Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
I never cease to be amazed at how big Halloween is here. Pumpkins literally sit outside every house in every street and people young and old, but mainly old use it as an excuse to put on fancy dress. I was in Starbucks on Saturday morning and queued up behind a witch!
I spoke to my son on Sunday and he was dressed up as a skeleton waiting to go to a kids party but here it is mainly the adults that dress up (80% of the population are said to don costumes this weekend!).
However it sounded like the college town of Madison in Wisconsin (which I have been too) got a bit too scary last night."A weekend of Halloween celebrations popular with college students resulted in more than 400 arrests, and police used bursts of pepper spray early Sunday to break up crowds of revelers."
Four teams and a wedding
I was at a wedding this weekend. It was nice to remind myself that when I arrived here two years ago I didn't know a soul but in that time I have made some good friends. The wedding was in a small place called Janesville, Wisconsin (population 61,104) and there was one hell of a party at the reception, sparked by 3 best men, 3 groomsmen, 2 ushers and 6 bridesmaids.
I got home this afternoon to catch the end of Chicago Fire's
2nd leg match in the MLS
play-offs. Chicago went to holders DC United and won 4-0 after a scoreless home leg.
They will now play favourites New England Revolution
next Sunday in Foxborough, MA for the Eastern Conference title. Colorado Rapids
and LA Galaxy
will contest the Western Conference title.
More of a turn up was Chicago Bears' win away at Detroit Lions
today. The Bears sit on top of NFC North
division and with the Bulls
' young exciting squad starting the new NBA season on Wednesday, maybe the White Sox's success
is the catalyst for more titles coming the way of this great sports city? The White Sox parade in the city on Friday was said to have attracted 1.7m people.
Bolton home. What was the score? Lost 1-0
I don't know much about the game on Saturday but when the result came through it was not surprising, knocking us back to earth after the victory at Chelski on Wednesday. We have never beaten Big Sam's boys in the Premiership and their rough and ready style has always unsettled us.
Our home form is extremely disappointing and I'm sure Curbishley would swap a couple of our away achievements for home victories.
It didn't augur well when Bent was taken ill on Friday and as we all suspected we just can't afford for him to be out. Bothroyd, from the little I have seen, is not a lone front man.
Our home form is a cause for concern - The Valley has only seen 3 home league wins in 2005! Our game is well suited away from home and we play with fine confidence and movement. At home opponents concentrate on stifling Murphy and Smertin and with the trigger locked the wide men have to drop deep to find the ball and so often a the lone striker is isolated.
Whereas Bent can hang on defenders shoulders and get away on goal if given the slightest opportunity, the other forwards in the club cannot.
I would really like us, starting against United, to start with two up front, if for no other reason than to see Bent play in his preferred formation. Bent and Bartlett (if fit) or Bent and Bothroyd. Come on Curbs, why the hell not?
Reports from those that were there: Charlton Athletic Online
; Addicks Diary
; All Quiet
Royal seal of approval
Can you imagine how many football club chairman there were around the country today giving Charlton envious glances?
What a public relations coup for the club having the 2nd in line to the throne
running around Sparrows Lane with the players in a Charlton kit. Even Allsports' worth must have gone up?"You can really see that the kids love it; they've been having a really good time and been laughing at me looking like a prat,”
joked Kevin Lisbie as Wills caught him offside for the umpteenth time.
2 years on
Two years ago today I landed in Chicago with as much stuff as I could get into a couple of suitcases, a visa and an address on a piece of paper.
The move to the States was a long time in the making. I had interviewed with my new boss in the February of 2003 and spent a week here a month later. However for many reasons, mainly the time it took to get my visa, I did not actually get my arse on the plane until the 28th October.
It was something I always wanted to do and I nearly went to New York in 1997 but that never worked out. By the time I left the UK I had done a lot of thinking and a lot of preparation. I realised what I was leaving behind but felt I had to be selfish and do it for me. After my divorce I could have played someone I was not and plod on with my life or I could make myself an opportunity to pick myself up and start afresh.
The prospect of coming to America to live and work was one I couldn't resist but not a day goes by without me thinking of what I left behind.
Pre-What was the score?
I kept a personal diary. The first entry was October 28th, 2003 and I wrote: "(my apartment) is nothing like home and the bloody plastic flowers have to go."
Well, Chicago is home now, in fact I have two homes. One here and one, well at home. You know what I mean. Oh and no plastic flowers perrlease.
I kept that diary up-to-date for quite a while and re-reading it I seemed to be equally excited, apprehensive, happy and sad. I also used to write lists entitled: Things that are pissing me off
. Some of them still do and some of them I now don't notice.
Also since I've been here I have written a lot about America and the people that live in it. I have never posted these on here but I might just do that.
The second year has flown by whereas the first did not. I miss so many things about home (that home) but I guess I've replaced some things in my life with other things but there are certain things that I can never replace. My family, my son, my friends, my football club.
But I have fallen in love with Chicago, it has something very special about it. It, like London has a draw to it, and to my mind is America's best kept secret.
I would recommend anyone taking an opportunity to live abroad. It is enightening, fulfilling and a wonderful experience.
once said, Regrets.... I've had a few, but then again too few to mention.
A day not to forget
My day at work yesterday was pretty shitty, however it will be a day I am unlikely to forget for some time.
I listened to the bulk of the Chelsea game, it was interrupted for a while during the 2nd half when I had to take part in a conference call (I didn't say much) but I have to say the commentary on BBC Radio London
It was clearly one of our best performances in recent times and I'm just soooo jealous of the 3,000 (+ others in home areas of which I understand there were a few) that were at Siberia Bridge to witness a masterclass performance.
My brother and I used to say that you have to 'give it' when you can, and my did Addicks in the ground give 'it' last night. If I'm honest, it is actually scaring me to think that we are looking like a bloody good team at the moment, maybe the best ever?
don't like getting carried away, we Charlton fans know how to keep our size 9's firmly on the ground but you have to enjoy it why you can.
It sounded like each player was a hero last night and no one will begrudge players like Hughes
and Holland a night of glory. The old boy at left back I heard was unbelievable too. Recall to the England squad? Okay, I am now getting carried away.
Let's not become glory boys though, we have a huge game Saturday and wouldn't it be nice if a few more of those that were there last night went up to Blackburn?
So after I pulled myself together I had to go out and drink! My, the first one tasted good, I don't remember the last one quite so well!
We settled in a bar on the south-west side of downtown (near Greektown to those that know the City) and watched the White Sox
get the all important score in the 8th inning to win 1-0 and sweep the Astros
to bring the 'World' Series title home to the windy city for the first time in 88 years.
It was very strange though to see the team owner, Jerry Reinsdorf
, go up to collect the trophy - can you imagine that happening in football? Though, maybe its not so far-fetched at some clubs, that Jordan twat would probably consider it his right.
The real hero though was team manager Ozzie Guillen
. The outspoken Venezuelan tells it how it is and 'Ozzie's book of quotes' if produced will be top of a lot of people's Ch
ristmas list. He was already a god in his native country but the Southsiders will now compete for his immortality.
The atmosphere in the city after was excellent, with car horns sounding and people spilling out onto the street in the drizzle to shout and cheer. The cities skyscrapers joined in the fun too with building lights shining congratulatory messages into the night sky.
Tomorrow the White Sox parade through the city. The party has been a long time in the planning.
Chicago White Sox become 'world' champions
Ooh, I've got a bit of a headache today!
Chelsea away. What was the score? Won 5-4 pens (1-1)
I'm sitting here physically shaking at my desk. Faith is a wonderful thing, whatever you believe in. For most of us it includes Charlton Athletic and its nights like tonight that make you realise how special supporting them can be.
Congratulations to the players, the management and all the fans at the game. You were all wonderful tonight. God I love ya.
More tomorrow, when I've come back to earth.
Reports from those lucky enough to be there: cafc.co.uk
; BBC Sport
; Sky Sports
Sox so near to bringing it home
There were a lot of tired but excited faces on the way to work this morning. Last night's 3rd game of the World Series ended in a 7-5 win
for the White Sox after a record breaking 5 hours 41 minutes of play.
They played an additional 5 inning(s) in Houston after the game was tied at 5-5 at the end of the 9th. I decided to retire at 11.30pm and watch it from bed. I woke at around 2.20am with the postgame programme still on, checked the score, smiled and fell asleep. It was not until this morning that I realised the game didn't actually finish until almost 1.30am!
Tonight I will head out to the near South Side (I'm not that brave) to hopefully watch the Sox bring home the World Series to Chicago for the first time in 88 years. They have 4 games remaining to win the one game they need to become 'world' champions.
The last time Chicago won a major sporting championship was in 1988, when the Bulls
won the NBA. They also won it in 1991, 92, 93, 96, 97 and 98. It is the 20-year anniversery this season of Chicago Bears' Superbowl triumph in 1985.
When the Bulls won in 1996 after a 2-year gap four people were reported shot, 650 arrested, 38 stores broken into, 45 fires started to buildings or vehicles and 58 police cars damaged, many by flying bottles and rocks during 'celebrations' (more
Maybe I'll stay at home with a cup of cocoa! More tomorrow.
Sam could be secret weapon
The League Cup is surely a trophy we could win one day. Be nice wouldn't it? That ambition seemed to get some push back this season when we were drawn out of the hat directly after Chelsea in the 3rd Round.
They could put any manner of their squad players in and it wouldn't matter and unlike Arsenal and Man U previously, Mourinho takes every competition seriously. "If a trophy is there to be won, then we are trying to win it,"
Mourinho's number two Steve Clarke said today.
So what have we got to lose? Wouldn't we rather see us get beat 4-2 but give them a bloody good game or shall we play it tight but eventually succumb to a 1-0 defeat?
Obviously Smertin is not available but it remains to be seen if others are rested. I fancy us going 4-4-2, at least initially with Bothroyd starting up front with Bent. I think Kiely will play and El K seems a more likely option (wrongly in my opinion) in the role of Smertin than Holland or Hughes.
An alternative proposition, and one I would be excited about, is to play Ambrose in the middle alongside Murphy with Lloyd Sam out wide. Sam may well be our little secret weapon.
Despite Spector being decidedly uncertain at left back on Saturday, I would persevere with him. Powell will not be a better bet against Robben or Wright-Phillips. Oh, I don't know why we are the slightest bit worried....
It should be a good atmosphere though. It was nice to hear that we sold our allocation, I understand that the game is a sell-out. I will have it on the radio.
Come on you Addicks.
Housewives or White Sox?
A quiet and enjoyable weekend. Friday evening friends invited me over for some wine and stuff, and a very good job they did of it too. T'was most welcome after a busy week, which included more airports.
Saturday morning after I had cheered the Addicks onto victory
alongside a Forest and Man U fan in the pub I made the most of a nice 'fall' day and mooched around Wrigleyville
. Last night I ignored calls to go out and cooked whilst watching the White Sox win
the first round of a 7-game World Series.
This morning I played football for the first time in 10 weeks and I really enjoyed it. I came home after and did some painting (the decorating sort), finally the builder has started work on my place and I need to do some work before he comes back.
I'm currently sitting here thinking about my dinner (oh, I'm becoming so American) and watching the Chicago Bears
. Tonight it's a choice of Desperate Housewives
or Game 2 of the World Series. Hmmm.10.30pm Update: Chicago White Sox beat Houston Angels 7-6 to take a 2-0 lead in best of 7 World Series. In Desperate Housewives Gaby looks as good as ever!
Pompey away. What was the score? Won 2-1
There were signs of hope in the last 15 minutes of the first half. After being outplayed for half an hour and a goal behind we slowly started to string some passes together and Ambrose gave us a taste of what was to come when he was foiled twice by good saves.
Curbs said that "I think I gave them a rocket,"
at half-time and while I sipped my tea I hoped that we would come out and impose ourselves on the game. The thing with this team is that I am starting to believe we can change and dominate passages of games, and with our patient build-up create and score goals.
And we did. I thought Kish was excellent today, he broke down attacks and moved the ball forward well. Murphy made two killer passes for the goals. I like Thomas because he wants to entertain but he has a tendency to hug the touchline, whereas Ambrose and Romm like to get in the box, find space and both can finish chances.
Rommedahl's goal was a peach. He cracked the ball so hard I initially thought it had come off the angle. Bent was back to his best today, he was a constant menace in the 2nd half.
Ambrose was my MoM but Young was a calming influence in defence, particularly in the first half when at times we were at 6 and 7's. Spector was a worry but it was his first Premiership start for over a year and we should be patient because the Chicago boy has a influential fan club and they can't all be wrong.
Perry had a tough game but came through it with a distinction but the Herminator didn't. He was at fault for Silva's goal and his positioning was often poor.
Finally a word on Andersen. If he feels under pressure because of Kiely's presence on the bench, then he never showed it. He made a superb save from Vukic and looked very assured and what was noticable to me again today was how often the back four and Kish use him to start or continue possession. His kicking and throwing gives him a huge advantage over Deano whose kicking invariably ends attacks and not starts them.
It's great to see us back in 2nd. I wrote yesterday
about the Di Canio inspired game 2-years ago. I'm as happy tonight as I was then but this team is in a different class.
Reports from those that were there: The Sunday Times
; BBC Sport
; The Observer
Houston you have a problem!
Stayed in tonight and watched the White Sox
take the first game in the World Series 5-3
. Tickets were said to be changing hands for up to $8,000 in the days leading up to the game and the 41,000 in stadium had The Refrigerator
-esque closing pitcher Bobby Jenks to thank as he recorded the final four outs, three by strikeout.
Game 2 tomorrow. Go Sox.
My Chicago - #3 Wrigleyville
With all the focus in the city down on the Southside
, I took the opportunity to avoid all the media foucs and visit the area that the city has suddenly forgotten - Wrigleyville.
This pocket of what is more generally known as Lakeview changed forever in 1914 when Zachery Taylor Davis built what is arguably the most treasured sports stadium in the country.
Originally known as the North Side Ballpark, it then went through a series of manifestations -Weeghman Park, Whales Park and Cubs Park before a certain Mr William Wrigley
bought the team and renamed the stadium after his family. That was in 1926 and not much has changed since 1937 when the iconic scoreboard was added along with the famous ivy in the outfield walls.
The last major change to Wrigley Field
was in 1988, when floodlights were added but walking by today the diggers were in the stadium working on the long proposed bleacher extension.
From the outside the famous ballpark is less than impressive but believe me there are few better sporting feelings than being inside on a warm summer's day with 39,000 Northsiders cheering on their team.
Real Estate agents dubbed the surrounding area near the junction of Addison and Clark Wrigleyville and the moniker has stuck. The neighbouring streets give way to literally hundreds of bars - all packed before, during and after a game - and tall, thin town homes which are invariably split into apartments. Then on the roofs of these buildings that look over the outfield in Waveland St and Sheffield St, roofs have given away to terracing. A quirky but money-spinning feature
It is said one resident avoided the temptation to cash in their roof for years until Budweiser offered the owner a $1m to paint the back of it red and add the Budweiser logo. Money talks and you can see the Bud logo from most seats in the stadium.
Wrigleville extends from the Addison Red Line train station in the east to N Southport Avenue in the west and is cushioned by W Grace St north and W Roscoe St southwards.
Apart from busy loud bars, the area does have some leafy streets and I particularly like wandering along N Southport Ave (I used to live a mile or so south on this street).
The Italian Renaissance-inspired Music Box Theater
(3733 N Southport Ave) was built in 1929 and neighbours the Mercury Theater (3745 N Southport Ave). Just south of here is Coobah
(3423 N Southport Ave) a fun Cuban restaurant. Rise
sushi & sake lounge is good too (3401 N Southport Ave). My favourite Thai restaurant is up near Wrigley too. Thai Classic
is incredibly cheap but take your own booze as it's not licensed.
A good place to linger over a coffee and a slice of cake with the newspaper is Julius Meinl
(3601 N Southport Ave) and I like to peer at the wine racks in Que Syrah
(3726 N Southport Ave) for wines I can't afford. Ask about the tastings.
It is not in the wine shop that I spend most of my time, it is in Gingers Ale House
on 3801 N Ashland. It is the best bar for 'soccer' in the city. It opens at 6am Saturday morning for the early games, with the Irish barmaids looking like they have had half hours sleep (they probably have), they serve a host of beers and simple pub grub. I was there this morning, its ex-pat heaven and it could be a million miles away from the baseball mecca just half a mile up the road. Photos L to R: Wrigley Field; The famous scoreboard; Addison train station; Clark St; Music Box Theater.
A week of togetherness could be the difference
Just over two years ago a few of us went down to Fratton Park to see us come from behind to beat Portsmouth 2-1. A certain Paulo Di Canio came off the bench to mastermind what was almost certainly to be a defeat into a victory.
I believe that this was the last time we came from behind to win a Premiership game? Correct me if I'm wrong.
That game was my last Charlton away match and was played just a few weeks before I left the country for Chicago. It was one of those great days out - Saturday, beer, fun, footie and 3 points.
We didn't play well but 3 points away from home is always well received in my book, however you play but things have changed in those 24 months.
Firstly the team
was underpinned by Kiely, Fish, Parker, Holland, Jenson and Bartlett. This season only Powell, Perry and Young can consider themselves starters from then, although Kish was on then bench with Di Canio.
I still don't expect us to go to places and dominate games by playing bright, open attacking football but that is what we have done this season, more than once.
There has been a lot of disappointment after the Fulham
game, some typically extreme and some justified. Our home form needs to be addressed but games like Mondays are going to happen during a league season.
happened since Monday night is something that did not happen for the fortnight before that. Curbs has had all the players together training, eating, talking and promoting spirit and confidence. The majority of players had other coaches and players to do that with during the international break, some suffering the heartache of failure to qualify for next year's World Cup to live with. In Bent's case he sat idle for 2 weeks, Monday's 90 minutes will have recaptured his peak match fitness and appetite.
What will be interesting is to see if Curbishley makes his first enforced changes of the season. I think Spector, Ambrose and El K all have a chance of starting.
One player who has come in for a lot of criticism from most quarters is Chris Powell. Blimey, he wasn't that bad was he? However, the point has been made that he probably started the season as one of the fittest pro's at the club but 8 games have seen team-mates and more worringly opponents catch him up. He can no longer rely on fitness and wisdom I'm afraid. Maybe it is time for a sit down for one of the Addicks' favourite players?
I will watch the game in my favourite 'soccer' boozer over a plate of pancakes and a mug of Lipton's. I see we have sold our 3,000 allocation for the Chelsea game next week, so I guess some have chosen that over a tea-time visit to the rickety old stadium on the South Coast and I can't say I blame them.
If you are going, I hope it doesn't rain and let me hear you on the telly.
Come on you Addicks!
I was in Dallas Wednesday night, well actually I was staying at a hotel within the Dallas Fort Worth airport, which is 40 minutes from downtown and quite frankly it was scary!
I was mooching around the hotel trying to find a place to get a beer and a sandwich, although of course you won't find a sandwich in Texas. Not unless you call 2 loaves of bread, half a cow and a bucket of french fries a sarnie.
Anyway, I came across this big room with music and people hanging about outside with cowboy hats on. Curiosity took me inside and, well I actually videoed it with my phone to make sure I wasn't dreaming, but there were around 300 people up on a dance floor with full cowboy paraphernalia on line-dancing!
And this was not as I discovered a fancy dress party or anything, this was Dallas on a Wednesday night!
I soon scarpered and ended up watching the Houston Astros beat the St Louis Cardinals to win the National League title. The Astros will now play the Chicago White Sox to decide the best baseball team in America, sorry the world.
First game in the windy city Saturday night. Go Sox.
Fulham home. What was the score? 1-1
Just me and another bloke in the pub this afternoon. He seemed non-plussed when the goals went in so I assume he was a neutral.
Disappointing wasn't it? At times we looked really dangerous, particularly leading up to their goal which, albeit was a good one, was completely against the run of play.
And at other times we were sloppy and idea-less. Too many misplaced passes. Powell, Thomas, Kish and occassionally Murphy were the main culprits but Murphy can be forgiven because his range is so much more adventurous.
Then we scored at a perfect time. Murphy thumping home from just inside the box straight after the break. I do worry (its a Charlton trait) that if Bent and Murphy don't score then who will? Thomas, Smertin, Kish (obviously), the back-four don't seem to have it in them.
Then we ran out of ideas and our impetus and shape went for me when Curbs took off Thomas (who was poor) and replaced him with Bothroyd, who did alright, but where and how were him and Bent supposed to be playing.
I thought we might draw tonight. We were due one, plus we always find it tough against Fulham - god their support is shit, we should remember that when we question our own.
Fulham swamped the midfield suffocating Smertin but with players such as Boa Morte, Jenson and Malbranque they always looked dangerous and the Fulham captain could have even snatched it at the end.
Some people will bemoan the use of the 4-5-1 system at home - we do only have one win on the board - but once again when we were in full flow it was good to watch and you feel that we can get behind any team and score. Bent in the first half principally was a big threat.
Just a pity that Romm's first half effort hit the post. It was tough to do. The post is only so wide (*spreads fingers*) yet the gap between Crossley and the post was (*spreads arms*).
Another game in 5 days, better than a 16 day break if you ask me.
Reports from those that were there: BBC Sport
; All Quiet
; The Guardian
Sox go to the World Series
Late news. White Sox beat Los Angeles Angels 6-3 in the Californian rain tonight to win the American League Championship pennant and will go to the World Series, the first time a Chicagoan team have been in baseball's showpiece for 46 years.
Houston Astros lead the St Louis Cardinals 3-1 in the National League Championship series.
TV games suit me
I know Monday night football and next Saturday's tea time kick off are a right royal pain in the arse for fans back at home but it gives me the opportunity to watch us on television for two consecutive weeks.
Tomorrow I will slip out of work just before 2pm and get to the pub to watch the game. I'm not expecting a big crowd, but with there likely to be even easier access to live games in the future it does suit me personally although strangely I used to hate watching us on TV when I lived in the UK. In fact I would try to get to televised away games rather than watch them at home.
I was never one to watch other games either unless it had some real significance but I found myself this morning watching the Birmingham derby and yesterday I saw Wigan beat Newcastle. Wigan's success has been extraordinary and they haven't lost since we beat them but even more perplexing is Newcastle's ordinary-ness.
City's win at home to West Ham leaves us in 6th and tomorrow gives the players a perfect chance to get our home form back on track. I can see Curbs moving HH to left back dropping Powell to the bench with El K playing alongside Perry. This does give us more height at set-pieces. I suspect Ambrose, Bothroyd and Spector to be on the bench too.
The other factor will the goalkeeping jersey. Will Curbs put Kiely in after two reserve games and a testimonial friendly? I would rather the incumbent stay between the posts. Kiely will join the others on the sidelines.
These tough decisions are what Curbishley has been craving. Let's hope he makes the right ones.
I will join you for a pint (thank-you, leave the money on the side) but at kick-off 4,000 miles away. Come on you Reds.
Youga & Jeffers start. Sankofa outstanding
Even though we didn't play this weekend there were Addicks on show up and down the country. In Bristol Kelly Youga
made his English league debut in Bristol City's win over Tranmere Rovers with fellow defender Osei Sankofa outstanding. (more
Francis Jeffers got given another chance to start for Rangers today at home to Dundee United, according to reports he had a header cleared off the line but he was replaced in the 53rd minute. He is still to score for a stuttering 'Gers side.
Onome Sodje played but didn't get on the scoresheet this week in Gravesend & Northfleet's defeat at Tamworth. My brother was at last week's Fleet game against York and said that the young striker looked impressive. I think he was still in a bit of shock after seeing Kim Grant score. It was like Millwall all over again he said....
Charlie MacDonald is also there as is ex-academy midfielder Jimmy Jackson who has played over 450 games for the Kent side and their assistant manager is Alan Kimble.
One more win
I was out for dinner last night with some friends and the restaurant was awash with an excited buzz as news fed through from the bar that the White Sox had stuffed the LA Angels 8-2
in the 4th game of the American League Championship Series.
They play in LA again tonight at 6.30pm Chicago time and one more win will take the Southsiders to the 'World Series' for the first time in 46 years. The two Chicago teams have contested 7 'World Series' finals since the Sox victory in 1917 and have lost every single one.
I'm a bit late with this story but a few months back the MLB announced that in March next year the first ever Baseball World Cup
will take place. No American sports have any form of recognised competition involving other countries so this will be the first full-scale event involving major-league players representing their home countries. Importantly clubs will not be able to block any of their players from participating.
Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Taiwan, the United States and Venezuela have been invited to participate. A question mark remains over Cuba, whose invitation must be cleared by the U.S. State Department and then subject to approval by Fidel Castro.
It will be interesting to see what the American public make of it. Only 9,000 turned up to celebrate the USA 'soccer' team's qualification to next year's finals on Wednesday when they defeated Panama in Boston.
I was born in a house in Catford, my parents house not unsurprisingly, and spent a huge part of my life growing up, going to school (a very ordinary one which is now a Texaco garage!), and going to work. I bought my first place there, not because it was going to be huge investment (it wasn't), but because it was near my Mum's for Sunday lunch, close to my mates and easy to get into work.
I have a strange sentiment to it now. I have no reason to go there anymore. My parents have moved to Eastbourne, my mates have scattered and quite frankly there is not much to encourage me back, although I do have a kind of an odd yearning to put my head around the door of The Ram
pub, in which I spent a lot of my misspent youth.
I have great memories of it as a kid, the parks, the tiny shopping centre (before the stupid cat appeared), the wide tree-lined roads with double fronted Victorian houses, the library, the ABC cinema, the pantomines at the Broadway Theatre, the dog track, the bus garage, the Torbay fish and chip shop down the road, the nice old man who ran the newsagent's where I did my paper round, the butchers and the smell of the bread in the bakery on Sangley Parade as it was called then.
As I got older I used to detest it. Someone had taken all my childhood memories away. No one seemed to care about it or have any pride in the area anymore. It became dingy, run-down, dirty and perhaps to some who had not grown up there dangerous. The families that had made it a nice place to live had moved away and the people who took their place didn't give a toss.
It upset me and it still does. Whilst it was never in the same bracket as Bromley, Beckenham, Blackheath, Greenwich and Dulwich, it just sat and watched as near neighbours such as Forest Hill, Grove Park, New Cross, Sydenham and Brockley grew up and left it's snotty nosed kid brother behind.
The yuppies didn't care for it, the tube system didn't care for it and more importantly the council
didn't care for it.
But blogging is a wonderful thing and I have found someone who seems to care about Catford. Thanks to Casino Avenue
I have come across The Man From Catford
and I have linked to him over there on the left.
The other Chicago Addick
Sounds like Jonathan Spector did himself no harm in the USA's last World Cup qualifier against Panama earlier this week. He played the full 90 minutes in the 2-0
win at right back showing his versatility, which could be crucial when Bruce Arena considers his final squad.
Arena said of Spector afterwards: "A solid game. His first 15 or 20 minutes weren’t his best, but once he settled in he played pretty well. My focus is on 2006. That is the objective. I would assume a player like John Spector, if he is not a part of 2006, he would be a part of 2010 given the fact that he is 19 years old. It is a little bit of both, but my focus is on 2006.”
So Arena keeping his cards pretty close to his chest. The USA's victory meant they finished top of the CONCACAF
group for the first time in their history.
Chi-Town is getting quite excited about the presence of one of the Cities two major baseball's teams reaching the World Series for the first time in 93 years.
Last night at 'The Cell'
Sox made the most of a dodgy call
in the last inning (sic) to win 2-1 and level the best of 7 series against the Angels 1-1.
The next game will be in Los Angeles on Friday.
When I arrived at work this morning (around lunchtime GMT) I turned my computer on and did what I normally do and clicked on Forever Charlton
to see what the morning's news was regarding all things Addick.
What amazed me was the number of links to websites and blogs for today's Charlton related stories, and we haven't even played for close to 2 weeks.
The birth of the new season and the way Charlton have began it has seen an influx of new Charlton flavoured blogs. Encouraged by our fantastic start fans have taken to their keyboards and started tapping away and it has been hard to keep up.
Recent additions include Kinky Afro
, An Addick For Life
, SE7 Dreams
, Charlton Athletic Online
, South London's Finest
, Valley Floyd James
and Valley Floyd Road
and the sardonic Frankie Valley
have been around a bit longer and even ex-Addick and champion gurner
Andy Hunt has started a blog writing some interesting stuff on his life in Belize
Like our beloved Addicks it will be interesting to see if they can last the pace. Quite a few Charlton bloggers fell by the wayside during the early knockings of last season and as experienced blogger's know bloggers block can be sudden and frustrating.
However it is quite a phenomenon and I don't expect many clubs have the kind of blogging community that we have. Keep it up.
Bothroyd & Thomas shine Tuesday night
According to reports
Jerome Thomas had another great game tonight for the England U21's. Over 23,000 were at Hillsborough to see England's final European qualifying game against Poland and Thomas coolly scored the 2nd goal in a 4-1 win.
Down in the west country tonight Curbs took a strong team to play in a testimonial match for Exeter's Barry McConnell. It turned out to be a fruitful runout for the inactive Addick players not playing Internationals this week winning 4-1 with Jay Bothroyd claiming a hat-trick. Bryan Hughes got the other while Lloyd Sam impressed but missed a penalty. Bad news was that Sorondo was substituted after only being on for 10 minutes with a hamstring injury.
With Bartlett recovering from a knock, Bothroyd has made a huge shout for a place on the bench for Monday night's TV game at home to Fulham.
World Cup ambitions
Me and some of my 'soccer' loving pals stateside are considering a trip to Germany next year for the World Cup. It is always something I have wanted to do but have been put off largely by the threat of trouble.
Of course this is still a major issue
and something my American chums can't contemplate, particularly after witnessing the party like atmosphere in Chicago before, during and after the USA v England friendly in May
There are of course other things to consider such as cost, ticket availability
and the fact that talk is cheap. I am actually thinking about proposing on not following the England games and just holing ourselves up in somewhere like Nuremberg and watching Togo
or someone, befriend the locals and watch the English games on the box. To me that would be a wonderful experience on its own.
I guess we will talk about this more seriously in the coming weeks but it is of course a relief that we have qualified. I remember USA 1994 being a depressing time after our failure to make the finals.
From what I see and hear Luke Young had a very good game on Saturday and he will break Chris Powell's record tomorrow night if, as expected, he overcomes a dead-leg.
Rooney will obviously replace the stick-insect (christ if only Carl Leaburn had been born 10 years later, it would be him beating Powell's record) and we can only hope that Eriksson allows Benty his first cap late on. His arse has been well and truly stuck to the bench for the past 4 Internationals and I'm worried about wood worm.
Meanwhile Jerome Thomas
will make his 2nd appearance for the U21's tonight against Poland at Hillsborough.
Runners go missing in Chicago
A mystery surrounded the Chicago Marathon
this year. The organisers cap the entries at 40,000 but only 33,000 or so started the 26.2 mile course yesterday. A host of reasons such as pregnancy, accident, illness, change of heart and even death can cause people to drop out but 7,000?
It disappointed the organisers and raised questions about future entry rules of the race. London and New York are done by complicated lots and for Boston you have to qualify but the simple email admission to the Chicago Marathon's website maybe encourages too many less dedicated athletes.
Of course it puts me into a sweat even thinking about an email let alone running the ultimate long distance event but the marathon is a great leveller with 84-year old's lining up alongside Olympic Champions.
It was a great day in Chicago yesterday for running and I was down at the start on Columbus Drive at 8am and managed to get to various other places along the route to cheer people on.
Runners from 125 countries and all 50 American States ran through 15 Chicago neighbourhoods to seek huge personal achievements and very humbling it was too.
Of course everyone was a winner but the first man past the finish line (2:07:04) was Kenyan Felix Limo
, who I saw sprint past me at the 12-mile mark (above) and the Sumo Wrestler was bloody quick too! American Deena Kastor
was the fastest women finishing in 2:21:04.
Meanwhile after the Chicago White Sox
swept the current 'world champions' Boston Red Sox
3-0 in the American Baseball League play-off, manager Ozzie Guillen called for the whole of the city to get behind the south-siders. "On our chest, it don't say 'South Side.' It says 'Chicago.'"
I know all about rivalries but this city has not won a baseball 'world' series since 1917. Bring it home Sox.
Game one of the American League Final versus Los Angeles Angels
starts in Chicago tomorrow night. The winners of that series will play the National League Champions, either St Louis Cardinals
or Houston Astros
in the 'world' series.
A few week's back I spent a nice warm weekend in Munich. The birthplace of the Nazi party was heavily damaged during WWII but unlike a lot of other German cities which were just left embarrassed by the whole affair, Munich was extensively rebuilt.
Munich can be a culturally confusing place. It is known in equal measures for BMW
, bike riding
, high-tech companies
Yes people do actually wear lederhosen and yes they drink a shed load of beer and this was a week before Oktoberfest
. In a space of two weeks 3,000,000 pints are sunk in huge tents and there is probably that much again swilling around on the floor. There are more than 1,300 breweries in Munich, the oldest of which goes back to the Augustinian
monks in 1328.
The Munich Beer Regulations are the oldest written food laws in the world. They stipulated that beer could only be brewed using barley, hops and water. After its invention the culture yeast was added as a fourth ingredient. This process called Reinheitsgebot
was actual law up until 1988 but it is still adhered to by virtually all German brewers.
Beer gardens dot the city and they host thousands of people jugs of frothy beer. The worlds biggest sits 8,000 at Hirschgarten
Because of work commitments I only really had a day and a bit to get around town, but I crammed as much in as possible starting with brunch at the Glockenspiel Cafe
in Marienplatz, where Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's was holding a rally a week before the German election
The famous Glockenspiel on the front of Neues Rathaus chimed at noon. Watch for the cuckoo at the end. From Marienplatz we walked past the place where the open-air food market Viktualienmarkt
resides in the mornings, regrettably it shuts up at 1pm and we were too late to see the Bavarians buying their sausages.
We walked along Dienerstrasse and mooched around the cities most famous food store Dallmayr
, the Bavarian equivalent to Harrods food court, then from there we walked past the big designer labels on Maximilianstrasse and Munich’s flagship Hotel Kempinski
The impressive Residenz and its glittering state rooms were painstakingly repaired over a period of 40 years after WWII. At Odeonplatz monumental buildings surround the square at the start of the cities two finest boulevards.
Ludwigstarsse had a very Parisien feel, with a host of coffee shops and bars. This leads into Leopoldstrasse and the 56ft high Walking Man statue designed by American Jonathan Borofsky, which stands outside the art-deco Munich Re
The shops don't open on a Sunday, how refreshing is that? So instead of kids being dragged around shops, families spend the day walking, riding and just hanging out around the city. We walked through the magnificent Englischer Garten with its fast moving river, beer gardens, lawns, Japanese Tea House and horse trails.
We had breakfast at a place on Koeniginstrasse Sunday morning which I can't remember the name off but it was a great setting by the Englischer Garten overlooking some stables. It was full of families.
A weekend in Munich cannot be without a visit to the Hofbrauhaus
(AmPlatzl 9), full of tourists but a great experience. Lets face it German food is not the best, unless you are partial to pork kn
uckle and lard, however a good reasonable place to try some local stuff is Spatenhaus (Residenzstrasse 12). For something less German try Conran's bar and restaurant Lenbach
I didn't get to see the Allianz Arena as it is out of town (on the way to the airport) but it does look very impressive and the outside of the stadium changes colour depending on whose playing Bayern
. It will host the 2006 World Cup opening ceremony on June 9th.Some snaps:
Sparrows Lane will have been a lonely old place this week. I wonder how Chris Perry feels? Because out of the senior players that are left only he has never tasted top brass International duty.
15 players are out playing for their countries this week in such far flung places as Kazakhstan (Rommedahl and maybe Andersen
), Ecuador (Sorondo) and Boston (Spector).
Of course all eyes will be on England (except mine, I really can't be bothered) because you know the turnip, sorry Swede will play that fellow vegetable (string bean) Crouch up front alongside Owen and not the top English Premiership goalscorer.
As was mentioned today, Bent has scored more goals this season than the rest of the strikers in the English squad put together but as Sven is still recovering from the temporary blindness that effected him at the Valley on Saturday he probably hasn't noticed.
Let's hope if it is all going horribly wrong with 30 minutes left they throw Bent on, he was quite handy coming on as a sub (I presume for players such as Judas Defoe and Rooney) in the U21's scoring 8 goals in 12 games, only 2 of which were starts
. What is certain is that Luke Young should gain his 5th cap at right-back.
Of course, I like everyone else (Curbs is probably split on the idea) is hoping to see as many Addicks play on next summer's world stage as possible but at the moment only Jonathan Spector (and he probably won't be an Addick next summer) has his passport out on the sideboard and dusted.
We know of England's situation but what about the others? Russia and their captain Alexei Smertin play Luxembourg and then a decider against Slovakia for a play-off place.
Matt Holland's Republic are in probably the tightest qualifying group in the world and they have a huge week ahead of them with games against Cyprus and Switzerland.
Danes Romm and Andersen need to be a part of a win at home to Greece on Saturday to give them a chance of finishing 2nd and on-loan Thomas Myhre's Norway still have a good chance of 2nd too.
El Karkouri's Morocco have to win in Tunis if they are to beat the Tunisian's to top spot in the African zone's final group 5 match. Gonzalo Sorondo will be hoping for a play-off berth at best in the South American qualifying competition. After Ecuador they round off at home to table toppers Argentina.
Meanwhile Shaun Bartlett, who I expect will return to South Africa at the end of the season, has already hung up his boots
after South Africa failed to qualify, JJ (Finland), Kish (Bulgaria), Hreidarsson (Iceland) and Lisbie and Euell (Jamaica) can all book their trips to the Costa Brava as they will be watching and not playing next summer.
So a lot rests on the next seven days and let's hope we can be proud of as many Addicks as possible on next year's biggest stage when they appear on television with Charlton Athletic in brackets after their names.
The National Hockey League is back
is the start of the National Hockey League
and after losing the whole of last season to a strike it looks like fans are hungry for it as most clubs report increased
season ticket sales.
Last season's lockout
due to differences over a proposed salary cap only helped disguise the fact that the sport was on its knees. Crowds were down and television figures lagged behind those for American Football, Baseball, Basketball, NASCAR and some college sports.
Trouble is the sport is only really popular in certain parts of the country, the Mid West and North East in particular, and there was never enough ardour or momentum from either supporters or the media to enforce an early end to the dispute.
So it just lingered and it was weird during the whole of the enforced lockout, no one I spoke to during the winter was in the slightest bit bothered. Newspaper's and TV got very bored with the ongoing bargaining discussions and relegated the bickering to few column inches.
Ice Hockey, which was evented by Brits who after conquering Canada in 1763 played field hockey on frozen ground, was once big amongst the blue collar workers of Chicago. The Blackhawks
were one of the original six
franchises but have won diddly for 40+ years.
Last time out, season 2003 / 04, they were the worst team in the Western Conference
and I was at the last home game of the season when a sparse crowd at the United Center
booed their every move. But this time the experts expect better things and they have made the coup of the summer by signing Stanley Cup Championship goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin
I hope to get to a few games this season, it's funny because it was the American sport I thought I would get the most into but because of the 310 day strike it's been the least.
I have linked to the Chicago Blackhawks
over on the left hand side there. One interesting fact. Out of the 26 players on the Blackhawks roster
, only 3 are American.
The Blackhawks puck-off at home to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Is that a Liverpool flag?
The great thing about this Microsoft Word to Blogger posting is that you can blog anywhere, like on the plane I am sitting on now for instance.
I am on route from Chicago to Cleveland for a dinner tonight and then meetings tomorrow morning before heading back to Chicago in the afternoon.
Apart from the odd trip home
and another visit to Oklahoma in a few weeks time, I’m hoping that is me done for travels this year.
The weather in Chicago at the moment is still very warm; it was up in the 80’s today. It was very strange last night to see the sky pitch-black at 6pm but yet it was still remarkably hot. All the harder to except how cold it'll get here in a couple of months time.
The weather is expected to cool later in the week, which is good news for the marathon
runners as Chicago prepares itself for Sunday’s race. I will be there cheering a few people on and will write about it next week. Me? Running? You are having a laugh?
I had some people in the office this morning and my St George flag on my office door got a new reaction from a worldly wise American. “Is that the Liverpool flag?”
he asked. Worries me it does.
The baseball season came to an end on Sunday, well for the mighty Cubs it did anyway but on the other side of the city the White Sox
stormed to the divisional title
and meet today for the first of 7 games the Boston Red Sox
, in what is in all intent and purpose the Semi-Final’s of the American League. Despite the rivalry and lets face it I’m a Charlton fan not a Cubs fan, I’m hoping they go all the way. It will be great for the city.
Since I have been here I’ve followed the Cubs
, the Bears
and more so the Bulls
and I will also root for the Blackhawks
(more on that tomorrow) but it’s funny because since I was a kid I’ve always tried to support a team from other sports. In Rugby League I was always partial to Warrington
but don’t ask me why. Blackheath
in Rugby Union, Kent
I've followed for donkeys year in cricket but its not the same is it? I have a great mate, staunch Addick all his life and he treats Kent as an equal.
I can’t do it. Maybe my heart’s not big enough? There’s only room for one team in mine.Update 6.15pm (ET): The plane thing didn't work. I've uploaded this the conventional way!
Ronnie Barker RIP
"The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on."
The Two Ronnies."The search for the man who terrorises nudist camps with a bacon slicer goes on. Inspector Lemuel Jones had a tip-off this morning, but hopes to be back on duty tomorrow."
The Two Ronnies.
Ronnie Corbett (shop assistant): "There you are, four candles."
Ronnie Barker: "No, fork 'andles! 'Andles for forks!"
The Two Ronnies."What have I learned, Mr Mackay? Three things. One - bide your time. Two - keep your nose clean. And three - don't let the bastards grind you down." Porridge."Good morning Mrs fe fe fe fe Jackson."
Open All Hours.
"This Jamaican ginger cake's not from Jamaica.""So? We sell Mars bars, don't we?"
Open All Hours.
Chicago did you know?
Some more Chicago facts for the statistically minded:
Did you know the windy city is home to the busiest roadway in the world? The 14 lane Dan Ryan Expressway
carries 300,000 vehicles daily. Running from Downtown through the south side of the city.
Many airports fight over the title for the world's busiest airport
. Pre-1998 Chicago's O'Hare International
was recognised as having the most passenger traffic but in 2004 O'Hare carried 75,373,888 passengers, more than Heathrow
(67,343,960) but now less than the Hartsfield Jackson
airport in Atlanta, which carried 83,578,906.
Did you know that Chicago was the birthplace of Walt Disney
(1901), Ernest Hemmingway
(1899), Quincy Jones
(1933), Hugh Hefner
(1926) and Michael Flatley
Spurs home. What was the score? Lost 3-2
Immensely disappointed after today's game. I listened to it live on BBC Radio London
and then put myself through the pain of watching the match replayed later on television here.
How we threw 3 points away I will never know. The difference was in the strike-forces. They have 3 forwards that can score and we have only one. Bartlett was a waste of space when he came on frankly.
We can only hope that Curbishley's estimation after the game of Bent's injury, "a badly swollen eye"
is correct because otherwise it will be back to normal resumption up front without him.
Watching the game after did ease the pain, I was less pissed off than I was after the 90 minutes because I saw many positives for us to take forward. Murphy & Smertin dominated the anonymous Jenas and the past his sell-by-date Davids in the middle. Kish made far less errors, Rommedahl was a constant threat, El Karkouri had a good return to the first team and of course Bent was on fire, dispatching two superb finishes, although he did miss a sitter just before the break.
In the first half once we settled we played some entertaining stuff, once again looking exciting and dangerous going forward augmented with some simple and inventive passing.
However the problem is obvious. We race into leads and then cannot seem to close games down or clear our lines quickly, putting ourselves under pressure and conceding quick goals at decisive moments in games.
Nevertheless we are still 2nd, only Chelsea, Arsenal and Man Utd have started a Premiership season better, we have more than 2 weeks before our next game and I don't have to listen to any delusional Spurs fans rattling on about the 80's and Danny Blanchflower at work on Monday. Small mercies.
Reports from those that were there: cafc.co.uk
; Sunday Telegraph
; All Quiet
; Addicks Diary