Saturday 17 October 2015

Reading 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

At 6-1, we were the longest odds in our division for a win today.  There's a reason for that and, frankly, it was what the vast majority of us expected. I assume all three experienced strikers are injured, even after the two week break, which was why we started with 18 year-old Karlan Ahearne-Grant and hitherto League One midfielder Franck Moussa as the front two.

So, it was a rear-guard action as we defended with two banks of four and sought to keep a clean sheet. Reading had 22 attempts to our two and I think we managed two corners to boot. No surprise whatsoever that we conceded and lost. Pretty hopeless but I guess you have to go with what you've got. It was clear to me we didn't start the season with enough goal-scoring threat and that's the simple reason we now find ourselves preparing for a relegation scrap.

We have Preston at home on Tuesday and Brentford visit us on Saturday. I won't say the obvious but they are two matches I am not looking forward to. Given current performance and player availability I suspect we will come out of the pair looking for three sides we might be better than.

What's just as worrying is the current level of apathy amongst our most loyal supporters. Barring the promotion season from League One, which wasn't exactly vintage stuff, it's been a slog going now since relegation 8-9 seasons ago. We have seen so much change in playing staff and managerial teams  that we have had no continuity of play or tactics. We may have managed several mini-runs but outside of those we have been inconsistent and particularly disappointing at home. Often losing to the bottom sides and failing, far too often, to capitalise in games where we have been ahead and on top. Far too cautious and unadventurous for far too long.

The running of the club has been a side-show but not one that has helped build any rapport with the fans which might have made things more bearable or hopeful. As duff as the football has been, it's been depressing to listen to an arrogant Belgian Lawyer telling us we can like it or lump it. The fact is, many are choosing to lump it and I believe that is doing us long-term damage. Damage that will continue to hurt us long after Roland Duchatelet finally gets tired of it and returns to his Chateau. Let's face it, he staked his lunch on FFP and that's failed. He's in this to prove a point more than to make money (he is worth £700m and his business continues to generate substantial income) and you have to wonder how much longer it will sustain his interest. Having sold up on Standard Liege we are his largest remaining footballing asset. He has committed funds to invest in the Academy and that will take several years to bear any fruit. That's not to say he couldn't sell up in the meantime and realise the equivalent value as part of any sale but you have to think he will be around for a couple of years yet and would want to ensure we were holding our own before he sold. It will take us a couple of seasons to be doing that looking at the squad we have.

Relegation is always a huge blow to any club but I strongly believe it could do us irreparable damage given what we have suffered in recent years and the fact that so many diehards are giving up or seriously on the cusp of packing it in. Katrien Meire and Co simply don't understand this or naively believe that any future success would see the fans rushing back through the turnstiles.

I watched the Rugby this afternoon and will be glued again this evening and tomorrow. If club rugby was anywhere near the spectacle of internationals, I would be at Blackheath on Saturdays. I am also drawn closer to watching Welling United where I expect the footballing ride is very similar to our own but you know they are managing it on a tiny budget and being as upfront and honest with their fans as they can be. 


  1. The ref did for us today Dave. Countless free kicks against us, corners instead of goal kicks etc. If he hadn't sent someone off he would have given them a pen.

    We mustered our first shot on 44 mins - cue several amusing songs from our fans. It wasn't very entertaining, but given how many games Reading have won in the first 15 minutes it was a good tactical performance. We were starting to build momentum (honest!) when the ref decided to make his mark. I suspect Bauer deserved this yellow card, but i think he gave the first for a 50;50 in the first half that was no more than that. With ten men we were never going to hold on. I think we would have got a 0-0 with 11. we were never going score though.

    given the large away following today we were relatively quiet. The past 9 seasons are indeed taking their toll.

    Had huge fun with the coach today. the club sent our coach from Hastings up to Well Hall to collect 6 people. 2 Hours later we were nearly back to where we started. The whole journey took us over 4 hours...The coach stewards sorted things out for the return and found places on south east London bound coaches for them. It took 2 hours for the return. An organisational faux pas that takes no account of people - rather symptomatic of the club really!

    Pembury Addick

  2. PA - glad to hear that the performance offered more than the headlines of the match. Your coach experience is absolutely symptomatic of what's happening to the club. That sort of thing is unacceptable and should have been avoided whatever the cost or consequences. When the service was run by someone who understood the relationship with supporters clearly, because he was one, action would have been taken to minimise the inconvenience for the many. You can bet it will likely stop someone from using the service again and add another reason for the majority to at some point decide they have had enough.

  3. You know my views on how I despise the way football in the upper echelons has changed, however I can assure you that should you venture over Shooters Hill to PVR, you not only see a team of dedicated players, but why your entrance fee is so valuable to the club.
    I think that the increase in attendances in non league is due to supporters of larger clubs becoming bored of the sterile all seater stadia/match day experience and would rather something more "grass roots".
    Fortunately the cheating/diving aspect of the modern game has yet to appear at this level. Probably due to the supporters being unwilling to accept it.

  4. This is a good post, but one thing we need to be aware of is that most of the quality buyers of football clubs have disappeared. Four or five Premiership clubs (depending on how you regard Palace) have been looking for buyers for some time and can't find them despite the new television contract.

  5. Wyn,

    Always conscious change of ownership threatens the clubs' survival and that we should be careful what we wish for. However, the majority of sides around us seem to be able to run on an even keel and afford squads capable of playing attractive football and competing in the Championship. It's the lack of ambition and arrogance of the owner and his CEO that's strangling the life out of the club. They can't see it and, ultimately, won't care.


  6. Dave, the penultimate sentence of your comment above is, as usual, bang on the money.

    Pembury Addick


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