Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Seven games to go. As much as I've enjoyed this season, i can't wait for it to end now. Everything had been better than we could have dreamed of............... and then we entered March.
All sides have little off spells guaranteed, but why do Charlton always wait until the home straight?Chris Powell knows this all too well from his playing days.
On BBC's (regional) Late Kick Off programme Monday night he showed little sign of worry though. His appearance wasn't just to make new converts to his large fan club, but also to tell all of the south east how this month has been just a minor blip, and how his team have the strength to finish the job.
Mark Bright alongside him was quick to mention how the fifteen point gap has been reduced to eight. I wonder sometimes why Brighty who is so obviously Palace through and through ever signed for Charlton.
It was a refreshing change to watch this very Palace biased programme hardly mention the boys from SE25 at all. I'm sure somebody at Auntie Beeb will have had words and things will return to normal next week.
Since my last post we've seen a great victory against form side Yeovil at The Valley, followed by Saturday's defeat at the hands of promotion rivals Huddersfield. Oh, and a Kent Senior cup defeat to Dartford.
That of course was a Charlton eleven and was therefore an excellent exercise whilst we wait for a much needed reserve league. I'm told Alonso played but I'm not taking it for gospel until i see photos!
Yeovil saw the Charlton debut for Millwall loanee Dany N'Guessan. Seven minutes in, he kept up a tradition of debut goals by scoring from out wide when his cross found the back of the net.
The boss had deemed it time to change things around in an attempt to get back to winning ways.
Matt Taylor who had had a couple of shaky moments of late dropped to the bench allowing Leon Cort to start alongside Michael Morrison. I'd be quite happy to see these two continue for the rest of the run in, Cort has always impressed when I've seen him.
Wright-Phillips and Russell put the game to bed but it was Yann Kermorgant who shone. His involvement in Russell's last minute third was both controlled and stunning. This was a combined effort and a goal of the season contender.
A knock earlier in that game meant the big French striker would miss the trip to the Galpharm in West Yorkshire. Step up Paul Hayes. Recalled from Wycombe Wanderers, the striker had been on a rich vein of form for the Chairboys scoring, i believe, six in six and walked straight into the starting eleven on Saturday.
Not even the most poetic of writers could dress this up as a good clean contest. Tackles flew in, two of which by Antony Kay niggled Powell so much he felt the need to mention it again on Monday night.
Jordan Rhodes added to his impressive goals tally with a penalty on the quarter of an hour. This was conceded by Darel Russell who had, it's fair to say, a far worse game that the Tuesday before. He was sent off for a retaliation after Kay's second appalling tackle (the first on Scott Wagstaff) on the hour. Agreed, a retaliation is a big no no, but this was on a repeat offender who shouldn't have been on the pitch anyway.
That is all water under the bridge. There are twenty one points available and it's not just ourselves who find it hard to cross the finishing line. Leyton Orient come to SE7 Saturday and we'll be keen on revenge after our visit to Brisbane Road on new years eve. We played that one for nearly the whole ninety minutes with ten men when Ben Hamer was sent off for handling outside his area. Never will revenge taste so sweet especially after Sheffield United's hammering of Jonstones Paint Trophy winners Chesterfield tonight, we need three points more than ever.
If we needed an excuse, or even a dedication, for a win then lets do it Saturday for club director Richard Murray. Recovering today from a minor stroke, the former chairman is Charlton through and through. He has done more for our club than I can put into words and we owe it to him to make his full recovery as stress free as possible. It's still ours for the taking.
Come on you reds!
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
One of my favourite moments in Spinal Tap is the cabbie 'quoting' old blue eyes that "it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all".
Would Alfred Tennyson have seen the humour? I don't know, but one things for sure, It's a saying that has proved to be true for David Gedge. The Wedding Present front man has made a career from it.
Valentina is the bands first studio release since El Rey four years ago. We had heard a few of these new songs last year as the band incorporated some into the live sets they played. With the modern age of 'you tube' etc, a new release isn't necessarily that 'new' anymore but i still got overly excited when the postman delivered my pre ordered copy of the CD at the weekend. I haven't listened to anything else since.
First impressions are of course always with the album artwork. Unfortunately for Gedge and co they started with a masterpiece and the now iconic George Best album. It's all gone a little downhill since then although i do appreciate the simplicity of all their offerings. This latest effort though reminds me of one of those dreadful, countless 'modern art' canvases available from all good home furnishing stores. I guess I'm just lucky having a wife that insists on doing her own artwork to decorate our flat rather than buying this mass produced tat.
In fairness, as far as the sleeve design goes, i shouldn't really gripe. It's better than anything i could conjure up and some poor design company put many hours into it. Well done them.
It's the music that matters though and we are certainly not let down here. Your Dead is a very punchy opening track harking back to Seamonsters routes. Although a strong song, it's probably my least favourite on the album. It's followed by Valentina's first single You Jane.
As singles go, it's certainly no Kennedy or Brassneck but then the whole album is a little more structured than that. As wonderful and timeless as these past classics are, Valentina is far more musically complex than those early days.
There isn't anything on here which would warrant a Top of the Pops appearance (if Auntie Beeb hadn't killed it off). No, this is an album for the connoisseur. The Wedding Present have become middle aged like the rest of us, both physically and musically.
Throughout the forty or so minutes we are treated to the delight of Gedge's guitar, grinding bass lines from the wonderful Pepe Le Moko and some thunderous drumming from Charles Layton. On End Credits he's even joined by guitarist Graeme Ramsay on a second kit!
The tempo changes, not just from song to song but as is the norm now for TWP, mid song as well. One second David Gedge sounds like he's serenading you, only for moments later despair and disappointment to come crashing down all around. Meet Cute is a prime example of this.
The Girl From The DDR is, for me, a real highlight. It could have fallen straight out of Take Fountain (along with 524 Fidelio) as it has a definite Cinerama sound, Le Moko's German backing vocals on it are simply sublime.
Along with End Credits, these are the two real stand out tracks although the whole of the second half of the album is as good as anything released previously to sport the Weddoes name.
It may not be the best album to convert anyone to the music of David Gedge but it's a must have for anyone already there.
This year we are being treated to The Wedding Present touring their awesome 1991 Seamonsters album. I'm very much hoping that, God willing, in 2033 they'll be touring their by then classic Valentina.
See you at the edge of the sea...........
Sunday, March 18, 2012
We've all seen the joke, apple's new must have gadget for women, iRon. If I bought an iron for my wife i doubt I'd get a single brownie point, three would be out the question.
Charlton had the Iron Saturday and came back to London with not just a useful point, but with something far more important, an end to a very short losing streak before it became a habit.
The Addicks may have only picked up one point from the last possible nine but they are still nine points clear of the two steel city sides.
Needless to say the negativity around certain sections of the support is up to it's normal level but I'm not getting sucked in. No sir, our destiny is still in our own hands and i believe we've got enough backbone to not only get automatic promotion, but lift the silverware as well. There, I've said it.
Back to Scunthorpe and an early goal for Bradley Wright-Phillips, number twenty for the season, after work on the right from Scott Wagstaff saw the six hundred travelling Londoners put the nightmare of Notts County well and truly behind them.
Scunthorpe however battled on and drew level from the penalty spot halfway through the first half. The Iron are one of those sides you really don't want to be playing at this stage of the season as they are battling for their lives down the bottom.
Another tricky opponent is Yeovil Town, Tuesday's visitors to The Valley. That could go either way, but on our day we could put four or five past them, wouldn't that get things back on track a treat!
They are on a little bit of a roll at the moment and i was surprised to see they had moved up to twelfth in the table, i honestly thought they were in the bottom six. Unbeaten in March they have won four and drawn one, just our luck to meet them now. I'll settle for a 1-0 in retrospect!
Looking at the remaining nine games, there isn't really an easy fixture among them. A lot of the sides are either fighting to survive or pushing for the play offs. Every game now will be the most important one of the season, starting with Tuesday.
It's six months though since any other club has led League One. Charlton aren't going to let that mantle slip away without a fight. Full of this belief, i got around to sending my season ticket application form off this week. I can't think of a better way to spend £240 than on the ups and downs that is Charlton Athletic football club.
Promotion, league titles, relegation, all these things suddenly became very very small yesterday unfortunately with news of Fabrice Muamba suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch for Bolton Wanderers in their cup tie at White Hart Lane.
Needless to say my prayers are, like the rest of the football world, with him and his family. It's a shame it takes something like this to happen for the rest of the world to see all football fans aren't hooligan thugs. I absolutely love supporters of all sides joining together in a footballing family to send their love and prayers, not to mention hearing both sets of fans at games up and down the country singing Fabrice's name.
Get well soon son.
Saturday, March 10, 2012
'Everybody Jitterbug' sang The Toy Dolls in homage to a dance craze from yesteryear. The dancing in Charlton today was all done by way of celebration in the Jimmy Seed stand from the visiting supporters.
The home side contributed by means of providing the jitters. And plenty of them.
Jonathan Forte isn't a name we'll forget in a hurry in SE7. His first half hat trick helped stun The Valley faithful into a state of shock as Charlton left the field four goals down at half time.
After the first home defeat of the season at the hands of Colchester on Tuesday, i did wonder how we would react. It could of gone either of two ways but none of us expected the rout we saw today.
Notts County are putting together a strong bid for a play off spot and were never to be taken lightly, but we are top of the league, by head and shoulders, and should not collapse like we did for forty five minutes today.
County came out of the traps brighter than Charlton and the Addicks looked complacent even before the first goal. Another shot from distance, lacking in the quality of Tuesday's however, put the Magpies in front. Two minutes later Forte got his first as the visitors seemed to bypass our defense completely and the hit man got on the end of a ball from out wide.
Number three was a contender for the next football nightmare compilation as Matt Taylor and Ben Hamer lacked any communication letting Forte get in between them to capitalise.
Another cross five minutes before the break and Forte got on the end with his head this time, completing a deserved treble.
The covered end was silent. That 6-1 defeat to Leeds sprang to mind and i wondered, providing we didn't do something drastic, whether i was going to witness something for the record books, just all for the wrong reasons.
Chris Powell's half time team talks must be something truly out of this world. It could be worth pretending we're behind before a ball is even kicked at ten to three next week.
Charlton came out and attacked the covered end like their lives depended on it. First Bradley Wright-Phillips, then young Scott Wagstaff (a thirteen minute substitute for the injured Danny Haynes) both netted within ten minutes of the re-start to half the deficit.
We sang we would win 5-4, and for a while we believed we would. In fact, if a blatant penalty appeal had been given for a foul on Wright-Phillips, it may well have been the greatest comeback many of the 17,000 would have ever witnessed.
After such a glum feeling during the first half, i relished the buzz of the second. Our glorious old stadium was absolutely electric as our two goals went in. It was on par with a draw a few years back against West Ham (4-4 i think?) for atmosphere. The place was alive!
Although it didn't happen and we dropped points for the second week running, i still left the ground content. If the second half had been no improvement on the first this post would have a different feel altogether but we showed the fight necessary to keep our season on track.
After the penalty claim, we did seem to resort a little to a hopeful long ball into the box interspersed with some nice build up play, just lacking in quality with a final ball. Things understandably seemed a little rushed on the pitch as the clock ticked away and it was obvious the players were frustrated, but it's refreshing after last season to see the team feeling the pain of defeat as much as the paying supporters in the stands.
I really hope this is a blip. Scunthorpe away next Saturday won't be the easiest of fixtures to turn things around but if we hadn't just suffered these two defeats we would have gone up there fearing nothing.
We are of course Charlton and we have never done anything the easy way. The job isn't done yet no matter how comfortable the table still looks. That infamous Charlton end of season slump is a scary thought but I'm sure this current side is too good for that. The second half today showed that, didn't it?
Come on you reds!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
It is of course the great Jimmy Greaves who says that football is a funny old game. Never has anyone been so on the ball about something.
Look at Arsenal in their Champions League tie against AC Milan. The first leg in Italy was, for Arsenal, truly awful. Even to say it was a capitulation would be kind, but then this week in the return leg they came so close to squaring things up. So much so that most Englishmen, other than of course Tottenham fans, felt both proud and sorry for them after laughing the week before.
I very much doubt even Arsene Wenger would have predicted last nights events.
Charlton's last two outings have been equally bizarre. Snatching a win from a poor performance on Saturday, then losing after dominating last night. How can anyone make sense of such logic defying circumstances? It could only be football. As Addicks, we sometimes feel that it could only be Charlton!
The trip to Bournemouth was supposed to be an early idea of what the promotion party is going to be like. A warm weekend on the coast, many Charlton fans making a long break of it, yes, this had all the makings of a festival representing everything that is great about being Charlton.
And although three more points were added to our already impressive sum, it wasn't quite the footballing extravaganza many had hoped for.
The milder temperatures we had witnessed in the week prior to the game disappeared by the Friday resulting in a much colder, and at times wetter, weekend. On the pitch Charlton never really got going and Bournemouth were for large periods the brighter of the two sides.
If anyone deserved all the points you could be forgiven for saying it was probably the hosts but in fairness a nil nil draw was very much on the cards.
Teams that win championships though have, not only a never say die attitude, but also more than their fair slice of luck. Combined, these two elements sent nearly two thousand travelling Londoners home happy as Yann Kermorgant headed home in the last minute of stoppage time.
It was a close call and the ball did cross the line, but on another day we've seen the exact same thing not given.
If we can pull something like that out the hat away from home on an off day, just imagine what damage we can inflict on some poor unsuspecting also ran when we're firing on all cylinders in our own back yard!
Colchester came to The Valley Tuesday evening attempting to become the first side to win a league fixture there all season.
They got off to the greatest of starts with a wonderful strike from Anthony Wordsworth after only five minutes. It was the kind of goal that would beat the best of keepers and meant Charlton had to chase the game from the off. Chase they did though and most of the play was in and around the Colchester half of the pitch.
Chances came and went without the home side making them count until with a quarter of an hour to go a mistake from keeper Ben Hamer gifted Colchester their second goal and effectively put the game to bed. For the record it really must be said that Charlton continued to look for that elusive goal right through to the final whistle, all alas to no avail.
Looking at the stats, it's only the third defeat of the season, and the first at home for almost eleven months.
Fortune does however favour the brave and closet rivals Sheffield United also stuttered going down at Walsall, a second defeat on the spin. This all means of course that we are still thirteen points clear of second and fourteen clear of third. The big red panic button doesn't yet need hitting, although this was a gentle reminder that the trophy isn't yet in our cupboard and a few more results still need to be ground out. I'm no manager but perhaps one or two changes could be called for, just to shake everybody up a little.
Notts County visit SE7 on Saturday and from what I've been reading Chris Powell's team are down in the dumps and ready to put affairs back in order for this one. It really could be a case of back with a vengeance and a possible hammering. I'm not even going to tempt fate and mention any other possible scenarios, suffice to say your guess is as good as mine as to what will happen on the day.
I say this because as we all know, football really is a funny old game.
Come on you reds!
Thursday, March 1, 2012
My knowledge of DIY superstores, or for that matter, small little local hardware stores is, I'm proud to say, very limited. I do remember a branch of FADS in the high street though back in the early eighties.
This is where my father just had to shop for paint and wallpaper. Well, i was of the opinion that if it's good enough for Allan Simonsen it's good enough for us.
My dad, having no interest in football, obviously declined the use of my helpful eleven year old logic and bought his domestic happiness and brownie points in the cheapest emporium available to him.
The point is, only decorating anoraks and Charlton Athletic supporters will look back at this forgotten high street name with fondness.
I'm not really one for shirt advertising on the whole though. My first replica shirt was a red Liverpool number as worn by that footballing legend, Emlyn Hughes. This just had a yellow Liver bird and Umbro badge.
Football of course in those days was relatively untouched by the financial evil which has prostituted many clubs to within an inch of their lives. We did have advertising boards, but they were sporadically positioned around the edge of the pitch, Texaco being an example. In those days if you draped your scarf across it stewards didn't demand you remove it and threaten to eject you.
Nowadays you have to hope for an empty area of seating to display your flag or banner across, and even then only if authorised first.
The point is, i could associate with FADS. In the same way we could associate with Crown Paints (Liverpool), Solvite (Watford) or Wrangler (Nottingham Forest). These were brands we could choose to spend our money on over their competitors.
Look at the drinks industry for example. Holsten (Spurs), Ind Coope (Leicester), Guinness (QPR), Skol (Forest again) and my favourite, Newcastle Brown Ale (i so want to type Sunderland).
All these could perhaps persuade supporters to spend their pennies on the product in question. So much so that Tennants sponsor both Celtic and Rangers to avoid one set of fans boycotting the beer rather than be associated with their bitterest of rivals. I believe CR Smith, NTL, and Carling did the same.
I can say from experience that supporters will boycott products due to a rather healthy dislike for all things _________ (enter as appropriate). Throughout the nineties if i needed any media for data storage you can bet your bottom dollar i wasn't buying TDK! And to this day I've never used Churchill for my motor insurance.
Mind you, i never bought a Viglen or Mesh computer either but we'll gloss over that.
It wasn't just the drinks industry, other household names were emblazoned across your bedroom wall on posters pulled from football magazines. If you wanted a new cassette player or even a revolutionary beta max recorder would you choose JVC (Arsenal), Sharp (Manchester United), or Philips (Manchester City) to go with the Saab you bought the season before?
These were choices we had, but today, and there are exceptions, it's all lost a bit of that homely feel. There's plenty of on line betting companies which isn't appropriate for youngsters to wear, hence they take the name off junior kits. This of course means your kids shirt isn't the same as his heroes. It does go to show how mainstream and acceptable gambling has become. I've nothing against a little flutter, but once upon a time the pools was the only acceptable face of sporting betting.
Airlines still enjoy maximum publicity with Fly Emirates (Arsenal) and Etihad (Manchester City) seen by millions each week. I hope they fare better than both British Midland (Derby) and British Caledonian (Brighton) did. Personally, the only airline i feel is within my reach is easy jet. Not that I'm boasting or anything you understand.
Then there are those who you have no idea of their wares. Charlton had Redbus, I'm still not sure what i was promoting there. AON (Manchester United), well, I'd have to google it. FxPro (Fulham) again no idea, maybe i just live a very blinkered life. In fact Manchester United have had a theme of late as i haven't a clue what AIG do either. How those millions were wasted on me.
Some of the best sponsors came in for personal reasons. Wet Wet Wet had their name on their hometown club Clydebank, whilst former Housemartin Norman Cook instigated one of the longest of shirt deals with Brighton. During his days as Fat Boy Slim, his record label 'Skint' was the word of choice on all blue and white striped shirts on the south coast.
A great way of making potential muggers think twice.
Recently on reading an article on BEKO fridges catching fire, i wracked my brains to try and remember which poor set of fans may have once been tempted to part with their hard earned on said brand of kitchen white goods. Oh yes, Millwall, that was it.
To summarise then, I'm not totally against shirt sponsorship. Just keep it relative to it's audience. It's the working class man who is going to walk around with the company name on his chest as opposed to those guests enjoying the match in a box sipping champagne and eating prawn sandwiches. They may be influenced on chartered accountants or solicitors, but we're really not that bothered about such things.
Next time Charlton, how about Fullers and a shirt with a London Pride logo on the front?
Nowadays unfortunately we are starting to see the continental trend popping up throughout our leagues of the selling of any space to advertising. The back of shirts, shorts, socks, it won't be long before our players are decked out like formula one cars.
I dread the day Charlton have sponsorship on the back of the shirt, please don't get me started on that..........