - 1st div
2000/2001 D, L, W, L, L, D, W, W, L, L (11/30) - Prem
2001/2002 D, W, L, L, L, L, D, L, D, D (7/30) - Prem
2002/2003 L, L, D, L, L, L, L, W, L, L (4/30) - Prem
2003/2004 L, L, D, W, D, L, L, D, D, W (10/30) - Prem
2004/2005 W, L, D, L, L, D, L, L, L, D (6/30) - Prem
2005/2006 W, L, W, D, D, L, W, L, L, L (11/30) - Prem
2006/2007 D, W, W, D, D, L, D, L, L, D (11/30) - Prem
2007/2008 L, L, L, D, L, W, D, L, L, W (8/30) - C'ship
2008/2009 D, L, D, W, D, D, D, D, L, W (12/30) - C'ship
2009/2010 D, D, W, W, L, W, L, D, W, W (18/30) - League One

The pathetic last 7

1997/1998 W, W, W, W, W, W, D (19/21) - old 1st div
1998/1999 L, D, L, L, D, W, L (5/21 - Prem
1999/2000 D, D, L, D, D, L, L (4/21) - old 1st div
2000/2001 L, L, D, W, W, L, L (7/21) - Prem
2001/2002 L, L, L, D, L, D, D (3/21) - Prem
2002/2003 L, L, L, L, W, L, L (3/21) - Prem
2003/2004 W, D, L, L, D, D, W (9/21) - Prem
2004/2005 L, L, D, L, L, L, D (2/21) - Prem
2005/2006 D, D, L, W, L, L, L (5/21) .Prem
2006/2007 D, D, L, D, L, L, D (4/21) - Prem
2007/2008 D, L, W, D, L, L, W (8/21) - C'ship
2008/2009 W, D, D, D, D, L, W (10/21) - C'ship
2009/2010 W, L, W, L, D, W, W (13/21) - League One

Pardew out at Saints?

Alan Pardew's future at Southampton is doubt: Pards

Some reward for getting the paint drying trophy. Another impatient owner, reminding us how well served we are at Charlton.

Saturday 8 May 2010

Roller coaster afternoon

Chelesa, Mi: A roller coaster day for the Addickted today with Leeds going behind at one point, but in the event a 2-0 win at Oldham could only secure 4th place. That's above my expectations at the beginning of the season and we should be able to get to the final which will boost the club's coffers if nothing else.

If we do fail to go up, at least we won't have any more of this 'Kent derby' nonsense with Gillingham being relegated. Apparently Chris Dickson has not weaved his magic for them.

Uncertain outcomes

Ann Arbor, Mi: My sleep has been disturbed more than once by media calls, some indignant that I am not immediately available to go a studio. And, no, they haven't been asking about the permutations in League 1 today. For my thoughts on the election, go to my Analysing British Politics blog.

I have never been to Boundary Park. One match I did think of going to was fogged off. In the early days of the Premiership, Oldham actually played at that level. But the far from prosperous town lives in the shadow of Manchester in football terms.

Composer Sir William Walton was born there and tried to avoid going back. Roué Duff Cooper was the MP in the 1930s (when he was our ambassador in Paris after the war his wife had to comfort his official mistress after he started chatting up a likely prospect at an embassy party). Duff had little interested in manufactures, but enjoyed eyeing up the mill girls.

What has this got to do with football? It's what they call 'local colour' which you fall back on when you don't have something useful to say (or it has been said already by the likes of Charlton Athletic Online). It has been an exhausting and often frustrating campaign and I am close to being 'written out' on Charlton. I have my line: Parky is a decent manager at this level, we are a League 1 team playing League 1 football, but it can wear thin through repetition and over exposure, just like Gordon Brown.

Unfortunately while we are playing today I will be giving my paper on the bovine diahorrea virus here in Ann Arbor, Mi. I hope our players get the runs, but in the direction of the Oldham goal. We need the big mo going into the play offs, rather than losing it at the last hurdle like Dave Cameron, regardless of results elsewhere. Of course, you can burst like the Clegg bubble and still get a result.

This evening I will be dining in a 'cute' town called Chelsea. By then I hope that Charlton will be set up for their first play off leg at home against Swindon.

Friday 7 May 2010

Result for Rick

Ann Arbor, Mi: I understand that Rick Everitt was happy to come in second as Labour candidate in Gooner Ted Heath's former seat of Old Bexley and Sidcup, even if the Labour share of the vote fell. Greater things may yet be in store for the club's development officer and former Valley Party stalwart.

Apparently, Rick also stood in the East Wickham ward and took second place off the BNP. This is likely to be his last appearance there as Rick now lives in a secret location on the Isle of Thanet which he devotes his energies to the club he loves.

Charlton supporter Darryl Chamberlain polled very creditably for the Greens in the Greenwich local government elections.

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Something for the weekend

I am going to be in Michigan at the weekend so I will not be able to go to Oldham. I think that their bunch of northern cloggers, even though they do not have much to play for, will slow us to a standstill much as they did at The Valley so I am going for a 1-1 draw.

I think that Leeds will beat Bristol Rovers and Millwall will beat Swindon. That would see us ending up 4th. I think we could take care of Swindon in the play offs and I quite fancy Huddersfield to see off Millwall. That would then give us a final against Huddersfield who would be beatable (1-0).

I understand that quite a few Addicks are coming from abroad for the Oldham game, so I hope that my forecast will be wrong and that they will enjoy the game.

Monday 3 May 2010

Another reason to get out of League 1

Dazzling Darren Ambrose saved the Glaziers from relegation yesterday and sent down Sheffield Wednesday. However, it looks as if the Owls could be on the verge of becoming a big money club with a Chicago-based group poised to acquire them: Owls If we don't go up, Plymouth or Peterborough shouldn't pose too much of a threat next season, but a reinvigorated Wednesday could.

Big day for former Addick Jamie Stuart today as he captains Rushden and Diamonds in the second leg of the play off finals in front of a sell out crowd of over 11,000 at Oxford United's Kassim Stadium. The score is 1-1 from the first leg.

Congratulations to Christian Dailly on winning player of the year. Well deserved and his acceptance remarks show real pleasure and how much he has become part of Charlton.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Sir Chris Powell

As Chris Powell prepares to retire from football, read a long profile and interview with him by Mick Collins here in which he gives his views on the modern game: Powell

Saturday 1 May 2010

'We Only Want One Goal'

That was the chant of Leeds fans as today's fixture drew to a close and Charlton obliged within the minute through a match winning goal that was announced as being scored by Akpo Sodje. Sodje claimed it and got a yellow card for his celebrations, but it turns out it was an own goal. The win kept Charlton's slim hopes of automatic promotion alive, although it would take an unlikely combination of results to achieve it. But the Addicks demonstrated that they have the skill and commitment to take on the best teams in the league.

Sodje nearly made a fatal error at the beginning of the match and Randolph made a great save. Frazer Richardson tore at the Leeds defence and Charlton won a corner. A second followed shortly afterwards. Racon was called on for some good defensive work.

Semedo was down for a long time and referee Lee Probert allowed the game to continue. Borrowdale provided a good ball forward. Leeds put in a good strong shot and Randolph saved well. Burton won the ball well under pressure.

Charlton had dominated the first quarter of an hour, but Leeds managed to get back into the game more, making use of space on their right. Fortunately, their shooting was wayward. Leeds were given a rather dubious free kick in a dangerous position at an angle to the D. All that seemed to have happened was that one of their players ran into one of ours, but in the event the move ended in a Charlton free kick.

Burton and Sam combined well. Burton put in a good effort from a tight angle. The referee called the captains together after there had been a few arguments. Danger in front of goal lead to a rather doubtful Leeds corner, but Burton was able to clear.

A Leeds corner led to a break involving Lloyd Sam, producing a Charlton corner. Christian Dailly provided good defensive work. A forward run by Sodje led to a Charlton corner. Sam Sodje was given a yellow card for a foul. Leeds charm merchant Bradley Johnson was booked. Three minutes of time were added on.

Half time: Addicks 0, Whites 0

Randolph collected well from an eary attack. Semedo was confident in defence. Lloyd Sam won Charlton a corner, but Racon blasted the ball over. Burton lost possession and Randolph had to save on the line.

A shot from Racon was pushed away by the keeper and a follow up by Semedo was saved. Burton won Charlton a corner. Sam Sodje had a chance to score, but the ball ended up on top of the net. Charlton won another corner through Forster, but the move ended in a Leeds free kick for a push. Semedo was given a yellow card for dissent.

Leeds took off ex Livingston comedy turn Robert Snodgrass and brought on out-of-forward Jermaine Beckford who is going on to greater things. On 68 minutes Phil 'Must Go' Parkinson made a bold move, using all three substitutions. Burton, Forster and Racon came off and Akpo Sodje, Mooney and Reid came on. This change unsettled Leeds who had got used to the pattern of the attack.

A shot from Lloyd Sam was just over. Semedo did well in defence. Leeds took off Andrew Hughes and brought on Mike Grella who has scored five times this season. As the Leeds fans sang 'we only want one goal', Charlton scored a scrambled goal. It turned out to be an own goal, but I have heard two different versions from the media of who did the honours. Anyway, it was in the back of the net.

Reid hit the woodwork from a free kick following a deliberate handball which earned a yellow card. Five minutes on time were added on and Randolph made another great save. Shane Lowry received a yellow card for fouling Mooney but the subsequent free kick by Bailey was poor. After the usual agonising delay, the whistle blew and the celebrations could begin.

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Jose Semedo. It was a tireless performance by the Portugezer who not did his part in defence and midfield but also forged forward in defence. Darren Randolph made some superb saves to keep a clean sheet. Rumour has it that he may be departing for a higher level club which would be a shame as he has been looking beter than Elliot. Sam Sodje made a serious error at the start of the match and just missed a chance to score, but otherwise he defended valianty. Christian Dailly was a rock at the heart of the defence, Frazer Richardson was really up for it against his old club and tore into the Leeds defence more than once, as well as combining well with Sam. Gary Borrowdale was very solid and put in one or two excellent passes forward, although we did seem a bit exposed on our left in the first half. Sam had an excellent game and used his nifty footwork against the Leeds defence. Bailey was committed and involved, although he did give the ball away dangerously once through a slack pass. Racon> put in some decent defensive work and at times had to fend off as many as three players in midfield. He also had a go at goal, albeit unsuccessfully. Burton was repeatedly pushed in the back and held back but go no protection from the referee. He found some of the long balls difficult to connect with. Fosrter showed some nice touches but was never dominant in attack. Reid posed a real attacking threat when he came on and asked some questions of the Leeds defence. Mooney at least unsettled Leeds with some of his runs. Akpo Sodje didn't create a great deal, until the vital goal.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to the heavy shower of rain which soaked us as we waited for a train.

Crowd rating The bumper crowd of 23,198 was a little quiet in the second part of the first half when Charlton faded a little, but was otherwise strong. 8/10