Thursday 31 May 2012

Beavon to the Valley

I am hearing strong rumours that Stuart Beavon may be SE7-bound. Paul Hayes and cash would be a strong incentive and a win-win.....

Monday 28 May 2012

Wish I'd gone..

To Twickenham yesterday. I slunk in from the heat of my Charlton garden yesterday and nestled down in front of the England v Barbarians match. The Barbarians only play friendlies and there is a risk that they look like training games (Craig Levein knows what I mean). When they are played in temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, you might expect them to be less than fully committed. 

No problem yesterday, as an impressive England side racked up their biggest ever winning score against the invitational Ba-Ba's (57-26). Chris Ashton lead the way with three tries but two new England players caught my eye in Christian Wade and Jonathan Joseph. Both scored (Joseph twice) and I was reminded of Jason Robinson and Jeremy Guscott, players who were simply too good for the Scottish back-line. I can see myself typing a reminder of yesterday in the Spring.

The Ba-Ba's played their part with Iain Balshaw and Mike Tindall relishing the chance to remind their old England side what they were missing. Tindall, in particular, looked like a man snubbed after the shenanigans at the World Cup. The try he scored was impressive as he smashed through two white shirts to reach forward and slam the ball down. He couldn't hide his glee and was still smiling to himself ten minutes later.

England might be a good early bet for the Grand Slam next year...

Sunday 27 May 2012

It's Udders

Huddersfield Town will join us in the Championship next season after seeing off Sheffield United in a long and hot final at Wembley yesterday. Neither side could break the deadlock until penalties and even then match was won with the last kick of the chosen eleven as Steve Simonson ballooned his spot-kick against his opposite number one in Alex Smithies.

Lee Clarke must have mixed emotions this morning having been relieved off his duties rather unfairly with his side in fifth place. No doubt there will be few Terriers thinking of him this morning and Simon Grayson looks like he has fallen in the dung and come up smelling of roses. At least he has had the good grace to compliment Clarke for his contribution.

Danny Wilson suffers the ignominy of seeing his loss magnified by the fact that his Massive former club and city rivals squeaked in ahead of him. The Ched Evans debacle looks like it has cost the Blades dearly. 

I caught part of the second-half of the Norway v England game and it was very clearly a friendly. I know we have been away from the top of the game for a long time and as a Scot I don't really follow the England set-up with any strong interest but the side looked dismal to me. Jones, Baines, Lescott, Jagielka, Milner, Young, Downing and Carroll? Even the bench contained two Henderson's (?), Oxlade-Chamberlain and Johnson. They deserved that terrible kit they were wearing. 

Friday 25 May 2012

Any ideas?

I saw the attached pennant on sale on Ebay and bought it for a tenner. It was hard to tell from the photo whether it was a genuinely old souvenir and the detail was sketchy. Those of you who saw it via Charlton Life (like me - thanks Henry) may have been distracted by the fact that the picture was taken on what appeared to be the lap of a woman wearing stockings and suspenders.

Anyway, it's duly in my possession and I am very pleased. It looks genuine and I am left questioning the badge which shows three robins on a black football with words "Charlton Athletic FC" running around the edge. The Robin was our club emblem when we won the F A Cup in 1947 and I believe the sword and "The Valiants" were introduced in the early 1960's. So I am thinking this predates 1960 and could be much earlier. It is well made and in good condition and I am wondering if it may have been an official club item, the sort of thing which may have been handed over at kick-off to opposing teams. Can anyone shed any more light on it or the badge?

Sunday 20 May 2012

London calling

London clubs were the winners yesterday in the two big games. West Ham scored a first-of-the-season last minute winner to see off Blackpool and Chelsea beat the odds, the form and history to beat the Germans on penalties to finally hand Roman Abramovich the Champions League Cup.

I may be in a minority of Addick fans who was urging the Hammers on. Not sure where the antipathy towards them comes from. They may be our closest geographical neighbours but the river is a massive divide and I only remember our couple of seasons over there with fondness. We were shown respect and made to feel welcome. West Ham belong in the Premier League and we should find points easier to come by from Blackpool next season.

I started the Champions League match praying for a Bayern opener but finished the match willing Chelsea on. It was another game won from the back and the change in heart was easy after being reminded that a Chelsea victory would prevent Spurs from another crowing and boorish European tour. Poor Bayern Munich fans will be wondering how they failed to take a decisive lead having attacked Chelsea like the home side they were for most of the match. The stats showed that Bayern had five times the efforts that Chelsea mustered and a reflection on the Chelsea performance was that I hadn't noticed Mikel was playing until the second-half and Frank Lampard hardly touched the ball in normal time.

Petr Cech showed us why he has been the best goalkeeper on the planet since Peter Schmeicel and Didier Drogba confirmed his place as Chelsea's best ever striker. I grew up watching Peter Osgood who netted 103 goals for the Blues in 279 appearances. Didier finished yesterday on 102 in 227 and did it in the white-hot heat of the professional game against the best defenders in the world. Chelsea look like they need rebuilding throughout and have the thorny problem of wanting a more experienced and successful manager than Robert Di Matteo and yet appointing someone else would seem enormously disloyal and potentially short-sighted. 

Friday 18 May 2012

Second last Saturday

Our season may be over but the prizes elsewhere get settled over the coming two weekends. Tomorrow we get to revel in the "richest game in football" or whatever it's called when B'pool take on the Hammers at Wembley. I will be rooting for West Ham, in spite of looking forward to playing them next season. 

My ability to predict football results may be no more than average , although I did collect a £350 prize in a work competition for a Runners-Up spot this season! I am confidently predicting a West Ham romp tomorrow despite the fact that Blackpool have the most recent experience of winning  at Wembley. I wonder how few of that side under Holloway will be on the Wembley true tomorrow?

In the evening we then have the main event as the middle classes from West London descend on Munich for a nail-biter in which they look distinct second-favourites. Bayern have the advantage of playing the game in their home stadium and that should be significant. I am usually always supportive of one of ours in these finals but I can't find an ounce of support for John Terry and those spoilt, gobby Chelsea supporters. I am a little surprised having been brought up as a boy at Stamford Bridge with my Chelsea-doting Dad. We may just be left this season with memories of their outstanding victory in Barcelona.....

Strange, but maybe fitting for our season, that the last match of the season will be the League One play-off final, Saturday week. I suppose most of the countries journalists will be on holiday and the Football League Show will probably have finished! I won't miss the lack of media interest in League One next season. 

Thursday 17 May 2012

A tale of King Kenny

I was surprised yesterday to learn that Kenny Dalglish was shown the door by the ungrateful American owners at Liverpool. In fifteen months he had improved results, won their first trophy for a while (even if it was just the League Cup), brought them within a whisker of a domestic Cup double and lead them to eighth in the Premier League. That last statistic is probably his downfall, especially when you consider the £70m he spent on three English let-downs in Carroll, Downing and that bloke from Sunderland.I have to laugh as I see the Anfield Board are looking for a long-term replacement. My Arse! Their timing looks like a desperate attempt to get Roberto Martinez before he is snapped up by a smaller club. Unless they are going to pump in another £70m, it looks like history will repeat itself in twelve months time.

My connection to celebrity knows no bounds. Ten years ago, Carol Dalglish, Kenny's sister, was was my Finance Manager. Carol wasn't easy person to get along with, although I did better than most. At the time I was also a visitor to La Manga where friends had holiday homes and where Kenny himself had bought a place, so I was in the know with Carol!

One night in The Last Drop, the locals bar on La Manga, I was in company and a friend of mine had done a mate a favour that day by picking Kenny up from Murcia airport and dropping him off at his new place. Also at our table was the resident who had the franchise for all of the satellite dishes on the complex and who also had a share in the bar we were in. He told me that he was puzzled that Kenny hadn't been in touch about having satellite TV connected. Practically everyone had it, certainly all the Brits and Kenny was a prime candidate in his mind. 

I was out again within the year and I couldn't help enquiring if Kenny had now been in to see Paul and cough up for his service. No he hadn't and this was clearly puzzling Mr Satellite. About two years after this, I met Paul again and he was very pleased to tell me that he had resolved the mystery. Kenny had indeed been in and ordered the service. Paul himself had been out to oversee the installation and he discovered why Kenny had done without his services for so long. The Spanish woman next door had recently vacated her villa and had cancelled her service which Paul had stopped. When he got there he identified that Kenny had taken a feed from her place! What was really surprising was this meant that Kenny could watch satellite TV free of charge but only the channel that she happened to be watching. Kenny is known to look after the pennies - he never paid for lifts from the airport but I still can't quite get my head around the fact that he wouldn't pay to watch what he wanted on telly. I never quite managed to broach the subject with Carol.....

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Hum-drum Brum

Randy Lerner's losses at Aston Villa got even bigger yesterday as he moved to sack Alex McLeish. Big Eck was his fourth manager in less than two years and he never managed to overcome the Boo Boys who weren't going to accept a former Birmingham City gaffer. Having once met McLeish via a mate over a meal in an Aberdeen restaurant, he has always seemed more human to me than most. He didn't get a rub of the green at Villa Park but at least Lerner had the decency to give him the season.

The soothsayers have already began predicting the next likely candidate for Mission Improbable and our our Alan Curbishley is again being mentioned in dispatches. I have commented before about the relatively small number of managerial jobs that are realistic options for AC and this is one of them although he probably wants a safer bet for a return to management than the hot-seat here.

The City of Birmingham is going through the footballing doldrums. With Wolves (ok Midlands) going down and the Blues falling in the Play-Offs, only Villa and the Baggies are left in the top flight. Villa fell like a stone in the second -half of the season and escaped relegation by three points. They are in a mess and it will require another large chunk of Lerner's cash to reverse the decline. Having lost the miracle worker in Martin O'Neill, who never looked entirely comfortable with his American owner, it's really hard to imagine who might accept the job who you believe could change things significantly.

West Brom have over-achieved under Woy Hodgson and I can't imagine them improving on their tenth place finish next season. Birmingham and Wolves should compete again in the Championship next year but there is as much chance of Villa or West Brom dropping out as there is of of the other two getting promoted in my humble opinion.

Sheffield United made Wembley last night and Huddersfield will surely do the same this evening where Jordan Rhodes can score his 40th goal of the campaign. The talk may be of where Rhodes will go but Town fans will be more concerned about what happens if they find an adequate replacement for the man who has scored 60% of the league goals.

Monday 14 May 2012

The curtain's coming down

Sheffield United play Stevenage this evening and the result will determine who goes to Wembley to face Huddersfield Town, who I can't see surrendering a two goal lead at home to MK Dons tomorrow night. A Yorky derby should provide some added spice to the play-off final.

Meanwhile, the footballing nation held it's collective breath yesterday around 4.55pm as Man City won the Premier League title in dramatic fashion. Cruel on United whose fans were busy celebrating at Sunderland. Let's face it, it was good to see them suffering for a change.

QPR escaped a the drop and I have to say that their impressive home wins over some of the Big Boys probably warranted it over a drab Owen Coyle Bolton side who have overstayed their top flight welcome. It means another northern trek next season and in spite of the possible excitement of a five team London Championship, our hopes of promotion are likely to be better with fewer London derbies.

Finally, a word for that low-life Joey Barton. His sending off will likely be glossed over amid the excitement and importance of the outcome of the match in Manchester but he showed, if there were any doubters left, what a no-mark he is. Having been sent off, he simply couldn't contain his anger and tried to get away with kneeing an opponent in the scrum as he left the field. Oh how I would have loved to have seen one of City's lumps knock him spark-o, but that would be stooping to Barton's level and lack of professionalism. Barton can thank his lucky stars he can play football because he would surely be locked-up with his brother otherwise.

Saturday 12 May 2012


Sheffield United failed to score at Stevenage last night but they take a precious draw back to Bramall Lane and must be favourites for the Wembley show-down. I have been rooting for the Blades to get up for months but the Ched Evans affair has left a bad taste in the mouth. Huddersfield have to negotiate a tricky looking encounter with MK Dons today away from home. I have a sneaking feeling they may be chasing the return leg on Tuesday.

Also today, of interest only to probably three Addicks, Elgin City go to Albion Rovers defending a precarious looking one-nil lead in their play-off trial to swap places with their opponents and reach the Scottish Second Division for the first time. I used to work with the current Albion Rovers Chairman, Frank Meade. Frank enjoyed his best ever season supporting his hometown side of Coatbridge last year but they have struggled to find their feet in the Second Division. No time for sentiment - C'mon Elgin! If they can make the big time, I will definitely get up for a home game or two next season.

Friday 11 May 2012

All change

Preparations for life as a Championship club began yesterday with the unenvious task of laying off five of the weakest links. Predictably, veterans and money-earners Jason Euell and Gary Doherty have been told their services won't be required at the next level. Mikel Alonso, this season's invisible man and figure-of-fun has also been shown the door. Youth products Freddie Warren and Toasn Popo will also be looking elsewhere after failing to make the grade.

Euell has had a sparkling career in the Top Flight and will probably quit playing with a host of special memories, although he was always going to find his return something of an anti-climax. I will always remember him for his committed performances and 34 goals during our Premier League spell between 2001 and 2005.

Gary Doherty is still only 32 but he joined us Norwich's Player-of-the-Year after they went up to the Championship and he gave his all in the 10-11 season although he never found a settled partner in central defence. He will be remembered for a handful of costly mistakes but I believe that will be an unfair view of his capabilities as a player. He played alongside 37 year old Christian Dailly in a side that played from the back and which had a very thin midfield cover. They saw far too much of the ball and it was unsurprising that we saw more mistakes than we might have expected during that disappointing season. "Doc" has impressed at Wycombe this season on loan and I am sure he still has more miles on the clock. I wish him well.

Mikel Alonso was a relatively exciting signing in pre-season. He brought experience from the Spanish league although he had played seven times previously for Bolton Wanderers. His appearances record should have given cause for concern, having managed less than 200 in 11 years. He appeared to arrive injured and only managed one appearance all season against Brentford in a League Cup game at the Valley where he distinguished himself with a truly awful showing. I will be kind and say he wasn't fully fit but he was instrumental in the 3-0 defeat, looked glacially slow and unable to pass. I am guessing he will be on a one-way Easyjet flight to Spain in the next few days.

Freddie and Tosan are simply promising youngsters who aren't going to break into the first team anytime soon and who have been given the extra year as pros to see if they could make the grade. They join Conor Gough who has moved to Bristol City. As always, we wish them the best but hope they don't become ones that got away...

I am guessing we may lose one or two more of the existing squad who may take be enticed for away for money and better immediate opportunities but that should be it. That should give us room to promote a few of the youngsters and bring in stronger first-team squad replacements that we will need to prosper in the Championship. 

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Normal service to be resumed in South London

After three years in the Twilight Zone, Charlton Athletic have league parity again with Millwall and Palace. We have continued to be the biggest draw south of the river for the 13th successive season attracting 17,401 on average to the Valley. This was 2182 more per home game more than Selhurst saw and 5917 (or 51%) more than the Lions could muster.

When you consider the larger number of travelling fans in the Championship, the actual gap in our support between us is even bigger and we can expect that gap to increase next season as the average Valley home gate climbs above this year's Championship average of 18,788.

If we can out-perform the pair of them, which doesn't look unrealistic given respective momentum, we should be able to increase that gap even further and once again look to target selling out our home matches. Being Number One in South London is a consolation prize when we spent the first seven years of this century challenging West Ham for fourth biggest club in London. In all fairness, West Ham would have needed a prolonged spell outside the Top Flght for us to overtake them and they have consistently been too good for that.

The good news is that a Bolton win at Stoke this weekend should see QP-Ha back where they belong and us effectively back at sixth in London and looking up.

Charlton forever!

Monday 7 May 2012

Stand up Chris Solly

The Player of the Year bash was held at the Valley last night where Chris Solly was confirmed as The Man. For those of us who voted, the clipboards gave the result very clearly with a streak of ticks against Chris' name.

Like everyone else, I guess, I am delighted for Little Chris. He is one of ours after all and his blossoming this season has come after there were a good number who had previously decided he wasn't good enough. I never bought the "too small" argument and it's interesting to note that we lost the only match he didn't feature in, at Stevenage, when Chris Powell opted for more height by playing three centre-halves. As Kevin Nolan said, it was a lesson that was quickly learnt.

Yann Kermorgant was a deserved runner-up and this must represent something close to salvation for a man who was ultimately ridiculed at Leicester and shown the door. I will take him for the first goal when we play the Foxes next year. Captain Jacko took the third spot.

The only surprise for me was that Rhoys Wiggins didn't make the podium. He got my vote for his performances throughout the season. He was first to show consistent quality for me early on and his marauding runs down the left flank often saw him leaving our winger in his wake as well as a trail of floundering defenders. Rhoys made my personal goal-of-the-season when he spun around the Preston right-back, tore down the flank and picked out the advancing Hollands with a ball that was so perfect it only needed a directional nod to rocket in for our fifth of the match. 

Michael Morrison can also consider himself unfortunate not to place after a fantastic season in which he showed Sheffield Wednesday what they were missing. Our defence was immense this season and Morrison was the rock. Next season will be built on the strength of our back four, assuming we don't lose any of them to bigger clubs. As much as I am keen to see us strengthen for next season, the measure of our financial security (is there really big money behind us) will to some extent, be measured by our ability to hold players we maybe couldn't afford to buy. 

The strengths of our current Board and Management is clearly the ability to spot a player, and when you can do that so successfully, you don't need to spend money for the sake of it. We should average over 20,000 this coming season and if we can bring in 3 or 4 players - a goalkeeper, two midfielders and a striker, I reckon we can have a tilt at the play-offs. 

It's going to be a long Summer as we wait impatiently for the fixtures and then for the kick-off. Let's hope the sun shines long and bright.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Charlton Athletic 3 v Hartlepool United 2

There will be plenty of sore heads in Addick households this morning. Our end-of-season party was pretty much perfect. Everyone invited turned-up, including our guests who made a fantastic effort both on and off the pitch. The club made a huge effort, too, and our team was not going to be denied the victory which saw us join an elite group of eight other sides who have broken the 100 points in-a-season barrier.

The Rose of Denmark was practically empty by 2.30 as everyone piled into the ground to listen to the various singers and to see parachutists drop onto the pitch. We actually saw them swinging over the Lower Road as we approached the Antigallican. The Hartlepool Smurf Army had also departed the pub early to join the party, so I didn't actually get to congratulate any of them for a brilliant effort, although I am guessing they weren't short of attention and compliments during the day.

Chris Powell obviously thought very carefully about team selection for today. He picked the players who had done the most for the club over the season and he gave Jason Euell a place on the bench so he could make his Valley farewell. That meant Leon Cort stepped out of the side to allow Matt Taylor a deserved appearance. Stephens and Hollands were paired in midfield with Johnnie Jackson and Scott Wagstaff on the wings. Upfront, predictably, were Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant.

Hartlepool were under orders not to be sacrificial lambs and they made sure were had to up our game to beat them. They matched us in the first-half and deservedly lead by the only goal at half-time. After the break the match drifted on for another twenty minutes before the disappointing Wagstaff was withdrawn for a more attacking emphasis with Bradley Pritchard providing the determination and drive required to win the match. 

The equaliser came from a Danny Hollands header and Danny Haynes followed up minutes later with a classy finish to put the Addicks in control. The travelling Smurfs were finally silenced as the Valley faithful found their voice and began the celebrations. With the ground buzzing, Yann Kermorgant scored a fantastic looking goal which was so good that I immediately put it down to a flukey cross. On second viewing though, I may have been a little hasty. There was no obvious back-post target for a cross and it looks like he sized the dipping volley before striking it. No doubt he will tell us if it was a mis-hit, but it looked brilliant either way and was a fitting finish to the season's scoring. Gary Liddle pulled one back at the end to give the scoreline a more realistic reflection of the game. 

To a man we then stayed behind for what seemed like ages as a stage was carefully erected in front of the East Stand and we made a meal of handing Chris Powell the trophy. I was again impressed by the United fans, a good number of whom stayed on to applaud our efforts. How to win friends and influence people. They will always be welcomed in this part of south-east London.

The Con Club did a roaring trade after the game as, I am sure, did all the others. As always, it was good to see Chicago Addick & Son before and after. I managed a couple of pints later on in the Rose of Denmark with the Cognoscenti before deciding it was time to dream of what might be possible next season.