Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Wigan home. What was the score? Won 1-0
Not being able to watch the game is desperate. Ignoring the commentary,
I started off by following the game on BBC live text, then tuned into Soccer Saturday
's internet feed, where Jeff Stelling purposely tests every football fan's heart rate with the way he builds up the excitement before announcing a vital piece of game news.
I was almost nauseas when with 5 minutes remaining Jeff suddenly announced that there was a penalty at The Valley. It seemed like a lifetime before Chris Kamara's voice broke the deathly silence and announced which way it had gone. Darren Bent stepped up and the crowd noise told me the rest. Then I just sat on the sofa in a trance like state flicking around every source of media available until the result came through. A mate called me with minutes left and asked me "if someone had died," such the state I was in.
The game passed me by somewhat, a few more grey hairs but an even greater appreciation for a man called Alan Pardew. His influence on our club has been phenomenal. He inherited a club in chaos and the first thing he did was to give us some pride back, then he gave us hope and we fed on that hope, as he worked hard to instill a togetherness not witnessed for a long time.
But now Alan Pardew's superb man-management skills, relentless positivity and match-winning technical nous has given us more than hope, he has given us a chance. Cheers Al.
Super Al: "We've got something going at the stadium at the minute and I don't think you'd find a better atmosphere anywhere else in the country. The fans were fantastic for us today. It wasn't a cast-iron penalty, he was certainly facing goal looking to get a shot off, but there was a big shout from the crowd and the players all appealed."
Keep the nerves inside
More inspiring words from Pards this week."The Valley is the key. When we say home, it is not just about the ground, it is about the fans, it is about the positive attitude that they are coming in with and how that generates to the players. We are not showing any nerves and that is a good sign. We are scoring goals and we are threatening to score more goals.''
Isn't it amazing the complete turnaround since Pardew took the reigns on Christmas Eve? If we stay up it will truly go down as one of the most amazing feats in our history. After weeks of inaction this month the games now come thick and fast and as Pards said, "this is our season now."
Although I think all of us inside are nervous as hell, the fact that we had written off our hopes of survival a long time ago has helped us permeate encouragement and confidence onto the pitch from the stands. Watford was a good example of that, when after a poor first half performance, the fans stayed true and put their trust in Pardew and the players to turn it around and we rewarded each other with our wonderful noise and their fantastic fight back. It is a 2-way street and Pardew knows that, and he continues to impress me with the way he includes the fans almost every time he is quoted.
I thought it was significent to read today
what Pards said of Darren Bent on the verge of tomorrow's game. "He needs to score goals for us. The pressure's on him massively now. Eight games to go, the big players need to produce and everybody else will fall in behind them."
Another interesting use of psychology by the manager.
Alexandre Song is the only doubt, I hope he makes it as his influence is vital, particularly with Andy Reid now confirmed as being out for the season
I have yet decided how to follow the game but yesterday in a mad moment I changed an appointment of someone coming around from 11am to 9am because I didn't realise the clocks have already gone forward at home. Therefore 11am would have been fine (5pm) but now I have this stupid person coming around at kick-off time! Der.
Promise me, no nerves tomorrow, keep them inside and give it everything.
Was the chant coming down from the high stands in the United Center last night as ex-Piston Big Ben Wallace, apparentely wearing his newly endorsed $15 basketball shoes
, drove the Bulls to a 83-81 victory
. It was close though after the Bulls blew a 12-point lead with 3 or so minutes to go but they hung on so I could witness my first win of the season, with 9 games to play.
That result last night also meant that the Bulls secured a play-off spot, although just qualifying was not enough for captain Kirk Hinrich: "We're beyond that, we expect to make the playoffs. Our plan is to finish the season strong and make a run in the playoffs. It's time for us to do that."
A bit different from my first year in the city, when the team could only dream of playing past the regular season.
Will The Bulls get Piston(s)
Off to see The Bulls
tonight, who play their fiercest rivals Detroit Pistons
, a rivalry that grew this season after 4-time defensive player of the year Ben Wallace moved across Lake Michigan to help take the young Bulls team to the next level. In my experience also, it's one of the few games where there will be a healthy away contingent, sparking a bit more atmosphere.
Pistons lead the Eastern Conference
but Chicago are well on course to qualify for the end of season play-off's and qualify well. Before the start of the season, coach Scott Skiles set a target of just 10 home defeats (they play 41 games at home, and 41 away during the 'regular season') and although they do have the best home record in their conference, the Pistons have the best away one.
The Bulls go into tonight's game 27-9, of which I have seen 4 of the 9 losses and I have only been 4 times! So, on that basis expect the 10th defeat tonight.
What to do
I must have dreamt that the Wigan game was live on television here in the US on Saturday but I have looked high and low for confirmation of the fact and it appears that I was wrong (sorry Nug) but the games versus Man City and Reading should be on.
North American based Addicks have been lucky this season as we have been treated (not that is has always been a treat) to plenty of live action, American directors often favouring us more than those back at home. I have found recent games a nerve wracking experience, although I have been lucky to be at a couple live in the flesh, and also now have tickets and a plane booked for the Sheffield Utd game too. Of course watching on television will never be the same experience than being there, but as a 2nd choice watching games live from my sofa is my preferred option, particularly lately as I've ended matches a gibbering wreck!
Therefore sitting in the pub with strangers, mostly those passively supporting the opposition is harder, and not only because I get some funny looks. Nonetheless at least I get to watch the game, which is a real bonus. Every season since I've been in Chicago, more and more Premiership games are carried on television. For example this weekend 7 games are being shown live and one is being repeated out of the 10-game programme. That's not bad and New York Addick
told me recently that there has only been about 6-7 times that our game hasn't been on one way or another.
So if we are not on the box, I have to source other forms of media coverage and I really don't know what I will do Saturday morning. I have pretty much had it with the Radio London
commentary, it drives me insane and I find it hard to grasp the flow of the game. BBC's 5Live
have had a recent penchant for commentating on our games live, but that is normally blocked to listeners outside of the UK. Then there is Sky's Soccer Saturday
coverage that one can listen too, or the BBC videprinter, which if you are large on nerve endings you can watch. And there are other sites that provide a similiar service as does cafc.co.uk
that gives regular match updates.
Grainy PC pictures for a price are an option I have never stooped too, or I could just sit here in a dark room and gibber away in solitude awaiting for my mobile phone to buzz, with mates texting me from the ground.
And of course I could just set my alarm for later and sleep through the whole thing, yep like that's going to happen! Of course if our season ends in relegation then watching us next season will be almost impossible. Ok, I know one thing at time....
Bloggers at The Valley
Tomorrow night will be a remarkable one in terms of the relationship between Addick Bloggers and the club. People often talk about the association between fans and the clubs they support and although Charlton don't always get it right
, they at the very least are normally at the vanguard of initiating ideas or accepting proposals designed to bring fans and board closer together.
I don't believe that any other football team, big or small, has as much intelligent, erudite, humorous and insightful comment written about them by supporters flung around the globe. It's unbelievable the amount of blogs, websites, fans radio
, podcasts and forums that we have dedicated to a small team from south-east London. Go on give yourselves a couple of hours and click on the links on the right hand side.
Well then, with lots of credit to Peter Varney, with I am sure no small help from Ben Hayes and Dave Roberts tomorrow night a number of us - I believe there were 25 from around the world in all - were invited to The Valley boardroom to be hosted by the chief executive for an informal get together and some nice sandwiches, with the crusts cut off I hope, to "discuss all aspects of Charlton life."
What a wonderful opportunity to talk, listen, meet other bloggers and the chief executive to discuss one of the most rollercoaster rides in the clubs history. Unfortunately its an opportunity I won't be able to take up as I will be in Chicago. There were plans to 'Skype
' the event but the club were unable to, but I'm sure to plan a trip home around a future date if this event becomes regular.
I fortunately have had an opportunity to meet Peter Varney in the past, when I was invited to attend a presentation in an effort to raise funds for the new North Stand, and although Varney has suffered criticism, including on What was the score
, there is absolute no doubt that he is a 110% die-hard Addick, and everything he tries to do, he does with the very best Charlton intentions.
There will, I am sure be plenty written about tomorrow night, although the club has asked that Peter Varney's opinions and comments be regarded as off the record, which is only right. So to those fellow Addick Bloggers that are able to attend, have fun, save me a sandwich and I look forward to reading all of your opinions.
England's national team - no freakin' interest, that's me. For $20 on Saturday during the middle of the day I could have gone to the pub and watched the best the country has to offer and Phil Neville, take on the might of Israel, their football team not their army, but frankly I would have rather stuck cocktail sticks in my eyes.
So shock, horror then that second-choice Stevie, with the glued-on hair is not good enough but not to worry he's only got a 4-year contract, so plenty of time for The Sun
to transpose his face onto some root vegetables. Of course second-choice Stevie, in using all his masterly psycho-gabble techniques, is trying to convince us that we played well:"We dominated possession, we had 17 chances - nine of them on target - and on another day we'd have won it comfortably two or three nil."
Of course Steve, just like Frank Lampard is world class and Phil Neville's middle name is not Neville.
Us Addicks were of course more than happy that Luke Young and Scott Carson didn't have to waste any energy on Saturday, although I'm sure Carson would have wondered why he was stuck in the stands instead of playing in the Wembley U21 opener.
Andorra up next on Wednesday, whose 1,299 capacity national stadium was considered not big enough for English journo's and books on root vegetables, so it's to be played 3-hours away at Espanyol's ground
instead. Yep, you got it NFI, I will be putting my socks into pairs instead.
The Shamrock Shuffle
After playing football just once since December the chances of me getting fit enough to run an 8k without collapsing were sadly small so I joined up with the Mum's, old boys and lardies for today's 5k 'fitness walk' on the lakeshore of Chicago early this morning. In fact, that's unfair it wasn't just lardies and old grannies at all, there was a nice mix of people taking part in the walk in beautiful sunny weather earlier this morning, whilst other fitter folk ran the 8k downtown.
54 minutes to walk 3.1 miles, not bad, particularly as that included regular stops for taking photos and a minute or so to get over the start line. And then I walked the 2.3 miles home, which was after walking to the start in the morning. Not a bad day's exercise.
said that 30,000 people either ran or walked today's Shamrock Shuffle
and it was a very nice way to spend the morning. Meanwhile outdoor 'soccer' starts this Thursday, although I'm already bloody committed to a Bulls
game which is a pain in the arse.
were wicked last night. The lively crowd at Chicago's Congress Theatre
were warmed up nicely by The Strokes
' Albert Hammond Jr
, who was promoting his new album. Then the Londoners were warmly welcomed onto stage by a surprisingly passionate crowd. Bloc Party have found it hard to break through in the States, although I believe are more widely known in Canada. Their new album did enter the Billboard chart at number 12 on release though and the hauntingly wonderful So Here We Are
is sampled a lot on television here.
Bloc Party with lead singer Kele Okereke exceptional played the majority of the songs from their first album Silent Alarm
and the recently released A Weekend in the City
including the new single I Still Remember
. It was a great performance and has endeared me to them, as it appeared everyone else there last night, for a long time to come, particularly after coming back on stage for a third time to sing Banquet
, a good 5 minutes after seemingly finishing their set.Snow Patrol
the week after next have a lot to live up too.
World Cup becomes irrelevent
Since last weekend after Ireland beat Pakistan in the cricket world cup I made a conscious decision to take more interest in the competition entrusting the good old BBC
for news and stories and The Times
for their world cup podcast
, and now I am absolutely glued to it. Not the cricket unfortunately because that forlornly has become a support act to the Bob Woolmer murder
My ultra suspicious mind always finds it strange that people are just found dead in hotel rooms, it is an unusual event, people as fit and as young as Woolmer just don't drop dead for no reason at all but the thought that someone who probably knew the Pakistan coach strangled him to death is completely incomprehensible. I mean dying of a sudden heart-attack is one thing, but strangled to death at a world cup, it's something you only read about in murder mysteries.
Talk, and this only from stuff I read because it is a non-event here, is that he had planned to step down as Pakistan coach after the tournament and blow the whole cover on the murky world of match-fixing, said to be rife in India and Paksitan, in a book he was planning to write. It also appears unfathomable that a disgruntled fan would kill the coach following their dismal defeat to Ireland. I mean, a Colombian defender was shot dead after scoring an own goal at the 1994 world cup, but excuse me this is cricket.
What is certain is that this cricket world cup will always be remembered for the murder of Bob Woolmer and not the event, unfortunately it has become wholly irrelevant. Sadly too, his tragic murder may also have killed the innocence of the game of cricket.
Fathers and sons
Whilst most of the fuss at the reserve game last night
was over rookie managers Mark Kinsella and Steve Brown plus the professional debut of ex-Dulwich Hamlet striker Chris Dickson I noticed another name on the team sheets when I was reading the report last night.
And it was confirmed to me by his Uncle this morning that a certain 15-year old school boy called Oliver Lee came on as sub for the Hammers
in the last 10 minutes to impress with some nice touches in the centre of midfield helping them to beat us 2-0, West Ham's first reserve win of the season, which as an aside tells me something about them this season.
Oliver is the eldest son of Robert, who once worked on a turnstile at The Valley and he has made a couple of cameo appearances for Hammer's reserves under Brownie this season.
This question caused quite a lot of debate in the pub a few weeks ago: "How many professional footballers have had their sons become professional footballers?"
The list is not long and to be honest very few actually reach the dizzy heights of famous Dads for whatever reason. Paul Daglish for example, now playing in the MLS for Houston Dynamo
and Jordi Cryuff.
Better examples are Jamie Redknapp and Frank Lampard. Nigel Clough wasn't bad considering his overbearing father. Shaun Wright-Phillips is adopted, so not sure that counts. Then there is Neil Mellor (struggling at Preston) and Nicky Summerbee (now at Tamworth), back to what I was saying before and let's not forget Darren Ferguson, but then again his father has often been described as one of the worst players ever to play in the Scottish League, which must be saying something.
Liam Rosenoir is making a fine career for himself at Fulham, the same place that his Dad Leroy started out his career, which also saw later spells at Charlton and West Ham.
However, perhaps the best example is in Italy. Father and son Cesare and Paolo Maldini, both European Cup Winners. Can you think of any others?
Young called into England squad
has been called up rather belatedly to the England squad by Steve 'very interesting' McClaren. How he was an after thought behind Phil Neville only Mrs Neville Neville and McClaren know. Whether he gets to play is unlikely though with Carragher likely to start at right back.
I think Young's form since returning from injury has been magnificent. Whilst Sankofa did an admirable job, the team and in particular the back four has been hugely enhanced by Young's play, experience and unfussy motivational skills.
Other key players involved in Internationals over the next week but hopefully not too many 50-50 tackles are Hreidarsson (Spain v Iceland), El Karkouri (Morocco v Zimbabwe) and Rommedahl (Denmark v Spain and then Germany). Of course 50-50 tackles and Rommedahl do not belong in the same sentence.
Reasons to smile
In a week with yet another blank Premiership fixture list, there are some things that have made me smile.
The first is that for the first time in 11 weeks I don't have to get on an airplane this week, a week that the double decker jumbo Airbus 380 arrived on the shores of the States
in a blaze of glory. Well maybe not glory but intrigue and a blaze of questions such as will this huge feat of wonder be used to make travelling a more pleasant experience by putting quiet areas, bars, coffee shops and beauty salons into the configuration of the plane layout or more likely crowbar 700 human beings on them instead. Guess what, yep get your haircut before you head to the airport.
Sorry, I was supposed to be happy this week. What else, oh what a nice surprise to listen to my favourite podcast on the way to work this morning, Timesonline
's TheGame with Danny Kelly
and they had an Israeli football reporter on there who declares his love for the Addicks. Who knew?
It's the first day of Spring today and Chicago rewarded us with bright sunshine and a lovely crisp day. In the 60's on the weekend apparently, which is good as I'm doing a charity 5k walk
on Sunday morning. I did say walk, running does not appear in my vocabularly unless I'm chasing a football or trying to beat the last bell.
I had to smile at Rafa Benitez suggestion
that the top teams reserve sides should play in the Football League, and the 'special one' chips in adding "I am not sure about them playing in League Two, either; they need really to be playing against good players, then they will learn more."
They really have no idea do they about the history and culture of the game in the country that pays them a living. What's next? Having a penalty shoot-out to decide draws? Oh, that was the Football League's idea
, well they too have no idea about the game those blithering idiots supposedly run.
And finally this Friday begins a mini-gig season for me. We have tickets for Bloc Party
, who are on a month-long tour of the States. We also have tickets for upcoming tours by Snow Patrol, John Legend and The Fray. More on Bloc Party after the weekend and probably very little on Israel v England, particularly after Darren Bent pulled out of the squad today. Even Bury fans are smiling at that!
Bob Woolmer 1948 - 2007
Tragic and strange things have happened a lot to Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan cricket coach in recent times but his untimely death on Sunday was the most tragic and strange of all
I have never been able to grasp cricket like others and since moving to Chicago have nigh on forgotten the sport exists but when I was a kid I loved everything about the game, if not completely understanding the complexities. My interest was probably sparked by my Grandad and I would sit in front of the television for days watching games unfold.
I inherited Kent as my team, probably because down the road the postal addresses became Kent, whereas mine ended in London, even though as the crow flew The Oval was nearer. I also had a couple of persuasive older, I was almost going to say grown up, but that would be lying, friends who were Addick supporting Kent cricket fans and they would take me to games at Canterbury, Tunbridge Wells and Beckenham.
The posters on my bedroom wall would change with the seasons. Derek Hales in the winter and Alan Knott in the summer. That Kent team in the late 70's was like Liverpool of the same era, they won everything back then and players like Derek Underwood and Alan Ealham just seemed to go on forever. Whether it's my memory or just rose coloured spectacles I don't know, the starting XI never seemed to change in those days. You could always rely on Knotty wearing his floppy hat, Chris Tavaré to spend 10 hours at the crease scoring 20 runs, the canny Underwood to finish off the opposition after Graham 'Picca' Dilly had loosened them up, Richard Ellison to be completely unpredictable and without exception for what seemed a 100 years a Cowdrey always on a Kent team scorecard.
Then there was a certain master batsman called Bob Woolmer. He had the most delicate of touches and wasn't a bad bowler either and without ever being one of the more higher profile players in the team, I used to watch him and think that he had the whole thing mapped out. The next ball, the innings, the match, his career and his life. He was a clever player and an independent and strong-willed man and the world of cricket, which I have sadly left behind will miss him.
Newcastle home. What was the score? Won 2-0
I'm so pleased I could've drunk a belated Guinness. Despite the Irish pub I was in this morning's television not bursting into life until after 22 minutes (crappy Setanta's
fault not the dreadfully hungover barman) I witnessed an aggressive and worthy victory for the Addicks.
The first half was dominated by the Geordies playing with the strong looking wind behind them but as the half wore on we gradually got back into it, although knowing that Darren Bent was not fully fit it was another blow to see Song go off with dreaded hamstring problems and Marcus Bent struggling.
The 2nd 45 started in the same vein as the first (apparently) as Newcastle got on top and I let out a sigh of relief as Martins put wide when he should have scored. However minutes later when I was expecting El Khak to find the North Stand upper with a centrally positioned free kick, Darren Bent stepped up and rattled the bar. With Given sat on his arse, Zheng Zhi was first to react and headed in the rebound.
In the substitute appearances that ZZ has made he had already endeared himself to Addicks fans and his aggressive and skilful play high up the field impressed me at Watford and he was hugely impressive today. He should have got a 2nd after Given superbly saved Bent's far-post header and then in the 88th minute a surge into the penalty area saw Solano bundle him over. Thomas settling everyone's nerves by coolly slotting away the penalty in the substituted Bent's absence.
In between the goals, I was a nervous wreck sipping at coffee, kicking everyball and talking to myself incessently. Fortunately most people in the pub were concentrating on the Liverpool game except for a lad from Berkshire (a Man U fan obviously) who asked me if I was okay at the end.
But looking back, Carson's injury time save from N'Zogbia aside, we were actually quite comfortable. The team chased down everything and didn't give Newcastle's players anytime on the ball. The back four was exceptionally disciplined and both Diawara and Young were excellent. As for Newcastle while Parker characteristically didn't give up, Emre and Milner were anonymous and with Solano and Duff surprisingly playing full backs we could have profited other times from the barcodes notorious porous defensive line. Both Rommedahl and Thomas played their part by attacking with flair and chasing back with vigour.
The results didn't go for us yesterday and we can't expect them all the lose every week, we just have to worry about ourselves and the good news is that Stuart Pearce gets to keep his job a bit longer.
Now there's another frustrating break, with players worrying off to the corners of the world to play internationals, but it does give players such as Bent (M), Song, Thatcher and Ambrose time to recover plus of course Darren Bent, who Pards has said will almost certainly be pulled out of the England squad.
Super Al: "We're making everyone a bit nervous. Saturday's results were disappointing for us, but we can only do what we need to do. Whoever plays us is going to have a tough game - and hopefully we've given a few of the teams around us a horrible afternoon."
itself was something I probably could have written myself if I had the time, there wasn't an awful lot to it. For the hour-long performance the audience interrupts a story involving a college student fresh out of service in Iraq and his writing for a literature class which is not only emotive and powerful but also according to the college president destructive. You never meet the boy but just the president, played austerely by local actor John Jenkins
, an army psychologist and the boy's teacher. At the end I felt that I'd borrowed a 300-page book from the library and read the middle 100 pages before returning it. Somewhat of a "did I miss something?"
kind of feeling.
The reason we went though was a friend is involved with the theatre company
and was in fact the main sponsor of Harmless. I've always liked the idea of local theatre and was pleased to support it as we might Timeline's next production, George Bernard Shaw's Widowers' Houses
, which previews in May.
Time to question the medical staff
This probably doesn't come as much of a surprise but I read today that Andy Reid will probably miss the rest of the season following an operation to correct a troublesome hamstring injury
. Reid has been plagued with injuries since his move to Tottenham from Nottingham Forest in January 2005, for whom he hardly missed a game.
In most of the games Reid played this season he was often our most influential player and although he has only played one game under Pardew it is a blow that he won't feature again. The club has been hamstrung by hamstrings this season, which in my mind says more about our medical team and training methods particularly I would suggest under Dowie, than anything else. Les Reed also stupidly played the Irishman through injury in December and those 8 games under his leadership will most certainly leave an indelible stain on the history of the club in more ways than one, and none of them good!
Pards was also quoted as saying he brought Reid back too early from injury against Middlesbrough on January 13th, I can only assume under advice from medical staff.
And there I believe lies our problem. There has been a whole catalogue of problems with injuries in recent years, whether they be early retirements, players signed with existing problems or a history of them, niggling injuries such as hamstrings, or simply minor injuries that seemingly last forever. The medical and physio side of the club is one area Pardew has yet to run his broom over and the sooner the better in my mind.
This weekend I will mainly be eating carbs. The reason being is that I have taken, well it’s only been 5 days, to not eating carbs during the week but only at weekends. Gay I know but my 40-year bod ain’t looking like it used too! But, how bloody hard it is? It’s all the things I love – bread, beer, chips, pasta, cereal and did I mention beer? Yesterday at lunch I was completely bored by the lack of things I can eat. Ok there’s fruit and salad and of course all the meat and fish I can force down me but its hard not to grab some lunch that doesn’t include two slices of carbohydrate surrounding something tasty.
A friend of mine has given up pasta and bread for lent. He’s Italian but as I told him I think that basically precludes him from being an Italian, I mean what does he eat? Gulps of olive oil with a glass of Frascati?
The other thing is that I have been out a couple times this week and I’m getting so drunk. Because I have to drink wine or even worse the other night, bloody vodka martinis. These hangovers better be worth it. Anyhow, anything goes this weekend, tonight’s dinner is pasta with rice and potatoes all served in a French stick.
Pardew to wait on Bent decision
Injuries have struck again in time for Sunday's game at home to Newcastle. Whispers earlier in the week that Benty will miss the game were found to have some legs as Pards announced today that he is "highly unlikely"
to play. Nevertheless Pardew promised to leave the final decision as late as possible. More on that story here
including relevations that Lisbie can shoot straight.
Marcus Bent, Madjid Bougherra and Hermann Hreidarsson are all fit though but Hasselbaink is out as is the influential Ben Thatcher. Newcastle fans have been pretty scathing in their attacks on Glenn Roeder's negative tactics that saw them go out of the UEFA Cup
yesterday to AZ Alkmaar and with their season effectively over I wonder what sort of team will turn up at The Valley on Sunday lunchtime. I am trying to worry about us though but it will be another nerve wracking morning.
The game is being shown live on television here, unfortunately on Setanta and not Fox, which I can watch from the warmth of my own bed and be closer to my supply of valium. So I'll be off to the pub for the 8.30am start, getting the benefit of the extra hour we have gained on GMT.
Darren Bent and Scott Carson today made the England squad
for next week's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Andorra. Do they need to play, is it that important?
Weakened and blundered!
Have been in Grand Rapids, Michigan
today. A nice little place 23 minutes away from Chicago on a plane over Lake Michigan. The cost of my ticket was a whacking $610, that is $26.52 a minute, an absolute piss take probably because I booked late as I couldn't be arsed to drive the 4 hours each way around the lake. Oh well, I got upgraded to first class and got given a free packet of pretzels.
A lot going on this weekend in Chicago. If you even only have slight affections for Irish Wolfhounds, then you can declare yourself Irish
, wear your favourite green jumper, drink some black stuff and wax lyrical about the potato famine and old relatives who lived through the struggles back on the emerald isle then drag yourself to any pub in the city and drink yourself into oblivion.
It’s funny, that’s reminded me of last weekend when we were on the Lower East Side Tenement tour
in New York. Again old ladies were trotting around on the quest for stories of immigrants and long lost rele’s when we were shown a coal fired stove. My family still use one of those everyday in the North of Ireland said one American woman.
I looked at her out the side of my eye and gave a sigh. Our friend then said "Is it called an Aga?" "Yes,"
came the reply.
This weekend is also the beginning of college basketball’s March Madness
, in fact it started Thursday. It’s a bit like cramming the last 4 rounds of the FA Cup into a week, with games being shown one after the other live on television from around the country. If you lose, you go home but if you win, you play again the next day until there are just two teams left.
March Madness or the Big Dance as it is known is quite an event. 65 college basketball teams compete for their lives and it does put the foul induced and cash driven pro game to shame. Anyway for those that are interested I have chosen my final four as follows: Kansas, Wisconsin, Ohio State and North Carolina.
Off to the theatre tomorrow evening to see a production called Harmless
being shown at a local theatre. I will let you know what its like.
I like the occassional flutter and I noticed yesterday that there was a horse running in the Cheltenham Gold Cup today called Bob Bob Bobbin
. I'm all over that I thought even though it was about a gazillion to one. Anyway I've just checked the result and it got pulled up! According the Sporting Life
it "weakened and blundered 13th, tailed off 17th."
Sounds a bit like me!
9 now out on loan
In case you missed it Nathan Ashton today joined Millwall on loan
for the rest of the season. I can only assume if Pards didn't opt to play him at Watford when both Thatcher and HH were out, that he doesn't feel the need for him. Dowie gave the young left back his only start in the Carling Cup at home to Carlisle but with fellow left back Youga on loan at Bradford it must mean that both Hreidarsson and Thatcher are at least fit.
Today also saw Myles Weston and James Walker move to League Two side Notts County
managed by old rambo himself Steve Thompson. Jason Lee is the club's current top goalscorer with 15 goals as County chase a play-off place.
This now means that we have 9 players out on loan - Kishishev at Leeds
and Lloyd Sam at Southend
both deep in the Championship relegation battle, Jonathan Fortune impressing at Stoke
, Simon Walton, who has never even appeared in a Charlton first team squad, either suspended or on the bench at Cardiff
, Kelly Youga at Bradford
and Alistair John with the league's bottom club Torquay
Whatever league we end up in next season, expect to see some big changes in personnel with 9 players' contracts up in the summer including Matt Holland, Bryan Hughes (whose house is up for sale I noticed last time I was home), Hasselbaink, HH, El Khak and Myhre, who has already signed a pre-contract agreement with Viking in Norway
. Remembering also that Song and Carson are on loan to us and there will be an almighty scramble for Darren Bent once our fate is decided.
Newell's old boys
To think I was actually in favour of the board considering Mike Newell as an option for our vacant managerial position in the summer. Well it seems today his gob got the better of him after he was sacked by the Luton board
. To be honest he had been on the fast train to redundancy testing Hatters chairman Bill Tomlins patience ever since, well since he was rewarded with a new 4-year contract in August.
After taking the club up as League One Champions and then putting in an excellent performance at the next level finishing not far off the play-off's it hasn't always been about what happens on the pitch with Newell. First of all he spoke out about bungs in football saying it was rife. However he has not named names and the FA seemed to conveniently swept it under the carpet.
Then he was fined £6,500 after criticing female linesman Amy Raynor. "She shouldn't be here. I know that sounds sexist but I am sexist. This is not park football, so what are women doing here?"
he spouted before then turning on his Chairman, "I have not spoken to the chairman for months. I cannot understand what he is doing here."
And they have not spoken to each other until today when Tomlins gave Newell the tin-tack. Just yesterday Newell took a swipe at Dennis Wise in the ongoing saga of ex-Addick Kevin Nicholls
, one of 5 players sold by Luton in the last year, and another one at his board for not giving him funds to help get them out of relegation.
Despite then being popular with the fans and the players the man who was appointed following a phone vote dubbed 'Manager Idol', has been shown the door Simon Cowell style but have no fear Luton fans because living on the doorstep all ready with his Pop Idol performance is a certain Les Reed
and his coaching badges.
Players from the non-league that have made it*
This is a list of players that have 'made it' after stepping up from the non-league to sign for Charlton. Some players became heroes and some were called Laurie Abrahams! Now these are only players from my time as a Charlton fan (about 30 years). For my slightly older readers they may remember the signing of a certain Derek Ufton from the then Bexleyheath & Welling.
Here we go in alphabetical order:Laurie Abrahams 1977. Signed from Barking.
Had a most ridiculous running style if I remember rightly but made it quite big with The New England Teamen in the NASL.Leroy Ambrose 1979. Signed from Croydon
Another popular striker who never scored.Gary Churchouse 1978. Signed from Windsor & Eton.
Basically rubbish.Paul Gorman 1990. Signed from Fisher
I liked him, he had balls but wasn't quite good enough ultimately.Sasa Illic 1997. Signed from St Leonards Stamcroft
Hero on one particular day at Wembley.Scott McGleish 1994. Signed from Edgware Town
Banging in goals for Wycombe, his 10th league club.Paul Mortimer 1987. Signed from Farnborough Town
He also worked in a bookshop and was a master find by Lennie. 200 apps for the club in two spells.Colin Powell 1972. Signed from Barnet
Legend.Peter Shaw 1977. Signed from Staines Town
Took a long time to settle but was eventually captain. One for those who would like the old days back!Paul Williams 1987. Signed from Woodford Town.
Another Lawrence gem. Was sent on loan to Brentford and came back a goalscoring machine. He never did quite recreate it after he left us though.
And there you go, just proving how hard it will be for Chris Dickson to make it
and although it is hard to believe that professional clubs' scouting networks can miss good young players these days there are a host of reasons why players end up in non-league football and as our recent academy products have proven that is not necessarily the answer in finding tomorrow's stars either.
is defined by making the first team in whatever level Charlton played in at the time.
Gangs of New York
74 degrees today in Chicago, what they call "unseasonably warm."
Our weekend in New York was fun. Plenty of culture and plenty of drinking. Went to the MoMA
on Sunday and did the excellent Tenement Museum
on the Lower East Side on Saturday morning. After Manhattan's land owners moved fashionably north in the 1840's and 50's immigrants mainly from Ireland and Germany converted row houses into tenement buildings which often housed 20 or more families in what were only 5 or 6 story buildings.
The museum walk tells the stories of the families that lived in these homes from the mid 1800's to when laws changed to make it financially unviable for owners to improve them sufficiently enough to rent them in 1935. If you were intrigued by Gangs of New York
and are interested in the amazing flow of immigrants into America then next time you are in the big apple take a tour around this area
The last non-league player to make it at The Valley?
Another signing! This time 22-year Ryman Division One hotshot Chris Dickson from Dulwich Hamlet
, who starred in the reserves 5-1 win at home to Fulham
last week. The initial fee of £35,000 could raise to £50,000 and will include pre-season friendlies at Champion Hill at the beginning of each of the next two seasons. Dickson was out of contract this summer and was being watched by a number of league clubs but Charlton stole a march on them and got him to guest for the reserves last week under the watchful eye of Alan Pardew. It is understood that Hamlet have secured a sell-on clause of 5%, although Dickson's previous club Erith & Belverdere are also set to gain from a clause in the contract that saw him leave them last season.
Dickson is the league's top scorer this season and has scored 31 goals in 35 games, however 6 divisions is an awful lot to step up. He can't be considered for the first team this season but will be allowed to play for the reserves.
He has been compared to Ian Wright, albeit by his agent and of course Wrighty also started life in the non-league at Greenwich Borough. With the onset of the academies, I'm not sure of the last non-league player who made it big in the Premiership, although Watford's Marlon King also started his career at Champion Hill.
This got me thinking about our last player plucked from non-league to make any kind of impact. Was it Scott McGleish, signed from Edgware Town, now playing for Wycombe Wanderers?
Clocks spring forward
Positively spring-like in Chicago today but we won't be here to bask in it as we go to New York tonight for the weekend, not to babysit the newest Addick
unfortunately, although if the boys were playing tomorrow I'm sure I would be enjoying a plate of waffles with his Dad
. We're there to visit friends who are currently living there from England.
The warmer weather coincides with the clocks going forward on Sunday, which is 3 weeks earlier than usual
in an effort by the government to combat the growing energy problems. Of course more renewable energy and less Hummer's might work as well. Daylight Savings Time as it is known in the States does not apply to parts of Arizona, for reasons not clear but it will mean for the next two weeks that the UK will be 5 hours ahead of Chicago and not 6.
Young Dane in, Fortune back to Stoke
A not so quiet day for the Addicks. There I was thinking the transfer window was closed and we go and blow 250,000 sovs on a 19-year old called Martin Christensen, who is according to reports a winger.
Christensen played in the Danish 1st Division (there is a Superliga above) for Herfølge Boldklub
, who actually won the Superliga as recent as 2000. There is a big bit about us on their website, which I assume talks about our "three-year collaboration agreement"
too and has a quote from new scout Paul Haverson. Anyone speak Danish?
According to BBC Sport
article Herfølge BK "have established a fine reputation for youth products."
Maybe he will have more impact than Kelly Youga, Jani Tanska and Rurik Gislason.
Nothing on Charlton's but according to Stoke City's website
Jonathan Fortune, who is described "as a rock at the heart of the City defence,"
has returned to the club after being recalled by Pards before the Watford game. This, I would hope, is a sign that Magic, Thatcher and HH are each going to be fit for the Newcastle game?
Meanwhile Jorge Costa - who hated Millwall by the way - took charge of SC Braga in tonight's UEFA Cup game at Tottenham
. I love old Jorge but I think I would rather have Spurs worrying about a big cup final than us when they show up at The Valley on May 5th.
Read all about it
Excuse me a little bit of self-indulgence. I used to love newspapers before I came to the States. When I was younger I used to walk my paper round with a newspaper stuck to my nose. I would read them back to front (always back to front) before I left to go to school. On the way to work the train journey would seem like an eternity without a paper and I cannot walk past a newspaper sat on a table without opening it up.
Therefore a trip home is an opportunity to treat myself to something I don’t do anymore. Ok, I might look at the front page of the Chicago Tribune
at a newsstand but never buy it because frankly it’s rubbish and yes the New York Times
gets delivered to my home on a Sunday and a flick through of that lasts as long as a cup of coffee.
The internet is my medium now but when I’m at home it is the printed media that I hunt out. So this morning the hotel put the Daily Telegraph
under my door, which wouldn’t be my first choice, but it was free and when they charge you 5 quid for a miniature box of Pringles, you have to grab everything you can, including the slippers – thanks very much.
I have actually taken to downloading the Telegraph podcast
and listen to it walking to work, quite good for a summary of the days headlines and a social whirl with the sexy sounding Celia is always good for a grin.
I know you know all of this stuff, because it was yesterdays news but indulge me as I review some of the items that jumped out at me in today’s paper.
Violent crime is getting more prevalent in Britain, there is no doubt and it scares me that the news is becoming more and more like America’s. Not even making the front page was the story of an 18-year old scumbag terrorising a young dad stabbing him on one occasion and when the father of a 3-year old happened to decide to take some action getting shot dead 8 months later outside his own house in Canning Town.
The American clients that I was with would give their gas guzzling SUV’s for a chance of Tony Blair being their president but meanwhile his last few months in office look like being an inauspicious one as the cash for honours affair rages on. Sadly this, Iraq and taxes are becoming the legacy of his 10-year reign, despite the film The Queen reminding us of more impressive times.
On Page 9 was the story of John Charman’s record £48m divorce settlement to his ex-wife. Should the breadwinner and the homemaker share equally in the couples assets or should the courts show some discretion? Well I got bugger-all discretion so why should Charman get any? I have actually met him, he won’t remember me but all I know is that his Bermuda based company
posted record profits each quarter last year and it’s fair to say he won’t go short.
Heathrow has been voted the 2nd best airport to get ‘stuck in’ according to a survey amongst American travelers. I’m not bloody surprised have you ever been stuck in O’Hare, LaGuardia or LAX? Amsterdam’s Schipol came out first.
A rare black rhino has been born at Paignton Zoo. The mother, who weighs more than a ton didn’t get much privacy as the whole thing was shown live on the internet
this weekend but there are calls again for its banning as breeders continue to find ways of interbreeding dogs to create the next handbag sized pet. There are now over 30,000 genetic defects identified in pedigree dogs. My favourite, the bulldog suffering more than most as breeders seek to change the shape of their heads. Life expectancy for pedigree dogs is now often less than 10-years old and your average mongrel will live 2-3 times longer.
In the business section, not surprisingly the Telegraph has a swipe at Guardian News and Media whose operations of The Guardian, Observer and Guardian Unlimited
are in for a rocky ride as they try to drag the titles’ operations out of the 1970’s. It’s strange when you consider that Guardian Unlimited was a leading light into the world of 24/7 web media.
Aston Martin hasn’t taken long to leg it from their fateful Ford ownership. My dream car maker
will be sold for around £500m, half of what the struggling Detroit based Ford wanted for it, to Prodrive
One of Charlton director Michael Grade’s first jobs at ITV will be to explain their drop in advertising revenue. Although reports suggest analysts and maybe those poor sods the viewers have been impressed with the Grade influenced new programme output so far this year.
And Premier Foods suggest that nearly one in five households are now eating Quorn. Premier, whose brands include Birds custard, Batchelors, Oxo and Hartley’s jam won’t find any Quorn in my fridge but they will however find five jars of Branston pickle, another one of their owned products. You can’t beat a bit of Branston
The sports pages are all about the Champions League. There was a brawl to match the Chelsea, Arsenal one at the Valencia v Inter game last night. Be interesting to see if the football league and UEFA take similar action.
Wembley which I saw from 5,000 ft on Friday is all set to host this year’s FA Cup Final, despite Multiplex missing another deadline and I note that a certain Francis Jeffers scored for Ipswich last night; I must have missed his latest big money move
. What’s that? Ipswich to New Cross in about two hours? Certainly do-able.
No West Ham news today – no gambling addictions, no trans-Atlantic parties, no racism, no fights outside nightclubs, no vote of confidences, just John Inverdale saying “Despite Alan Curbishley’s best efforts, the happy Hammers are not just hopeless and hapless, but irrevocably shop-soiled and the Premiership will be better off without them.”
I managed to change my fantasy football team around thanks to finding the latest scores in the Telegraph. Darren Bent unsurprisingly is our top fantasy performer with 98 points. 2nd best is Darren Ambrose with 58.
And the Cricket World Cup
starts Sunday in the West Indies, a place where American football, baseball and basketball have gained a stranglehold over the pastimes of the youth. Let’s hope we see some good old fashioned calypso cricket, although when I say see, I don’t expect to see much on the American networks. “Oh cricket, the game that lasts for five days and can end in a draw?”
Pangs of homesickness as I flew into London on Friday. I have always loved that feeling of waking on a plane to the rattle of the trolley with a cup of murky coffee plonked down in front of me and opening the shade to see the plane fly over London following the river down the east end and over the Millennium Dome, sorry The o2
, stretching my neck to catch any kind of glimpse of The Valley, then over Canary Wharf and the mini-Manhattan that is now the Docklands. Seeing the Gherkin
(now German owned
) sparkle in the daylight and the Lloyds building
, where I've spent so much of my adult life and then westward looking down on the flashy new apartment buildings on the river's edge at Wandsworth. A good view of the new Wembley's
arch in the distance and finally Brentford's little ground
before losing height and landing at Heathrow and being excited to get off the plane and drive to see friendly faces. This occasion like the last one being the people in the Charlton club shop, as I stopped off searching for stuff for my son and my office. Oh, I've become such a tourist.
Of course the awful traffic at the Blackwell Tunnel was a crash back to earth as was the rain that hit the windscreen but with every passing Charlton game increasing the pressure in my head of where my future lies, my son, my green card application, my job and the nice life I have built for myself in Chicago all assemble in my brain to create a chaotic and surreal picture of my future.
Free season tickets.... maybe
As I look to work out how I'm going to get to more games before the season is out, Charlton this morning announced that fans potentially could actually watch the team for free for a whole season. There are a couple of caveats of course, i.e. we need to be both relegated and then promoted at the first time of asking and you'll need to purchase a new season ticket by the end of April, when our fate will probably yet to have been decided. Nonetheless it is a proposal that is sure to put other clubs' offer of price reductions in the shade.
Full details are here
. It is some clever work by the club, which encourages fans to back the them now whilst the support is the most passionate it has been for a long, long while, and depending on what happens it could tie fans in for a couple of years.
Just a touch more than a fiver for under 11's and £14.50 a match for an adult North Stand ticket is excellent value, although perhaps not so good for a heart condition!
Baby Bentley's rear-ended
I'm not sure how long I can take this. I was in the car this afternoon coming into town after dropping my son home and stuck in bloody awful traffic with the radio on and shaking like a bloody leaf, and Charlton weren't even playing! What an amazing game at Upton Park
and how the Hammers come back from that I don't know. Although if the Premier League dock points
I will eat my hand.
With Wigan playing well and an eas(ier) looking finish I really think they will escape but Man City, who many of us had pinpointed as targets a few weeks ago are struggling. The fact that they are six points ahead of us and have two games in hand underlines how tough our task is but their games in hand are against Chelsea (h) and Arsenal (a) and more importantly their belief is going the opposite way to ours plus they're struggling for goals. Sheffield United are still picking up points but they must remain in our focus. I personally think that Villa, Boro and Fulham are all safe.
My Hammers' mates on Friday had all but given up the ghost blaming 'baby Bentley's' (see article in today's Observer
) and some expensive un-Curbishley like hasty signings. In their mind Curbs' was absolved of any blame although it remains to be seen if Eggy sees it that way
In fact ex-turnstile operator Rob Lee, who "can't drink pints anymore(!)"
thought the answer was in the youngsters and Mark Noble in particular. Heck what does he know? A couple of other West Ham youngsters to look out for both have the surname Lee by the way, perhaps Pards can get them a job on the turnstiles.
Watford away. What was the score? Drew 2-2
What an chance for Kevin Lisbie to change 2,000 people's mindset yesterday evening and perhaps etch himself into Pards' plans for the future - well we really should have known better shouldn't have we? And was it just me who cringed when there was a half-hearted chant of his name when he came on? Yes, we should have known better. And I know Holland missed a fantastic chance and Bent put two headers wide but please don't embarrass yourself by comparing Lisbie with Matt Holland and Darren Bent.
So coming out of Vicarage Road it felt like a defeat but I would have laughed into my beer (if they were serving any) if you had said to me at half-time that we would miss a sitter in injury time to deprive us of victory. The line up was a very different one from the one that played last week and Fortune was dreadful and Sankofa, who'd looked reasonably comfortable at right-back, was extremely unsteady on the left side and dear old El Khak was doing his best to get a loan move to Stoke himself so abysmal was his first half display. Fat Jim was back to his best and the midfield was getting over-run as Watford took us apart, just as we did to West Ham last week.
We were lucky to get away with two and there was a lot of shaking of heads at half-time. However Pards has amazingly, after all that we have been through this season, instilled some crazy belief and I could sense that
feeling around me as the players came out for the 2nd half a good 6-7 minutes before the home side without JFH but with an athletic looking Zheng Zhi in the ranks.
ZZ was excellent and his non-stop harrying allowed Alex Song to take control of the game and that is what the 19-year old did and with Addicks fans encouraging the 'Red Army' in Black to the hilt, not only did we get back into the game, we completely dominated it and some of our play, despite abject pressure, was fantastic. Young tucked his goal away like he does it every week, after a superbly weighted through-ball by Song and then as it appeared time was going to run out, substitute Rommedahl controlled another fine cross-field pass from Song, and dinked it over for Ambrose to get in between two defenders and send us wild as the players celebrated in front of me and my son in the first row.
Lisbie made sure that we couldn't pick up a back to back 3 points for god-knows how long but I would have taken a point at half-time. Being back at home has enabled me to watch chunks of the game umpteen times and how I get a buzz out of Pardew's celebration when Ambrose got the equaliser.
It was another great day out with unbelievable backing by Addick's fans. It wasn't the result we wanted of course but to see how together the fans, the players and the management are is uplifting and inspiring.
Super Al: "Ben Thatcher was a particularly big miss; that meant we had to ask a young boy to play on the other side and we looked a bit unsure and unbalanced."
Thatcher injury a big loss
I've not looked but have we kept an unchanged team this season? After Saturday's wonder result against West Ham an unchanged XI for Watford was a given but Diawara's booking on the last possible weekend to pick up a suspension put pay to that and now there are big doubts over Ben Thatcher and Marcus Bent for this weekend.
Thatcher is a big loss, he has been outstanding since he arrived and I can't think of a foot he has put wrong. He has been invaluable on the pitch helping transfer Pards ideas, confidence and calm to those around him. There was a lot of anti-feeling when he was signed but he has made a real difference and I would take real issue with fans who still ostracise him for past misdeamenours. His attitude has been first rate, particularly under huge scrutiny at Fratton Park.
JFH will take big Bent's place but replacements for Diawara, "the best centre-half you have never heard off"
, and Thatcher are less clear. Bougherra and HH are obvious choices but will alomst certainly miss out due to injury. The other option is to bring back Sankofa and play Young at left-back with the returning Fortune, with much needed match practice under his belt, coming in alongside El Khak.
One area that should pick itself is the one that has caused us the most problems this season - the midfield, where hopefully Song who was key to us playing at such a high tempo Saturday, will continue to impress alongside Matt Holland. Let's also hope that Ambrose and Thomas have left a little bit back after their inspirational displays last week.
And anyone know where Andy Reid is? The old porker
was last heard off sneaking back into his Marbella hotel room after breaking curfew on the recent trip to get some late night paella. Seriously having him back challenging for a place will be another big lift in our relegation fight.
Talking of which many Addicks seem fixated on Wigan but their recent displays have been as good as ours and with the excellent Paul Jewell in charge, players returning to fitness and an easy-ish run in, I reckon they could beat the drop too. Sheffield United and Man City are a different proposition though.
The Shower Gel Oscars
Just to prove that I don't spend all my time thinking about football, work, beer, blondes and what I'm going to have for my dinner, I thought I would bring you the real Oscars... The Shower Gel Oscars. As some of you know, this is a constant irritant of mine, and not just caused by a dodgy capsule of Imperial Leather.
I for my sins spend a lot of time in hotel rooms and therefore it's showers and, not much gets on my wick except when you're standing in the shower all wet only to find, often at best, a thimble of shower gel or even worse nothing at all except a crusty bar of soap wrapped in cellophane.
Now, because I stay in a lot of hotels and like a shower in the morning and am very sad I have taken to writing down my shower gel experiences, sorry you seems to think that's unusual? Anyway to jump on the Academy Award
bandwagon, I thought I would present to you the first annual Chicago Addick's Shower Gel Oscars™"You want more?" the audacity to ask for more awardWinner: Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood, Los Angeles.This hotel was so up it's own arse that you daren't get dirty.A close 2nd: The Fairmont, BostonThe nothing but water and thin air awardWinner: The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New YorkThis famous landmark hotel has yet to realise that the world has moved on from Pears.A close 2nd: The Park Hilton, MunichThe enough shower gel to wash Andy Reid twice awardWinner: The Walden Country Inn, Aurora, OhioIn the middle of nowhere. I stay here a lot and only because it has more shower Gel than Boots.A close 2nd: The Great Eastern, London
More next week when I will be judging the best hotel robes and how to get them in your suitcase without them appearing on your bill....