Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Fashion Court

Bjorn Borg is the daddy. Not only is he a Charlton fan, as if that isn't enough, he was also the king of Fila and the best dressed man to grace the grass courts of SW19.

As a young lad it was Borg i wanted to be when i grew up. There were other cool names on the tennis circuit of course, the likes of Nastase and the late Vitas Gerulaitis to name but a couple. Tennis in the late seventies and early eightees was full of characters and full of some very cool designer gear made by names steeped in heritage and as stylish today as they were then.

Borg of course was Mr Fila and for a long while this Italian brand, started by the Fila brothers before the first world war (specialising in underwear), was, to me, something of mystery and desire. The blue and red 'F' logo was well beyond my means, yet a symbol of craving and envy nonetheless. My school books were all adorned with this simple badge of quality.
The Fila 'White Line' series is still going strong, vintage Fila clothing which i now proudly do own. I can dress up like my childhood hero to my hearts content now, although the flowing locks are a thing of the past!

The 'F' logo still carries that mystique for me despite Fila's everyday sportswear having become very common place today. Now a part of the JD sports group, kids everywhere are adorned with the word 'Fila' and even English football clubs have the brand adorning their kits and training wear. None look as cool as Borg.

It wasn't just a one horse race as there were others to challenge Borg and Fila. John McEnroe always wore Sergio Tacchini, an Italian firm started by and eventually named after a former tennis pro. These tennis tops were again very stylish and gave Fila a run for their money in way similar to how 'The Brat' gave Borg a run for his. I actually liked McEnroe as well, i just remember buying a 7" single called 'The Brat' in 1982!
Later Boris Becker looked good (for a German) in his ellesse tennis wear. Both Tacchini and ellesse look as smart and stylish today as they did then, and along with Fila and Lacoste were (and still are) favourites with the football casual.

I was born in Wimbledon, my parents were great tennis fans (when my father passed away i even discovered shares he had for the lawn tennis club) and i grew up glued to the Wimbledon fortnight. I've never been though and really need to address this, i tweeted earlier that i've added it to my bucket list. Well, i would if i created one. Tennis however really isn't my thing the rest of the year. I couldn't care much for the French or Australian open but for two weeks during England's normal 'rainy season' i'm hooked.
Believe you me, it's not for Cliff Richard's impromptu entertainment either!

I keenly keep an eye then on, not only the volleys, aces and forearm smashes, but also the fashion seen gracing the court.
This year we still have some gems hidden in between the countless adidas and lotto t-shirts.
It still saddens me that Andy Murray ditched Fred Perry. No disrespect to adidas, they make some of the greatest trainers known to  mankind, but they aren't a patch on Fred Perry at the home of lawn tennis.

Former French tennis star Rene Lacoste, also known as 'the crocodile' started probably the greatest clothing company a year after retiring from the game in 1933.
Seventy nine years later and the crocodile logo still adorns the court, American Andy Roddick leading the way in a stylish white shirt with blue collar. It's going 'cheap' should you fancy one yourself!

Most men, when asked, would say young Russian Maria Sharapova would be their favourite lady player. I doubt many care about her abilities with the racquet (as opposed to racket) when making this decision.
Personally i've always had a soft spot for Kim Clijsters. If Borg was the king of Fila, casual Kim is most definitely the queen.
2012 is her final year on the circuit and this is her last Wimbledon. Fila have produced a range of tennis wear especially for her, clothing to make sure she looks as good today as she did when she first appeared on the court. All white with gold piping and collar, it also has a gold 'F' logo. As if this didn't look smart enough, a large matching handbag finishes the collection off a treat.
2012 and Fila have stolen the show on centre court once again.

The ball boys and officials are this year looking smart themselves showcasing Ralph Lauren's 2012 Wimbledon collection. Very stylish court side yet a little expensive if you should wish to treat the family to a souvenir. Still, i guess many of the paying public visiting this corner of south west London will consider it cheap, especially when comparing it to the price of the strawberries!

If you too want to relive those halcyon days of Sweden's greatest tennis star and own your own piece of tennis fashion, 80's Casual Classics is well worth a visit.

You'll look the business on the terraces too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dates for the diary

Due to the exploits of the Addicks on the pitch last season, one thing was guaranteed from Monday morning's announcement of the 2012/2013 fixture list, we weren't going to entertain Hartlepool's wonderful supporters for a third final day in a row. Or for that matter Bournemouth's on the opening day.

Promotion has brought with it a change in names of the opponents that we seek out immediately the list is announced. Palace and Millwall are the obvious now, alongside the relegated clubs we saw on Match of the Day last season who will hope to be topping the Championship table come May.

Boxing day, New Years day, birthdays, we all wish for fixtures that tie in with any plans already set in stone and you can bet your last pound they'll be one or two you were looking forward to that are hundreds of miles away and scheduled for a Tuesday night in January!

The clubs are allowed to submit some special requests to the FA although 'we would like an easy run in to the season' probably doesn't count as justified. Charlton this summer made no such requests.
This fixture list is still subject to changes and at the moment about as final as Stuart Pearce's long list for Great Britain's Olympic team.

The police will no doubt require matches to be moved, Sky have yet to alter as many games as they are allowed from a traditional Saturday three o'clock kick off, and all this before the weather kicks in and pitches become frozen causing a fixture pile up come March.

Birmingham City host us for the opening day of the season. A side that have Premier league aspirations, they were losing play off semi finalists last season and will be one of the favourites for promotion this time around. As we wait for an announcement as to the replacement of Chris Hughton in the Blues hot seat, we can romanticize about a possible meeting with former Charlton boss Alan Curbishley on August 18th.

August is a traditionally hard month for me to attend games as every parent at work books the time off for the school holidays resulting in me often working full days on the Saturdays to cover. I'm grateful to see then that our first home league fixture is on the following Tuesday.
Chris Powell's former employees Leicester City are the visitors. My next visit to The Valley after that could be mid September for Crystal Palace. Probably the first game i looked out for.

The return fixture at Selhurst is at the beginning of February. Millwall entertain on the first of December and visit mid March. I can't see The New Den being full of festive good will!
Boxing day is a fixture i haven't been able to attend since i got married for fear of castration by the missus should i miss out on the family gatherings. I selfishly pray for an away fixture but alas this season I'll be missing the visit of Ipswich. I'll get my Christmas football fix three days later for Derby County's trip to SE7.

At this level there won't be any easy games, but our run in does look tough with trips to Barnsley, Cardiff and Middlesbrough in April, not to mention the visit of  two of last season's Premier League sides in our last four home fixtures. The full fixture list can be seen on the official club website.

As mouthwatering as this main course is, we have the appetiser of pre-season friendlies first.
Today we discovered that we'll face Sporting Lisbon whilst away on the training camp in Spain. This time away was invaluable last year as the new squad got to know each other both on and off the field. We faced two of this season's rivals, Cardiff and Bristol City, last time around. No disrespect to either of those two clubs but it's exciting this year to be facing not just foreign opposition but one of Europe's most famous clubs.

A friendly against Fulham behind closed doors has also been confirmed which i have mentioned before here, along with a list of the other warm up matches.

With everything now in place for the big kick off we wait to hear of any news in the transfer market. To date all we've got is contract extensions for Bradley Pritchard and Yann Kermorgant to get excited about but it's not really the same as a new name to the squad list.

Perhaps that will all change after the European Championships and England's historic semi final win over the Germans. Revenge for 96.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Season Opener

We may now be a Championship football club, but we start the 2012/13 season against familiar opposition in both location and recent encounters.

The Football League Cup is now rebranded as the Capital One Cup. Not as catchy as Carling, Coca-Cola or the fantastic Milk Cup, but on par with Worthington and Rumbelows in the roll off the tongue stakes.

The draw for the first round was made this morning and gave Charlton a home tie against League One's Leyton Orient. This game is scheduled for the 14th August, the Tuesday before the league programme gets under way. However, there is a chance it may get moved because of policing requirements due to the Olympics.
This of course is the reason there are no home friendlies and the anticipated game against Fulham at Craven Cottage will be behind closed doors.

Charlton do of course have confirmed matches at Welling, Bromley, Bury Town, Crawley and Gillingham before a competitive ball is kicked with, i suspect, one or two more to be announced.

You cannot of failed to notice that this summer we have been treated to a close season tournament on the TV, which it has to be said, has been both entertaining and of good quality. Euro 2012 may make a good filler for those of us who prefer our football live rather than through a television camera, but even the likes of Spain playing Italy, Germany playing Holland or even England playing anybody aren't as mouthwatering as a London cup tie derby. For the benefit of those of you who use twitter I'll add a hashtag, #rosetintedspecs.

In all seriousness though, a home tie against the Orient is a perfect little outing before the Championship campaign kicks off. The fixture list is revealed on Monday and the first game will be contested on the 18th August.

Chris Powell has been silent in the transfer market as of yet, a complete turn around on this time last year. There is talk of a deal with West Ham which would take the Addicks player of the year, Chris Solly, north of the water. Twitter is, as always, awash with rumours as to who may move to SE7. Free agent Keith Andrews is the most popular name banded about although at the moment I'm guessing his mind is on international matters and the small prospect of a match tonight against the world champions.

Whoever comes and goes, and i know a departure for Solly would bring tears to the eyes of many fans, we have to trust the continued judgement of Chris Powell.
There is no doubt last season he worked wonders and there is no reason to believe he'll do anything but the same this time around.
We cannot forget that even with the success of last year we are still in the middle of the rebuilding process and need to be patient if we want the foundations of this club to be solid again.
The new owners have come in and done a wonderful job of steadying the ship, but unlike many more high profile takeovers we do not have what appear to be endless funds.

Lets just take one step at a time, worry about who's in and out of the door when it happens and enjoy some cup football.

Counting the days.............

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A new name for a new shirt

The new Charlton home shirt for next season was first viewed on the final day of our last league campaign, both on the pitch as worn by the Red Devils (the parachute regiment display team, not a West Sussex football team) and also on display in the main reception after the match.

Other than the club badge and Nike's 'swoosh' logo (is that what they call it?) you could have been forgiven for thinking it was just a slightly dark red polo shirt. Well nothings changed other than the addition of a sponsor.

Yesterday local south east London firm Andrews Sykes were announced as the new club sponsors signing a one year contract. The home shirt has Andrews Air Conditioning emblazoned across it, the black away number we are told will display another  aspect of the company.

Borrowed from their website, it will be one of the following i presume -

"The Andrews brand offers six core product areas: Andrews Air Conditioning, Andrews Heat for Hire, Andrews Dehumidification, Andrews Chillers, Andrews Boilers and Andrews Ventilation."

Don't count out Sykes Pumps as a possibility though, but it does leave you feeling another word is missing off the end!

To be honest it looks a little too local to me, almost in a non league kind of way, but at least it will stop people always asking me what krbs stands for!

I'd always prefer a shirt with no sponsor just as it always used to be but those days are behind us. My new preference of Fullers Brewery paying us to have their London Pride logo on our chest and the corresponding beer available to purchase on the concourse fell on deaf ears so i guess Eric Andrews Sykes will have to do!

It is of course the team wearing the shirt that matter so the mixed reception to it's design is a small matter. This new board are turning this club around and all decisions thus far have been to our benefit so I'll certainly trust them on accepting Andrews Sykes offer, especially in a financial field i have little to no experience in.

We still wait for details of the shorts and socks to match the shirt but like it or lump it, we'll only have one season to endure it.
Apart from the fact Nike took our business too late in the day to be able to offer us every design possible from their extensive collection, it is likely now with a big brand manufacturer we'll change it every season anyway.

We are one of the last clubs to keep kits on the two year cycle. Norwich City recently hit the news in following suit with other big clubs in changing design every campaign. At the time i thought it rare and a little unfair on the supporters, but having chatted to John Devlin of True Colours fame, this has become more and more the norm.
Have a play on the club section of the Historical Kits website. You'll find very few English sides of our stature that keep a home kit for more than one campaign.

At least it's still red, the club badge hasn't changed and we're still called the Addicks. Imagine if these new owners were Malaysian!

Cardiff fans, you have my deepest sympathies.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

National Pride

Everywhere you look all you can see is red, white and blue. The Union Jack flies from cars and buildings, it adorns coffee mugs, cushion covers and even the packaging on half my shopping from the supermarket.

The darkest furthest reaches of this globe know it's not all left over from Englebert's dismal showing in Azerbaijan, but is of course to celebrate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Sixty years as monarch, even typing it now it amazes me.

Nineteen years before i was born, a young lady and relatively new mother about the same age as my young wife is now started the rest of her life as the Queen of Great Britain. And she still looks in great health today, well into her eightees!

At a time when money and jobs are short in supply for many of us, the royal family have given the nation something to unite us all and give us a great big dose of pride and joy.
This is not a political blog and never will be, a minority hoped to spoil events on Sunday but aren't worth any more of a mention, but i like most Britain's love the pomp and ceremony of the Royal family. Could you imagine David Cameron, or even worse Tony Blair as president? I shudder to think.
So i get behind my country whether it's Eurovision, a football tournament or, even in the days of old, It's A Knockout! I'm British and bloody proud of it, it's Great.

I had thought about finding a spot by the river on Sunday for the river pageant but even on the motorbike it would have been a challenge timewise after church that morning so opted to watch the whole affair on TV.
Auntie Beeb failed to let me down. Well except for placing Fearne Cotton on the team that is.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh impressed us all by standing for the entire time on the royal barge. As a spectacle it was stunning, the sight of all those boats will become iconic, years ago paintings would have been inspired, today photographs.

You had to feel for the poor choir who had no cover on the roof of the barge carrying The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as they got a drenching singing Land of Hope and Glory to Her Majesty on the river. Bless them, their smiles never faltered! Neither did those of the many lining the route who endured some awful weather that fortunately cleared up for Monday's concert.
The Sailor's Hornpipe got the Royal's jigging and was a real highlight, as was the ever beautiful Duchess of Cambridge, who almost upstaged The Queen, in her red number.

Last night we had the Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace which was organised by Gary Barlow. Unfortunately Prince Philip was missing, as he would be for the rest of the weekends events, due to illness which put a small dampener on affairs.
Some of the worlds biggest names in music and comedy entertained and hosted this extravaganza. Some of which did their best to improve their knighthood chances! Lenny Henry possibly didn't, alongside Stevie Wonder who thought it was the Queens birthday!

Robbie Williams did a fantastic job of opening events, Grace Jones was as 'out there' as ever, Madness performed on the roof and Kylie was just Kylie which is enough in itself.
Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Tom Jones, Sir Cliff Richard (?) the biggest names all there playing to an audience of millions. Not really my kind of music but once again a fitting spectacle rounded off wonderfully by The Prince of Wales whose witty speech echoed the blessings of us all.
I could listen to him call The Queen 'mummy' all day long and still lovingly smile!

The palace proved to be a wonderful backdrop for a firework display that fitted another rendition of Land of Hope and Glory a treat. This was tear in the eye stuff, not to mention that I've been up and down like a yo-yo for the national anthem this weekend as well!

And so today a special commemorative service at St Paul's started a day that witnessed a carraige procession down The Mall and finished with a fly past from a Lancaster, Spitfires and the Red Arrows over the Palace to a still smiling Queen. This is where The Duke of Edinburgh's absence was sadly noticeable.

We've had a long weekend and I've spent much of it glued to the television so i didn't miss anything, not out of duty but because i wanted to take it all in. I really hope every British subject has watched some of the weekends proceedings, there are many in less fortunate countries who would love some of the celebration we enjoy and, unfortunately, sometimes take for granted.

National pride will, for the English amongst us at least, continue into next week as England embark on their assault on The European Championships in Poland and the Ukraine. With all the best will in the world i can't see us having as much to cheer as we have had this weekend.

Still there's always the Olympics. Don't take that bunting down just yet...........................

God save The Queen and may God bless you Ma'am!