Monday 29 October 2012

Abdul Razak recalled

Abdul Razak has been recalled by Manchester City, although his loan was supposed to last until January. The reason given for the recall is injuries to City's midfield players, although others think that City might consider that we did not make enough use of him: Razak

Opinions about him among Charlton fans have been divided with someone really liking him and others having a much more negative view. I have not really seen enough of him to form a considered view.

One criticism has been that he has been lazy but against Barnsley he was very active, pushing forward into the box and looking like the midfielder who might cause problems. There would be some of our midfielders I'd be happy to replace him with, even if his lack of experience did show sometimes. There was also perhaps a touch of youthful arrogance, but then perhaps he has something to be arrogant about.

I don't give much credence to the view that he was foisted on Chris Powell by Michael Slater because the chairman is a City supporter. That is an amusing line for spoof videos, but I doubt that Sir Chris would let his football judgment would be overriden or that Michael Slater would wish to.

Anyway, I hope he gets a chance to cause some problems for the red side of Manchester.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Perfect storm at Charlton?

This was the heading of an article by Steve Tongue which appeared in today's Independent on Sunday following up a story he wrote last week.

He writes, 'Since last week's item on the sacking of Charlton Athletic's head of development, Rick Everitt, another Valley stalwart has left and fans have now become sufficiently concerned about the direction the club are taking to set up a supporters' trust, which will hold a launch party in early December to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Charlton's return to The Valley.' [Actually the Supporters' Trust was set up before the dismissal of Everitt became known].

'Like Everitt, who was instrumental in that campaign, Wendy Perfect was a loyalist of long standing who helped run away travel, the Young Addicks and the Valley Express coach service.'

'Following the acrimonious departures of the chief executive, Steven Kavanagh, and vice-chairman, Peter Varney, last summer, supporters are asking on the Charlton Life forum who will be next and suggesting that the hugely popular manager, Chris Powell, could be at risk if results do not improve.'

'Powell is believed to have an uneasy relationship with the current regime of chairman Michael Slater - a Manchester City supporter - and Tony Jimenez the former Newcastle United vice-president,' claims Tongue.

Jonjo Shelvey interviews

In advance of today's Merseyside derby, Jonjo Shelvey has been attracting increasing attention from the media. The article in The Independent makes an interesting comparison between his progress and that of Paul Konchesky at Liverpool: Shelvey .

There was also an article in The Times yesterday which mentioned Charlton very briefly. As The Times operates behind a pay wall, I won't post a link.

Shelvey does say in The Times interview that 'I remember looking at the directors' box at Charlton and seeing [Kenny Dalglish] in. I didn't think he was coming to watch me, but it turns out he was.' Interesting that players look to see who is in the directors' box: perhaps just those who think they might be scouted.

The Times notes 'there is a refreshing honesty about Shelvey, who is as uncompromising off the pitch as he is on it. "My dad has always brought me up to respect people, but if you have your opinion and feel you are in the right don't be afraid to say it"'.

Shelvey recalls, 'I'd gone very quickly from playing in the park with my mates to sitting next to Wayne Rooney at dinner. It's a bit weird.'

Thanks to Tom Morris for tweeting me this link to an article in The Guardian: More on Shelvey .

Saturday 27 October 2012

Addicks maintain unbeaten away run at Molineux

It’s the same side as at Leeds for Charlton at Molineux, reports Paul May. Dale Stephens continues to have problems with a tight hamstring, but Matt Taylor returns from injury to the bench.

Charlton started brightly enough with Wolves looking pained if they lost possession. Dervitte had a try from distance. A right hand cross came in which Foley had plenty of time to set up and Sako was given too much time to volley in from the penalty spot into the corner of the net to make it 1-0 after 12 minutes. The defending was lax.

Pennant put a cross in, but Ebanks-Blake took it off the foot of Sako. Wolves were getting too much space on the Charlton left. Doumbia advanced, but eventually Morrison dealt with him.

Charlton won their first corner as Kerkar, Hulse and Pritchard advanced. Wolves countered from the corner, but Dervitte maintained control. Cort headed clear as Wolves threatened. Hulse was on his own up front and was beaten to balls in the air.

Kerkar was judged to have fouled Pennant in a dangerous position. Sako went straight for goal from the free kick and Hamer had to punch clear as the ball swung in towards the near post. Solly made ground and got a cross in. Pritchard put a well lofted ball over the centre half, but Hulse did not anticipate it well.

A good ball to the back post was cleared by Cort, after Evina had failed to keep the ball in play, and the subsequent moves led to a Wolves corner. Johnson volleyed over the bar from Sako’s corner.

Doyle put a ball up to the far post but Hamer was able to collect. Hulse put in a weak shot straight at the keeper. Morrison put in a great tackle on Doumbia who would otherwise have been able to turn provider for Doyle. Doumbia’s own effort was tame and easily gathered by Hamer.

An effort by Kerkar went into the side netting. This was the closest Charlton had been to scoring. An attempt by Doyle was blocked by Morrison. A header by Johnson off a free kick from Sako was claimed by Hamer. Hulse put Berra under pressure, but the follow up was disappointing.

Wolves had had most of the possession and play, but at least the Addicks went in only one behind, giving them a chance to regroup and rethink.

Wolves 1, Addicks 0

Siguardsson replaced Ebanks-Blake to add an Arctic blast to the occasion. In the opening encounters, neither side created anything significant. A Solly cross evaded Hulse. The cross came from Pennant – who was under no real pressure - into Doyle and from there to the path of Doumbia, but the goal was ruled out for offside after the ball had hit Doyle.

An excellent cross from Evina came in, Hulse attacked it, it came back off Ikeme and it broke into the path of Wilson who equalised, saving Hulse’s blushes. The home fans were unsettled. Pritchard sent the ball in, but Hulse’s free header went the wrong side of the post.

Morrison met a cross from Sako at the near post at the expense of a corner kick. The ball was eventually cleared after Sako had a second bite of the cherry. Hulse burst through and was one on one, but hit it straight at the keeper. The corner was headed clear.

Pennant whipped in a good ball but Hamer came off his line to claim. Cort headed away a cross from Ward. Henry cynically fouled Pritchard. Sako had a free kick in a dangerous position but it went straight at Hamer.

Dervitte gave the ball away, but fortunately Wolves were not to do anything with it. Forde and Edwards came on for Wolves with Pennant and Henry departing. Pennant was not happy at being taken off.

Kerkar was taken off, having had a rather quiet afternoon. Cook came on. Wolves were spending more time in the Charlton half. Hulse got the first booking of the afternoon for a rather unnecessary challenge on Berra.

Hulse headed wide from eight yards when he had the goal at his mercy, having been set up by a great cross by Solly. Three minutes were added on. Sako had a chance with his left foot but he put the ball over the bar. Doyle advanced, but Hollands tidied up well. The full time whistle blew and the boos rang out from the home fans. Charlton had maintained their unbeaten away run, but they could have taken all three points.

Unfortunately, results elsewhere meant that Charlton slipped to 20th, just two points above a relegation positon.

Friday 26 October 2012

Wolves on the rampage

Wolves were one of my picks for promotion this year. The pundits were less certain with only The Football League Paper putting them in an automatic promotion position (2nd). Four Four Two predicted a 4th place finish and The Times had them outside the play off places at 7th. There was a feeling in some quarters that the club was unsettled after all the changes in personnel and the dismal end to last season.

But it's a new era under Norwegian manager Stale Solbakken. He has managed HamKam, FC Copenhagen (where he won five titles and drew with Barcelona in the Champions League) and Cologne. However, Solbakken admits that it will take time for his new systems to bed in: Solbakken .

They have been beset with injuries this season. Whilst there are no new ones, they remain without a host of players, having lost summer signings Slawomir Peszko and Razak Boukari on top of the loss of fellow wide man Stephen Hunt.

No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson said at the beginning of the season that one to watch was Icelandic whiz kid striker Bjorn Bergmann Siguardsson. In fact, it would be possible to have over a third of a team made up of his family as his half brothers Bjami, Thodur and ex-Wolves midfielder Joey have all played for the Icelandic national team. However, Siguardsson was left on the bench when Wolves went down 2-1 to Huddersfield last Saturday.

In fact Sylvan Ebanks-Blake probably has the better goal scoring instincts. Kevin Doyle supported him well against Huddersfield and linked up well with the midfield. It was Doyle who scored both goals against Bolton in the week. Bakary Sako was an imposing presence and created the one goal, but should have scored himself. He provided one of the assists against Bolton. Tongo Doumbia is a strong presence in midfield and is often used for free kicks.

Given that Wolves conceded two goals against Bolton, one naturally looks at the defence but reports indicate that keeper Carl Ikeme made some excellent saves. Against both Huddersfield and Bolton he faced unstoppable goals as can be the case for any keeper, but otherwise acquitted himself well.

One is left with the impression that Wolves are still a work in progress, but that it should all come good by the end of the season.

Wolves ready for tasty meal

Wolves have got just one point from their last two home games, while Charlton do better away than at home, but the home side is looking forward to a tasty meal and three points tomorrow. The mood in the Wolves camp is that automatic promotion is a certainty while Charlton are there for the taking given that they were two divisions lower last season: Wolves

Charlton have won two, drawn two and lost two league matches away, while at home they have only won one and lost three. They have scored over twice as many goals away as at home.

Why is this? The most obvious difference is the formation adopted. At home we have tended to rely on 4-4-2. Away from home we have gone for 4-5-1 or often a more sophisticated variant of it. I didn't go to Leeds but as far as I could work out it was 4-1-3-1-1 or possibly 4-1-4-1. Dervitte played in front of what I think of as a strong back four and gave them some useful protection: in other words, we have found the defensive midfielder we have lacked.

Chris Powell was asked earlier in the week if he would play the same formation at Wolves as he did at Leeds and he said 'possibly'. Clearly he would be unwise to give too much away. Wolves will, of course, have had us watched and will think of ways of countering us. My impression on Tuesday was that Leeds had difficulty finding a way through our midfield.

What was less clear was how we were going to score or at any rate score the winning goal. We stepped up the pressure at the end of the game and Bradley Wright-Phillips was only denied by a stunning save from Kenny. We were, however, more exposed at the back as a result.

I am pretty sure that we will use some variant of 4-5-1 tomorrow, but it may be that Wright-Phillips will start up front. Bradley Pritchard was brought in when Dale Stephens failed a late fitness test and he accredited himself well. He may not be the most stylish or skilled player, but he puts himself about and makes a thorough nuisance of himself to the opposition.

We haven't won at Wolves in the secondtier since 1999/2000 when we won 3-2, on my 53rd birthday as I recall. The Addicks have not taken a point off them since our 2-0 home win in the Premier League in January 2004. Charlton's most recent of only five league victories at Molineux was also in the same season, when they won 4-0 in August despite going down to 10 men after Scotty Parker was sent off.

Our last two matches in the second tier at Molineux were defeats. I am not going to make a prediction as all my recent efforts have been wrong, but the odds (Coral) are home win 5/6; draw 5/2; away win 10/3.

Chris Powell thinks that we may be helped by the fact that the weight of expectation is on Wolves. In our away victories there has sometimes been a sense of 'it's only Charlton' from the home side, leading to a belief that all they have to do is turn up, play some exhibition football in a training game and walk off to the cheers of their supporters. That went sour for Leeds at least who were booed off.

Once again the officials on the pitch are from the north with a fourth official from the West Midlands so it is likely that any marginal decisions will go against the southern softies.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Clarke not to be recalled

Chris Powell has played down reports that Leon Clarke might be recalled from Scunthorpe where he has been scoring goals. Sir Chris reasonably points out that he would be less happy warming the bench for Charlton than playing for Scunthorpe.

Scunthorpe cannot afford to hang on to him when his loan expires, but there has been interest from other clubs in a more permanent deal: Clarke

Paul Jewell should have had the decency to resign at Ipswich when he was struck down by the curse of Charlton, but he has finally gone. Inevitably, journos are putting Curbs in the frame. However, this time it does make some sense. Curbs took a lot of Charlton's Premiership players from Ipswich and it is not too far from Essex. Also, Ipswich are looking for a manager who has secured promotion from the second tier which Curbs has done twice.

Ipswich have a long list of 34 names, but Alan Curbishley and Mick McCarthy are the favourites according to the BBC so it could be a battle between former South London managers.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Who will be next Palace manager?

There are no clear favourites: Steve Coppell is out in front, but that would be very much a retread appointment. Lennie Lawrence is in with a chance at 8-1, but that will depend on what happens over the next match or two. At least Alan Curbishley is not in the frame. Should Mick McCarthy take the job, which is unlikely, he would only need to add Charlton to complete the trio of South London clubs: Palace

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Useful away point at Leeds

Charlton had what looked like a relatively defensive line up at Elland Road, reports Paul May. Evina and Dervitte both got a start, while former Leeds man Hulse was on his own up front. Pritchard started alongside Jackson with Stephens not appearing and Callum Harriot being promoted to the bench. The Leeds line up included former Addick Luke Varney.

Charlton won a corner after 20 seconds thanks to good work by Hulse. The Addicks started positively with Leeds unable to get out of their own half. A cross from Wilson had to be plucked out of the air by Kenny.

The Leeds crowd was quiet, but was able to cheer the award of a goal kick. The Addickted started up a chorus of Valley Floyd Road. Pritchard gave away a free kick 25 yards out after Leeds made their first advance through Varney. The free kick was cleared.

Leeds won their first corner, but the header sailed well over the bar. Leeds attacked but Charlton countered and won a free kick. Evina fouled Byram to concede a free kick. The ball was headed away by Cort. Then Cort had to put in a great block on a shot and Wilson had to clear.

The Charlton midfield was giving Leeds problems. Leeds had posed no real threat as the halfway point in the half approached. However, Charlton’s dominance had not really created a chance. Then a Jackson free kick created one, but Cort put it wide.

Becchio was booked for kicking the ball into the Leeds supporters as frustration started to show.

Leeds made an attack in which Diouf was prominent, but Pritchard was able to scramble the ball away for a Leeds throw in. Then with nine minutes to go Leeds went one ahead with the ball lashed into the corner of the net, although Cort had a push in the back as the ball went into the penalty area and arguably Charlton should have had a free kick.

Jackson had a great chance, but put the ball wide. An attempt made by Hulse from thirty yards went well wide when Jackson was dashing into the penalty area.

Leeds were starting to look more comfortable in possession. Pritchard won a corner from Charlton. Jackson took the corner and the ball, possibly from Hulse, came off the woodwork to go out for a free kick. A shot from Paul Green was blocked by Morrison, but in any case the flag went up.

Three minutes were added on but the final phase was uneventful. A flag went up late against Hulse but Kenny saved anyway. Charlton had got no reward for their efforts and the players surrounded the referee to complain about the goal that had not been ruled out, and a terrible two footed challenge in time added on, while a furious Chris Powell went to the centre circle to talk to the referee.

HT: 1-0

Leeds won an early corner after Becchio tried to steer the ball in. The corner was unproductive.

Charlton equalised through Dervitte who slammed the ball in the corner of the net to score his first goal for Charlton to the delight of the Addickted. Justice was done! The Addickted kept up their chants.

An effort by Diouf was blocked by Evina at the expense of a corner. Dervitte headed away, the ball came back in, but Morrison headed away. Leeds kept up the pressure and Cort had to head the ball out for a corner. The ball was eventually belted clear.

Cort was keeping a close eye on Diouf. Pritchard sent the ball in for Hulse but it was just ahead of him, but the former Leeds man applauded the one time Hayes and Yeading player who was covering every blade of grass.

Wilson got away on the right, but despite poor defending by Leeds Kerkar was unable to put the ball away. A cross by Diouf was eased away by Morrison while the charm merchant lost his boot.

Pritchard was booked for a foul while the news came through that it was 3-3 at the New Den after Millwall had been 3-0 up. Leeds decided to go for a double substitution, Varney and Paul Green going off.

Evina had to put the ball behind for the fifth Leeds corner of the game. The ball went over the bar and Cort made a great interception to deny what otherwise would have been a goal as the halfway point of the half was reached.

A shot from Norris was blocked. Dervitte was given the ball away rather carelessly. Becchio was taken off and one time Addick Andy Gray was brought on.

Leeds won their seventh corner. Charlton needed some fresh legs, but there was no sign of any activity on the Charlton bench. Pritchard got inside the box, but was challenged well. Charlton won a corner as they came close to taking a lead as Solly threatened. Jackson’s corner was a good one, but no one was able to connect.

News came through that Barnsley had equalised against Palace. Kerkar had a chance from six yards out but he put it wide. Hulse was taken off after a good performance to applause from the Leeds supporters and was replaced by Wright-Phillips.

The referee gave a free kick to Charlton in a promising position. Jackson got a yellow card for a late challenge. Hamer claimed well from the free kick. Wright-Phillips got a yellow card for a hand ball. Wilson advanced, Wright-Phillips was denied at point blank range by Kenny. The corner was headed away as the match entered stoppage time.

There was a real scramble in the six yard area and Leeds won a corner in the third minute of stoppage time, but Wilson belted it away. Good work by Pritchard set up Wright-Phillips who put in a volley towards the top corner, but Kenny made a stunning save. The corner went out of play.

Wyn Grant Apparently Leeds were booed off at the end of the match for failing to claim the expected three easy points. Charlton remain 18th in the table, at the lower end of the range of pre-season predictions by pundits (13th-18th).

Lennie Lawrence in charge at Palace

Lennie Lawrence is in temporary charge of Crystal Palace after Dougie Freedman left for Bolton Wanderers. Freedman is desperate for Premier League football and, reasonably enough, thinks there is a better chance of securing that with Bolton. However, the failure to renew his contract suggests that the Palace owners did not think he was the long-term solution anyway: Freedman

The search for a replacement is already under way. How long before some journo mentions Alan Curbishley?

Hamer dons suit of armour

Charlton goalkeeper Ben Hamer is depicted as encased in a suit of armour as he prepares for tonight's game at Elland Road. He might as well be as Leeds have scored eighteen goals in their last eight home matches.

The New York Addick is always reminding us that football is a game of thin margins and so it has proved so far this season with all our defeats being by one goal. This confirms my view that we are just a couple of players short of a truly competitive side.

The Leeds fan who assaulted Chris Kirkland at Hillsborough on Friday has been now been dealt with by the courts: Moron

Leeds are not a popular club in some quarters, something that dates back to the 1980s, but I have a lot of sympathy with any fans who have to put up with England's Mr Football, cuddly Ken Bates, as chairman. Let's hope he doesn't turn up at The Valley once the takeover at Leeds is completed. However, the Leeds fan writing in Four Four Two says that he deserves credit for keeping the club afloat.

The takeover by Islamic finance outfit Gulf Finance House has proved to be very protracted, the latest development being difficulties over compliance with Sharia law given that the club sells bacon rolls, dispenses alcohol and offers opportunities for gambling. However, it is thought that a way can be found to get round this and obtain the necessary fatwa. Leeds should then be able to strengthen the team in the January transfer window (they are one of my promotion picks).

I have a good friend who is a Leeds supporter. Born and growing up in Guernsey, he did not take the conventional route of following Southampton and then went to university in Leeds so that he could support his team. A little more difficult now that he lives in Malmo from where he commutes to his job in Copenhagen.

I think he is likely to have bragging rights tonight. With Fuller and Kermorgant now both injured, we will probably revert to the 4-4-1-1, although there has been a lot of debate among the Addickted among the merits or otherwise of Razak. Wright-Phillips has also come in for some criticism and I don't think that he really flourishes as a lone striker. He works better with a partner.

Leeds fans would probably admit that their current team is not perfect. Last season they finished 14th, but Four Four Two predicted a 2nd place finish. The Football League Paper had them 5th, but The Times thought that a top six finish would be difficult given a turbulent summer during which manager Neil Warnock came close to resignation. Leeds are currently 9th, but the table is closely packed and a win tonight could move them up quite a way.

I have a lot of reservations about Paddy Kenny in the Leeds goal and against the Owls he nearly let in a howler from a speculative shot from Boothroyd. Against Wednesday, Tom Lees was good in patches but often looked out of control and was beaten too easily. Aiden White did his job defensively, but offered very little going forward. Sam Byram offered a performance below his usual standard. Rodolph Austin was fresh from playing Jamaica and looked laboured and tired, but Michael Brown got stuck in and galvanised the team. It was a superb piece of individual skill by Michael Tonge that got the point for Leeds. Becchio offered very little up front, but charm merchant El-Hadji Diouf was always a threat.

Given that he is facing Charlton and it is one of three games in a week, manager Neil Warnock intends to rest any players with the hint of a problem: Warnock

Leeds are not invincible and Charlton did bounce back from the home defeat against Watford to secure a surprise win against Blackpool, but I think that the Seasiders are a more erratic team than Leeds. The Addicks do tend to play better away from home, but I think this looks like a home win for Leeds by at least 2-0. I still remember the 1-6 home defeat by Leeds in the Premiership when the Covered End did a conga. Odds (Coral) are home win 17/20, draw 5/2, Charlton 27/10. All the officials are from the north, so we can expect no quarter for southern softies. Away reporter Paul May will be covering the game.

Monday 22 October 2012

Bolton in for Freedman

Radio 5 is reporting that Bolton have made an official approach to Crystal Palace to secure the services of their manager Dougie Freedman.

Some 'print' media are reporting that Palace have already refused Bolton permission to speak to Freedman, but others say that they are still weighing it up: Freedman . This may be a case of the Sub-Standard getting it wrong again, but there is some useful background in the article.

Richard 'Creepy' Crawley of Pravda has confirmed that Palace have refused permission, but does not think this is the end of the matter as it could depend on how much compensation Bolton are prepared to offer. However, he seems to be getting some abuse both externally and even in the office for this if one is to believe Twitter.

In fact Crawley was right, however much he upset some Palace fans, as the club has announced on its website that they have given Freedman permission to speak to Bolton.

Palace have exceeded the expectations of most pundits this season, but Freedman has just six months left on his contract and has not yet been offered another one.

Condolences to Radostin Kishishev

I would like to offer my condolences to this former Addick on the loss of his wife to cancer at the age of 38: Kishishev . She had appeared to overcome the disease, but then deteriorated in the last month.

All of us get passionate about football, but there are more important things, not least the loss of a family member at a young age. Like everyone, I have lost friends to this disease.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Press comment on Charlton

Developments at Charlton have attracted press comment today from the Mail on Sunday and The Independent on Sunday

The Mail article states:

Charlton fans are increasingly exasperated at how their club is being run under chairman Michael Slater — a Manchester City fan, bizarrely knocked out by Spanish police while watching his team recently — and at the influence of co-owner Tony Jimenez, a former vice-president of Newcastle.

The latest upset was a club stalwart, Rick Everitt, being sacked. When Charlton were homeless, Everitt formed the Valley Party political party [with others - Wyn] that won 15,000 votes in the 1990 elections and led to a new home. He was also behind fans’ transport initiatives and ‘Football for a Fiver’ days, the most recent being yesterday’s game against Barnsley.

Charlton say Everitt was sacked for gross misconduct, unspecified. Meanwhile, money is so tight Charlton have accepted a lower settlement on ‘add-ons’ from Jonjo Shelvey’s transfer to Liverpool.

Steve Tongue writing in the Independent on Sunday said:

Charlton Athletic supporters are pondering the irony of the club stalwart Rick Everitt being sacked this week, just as one of his initiatives produced their highest attendance of the season for yesterday's game against Barnsley.

Everitt, the club's Head of Development, was behind the "Football for a Fiver" promotion for all fans, including away supporters, as well as instigating the "Valley Express" service of coaches which were used to bring in fans from all over Kent and Sussex.

Previously editor of the influential Voice of the Valley fanzine, Everitt had been a key campaigner in bringing Charlton back to the Valley in 1992 after seven years in exile at Selhurst Park and Upton Park. The club declined to comment.'

To be fair, it is difficult to comment on matters which may subsequently enter the employment tribunal system or be subject to other legal proceedings.

One should not exaggerate the exasperation of fans: newer fans may be less concerned that long-standing ones. However, fans had become used to a very transparent regime at The Valley with a lot of fan involvement, even if some of it was rather superficial. New owners may wish to go down a different route, particularly if they are seeking new investment and some matters have to be treated as commercially confidential. But a little more explanation of what the strategic vision is might be helpful.

Less than perfect

Reasonably reliable reports are indicating that Wendy Perfect has handed in her notice at The Valley. This is not a great surprise given that she has worked closely with Rick Everitt over the years and I understand that the two families were friendly. Both she and Rick were Labour councillors on the same authority at one point.

Wendy Perfect has worked tirelessly for the club, particularly making a continuing success of Valley Gold. Only yesterday she was selling tickets for the raffle. I would like to thank her for everything she has done for the club.

My observer outside the West Stand reports that he did not see Richard Murray entering yesterday, but it is possible that he did not come at his usual time.

For some reason in recent days I have been recalling my time living and working in Berlin when it was a divided city at the height of the Cold War. Our alleged CIA front organisation was trying to fathom out what was going on in the DDR (East Germany) and sometimes I have felt that way about Charlton recently. Have we got our Charlton back?

Saturday 20 October 2012

Simply not good enough

'I don't know who was worse - us or the referee'. That was the comment of Steve from Petts Wood as Charlton went down 0-1 at home to Barnsley to fall to 18th in the table. The only good thing about the day from a Charlton perspective was the attendance of over 26,000, and it is questionable how many of them will be encouraged to come back.

It's easy to blame the referee, but I was not convinced that the penalty earnt by Solly was one at the time and apparently the replays tend to confirm this. I did, however, think that I saw the ball cross the line in the goalmouth scramble.

But the fact is that we were outplayed by Barnsley for most of the match. We had a storming finish, but by then we were down to ten men with Fuller having gone off injured having apparently pulled his hamstring and all three substitutes used up. Barnsley were crisper in their passing, faster to the ball and kept possession better.

Our back four are the strongest part of our set up. I remain seriously concerned about the midfield and I am not sure that bringing Jackson on at half time changed things much for the better. Bradley Pritchard made some impact when he came on for the hapless Green.

Up front I am not sure that 4-4-1-1 works at home and this appeared to be confirmed when Wright-Phillips came on at half time, although Razak hadn't done that much wrong. For once Chris Powell threw caution to the winds in his substitutions and it didn't work out. Dale Stephens said in the programme that he thought most of the players had made the step up to the Championship level, but unfortunately I don't think they have.

Match report

The train from London Bridge was crowded and I was sitting next to a well-spoken group, one of whom had worked in China and had a stylish Chinese girl friend. They were debating whether they should have gone to Fulham instead, but the £5 seats were seen as a big attraction. Probably they regretted it later. As the Football League Paper commented this morning, 'In a week where the cost of watching football was under scrutiny, there was little of value on display'.

I had pointed out in my preview that Barnsley have some good players, one or two of whom are being watched by Premiership sides. They certainly did well in the midfield battle in the first half, while Stones - usually unmarked - was always a threat as he foraged forward.

Their keeper Alnwick is well regarded, but he did make an early mistake which gave Charlton an early corner, but he was able to catch it without too much trouble. Green did put in a good tackle to stop a threatening Barnsley attack. Good work by Wilson won Charlton a corner.

Hamer had to make a rather routine save. Kerkar put in a good cross, but there was no one there to connect. Would there have been if Bradley Wright-Phillips had been on the pitch. Charlton won a free kick just outside the 'D', but it came off the wall. It is on occasions like these that Jackson can be very useful.

Dagnall threatened and should have scored, but he messed it up - which perhaps helps to explain why the Tykes aren't higher up the table. Fuller put in a decent cross. Barnsley won a corner. Their first attempt was intercepted and Hamer, the walking advert for laser eye surgery, caught well from the second. Charlton won a free kick and Razak drew an excellent save from Alnwick whuch led to an unproductive Charlton corner. Golbourne had been putting himself about and earned a yellow card. Dale Stephens put in a free kick which would have gone if the alert Alnwick had not tipped it over.

HT: Addicks 0, Tykes 0

Clearly things had to be changed and Sir Chris made his double substitution. You're damned if you and damned if you don't, but something radical was needed. A Charlton free kick taken by Jackson was unproductive. Dagnall managed to miss a scoring opportunity again, but we were running out of get out of gaol cards. Sure enough Barnsley went ahead, an error by Green giving them the opportunity. Hamer was at the near post and Cywka turned the ball in from an impossible angle. To be fair, it was one of the better goals I have seen this season.

Green was taken off and Pritchard came on. All those around me went ballistic when Solly was challenged from behind, but it looked like a fair if robust challenge to me and I think the referee made the right decision in not awarding a penalty. Solly lost his rag shortly afterwards and there was an outbreak of handbags which led to Solly and Dawson getting yellow cards.

Clearly I need to go to Specsavers (actually I use another optician but a car drove into their store recently) as I thought the ball had crossed the line in the goalmouth scramble, but someone who was in line with the goal assures me it did not. In any event Wright-Phillips was judged to have fouled the keeper as a number of players ended up in a heap.

Barnsley used up their three substitutions in the four minutes added on, but by then I knew that we were not going to score even when Hamer was waved forward by Sir Chris. On the Northern Line, bemused passengers were serenaded with chants of 'To the Barns-ley 1-0.'

Barnsley manager Keith Hill commented, 'We controlled everything - having the ball is key and so is getting it back. If we keep the ball the opposition can't score, and if we press the opposition they can't be creative. Football is a simple game which gets confused by people who want to retain their jobs.' I suspect that this remark was directed at the would be Italian owners of Barnsley who have hinted that they will want a more sophisticated manager.

Any team coming to The Valley knows we can be shaken at home. Our away fixture at Leeds is a tough one, but anything is possible.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has given the Silver Bone to Lawrie Wilson who shows a nice turn of speed, will take players on and can put in a decent cross. Hamer didn't actually have a lot to do, as Barnsley didn't make the best use of a number of their chances which perhaps explains their recent record. There was nothing he could do about the goal. Morrison who was captain managed to snuff out a number of Barnsley attacks by being in the right place at the right time. He is one player who has made the step up. Some fans have criticised Cort but I thought that he had a solid game and generally dealt with Davis well. Solly had another generally good game and I would not be surprised if he departs in the January transfer window. Hollands was simply woeful and was rightly taken off at half time. Stephens was not very impressive overall and finally got booked for an unnecessary foul. Green kept drifting into the middle when he was supposed to be on the wing and then set up Barnsley's goal through an error. Razak showed some very neat footwork and he is clearly a player of great potential. It may be felt that he was affected by the serious riot that broke out when he was on the bench for Ivory Coast in their match in Senegal after the visitors took a 6-2 aggregate lead. Kerkar showed some sublime skill getting round or tricking players, but it did always lead to anything, although that was not necessariy his fault. Faded as the game went on. Fuller displayed his experience, but he never really got close to scoring, but losing him to a hamstring injury is a blow. Jackson didn't make a great difference when he came on. Wright-Phillips showed plenty of commitment when he came on, but was not able to be a game changer. The 'he's better than Shaun' chant from the Covered End sounded a bit half hearted. Pritchard always plays to the limit of his abilities, but he was unable to unsettle Barnsley as much as some other teams which reflects credit on them. He did get a shot in on goal at the end which is to his credit given the lack of shots by us during the game.

Hiss of the Match Referee Russell got booed off, but I think that he did try to get most of the decisions right and kept the game flowing. However, this was clearly not the view of the row behind me whose colourful language about the referee drew a wry smile from the two young boys in front of me. The jobsworths at Charlton Station didn't try to stop me boarding my train (which is more of a concern at evening matches when I am trying to make the last train home). Apart from the game, everything went well. As my wife said when I set off, 'they won't do much' and she was right. So no hiss of the match.

Disgraceful scenes at Friday game

Disgraceful scenes last night at the 1-1 draw between Sheffield Wednesday with Owls goalkeeper Chris Kirkland being attacked by a fan who came from the Leeds end. Leeds United have apologised and the chair of the Supporters' Club at Leeds says he is 'distressed' by what happened, as he should be. No place in football for this sort of thing: Hillsborough

It is being alleged on Twitter that this gentleman might have some connection with the incident: Not a hooligan

I have to say that I know Leeds fans who are perfectly decent people, but unfortunately some find football a satisfying arena for their moronic behaviour.

Friday 19 October 2012

Up against the Tykes

I have stayed in every substantial northern city from Liverpool to Newcastle and I have visited many smaller urban centres such as Carlisle, Burnley and Wigan. But I have never been to Barnsley.

What do I know about Barnsley? In my first year at university I shared a room with 'Chuffing' Keith from Barnsley, so known because of his repeated use of the word. Keith was a cycling fanatic before it became so fashionable and his racing bike was often in pieces all over the carpet.

Years later I heard horrific accounts of a Friday night in Barnsley from someone who lived there. It was very much at the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield and the end of mining hit it hard. However, I went through Barnsley on the train in the summer and it looked as if it had been spruced up quite a bit. And soon it could become an Italian owned club. I doubt whether its founders 125 years ago would have anticipated that.

Barnsley are one of a small number of clubs who have only been in the top flight for one season ever. It may be that Curbs had them in mind when he said that some clubs had treated promotion as 'having a party' and the Charlton approach would be much more serious.

We haven't played the Tykes at home much in the recent past. We beat them 3-1 in 1999/00. We drew 1-1 in 2007-8 and then suffered a humiliating 1-3 defeat in 2008/9 under Alan Pardew.

Our 2-2 draw in 1997 in front of a crowd of 9,142 erupted in a big outbreak of handbags involving 17 players in the 89th minute after Hendrie scored the equaliser, his sixth goal in three visits to The Valley. Goalkeeper Andy Petterson continued the argument with the referee and got a yellow card; Robinson used 'foul and abusive language', no doubt telling the referee to get back to Preston; and an angry Keith Jones kicked the ball away.

Manager Keith Hill managed to get Rochdale their first promotion in 36 seasons and then ninth in League One. Without him, they sank back to relative obscurity. He is used to operating on a shoestring as Barnsley play their seventh consecutive season at this level, no mean feat. His coaching ethos is based on attractive football allied to hard graft, a formula he thinks can overcome southern softies.

It's a relatively youthful side with Jacob Mellis brought in from Chelsea after letting off a smoke grenade at their training ground. They are, however, inclined to concede goals, 74 last season, finishing 21st.

Four Four Two forecast they would prop up the table at the end of the season. The Football League Paper also thought they would be relegated, but third from bottom. The Times also had them bottom. This probably means they will stay up. They are currently 19th

They have some good players. In goal, Ben Alnwick is reliable and is a very accurate kicker of the ball. Young right back John Stones is a target for bigger clubs. He loves to get forward and will be a real threat tomorrow. Scott Golbourne is a crisp passer of the ball and Stephen Dawson is tireless in the engine room. Mellis is always very lively and capable of causing some real problems. David Perkins is a midget midfielder, but he always gives his all. Former Wolves man Craig Davies can be a threat. Marlon Harewood has a questionable fitness record and made his first appearance in the 1-0 defeat at Leeds. He missed a couple of decent chances.

Coral are offering 11/10 for a Charlton win, 9/4 for a draw and 5/2 for a Barnsley win. No match is a foregone conclusion in this highly competitive division, but I am going for a 2-0 win for the Addicks.

Barnsley unsettled by takeover talk

Barnsley is hardly the most glamorous location in the Championship, but foreign investors are always looking for opportunities and an Italian consortium may swoop on the debt free club: Barnsley

Apparently this has unsettled the management team who have done well on the lowest budget in the Championship. This season they recorded a spectacular 5-0 victory at Birmingham City, a club also beset by troubles.

I notice that the Prague Addick, an active supporter of the Valley Party, has mounted a defence of the current regime at Charlton. Read it here: Prague Addick . Their case does need to be heard as they rescued the club when it was on the brink of administration.

However, there have been worrying rumours since then, reinforced by a general picture of Championship finances presented yesterday by PKF, the administrators at Portsmouth. A summary and a link is here: Leagues Apart . The lack of transparency about who the ultimate funders of the club might be is bound to unsettle supporters. But what we need to do tomorrow is to get behind Chris Powell and the team.

I will write about Barnsley as a side in more detail later in the day.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Elliott move tokenism?

The Paul Elliott story has, I understand, just being mentioned by Richard Keys on TalkSport in a discussion with a journo about racism in sport. It was suggested that his appointment might be tokenism.

This is the problem with the way in which this story is perceived in the media. To most Addicks, Paul Elliott is a respected former player who has continued doing important community work. Much of that is directed at racism, but people do not think of him in terms of the colour of his skin but what he has achieved.

Further checking has led me to believe that the Paul Elliott story arose from someone in the club talking to the Mirror journalist. It is not my belief that this person was Rick Everitt, now on his bike in the Isle of Thanet, contrary to suggestions elsewhere. I think that what happened was that someone let the cat out of the bag too quickly. That of itself might make it more difficult to proceed. But whilst I do not think it will happen in the immediate future, Elliott's appointment as executive chair remains an option.

Football for a fiver

Saturday sees 'Football for a Fiver' day at The Valley and the figures are already looking very encouraging, no doubt helped by the efforts of Rick Everitt and his team of elves before his departure. Incidentally, I always thought that part of the Rickster's role was to act as an informal intermediary between the management of the club and its fans, but then, of course, I am not privy to the details of his contract and the proceedings that have taken place. When the matter enters the public domain, perhaps we shall learn more.

Anyway, Rick has encouraged us to support the club and get behind Chris Powell and the 'boys' (copyright, Big Dave Lockwood). Rick is the first person to recognise that it is the club that ultimately matters.

Hopefully, the occasion will bring back many 'lapsed' Addicks and also encourage some 'first timers' to come to The Valley. I was myself a 'born again' Addick as Rick once described me in Voice of the Valley which looks as if it might return soon. When my children were growing up, plus the fact of living in the Midlands and my sadness at the club playing at Selhurst Park, I simply 'followed' Charlton from afar. I first returned to The Valley in the away end with a friend who was a Burnley fan, but once the East Stand opened, I was back. As they say, you can take the man out of Charlton, but you can never take Charlton out of the man.

This brings me on to the subject of attendances which never ceases to be a source of fascination to football fans. At my non-league club, there is an online competition to guess the crowd before the game. It is then possible to get a fairly accurate estimate of the crowd by looking round the ground, making sure not to count the dogs. If the figure is out of line with what people think it should be, complaints break out that someone has skimmed off some of the money or that the attendance has been inflated to boost the chairman's ego.

Even at league level, the figures are never accurate. In the days of 75,000+ attendances at The Valley it is clear that were many more people in the ground who had got in without paying.

There was also a suspicion in sepia-toned times that at some clubs the full attendance was not declared to avoid paying 'entertainment' tax which is perhaps why the results published the receipts as well as the attendance. There were also cases of gatemen trousering some of the money.

These days season ticket holders are included in the attendance figures whether they are there or not. This is because the levy on attendance that is paid to the Football League has take into account all season tickets which are seats paid for in advance. Even before Rick's team of elves was disbanded, it would have not been a good use of time and effort to count all the tickets torn off to get an accurate figure.

It's all worth noting that there are quite a lot of comps. For example, the referee gets a number of tickets, either for his mum or for mates who like to follow their favourite man in black.

This brings to mind another non-league story. I was very surprised to see a female acquaintance at our ground. As far as I knew she had no interest in football, lived some forty miles away and, anyway, the away team was from another part of the country altogether. But she was following the game intently, walking up and down as the play shifted.

So I asked her why she was there and it turned out that the lino on our side was her boy friend. She was simply there to admire his deft use of the flag or to shout her support for a particularly good offside call.

Of course, there were some people you will never get inside a football ground. As it so happens, we are having a reunion for my wife's family on Sunday and among those attending will be my brother-in-law Nigel. He has resolutely refused to attend when we have celebrated milestone birthdays with a sponsorship at The Valley.

One might say this was understandable given that he grew up in Thornton Heath and his father was Palace through and through. At one time the family lived in the road that was later the home of the double glazer involved in the Cantona incident. Indeed, my wife asked her father if she could go to Selhurst with him, but he said fooball was not for girls. Fortunately, she started work in Woolwich when she was fifteen and the rest, as they say, is history.

In fact Nigel detests football which is a perfectly understandable reaction to growing up in a Palace household. Instead he follows the boys and girls in lycra and professes not to know that there is a football league club in Crawley where he now lives.

David Mellor was once outed for switching his support from Fulham to Chelsea. In fact, as the work of Stefan Szymanski has shown, there is far more 'churn' in football support than is generally acknowledged.

For example, my father grew up in North Woolwich and he started life as a West Ham supporter. Once the family moved to the Progress Estate in Eltham, his cousin encouraged his Addicktion. When we moved to Essex, he started to go to Southend because it was an easy journey and one of his mates at work went there, although he still followed Charlton. When he retired to Cornwall, he became a Falmouth Town supporter and one of the last matches we watched together was Falmouth beating Mousehole 10-1.

There was an Addick I used to have a drink with before the game. He lived nearby, had a season ticket, went to some away games and sponsored a player. Some time after we left the Premiership, he gave up his season ticket and the last time I saw him at a match was the play off against Swindon.

Will he be back on Saturday? Somehow I doubt it. As the New York Addick has pointed out, we seem to have lost some of our fans for good. This can be for a whole variety of reasons: work, family, health, relocation and sometimes boredom or disillusionment. Come On You Reds!

The BBC has just released a lot of data on the comparative cost of attending football matches at different clubs. I haven't fully digested this, and apparently Huddersfield offers the best 'value' in our division, but we seem to compare well on the cheapest season ticket: Value For Money

This blog posting is also relevant to the debate: Cost of football

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Mr Robin has left the building

Rick Everitt has posted the following statement on Charlton life: I can confirm that I have today been sacked by the club by email in a letter from Martin Prothero but signed in his absence by the club's personnel manager Helen Reed. I understand Martin has not been at The Valley today. This is the decision of a disciplinary hearing that took place on Friday, September 28th, 19 days ago, and according to the club is the culmination of a disciplinary process that began on Tuesday, July 10th - more than 14 weeks ago.

I hope you will understand that I have not been able to respond to the many kind and generous postings about this situation on this thread over the last five weeks. I would, however, like sincerely to thank everyone who has posted messages of support, both publicly and privately - and of course those who have pointed out that I am not the only person responsible for the many things in which I have been involved over the last 14 years or in my previous roles outside the club are entirely correct. The club must go on and that is what matters.

I would also like to thank my colleagues across the staff at The Valley for their staunch support over the last five difficult weeks and over the many years that preceded it, as well as Corinna who has had to live with me and hear me rehearse the issues at second hand. I know I am not the only one who has found it stressful.

I am not going to go into the details of the allegations at this time, but I am absolutely confident that when they emerge - together with the truth about the termination of Peter Varney and Steve Kavanagh's positions at the club - it will be apparent to all of you that I have never compromised my loyalty and commitment to the club or its supporters. All these matters will shine a powerful light into what is going on behind the scenes and the people involved.

I have always been mindful that I have been extraordinarily lucky to have worked at Charlton for more than 14 years, to have enjoyed the support of people like Steve, Peter, Richard Murray, Martin Simons and many others, and to be able to put into action so many of my ideas, like Valley Express, Football for a Fiver and all the other initiatives. That is the context and I am proud of my record as an employee and a supporter, and the fact that it will all culminate on Saturday in a near-capacity crowd and a record Valley Express service. It is a spectacular irony that they have chosen this week to act.

I would also like to make clear, in view of the fact that Richard's name has been mentioned in this thread, to point out that I have no dispute with him and he has not been involved in this process. As an employee I had many heated arguments, but not with Richard. The chairman is rarely involved in day to day matters or seen at the ground; he and I saw more of each other before I worked for the club. Mostly, in fact, the arguments were with Peter or more latterly Steve, but we always respected each other's motives and that is still the case. They are and remain my friends, and I regard Richard in the same way.

Back in 2001, in my final editorial in the last Voice of The Valley, I wrote that having got back to Floyd Road, going back to the Voice if and when it was necessary would be relatively easy. So it will be.

Finally, please stay solidly behind Chris Powell, whatever happens on the pitch in the next few weeks. As we all know, he is a special person and we need him more than ever to be part of our club and to know that we are with him, whatever the future brings.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Elliott story denied

Charlton chairman Michael Slater has denied that Paul Elliott has been offered the role of chairman at Charlton. It is interesting to read the wording of what he said in the News Shopper: 'While Paul’s fine credentials are there for everyone to see and he is much admired by the directors, he has not been offered any position at the club. Whatever the future holds for Paul, the board wishes him well.'

This statement does not rule out him ever being offered a position at the club. The future could hold that for him. What I have heard is that consideration was certainly given to making him executive chairman, thus obviating the need to appoint a chief executive officer.

The Mirror can get things wrong, but it is interesting that apparently Sky ran the story. I have done work for Sky and Sky Sports News for many years, both out of the Isleworth and Millbank studios, and more recently by having the satellite truck come round to my home and using the hanging baskets in the garden as a backdrop. They have always impressed me as a highly professional news organisation.

Something is going on at the club and I regard that as good news rather than bad news. The club needs new ideas, new investment and new faces and I don't blame the board for looking for all of them, quite the contrary. Don't expect immediate developments, but don't expect business as usual either.

Monday 15 October 2012

Tweet in haste, repent at leisure

That is what some footballers have learnt recently. Even so, the social media are clearly here to stay. But for those of us in the blogosphere sourcing and then verifying stories is far from straightforward. Indeed, Peter Varney once complained to me that I fell below journalistic standards after I had written something he didn't like. More recently, it has been suggested that an effort should be made to get this and other blogs banned. Against that, Richard Murray once held a meeting for Charlton bloggers at The Valley.

Some of our best blogs have fallen into quiesence. Iberian Valley no longer posts, nor does the excellent Charlton Athletic Online by Pedro. New York Addick and his partner have had a third child. Having reared three, my advice to him is to make it four to avoid two against one battles. NYA's posts are, however, particularly thoughtful and original.

BTW, I do realise that my list of links is not up to date and I will try to attend to that soon. One of the perils of being 'semi' retired is that everyone is knocking at your door with part-time job and consultancy offers: I turned down the job in London, but I have accepted some of the consultancy work.

I do some freelance media work now and then. Sky and Sports News usually contact me on a slow news day and give me an assignment like standing in front of the Shakespeare Birthplace at Stratford and talking about 'Englishness' while Japanese tourists decide that I am a better target for their cameras than the birthplace itself.

I also provide some material to print journalists and, as they know that I am an Addick, they sometimes give me a tip off in return. That's why I was amused when my story on Curbs being approached by Bolton was dimissed as 'bull****' in a comment which is presumably why The Times gave it prominent billing.

Under the ancien regime, I did have contacts in the Charlton press office who would occasionally give me a story, while Curbs himself occasionally gave me some background. I no longer have any of those contacts.

Even so, I did think that I had good verification for the Paul Elliott story and, indeed, I believe it was run by Sky (not that I would know as the local council in the Royal Spa bans satellite dishes). However, nothing further has appeared and some sources are saying it was never a runner. It is perhaps significant that Richard 'Creepy' Crawley at Pravda has been reduced today to tweeting about a cardigan being left on the back of his office chair. However, just because nothing has been said, does not mean that it won't happen.

The story about possible Russian investment was far more speculative which is why I wrote it in a more light hearted tone. It did, however, acquire legs on Charlton Life. A story in the Financial Times today about football investors getting 'cold feet' may tell us in code what we need to know.

However, I do believe that the club continues (quite rightly) to seek further investment. We are in a league where many clubs either have big parachute payments or foreign investors. We may be a 'tinpot' club as one Wednesday supporter described us but there is a lot of potential: good stadium with scope for further development; first rate training facilities; a location in the world city of London and near to projected developments in the Thames Gateway. Add in a new London airport on the Hoo peninsula and it all starts to add up.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Disappointing start for Waggy

Scott Wagstaff had a disappointing start to his return to League 1 football as the O's went down 2-0 to Bournemouth, giving the Cherries their first home victory of the season. Cherries keeper David James, no doubt thinking about the workload in the third year of his economics degree, fumbled one cross, but the visitors were unable to take advantage.

Wagstaff was taken off after 80 minutes. The Football League Paper gave him a score of 4, saying that 'he hardly touched the ball'. He is probably far from match fit.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Elliott in as chairman

Paul Elliott is to become chairman of Charlton, replacing Michael Slater who wants to take more of a back seat role (and possibly to have more freedom to watch Manchester City): Elliott

Catering staff are currently taking a well-earned break, but there is a suggestion that Elliott will serve as executive chairman and there will be no chief executive officer, thus solving two problems at once.

The media emphasis will no doubt be on the fact that he will be the first Afro-Caribbean chairman of a major club, alongside one of the few black managers. For me, it is record as a former Addick that is at least equally significant, although I admire his efforts to fight racism.

Shelvey gets England debut

Former Addick Jonjo Shelvey got his England debut last year when he came on in the 66th minute for Michael Carrick in the match against international pub team San Marino. Roy Hodgson had clearly disregarded the advice of readers who thought he was the least deserving of the players called up: Shelvey

The Times this morning thought that had done well: 'Added directness to England's play. Looked a livewire in a match played at a slow pace.' He is unlikely to feature against Poland, however.

One report suggests that his appearance will trigger a 250k payment to Charlton, but I cannot confirm this. It has also been claimed that we have already received two payments of 250k based on appearances with Liverpool, but again I cannot verify this as the contract is not in the public domain.

No Championship football today, but a chance to support your local non-league team in National Non-League Day. If that is, it hasn't gone out of business this week as happened to Kettering Town and Truro City. The attraction for locally based Addicks is Bromley v. Welling

Personally I would favour a pre-qualification tournament for the European 'minnows'. It would be more meaningful for them, although clearly there would be an argument about who counts as a minnow: the likes of Andorra, San Marino and Liechtenstein clearly do, but what about Luxembourg or Malta?

Addick author Charlie Connelly wrote a fascinating book (really) about Liechtenstein's international football called Stamping Grounds which has come out in a second edition. Apparently some of the locals who turned up only came because of the opposition, regarding their own team as rubbish. I'm happy to promote Charlie as he was friends with one of our children at uni.

Fortunately the Pope appears to have dropped plans for a Vatican City side, although there is an annual competition between seminaries which is known for some tough tackling.

Friday 12 October 2012

Wagstaff out on loan

Scott Wagstaff has joined Leyton Orient on loan and is expected to start against Bournemouth tomorrow, according to a tweet from Pravda.

Wagstaff has his enthusiasts among the Addickted, especially as an impact sub, but Chris Powell seems less keen, given the extent to which he has used him this season. This will give him a chance to sharpen up and get match fit.

One Charlton fan has tweeted that he thinks that League 1 is Wagstaff's level.

From Russia with love

Unsubstantiated rumours are circulating of a possible Russian involvement in Charlton. It has to emphasised that the evidence base for this is thin. Russians have been seen in the directors box, presumably with snow on their boots, but they may just have wanted to see a match or been there to run the rule over Blackburn in case Venky's decide to return to their chickens.

There is no known basis to claims that there is link with the proposed launch of Russian mobile operator MegaFon on the London Stock Exchange or with the successful IPO of Russia's Sherbank in September.

Whether this would simply be an investment or a complete takeover is not known. In any event, given that the topping up of funds has been constrained since March, any roubles would be welcome. The serious money today is abroad and there is a lot of very serious money in the hands of a small number of people in Russia. Ambitious Championship clubs are increasingly subject to foreign takeovers, most recently Leeds.

Of course, there is always an element of risk in such investments, but you have to take some risks to succeed. We live in a globalised world and that is unlikely to change.

The current whereabouts of Rick Everitt are unknown, although there were rumours on Twitter yesterday that he had become lost in a hospital in Ashord, Kent. This is not thought to be the old Russian tactic of sending awkward individuals to a mental hospital. Indeed, should there be a Russian takeover, the Rickster could emerge as People's Commisar.

Someone was asking where Rick did his degree: it was Reading. While he was there he missed an exam to attend a vital Charlton match. The head of department, pioneer gay Tory Peter Campbell, thought it was all down to me as a known Addick.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Why Curbs turned down Bolton

Curbs in relaxed mood at The Valley

Former Charlton manager Alan Curbishley was the favourite to replace Owen Coyle at Bolton, but turned down the offer. If he had accepted, we would have seen him return to The Valley as the manager of an opposing team which I would have found a bit odd.

Curbs has not worked in management since resigning as West Ham manager four years ago, but those in charge at Bolton thought he was the ideal person to get them back to the top flight having got the Addicks promoted twice. However, apparently he was worried about the fact that money is tight at the Reebok, although he got Charlton promoted the first time on very little.

Curbs has been working as a television pundit since he left the Irons. The word was that he had good investment advice while he was at Charlton, did not splash the cash excessively and had quite a lot of money squirrelled away. Therefore, I do not think that he has been short of money to pay the bills.

It has also been said for some time that he would not go north of the M25 to manage a club. He seems to have relaxed that requirement a bit for Aston Villa, a club where he had played. Reliable sources said that he did express an interest when the job there became vacant. But Bolton is really 'oop North and his wife was reportedly never keen on a move to northern parts.

I wonder now if he will ever return to management, given that he must be getting a reputation as someone who turns down offers. That would be a shame, although it is a very stressful job and probably quite difficult to adjust to again after a long absence.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Massive puzzle

At the end of last season there was great excitement in the media at the incredible feat of Sheffield Wednesday in coming second in League 1. The media ran out of adjectives on the lines of 'massive' and 'huge' to describe the Owls. Hillsborough was compared to the San Siro.

It was predicted that the Massives would treat the Championship as a mere way station en route to their rightful home in the Premier League. Their owner declared that they were one of the top ten clubs in the country. It was even suggested that a scheme to send tweets to a planet twenty light years ago which might be inhabited should include news of their truimph. Mandaric, however, has now changed his tune and admitted 'It's a big step up to the Championship': Massive Step

Things are clearly not going to plan as Wednesday are currently in the relegation zone. Of course, it's early in the season, the league is very tight in terms of the distribution of points, and I would be surprised if they return to League 1. But it's hardly a promotion push.

One problem may be that the Massive started to believe their own hype. However, it is also clear that their defence is not as strong as it needs to be. They have conceded 21 goals which is more than bottom club Peterborough. Manager Dave Jones blamed last Saturday's home defeat to Hull on one poor piece of defending and two bad decisions by officials.

What has surprised me is how much they are admired by fans of other Championship clubs. In the Four Four Two season preview the Bolton Wanderers fan names Hillsborough as the best away ground to visit and the Hull City fan names them as having the best away fans, as does the Notts Forest contributor.

At Bolton Owen Coyle has been dismissed because they are 18th, admittedly way out of line with expectations of both fans and pundits. However, Jones seems to be in no need of the tweet of confidence recently bestowed on Mark Hughes at QPR.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

The Jonjo Shelvey deal

The Addickted were delighted to hear that Jonjo Shelvey had been called up for England. He was always a popular player at Charlton.

There has been some speculation about whether we might benefit financially. The initial fee was £1.7m but there were add ons for domestic and international appearances. I haven't been able to find any detail, but normally these are triggered by a number of appearances, e.g., fifty domestic games, rather than a single appearance. Indeed, sometimes clubs have dropped players to avoid triggering a fee. Sometimes an international call up (provided the player actually plays) can trigger a payment, but I am uncertain whether that applies here (probably not).

The Daily Mirror comments this morning, 'Shelvey's call-up is more unexpected and a bit more complicated. The midfielder has impressed in Liverpool's sluggish start to the season and was initially called up for the European under-21 Championship play-off with Serbia.'

'However, Shelvey is suspended for the first leg of the play-off so Hodgson has taken the opportunity to give him some experience with the senior squad. Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, James Milner and Tom Cleverley are all capable of playing in central midfield with Steven Gerrard suspended for Friday's game with San Marino.'

'With so many options, it would be unlikely if Shelvey made it onto the pitch and there is a chance he could go back to the under-21s for the second leg of the Serbia play-off next Tuesday.

Very much elsewhere, as Radio Scilly's mainland football correspondent, I should report that play has now started in the World's Smallest Football League. The Charty Shield tie was held on Sunday at the Garrison Field stadium between last year's champions and the runners up. After a 1-1 draw at full time it had to be decided by a penalty shoot out: Isles of Scilly

Sunday 7 October 2012

Racial chanting claims to be investigated

Claims by Bolton players that they were the subject of racial abuse at the New Den yesterday are to be investigated by the Football Association: Allegations

Elsewhere, half of today's Football League Paper report on the match at Blackpool is taken up with Ian Holloway losing his rag. Identical copy seems to be here on Clubcall: Holloway . Some of the positive comments on Charlton players lead one to wonder if these were the same players I saw against Watford, e.g., Hamer as a 'calming influence'.

Cort gets the top ranking of 9 for his defensive work as well as his goal. Fuller gets 8 for 'giving Charlton a foothold from which to build attacks with pace and power.' Hamer also gets 8 as does Morrison for 'a powerful and composed display' with which we are familiar. Interesting that Stephens got 7 for 'consistent quality from set pieces' and Hollands who 'disrupted Blackpool's rhythm.' I have had doubts about both these players in home games.

I was pessimistic about yesterday's match and I got it completely wrong. With the benefit of hindsight, it can be seen that Blackpool's results have a very up and down pattern. One wonders if they thought they just had to turn up and claim the three points, given our recent form (although we can often be more of a threat away from home).

I think that I was also very influenced by the fact that we last won there in 1981, but, of course, we haven't played there many times since then - twice in the noughties, I think.

I was there for the 5-3 defeat and there was a strong wind off the Irish Sea and no cover where we 'sat'. The ground has been substantially improved since then. But when we last played them the Seasiders were on the up and we were on our way down. Since then they have been up to the top flight, down again and lost a play off final. As far as one can tell from the commentary, their fans seemed very subdued yesterday, even at the start. But perhaps we just shut them up.

BTW, one reader said he had a problem posting a comment because he kept being identified as a 'robot'. Coincidentally, I have just had a problem posting a comment on the excellent Drinking During the Game blog. Has anyone else had a problem with posting a comment on this blog? Also, some of the comments made about the chairman's misadventure in Spain seem to have disappeared and I didn't delete them.

Saturday 6 October 2012

Blackpool rocked

Charlton are now 15th in the Championship after their unexpected win at Blackpool who were, perhaps, a little complacent, having read the result off the table. Indeed, I admit that I fell into that trap as well. The Massives are now in the relegation zone. Here is Paul May's report.

Wright-Phillips was relegated to the bench, Fuller was up front and Razak was brought in at Bloomfield Road reports Paul May. It was evident that Razak was playing as the link up man between the midfield and Fuller.

A poor kick by the Blackpool keeper in the bright sunshine led to an early Addicks corner, but the Seasiders counter attacked.

Cort had to concede a corner after five minutes. A second corner for Blackpool followed after Fuller cleared, but the move ended in a goal kick for the Addicks. The home crowd was unusually a bit subdued. Green went down with a leg injury and the referee eventually stopped play.

Good play by Charlton led to Kerkar winning a corner. The ball went over the crossbar for a goal kick.

Blackpool kept possession for a while with a short passing game but the Addicks were eventually able to break it up. A shot from Phillips was crucially blocked by Solly and Morrison who provided some good defending, denying Blackpool their best chance so far. Charlton were being pushed back, but then there was another stoppage on 20 minutes as Green had to go off and Bradley Pritchard replaced him.

Charlton gave the ball away, but recovered. A cross from Pritchard was cleared. Fuller won a corner for the Addicks. Fuller surged forward but his effort came off the underside of the bar. It was very nearly 0-1 with Fuller causing the home side problems.

Taylor-Fletcher very nearly scored from 40 yards with Hamer out of position near the penalty spot, but fortunately the ball went on to the roof of the net. Hamer had to make a superb save from M Phillips after a great turn by him. The counter attack was fast down the left, Pritchard threatened to tap the ball in, but Crainey made a last ditch tackle.

Taylor-Fletcher blazed over with the Addicks defence finally putting pressure on him after giving him some space. Stephens gave the ball away to Delfouneso and Blackpool won a corner which was taken short and led to a second. M Phillips put a cross in and Morrison had to concede a corner. Hollands headed the ball away. Gomez got a booking for a professional foul on Fuller. Gilks had to save from Fuller at the expense of a corner. It had been a well organised and solid performance from the Addicks.

Half time 0-0

Blackpool won an early corner, livening up the home crowd. Their effort went well wide. Kerkar did well to win a corner for the Addicks. Stephens took the corner kick and Cort scored.

Razak went down holding his knee. He looked as if he was in real pain. He had been tidy without being dominant. The Addickted sang a rousing chorus of Valley Floyd Road. Razak got back on his feet.

Blackpool winger and potential danger man Tom Ince came on in place of Gomez, having faced a late fitness test. Fuller very nearly opened up the Blackpool defence. A chorus of the Solly song started up.

Hamer saved comfortably from Ince. Charlton won a corner as they continued to look dangerous. The Addicks won a second corner. The ball was just over Cort’s head. Kevin Phillips came on to give two of them on the pitch, Delfouneso coming off. Charlton couldn’t clear their lines and Ince got a half chance leading to a corner but the header was just outside the post. Morrison went down after a challenge by Baptiste.

Blackpool took off Osbourne and brought on Dicko. Fuller won a free kick for Charlton. Kerkar’s free kick was very poor and led to a goal kick. Hollands put in a good challenge.

The Seasiders won a corner. The ball was claimed well by Hamer. Charlton counter attacked, Solly put the ball into the top right-hand corner to make it 0-2. It was a great goal from the outside of his right foot from perhaps 20 yards out. Kerkar made a great turn to beat the defender and set things up. He rolled it back to Stephens and his ball was used by Solly.

Razak came off, having been more influential in the second half. Dervite took his place. Cort made an important interception. Fuller went off to a standing ovation from the Addickted. Hulse came on in his place.

Poor defending by Cort in the form of a sliced clearance led to a corner which fortunately was unproductive. Four minutes were added on. Dicko had a try from the edge of the box but he was just wide of the post.

New rival for Charlton?

For a brief period at the beginning of the 1930s it seemed as if the mysterious club Thames might serve as a rival to Charlton. But the club created to use a ground soon collapsed and we absorbed a number of their players.

When Thames folded, a merger approach was made to the Custom House club by Clapton Orient, later Leyton Orient. Now Orient have aspirations to play in the Olympic Stadium and owner Barry Hearn has suggested that, if they succeed, they will re-branded as London Orient: Orient

I have nothing against Orient at all, but this does strike me as a singularly daft idea. Orient's average attendance last season was 4,298, but Hearn reckons that with the stadium move and re-branding, he can attract 27,000, which would be a capacity crowd for us. I don't think there are that many foot loose mugs out there.

Of course, we have had our re-branding issues. In the 1950s the club were known as the Robins, which always invited confusion with other clubs such as the 'Rocking' Robins of Swindon. The club tried to rebrand us as the Valiants, which also invited confusion with other clubs. The name never caught on among the fans, although ignorant members of the media occasionally use it.

I always thought 'Robins' was a bit anodyne, although, of course, we keep the jaunty Red, Red Robin song. We have reverted to our original nickname of Addicks. Some years ago I talked to a lady who went to games with her father in the 1920s and c confirmed that it was used then as a corruption of 'Addocks.

Of course if this name change idea catches on, goodness knows what might happen. Let me know if you see branding consultants around The Valley.

Friday 5 October 2012

We Don't Like To Be Beside the Seaside

My first memories of Blackpool as a football club relate to Stanley Matthews playing for them. His presence could be guaranteed to put a few thousand on the crowd, but he wasn't always able to play, leaving many people disappointed. For example, at the match at The Valley on 23rd February 1953, played on a Monday for some reason, Blackpool fielded six reserves and lost 2-0. The attendance was one of the lowest of the season at 15,913.

I am pretty sure I was at The Valley on 10 October 1953 as one of the 56,664. Matthews did play, but Blackpool lost 4-2. The next year it was known that Matthews would not be playing and just 16,354 saw the match played on Thursday afternoon (which was early closing day). I would have been at school.

When the Seasiders had their brief stay in the top flight, their attacking style of play won them many friends. I always felt that if they had spent on one or two good defenders, they might have survived. But, of course, they received substantial parachute payments which have helped them to maintain their challenge. Last season they finished 5th, followed by the bitter disappointment of a play off final defeat. Nevertheless, it was an impressive campaign under Ian Holloway.

The Times predicted that they will finish 4th this year, despite frugal transfer spending. The Football League Paper was much less generous, forecasting a finish in 16th place. Four Four Two was somewhere in between at 9th. So far The Times forecast is looking the best one, but it's early days. What one can say with confidence is that they are unlikely to be relegated, but are also unlikely to be outright champions - although it's not impossible. The fan forecast in Four Four Two was for a play off finish and that looks realistic to me.

Blackpool winger Tom Ince faces a late fitness test as he looks to return from a hip problem. Skipper Johnnie Jackson (hamstring) is a doubt for Charlton, and I would be surprised to see him start. Loan players Rob Hulse and Abdul Razak could both make their full debuts for the Addicks, but Ricardo Fuller should keep his place after scoring in midweek.

The Seasiders have dropped points in only four of their last 15 home league games against the Addicks, and are hoping for a third successive Bloomfield Road victory over Charlton. Our last win there was in the old Third Division in March 1981. The Seasiders came from behind to secure their fifth league win of the season, with a 3-2 victory at Hull on Tuesday, and avoided a third successive defeat. The 3-0 defeat at Cardiff was away from home against a strong side. The team in tangerine have won every league game in which they've netted more than one goal, and remain the top scorers in the division, with 19 in nine.

All this sets a tough challenge for a faltering Charlton already hit by long-term injuries to key players. If we win this game, I would be delighted but very surprised. A draw would be a good result. My fear is something like a 3-1 defeat which would probably see us fall into the relegation zone depending on results elsewhere. Millwall, the Massives and Ipswich all have home games tomorrow, although Millwall have to take on Bolton while the Tractors face Cardiff in the evening kick off. Regardless of what happens elsewhere, I do think that we will make a game of it.

Back in the 1950s newspapers used to have a 'golden guinea' man who would visit resorts like Blackpool in the summer. If you were carrying a copy of the paper concerned and spotted their man, you could answer a simple question and win a prize of £1.05p (which was worth a lot more then). If you see away reporter Paul May tomorrow and tell him which of Blackpool and Charlton finished higher up the table in 1953/4, he will buy you a pint.

Thursday 4 October 2012

Keep calm and carry on says Sir Chris

That is the essence of the message from Chris Powell as Charlton prepare for a difficult trip to the Fylde coast on Saturday: Powell

Blackpool are currently fourth in the table and will be expecting to pick up three easy points on Saturday. So far the Addicks have only lost matches by one goal, confirming a widely held view that we are just one or two players short of a fully competitive side, but facing the Seasiders away is a real challenge.

It is at times like this that I appreciate how difficult a football manager's job is. Do you play very defensively? But then we need more than a point and once you have gone 1-0 behind, what is the Plan B? Or do you go for attack, accepting a big defeat as the risk?

I don't have any answers, although I will be taking a closer look at the Tangerines tomorrow. My one recommendation would be to start Bradley Pritchard. He is fully committed, very energetic and can be a real nuisance to the opposition as he roams round the field.

832 tickets have been sold so far, so at least 1,000 Addicks could be enjoying the bracing winds off the Irish sea and possibly taking advantage of the very cheap accommodation. Among them is away reporter Paul May.

Charlton chairman injured by Spanish police

Charlton chairman Michael Slater has lodged a complaint with the FA about Spanish police. City fan Slater was knocked unconscious before last month's Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Manchester City.

Slater was left with minor head injuries and severe bruising. He has now reported the matter to the head of security at the FA and expects the matter to go to Uefa.

Footage of the incident, which was caught on camera, shows officers clashing with fans and Mr Slater sprawled on a dual carriageway just yards from the Bernabeu. All a bit different from the very nice meal I enjoyed there in July overlooking the pitch.

The 46-year-old lifelong City fan told the Manchester Evening News how he was punched and hit with a baton on his leg, before falling to the floor and hitting his head, in an unprovoked attack.

Mr Slater, a City season ticket holder, originally from Heald Green, Stockport, said: 'It was about 7.30pm and we were all enjoying the last of the Spanish sun when the police arrived and congregated 20m up the pavement from us. They stood there for a few minutes before charging at us hitting people with batons.'

'I was attacked by at least one police officer. I was hit on the leg, a blow so hard it smashed the mobile phone in my pocket, I was then punched in the face which knocked me down.'

'I fell into the dual carriageway and banged my head on the road. The shocking thing is the police did nothing to stop traffic, it was other fans doing that. I still have bruising from the attack and whiplash. I was appalled I have never experienced that before in an away trip, you expect the police to be there to serve and protect not do what they did, it was very disturbing.'

Bringing in the Charlton dimension, he added: 'Being a chairman of a Championship club, the fifth biggest league in the world should make me a credible witness to UEFA and they will take this seriously.' I hope he right in the sense that this does not provoke a 'Who are Charlton?' moment at Uefa HQ.

The Times had an interesting piece on Monday in which their chief football writer argued that football fans were too ready to 'expect and accept' poor treatment by police. I don't have any direct experience of this, but my view would be that treatment of English fans travelling abroad is poorer.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

The Italian job

'Very disappointing' was the verdict in Row Q after Charlton went down 1-2 at home to 10-man Watford. No doubt stronger verdicts were heard elsewhere in the ground. Given that Millwall and the Massives drew away, the Addicks remain outside the relegation places in 20th position for now. But we have a tough fixture away at Blackpool on Saturday.

This was not a match I was expecting to win. I reaffirmed my 2-2 forecast in our Row Q competition. It was a match I thought could go one of three ways, but I did not really expect us to lose. However, as my wife said before I left, 'they'll lose.'

The first half ended 1-1 with Ricardo Fuller replying to their opener. Just before the break, Italian charmer Forestieri was sent off with a second yellow for diving, although he is now claiming he slipped on the wet pitch.

Playing against ten men does not give an automatic advantage, however. A lot depends on how the other team responds. I thought that Zola was rather clever in putting five men behind the ball and then trying to hit us on the break - and Watford could break quickly. This is what they did after Cort very foolishly gave a bear hug to one of their players in a dangerous position.

We then mounted attack after attack, getting eleven shots on target against their nine, but they crowded the box and it was difficult to get a clear shot away. Over five minutes of time were added on, but it was one of those nights when we could have had an extra half hour and not scored.

Match report

I was a bit puzzled to read that it had cost one other Midland Addick £100 to go to the match. Deutsche Bahn charged me £18.70 return to Marylebone and then I had perhaps £10 or so on my Oyster.

I was not surprised to see large numbers of Japanese ladies with branded shopping bags getting on at Bicester North after a visit to Bicester Village. I was a bit more puzzled to see quite a few Japanese on the 472 from North Greenwich, one reading a Japanese paper that seemed to be aimed at the Japanese community in Britain.

I was quite optimistic about the game, as one has to be travelling some distance, but reading an article in the Sub-Standard about the match by Giuseppe Moro (from the Hornets press office) I noted that Zola thought that the slow start to their promotion push might help them. He had observed a positive shift in the mood at the club in the past week.

Walking past the station a swarm of Hornets emerged chanting 'Watford! Watford! Want any aggro?' which got no response at all in a SE7 where it was raining heavily.

One of the oddities of evening games is that Steve to my left and Paul to my right are wearing sharp suits, betraying their pikey connections, while I was clad in what is now a rather scruffy Alan Curbishley training top.

It was evident to me that Watford's game plan was to go for an early goal and Solly was soon called on to show his defensive skills. I thought that Kerkar and Wright Phillips combined well. Wilson made an excellent run down the right which admittedly only got a throw in but it was worth a try. The Hornets put in a shot from distance which Hamer gathered a little uncomfortably.

On 15 minutes Charlton won a free kick in a promising position to the right of the 'D'. Something happened in the Watford wall, possibly a handball, and the free kick had to be taken again. It took some time for the recipient of the yellow card to appear on the screen and it was allocated to former inmate Troy Deeney, apparently on the advice of the fourth official. It turned out that it had been given to Fernando Foresteri and this was to prove significant later.

Kerkar put in a decent free kick which won a corner but the corner itself was poor. By this time the rain was starting to ease off. A good cross came in from the left, but there was no one there to connect with it. A corner taken by Green led to some initially good pressure from Charlton, but it was not sustained.

Morrison got a finger wagging from the referee. A Watford free kick took a slight deflection off the back of a Charlton player. The corner was not properly placed in the prescribed area, but the bald dimwit of a linesman took no action. The ball came in and was headed in the back of the net. It was a bullet header and we thought it might have been an own goal, but in fact it came off Hoban. I have not seen it again, but my impression at the time was of sloppy defending. I think it would have been difficult for Hamer to save it.

Watford threatened to score a second from a break and Hamer had to save at the post. Impressive skill by Kerkar and a good pass by Stephens then set up Fuller for the equaliser.

Wilson dealt well with a Watford threat. A Charlton free kick after a push on Kerkar was saved, but it might have been possible to exploit a gap at the near post. Almunia had to save from Kerkar. Green provided good work on the right.

Morrison put in what many to be judged a fair tackle on Forestieri, although it was arguably slightly from behind. The free kick came off the wall and Forestieri put on a shot wide as he was booed. In the one minute added on, Watford won a corner and Forestieri dived - as far as I could see - to get a penalty. Hence, the referee was right to give him a second yellow and send him off. However, as I heard a Watford fan say later, 'If he hadn't have been sent off, we might not have won that match.

It had been an incident packed first half and the scoreline at half time reflected the balance of play. My notes were far more extensive than they had been against Blackburn.

Half-time, Addicks 1, Hornets 1

Playing against ten men is not necessarily easy as they can be fired up by a sense of injustice and Zola's handling of the situation was tactically astute. Wright-Phillips won Charlton a free kick. Abdi rolled around dramatically on the ground, securing the Hornets a free kick, and then walked away nonchantly without a care in the world. His drama lessons clearly pay.

Wright-Phillips drew a save. Neuton received a yellow card for a foul. Danny Green won Charlton a corner. For a short while it was panic stations in the Watford defence, but the ball was eventually cleared.

Wright-Phillips was chased by three Hornets. He was pulled back and should have gone down, but instead he shot over. Unfortunately, Kerkar overhit his cross following a Charlton free kick, but redeemed himself by winning the Addicks a corner. Green received a yellow card.

Then on 69 minutes Cort gave away the fatal free kick and the shot from Abdi went straight in the net. Hamer was called on to make a save shortly afterwards. Charlton won a corner, but our play was getting increasingly frantic and were inclined to spoil potential chances by overhitting the ball.

The referee then awarded a free kick for a back pass. He was right to do so, but you don't see them given very often, although I saw one in non-league earlier in the season. We also saw two awards for foul throws in the first half. Fortunately, the subsequent free kick was unproductive. Chris Powell made his double substitutions, although his critics argue this came too late. Wilson put in a good ball that led to a Charlton corner. Abdi went in the referee's book for a foul.

In the five minutes added on, Watford tried to slow things down as much as possible, making two substitutions. Almunia got a yellow card for his time wasting, but, of course, it was too late to have any impact. The one half chance in time added on fell to Dale Stephens who put the ball not too far over from distance.

Even two points from two home games, which was what I was expecting, would not have been good enough, but one is disastrous. So far, however, we have not lost by more than one goal and the standard of our passing has been generally good. But we are aware that we have stepped up a level. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, are in a play off position.

The attendance was 15,385. Given that there were 1,000 - 1,500 Hornets, this means that we sold only about 2,000 walk up tickets. It's always going to be difficult at midweek matches because of work commitments, but unfortunately the way things are going will not encourage people to turn up and take a look.

Was it worth getting back to Leamington at 12.30 p.m.? Should I have attended to my duties as secretary in the vice-presidents lounge at the Brakes and see them go out on penalties to Belper in FA Trophy (another team that doesn't do cups). Probably not, because whatever else one can say about the match it was not boring.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has given the Silver Bone to Salman Kerkar. It wasn't a perfect performance by any means, but he can show real skill as he did when he set up our goal. As a commentator on the Drinking During the Game blog eloquently put it, 'He's the best thing to come out of Ibrox since the taxman.' Arguably Hamer could have positioned himself better for their winning goal. Although the laser eye surgery has been beneficial, perhaps he could have some surgery for rushes of blood to the head. He sometimes rushes off his line dangerously, confusing the reliable Morrison. He should also moan a little less. I wouldn't fault Morrison for what happened tonight. He has made the transition to the Championship as well as anyone and is one of our best players. I am also quite a fan of Cort but it was a disastrous error that gave Watford their winning goal. I think that Wilson continues to improve. He certainly has some pace and puts himself about, unfortunately a number of his balls were overhit. Whilst Solly was not as prominent as he is in some games, I noted some good defensive work. He did enough to earn a chant from the Covered End. There are a lot of complaints about Jackson being too slow, but we always seem to miss him when he is absent. We have a continuing problem in central midfield. Hollands was rather anonymous last night and was eventually substituted. Stephens showed some neat touches, but he also made some errors such as passing to a Watford player. The more fundamental question is whether he is creative enough. Green didn't do as much as in the games since his reapperance in the starting lineup. He did make a contribution, especially in the first half, but his crossing is not always accurate. Fuller took his goal very well, but that was about the sum of it. The row behind was starting on Wright-Phillips before the match and there have been some complaints since, but I think he did his best. At one point he might have got a penalty, but honourably stayed on his feet. Arguments are being made that Chris Powell got it wrong by switching away from 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1, but I think that formation limited us against Blackburn. When Pritchard came on he was his usual busy self. What he lacks in style and skill he more than makes up for in energy and commitment and I remain well disposed to him as a player. I didn't see much of a contribution from Hulse but the game was so frenetic by that stage that I could well have missed something.

Juneau the Soccer Cat had no hesitation in awarding a Hiss of the Match to the referee who I am now told was changed for a third time which means that I can't use any of my rather poor jokes about central heating or his wife's colour scheme. Admittedly he gave Watford a big collection of yellow cards, but that doesn't help us and it won't harm them all that much as they seem to be able to rotate. I thought that in the second half he was trying to even things up by not giving us many decisions.