I like Barnsley. I don't think I'm being impertinent by saying they're not one of the biggest names or attractions in the Championship, they had a novelty value during their Premier League adventure but back in the second tier they exist quite contently out of the spotlight. Reminds me in some respects of a certain South London club. Spending the majority of their existence at England's second level of football, a real scare of administration and the possibility of extinction, they even play in red and white.
If i were a northerner i might just have been a tyke. As a child my parents probably thought i was and more than likely called me one.
Charlton have once again brought their 'football for a fiver' trick out of hibernation, as they've done frequently of late, to see bums on seats and a full Valley for a fixture that would otherwise struggle to reach the season's average. Barnsley look set to play in front of a far bigger Valley attendance than any other side this season.
It's a scheme that has received wonderful acclaim from other clubs and supporters around the country but how much of a success is it really? It generates great revenue around the ground for local eateries and public houses, not to mention the catering outlets inside The Valley plus an opportunity to sell a replica shirt or two in the Nike superstore. Let's not forget the return from the empty seats which must outweigh that lost from ticket sales from those supporters that would have come anyway and paid the full amount.
From a business point of view it's a great pitch, but how do supporters feel about it? I'm always happy to see the ground packed, but if a face I've never seen before sits next to me and starts to complain if we're not four up by half time I'm likely to get irritated.
How many faces, or more appropriately bums, will be back for the next home game? On a day when the BBC price of football survey was released, you can see how expensive top flight football in London is. If men (or women) decide Charlton is the place to bring the kids for a football day out in future then fantastic, and if it only serves to sew a seed in some young children that will go on to remember their first game and be regulars in ten or fifteen years time then that's of equal importance.
I am guilty for expecting a short term increase while in hindsight these promotions quite often aim for a long term solution, perhaps why I'm not at the forefront of cut throat business.
Someone who does have a brain for these type of initiatives is Rick Everitt. Rick had a huge part to play in the 'football for a fiver' idea, he had an immeasurable role in the now defunct fanzine 'Voice of The Valley' and spent fourteen years around the club culminating in his appointment as club development officer.
Rumors had been rife about his departure from the payroll and this week Rick confirmed on the Charlton Life forum that he had indeed been sacked.
I've always been guilty of keeping my head in the sand, hoping that through ignorance everything will turn out rosy without any need for me to worry unnecessarily. I can do this quite easily on all matters from football to finances, health to home life. It's not a good approach to take, I'm certainly not advocating it, but in the case of football Charlton make it a very easy option for us as the new owners do like to keep us in the dark.
Things are definitely chilly behind the scenes at the club, but to at what extent we are unaware. Rick said in his statement the best course of action is to keep getting behind both the team and Chris Powell. That seems like great advice to me.
We've endured an international break that contained more talking points than a women's book club meeting. Charlton youth product Jonjo Shelvey won the first of what we believe will be many England caps, the Polish comically couldn't or wouldn't shut the roof during a downpour on par to Hull's visit to SE7, and in Serbia racism raised it's ugly head during an England under 21 fixture to a level akin to 1970's Britain.
Thank goodness that's all over, lets get behind the team on Saturday as Rick suggested, all twenty odd thousand of us.