Monday, 31 August 2009

Happy Valley becomes more cheerful for Brakes

Leamington initially went 1-0 down to Rugby Town at Butlin Road this afternoon in a ground full of supporters wearing the gold and black of the Brakes in the crowd of 688. The egg chasers went 1-0 ahead after five minutes when they took advantage of a poor clearance by keeper Chris Kiely. However, it once again became a Happy Valley for the visiting side when Mark Bellingham and Marcus Jackson scored to make it 2-1 at the break.

In the second half, Bello scored a second goal on 81 minutes to seal the win. On 90 minutes winger James Husband made it 4-1 for a convincing win over the local rivals.
Leamington are now 5th in the Zamaretto Premiership, occupying the play off place which the more ambitious fans see as a realistic objective.

Addicks swoop for Rhyl star


Charlton target Luke Holden?

Unconfirmed reports are stating that Charlton have swooped for Rhyl starlet Luke Holden. The fee for the left-sided winger is reported to be £10,000. Holden was thought to be heading for Coventry City, but was unable to agree personal terms. Holden was a trainee with Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers and has also played for The New Saints (formerly Total Network Systems).

In this week's Non-League Paper the report of Rhyl's 2-0 victory over Port Talbot Town describes him as a 'wizard on the wing ... a menace throughout the whole game and fantastic to watch.'

According to the Powys County Times Holden has been at Sparrows Lane, although one other Football League club is thought to be chasing him.

There are also reports linking the Addicks with former Glazier Leon McKenzie, but as the source here is the Coventry Evening Telegraph the reports should not be taken too seriously. The striker does have a history of injury problems, which would have made him a Charlton target in the past, but hopefully we have got over that.

There are also reports that a deal with Gillingham over the sale of Chris Dickson is close. It is also possible that Jon Fortune will rejoin the club.

Reports that the Addicks are interested in Leamington centre back Dan Pirvu, who formerly played in the Romanian first division (see below) appear to be baseless. A talented player, he is seen as too short.

What's right with Charlton?

When we were in the Premiership and we beat a top four club such as Liverpool (which we did more than once) the papers would hold an inquest the next day on 'What's gone wrong at [insert name of top four club]?' It was never a case of what is going right at Charlton.

I wondered how the media would deal with the awkward fact that Charlton are (enjoy the moment) top of League 1. Of course, not much space is given to League 1, but the Sunday Times round up yesterday was headed 'The Joy of Leeds' with accompanying text underneath. Further down the page it was acknowledged that 'Charlton also won a fifth straight league game ... adding to the home side's woes.'

To rub it in, Plymouth Argyle stalwart Steve Watt (standing in for supremo Keri Jones who is on the mainland) played Blue Moon on Radio Scilly this morning to celebrate the triumphs of the Massives, but refused to respond to request to play the Red, Red Robin or at least Mull of Kintyre.

The period up to the transfer window is a crucial one for the club with considerable uncertainty still surrounding its future. One has to remember that sometimes a very good offer comes in for a player, the player wants to go and it would be difficult to refuse. I wonder if this explains Shelvey's rather indifferent performances in recent games.

Unfortunately I shall be on a plane to Canada tomorrow and by the time I log in online in Toronto the die will be cast. It also means I will miss the Brentford game next week which will be one of our toughest tests so far. Ironically, a Bee will be with me in Toronto.

West Malling Addick Philippa Nicholson has stepped up to the plate and will provide coverage of the game.

Don't forget to follow us on Twitter - look for Wyn Grant.

Kiely gets scapegoat player status

For some moaners at Harbury Lane (a minority I have to emphasise) Deano's son Chris Kiely has become the scapegoat player after Leamington conceded four goals on Saturday. 'Get rid of him,' the Bloke Beside Me shouted, waving his walking stick.

The main problem in my view was not Kiely but the fact that the team lost its shape for parts of the match (partly because they were stretched by the Bluebirds) with the midfield going awol at times and failing to cover the defence. In fact, very reminiscent of Charlton last season.

Kiely is a good shot stopper but he is relatively short and he finds dealing with crosses more difficult. This is not helped by the lack of tall defenders in front of hin. Centre back Dan Pirvu who played for a top Romanian side and then went on to play in Austria is a quality player and another real find for the Brakes, but he is not very tall.

One difference between Kiely and his dad is that he kicks the ball out accurately and not out of play which Deano was inclined to do from time to time.

This afternoon Brakes face a needle away derby at Rugby Town.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

It's that man Sam

Lloyd Sam scored two of Charlton's goals as they beat Tranmere 4-0 at Prenton Park today, to remain top of League 1 on goal difference over Leeds who won at Colchester, but four points ahead of MK Dons in third place. The other goals came from Semedo and Bailey. The Addicks dominated the game with 60 per cent of the possession.

Shelvey put in a good effort from 20 yards on 7 minutes reports Erith Addick Paul May. Sam sent in a cross on 10 minutes, but Daniels in the home goal made the save. Dailly then put in a header from the resultant corner, but it went wide.

Daniels saved a shot from Burton and the Charlton corner was cleared. Charm merchant Shaleum Logan fouled Nicky Bailey and got a yellow card.

On 23 minutes Shelvey put in a cross and Lloyd Sam headed into the back of the net from deep inside the box to make it 1-0 to the Addicks. Less than two minutes later Charlton were 2-0 ahead after Semedo put the ball unto the bottom right corner of the goal from deep inside the box, the assist coming from Shelvey.

After Gunning was penalised for handball, Llera put in an effort from the free kick, but a defender was able to block for the home side.

As the half hour mark was passed, Bailey had a try from outside the area, but his effort went to the left. Tranmere won a corner, but Youga was able to clear. After a foul by Llera, Elliot had to save from the free kick.

The Addicks had a half chance just before the break after a free kick was awarded for a foul on Sam, but Tranmere managed to clear the ball.

Half time: Tranmere 0, Charlton 2

Tranmere supremo John Barnes made a double substitution at the end of the break, Gareth Edds and Michael Ricketts coming on and Chris Shuker and Alan Mahon coming off.

After Youga turned provider, Sam found the back of the net with a header from inside the six yard box to make it 3-0 to the Londoners. Supposedly inept Charlton manager Phil Parkinson had picked out Sam as a key player before the match.

A Burton shot from 25 yards was blocked. McLaren and Gornell were booked by the referee as Tranmere resorted to fouls. After Sam had turned provider, a close range header from Burton went wide. Elliot saved from Ricketts. Llera got booked and Tranmere made their last substitution with Ryan Fraughan coming on for Gornell.

All that happened as a result was that Bailey scored from outside the box on 67 minutes to make it 4-0. On 74 minutes Spring was brought on for Semedo. Goodison made an effort from inside the box which went way over. Elliot was able to save comfortably from Logan and was not troubled by an effort from Edds.

With Charlton in command, Tuna was brought on to replace Shelvey on 82 minutes. McLaren tried for a consolation on 88 minutes, but Elliot kept his clean sheet.

As the game went into time added on, Richardson tried his luck from outside the area but the shot went wide.

Tranmere may be one of the weaker sides in the division, but no one can argue with a 4-0 away win and five victories out of five. Parky must be in the running for manager of the month.

Eight goal thriller at Harbury Lane

Leamington drew 4-4 with Chippenham Town at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon. Brakes had gone 2-0 ahead, the Bluebirds drew level, Brakes made it 3-2 by half time, but the visitors equalised and then went 3-4 ahead. Leamington missed two chances to score a winner in the closing minutes.

Brakes started brightly with an early corner, but then a searing free kick along the ground tested Kiely in the North Bank goal. Brakes were finding it difficult to penetrate the Bluebirds' defence and kept losing control of the midfield which was a problem for them throughout the game.

Then on 17 minutes the ball was played back in from a Brakes corner and the Sheepside announcer declared Bello to be the scorer, but the Harbury Lane end responded with a chant of 'own goal'.

On 23 minutes it looked as if Brakes were in the driving seat when Luke Corbett, playing his 50th game for the home side, outfoxed the Chippenham defence and put the ball in the back of the net. His enthusiastic celebrations earned him a yellow card.

Three minutes later the Wiltshire side were back in the game when slack defending allowed former Bristol Rovers academy player Lewis Powell to make it 2-1. Play leading to two successive corners produced goalmouth danger for Brakes. Then Bello burst through and was one-on-one with the keeper but unusually hesitated and a golden chance was lost.

On 34 minutes a corner allowed former Bristol City, Exeter City and Team Bath defender Shaun Lamb to make it 2-2. But a great cheer went up from the home supporters when on 44 minutes great work by Bello and James Husband, who was making his 150th appearance in the gold and black to set up former Villa youth player Michael Tuohy to put the home side ahead.

Half time: Brakes 3, Bluebirds 2

I had scarcely got back from my half-time cuppa when the ball crept past the grounded Kiely to even the score at 3-3, Powell scoring his second goal. In my view Kiely was at fault for this goal and some moaners are on his case.

Former Larkhall Athletic ace Ben Highmore was brought on as a sub for Chippenham and he put the visitors 3-4 ahead on 66 minutes as the Brakes' defence fell apart. Bello then burst through, but earned nothing more than a corner. It took a captain's goal from Guy Sanders on 68 minutes to level the scores.

Former Romania first division player Dan Pirvu then put in a pinpoint angled ball to Jacko, but instead of taking the time he had available to him put in an accurate shot a hasty effort saw the ball go over.

Brakes had two more chances in the closing minutes with the ball being cleared off the line and a close range header going just over the bar.

The crowd of 655 certainly saw a thriller and Leamington were far from disgraced against a team in 2nd position in the Zamaretto Premiership. However, they need to be more successful in the midfield battle.

We are awaiting Paul May's report on Charlton's 4-0 win over Tranmere.

Rookie ref today

28-year old Oliver Langford is the referee for today's match between Tranmere Rovers and Charlton Athletic. It's his first year on the National List. He started at age 15 in the Midland Combination, so it's possible I've seen him at Leamington. You can read more about him here: Referee

He sounds quite a decent guy and I have to say that the referees and linos in League 1 have been no worse than those in the Championship and in some cases better. The linos seem to understand how to apply the offisde rule and the referees are fair minded and not overly interventionist.

There may be a reason for this. The Peter Principle says that everyone is promoted until they reach their level of incompetence. It may be that in League 1 we have referees and linos who are still on their way up and are eager to impress by doing a good job. The Championship may have its fair share of jobsworths who have peaked.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Sam's the man

Addicks supremo Phil Parkinson has given generous praise to Addicks wide man Lloyd Sam: 'If you're on the opposing team, one player you'd be worried about is Lloyd Sam, because he's got that ability to eliminate players from the game,' said Phil.

'He's had a very good start to the season and has had some excellent games. He's been a key player, and we believe he's an important part of the team. The team has to have balance throughout, and Lloydy gives us that trickery which we feel we need.'

I think this is deserved praise, even if Lloyd Sam can frustrate sometimes and tends to fade as the match goes on. However, he does not deserve his nomination as scapegoat player by the Bloke Behind Me now that Darren Ambrose has gone.

Yado Mambo has joined Welling for what is described as 'work experience' which perhaps suggests that another centre back is on the way as cover.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Funny place, up there, sticks out

This was Harold Macmillan's comment about The Wirral which once provided the constituency of his erstwhile unfortunate Chancellor, Selwyn Lloyd. At one time The Wirral had two league clubs, but New Brighton, located in a rapidly fading seaside result, succumbed in the early 1950s and tottered on as a non-league club until the 1980s.

Tranmere Rovers have to survive in the shadow of the two Merseyside giants. At least Charlton have not suffered the humiliation of being put up for sale on E-bay which is what the North Carolina consultants charged with the club's sale did to Tranmere a few weeks ago.

I have been there once and enjoyed the visit. I was able to park up outside, the reception was very friendly and a steel band playing in front of our stand at half time got Brian Cole dancing away. Without checking the stats I recall that the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

The Birkenhead club is now managed by ex Addick John Barnes. An indifferent stint at Celtic blighted his managerial career and with the Jamaican FA not standing in his way when the call came from Prenton Park it is last chance saloon for the former England winger. Some fans think that the treatment of former manager Ronnie Moore under whom the club had made steady progress was harsh.

Goalkeeper Danny Coyne is rated as one of the most important players, while Bas Savage is admired by the fans for his work rate which could make him a candidate for the headless chicken award. Charlie Barnett is reckoned to be improving all the time.

For Charlton, Jose Semedo has a slight hamstring strain and will be asssessed again today before the journey north.

The Tranmere fans fear relegation, but hope for a mid-table finish. Pundits put them in the relegation zone and they haven't made the brighest of starts.

Nevertheless, Charlton can't go on winning for ever and I am forecasting that the few hundred Addicks making the trip will witness another 2-2 draw with goals from Shelvey and Bailey.

Supremo Phil Parkinson has revealed his frustration with the takeover situation and the limits it places on his ability to strengthen the squad: 'The situation is frustrating, but I understand people are working every hour there is to get matters resolved,' he said. 'The transfer window is a concern, but if we can't bring anyone in, then we will have to move on, and perhaps go down the loan route.'

Let's hope there is no truth in the rumours that the current argument is about who should get how many seats in the directors' box (the dispute about West Stand car parking spaces hopefully having been settled). I would not expect any announcement over the Bank Holiday Weekend and if it comes on Tuesday I shall be on a plane to Canada.

Small talk

Wade Small joins the distinguished ranks of players who have made only one appearance for Charlton, in his case a 1-0 defeat at Hereford in the Carling Cup.

Mr Small has left the stadium and it is believed that he may have joined Leeds.

Amid the euphoria

It is probably worth reminding ourselves that the takeover has not been completed and we may find ourselves selling a couple of our best players before the transfer deadline. What has prevented an acquisition is unclear, but there have been persistent but unconfirmed rumours that two directors want the money they loaned to the club paid back (or at least a good part of it). This would use up
money the new board would prefer to invest the team.

As it stands, the business is not viable. We have high infrastructure costs associated with our former status which cannot be brought under control. For example, I understand that the business rates on The Valley alone amount to around
£1m a year. In those circumstances the only way to keep the business going is to provide working capital by selling assets, i.e., players.

I took my nine year old granddaughter for a day out in London yesterday and we saw Tower Bridge raised for a cruise ship (the MV Silver Cloud) leaving the Pool of London which was the first time I have seen this since I was a child. Given that the ship would go down river, I thought that this was a good omen for Charlton, but now I am less sure.

Andy Gray regrets

Andy Gray regrets that he was not able to offer more at Charlton, explaining his family circumstances: Gray

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Brakes accelerate

Leamington won 2-0 at Bedford Town last night to go 5th in the Zamaretto Premier League. The scoreline could have been bigger if it had not been for some excellent saves by the Bedford keeper. A large proportion of the crowd of 375 were Leamington fans.

Brakes now face a big test at home to Chippenham Town on Saturday and once again we expect to be the only Charlton blog covering this match.

Spanners 'behaved impeccably'

Millwall fans 'behaved impeccably' during last night's crowd trouble at Upton Park according to Spanners manager Paul Jackett: Millwall

It is certainly the case that it was West Ham fans who invaded the pitch to celebrate what was ultimately a 3-1 victory, but various reports (including one from a friend who was not going to the match) indicate that trouble kicked off on the tube beforehand.

It looks as if West Ham are going to take the hit in terms of any punishment being meted out by the FA, but there may well have been some provocation from supporters of the New Cross family club.

Radio 5 is doing its phone in this morning on 'Is football violence back?' They have to fill their air time, of course. What they should be asking is whether it went away at the New Den. To be fair the club has tried to stamp out some of the worst excesses, although according to one eye witness there were racist chants last night.

Many Millwall supporters are normal individuals, but the club does attract a lunatic fringe because of its historic reputation. As the old joke goes, the biggest branch of their supporters club is in Maidstone prison.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Strange mirage seen over The Valley

Charlton fans returning in the early hours of the morning from celebrating England's victory in the Ashes claim to have seen a strange mirage over The Valley.

Darren from Charlton said, 'We had had a few drinks and we decided to walk back via the ground. One of us thought he saw an Arab sheikh hovering over the ground with a bag of money while others thought it was someone in Swiss yodelling costume. I thought it was a trio made up of a butcher, a greengrocer and a fish and chip shop proprietor.'

All those there were agreed that Peter Varney and Alan Curbishley were sitting together high up in the empty stands.

A psychiatrist comments, 'This is not an unknown form of delusion when a team has gone down from the Premiership to League 1 and its onset may occur after the consumption of alcohol. Collective delusions of this kind arise when fans have been subjected to a long summer of rumours about a possible takeover of their club.'

'The delusion clears up rapidly when a takeover is announced or it is stated that it will not take place. The symptoms may be alleviated in the meantime if the signing of a striker or centre back is announced. Fans may find that tension is relieved by constructing models of Iain Dowie or Alan Pardew and sticking pins in them.' (Instructions on how to construct a model of Alan Pardew for this purpose can be found on Southampton fans' sites).

There may, however, be a simpler explanation of what happened. It has been reported that Inspector Sands was using his long furlough to project a multi media light show over The Valley from his nearby home, but the image of himself became distorted.

I will be tweeting new postings on Twitter, just search for 'Wyn Grant'.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Charlton top table

Charlton topped the League 1 table after beating Walsall 2-0 at The Valley today in front of a crowd of 15,706, reports West Malling Addick Philippa Nicholson. Goals came in the first half from Llera and in the second from Wagstaff. Leeds are just behind them on goals scored having beaten Tranmere at home 3-0.

Richardson put in an early shot and drew a save from Clayton Ince in the Saddlers' goal, leading to a Shelvey corner. On five minutes Nick Bailey tried a close range header, but it went over the bar. An effort by Sam was blocked by a Walsall defender.

After Racon was fouled, the free kick was taken by Christian Dailly. Bailey crossed the ball from the left with great accuracy and Llera put a low shot from close range into the middle of the goal to made it 1-0 on 29 minutes.

In the closing minutes of the half, Sam had a go, but the shot was blocked and then an effort by Shelvey was saved by Ince.

Half time: Addicks 1, Saddlers 0

Charlton continued to win corners in the second half. Shelvey put in a right footed volley on 48 minutes, but Ince was able to save. Dailly took a free kick after Semedo was fouled. Bailey connected just inside the box, but his shot cleared the bar.

Desperation led Parkin to made an effort on goal for Walsall from outside the box, but it was wide of the post. Deeney then had a go, but Elliot made the save without difficulty.

Charlton kept up the pressure with a close range header by Bailey not far off target. Shelvey then tried from outside the box but without success. On 67 minutes Sam was taken off and replaced by Wagstaff.

This turned out to be an inspired substitution by the supposedly tactically inept Parkinson. Burton turned provider for Wagstaff who found himself one on one with the keeper and put the ball in the back of the net from inside the box on 71 minutes.

Bailey created danger by conceding a free kick for handball, but Dailly was able to clear. Walsall won a corner, but Elliot made the save. Then on 77 minutes Sam Parker put in a header from deep inside the area and hit the post. From the rebound Deeney put in a close range header but the ball went over.

Racon drew a save from Ince. It was evident that Walsall were not going to get back in the game and after three minutes of time added on the referee blew the whistle for another three points for the Addicks.

They were clearly dominant in the match with 59 per cent of the possession, eight corners to Walsall's five and eleven shots on target compared with four by Walsall. The visitors resorted to fouls, seventeen to Charlton's four, but it was Llera who was shown the only yellow card of the game.

Walsall are relatively easy to unsaddle, but you have to play whoever is in front of you. A Silver Biscuit was awarded to Semedo for a strong all-round performance.

Derby duel at Harbury Lane

A time added on goal gave Banbury United a share of the points in a 3-3 draw with Leamington at Harbury Lane. Brakes had their chances to put the match behind doubt, but they were unable to take them in a hard fought contest supervised by an inept referee.

Before the game a presentation was made to Josh Blake to commemorate his 400th appearance for the club on Tuesday. Blake appeared in the first match at the New Windmill Ground in August 2000 after the club was re-formed in Tier 8 of the non-league pyramid.

The Puritans brought a vociferous contingent with them in the crowd of 766, but Leamington were hardly quaking in their boots in the early exchanges. Bello put in a good shot to the near post on three minutes which was saved by the Banbury keeper at the expense of a Leamington corner. Bello turned provider for Jacko and his effort was just over.

On 14 minutes, Bello pounced on a loose through ball and banged it to rights to make it 1-0. Chris Kiely had to clear off the line and then Jamaican-born David Stone was fed a ball from the left wing and found himself one-on-one with Kiely, beating the keeper to level the score.

Bello beat the keeper, but he should have laid the ball off and the move broke down. Persistent fouls by Banbury charm merchant defender Ben Milner were ignored by the referee. Brakes had a chance in front of an open goal, but put the ball over.

Then after a save from Bello, Banbury swept down the slope and former Hook Norton ace Jon Coleman beat Kiely to make it 2-1 on 45 minutes.

Half time: Brakes 1, Puritans 2

Brakes had a chance just after the break to level the scores but Corbett's header went over. For a time it looked as if Brakes would not get back in the game as their attacks were contained by the Banbury defence, but then a rare free kick was fed to Bello in front of goal who made it 2-2. Shortly afterwards Liam Reynolds made it 3-2 on 69 minutes.

Brakes brought on new signing Dan Pirvu in place of Murphy. Pirvu has played his football in Austria, although his name sounds Romanian. His positioning was good and he looked calm and confident both on and off the ball. Beckley replaced Corbett for Leamington.

The Puritans brought on Howard Forinton to cries of 'Hello fatty! and offers of a bottle of Grecian 2000. The former Birmingham City player certainly looked well upholstered, but he was to prove Leamington's nemesis.

Kiely had to be treated for an injury after he had gone for the ball and he may have still been groggy. As the minutes ticked down, Brakes tried to keep the ball down the other end and succeeded for a while through a series of corners and throw ins. However, perhaps they should have tried to score because the Puritans broke away and on 92 minutes it was Forinton who slipped the ball inside the post.

One win, one defeat, one draw: welcome to the Zamaretto Premiership.

Happy 40th birthday Cadzy!

Substitute replaces 'knackered' Addick

Today's match report from The Valley will be provided by Philippa Nicholson from King's Hill, West Malling after normal commentator Wyn Grant was 'knackered' planting trees in the Finnish forest as an act of ecological atonement yesterday.

'This could be an interesting occasion,' said Grant, 'not so much for the match was what might accompany it so I am disappointed to miss it.' He explained, 'We were given the right equipment for tree planting and were supervised by an experienced forester.'

'Unfortunately most of those there were social constructivisits, so a great deal of time was wasted "framing" the moment. By the time a discourse was agreed, it was supplanted by another one. It was all reminiscent of Monty Python sketch of the match between Greek and German philosophers'. (See Marx says goal by Archimedes was offside

'Consequently when we did start planting, we had to go at a furious pace and I exhausted myself.'

Nicholson promised that her match report would be less 'hopelessly retro' than Grant's offerings.

So, farewell then, Andy Gray

There have been quite a few occasions recently when I have had to accompany a report about the departure of a player with the sentence used by the newsreels when Neville Chamberlain stood down as prime minister, 'Thanks, Mr Chamberlain, for all you tried to do.'

Gray is certainly not without skill and maybe he will recover his eye for goal once he has returned to northern climes, but he was a disappointment at Charlton (although the fact that a Pardew signing went wrong is, in retrospect, no surprise). He did, of course, face serious personal problems.

Gray was a big earner, with an annual salary probably in excess of the undisclosed transfer fee which was likely to be not unadjacent to the originally reported figure of £600,000. It's a loss, but only in the sense that almost everything Pardew did was a loss. It gives Phil Parkinson some money to play with ahead of the takeover mirage becoming reality.

There is probably a shared view among the Addickted and Sparrows Lane that the top priority is a centre back to provide cover. We also need a striker. Burton's summer fitness campaign has worked a treat and he has been great at holding the ball up. But he needs a partner (although than former non-league players or headless chickens) so that we have the option of playing 4-4-2. 5-4-1 with Shelvey as attacking midfielder has worked fine so far, but as the season moves on we will want to vary our pattern of attack.

Enjoy the game! This phrase is under license from Curbishley-Varney Inc.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Reading results off the table

This is a favourite occupation of football fans and certainly form and position suggest that Charlton should be able to beat Walsall comfortably tomorrow. However, this is Charlton we are talking about.

The failure to resolve the takeover one way or the other is starting to unsettle Parky at least. He wants to offload some players and strengthen the squad in crucial areas where we are light, but the absence of any decision limits what he can do.

My scenario for the game is this: we go 2-0 up with early goals from Burton and Bailey. We then think 'job done' and settle into cruise control. The Saddlers get back into the game and Youga concedes a penalty. 2-1 and panic sets in. But in the second half Shelvey scores to give us a comfortable victory.

I remember going to Walsall in, I think, our first promotion season from the second tier. The Saddlers were facing relegation and were protesting against their board. Kinsella was on top form and we won 4-2 to ironic chants of 'Sack the board'. Leaving the stadium, Richard Murray was buttonholed by a Saddler and asked why he was not spending any money. 'I am a Charlton director and I am spending some money,' he replied.

Cut out 'n' keep guide

Here are some etiquette tips if you see Curbs in the crowd during the game:
1. Do not shout 'Sort it out Curbishley!'
2. Do not ask him why he did not keep someone up the field at corners.
3. Do not ask him about the takeover.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Error prone Walsall fear Valley visit

It's odd to find an away team preview of a visit to The Valley not declaring it as an opportunity to take three easy points. But error prone Walsall are far from sure of a win: Saddlers

The Parkinson narrative

At the end of last season, the view held by many Addicks about Phil Parkinson ran something like this:
1. He was a stopgap manager because he was the all the club could afford (certainly something in that).
2. He was part of the 'Super Alan Pardew' camp now weaving its magic at Southampton. Hence he was part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
3. He was tactically inept and unable to motivate his players.
4. As long as he was manager season ticket sales and attendances would slump at The Valley.
5. The club was likely to be relegated to League 2.

Over the summer he won a grudging respect from some Addicks for doing his best to fashion a squad in a resource constrained and uncertain situation, including the most protracted takeover bid in history. Proposition (4) was disproved at the Wycombe match.

The Addicks first team have made an excellent start to the season, not flawless, but certainly good enough. A new narrative I have heard is that it is because we have players like Bailey, Shelvey and Racon. Undoubtedly that is the case and we need to retain them. But it would seem that if the team does badly it is the manager's fault. If it does well, none of the credit goes to him.

I don't think Parky is a tactical genius. But I do think he is good enough to get us out of League 1 which is what we want for now. After all, he did it at Colchester.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Llera sports Cech style head gear

Vaasa, Finland: Charlton maintained their 100 per cent record in the league with a 2-1 win at the former Brisbane Road over Leyton Orient. The Addicks are 2nd in the table just behind mighty Colchester and ahead of Leeds on goal difference.

Charlton defender Miguel Llera is wearing Peter Cech style head gear to enable him to play in tonight's clash with Orient. Otherwise, the Addicks line-up is unchanged but they are wearing the stylish new away strip which has drawn admiring glances in the JJ sports bar here in beautiful downtown Vaasa (noted for its 'socialist realist' architecture).

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Peter Varney and Alan Curbishey were sitting in the directors' box, but others think they were look alikes. In fact Varney and Curbs were sitting in an away area, the former chief executive accompanied by two famly members. The Rickster has pointed out that there is nothing remarkable about Varney attending a game and sitting with away fans (although Curbs would be a different matter if he was there as he has not had any recent contact with Charlton as far as I know). Peter Varney was asked about the takeover and waved his arms. Should it go ahead, Curbs may become a director.

Orient had much of the early possession. Sam got in a cross on 7 minutes, but Burton's header was wide. Shelvey had a free kick in a promising position on 22 minutes and Burton connected but Jones in the Orient goal made a good save.

Disaster struck when Orient went 1-0 ahead just before the half hour mark. Following the concession of a free kick by Racon, a cross came in and Mkandawire headed into the back of the net.

Semedo put in a cross minutes afterwards, bujt Mkandawire cleared and Sam shot wide from distance on 32 minutes. Both Sam and Shelvey were booked in the first half. Some think that Shelvey was lucky not to be sent off.

Burton had a last minute effort on goal, but Jones saved comfortably.

Half time: Orient 1, Charlton 0

Racon was the latest player to be booked just after the break. Sounds as if they were too up for it.

Jones saved comfortably from Bailey after a Shelvey corner. Elliot saved from an Orient corner.

Just after chucking out time at the JJ sports bar (11 pm Finnish time) Shelvey ended his quiet start to the season when he scored on 64 minutes from a knock on. Just six minutes from time Burton pounced on an error from Mkandawire to make it 2-1.

Those who were there thought there was too much long ball and too many avoidable yellow cards. Nevertheless, we have played two of our first games away and we should be able to beat Walsall on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Saints fans celebrated their good fortune in securing the services of Alan Pardew as their points total stayed at -9.

Leamington beat Evesham United 4-1 in their first home match of the season in front of a crowd of 717 at Harbury Lane. Unusually only one of the goals was apprehended by Sgt. Mark Bellingham, Luke Corbett scoring twice for Brakes.

So, farewell then, Martin Christensen

I never saw you play for Charlton, but then nor did anyone else. You were one of Alan Pardew's 'inspired' signings.

Apparently the deal with Serie C outfit Rimini Football is 'financially advantageous' to the Addicks. Certainly getting you off the books would be as you were on more than the minimum wage.

I have never been to Rimini, but I understand it is a bit like an Italian Blackpool, except that the Seasiders are still in Serie B. Good luck anyway as I am sure you just want to build your career.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Jimmy Seed's old club

Clapton Orient (as it then was) was the club where Jimmy Seed began his managerial career on £12 a week. Arsenal planned to buy the club and turn into a nursery club but the Football League ruled the move illegal - a mistake in my view. The Gliksteens had an association with the club before becoming involved in Charlton and this is how Seed came to Charlton and turned them into a real force in football.

All 3,000 away tickets have been sold for tomorrow night's League 1 clash. Not so long some of the Addickted were forecasting relegation to League 2 because of Parkinson's alleged tactical ineptitude. These were the same people who said we wouldn't sell 5,000 season tickets or get 10,000 in The Valley.

Now, after two league wins, the gloom has turned into euphoria. It truly is the goldfish syndrome. Let's hope expectations are not dashed.

In the Premiership, there were really three types of teams. The top four plus the 'nearly men' hoping for a Uefa cup place. Then there was the mid-table mediocrity league, at one time including Charlton. And finally the relegation league.

In League 1 there are really two sorts of clubs. Those that might at least hope for a play off place or just fall short (Charlton). And those who could be sucked into a relegation battle as the season wears on, a category that includes Orient.

I would like to have gone to the Matchroom Stadium. Apparently, a block of flats has been built in one of the corners of the away end and the inhabitants can exchange cheery greetings with the normal handful of fans. They may have a shock tomorrow night.

Llera was dimissed by some fans as a carthorse after the Wycombe game, but he has shown that he is a battler. If he is not fit we face a problem at centre back. Moving Youga across might seem the solution as Basey can stand in for him. But Youga's error proneness is a problem in that position and we also lose our ability to maraud down the left. One could pull back Semedo, but he is inclined to commit one foul too many in that position.

Solly came on for Llera at Hartlepool. Could Richardson move across and Solly play on the right? There is Mambo, but this is a game and a position that demands experience.

If you are going, enjoy the game! The phrase 'Enjoy the game' is used by agreement with Reg Varney Enterprises, purveyor of football clubs to the gentry.

But is it true?

Vaasa: There were unusual signs of animation in the windswept streets of Vaasa as news filtered through that that the completion of the takeover of Charlton was imminent. Even the bored teenagers outside the Big Mac in the market square started texting the news to their friends.

We have been here many times before. The source is quite a relable one. It would be just my luck to miss the news because I was at a reception at Vaasa town hall.

You didn't hear it here first.

No Dicko, but McGleish

Vaasa: As the Addickted look forward to tomorrow's clash at Orient with heightened expectations, it is perhaps worth reminding ourselves that former Charlton commercial manager and Valley Party candidate Steve Dixon went on to a job at Brisbane Road. However, 'Dicko' doesn't seem to be there any more.

Scott McGleish is and I remember him being routinely used (well, six times) as an end-of-game substitution at The Valley in the 1994/5 season. He went on to a long career at lower division clubs and could be our nemesis tomorrow.

Leamington went down to a 3-1 defeat at Farnborough on Saturday in front of a crowd of 1,009. No disgrace there, but they need to get some points on the board against Evesham United at Harbury Lane tomorrow.

VPS Vaasa lost 0-2 at home last night to TPS Turku who I think are a good side, but the video clip of the game was not impressive.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

It couldn't happen to two nicer people

Vaasa, Finland: The Charlton Athletic bag has made its way to a medium-sized and rather wet Finnish town. I must say that the floodlights of the football stadium looked enticing as I drove in and brought to mind JJ whom I once saw play in the north of Finland.

A big story in Britain was the disallowed Glaziers goal at Bristol City. It was in the net, even if there was talk of a push beforehand. It couldn't happen to two nicer people than Warnock and the Orange One.

Warnock demanded that the officials be suspended for one year, rather than being given the customary Specsavers voucher, whilst the word 'cheats' was heard. The Orange One also appeared on Sky Sports News, but the Bristol City chief executive gave as good as he got and suggested their remarks should be considered by the Football League.

Is it possible that Crystal Palace are running out of luck and we may get a little back?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Charlton coast to victory

As expected, Charlton have put out an unchanged side from the one that beat Wycombe Wanderers last Saturday reports Paul May from the Victoria Ground. All injuries seemed to have cleared up or at least are not serious enough to prevent players taking part in what is expected to be a highly competitive match. A decent contingent of the Addickted (505 in total out of an attendance of 4,408) is present at the Victoria Ground, although not nearly as many as expected at the across town match at Orient next week.

Elliot had to make an early save from a good strike from a free kick at the expense of a corner. Llera put a poor ball forward which led Shelvey to stretch his arms wide as the ball went out for a goal kick. Sam put a decent ball into the box. After a series of throw ins, Shelvey put a good ball into the box, but it was cleared. Charlton were starting to improve their hold on the game. Llera put in a good tackle.

Burton tried to get the shot in, it deflected and came into Bailey's path, but he took a swing at it and his effort went well wide. Burton flicked the ball to Bailey, he played it into the path of Shelvey, but he was over stretching and the ball went a few yards wide of the post.

Hartlepool won a free kick, but it was headed clear. Sam advanced well. The build up was slow and Charlton won yet another throw in. Burton fed Youga, but his efforts were blocked and the home side broke, leading to a Llera foul. The referee warned the Spainard.

Burton was holding the ball up well again, but lacked support. The referee awarded a corner kick to Hartlepool although the ball seemed to have stayed in play. The shot went over the top but the referee awarded a free kick to Charlton anyway and then had a word with Richardson.

Flinders in the Hartlepool goal put in a good long ball and the home side had a possible scoring chance, but the ball went across the front of goal.

After a terrible short header by a Hartlepool defender, Burton saw his chance and pounced to lift the ball over the keeper who was off his line. 1-0 to the Londoners.

Sam played to the ball to the back post, there was an unmarked Nicky Bailey who put in a diving header to make it 2-0. For Charlton, two is not enough, and the task was to build on the lead to make it safe. The Addickted broke into a chorus of 'the finest team the world has ever seen'.

Sweeney was held back by Youga. He could have been booked, but no card was awarded.
The free kick was 10 yards from the corner flag, but it was easily headed clear and Charlton won a throw in.

Llera cleared well from a Hartlepool free kick near the halfway line. The home side kept possession, but Youga intervened well, then it was Shelvey who won the ball. Hartlepool got it back, but their effort was poor and Charlton won a throw in.

Charlton won a corner off a free kick taken by Dailly. Shelvey put in a decent ball, but Hartlepool were able to clear.

Hartlepool defended frantically as Charlton produced renewed pressure. Bailey was caught offside.

Youga twice tried to go forward, but without success. Charlton won a throw in, a decision not liked by some of the Hartlepool players who got a word from the referee.

Youga put in a clattering challenge from behind and was rightly booked. From the free kick Hartlepool put in a shot that went just over the bar although Elliot had it covered.

Youga played a terrible ball and he was dispossessed as Semedo tried to get back. Llera was able to provide cover. The fourth official, in association with the local opticians, announced a minute added on.

Half time: Hartlepool 0, Addicks 2

A complete idiot from Radio Hartlepool's breakfast show was the half time entertainment.

Charlton won an early corner, but it was unproductive. The Addicks won a free kick for a foul on Semedo halfway inside the Hartlepool half. Shelvey's free kick did not quite drop for the unmarked Burton.

Burton was fouled and Sweeney received a yellow card. Hartlepool put in a shot, Charlton broke, Burton would have been one on one with the keeper, but the offside flag was raised.

Youga fed Shelvey but his effort was deflected wide. Flinders went beserk with his defenders. Shelvey's corner was cleared. Yet another ball went out of the ground.

Sam advanced down the right, Bailey laid the ball back to Racon, but he couldn't quite the touch he wanted and it was put behind. The corner was punched clear.

The home side won a corner, but it went straight out. Charlton won a free kick as the advancing Youga was fouled. Shelvey's free kick was easily taken by Flinders.

Although Charlton were still in command, the match went through a quiet phase, matched by the silence of the home fans. Hartlepool decided to change things round, Boyd being taken off and fans' favourite James Brown came on.

Racon was pulled back although he was not threatening and Frederiksen received a booking. Sam posed problems on the right, but Racon lost possession. Llera had to rush back to clear the danger.

Semedo put in a challenge, attracting shouts of 'Off!' from the frustrated home support. The boot was high, but a yelllow card was the right call. Dailly gave away a free kick in a potentially dangerous position some 20 yards out. The shot was a good one but Elliot parried it away. Collins threw the ball into the penalty area. Hartlepool continued to apply pressure, but Charlton got the ball back through good work by Racon.

Elliot had to make a brilliant save from Tony Sweeney. Frederiksen put in a shot from the corner but it came off Bailey for a throw in. Elliot was able to catch a header. Perhaps this was a needed wake up call for Charlton. Would Parky change things around?

Frederiksen got away and put in a shot but it went wide of goal. Llera cut out a ball from Brown well. Youga forged down the left again, but the ball had to be played back to keep possession.

Hartlepool were starting to have a few efforts on goal. Frederiksen and Shelvey had an argument off the ball. Hartlepool went for a double substitution. The lively but carded Frederiksen was taken off, followed by Hartley.

Hartlepool put in a shot, but it was well wide. Parky needed to make a substitution to freshen things up. Charlton were being competent, but not dominant. Llera booted the ball out of play for safety first with nine minutes of normal time left.

The referee told Elliot off and indicated that he was adding time on for time wasting. The local support started to take it out on the referee. Sweeney put in a header which was misdirected and went over the bar.

Sam and Richardson combined well, but it was too close to Flinders. Burton took his time and won nothing more than a throw in. The home fans started to leave in search of avocado mousse.

Llera went down and received treatment to the annoyance of the home fans. It did not look as if he could continue. The fourth officials sponsored by the local opticians announced three minutes of added on. Solly replaced Llera who left slowly. Gray replaced Shelvey who had been excellent throughout the match and was awarded a Silver Biscuit.

An effort by Hartlepool went straight at Elliot. The active Tony Sweeney was named as man of the match. The match ended with the monkeys song.

We weren't as good in the second half as in the second. Hartlepool didn't live up to their advance billing. It's a long journey back to Erith, but it was the result I wanted.

Spanners upset at Met intervention

The Spanners are upset that the Metropolitan Police have cut the away ticket allocation for their Carling Cup tie with West Ham in half: Spanners

Mind you I do think that the Daily Mail is OTT when it talks of the two sides having a 'notorious hatred of each other'.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Tooled up with vacuum flasks

Hartlepool have sent a warning to Charlton about the ID checks and Loftus Road style searches that away fans can expect there tomorrow and have also emphasised that they take a dim viewing about standing in seated areas, presumably because a lot of the ground appears to be terracing.

One can just imagine the conversation that led to this message in Hartlepool. 'Where is Charlton?' 'Just down the road from Millwall'. 'They'll all be tooled up then.' Yes, with vacuum flasks and rugs to protect them from the breeze off the North Sea. Neverthelesss, in the programme last week the Addickted were warned not to 'give it large' in pubs in the town.

Of course, part of the mentality also arises from the comment made by a Hartlepool fan in 4-4-2 that the team he most wanted to beat this year was one relegated from the Championship. Charlton are still seen as a big scalp whose capture can brighten the season.

I once went to an end=of-season promotion decider at Nene Park between Rushden and Diamonds and Hartlepool, the Irthlingborough side coming out on top. At the end of the match what must have been the whole mounted contingent of Northamptonshire police rode on to the pitch to separate the fans, but there was no hint of trouble.

Hartlepool has an independent mayor, re-elected more than once, who used to be the mascot who wore a monkey suit at games. It was also the constituency of Peter Mandelson, now (for the time being) Lord Mandelson of Hartlepool and Foy (wherever that it is it isn't in Eltham where his grandad lived). It is alleged that during an election campaign one of his aides went into a fish and chip shop in Hartlepool and seeing some mushy peas, said 'Can I have some of your avocado mousse?'

Hartlepool had a relegation battle last season, but have started strongly this year with a 0-0 draw at MK Dons and a victory over Coventry City at the Ricoh in the Carling Cup. 4-4-2 commented that 'they lack the mindset to be consistent and compete in the top half' and forecast a finish in 16th place.

They are said to have a leaky defence, although defender Ben Clark has been a favourite since he joined from Sunderland. Six new signings were made before the first day of training, although the gap left by the departing Michael Nelson will be difficult to fill.

One should also note that gaffer Chris Nelson may look like a big northern lump but he took the club to 7th, 4th and 7th in his last spell in charge. He then went to Sheffield Wednesday, before initially returning to Pools as director of sport (not football, although I am not clear what other sport they play).

This will be a tough match for Charlton, one of the few away fixtures in the third division north rather than south. The days when the players were kepyt fresh by being flown to such games are over. A defeat does not mean relegation or the end of all promotion hopes. I am forecasting a 2-1 victory for the home side.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Barnsley lose patience on Gray deal

Andy Gray may be staying at Charlton after a deal with Barnsley has been held up again by delays in completing the change of ownership at The Valley: Gray

Given recent performances, some Charlton fans may not be overjoyed at the news, although opinions differ. If he went, we would need more firepower. Supremo Phil Parkinson has confirmed that we need a natural goal scorer, plus strengthening at centre back.

Moutaoukil, who is one of the highest earners at the club, may be one his way soon. The out-of-favour right back has been told that he can go whenever he wants and his agent thinks he has found him a club in France. A sad tale of talent we never tapped.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Expect more defeats warns supremo

Fans have been warned to expected more defeats this season than last. Fortunately, it's not Charlton we're talking about but Leamington where something like five losses a season have been the norm.

But now the Brakes have been promoted to the Zamaretto Premier League and their first match is away to Farnborough who are tipped for automatic promotion. Brakes supremo Jason Cadden has warned that it may take three seasons to get promotion to the Conference North or South - and in any case the New Windmill Ground is not up to the required standard.

Cadden was featured in 'Star Corner' in last weekend's Non-League Paper and stressed the importance of the signing of Deano's son, Chris Kiely, as keeper. But Cadden has admitted that Leamington players are often targetted by bigger clubs and keeping the squad together is a challenge.

In an interview with a local paper Cadden said that the FA Cup run that had ended in defeat at the hands of Colchester United has probably cost Leamington promotion that year. However, this year they may focus a little more on the cups as the pressure of expectation is off.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

All change for Addicks

It was all change for the Addicks tonight at Edgar Street with Gray and McLeod up front, although Elliot remained in goal. Small made his first Charlton start while Wagstaff and Spring also featured in midfield. Solly was at right back and Youga on the left with Basey also featuring. Stadinou got a start.

Charlton had slightly more of the possession in the first half, but both sides had the same number of corners and a roughly equivalent number of shots on and off target. Spring and Basey were taking corners. McLeod was booked on 31 minutes.

A long range effort by Small went wide and Andy Gray had an effort on 43 minutes which went wide. It was 0-0 at half time.

Hereford were edging the game in the second half, then Charlton were giving a rare penalty but Gray's effort was saved by the Hereford keeper diving to the left. Meanwhile, news came through from Sainsbury's that secret weapon Darren Ambrose had scored twice for Palace.

Substitute Stuart Fleetwood, who had been brought on to replace Izale McLeod, had the chance to settle the match when he was one on one with the keeper, but he put his effort wide. Standinou picked up a booking in the second half. The match went into extra time, the Spanners having beaten Bournemouth 4-0.

In extra time, Godsmark scored from close range in the 97th minute to give Hereford victory and end Charlton's dreams of league cup glory. For the fourth year in a row, they have been defeated by lower league opposition.

Bring on the bull

For once there is a rare consensus among bloggers which is also shared by Sparrows Lane: we should not put out a full strength team against Hereford United in the Carling Cup tonight.

And indeed we won't. The E-mail bulletin reports, 'Phil Parkinson admits the Addicks will be down to the bare bones for tomorrow's Carling Cup tie at Hereford United. The Addicks boss confirmed today that he will be without his trio of summer signings for the trip to Edgar Street - and also ruled out midfielders Lloyd Sam and Jonjo Shelvey.

Central defenders Miguel Llera and Christian Dailly, who both scored in the opening day 3-2 win against Wycombe Wanderers, are sidelined with head and rib complaints, while a hip injury rules out right-back Richardson. Sam (knee) and Shelvey (heel) will also be absent for the match against the Bulls, and the shell shocked supremo said: 'We are down to the bare bones for Tuesday.'

What is important is that as many of these players as possible are available for a tough match at Hartlepool on Saturday. No doubt if Hereford win the county will be en fete for days claiming another Premiership scalp. There isn't much else in the way of excitement in Hereford, apart from the cattle market and a very old map. The fact is that Charlton are now a third division side that has to concentrate on getting out of the division. The Carling Cup is not a major priority.

Darren Randolph left Hereford under something of a cloud as far as the locals were concerned and I would play him in goal just to wind the yokels up, although that could be counter productive if it comes to a penalty shoot out which it well might.

Parky will also have 'wideman' Wade Small available to him. Some people think that the Croydon-born 25-year old is rubbish. I can't remember him from his visit with Blackpool last season. But we do need more options on the wing and maybe e can do a bargain basement job for us.

Hereford are likely to be without midfielder James Tolley who is a suspected swine 'flu case. Hereford blogs are expecting a 'hard match'. but are anticipating victory as a confidence builder.

Quite a few Midlands Addicks are going to the match but I am not as I won't be back from London until mid-evening. I am searching around for a match reporter, no luck yet.

I am forecasting 2-2 after extra time, Charlton to win 5-4 on penalties.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

We Make It Hard for Ourselves

Charlton secured their first three points of a season with 3-2 victory over Wycombe Wanderers at The Valley this afternoon. However, they twice surrendered a two goal lead and but for some last minute heroics by keeper Rob Elliott it could have easily ended in a 3-3 draw. Charlton played some neat football, and at times tore the Chairboys apart, but they were too inclined to sit back on their lead and too ready to panic when under pressure.

Gloomsters were forecasting that it would be difficult to reach attendances of 10,000 this season, but despite the fact that many people are still on holiday, there were some of the longest queues I have ever seen outside The Valley for walk up tickets and the final attendance was announced at 16,532. It was certainly an exciting match, but in many ways the kind of excitement I could do without.

When I got to Marylebone the tube train was stuck in the platform and paramedics were attending to an unfortunate individual who had been taken ill. Fortunately, he was able to walk away with them. The driver advised us to hold on tight and I then had the faster tube journey ever which showed how quickly these trains can go if there is nothing in front of them.

I was pleased to see that the tide was in at Deptford Creek. One benefit of being in League 1 was that the Rose of Denmark was far less crowded.

Despite the best efforts of Bream Team, the Big Screen went down before the match. Apparently one of the goldfish jumped out and Big Dave Lockwood was trying to catch it with a net and damaged the screen. I realised how useful a service it was.

The game started at a fast and furious pace and I wonder whether this could be maintained on a warm day. Indeed, Parky said that Charlton got tired in the second half and clearly fitness levels have to be looked at. This is a downside of having two centre backs with a combined age of around seventy.

New wonder player Adam Smith was lacking for the Chairboys despite his illustrious name and his Spurs pedigree. He managed to foul Bailey and then Racon in the first few minutes, leading to free kicks.

Llera and Racon got in decent crosses but they were cleared. Charlton won their first corner and Ronaldo's friend Semedo (see programme) took a shot but it was blocked by Adam Smith who had finally managed to find an equilbrium position. Bailey turned provider for Youga who was bearing down on goal and it looked as if we might score but he put his shot wide of the post. Racon had a go from just outside the area and covered his head in frustration when the shot went just over the bar.

Charlton were getting in some shots, but they were being blocked quite effectively by the Chairboys. Duberry blocked an effort from Burton and then Bailey sent the ball over. Bailey then drew a save from Shearer in the Wycombe goal.

Charlton won a corner, followed by a second. Dailly rose impressively from Shelvey's corner to head the ball in to the back of net. This was a well taken goal by the new signing.

Two minutes later Frazer Richardson turned provider for Bailey who put the ball in the top right hand corner of the net to make it 2-0. Unfortunately, we then started to go a bit mad and fail to use chances which could have finished off the match. We were not helped when Llera was off the pitch for ten minutes or so after a clash of heads. During this period we attempted to slow the game down and play possession football which worked until the Chairboys broke and scored.

One of the best chances came on 26 minutes when Sam shot with his right foot (he should have used his left) from outside the box and saw the ball go wide. Shelvey made a decent headed effort but it went wide. Then another effort by Shelvey went just over the bar. Dailly tried again, but his header went wide.

Then, almost from nowhere, Wycombe scored. They broke down the left side and I think it was Woodman who sent in a high inswinging ball with which Zebroski scored to make it 2-1 on 43 minutes. It was a typical League 1 goal and we have to be alert to that kind of danger.

Half time: Addicks 2, Chairboys 1

At half time Peter Taylor used the Roosevelt analogy of 'You have nothing to fear but fear itself.' He told his squad that they shouldn't come to places like The Valley and show fear. It's hardly the Emirates, but I see what it means. And it seems to have worked. The view of many Addicks is that we did not play as well in the second half, and I think that is true, but the other part of the story is that Wycombe upped the game. It's the familiar story of concentrating on your own failings and ignoring what the other team is doing.

The spirits of the Addickted were raised on 49 minutes when Llera made it 3-1 with a shot into the bottom left-hand corner from a few yards out, the assist coming from Shelvey. Again, we had our chances to put the match beyond doubt and didn't take them.

Wycombe threatened and Youga made a good defensive header in front of goal. The Chairboys made a double substitution, but I wasn't sure about who the players were or what they were likely to do. Once again Wycombe threatened and Charlton provided some good defensive work in front of goal. Wycombe won a corner, but Burton showed his worth in defence by making a decisive clearance.

Parkinson then made a double substitution on 67 minutes, replacing Gray by Burton and Sam by McLeod. I think Sam needed to come off, but it was a mistake to get rid of Burton who was playing an effective role in the game.

Initially, Gray and McLeod looked lively. Gray got a shot in which was blocked for a Charlton corner. Shelvey's inswinging corner was a good one and McLeod's header was just over the bar.

Youga gave away a free kick in a dangerous position, but fortunately it was cleared. Semedo lost the ball in midfield, Wycombe were able to break and Stuart Beavon turned provider for Chris Zebroski who made it 3-2 on 73 minutes.

It was very much game on and Wycombe could see a draw or even a win in their sights. Youga fouled Zebroski in a promising poistion for the visitors and Elliot had to make the save. He was then forced to give a corner away as he saved from danger man Zebrovski. By now it was panic stations in the Charlton defence as Elliot had to save from Zebroski again.

Charlton won a corner, but it was punched out by Shearer in the Wycombe goal. The Chairboys forged forward and Charlton gave away yet another free kick, this time through Racon. The panic was showing as Gray conceded a free kick and then Bailey near the corner flag, the captain receiving a yellow card for his offence.

The referee put in a good block but was injured. The captains were called over and after some delay one of the linos came on as referee. Substitute Pittman put in a header from close range which went just over. Llera received a yellow card for a foul.

Elliot had to make a great save from Phillips. As we went into four minutes of time added on (five played), Charlton were under continuing pressure with the ball again being cleared off the line. Luke Oliver came on for Wycombe and made good use of a corner, putting in a shot from close range that went just over the bar. Finally, the whistle went and the three points were safe.

Clearly, there is much work to do but matters off pitch should stabilise soon. If we don't see a takeover within the next week, I doubt it will happen, but I think odds on it will. It's been a difficult process and it's perfectly understandable that two directors should be concerned about the treatment of the club's financial debt to them (it would concern me if I was in their shoes), but hopefully a resolution of that issue is close.


Match analyst Ivy the Terrible thought that there were a number of candidates for the Silver Bone with strength, skill and determination being displayed by a number of players. However, she gave it to keeper Rob Elliott for his brave last ditch save which ensured that the Addicks got all three points. Admittedly, he let two goals in, but one of these came when we were down to ten men. I thought that Richardson looked like a quality right back at this level. Youga was his usual self despite his change of hairstyle: lively, involved, getting forward, but making some awful mistakes at times. He doesn't give me confidence. Clearly there are still questions about the central defence given that we conceded two easy goals, although both central defenders also scored. We also lack cover in this position (unless you count Mambo) which is why Llera had to go off for treatment and play on when he was probably feeling a little bit groggy. I am therefore not going to make a hasty judgment about him. Dailly I quite like the look of. OK, he is 36, but he has kept himself fit and he is an experienced player. Semedo made a couple of serious errors in giving the ball away, one of which started the move which led to their second goal.
Racon played his part well and was on the short list for the Silver Bone. What took it away from him was an appalling display of dithering in the second half after we had gone 3-1 up and he could have created a fourth goal. Bailey scored and was very involved, but I am not sure how suitable he is for the role of captain. I got the sense that he might yet move on. Shelvey was nowhere near as impressive as he was at times last season, but it is easy to expect too much of a 17-year old. My view on Sam is likely to be controversial. More than one person thought he was Man of the Match, whilst the Bloke Behind Me covered me in a shower of spittle as he shouted abuse at him. I thought that he was very good in the first half, but much less so in the second. He was playing on the East Stand side in the second half. Richardson said in the programme that he had formed a good partnership with Sam, but I was less convinced. Sam needs to get on the wing more and not cut inside, which he was doing much more in the second half, and he needs to move more off the ball rather than standing around waiting for it to be delivered to him. I thought Parky was right to substitute him when he did. Burton gets a lot of stick, but he can actually hold the ball up rather well. It's a Leaburnesque quality, but not one to be despised. McLeod confirmed my view of him when he came on, a lot of running around to very little effect. After one good touch when he first came on Gray also disappointed once again. I heard someone say after the match that we should take Barnsley's offer of £600,000. Well, the new owners may want to decide that.

Hiss of the Match This goes to South-Eastern Trains who provided a completely inadequate service for the crowd after the match.

Crowd rating The Addickted were in good voice 8/10.

Discount voucher at Specsavers This new award was not made. On the whole I thought that referee Darren Deadman had a good game. He kept control of the match, did not dish out excessive numbers of cards, and got most of his decisions right. It was unfortunate that he had to be substituted. The linos also kept up with the game and seemed to understand the offside rule.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Darren Deadman in The Valley of Death

Tomorrow's referee is Darren Deadman and the Sub-Standard is referring to 'The valley of Death'. It's not quite clear for whom, but I think they mean Charlton.

They achieve their usual high journalistic standards in their commentary: 'Charlton aren't going to let trifling concerns such as relegation to League One for the first time in three decades and near financial melt-down dampen their spirits. Instead, the glass is always half-full in SE7: competing in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy will, according to the club websight, add "an extra splash of colour this season", while tickets for tomorrow's tussle with mighty Wycombe are being advertised on the basis of "Christian Dailly, Miguel Llera and Frazer Richardson all being in line to make their debuts." Give us the phone number.'

One of Deadman's claims to fame is that he was suspended by the FA for two matches in 2006 for failing to apply the rules of the game. The failure related to the number of permitted substitutes!

Takeover imminent?

We have been here before, but we are receiving reports that Pravda has announced that the takeover of Charlton will be completed by next week. Unfortunately we cannot provide any more detail at the moment as it has not been possible to connect with the SLP site (not a new problem). The story is there, but I cannot open it or provide a link to it yet.

Chairboys bring in Spanner to foil Addicks

They're dancing in the streets of High Wycombe as the Bucks club made two dramatic last minute signings in a bid to foil the Addicks. Economist Adam Smith has risen from the grave in a new incarnation as a little known Spurs reserve right back and has signed on a month's loan.

However, the Chairboys hope that former Spanner Danny Spiller will be their secret weapon. He is so keen to help out that he has agreed to play for a month for no wages. The 28-year old midfielder played under Peter Taylor at the Gills. He then moved to the Toolbox but managed just six league starts in two years.

The Chairboys are confident that he could be the ingredient that will make the difference against Charlton and he is expected to be warming the bench tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Tykes did not offer enough for Gray

Parky has clarified the situation over Andy Gray, saying that Barnsley had been talking to Charlton throughout the summer about the player, 'but at the moment the deal just doesn't add up and it's nowhere near the valuation we've got of the player. Andy played for a lot of last season with a stress fracture. He's now fit and he's trained well. He's available for selection and he could be a big player for us this year.'

The Charlton supremo said there had been no firm bids for (which is not the same as saying no expressions of interest in) Jonjo Shelvey and dismissed a weekend newspaper story linking him to Chelsea as pure speculation.

As for Chris Dickson, 'Gillingham been talking to us about Chris all summer, and we keep telling them he's not going there. We've now said to them that we'll let him go there if they give us one of their strikers in exchange. I won't give you the name of him, but you might be able to guess.' (Answers in the Comment column please).

Nicky Bailey will be the Charlton captain this season. This is a good choice of a committed player, even if he goes a little too far sometimes, and hopefully is an indication that he will not be leaving any time soon.

Come on you Reds!

I don't know much about Wycombe

Thinking about High/West Wycombe brings to mind Ali G's remark when he was interviewing the Secretary of State for Wales, 'I don't know much about Wales, but I hear it's crap.' A friend of mine who has lived all over the country (but has now returned to Essex) says that Wycombe is the worst place he has ever lived in.

My normal matchday routine is to drive down the M40 to park up at High Wycombe and get the train from there. This Saturday I shall get a fast train from Leamington that goes straight through High Wycombe, waving a cheery greeting to the assembled Chairboys as I go past. Incidentally, they are called Chairboys because the beech woods of Bucks gave rise to a furniture industry based in High Wycombe (now largely gone).

I encountered the Chairboys once before when I went to a match at Rushden and Diamonds. Their then manager, Lawrie Sanchez, was sent off by the referee who got fed up with the abuse directed at him from the dugout. Sanchez placed himself in the shallow stand behind the dugout and continued to go beserk, leading to an intervention by stewards.

The Chairboys took exception to this and other decisions and remained seated in their stand after the match chanting 'Chairboys'. I could still hear them as I walked up the hill towards my car. The view I formed was that their hard core away support was made up of descendants of the Hell Fire Club which used to meet nearby.

I have one good memory of Adams Park which is approached through a single road industrial estate but has an attractive setting. I saw the Charlton women's team take the league cup off Arsenal much to the shock of the assembled Gooners. Wasps also play there and are supported by Alan Curbishley's wife and, since his furlough, by Curbs himself.

We could get on to Disraeli, but I think we have had enough local colour. What about the team? The view of 4-4-2 is that they are not very good. They forecast a finish in 21st place, commenting 'If the Chairboys follow the standards they set so far in 2009, then an instant rerurn to the basement is a distinct possibility.' This could mean the sofa for manager Peter Taylor: six of his last seven jobs have lasted barely a year.

The fan commentator is surprisingly gloomy, saying that he fears administration and relegation. Mmind you that view has also been expressed at Charlton, but as my Bristol Rovers supporting fan said yesterday, if you can't be optimistic at this time of the season when can you be? Asked what change he would make at the club, the Chairboy says, 'Stop spending more than we can afford.' For some obscure reason, the disliked club is Colchester United rather than MK Dons (although I believe there used to be a rivalry with Oxford).

Matty Phillips is a kind of Jonjo Shelvey figure at the club. The 18-year old enjoyed a fine debut season, but was not used too often to avoid burn out. Tommy Doherty is apparently the terrace favourite and most important player.

The Wycombe fans can be expected to make a lot of noise because of the 'fallen giant' challenge. That is really all rubbish because we were never giants in the first place, just a medium-sized club who had good fortune and, for a while, good management. The Chairboys will not doubt recall their league cup victory over us when we were in the Premiership when Les Reed was in charge.

There have been some signs of a revival of slight optimism among the Addickted over the last few days. There has been an acknowledgement in some quarters that Phil Parkinson is a decent bloke who has been working hard for the club in difficult circumstances and that he should not be condemned before a ball is kicked.

Nevertheless, the Addickted will be nervous and an early goal is important. I expect Parky to play a 4-4-1-1 formation with Shelvey in the hole and Burton up front. I am going for a 2-0 win (Shelvey, Bailey).

Enjoy the game!

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Curbs for Toon?

Alan Curbishley is one of four names in the frame for a short-term managerial appointment at Newcastle United which has failed to secure a buyer. The relegated club is still recovering from having Iain Dowie as coach.

Gordon Strachan and Steve Coppell have also been discussed by the board. However, the favourite is David O'Leary. While Curbs is reluctant to venture too far away from the M25, O'Leary is based in North Yorkshire. Moreover, he is renowned for his Big Book of Football Excuses which he has kept up to date.

Gasheads

I was entertained to lunch today by a Bristol Rovers supporter. He took me to the village of Ilmington: Ilmington . I have never been there before although it is only 30/40 mins. drive away, but I can recommend it as a Cotswold village without the crowds that throng a place like Bourton on the Water. The Howard Arms serves very good food.

Although football wasn't the purpose of our meeting, conversation naturally turned to it as we are in the same division. Rovers finished 11th last season and are forecast by 4-4-2 to finish 8th this season. And their director of football is, of course, Sir Lennie Lawrence.

My friend's view was that the key to success in this division is good organisation, both on and off the pitch. Their leading goal scorer managed to put away 29 goals this season. Apparently he has an eye for goal and can hold up the ball well. His big defect, and the reason he has not been snapped up by a higher division club, is lack of pace.

However, apparently that is not a handicap in League 1. So perhaps the likes of Deon Burton will be able to do more this season, particularly if defences are opened up by the likes of Shelvey, Bailey, Racon and Sam. It's not all hopeless.

Jonjo Shelvey

In case anyone hasn't seen this piece in The Guardian: Prodigy

There is a bit of a buzz around The Valley and things are looking good at Leamington as well. They finally recorded a pre-season win with a 3-1 victory over Stratford Town last night at the Anne Hathaway Stadium in front of a crowd of 301. I wasn't able to see them reclaim the Bard of Avon Trophy on a very wet night as I was quite late back from London.

Behind closed doors

Many years ago I was in London for some reason and I had some free time in the afternoon so I decided to go and see a reserves match at Welling. It was pouring with rain and the Park View Road pitch couldn't cope. It was moved to the training ground and no one stopped me getting in.

These days we don't have a reserve team as such and any matches are played 'behind closed doors' at the training ground like yesterday's 6-2 demolition of Ebbsfleet United, who could well be in trouble in the Conference this season given their restricted budget.

However, keen Addick Clive Richardson managed to get in and I reproduce his notes here: 'Leading 2-0 when I left - first in about 15 mins, Waggy finishing from close range after (about the only bit of) good work by Dicko. Great save by our keeper on 20 mins kept us level at 1/2 time, though Waggy went close with two other chances and Wade Small looked threatening. [Trialist] Small made it two after 55 mins- clearance by our keeper to Jack Clark, and the left back played Small in with a great ball down the inside left channel. Good finish, sliding ball past advancing keeper.'

'Liam Bellamy impressive at right back, also the tall Jordan at centre-back with Yado. Stavrinou and Davisson busy in midfield, Waggy and 'Peter' doing well wide right and left. Small did well again, unlike Dicko, who spent a lot of time whinging/arm waving!' [But did score later]

I'm not quite sure who Peter is. Is Peter Garland being brought back or was it a run out for 'Reg' and another sign of an imminent takeover?

Good news on Solly

The E-mail bulletin reports that Charlton defender Chris Solly was fit to train yesterday morning despite leaving Saturday's match at AFC Bournemouth on a stretcher.
The young hopeful, a late replacement for Izale McLeod in the 2-1 friendly win at Dean Court, looked in some discomfort after being caught by a late challenge in the final minute of the game and one London free paper was forecasting he would be out for a while.

He was carried off moments before the final whistle, but was fit and raring to go at Sparrows Lane on Monday morning. Physio Steve Allan explained: 'Chris suffered deep bruising to his right shin but he was fine to train with the squad on Monday. The only injured player we have on the books at the moment is Dean Sinclair.' [Who he? Ed. Are you sure he is a Charlton player? Are you mixing him up with that Danish geezer?]

Christian Dailly song

See it here: Dailly

It is not politically correct.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Parly's delicate situation

It's not often I find anything in the copy of The London Paper I pick up on my way to the tube about Charlton - or if there is anything it is usually either copied from somewhere or is inaccurate speculation. However, there is a full feature on the Addicks tonight. No doubt many of you will have read it on your journey home to Kent or wherever. For those who haven't, I will summarise it below.

Parky uses some phrases from the Great Book of Football Clich├ęs (don't we all?) such as 'We have no divine right to be promoted' and 'It's what happens on the pitch that matters.' However, I don't think it's as trivial a piece as may appear to be the case, given that we may be on the verge of important decisions about the club's future. BTW, there's no point in going to the free paper's website as it is clearly not updated that often, or at least not in terms of stories about the Addicks.

Parkinson admits it's 'a delicate situation' and that his 'hands are tied to a certain extent'. He went on, 'We're happy with our progress in pre-season, but we still need some more fresh faces in the building. The nucleus is good but we're low on numbers and have holes to fill. We are working very hard to put the pieces of the jigsaw together.' [Sounds like the dog has scattered it all over the carpet after it was half complete].

The article concludes, 'And Parkinson, who was initially handed a contract until this summer, is keeping his fingers crossed he'll remain in his position to see the task through.' He said, 'I just want to carry on doing my job and see where that takes us.'

Hopefully to promotion. I see The Times yesterday had us finishing 6th.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Bent goes north, but Gray may stay

Darren Bent has boarded a plane for 'oop north, fully equipped to send tweets. Spurs have been holding out for near the £16.5m they paid Charlton (rather the company that bought the debt) for him, but it looks as if they are going to settle for £14m.

Barnsley manager Simon Davey admits he is frustrated that he has not been able to complete the signing of Charlton striker Andy Gray. A deal to bring the 31-year-old to Oakwell was agreed three weeks ago, but it is claimed that the current proposed takeover at the Valley is causing a delay.

'The frustrating thing is we are on other people's time scales,' the exasperated supremo told BBC Radio Sheffield. 'I have to decide whether to persevere with it or go elsewhere.'

Given Gray's appearance at Bournemouth, this could mean a takeover deal this week and a new ability to pay what is believed to be the striker's five figure weekly salary. Or it could mean nothing at all.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Shelvey turns down Blues

Reports are suggesting that Jonjo Shelvey has turned down a £3.25m move to Chelsea. According to the Sunday Times he thinks (with good reason) that a move there would restrict his development as a player. Apparently, he would prefer to go through the Blackwall Tunnel to West Ham, but the Hammers have no dosh to pay for him.

Shelvey has also been linked with a move to Ipswich, but I find that quite an odd suggestion. Why just move up one division to join the Tractors?

My hope is that he will stay until Christmas.

Also in the Sunday Times charm merchant and Spanner Rod Liddle forecasts that Millwall will take ten or twelve points off Charlton and Leeds United. In your dreams.

Homer unhappy



Canine match analyst Homer the Cherry Hound is unhappy at his side's defeat by Charlton yesterday, but as match analyst at Didcot Town is looking forward to this season's matches against Leamington. He also anticipates the first appearance of his owner, Andy Candelent, for Harwell Dads where he is a big new signing.

Fairly full report on the game here: Cherries

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Addicks Win, Brakes Lose

Charlton picked some low hanging fruit with a 2-1 win over the Cherries today, while Leamington were beaten 0-1 at home by bogey team Chasetown at a rain lashed New Windmill Ground. As far as I could work out, I was the only Charlton blogger in the crowd of 275.

Before the game there was speculation in the vice-presidents' lounge whether Chavtown would damage the away dressing room as they did on their previous two visits. The programme noted that their move to the Unibond would put them in an arena where 'there was a greater physicality to the game.'

The match was preceded by a heartfelt minute's silence to honour Sir Bobby Robson. Those who want to do more can always donate to his cancer charity (see Facebook page R.I.P. Bobby Robson).

Deano's son Chris was tested on 3 minutes when he pushed out a curling shot from a free kick in a dangerous position. Bello had a half chance with a cross from the left on 18 minutes, but he was not well positioned to get any power on his effort.

The Chasetown keeper made a good save on 21 minutes. On 35 minutes there was a handball call for the Brakes. However, the referee was more elderly and overweight than anyone I have ever seen and attempted to run the game from the middle of the park. I suppose we should be grateful to have any referee for such a fixture.

Half time: Brakes 0, Scholars 0

Chasetown scored their winning goal on 47 minutes. Chris Kiely pushed out a shot from a free kick in a dangerous position, but he couldn't save the rebound, the goal being scored by Gary Birch (previous clubs Walsall, Barnsley, Exeter, Lincoln and Kidderminster Harriers).

On 56 minutes a Chasetown shot from a free kick came off the post, possibly assisted by a leap by Kiely. On 76 minutes they hit the crossbar. Meanwhile, as the game become increasingly fractious, the referee came into his own as a comedy turn. Rebuking one player, he said, 'Don't say a word, smile!' a phrase quickly picked up by the crowd. He then got more irate, telling one player 'I'll decide, not you sir!'
Eventually he flourished a yellow card.

Kiely was pulled off on 84 minutes in favour of debutante back up keeper Arthur Burns who looked even younger than the 19-year old.

Brakes accelerated in the last few minutes, with Bello putting an angled shot across the face of goal and a couple of other chances being created. However, this result and others suggest that they are yet to find their rhythm, although some players are still on holiday.

Hopes of Gray deal

Despite some Barnsley web sources claiming that our takeover talks are holding up a deal with Andy Gray, it looks as if he may be on his way soon: Gray

The bid for Charlton has not stopped other departures and given Gray's high wages the imperative is to get him off the books as soon as possible.

4-4-2 forecasts mid-table finish

For some time I have been arguing that a mid-table finish is a realistic and achievable target for Charlton this season. In its pre-season preview, 4-4-2 forecasts a finish in 11th place. They say, 'The Addicks have developed a losing culture, which takes time to change. Consolidation is the name of the game.'

On Phil Parkinson, they say that 'he was on a hiding to nothing last season, but still showed signs of progress. He knows the division well and should be given time to turn things around.'

Jonjo Shelvey is named as the player who could make the difference. 'A season at this level, away from the spotlight, could provide the ideal platform for him.' Let's hope so.

The Spanners are forecast to finish 5th and enjoy yet another 'big day out' as thousands discover they are really Millwall fans. Leeds are forecast to get out of League 1 as champions with Southend in the other automatic spot. Brentford are forecast to finish 3rd.

One week to go

There is a sense of mounting interest as the season approaches with quite a few Addicks planning to go to Bournemouth today to see if the Addicks can do any cherry picking. Let's hope the weather is better than it is in the Midlands.

An Argentinian friend contacted me from BA today, recalling his visit to The Valley and wishing us well. Earlier this week I rang up my publisher at Oxford University Press. There is an inverse relationship between the prestige of a publisher and their ability to publish a book promptly, but his main topic of conversation (perhaps as a diversion from the book) was the prospects for Saints this season under Pardew. He seems convinced that Pardew's talents will overcome the ten point deficit and win promotion for them, mainly it would seem on the grounds that he is not Dutch.

This brought me to reflect on how many Saints fans I know. The godfather to my eldest granddaughter (now nine years old and on holiday in Canada) is a Saint (Joe the Saint). The colleague in the office next door has a season ticket and the person opposite is also a Saint (they could string a banner across the corridor). As is one of my oldest friends.

This report has no Charlton content, but I am glad we don't have an owner like this (fortunately for Livingston fans he has subsequently thrown in the towel): No speaka de English

If you don't know where Livingston is, it's a Scottish new town and you often see their ground when you fly into Edinburgh.