Friday, 30 November 2007

Your referee tomorrow



It's little known Rob Shoebridge from Derbyshire who mainly seems to referee League 1 matches. Indeed, he is highly praised by Millwall fans.

But not by all managers:
It's a man's game

'We are Burnley, super Burnley'

'We are Burnley, super Burnley, from the north, no one likes us, we don't care.' My return to The Valley occurred when it was a three sided ground and the only way I could get in was to go to the Jimmy Seed Stand with a Clarets supporting friend to see Charlton win 3-0 in the FA Cup. Another memory is of us beating them 4-0 in the League Cup with the Bloke Behind Me screaming 'they're all over you Charlton.'

Last year I went up to Turf Moor to see Burnely play Hull in the Championship. After a pub lunch in a beautiful village, I drove through some of the worst scenes of urban devastation I have seen outside the States to sit on wooden seats.

Back in 1960 it was possible for Burnley to win the top flight. Bob Lord was then the chairman, often described as a butcher, but in fact the head of a substantial meat processing business. But the idea of a small town club (Burnley has a population of around 50,000) winning the top flight under such leadership would be impossible today. Still, if they need some spin doctoring, fan Alastair Campbell is on hand.

Tomorrow's match is a good one for those who like to read off results. Burnley beat Watford away in the week, Charlton lost at home, ergo Burnley will win.

The 4-5-1 formation has worked well for Charlton away from home, particularly since it can easily become a 4-3-3. However, the Blades countered our formation with a change to their own. It also depends on the wingers being on top form and it appears that Sam was well below par on Tuesday. The 4-5-1 also encourages the hoofing of long balls to Leaburn, sorry Iwelumo.

So a reversion to 4-4-2? Unfortunately, Varney and Iwelumo do not combine all that well. Some favour bringing in McLeod, but in my view he is an exponent of the Bradley Allen school of striking, rushing energetically around the pitch to no great effect. I would play a version of 4-5-1 in which Zheng Zhi made sure he was right in behind Iwelumo.

Reid has been below par since he came back from the international break, but it would be a radical step for Pards to rest him. However, we must avoid the temptation of trying to play every ball through him.

I think that despite our poor home record we could actually win this match and I am going for 2-1 to the Addicks.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Equine magnate to sponsor match



We can exclusively reveal that equine magnate John Window is to sponsor Saturday's match against Burnley (he's the one on the left in the photo, the other guy now works for Honest Harry Redknapp).

John Window was born in Didcot, then in Berkshire, but moved to Catford at a young age. He has been a lifelong Addick, Sam Bartram being a particular hero. He started off life as a gas fitter but built up his Bexleyheath riding stables to its present high standard.

To mark the occasion the match will be preceded by a parade of nags and carthorses. This will be before the donkeys come on to the pitch.

Amdy Faye arrested

Charlton player Amdy Faye, currently on loan at Rangers, was among those arrested as part of the inquiry into alleged corruption in football. No charge of falsely impersonating a footballer has been made, but the report below does state that he was regarded as the 'next Patrick Vieira':

Faye

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Reality check for Addickted

Charlton fans received a reality check tonight when the Addicks slumped to an 0-3 home defeat by Sheffield United. The Blades went ahead when Jerome Thomas conceded a penalty in the first half. Charlton missed a chance to equalise and a corner gave Cahill the opportunity to make it 2-0 on 74 minutes. The Blades then had acres of space to score their third goal in the dying minutes of the game.

Perhaps reports that Pards had been short listed for manager of the month was enough to finish off the Addicks' chances. Saturday's opponents Burnely won at Watford, but one can't read off tonight's result to Saturday. Once again the message has to be reiterated: any team can beat any team in this division.

Are Blades blunted?

Before the start of the season I was contacted by a Sheffield United blog to give my forecasts about who would be promoted and I said that I thought that the Blades would be there, not out of flattery, but because I did think they would be in the mix.

At the moment they are 15th in the table. Fans put a lot of the blame on manager Bryan Robson. But let's face it, they didn't look that good in the Premiership last year and the fact that we only got one point from our encounters against them says something about us at the time. Indeed, the 2-1 defeat at Bramall Lane was one of the worst Charlton performances I have seen in recent years.

I think that focusing so much on their legal campaign against West Ham took their attention away from where it should have been, on the pitch. The reason they went down was because they lost to Wigan in the last match of the season.

The Charlton team for tonight pretty much picks itself. There has been some mild criticism of our second half performance at Preston. But against a huff and puff team playing the long ball one has to be reasonably cautious.

I'm not one for reading results off the table or recent matches. A lot of Addicks are gloomy about tonight's game. However, I think that we may well just manage to scrape a win.

Unfortunately work commitments mean that I cannot go tonight but, enjoy the game!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The officials have agreed ... that Charlton may now score

'The officials have agreed that there will be two minutes of additional time', proclaimed a sonorous voice at the end of the first half at Deepdale tonight. With the conclave of officials over, Zheng Zhi put the ball in the net to give the Addicks a first half lead.

'The officials have agreed that there will be four minutes of additional time', came the message at the end of the second, spurring hope for Barney the Dinosaur and his Preston pals of an equaliser. Luke Varney advanced on goal and beat the keeper from a tight angle to make it 2-0 for the Addicks.

Our ability to score in time added on is a new phenomenon, but I will accept the goals when they come. 'The Pride of Lancashire' were anything but and this was not a classic match, but you have to play who is in front of you. The first half was a rather ragged affair, manager Irvine no doubt perplexed to find that his plans to counter Talal El Karkouri's long distance free kicks or stopping Darren Bent advancing on goal were redundant.

There seems to have been a bout of 'See you Jimmy, you're nothing' in the dressing room at half time as Preston looked more determined after the break. But although they pinned back Charlton in their half, their long balls could not outwit an on form Nicky Weaver. The Addicks had that extra fluency, skill and confident calmness under pressure.

After an excellent run up to Preston, we went to a local pub where we received a friendly welcome and the assurance that the three points were ours. We chatted to a couple of lads from the Met who had come up to police the 473 travelling fans.

After a quick look around the excellent National Football Museum for a second time, we took our seats in the neat three sided ground. It's odd looking out on to a suburban street.

Charlton looked a bit defensively fragile in the first few minutes and the ball was up in the air a lot. A Thomas run created the first Charlton corner of the game which flashed across the front of goal. Iwelumo won the Addicks a free kick. Semedo made a first rate pass to Thomas, but unfortunately it did not lead to anything.

Sodje had no option but to concede a corner which led to a second for the home side. Zheng Zhi received a yellow card for an over vigorous tackle. Good work involving Thomas forced Lonergan in the Preston goal to put the ball round for a corner which was punched out. A Preston free kick in a potentially dangerous position was caught by Weaver. An effort by Zheng Zhi led to a Charlton corner.

Preston were awarded a free kick against Sodje. Mills put it out for a Preston corner which was cleared although there should have been a free kick for a clear foul on Weaver. Thomas made a good run but Sam was unable to make use of it.

Persistence by Iwelumo won Charlton a throw in near the corner flag and it was this that produced the scenario for the opening Charlton goal. Thomas used it to put in an excellent low cross which Zheng Zhi slotted into the back of the net.

Half time: Invincibles 0, Addicks 1

Nicky Weaver had to made an excellent save to deal with a fierce shot from distance by Gallagher. Reid provided a good pass, but it was unproductive. Lloyd Sam won Charlton a corner but it was caught by the keeper. Preston show a puzzling propensity to put the ball out inadvertently to concede throw ins. Gallagher was withdrawn and Simon Whaley brought on.

Weaver made another great save and the resultant Preston corner led to another. Brett Ormerod was withdrawn and replaced by Patrick Agyemang. Charlton made their first substitution with Semedo replaced by Holland to add some experience to the Charlton midfield. It has to be said that Pards got all his substitutions right.

Sam won Charlton a free kick, but it was wasted by Reid. Shortly afterwards Sam was replaced by Ambrose. Kevin Nicholls was withdrawn to chants of 'Charlton reject' and replaced by Darren Carter as Irvine searched for the talent that would unlock Charlton. Pards made his last substitution by taking off Reid and replacing him by Varney.

A Preston corner led to a moment of danger and a second corner, but the Preston effort was well wide which they often were when not going into Row Z. McKenna was booked for a cynical foul on Varney. In time added on, Weaver made another great diving save at the expense of a Preston corner. It looked as if it was all over and it certainly was when Iwelumo released Varney who tore down the wing and outwitted the keeper to make it 0-2.

I have a soft spot for Preston and I hope that they manage to avoid relegation, but they clearly have a lot of work to do.

Leamington made good use of their trip to South London by beating Millwall rejects side Fisher Athletic 2-1 to advance to the 1st round proper of the FA Trophy.

Match analysis

The Silver Bone was awarded by Ivy the Terrible to Nicky Weaver for some superb saves, one of which was classified by Brian Cole as 'world class'. Sodje had another excellent game, strong and resolute in the central defence. I liked the way he came and celebrated with the fans with real enthusiasm after the game. Fortune continues to improve, being relatively error free, and making one excellent and important defensive tackle. Mills continues to impress. Basey was very solid, but occasionally the lack of experience and pace shows. Semedo had another good game. Thomas was probably man of the match in the first half with some excellent penetrating runs down the wing, although he faded a little in the secon half. Sam was also busy on his wing, although he was not always able to take full advantage of the positions he got himself into. Reid had some nice touches but was off the pace a little and not as involved as usual. Zhi was always a danger as he proved with the opening goal. Iwelumo roamed in a lonely fashion up front, but was always determined to get involved and pose questions for the Preston defence. Holland did very little after he came on, but provided a reassuring presence in midfield. Ambrose managed to get to the ball a few times. Varney looked well up for it as he proved with his well taken goal.

Hiss of the Match This was awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the Preston supporters who kept floating white balloons into Nicky Weaver's goalmouth during the first half.

Crowd rating The dedicated band of the Addickted were on good form. I am always heartened by a chorus of 'Goodbye Horse'. 7/10.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Are they invincible?

Preston North End have a much better home than away record. They have only conceded five goals at home all season. Only West Brom and Ipswich have a better home defensive record in the Championship. Moreover, Charlton have not won at Deepdale for over fifty years.

New Preston boss Alan Irvine could be without defender Billy Jones (hamstring) and keeper Wayne Henderson remains sidelined with a back injury.

The Charlton team more or less picks itself, presumably playing a 4-5-1 formation.
Keeper: Weaver. Defence: Mills, Sodje, Fortune, Basey. Midfield: Semedo, Reid, Zhi, Sam, Thomas. Recipient of hoofed balls: Iwelumo.

The Preston team will no doubt be out to impress their new gaffer, but this could backfire if they leave themselves exposed at the back. They might also tire themselves out.

Although I would like to approach the journey up to Preston in a more optimistic spirit, I have to say that this looks like a home win, 2-1 to the Invincibles.

Irvine: I have Charlton sussed

Tracksuited Scottish Preston supremo Alan Irvine reckons he has Charlton sussed ahead of tomorrow evening's encounter at Deepdale.

Speaking through a translator, Irivine said that he hopes he can use the Addicks' former Premier League status to his advantage as he plots victory. He commented: 'It's a great game to start with and I'm looking forward to it.'

'By Championship standards I know more about Charlton than most other clubs in this division. I was involved in Everton's preparations to play against them last season, so hopefully I can use some of that knowledge. Charlton are a decent team and are in a position I expect them to be in.'

Thursday, 22 November 2007

FA Fines Charlton

It's been a busy day for the FA, but they have managed to find time to fine Charlton £6,000 and warn them over their future conduct over the brawl at Hull City. The fine is not an excessive one, the Addicks consider they got a fair hearing and will not appeal:
Fine

Loan bid for McLeod turned down

Blackpool have had a loan bid for Charlton's Izale McLeod turned down. A period out on loan might have helped to sharpen him out. At the moment he receives the Bradley Allen prize for energetic running to no great effect.

Chris Dickson will be returning to The Valley after his Saturday's match with Hartlepool despite pleas from Gillingham for a one month extension. We need to start trying him out from the bench.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Can Carson do it for England?

Obviously I think he can. Robinson has been out of form for some time. But here is what The Guardian has to say about his spell at Charlton:

If some may think Carson's inclusion is a gamble, no one at Charlton Athletic, where Carson spent last season on loan from Liverpool, regards anything about their former goalkeeper as remotely suspect. Andy Woodman, the current goalkeeping coach at The Valley, was working at West Ham United last season and did not coach Carson but has heard nothing but praise for him at Charlton.

"The feedback I've been getting here is that Scott Carson is brilliant," said Woodman yesterday. "Everyone here is really happy for him that he has got into the England side. He was player of the year here last season and everyone says he has an old head on young shoulders and is more than capable of playing in big games for England.

"No one here doubts that he'll be able to cope mentally. From what I've seen of Scott Carson, he's a terrific keeper with great shot-stopping ability, tremendously sharp reflexes and superb handling. I've been extremely impressed by him. He's also got the experience of having played in high-pressure relegation games for Charlton last season. I think England are in good hands."

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Irvine is new Preston boss

Alan Irvine is the new boss of Preston. Full report and a picture of the 49-year old going on 97 (but they're born worn in Scotland) here:
Preston

For those of us making the long journey to Deepdale on Saturday, let's hope the Preston squad don't succeed in making a positive impression on their new gaffers. 'There are going to be some changes here, fumes new Preston boss, after team are trounced by Londoners.'

Preston hope to have new manager in post

Preston North End are still hopeful that they will have a new manager in place for Saturday night's televised clash against the Addicks. Alan Irvine, David Moyes' assistant at Goodison Park, has today emerged as a strong candidate.

Currently, assistant manager Rob Kelly has been put in temporary charge at Deepdale until a new boss can be found.

Other names in the frame include former Burnley boss Steve Cotterill, Mike Newell, Martin Allen and Paul Ince. But former Deepdale skipper Simon Davey has distanced himself from the vacancy by committing himself to Barnsley.

Graeme Souness, linked with the post last week, and Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy have ruled themselves out of the running.

Former Wigan boss Paul Jewell is the leading choice of fans to be the next North End manager. Jewell polled a massive 52% in a Lancashire Evening Post poll, with former Luton manager Mike Newell the second favourite with 11%. In your dreams.

Charlton looking at South Korean striker

Charlton are considering increasing the East Asian component of their attack force.
The Addicks have reportedly entered the race to sign South Korean international Cho Jae-jin.

According to reports in the Far East, Charlton are rumoured to be keeping tabs on the Shimizu S-Pulse forward. The 26-year-old was tipped to move to Eredivisie side FC Utrecht in the summer but negotiations broke down at the last minute.

He has since suggested he will see out the remainder of his contract with the J-League club before looking for a move to Europe when the transfer window re-opens in the new year.

For a peek at his 'well-muscled body' go to: Men's Health

Monday, 19 November 2007

Can Brakes make it ten in a row?

Leamington have the opportunity of securing their tenth win in a row when they take on Stourbridge at the New Windmill Ground tomorrow night. It will be a tough test as the Glassboys knocked the Brakes out of the FA Cup at their own ground in September and beat Cinderford Town 8-1 at the weekend.

Manager Jason Cadden is emphatic that the loss of Avun Jephcott ('Avon Calling') to Woodford United and Richard Adams to Stratford Town does not leave the squad unduly depleted. There is certainly no lack of fire power up front, but as the squad diminishes in size, injuries and suspensions could take their toll. For now, the newly promoted side remain top of the BGB Midlands Division.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Addicks in tussle for Barking boy

Unconfirmed reports claim that Charlton are engaged in a race with Birmingham City to secure the transfer window signature of Hull City's Dean Marney. The 22-year old midfielder was born in Barking and played for Spurs before transferring to Hull fifteen months ago for a fee reported to be in the region of £1m. He has been one of Hull's key players this season, finding the net three times, including a penalty against Palace.

I suppose the speculative season for transfer window stories has now started, but I wouldn't say our first priority was a midfielder. Even with Dickson recalled, we may need more cover up front. We might also wish to secure the permanent signature of Danny Mills.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Preston ticket prices cut - for home fans only

Preston have cut prices for the upcoming Charlton game but for home fans only. They are now threatening to eject Charlton fans if they buy tickets in the cheaper home areas. Supporters' director Ben Hayes has written to the Football League and Preston, noting that 'while they are within the letter of the law they are certainly not within it's spirit.'

One of the attractions at Preston will be former Charlton player Kevin Nicholls whom my wife used to support. According to Four Four Two the former Lee Bowyer confederate has an impressive display of tatoos on his body.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

14 charged over football violence

Following recent raids by British Transport Police, 14 men have been charged with football violence in connection with an incident when a Charlton fan received a broken nose on the way to the match at Palace. They will appear at Westminster Magistrates Court later in the month but in the meantime have been banned from attending certain football grounds:
Violence

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Curse of Charlton

Preston manager Paul Simpson has succumbed to the curse of Charlton, having been sacked as manager. The Invincibles plan to have a new manager in place before the Addicks visit on Saturday week.

However, Cardiff manager Dave Jones has been given the vote of confidence despite his team's defeat at The Valley on Saturday.

Ebbsfleet taken over

Ebbsfleet has been taken over by a fans' web site and each member will have a vote on transfers, player selections and all major decisions:
Ebbsfleet

The implications for Charlton's reserve games are unclear, but it is unlikely that the team will be chosen by a vote on the internet.

Like father, like son

Accoring to Four Four Two magazine, Kevin Lisbie left his son confused by scoring against Charlton. 'He spent five years watching me play for Charlton, and it took me 30 minutes to explain why I was playing against them,' the U's striker, who recently scored his sixth goal for the club, explained.

Apparently Charlton prepared for the match against Colchester by training at Barnet's Underhill ground where Pards was a player after he left Charlton. 'I wanted to find an environment similar to Layer Road and immediately thought of Underhill,' the Addicks supremo explained.

Charlton chairman Richard Murray has dropped 13 places in the latest football rich list to 98=, but is still worth around £13m, although that includes a £6m valuation for his stake in the Addicks.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

To The Engerland 3-0

The battle of the capital cities ended at The Valley with a 3-0 victory for Charlton putting them back into the automatic promotion places, at least until Monday. The Addicks showed that they could both score goals and keep a clean sheet and seem to have regained the fluency of movement and passing they displayed earlier in the season.

Unfortunately, Maggie tripped on a broken pavement in the Woolwich Road after the game and ended up with a gash on her forehead which eventually required treatment at Warwick A and E. Hence, this report is later than usual.

I always think it is a good sign for a match when our journey goes well and when it is full tide on Deptford Creek. I am not so sure about whether a team huddle before the match really raises my or their morale.

Nevertheless, Thomas drew an early save from the kid Schmeichel in the Cardiff goal. Then Cardiff put in an effort that was just wide, leading to the first corner of the game. Sam put in a good cross to Big Chris, but his header was just over. Then the striker was brought down, leading to a Charlton free kick.

The Addicks gave the ball away, leading to a counter attack. Good football led to the ball going in the net, but it was disallowed for a push. Cardiff were given a rather dubious free kick on the edge of the box when they probably should have been ruled offside. In the subsequent play, Hasselbaink put in a stinger of a shot, but Weaver was able to palm it over the goal with his hand at the expense of a corner.

Charlton won a corner, but Reid's effort was poor. A well taken Charlton free kick led to a corner. Sam drew a save on the ground from Schmeichel with a speculative shot from distance. A Cardiff corner was headed out. Hasselbaink felled Semedo leading to chants of 'you fat bastard'. When the Dutchman took his time moving out of the way for the free kick, Reid gave him a friendly shove. It has to be said that Hasselbaink looks less fat than when he was with us when he had possibly the biggest posterior in top flight football.

Tony Capaidi held back Sam as he advanced down the wing and effective referee Michael Jones had no hesitation in awarding a yellow card. From a Charlton corner, Sodje headed over. Andy Reid showed real skill in front of the East Stand, playing the ball over a defender so that he could collect it himself.

A Cardiff free kick in a dangerous position came off the wall. Grant Basey cleared the ball from danger for an opposition throw in. As the game passed the half hour mark, Basey put in a good cross but it was caught by the keeper. The referee was not impressed by McPhail's simulation and awarded him a yellow card. He then gave a rather harsh booking to Sam. Sodje went down and required treatment. Thomas won a free kick in front of the D, but Reid put it well over.

It looked like the game was heading for 0-0 at half time, and some people started to go out for a break, but there then followed what Cardiff manager Dave Jones subsequently described as 'two minutes of madness', but I would describe as two minutes of sublime skill.

Charlton won a free kick in a good position, Reid's ball was well placed and Sodje was able to convert from six yards out to make it 1-0. Then Iwelumo struck from 25 yards out to make it 2-0.

Half time: Addicks 2, Bluebirds 0

The second half started at a furious pace and for a while the visitors put Charlton under the cosh, forcing them back into their own half leading to despairing cries of 'too deep' from the Bloke Behind Me. An early opportunity fell to Iwelumo after Andy Reid had turned provider, but the Scottish B international missed the target.

At one point the Addicks had to clear the ball off the line. Steven Thompson was booked. End-to-end play continued and on 64 minutes the visitors received a free kick at an angle to the box. This led to a corner, but the shot resulting from subsequent play was deflected over. The Cardiff corner ended in a Charlton throw in and this was one of the last spells of sustained pressure by the visitors.

Hasselbaink spectacularly fell over, causing a large dent in the ground. Cardiff took off Paul Parry and replaced him by Peter Whittingham. A good run down the wing led to a Charlton corner and the ball flashed across the front of the goal.

On 75 minutes Sam, who had perhaps been tiring a little, was taken off and replaced by Ambrose. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was taken off and replaced by Robbie Fowler. As Steve from Sidcup remarked, 'One carthorse replaces another.'

Making use of a ball supplied by Reid, Zheng Zhi headed the ball in the net to make it 3-0. A Cardiff corner found Ambrose in difficulties. On 83 minutes Iwelumo was replaced by Varney and Zheng Zhi by McLeod. A Charlton corner was taken short and the resultant ball squeezed past the edge of the post.

With four minutes of time added on, Thomas put in a great run but missed and a Cardiff free kick went over. With Watford drawing at home and Bristol City losing 6-0, the crowd of nearly 23,000 could go home happy.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible returned to her duties and awarded the coveted Silver Bone to Sam Sodje for his goal and for a lionheart's performance in defence. Weaver was not that much troubled by Cardiff, but he did make some decisive saves and demands for him to be replaced by Randolph seemed to have subsidided. Fortune, now our longest serving player, looks much more comfortable in central defence alongside Sodje. Basey had another solid performance and put in some good passes.
Mills was abused by the visiting supporters, but gave his answer with his football. Semedo was perhaps less prominent than he sometimes is, but did his job effectively. Reid is recovering his form, although he still made a few errors, such as passing to an opposition player. But we judge him by the high standards he sets himself. Zheng Zhi had another impressive game, including a well taken goal. Sam was a threat down the wing as was Thomas who had a good game. Iwelumo was a constant threat, scoring an excellent goal. Varney was not greatly involved when he came on, but at least unlike Ambrose his involvement was not limited to errors. McLeod tried to look busy but to no great effect.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to charm merchant Darren Purse who was constantly mouthing off at the referee and anyone else in earshot.

Crowd rating Despite chants of 'Charlton is a library' from the visiting boyos, the Addickted generally kept up a good volume and 'To the Engerland 1-0' etc. was an inventive chant. 7/10

Friday, 9 November 2007

Scots wha hae

Charlton striker Chris Iwelumo will be trying out his kilt and sporran after he was called up for Scotland. The forward has been selected for a Scotland B friendly against the Republic of Ireland later this month, revealed the club's E mail bulletin.

'It's great news, because I've always wanted to represent my country,' said Big Chris. 'I have been called up for the B side before, when I was at Stoke City, but I wasn't allowed to join up with the squad because we were in the semi-finals of the play-offs at the time. Now I've got another chance, and I want to make the most of it.'

The Tennents B International Challenge match takes place at the Excelsior Stadium, Airdre (a modern stadium), on Tuesday, November 20th (7.45pm). B internationals were once more common than they are now, but are a good way of taking a look at promising talent.

The Bulletin also revealed that Iwelumo is currently playing with a broken hand and sustained a black eye, still sore, through his goal at Southampton.

Thugs arrested

The News Shopper is carrying a report about the arrest of thugs following an incident in which Charlton fans attending the Palace game were attacked. The report is by a 'crime reporter' and includes a picture of a 'firearm' seized in the raids. The report claims that 150 BT Police were involved in the investigation: I didn't know they had that many officers. (It has since emerged that this refers to the number involved in the raids rather than the investigations).

Sussex press sources have confirmed that raids have taken place in Sussex as well as in Kent and South London. A 35-year old man from Worthing has been arrested whose age rules out the notorious 'Des from Worthing' who is an alleged member of the West Sussex Massive.

Full story here: Thugs

Apparently ITV local news claimed that those arrested were Charlton supporters and this is to be corrected. It may emerge that those arrested claimed to be supporters of another South London club.

The visit of Cardiff City

One of my earliest memories of football at The Valley is a game against Cardiff City. It certainly wasn't the first game I went to, but what I recall is the keeper fumbling the ball and suddenly realising it was not the legendary Sam Bartram, but his faithful understudy Eddie Marsh. My father explained that Bartram had been injured in training, so it did happen even in those days. Presumably Sam had to go more than run round the pitch and up and down the East Terrrace supervised by trainer Trotter wearing a white coat. Without checking the records, I think we won the game 3-2.

Today Cardiff City are notorious for their fans. They are second place in the 'league of shame' for banning orders. Leeds United topped the league of shame with 115 banning orders, followed by Cardiff City with 114, Millwall 111 and Stoke City 102. Wolves even banned all Cardiff fans from one of their matches.

4-5-1 has done Charlton well in their two away games, albeit with last minute goals in both games. Our continuing striker shortage makes it a viable option for tomorrow, given that Luke Varney seems able and willing to slot into other positions.

However, we must avoid the long ball to Iwelumo and try and play it along the ground down the wings and through the centre with Zheng Zhi. Pards will also need to switch to 4-4-2 if it isn't working, although he seems willing to make changes, usually to good effect (with the exception of the Semedo substitution). Despite what was apparently a good performance by Racon at Ashton Gate, Semedo is likely to return.

Sodje, although a target of some moaners, seems to have settled the central defence by playing a more old fashioned 'no nonsense' game which is what this division requires. Grant Basey is improving at left back and Danny Mills remains formidable.

Football fans are very inclined to read results off recent games and the table and it would be a risk to do that with Cardiff City. They have a good away record and Hasselbaink may have oiled his joints and achieved a turning circle faster than that of an oil tanker. In other words, he is likely to perform the traditional feat of scoring against his old club. Instinct tells me that this will be a draw, but I will try and be optimistic and go for a 2-1.

As I take my 'ringside seat' (courtesy of our popular pitch announcer) at The Valley tomorrow, my one worry is the ferbile nature of the crowd. At St.Mary's, the Addickted really got behind the team, particularly after we went down to ten men. Although I am somewhat sceptical about the effect of crowds on team performance, I think that a nervous, critical atmosphere can transmit itself to the team (in other words the positive effects are less significant than the negative ones).

I know that a lot of fans really enjoy slagging off their own team and are unwilling to recognise that often it is simply that the opposition are better on the day. We used to have a realistic expectation level at Charlton (although we are still way ahead of the chumps at Spurs in that respect). The crowd often takes a long time to warm up, getting better in the second half (although the absence of the drums has been a factor here). No doubt the boyos will be making good use of the acoustics of the Jimmy Seed. Let's at least try and match them from the off.

Your referee tomorrow

Like his name, Michael Jones, the man from the Cheshire gap, seems relatively anonymous. One report claimed that he was 'far too fussy'.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Arise Sir Chris!

There is a petition on the Downing Street website to make Chris Powell a real knight:
Sir Chris

He is certainly more deserving than some people who receive such honours. The more formal process is available here: Cabinet Office

I always thought that Keith Peacock deserved at least a MBE. Some years ago I tried to raise the matter through official channels and got nowhere.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Two 0-1 victories

Both Charlton and Leamington won by a single goal last night, in Charlton's in the last minute before the end of the match, in Leamington's just before half time at Margate (scored by removal man Josh Blake). The Brakes win a trip to South London in the 3rd round of the FA Trophy to face Fisher Athletic. See the Margate goal and celebrations here: Brakes (Scroll down and click twice)

Andy Reid was singled out for praise by Pards: 'I wouldn't say Andy's the best in the division, but he's certainly our best player.' Pards also praised goal scorer
Chris Iwelumo: 'Chris' hold-up play and runs in benind workd well for us tonight, particularly in the first half. We stayed with our system and got our reward in the end. Chris is carrying so many injuries but he got up well to finish it.' Bit worrying to hear about the injuries.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Bristol City

'Surprise package' is one of the great football clich├ęs along with 'sleeping giant' (Queen's Park Rangers), but it certainly applies to Bristol City. In a sense we shouldn't be surprised as Bristol is one of the country's larger cities with a prosperous hinterland and should be able to support a Premiership club. Of course, it has a strong rugby tradition and there is Bristol Rovers but they are definitely the No.2 club. Should the World Cup to England in 2018 the FA is planning to build a super stadium there.

Much of the pre-match commentary seems to focus on the manager's pledge to bare his bottom in Burton's shop window, but the club are clearly no comedy turn. Charlton will be weakened by the absence of Semedo and most people seem to think that Racon will be given a chance in his place.

Bristol City's supporters have a bit of a reputation, perhaps it's like that with port cities, recalling how tense things were after the game at St.Mary's on Saturday.
Gary Nelson in his book recalls a somewhat tense meeting with Bristol City supporters on the platform at Charlton station after a game (that's how journeymen footballers travelled).

I'll be in a hotel in London at a meeting starting at 8 p.m. so I won't be able to listen on 5 Live Extra. I would like to say a confident Charlton will get a point from the game, but I think that the home side must be the favourites and I am forecasting a 2-1 win. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Your referee tomorrow



Referee Scott Mathieson in a post-match conversation with Nigel Worthington

The referee sometimes seems to have been a big factor in a number of our recent games and is costing the club quite a bit in fines. Despite thirteen years as a referee, Scott Mathieson from Cheshire seems to have been doing a lot of work in Leagues 1 and 2 recently:
Ref

He is no stranger to controversy, for example overruling his linesman to give a penalty. In fact, he is notorious for giving unlikely penalties to home sides and is generally regarded as a 'homer'. Here we go again.

£10k fine for club

The club's E mail bulletin reports, 'On October 2nd Charlton were charged by the Football Association with failing to control their players against Hull City, and then the Addicks were fined a mandatory £5,000 when six players were shown yellow cards by Rob Styles against Plymouth Argyle on October 23rd. The fine doubles for each offence, so the latest transgression on Saturday means Charlton face a further £10,000 fine.'

The referee on Saturday was officious and failed to control the game. The club should not be fined, he should be docked his match fee. I usually research the referee before the game, but failed to do so on this occasion. He seems to be a regional manager with the FA which perhaps says it all.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Ten Man Charlton Take Three Points

After Semedo was sent off for a second bookable offence, Charlton played for nearly an hour with ten men at St.Mary's today, but still managed to collect all three points through a 90th minute strike from Chris Iwelumo. The Addicks kept possession well and showed fluency in their passing. Five Addicks were booked.

Often when you have a good journey to the game it ends in a good result. The Warwickshire countryside was looking in good shape when we dropped off Ivy the Terrible to join Hooch the Pooch at his canalside home in Long Itchington. In not much over two hours we were at the Portchester home of Brian Cole and Tessa where we joined other Addicks for a buffet before joining the West Sussex Rickshaw for the short journey to St.Mary's.

Charlton started brightly with good possession. The candidate Saint of a referee awarded the home side a free kick and a shot led to a Southampton corner, but this led to a Charlton throw in. The Addicks won a corner, but a header was over and to one side.

Grant Basey was to have something of a battle with the speedy Bradley Wright-Phillips, but he defended well against him. Charlton won another corner. One of Charlton's worrying defensive errors meant that Basey was obliged to concede a corner.

Basey then should have cleared the ball, but thought he could allow it to run out, allowing a Saint to win a corner off him. Fortune put in an authoritative clearance. A Saints shot came in that was just wide of Weaver's post. Iwelumo tried a shot. Weaver saved from a Southampton free kick.

A clash of two players saw Sodje go down with Saints rewarded with a free kick. A number of Charlton fans were thrown out with loud encouragement from the Saints fans on both sides. Southampton were awarded another free kick by the homer referee, but even his critics have to admit that Weaver is a good shot stopper and he stopped this one.

As the quarter hour marked passed in an action packed match, another Saints shot was saved. Reid put in an attempt that was well wide, followed by another Saints effort that was just wide. Mills advanced well down the wing. An effort by Semedo was saved.

With Charlton under pressure again, Weaver showed his good sense by holding on the ball and telling everyone to slow the match down. There was some good approach work by Charlton, but the keeper saved. Another Basey error exposed the Charlton defence.

Jerome Thomas won Charlton a free kick. The ball flashed across the front of goal but no one was able to connect. A Southampton free kick was kicked out by Weaver. Semedo lost possession and Weaver spilled the ball, but then got to it safely. Lloyd Sam received a yellow card for a foul.

Grant Basey showed his attacking qualities by putting in an excellent ball to Jerome Thomas, but the move ended in a Southampton free kick. Semedo then ran into Viafra and the referee thought that it merited a second yellow card and waved the red. The Portuguese player was astonished by the decision and argued with the referee before leaving the field. Pards subsequently said that he thought the decision was a 'little harsh'.

Basey made an error again, but the ball was cleared. The impressive Sodje made a good clearance with his head. Lloyd Sam made a good run but the resulting cross was poor. A Southampton effort went just over Weaver's bar. Charlton won a rare free kick but Reid sent it straight to the keeper. Southampton had another chance, but put it wide again and we must be grateful for the profligacy of their attacking players.

With three minutes of time added on, Reid booted the ball out from danger. The referee decided he wanted to add Iwelumo to his collection of names and gave him a yellow.

Half time: Saints 0, Addicks 0

There was some good play from Grant Basey immediately after the break. Charlton won a corner, but it only led to a throw in. The still variable Andy Reid lost the ball. Weaver made a good save on the ground. A Danny Mills free kick connected with a Charlton player but was put over.

There was confusion in front of the Southampton goal and the period of play ended with an effort from Reid that was just wide. Reid won a free kick, but the effort went over.

On 67 minutes Saints made a double substitution. Bradley Wright-Phillips who was speedy but little else was replaced by alleged Charlton prospect Grzegorz Rasiak. With the takeover of Southampton apparently stalled, their bankers have told them that they will have to have a fire sale of players in the transfer window. Andrew Surman went off and was replaced by Adam Hammil.

Great work by Jerome Thomas set up Reid and his effort was not far off target. Jerome Thomas won Charlton a free kick. Vignal was taken off by the Saints and replaced by debutante Andrew Davies who could be later heard on Radio Solent complaining about the injustice of the result.

Weaver made a great catch. Even the moaners behind me had to concede that he was having a good game. They turned their ire on Pardew for the delay in making substitutions, but the fact is that the team was playing well together, standing up to the Saints onslauught (such as it was) and retaining possession. Nor was there any particular sign of anyone tiring.

Thomas received a yellow card for dissent. With some ten minutes of normal time to go, Sam was taken off and replaced by Moutaoakil. Shortly afterwards Jerome Thomas was taken off and replaced by Luke Varney. Charlton were still rampant and won a corner, followed by a second which was caught by the keeper.

Southampton won a free kick in front of goal, but it was well defended and a break led to a Charlton corner. Many of the locals in the crowd of 23,367 were heading home: indeed Joe the Saint told us after the game that he thought it had 0-0 written all over it.

Basey appeared in attack and his effort went into the side netting. Reid was withdrawn in favour of Ambrose. Then Varney surged down the right and put in the cross that allowed Iwelumo to score the winner. Wild scenes followed and Moutaoukil ran into the crowd, allowing referee Hill to use his card again. Three minutes of time added on turned into six but Saints were deflated and Charlton were able to maintain control of the game.

As the final whistle blew, the players ran to the Addickted to receive their applause with chants of 'Weaver! Weaver!' greeting the well up for it shot stopper.

Police tried to cordon off the Charlton supporters after the game with an Ivy the Terrible lookalike barking away. The atmosphere was certainly a bit tense, but we were able to meet up with Joe the Saint by the coach and accept his congratulations.

The 4-5-1 formation certainly worked with George Burley subsequently complaining that Charlton had 'flooded the midfield'. What was impressive above all else was the battling spirit shown by our players in adversity, a complete contrast with last week's performance (although QPR are clearly on a roll, although I wouldn't go as far as one of their fans on 606 who said that they were as good as back in the top flight). With the supposedly invincible Watford losing at home to the Baggies, Charlton are well set up for their visit to Bristol on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, work means that I will be staying overnight in London.

Last week the Sunday Times attacked Pards for criticising referees. All this talk about referees being shown respect in rugby (a very different sport in terms of the role of the referee) is all very well, but they ought to earn respect. I have seen better referees in the BGB Midlands Division than today's referee. He was unable to control the game, showed a clear homer bias and the only ambition he failed to fulfil was booking Danny Mills.

Elsewhere, Leamington failed to take their chances in their FA Trophy match with Ryman Premier League Margate and the match ended in a 1-1 draw in front of a crowd of 790, the seaside replay taking place on Tuesday evening.

Match analysis


Homer the Cherry Hound in his New Forest days

The Association of Canine Match Analysts had persuaded their president Homer the Cherry Hound to give up his normal post at Didcot Town and cover the match in the hope that it would bring luck to Charlton. So it proved and the New Forest born labrador was able to present the Silver Bone to Chris Iwelumo for one of the most exciting and decisive goals this season. Weaver was the subject of constant complaints by moaners, but in fact he had a good and authoritative game, even if he wasn't tested very much by Southampton's wild attempts on goal. Fortune had a better game than usual and Sodje does not hesitate to deal with danger when it threatens. Just a shame he failed to score with his header. The inexperience of Grant Basey showed and he made a mumber of errors, although offset by some good interventions. Mills was as effective as ever, advancing down the wing and proving to be a robust defender. Semedo played well until he was sent off. Reid showed some of his real class again, although at other times he disappointed. Sam generally played well, although perhaps not quite as well as he has done in some games. Zheng Zhi had an excellent game and was a candidate for the Silver Bone. Indeed, Joe the Saint selected 'Mr Wu'. Thomas showed some flashes of real brilliance and it was good to see that he cared when he through his shirt in the crowd at the end. Varney did not make a major difference when he first came on, but he did provide the cross that led to the winning goal. Yassin M. proved effective on the wing and was so excited by the goal that he ran into the crowd. Ambrose looked useful when he came on.

Hiss of the Match A very loud hiss was given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to officious referee Keith Hill. He started as he meant to go on by requiring that the kick off be taken twice. Offences by Charlton players seemed to be dealt with more harshly than those by Saints.

Crowd rating: A large crowd of Addickted was on top form, even if the 'Charlton, Play Up; Play Up, Charlton' chant did not catch on. 9/10.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Looking on the bright side of life

Charlton have not won away at Southampton for nearly twenty years, but Alan Pardew is trying to put the best spin on the recent poor run of form by the Addicks. He commented, 'I take it [the defeats] very hard, as do my team and my staff. The three games have put us under pressure but we have to work with that. The two games coming up look very difficult on paper, but in some ways that might be the best thing for us, a change of agenda.'

Southampton have a shaky defence at the best of times, but have five defenders injured. Also doubtful is former Charlton player Jason Euell who may therefore be unable to score against his old club as so many in this category appear to be doing this season, e.g., Bothroyd.

The smart money appears to be on a 4-5-1 formation on the grounds of let's change things and Varney's recent disappointing performances. Zheng Zhi would then play in the hole behind Big Chris. This might work with the right service from the likes of Lloyd Sam and if we don't try to play every ball through Andy Reid.

Defensively, Grant Basey will feature again: let's hope he will have the confidence to be a little more adventurous. Sodje also looks likely to feature in central defence and at least he is willing to get involved. Danny Mills is one of our better players and his attacking moves are worthwhile, but he needs to avoid getting caught out of position.

We will be travelling on the West Sussex coast from Porchester. I have a number of friends and colleagues who support Southampton, but previous encounters have seen some trouble between fans of the two clubs, although I cannot think why. On one walk to the station, I was invited to come across the road and fight by one charm merchant and was also pelted with 50p coins.

I am not too optimistic that Charlton will turn things round, but I think we will see some goals and I am going for a 2-2 draw, Zhi and Basey scoring for Charlton.

On an entirely different matter, I see that the winter break issue has been brought up again, well paid Premiership footballers claiming that they get 'burnt out' by mid-season.

This, of course, is in the country with a long hours culture. I normally get to work around 8 a.m. On Wednesday, I finished at 9.30 p.m.; yesterday it was an early finish at 8 p.m.,; tonight it looks like 9.30 to 10 p.m. and some work to take home for Sunday. And I am not a fit young footballer.

I know that playing matches at a high level is mentally and physically draining. But sometimes I do wonder if top level footballers can ask for too much.

See you at St.Mary's!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Saints confident but inconsistent

With two home games that could take them into 3rd place in the Championship, and a 3-2 away win against Burnley on their last outing, Southampton are in confident mood for Saturday's clash with Charlton at St.Mary's. But their inconsistency could let them down. That is the verdict of Trevor the Saint who occupies the office next door to me.

Trevor is expecting a high scoring game with 3-2 being a typical score in games involving Southampton. Like Charlton, they have a suspect defence, but can also score goals, which shouldn't be too hard against our defensive line up. One big question will be whether Charlton's long ball Route 1 football will actually get the ball in the Saints' net. Or perhaps Pards will have a change of heart and play to feet down the wings.

Saints have had a torrid time with their parachute payments running out this year. The acquisition of a 55 per cent stake by a hedge fund is imminent, but may be blocked by popular board member Rupert Lowe.

Apparently Saints have said we can't book in a bid for Rasziak which is good news as we don't want any more target men waiting for the long ball.

Elsewhere, Ipswich are the latest Championship club to be taken over, while a silence surrounds any bids for the Addicks: Tractors

The future of the supporters' director

This may not seem to be the most pressing issue facing the Addickted with a key maych looming at Southampton on Saturday. However, there is evidently some sort of debate going on and the views of the current occupant of the role, Ben Hayes, can be found here: Hayes

The supporters' director is always going to be constrained by the requirements of company law and commercial confidentiality. They are more of a fans' ombudsman than a decision-maker. However, they have been part of the 'package' that has made Charlton distinctive. Like any other role, how it is working needs to be reviewed from time to time. Ben would certainly appreciate hearing the views of fans.