Saturday 31 October 2015

Into the Fraeying pan

Last week Rick Everitt was treating his gnomes and elves to a round of drinks in the Rose of Denmark for their valiant efforts in selling Voice of the Valley. Then the news came through that Guy Luzon had been sacked and the Rickster was about to celebrate with more drinks. But a surly goblin pointed out that Luzon may have gone, but his replacement might be even worse.

No surprise, then, when Charlton went down 3-0 at Boro today, their third loss in a row by that margin. In the first half, David Nugent's low strike was kept out by Addicks keeper Stephen Henderson as Boro continued to attack. Henderson's acrobatic 27th-minute save then denied on-loan Watford midfielder Diego Fabbrini.

Charlton managed to hold out for 52 minutes, but eventually the pressure by the superior side told, which Charlton offered no attacking threat. Substitute Reza did draw a save from the keeper.

Once again the stats tell a sad tale: possession 74-26 for Boro; they had ten shots on target to our one; and fifteen corners to our two.

The only slight consolation is that Charlton didn't initially fall further down the table, but the goalless draw between Preston and Bolton in the evening kick off put paid to that, pushing the Addicks down to 23rd. However, it is very tight at the bottom, so Tuesday's game with MK Dons is crucial. Taking a longer perspective,a revival could occur under the right leadership.

Fraeye, nevertheless, insists that he does not want to return to the comfort zone of the Belgian third division. He wants the Charlton job on a permanent, long-term basis: A hungry man

Halfway house

The intention of Katrien Meire and Richard Murray to meet with a cross-section of fans is a welcome step forward given the concerns about the direction of the club, but it is only a halfway house: Meeting plans

The biggest omission is the absence of Roland Duchatelet. It is his vision and strategy that determines what happens at the club. Many think that he does not have a vision, but I think that he does, but it is flawed. The central weakness was an assumption that financial fair play would kick in and create more of a level playing field in the Championship, enabling prudent financing strategies to be followed. That was never going to happen and it hasn't.

Richard Murray made a substantial historical contribution to the club, and is still owed a lot of money by it. It was a classic case of making a small fortune by starting with a big one and 'investing' in a football club. However, and it pains me to say this, Richard Murray is perceived in some quarters today as a more of an apologist for the current regime rather than an independent figure speaking up for fans. But, of course, we don't know what goes on behind closed doors.

Another doubt is the composition of the meeting. First, it will be made up of the various groups represented on the Fans' Forum. I'm not exactly sure which groups those are (although one appears to be the still operating West Sussex branch of the old CASC). However, I recognise some of the names as those of stalwart, clued up and long-standing Addicks.

Selecting fans at random from the database strikes me as typically Rolandesque. It will be his fault if they end up with the likes of Acworth and the Bloke Behind Me or any other professional moaner lacking any focus or constructive suggestions. It would be nice to see one or two of the awkward squad there, but I suspect that they may get black balled, or perhaps I am being too cynical.

Friday 30 October 2015

Baptism of fire for Fraeye

Karel Fraeye faces a baptism of fire when Charlton play Middlesbrough tomorrow. Our last four encounters with them away at this level in recent years have produced one draw and three defeats. Charlton are 8/1 to win and 7/2 for a draw. A full set of officials from Yorkshire has been provided to ensure that no quarter is shown to southern softies.

I remember a 8-1 win over Boro at The Valley in my first year of supporting Charlton. Gloom merchants have piled in suggesting that we will be beaten 8-0 tomorrow.

I don't think that Stephen Henderson has suddenly become a useless keeper or that Bauer or the returning Diarra have suddenly lost all their skill as central defenders. Our problem is not defensive: other teams in the relegation league have conceded more goals away from home. However, we have only scored three goals away from home this season, a record equalled in the Football League only by Doncaster Rovers.

Shell shocked supremo Fraeye did not give a press conference yesterday, but is to give an interview on the official site today which will no doubt produce some formulaic replies. Fraeye knows that he has given up the comfort of the Belgian third division for an open return ticket on Eurostar. Boro are not the equivalent of Welling United.

It is difficult to see him pulling a rabbit out of the hat and I am forecasting a 2-0 win for the home side.

Charlton fan and author Paul Breen is taking an interest in the Save our Steel campaign and is featured in the local paper: Paul Breen

Thursday 29 October 2015

A Charlton fan shares his despair

A Charlton fan writing for City AM shares his despair and implies that the pitch side sofa might as well be put in a skip: Failing project

Meanwhile, another Charlton fan has applied for the post of manager and it's not Acworth: Fan's application

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Hasselbaink for The Valley?

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has been named as a possible long-term coach at The Valley. He did not impress as a player at Charlton in the latter stages of his career, but has been very successful at Burton Albion as a manager: Hasselbaink. He is not, of course, Belgian.

Interim coach Karel Fraeye has been told he needs to get results and quickly if he is not to find himself heading for St.Pancras. He faces a tough test at Middlesbrough on Saturday and has ducked out of holding a press conference.

Former Addicks favourite Paul Mortimer says he is shocked by the appointment of Fraye: Morts

Monday 26 October 2015

Luzon lets rip

Sacked Charlton coach Guy Luzon is disappointed that Roland Duchatelet decided to sack him just as his thin squad was starting to recover from injury: Luzer

It has to be said that successive 0-3 defeats at home would place any coach's position in jeopardy. We haven't seen similar results since the last days of Pardew.

Luzon does thank the Charlton fans who he says have been 'fantastic' for him throughout.

Temporary duo in charge

Wim de Corte contemplates the task ahead at Charlton

Karel Fraeye has been appointed as interim head coach at Charlton and he will be joined at Sparrows Lane this morning by fellow Belgian Wim de Corte: Carry on

De Corte is 43 years old. His previous clubs include Standaard Wetteren, Beerschot AC and Roeselare.

The club is to search for a new permanent head coach, but whether this search will extend beyond Belgium or the network more generally remains unclear.

According to The Times this morning, Malky Mackay remains interested in taking the job on a permanent basis. He was expected to become manager of the Glaziers in August 2014, but dropped out of contention after allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic text messages.

The Times also discusses the prospects for Alan Curbishley who has resumed his 'man in the stands' role at Fulham. That is not going to happen and I am far from convinced that such a 'back to the future' move would be the right one. The golden days have gone and they are unlikely to ever come back.

Stephen Henderson has said that all the Charlton players need to take a hard look at themselves and he includes himself: Players to blame as well

This article argues that Charlton have lost their identity: Identity loss

An online petition is now available for fans unhappy with the situation at the club: Communication wanted

A more specific petition asks the FA to investigate the running of Charlton Athletic and to review the fit and proper person criteria: New petition

In Shakespearean mode, Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt gives his latest thoughts on the situation at The Valley: Belgian play. Perhaps he'd like to come and watch Stratford Town at the Anne Hathaway Stadium?

Sunday 25 October 2015

Welcome back, Karel Fraeye

José Riga's assistant Karel Fraeye is to return to Charlton as manager: Karel Fraeye

His Wikipedia entry is in Flemish, which is a language I have no knowledge of, but he has been coach at lower league Belgian club VW Hamme since he left Charlton. The club is in the Belgian 3rd division. I am not sure what the standard is there, but my guess would be League 2 or the top tier of the non-league system.

The news will disappoint fans who had been hoping for an English manager with Championship experience, but that was never very likely at London's Belgian club.

I don't remember much about him from his last stint here, except that he was sometimes seen in intense conversation with Riga walking round Bexleyheath. Riga was the best of the three Belgian coaches we have had so far, so perhaps there is some hope.

Show respect for your customers

It doesn't really pay to show contempt for your customers. It's a lesson that Ryanair learnt. I refused to use them, but once they changed their attitude, I took a flight with them recently and was very pleased with the whole experience, so I will fly with them again.

From what I understand of Roland's businesses, he has not dealt with individual consumers but with industrial customers. He therefore perhaps does not appreciate the importance of good customer relations. He also evidently regards hard core football fans as a bunch of saddos with inadequate lives.

It is evident from Katrien's recent interview in French, and from some hints in the latest Voice of the Valley, that there is a developing narrative that too many supporters at The Valley are ageing perennial grumblers who are rooted in the past. There is, of course, something in this: think about the Bloke Behind Me or Derek from Dymchurch. As the old Australian joke goes, you can always tell when a British Airways plane has landed because the whine continues after the engines have been switched off.

Nevertheless, little purpose is served by offending your core customer base. Of course, the club needs to attract younger fans to secure the future, but they are not going to be enticed by the current performances on the pitch. I feel sorry for 'Scott Charlton' [sic] who was stated by the programme to be attending his first game at The Valley yesterday.

In his editorial in Voice of the Valley yesterday Rick Everitt has some prescient analysis of the competition we are facing in our hinterland, not just from West Ham United at their new stadium, but also from reviving non-league clubs. Roland needs to focus on the customer and not just through gimmicks like the fan sofa.

An analysis of the club's financial results and threats to their catchment area from their rivals is provided by our sister site: Football economy

Saturday 24 October 2015

Thanks, Mr Luzon, for all you tried to do

As my train approached Coventry Station tonight, a passing Addick told me that Guy Luzon had been sacked. In the circumstances, the only appropriate comment is the one I have used in my headline which was the formulation the newsreels used when Neville Chamberlain was replaced as prime minister by Winston Churchill.

With his two assistants gone, it is not clear who takes over in the interim. More crucial is the question of who will replace him. They face a tough challenge.

Luzon said in the programme that he took responsibility for what had gone wrong. He might have had some excuse on Wednesday with a weakened team, but today it was pretty much the first choice players. It was evident that if there was a plan they didn't understand it or were unwilling to execute it.

There's not a lot of point in saying much about the match. For the first fifteen minutes or so, we looked quite good and had three chances to score, but were unable to take any of them. After that, it was downhill all the way. All credit to Brentford who took their goals well and were a real menace on the wing.

We didn't seem to be marking any of their players, whether that was an instruction I don't know, but consequently they had acres of space to operate it.

I don't want to comment on the players because they all seem demoralised and no one had a good game. Simon Makienok was a real disappointment. Tony Watt can carve open defences, but he needs to learn to pass the ball. Morgan Fox was woeful, both in defence and going forward.

I suppose all we can say is that we have hit rock bottom and, hopefully, the only way is up.

The Football League Show featured the game tonight. Malkay Mackay was at the game and they are tipping the former Wigan manager as the new Charlton supremo. Details of the Scot's career are here: Malky Mackay

It is possible, however, that he was there because the manager's position at Brentford is only a temporary one, and speculation has also surrounded a network candidate, Karel Fraeye, Riga's former assistant.

Valley of Despair?

The South London Press lays in on with a trowel in this account of the state of affairs at Charlton. It is difficult to argue with most of what they say and they do raise an interesting point about whether we are make a correct initial diagnosis of injuries (another reason for hoping that the rumours about Chelsea's former doctor were true): Much that is wrong

A more nuanced account is provided by the CAS Trust, pointing out that we might be less reliant on young players caught in the headlights today: Searching for hope

Charlton fans are generally agreed that we have a squad that is thin in quality, making it vulnerable to injuries and suspensions. We then rely too much on Academy products. All Charlton fans like to see them being given a chance, but if this happens before they are ready, it only compromises their development.

As for Guy Luzon, it is difficult to separate out his performance as a coach from the squad available to him. I am not that impressed, but nor I am particularly hopeful of the quality of any replacement. Having said that, I think that 'Championship experience' is overrated. The Championship may well be the best second tier league in Europe, but the football played in it is not that different.

Perhaps because I was spared Tuesday night, I won't be travelling to today's match in a particularly pessimistic mood. One can't read off from the result of one match to the next one. Brentford are not invincible.

I am concerned about the mood of the crowd which is likely to seize on the first misplaced pass. Fans argue that, having paid their money, they have the right to boo. I wouldn't dispute that. There is even booing at operas these day, reflecting the role of the consumer as king or queen. However, when the team's confidence is low, they really need the crowd to get behind them and create a good atmosphere.

A new issue of Voice of the Valley will be available and we can expect them to give it large. At £2 it represents good value. My local paper costs almost as much and is full of property adverts. It was planned for the gnomes and elves that sell the fanzine to wear the new third kit, but given the current general mood, they will wear sombre clothes. Earlier in the season Rick Everitt was wearing shorts at his sales point opposite the club shop to demonstrate that he was pitch ready.

Some of you may have a copy already as it was on sale on Tuesday, Rick Everitt having been a hard taskmaster in his workshop over the weekend. A preview is here: Voice of the Valley

Charlton are unbeaten in four league games against Brentford (W3 D1). Brentford have scored once in four league games with Charlton, and have kept just one clean sheet in nine league encounters.

Odds are: Charlton 17/10, Draw 12/5, Brentford 13/8.

Warwickshire's Stuart Attwell is referee. Although our poor performances cannot be blamed on match officials, we have suffered from some bizarre decisions and a tendency to give any marginal decision to the opposition. I know where Attwell lives. He was the youngest ever referee to join the Premier League list in 2008, but was demoted in 2012, although he has had a recall. If he wants to give us one of his infamous 'ghost goals' today when the ball goes wide of the post, he is more than welcome.

I am actually looking forward to the game and I am forecasting a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Friday 23 October 2015

Bees fans complain of 'heavy handed' stewards

Brentford fans feel that Charlton fans are 'heavy handed', but also that they are now taking a more 'pragmatic' approach: Stewards

Fans of the 'pride of West London' are looking forward to tomorrow's game as their 'season starts here' moment: Besotted Brentford podcast

According to some Charlton fans, our season has always ended and we should look forward to a trip to Portsmouth in League 1.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Diarra suspended

Diarra is suspended for Saturday's game against Brentford after picking up a fifth yellow card: Diarra

Bauer, much missed on Tuesday, will be back and there are hopes that Stephen Henderson will at last be in goal. Sparrows Lane sources have suggested that if the club had known he was going to be out for so long, they would have brought someone in on loan.

Brentford won convincingly at Wolves last night, but according to 'Besotted Brentford' some of their fans are disappointed as it undercut their chance to moan.

I am going to a dinner in Great George Street tonight and I know that a leading Brentford fan will be there, so I am expecting him to give it large.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Down the Football League We Go

This is Lydia Burton reporting from The Valley on a brisk, dry night. Wyn Grant is in Switzerland trying to earn a crust. Good luck with that, given the exchange rate.

Preston opened the score with a free kick from a central position after two minutes. Ba could have dealt with things better in the build up. Nick Pope in the goal was caught out by Gallagher. It was the worst possible start. Needless to say, the Addickted were very subdued.

A Preston player dived. OMG, the free kick was again in a dangerous place. Still no one on the post, wtf Two deflections, panic stations and then Diarra got it away.

There was no rhythm and shape to Charlton, Preston were chasing every single ball.

Tony Watt was trying to do something, but without success. Good work by Holmes-Dennis lifted the crowd a little.

Ba gave the ball away when all he needed to do was to give a simple ball to Cousins.

Preston won a corner on 18 minutes. Pope jumped and claimed it.

Charlton were giving the ball away too easily to a yellow shirt. All the confidence has gone. The Addickted started a chant of ‘Red Army’, but it faded away.

Preston got a free header which fortunately went just wide.

Pope took the ball over for a Preston corner. Tony Watt got the ball away and got a Charlton throw.

Gallagher got a yellow card for a foul on Cousins. On 26 minutes Watt drew ironic applause for the first Charlton shot into the arms of the keeper.

Watt ran at the defence, Solly was on his outside, but Watt chose to take on one more man which spoilt the promising move.

Charlton were starting to cause a few problems, but the final quality wasn’t there. Watt needed a bit more support.

A ball from Charlton flashed across the six yard area, but there was no one there to connect.

Preston won a corner. Ba headed the ball clear, but it went out for another corner after a shot from 25 yards. Pope punched it clear. Gallagher fired it in with a screamer to make it 2-0 to the visitors. The boos rang out. Fans streamed out for some consolation.

The Addicks had no reply to Preston. Charlton won a corner, Ba went down, but the keeper cleared the ball.

Pope had to put the ball over the bar to deny Gallagher his hat trick. Why was he getting so much time and space? Bauer would have stopped that. Preston hit the crossbar from the corner.

Excuse my French, mes amis, but that was merde.

HT 0-2

Bergdich came off, having been played out of position and McAleny came on

Fox and Brown squared up after Brown grabbed him round the throat and Cousins came steaming in. Both players got booked.

Preston were being careful to keep plenty of men behind the ball and safeguard their leave. They were also trying to wind up the Charlton players.

McAleny was cynically fouled and Cunningham got a yellow. The pace was still far too slow. Charlton’s passing needed to be sharper and quicker.

Big Mak came on for Ahearne-Grant and Ba went off to boos while Johnnie Jackson got a cheer and his chant.

It was all to no avail as Preston went 3-0 ahead on 62 minutes through Johnson as he evaded Holmes-Dennis. The shot went into the top fright hand corner. Sugar!

It had become a training game for the visitors. Johnson had a shooting opportunity, but it went just behind.

After that, I pretty much lost interest in the game. Any significant shots were coming from Preston. Overall in the game it was 8 to 18, but on target one to five. Says it all really.

We are now in the relegation positions. Grim reality stares us in the face.

Wyn certainly made the right call by going to Switzerland. He'll be back for Saturday's Relegation League match against Brentford.

Six pointer in relegation league

Charlton face another six pointer at The Valley tonight. The Addicks have won just one of their last five home games against Preston (D2 L2), though it was in their most recent meeting at the Valley (5-2 in Nov 2011). Preston have scored either twice or not at all across their last seven meetings with Charlton.

The Addicks are winless in seven league games. Only Preston are on a current longer run in the Championship (9). North End have also scored fewer goals than any other Championship side this season (7).

No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson asks: 'It has always puzzled me why the other Preston club are called Southend. Why not either call them Northend and Southend or Preston N.E. and Preston S.E. to avoid confusion?'

Talking of Iceland, there are rumours that Gudmundsson may be out tonight may be out with a knock picked up at Reading. Not good news if true, but sources close to Sparrows Lane can neither confirm nor deny.

On the more positive side, Reza is apparently back which gives us more options up front.

Patrick Bauer is suspended for the visit of Preston. Stephen Henderson has beaten a shoulder injury and could return, but Cristian Ceballos, Simon Makienok (contrary to his claims yesterday) and Igor Vetokele remain sidelined.

Odds are: Charlton 17/10; draw, 11/5; Preston, 13/8. Charlton are 6/4 relegation.

I am still in Switzerland, so Lydia Burton has stepped in to provide a report of tonight's game. Swiss Radio gave me a language test today. I passed, but was then told that my East German accent would not be acceptable to Swiss listeners.

Monday 19 October 2015

Cheesed off?

Basel, CH: Perhaps it's just as well I can't get to The Valley tomorrow night, given the pall of gloom hanging over Charlton supporters. Three points tomorrow night might lift it a little. Simon Makienok has tweeted that he will be in the squad, but some see him as just a poor man's Leaburn.

Stephen Henderson played for the under 21s in their win today so he must be close to a return. That could make a real difference.

I don't think Luzon's tactics at Reading were wrong. This was never a match we were going to win and playing for a point made sense. It all went wrong when Bauer got sent off.

The account given of the match in the Football League Paper was more positive than that given by supporters both in general terms and individual player ratings.

That is not to say that there is nothing wrong, but Preston are also afflicted by a lack of confidence in front of goal according to their manager. We share the two bottom places in the form table with them. I still think that with some strengthening in January and players returning from injury we can secure a lower mid-table position.

Of course, that is not good enough for some supporters and it is evident that many long-term supporters are giving up. But then people complained when we were 12th, 13th or 14th in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, the dust is settling here in Switzerland after Sunday's general election and the manoeuvring for seats on the governing Federal Council is under way. My colleagues at the English service of Swiss public radio are not at all interested in the six pointer at The Valley and have reminded me that I may be needed for other things tomorrow.

Saturday 17 October 2015

10 man Charlton go down to 1-0 defeat

Moussa and Ahearn-Grant were up front for the Addicks at the Madejski against Reading this afternoon. Nick Pope remained in goal, but Henderson was on the bench, suggesting that his return from injury was near. Johnnie Jackson started as many fans had hoped.

After Cousins lost possession, Pope had to make a good save at the expense of a corner. Reading came back in again, after Charlton had played themselves into trouble, but their shot was high and wide.

The gloved Bergdich did not look too comfortable as stand in left back, but Moussa was lively.

Gudmundsson lost possession and made a heavy challenge. The Reading players surrounded the vertically challenged referee, Rob Lewis from Shropshire, calling for a red card, but he simply got a lecture.

Solly did well to cut danger out. Charlton had a spell of possession with Reading pulling everyone behind the ball. Eventually, with no target man, the ball went out of play.

The Addicks were playing some nice football, but when Charlton had possession, the front two needed to show a little more movement, especially Ahearne-Grant.

Diarra had to clear the ball as Reading threatened just after the half hour mark. Reading won a corner as a consolation prize after they appealed for a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. Diarra won the header.

Reading were applying more pressure, but Bauer cleared, as the subdued home crowd suddenly became animated. Reading won another corner and kept up the pressure. They won another corner. Jackson headed the ball clear and the referee awarded a goal kick to a sarcastic cheer from the Addickted.

Gudmundsson drew the first save of the game from Al Habai which stretched him but did not really trouble him.

The shot statistics didn’t look good, but at least Charlton did not concede an early goal. The first half had been largely a midfield battle. The Addicks disappointed in the final third.

HT: Royals 0, Addicks 0

Reading looked dangerous early on and Bauer defended well. A poor decision gave the home side a free kick. Bauer got a yellow card fior a foul.

A shot from Hector took a deflection leading to a Reading corner. The defence was a little bit casual. McAleny had to head clear in subsequent play.

Moussa was taken off and Watt was brought on. Moussa had done well, but it was his first start.

A counter attack from Reading almost caught Charlton out, but Tshibola put the ball wide.

Gudmundsson came off limping a little bit and Fox came on, allowing Bergdich to go further forward.

Charlton won a corner after a great goal kick by Pope. Bergdich was shown a yellow card for alleged time wasting. The ball in from Bergdich was decent, but Bauer was not able to make a good contact.

Blackman looked as if he had dived and Bauer got a second yellow and was sent off. Reading had a free kick on the edge of the box in the middle of the ‘D’. The ball went over the bar. Jackson was taken off and Ba came into midfield. Fox had moved to centre half. Reading also made a double substitution.

Reading were upping the tempo. Blackman ran in unmarked, got a free header and it was 1-0 on 75 minutes to the disappointment of the 1,173 Charlton fans in a crowd of 17,614.

Charlton tried hard to get back into the game, but no avail. The Addicks are down to 20th. A big relegation league match on Tuesday.

Friday 16 October 2015

Lloyd Doyley rumours

The rumour mill is linking Charlton with 32-year old Lloyd Doyley, the longest serving player at Vicarage Road. The right back and Jamaican international had a long lay off last season due to injury: Lloyd Doyley

Presumably he would be cover for Solly, but I don't see this as very likely.

Watt admits: 'I have been poor'

Charlton striker Tony Watt admits that he has been poor in recent games, but hopes to rectify matters in tomorrow's game at Reading: Tony Watt

Unfortunately Charlton often encounter teams when they are coming into form and Reading are very much the team of the moment. It could well be the toughest test Charlton have faced so far: Tough test

This is what Curbs would have called a 'bonus ball' match. The home game against Preston will be far more telling in terms of any relegation struggle.

The realities of the match are reflected in the odds: Reading 8/15, Draw 3/1, Charlton 6/1.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Luzon hopeful of a point

Charlton coach Guy Luzon is hopeful of at least a point away at Reading on Saturday, but says that the players have to have a winning attitude (perhaps implying that this has been missing). He also continues to be beset by injury worries which have put the 'Premiership dream' on hold: Royals challenge

A goblin calls

When I was a junior journalist, I actually had a green eyeshade. However, it looks as if the cat has the green eyeshade at Voice of the Valley headquarters in Ramsgate.

I was planning to write something here about the recent articles by Katrien and Roland. However, Rick Everitt advised me that one of his goblins would be paying me a visit if I did not produce some copy for the next Voice of the Valley, so the article will appear there. As the 'Rickster Rap' states, it costs less lack than a pack of marge.

I understand that editing will start once the cat has given up the green eyeshade.

I've long since lost the eyeshade, but thankfully have much more up to date equipment than that typewriter which required some force on the keys!

Cheapest price per goal in the Championship

Charlton fans pay the cheapest price per goal in the Championship at £4.68 according to the just released BBC price of football study: Cheap at the price

The cheapest matchday ticket is 47 per cent below the league average and the most expensive 1 per cent above. The cheapest season ticket is 47 per cent below the league average, only Reading having a better offer. The most expensive is six per cent above the league average.

Catering and shirt prices appear to be broadly in line with the league average.

Roland has issued a comment on the report which makes Charlton 'the most affordable club in London': Cheap at the price

However, some fans are less impressed by the 'never mind the quality, feel the width' argument. They would prefer to pay a few pounds more and see us in the promotion race rather than hovering between mid-table mediocrity and the relegation struggle. They have a point, but a few quid per fan would not make much difference, unless Roland was prepared to at least match it.

Braintree Town offer the cheapest pie at £1 but are clearly peeved that we offer a cheaper season ticket to watch a higher level of football: Top of the league for cheap pies

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Those were the days

I was sorting through some old programmes recently and I came across the Addicks Premiership Diary report of our match against Blackburn Rovers in February 2004. This was some game, attended by basketball fans from Pittsburgh.

'A professional magician was part of the pre-match hospitality package on February 21st, but early leavers from Charlton's game against Blackburn missed the magic. Some had already left before Blackburn keeper Brad Friedel audaciously equalised for the visiting northerners, but in the last gasp of the game Claus Jensen made it 3-2 for the Addicks.'

'Charlton looked as if they had been coasting towards victory after two goals in the first half from Carlton Cole and Jason Euell put them 2-0 ahead, but an error by Kishishev let them back in the game. The substitution of Carlton Cole by match winner Kishishev was highly controversial and had the Bloke Behind Me screaming, "Why did you sign the contract Curbishley?"'

In those days we still had dog reporters and 'It was an exciting Valley debut for novice match analyst Monty Martin. The excitable spaniel was over the moon when he discovered the role would form part of his weekend as a house guest. He selected Paolo di Canio as the first recipient of the coveted Silver Bone from him. Monty commented, "I have heard dogs in Didcot discussing di Canio. But I was not prepared for his magic skills, his commitment and his enthusiasm. His feints and his flicks, especially one back flick, had me entranced."'

The Hiss of the Match went to Blackburn manager Graham Souness. Having thrown his chewing gum wrapper on the ground, he was challenged by an Addick to pick it up, but replied, 'This place is a carsey.'

After Jensen's clever lob secured the three points, the Addickted went berserk. Di Canio jumped on to a police officer and embraced him. Little did he know that moments afterwards an excitable spaniel would be jumping over him with a silver bone in his mouth.

Not long afterwards, I had to go into hospital for an unexpected operation. Curbs sent me a signed get well card with a picture of both us on the front. Some friends had organised it, but it was still a nice gesture and reflective of the spirit of the club in those days.

Going back even further in time, Jimmy Seed gives a tactics talk with his magic magnetic board: Jimmy Seed

Saturday 10 October 2015

Kinsella Junior scores for Walsall

Liam Kinsella scored the opening and his debut goal for Walsall today in their 2-0 victory over Burton Albion, the other goal coming from a late penalty. According to reports, Kinsella was also 'brilliant' in defence, making one crucial block. Burton are, of course, now managed by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who, when he was at Charlton, was said to have the turning circle of an oil tanker.

The 19-year old was born in Colchester: Career details

Kinsella senior did, of course, play for Walsall, but also scored twice for Charlton in a 4-2 victory over the Saddlers: Win at Walsall

Elsewhere, Joe Pigott scored the only goal in Southend's win and Lennon scored for Gillingham in their 3-1 victory at Chesterfield.

Friday 9 October 2015

Skipper's answers

Johnnie Jackson answers ten questions and shows how much he identifies with the club. This is not phoney badge kissing, this is a real servant of the club who identifies with the fans: Johnnie Jackson

He insists that Charlton can still scrape a play off place: Skipper's optimism

Veokele's battle against injury

Guy Luzon has no idea when Igor Vetokele might be available again. Having had an Achilles problem, he is now suffering 'from an inflammation of the pubis area.' I don't quite know what this means, but it doesn't sound very pleasant: Igor Vetokele

Given his persistent injury problems, I find the interest in a loan deal by Bolton Wanderers and Wolves puzzling. And, if he was fit, why would we want to let him go, given our lack of firepower upfront? Perhaps Acworth has the answer.

Our relegation rivals

The excellent 'two unfortunates' blog has been doing a series on 'football cities'. A number of them are our relegation rivals. Somewhat ironically, they looked at Milton Keynes on Thursday and today they have turned their attention to Bristol, and in particular the inability of Bristol City to realise their potential. It's a good read: Ship shape and Bristol fashion

Sign up to our long-term plan, says Katrien

Charlton fans need to sign up to the club's long-term plan, according to chief executive Katrien Meire. It evidently won't bring immediate success in terms of promotion of the Premiership, but 'organic' growth should bring success in the longer run: Long-term plan

The difficulty is that football fans are impatient people and tend to have a very short-term focus. They often pay more attention to the form table than the real table.

Someone once said that the worst thing about supporting Charlton is the other Charlton fans and the negativity and pessimism does seem to get overdone. I saw one fan recently confidently predicting that we would finish bottom. There are some clubs that are worse than us.

Katrien has built up some credibility with fans, although the real decisions are made in Belgium. Some incautious remarks in her recent interview in French used up some of that capital. The fans are often preoccupied with the club's past because it gives them the sustenance to carry on with what is often a rather unrewarding journey. In that spirit, I will be looking at some of our more enjoyable matches in the Premier League days during the international break.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

A mountain view of Charlton

On the day of the Fulham match I was 3,000 feet up in the Pyrénées in a village of about 150 inhabitants. I didn't expect to find much interest in the game! I was to have a surprise.

Going out for a stroll, I met a 76-year (as it turned out) inhabitant who, seeing an Englishman coming his way, ribbed me about the rugby. I am not an egg chaser, but I sat through the game listening to the French commentary and to the chortles of my host who was born in England but has taken out French citizenship.

The elderly inhabitant proceeded to tell me about his health. I thought he was talking about a hip replacement, but I discovered it was a hernia, after he changed into good English in exasperation.

In the house, I had already been advised to address the cat as 'tu' rather than 'vous' which was not convenient as I can remember the 'vous' declensions better. However, my host's French wife then mentioned that her son lived in London, was a Fulham supporter, and was even then en route to The Valley. Apparently, he supports Fulham because he couldn't afford to go to Chelsea (which is where his sister lives).

After a good French lunch with some excellent wine, I went for a siesta and woke up to be told the score. I thought it was respectable, but apparently Johnnie Jackson saved the day and the general response has been the usual negative one. I thought one Addick made sense when he said, 'the area of major concern is surely the horrendous injury problems we're experiencing? Two of our strikers have been missing for most of the season, and for all of it we've fielded a goalkeeper of League One standard.' Last year our results turned round when Hendo came back.

I took my translation of Katrien's controversial article to France with me and my host said it was correct (a few words and phrases had been the real problem). He remarked, 'She should be glad to deal with Charlton supporters rather than Millwall supporters.'

When I get time I will write something both about Katrien's ill advised interview (some Charlton supporters can read French) and the Roland interview in CAS Trust news, which I found rather disturbing. Apparently, more activity is promised in the January transfer window, but it would be better to use the money to buy one or two players of real quality rather than a lot of average ones.

Meanwhile, my linguistic struggles continued. On Monday we drove into Spain for lunch. I then had to cope with a waiter speaking Spanish, my host's wife addressing me in French and my host speaking English. With my head spinning, I asked for the bill in Italian.

Anyway, it seems that the Fulham supporter may offer me a role in his London company. I may need to take French lessons!

Thursday 1 October 2015

Forward to Fulham

It's hard to see the Addickted flocking to The Valley for the game against Fulham on Sunday. There is the recent run of form to consider, plus the fact that we tend not to do well on television or against Fulham. I well remember a crucial decision by a lino that contributed to our relegation from the Premiership.

There's a 12 o'clock kick off with no trains running, thanks to South-Eastern. From what I hear from friends who use this company on a daily basis to travel to work, they have my sympathy.

The club has urged fans to make use of Valley Express, but the network is much reduced from the days when it was launched as the Rickshaw.

I have made alternative plans for the weekend which means that I am unlikely even to learn the result.

Some fans have been calling for the return of Callum Harriott on loan on the grounds that he has been doing well in League One. There is quite a difference in quality between the two divisions. The average Championship wage is £6,000 a week and that in League One around £1,600. Of course, this reflects factors other than player quality, but that is part of the story.

In any case one can't just call back a player from loan. That is often possible with keepers for obvious reasons, but otherwise an agreement has been reached with the other club specifying the length of the loan and other terms.

Harriott is a frustrating player because he is clearly not without ability, but also appears to have something of an attitude problem. He has been unsettled at The Valley. One could blame fans for getting on his back, but they have had something to complain about.

Bad runs can, of course, come to an end when one least expects them. Let's hope that's the case on Sunday for those fans who do turn up.

Interview with Katrien

This long interview with Charlton chief executive Katrien Meire is in French, but the pictures themselves are interesting: C'est Katrine qui parle

My French isn't good enough to translate the whole article, but I get the idea that she doesn't like older, long-standing supporters like me!

As it so happens, I am going to France tomorrow to visit an old English friend who has become a French citizen, so I will get him to provide a reliable translation.