After a draining day at work, when I got home last night I had nothing to kick or vent my frustration on. There is no dog in our house, despite my canine-loving-other-half's wishes, so I suggested we both go to the driving range at the Bermuda Golf Academy and smack a few balls instead.
So we did, and when we got there unbeknown to us it had the added bonus of having an Indian restaurant on site too. Fan-bloody-tastic. We preceeded to hit our way through a bucket of balls but I was becoming more and more conscious of the three people next to me swinging wildly and missing and when they did connect pinging the ball low and at severe angles.
Sure enough, the woman lets out a mighty scream and collapses to the ground holding her head while one of the blokes stands over her with his golf club in hand looking remorseful. Claret everywhere and I rush off to get the owner and call an ambulance.
"Happens all the time," said the owner. We hit our last few balls and headed off past the fire engine that doubles as an ambulance with the smell of curry in our noses. "Shall we?" I said.
Oh yes, a chicken dansak and a few Kingfishers and the world was a better place.
¶ 08:50 |
Sunday, 26 April 2009
Bailey named Player of the Year
No surprise there, if I could have found someone to give my vote to before the Birmingham and Blackpool games, then I would have done likewise. Rightly Rob Elliot was second, albeit distant and Mark Hudson came 3rd. Less than 5,000 votes were cast I understand but I reckon Bailey was a worthy winner. Jonjo Shelvey won the Young Player of the Year.
However can someone explain to me what a 'Palace medal' is? What the fuck. Please don't tell me someone actually thought about this and convinced others this was a good idea. What sort of people do we have running our Supporters Club? Are they 12?
¶ 21:21 |
Derby County 1 Charlton 0
I'm reading The Damned United by David Peace at the moment, a book based on Brian Clough's 45 days in charge of Leeds United in 1974. Running parallel to Cloughie's disastrous time at Elland Road, the book also reflects on his glory years with Derby County. The Rams are a mid-sized, one city club with a wonderful history and a Pride Park crowd of 31,541 yesterday reflects how desperate their fans are for a return to the glory times after one embarrassing season in the Premiership. Derby are now under the guidance of Clough's youngest son, who features a lot in the book as a child, Nigel and I personally hope they do well next season.
Yesterday's game started with Derby legend Dave Mackay being introduced to the crowd before the game followed by Sir Chris Powell, who presented Derby's player of the year award to Rob Hulse. There are very few players in the modern game who are worshipped as much by two sets of fans as Chrissy and I am sure his warm smile would have cheered Addicks probably questioning their sanity of why they had made the journey in the first place.
Reports confirm though the 619 Addicks in attendance enjoyed their day in true old fashioned style. The gallows humour and amusing songs I hope are a precedent for what we can hope to expect on our travels next season.
By the way, if you didn't already know, or hadn't guessed... We lost.
Old San Juan, Puerto RicoIt's a been a while since we were in Old San Juan, and what a beautiful little place it was. We flew to Puerto Rico from Miami in February and stayed in an ocean fronted town called Carolina, which was close to the airport and a short cab ride away from El Viejo San Juan, or Old San Juan.
Established in 1521, San Juan is the second-oldest European-founded settlement in the Americas (after Santo Domingo) and the oldest under US jurisdiction. Shoehorned onto a tiny islet that guards the entrance to San Juan harbor, the atmospheric 'Old City' juxtaposes historical authenticity with pulsating modern energy in a seven-square-block grid of streets that was inaugurated almost a century before the Mayflower laid anchor in present day Massachusetts.
Surreal sounds and exotic sights resonate everywhere. Blue cobblestones glistening in the sunlight, the rythmic sounds of a salsa stanza drfiting out of welcoming narrow bars, busy people not knowing if they are Spanish or American walking quickly down to the harbour, and the omnipresent roar of Atlantic breakers battling mercilessly with the sturdy 500-year-old fortifications of El Morro, which protects this wonderful city. Old San Juan is more than a dizzying collection of well-polished colonial artifacts, but it is a great place to start. Fort San Felipe del Morro was named in honour of King Phillip II and the fortress was restored in 1992 to its historical form to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Puerto Rico by Christopher Columbus. We decided against entering it's maze of tunnels, dungeons, barracks, outposts and ramps, but instead sat on the grass outside and watched kids fly balloons and listened to the sea crackle against it's timeworn 140-feet high and 18-foot thick walls.
Alongside the ocean is the Cemeterio de San Juan. I'm not usually one for cemetaries but I was obsessed by this one. It's elaborate tombstones against a backdrop of ocean and sky was very picturesque. The city includes more than 400 carefully restored 16th and 17th century Spanish colonial buildings and there are many must-sees. El Cuartel de Ballajá, once a barracks for the Spanish militia is now a museum and is a beautiful example of Spanish architecture (left). The Iglesia de San Jose (San Juan Church) began construction in 1523 and oversees the Plaza San Jose. The Calle Del Cristo is a famed and atmospheric street with the Capilla del Cristo (right) chapel at one end not far from the San Juan Gate, the ancient entrance to the city built in the late 1700's and one of six heavy doors that used to be shut at sundown to protect against invaders.
Just before the San Juan Gate explore the Hotel El Convento, a beautiful hotel and previously a convent built in 1646 and converted to a hotel by Mr RF Woolworth of Woolies fame. It has a great little bar. The impressive Teatro Tapia is on Calle Fortaleza, another street that must have gone through hundreds of reincarnations but one constant would have been the formidable La Fortaleza (left), the almost 500-year old Governor's Residence, all 170 of them have lived here including the incumbent and free tours are available.
The Paseo La Princesa is a tree lined walk with gardens, benches, and street vendors. The promenade takes you along the outside of the city wall and hosts varying art displays, an open air photographic collection took precedency when we visited. Walk to the end and throw a couple of coins in the The Raices Fountain and make a wish to come back to this hauntingly beautiful place (right).
It is at this end of the city that the huge cruise liners bring tourists into Puerto Rico and accordingly this is where the tourist centre is, an impressive building called La Casita (Little House), it's not particularly little.
Walk back up anyone of the cobbled narrow streets into the heart of the town full of squares, the largest being Plaza de Armas on San José Street. The fountain features four statues representing the four seasons. Plaza de Colón is named after Colombus and the Plaza de San Jose is a favourite meeting place with a bronze statue at it's centre of Juan Ponce de León, the great Spanish explorer and first Governor of Puerto Rico.
Old San Juan has a very good dining and bar scene and as not to disappoint we gave a few places a little once over. We had dinner at Toro Salao, a tapas place with a beautiful outside setting, then drinks at the lively Parrot Club. The food came recommended but we just got stuck into a few margaritas even though the place is known as 'la casa del mojito' - the home of the mojito. I once had a bad mojito experience so I ducked them. On certain nights the Parrot Club has live music too.
Earlier in the day we threw ourselves back in time we visited La Bombonera. For decades it was a rendezvous for the island's literati and for Old San Juan families. But even now old men were haunched over cups of thick black coffee gesticulating wildly with their hands. Pop into La Bombonera if only to try the homemade flans and watch the surly old man behind the counter, who I reckoned has worked here since La Bombonera opened in 1902.
For more than flans and tapas the area located between Sol and Norzagaray Streets, is la Calle San Sebastián, known for it's nightlife and in particular the Café Hijos de Borinquen (51 San José), previously a meeting place of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, but now a meeting place of hot and sweaty locals dancing to loud, loud music.
Old San Juan's colonial architecture and blue cobblestone streets (right) with it's colourful buildings and hanging ornate balconies seemingly tilting over, almost touching those on the other side of the street make you feel like you have gone back in time, yet Old San Juan has all the trappings, the best bits of America too.
¶ 11:31 |
For those of you who have no clue what I am on about, the Bermuda Hogges are the island's very own semi-professional football team that compete in the USLSecond Division, the third tier of the American 'Soccer' Pyramid. The USL season has already kicked off and the Hogges' first game is away tonight at staunch rivals Crystal Palarse Baltimore, the sister team of Croydon's finest, founded by the Orange one in 2006. Tickets are on sale on the night ($16!) so if you're in the area, get your Addicks top and get down there!
With little or no apparent news on the Bermuda Hogges, I haven't therefore a clue how their pre-season went or who they have playing for them. I did read that the Hogges lost striker John Barry Nusum, one of their few full-time pros to Palarse Baltimore of all places but plan to sign Trinidad and Tobago's Marlon Rojas, a midfielder currently training on the island.
This is a list of their league fixtures and I do plan to get across to the National Stadium this summer to see Bermuda's finest.
Addicks form continues to improve under Parky
Drat and damn. Without even so much as kicking a ball, Charlton effectively moved of the bottom of the table this afternoon when Southampton were hit by a 10-point deduction following an investigation by the Football League, using "independent forensic accountants" who found that Southampton Leisure Holdings Plc were "inextricably linked as one economic entity" to the football club and therefore suffered the mandatory penalty. Southampton FC plan to appeal (more).
Parky will be giving it even more large tomorrow during his press conference. How the 10-point deduction works is interesting and it won't be placed on the Saints until season-end. If they do finish outside the bottom three and with a home game to Burnley and an away at Forest, it is still possible then the 10-points will be imposed then and therefore relegating them.
If they finish bottom three anyway, then the 10-points will be carried over until next season, meaning Southampton start bottom, giving us a better chance of staying up! I know, not remotely funny.
The immediate problem for Southampton is finding a backer, an individual or a group who can make some immediate cash available, something that Charlton did recently. One thing Southampton have got worth some money is their academy and a number of good young prospects. Of course coming out of administration the 'wrong way' will also alert the Football League to further consideration of taking points off, such has happened to Luton, Rotherham and Leeds.
Finally how would we feel last game of the season if by beating Norwich that meant Southampton finished out of the bottom three and their points punishment was dished out this season and not next? Interesting. Nope, I see what I've done there, I said if we were beating Norwich. How silly.
¶ 12:53 |
Roy Keane and the reclusive Marcus Evans
Ipswich sack their manager because 9th is not good enough. It's amazing what a bit of money and decisiveness can do. So Roy Keane will follow such gentlemen as Sir Alf Ramsey, Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson, John Lyall and Joe Royle. Interesting times in carrot cruncher land with the mysterious owner Bermudian 'based' Marcus Evans promising to give Keane £20m to spend on new players.
I personally would love to see Matt Holland stay with us next season, he has been a model professional, but with uncertainity ahead I wouldn't be suprised if Keane tries to prise his ex-Irish team mate back to Portman Road.
It is said that Evans has never been in the Ipswich boardroom but with former British Olympic Association chief Simon Clegg the new CEO, the timing of Magilton's departure and Keane's arrival was probably no coincidence. Evans, according to his companies website"employs more than 3,500 people in more than 36 countries around the globe delivering intelligence and business products across a full range of commercial sectors, including capital markets, life sciences, defence, healthcare, information technology and legal". All 15 of his firms are registered in Bermuda. None of that will probably be of interest to Keane and his dogs, although perhaps I'll keep an eye out for him when he comes to discuss his summer transfers with Evans!
We will have smaller sardines to fry next season, but as the bookies fall over themselves to install QPR and Ipswich as joint Championship title favourites, the division just does not work like that. What will happen is that teams such as Derby and Reading in particular will be troubled in the knowledge of what happened to us in our 2nd season as they again have to restructure their finances to compete with the already stable clubs such as Burnley, Preston and Bristol City and the QPR's and Ipswich's plus those relegated from the Premiership.
Changing tack, I was humoured to read about Blackpool fans being charged for entering the field of play after Lee Hughes equalised last week. Apparently 7 were arrested but then one was de-arrested. What does that mean? They face convictions such as banning orders, which sounds a bit bloody harsh to me.
¶ 08:34 |
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Charlton 2 Cardiff City 2Hooray, 6 games unbeaten. No it's tiring. And pathetic. Admittedly I was listening to some complete dope on CAFC TV, but after we went 2-0 it was a tactically inept performance. That is the 13th time this season we have lost a game we were leading, 13th! And Gabor Gyepes last minute equaliser was the 68th goal we have conceded this season.
We have lacked tactical nous, organisation and mental strength. And this comes from within, from coaching. Where is the motivation? Where is the leadership?
To me Parkinson is now all about himself. He won't play the youngsters or change the team because he is trying to improve his disastrous record and continue in this job or improve his chances elsewhere. Tuna should have got another chance tonight. And Solly, Arter, Wagstaff plus Fleetwood all deserve an opportunity. Give me a reason why not? I'll tell you because it is all about Parkinson and not the future of Charlton Athletic.
You should have heard Steve Brown on BBC Radio London after the game. He cared, he really does. He is you or me.
There were less than 10,000 Addicks at The Valley tonight. A mate told me that the Covered End turned on Parkinson at the end, can you blame them? And if I was Murray, Chappell or Waggott those rows and blocks of empty red seats would make my mind up for me.
A more sensible approach needed
Ignore the official attendance, tonight The Valley could see the most empty seats since we returned in 1992. I have total respect for those who continue to show up and back the team, although one would presume the club's efforts to 'sell' season tickets to these fans is like selling hamburgers to Americans. It is of course the stay-aways that need convincing.
For Cardiff's part, they are almost guaranteed a play-off spot, but I wonder how many Welshmen will make the trip tonight after their freak 6-0 defeat at Preston on Saturday?
As I said after the Blackpool game there is no reason to play Butterfeet, ZZ, Ward or Kandol tonight. Tuna did enough for me on Saturday to warrant a start, preferably in a front two with Burton. I would hope the Covered End can come up with something more inventive than the repetitious "Tuna, Tuna" for the lad. Did anyone else notice how he played off the shoulder of their last defender? Very Darren Bent I thought.
I read with dismay Steve Waggott's page in Saturday's programme. Whether he feels it necessary or not to tell us "it's very much a one-year plan targeting an immediate return to the Championship," I don't know but it had me shaking my head. Don't we ever learn? They may as well throw in a free-season ticket as well.
"Determined that there will be a change for the better," is not kidding anyone. I would much rather the board have a simplier target and budget accordingly that we just need to sustain a challenge and any play-off possibilities would be an added bonus. Why do a halfway house restructuring? Forward planning has not been the board's forté in the past and I think most of us would respect a more holistic approach to next season.
¶ 13:05 |
Monday, 20 April 2009
Lille, France5 hours was never going to be enough to experience a city that since it’s birth 10 centuries ago has been fought over by the County of Flanders, Flemish, Austrians and the French. In fact it’s proximity to Belgium gives Lille its biggest influence where moules-frites and waffles replace frogs legs and cheese.
Lille by train is less than an hour from Ashford and makes a day trip very accessible, even though the customs bloke thought that we had booked our tickets wrongly. “You’re coming back later?” he proclaimed. We began from the Lille Europe station next to the huge modern Eurolille mall incorporating an office building resembling a huge ski-boot. Then walking down past it’s 19th Century grandmother the Gare Lille Flandres (left), which in fact is the original Paris Gare Du Nord transported brick by brick from the capital.
At the busy intersection we were met by a whole family of some very strange baby dragon hybrid statues lining the Rue Faidherbe, which led us to the main hub of the city at the Place du Général de Gaulle (Grand Place), easily recognizable as the central point for celebrations, festivals and demonstrations. In fact later we came across a handful of t-shirted placard bearers being wilfully ignored.
Tables spilled out onto the Place du Général de Gaulle as people ignored the damp weather by sipping espresso’s. A fountain and statue is in the middle and the Flemish influenced square is surrounded by beautiful buildings such as the Vieille Bourse (the Old Exchange), built in 1653 and architecturally striking (top right). We had a closer look but the building just appeared to be selling second hand books with no sign of what the exchange originally exchanged.
Open spaces abound here, just around the corner is the Place du Théâtre, dominated by Lille’s famous Opera House.
We were on the hunt for lunch and headed north into Vieux Lille. This is Lille's old town and is a delightful discovery of charming cobbled streets with cafés, galleries and some eye-catching shops including an abnormal number of florists lining the narrow lanes. The Cathédrale Notre Dame de la Treille is here sat amongst slim eye-catching homes (above).
Vieux Lille's oldest street is the Rue de la Monnaire and gift hunters won't be disappointed along here. Benoît (77 Rue de la Monnaie) the chocolate shop called our name and a little side street called Rue au Peterink was a haven for foodies and fashion seekers.
Beyond the cobbled streets is the Quartier Royal, mainly a residential area and this led up to the Canal de la Moyenne Deûle. We crossed here and found the star shaped fortress that is The Citadelle, a design that inspired the US Pentagon and was once home to 1,200 of Louis XIV's soldiers. It is still a secure garrison and a drawbridge is about as close as you can get.
By this time my son was desperate for the zoo, as all around we could hear the shrills of birds and the chatter of the monkeys. Lille's free Parc Zoologique encouraged me to take my son here for his first French trip, and it was worth it. Nestled in the Citadelle Park, it was reminiscent of Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo and we stared at the many rare birds and then sought out the monkeys, showing off as always. Rhinos, zebras, llamas, turtles and my son's favourite, the reptile sanctuary were all here too.
We then made our way back down the busy Rue de la Liberté before turning onto the main shopping thoroughfare of Rue Nationale before completing our 5-hour stint back at the Eurostar terminal at Gare de Lille Europe.
There were endless choices of places to eat and we choose pretty well with Le Buzz. The waiter's minimal English gave us ample chances to use our pigeon French, although my son was disappointed that he could not use his well rehearsed "Bonjour, I'll have the frog's breast, not the legs s'il vous plait." He had to settle for steak-frites but it was a delightful restaurant and we met the only two English people all day at the table next to us - one of the huge benefits Lille has over Calais in my opinion.
We found some superb cheeses and stocked up on camembert at F & PH Armand's Artisan Fromager Affineur (54 Rue Basse) and then for our final treat we had what we agreed were probably the best waffles in the world at Meert.
5 hours wasn't enough but we crammed a lot in and I'd love to go back for a longer period. The Christmas Market, Marche de Noël, is supposed to be fantastic as is September's Braderie de Lille when the city turns into one huge street market. Lille has a complicated past but it is easy to love.
¶ 17:00 |
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Charlton 2 Blackpool 2In the car last night all the way home to my parents in Eastbourne, the fat lady sung like a red breasted robin. For what seemed like forever in a young child’s timeless mind back in the day not much ever happened to our beloved Addicks, the odd bankruptcy and ground move aside but yesterday marked the 5th relegation or promotion in just a splash more than a decade. Too much excitement if you ask me.
Yesterday in an hour and a half spell explained to me why we are bottom, I haven’t seen many games you know that. In fact I’d have been rather embarrassed if I’d seen them win, others have trawled the country in autumn, winter and spring and haven’t seen so much as a decent cross. The game didn’t mean much, although Blackpool fans insisted on dressing as Pans People, or maybe that was normal, I don’t know but the game kicked off with really only pride at stake and for large parts of it I felt kind of proud. We sung songs responded to encouragement from the Covered End and I stood when asked if we’d be back next year. I’m not buying a season ticket and I might just go to away games, but at least when I talk about how much “Charlton Football Club” means I bloody well mean it.
As for the game, I actually quite enjoyed it, at one point it even looked like we might win. Ha, who am I kidding? Two clean sheets but yet the back four still looked like they had met off the internet the day before.
ZZ disappointed me, his interest rapidly disappeared and that stray pass that sent away the Blackpool chap for the penalty was frankly shit. Conversely Jonjo gave us all belief for the future…. come on Jonjo give us another year. At least wait until you can get in the pub to celebrate that cracking deal with Tottenham reserves!
I liked Racon again, Bailey played too wide for my liking. Burton was busy and scored, a striker scoring, what next? Sam was excellent in parts but he should be dominating these sort of games, and if he stays, which I think he will, the next manager needs to explain that to him. Lloyd Sam could be an absolute star in League One.
The back four isn’t right is it? I’d be happy for Hudson to go, he makes too many errors. Ward impressed me for the second Saturday running but on the day his parent club won promotion, it is futile to think he will be wearing a Charlton shirt after May. Youga was alright but I thought Agent Butterfeet was rubbish in my humble opinion. Anyone got any good reasons why Butterfeet, Ward and Kandol should start on Tuesday?
Finally, I was delighted to share a couple of pints with somefellowBloggers pre-game in the Rose of Denmark. When I say pints, CND only actually had half as he dropped the remainder, sorry I couldn’t resist. Great company and like Saturday previous it is one of the many reasons why I will always be proud to be an Addick.
¶ 19:48 |
Friday, 17 April 2009
A lot of things have been written this week, a lot of assumptions, and a lot of whys and wherefores. Kings Hill Addick wrote a good piece yesterday and I agree that it is time to move on. I am hacked off with the navel gazing, it ain't going to change anything. I like others will have to except that many questions will go unanswered but I am content in the fact that Richard Murray shares more with his shareholders and supporters than the majority of professional football chairman.
Interestingly neither Derek Chappell nor Bob Whitehand were at the EGM Wednesday. I wasn't there either because I had a good reason and priorities. But I have not been ignoring important matters in my work this week because I care and I have a responsibility. I'd be interested in Chappell and Whitehand's excuse.
Much has been written of what was said and adumbrated by Murray on Wednesday at the EGM. We know he is a fine and convincing speaker but those there came home contented. A call for hands to be raised if a new manager would sell more season tickets was brushed over. Many seem to think Murray and the board have made their minds up on Parkinson. I have to say the board's previous history on new staffing does make me lay awake at night.
The week has also marked the 20-year anniversery of the Hillsborough tragedy. Trying to explain to my son why all of those fans were squeezed onto steps behind cages shows how far the football world has come. As an aside it was a welcoming experience to be able to walk around Priory Lane at Eastbourne on Saturday.
Hillsborough was one of those historic moments that I will always remember where I was at that moment in time, where memories become extraordinarily uncluttered. I was around an old girlfriends that afternoon in 1989 stunned firstly and then scared. Scared because it could have been anyone of us that travelled the country watching football matches in the 80's.
Anyhow back to the present. Without a doubt under Parkinson, Kinsella and Phil Chappell recent (underlined and in bold) form and teamwork has greatly improved, but it would have been difficult to get worse and frankly most of us would have been fired in our jobs a long time since. But what has amazed me is despite the anti-feeling amongst fans this has not found it's way into The Valley like it vegetated under Reed and Pardew. Are we just worn down and out of boos? More than likely the majority still watching have long excepted the inevitable and support the club because it is all we know how to do.
Tomorrow is the time and I wouldn't be anywhere else. Charlton 'til I die.
¶ 18:03 |
Wednesday, 15 April 2009
A couple of lovely days out down here amongst the South Downs. Today we were at The Science Centre at Herstmonceaux Observatory nestled in the East Sussex countryside. My son actually said it was better than London's Science Museum because you can play with stuff. Adults and kids intrigued by how things work will love this place and the beautiful Tudor Herstmonceaux Castle is just up the road and there are plenty of nice pubs for a pint and a ploughmans.
Yesterday we were at Knockhatch Adventure Park a couple of miles west of Hailsham. Creepy crawlies, birds of prey, adventure playground, miniature railway, bungee - a load of stuff to do for Dads! Ah, but get in early for the go-karts, it wasn't too well organised. There is a dry ski and snowboard centre too (check here for opening times), I'm definitely going back for that.
And then tomorrow we are off to France, thank god not by ferry as those buggers do this every year, but by Eurostar. Early start to Ashford and then seats booked on the train. We'll get about 5 hours walking the streets, market and city parks of Lille before we return home. Bonsoir.
¶ 20:31 |
Charlton Athletic - the last 25 years
An emotional video proving that dreams do come true. A must if you haven't seen it, if you have, then watch it again. Charlton will be back, have no doubt.
"No desire, no interest" - Gus Logie
The scathing view of Bermudian's Trinidad and Tobago born coach Gus Logie after their abject display in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa these past couple of weeks.
Logie said "It annoys me, yes, that all the hard work and commitment, not just from myself but from many people, has been wasted. The board have tried to put guidelines in place - not just internationally but locally - and opportunities were given to players. But over the past two weeks, we really haven't shown that level of commitment, or hunger, or desire or focus from the individuals. Because that's what it boils down to: on the field of play. We felt we let ourselves down tremendously, under tremendous expectations, and it hasn't really and truly happened." (more)
There has been much talk of the players lacksidasical attitude to professional sport on the island, of drug use and of simply not giving a toss. Compare their organisation and financial backing to that of the nomads from Afghanistan or the baggage handlers and bursars that make up the UAE side, each proud to be representing their nation, then Logie's accusations make it a sad day for the Bermudian Cricket Board. The island celebrates it's heroes every October and the players that left for South Africa each had the chance to make people back home proud. They failed miserably.
¶ 12:16 |
Monday, 13 April 2009
Eastbourne Borough 2 Grays Athletic 1
We were the only Charlton blog at Priory Lane today (trademark) and we saw Eastbourne add a bit more icing to their season after winning 2-1. My son and I were at a pre-season friendly and the club's sole aim after promotion was staying up in the Blue Square Premier after playing Sussex County League at the turn of the century. And stay up they have, 17 points ahead of the relegation fight with two games to play.
Grays meanwhile needed the points and it showed looking the better and more hungrier of the sides for long periods. Ex-Addick Jamie Stuart and old Tractor Boy Fabian Wilnis lined up as centre-halves for the Essex side and apart from a horrible first 15 minutes when they lost their keeper Arnold to a freak injury and then went one-down after Lovett stabbed in after a defensive mix up, they played the better football, with Borough often relying on the hoof forward. Sam Long was also being roundly praised by Grays' fans around us at right back.
Black deservedly equalised for Grays right on half time but then captain Armstrong scored from the spot to put Borough back in front. Grays continued to move the ball well but Eastbourne became more comfortable as the game went on. Grays midfielder Pugh was then justly sent off for a wild tackle on nippy winger Matt Crabb and that was that.
1,305 were at Priory Road with a fair sprinkling of Essex boys, the 21st time (out of 22) that the crowd has exceeded four figures this season. Grass roots football in the sun, with the more than was necessary checks on my Blackberry for the latest Charlton score. But a good afternoon out nevertheless.
Just one thing. £12.50 entrance fee, and £2 for a programme my son could have knocked up again puts Charlton's pricing into perspective.
¶ 18:21 |
Coventry 0 Charlton 0"As you know, you need goalscorers at the top end of the pitch to win football matches." - Parkinson
Despite our improving performances the fact that we simply have no threat upfront whatsoever cannot be ignored. If otherwise satisfying the result today just frustrates the hell out of me. 4 wins in 36 and we still aren't down! If only.
At least I will get the pleasure next week at The Valley, where I'd prefer for us to receive our long drawn out fate.
¶ 17:56 |
A day off, well actually I have the week off. Ha. The continuation of what has so far been a great couple of days back at home. I haven't laughed like I did Saturday night for some while for instance.
Today may be a day when the laughter stops, anything but a victory at Coventry this afternoon will result in almost certain relegation to the 3rd tier for the first time in 29 years.
The Ricoh was certainly on my agenda when I booked my trip home but it dropped off for plenty of reasons although now curiousity could easily lead me up to the Midlands - I've watched our previous four relegations - but I'm committed to going just a few miles down the road from my parents to watch Eastbourne Borough play Grays on this Bank Holiday Monday. My mind of course will be elsewhere north of here.
¶ 08:27 |
Sunday, 12 April 2009
Charlton 0 Birmingham City 0A thoroughly enjoyable game and day in fact yesterday. My last match was Barnsley and although we have fallen off the cliff since, unlike then I watched and clapped off a football team yesterday that I could be proud off. Not only did we show grit and determination we also played some good attacking football and defended very well against a side that carried a lot of attacking threat, even though two off them were Hameur Bouazza and Marcus Bent.... we are well rid.
We dominated the midfield causing us all again to ask if any one of ZZ, Racon, Shelvey and Bailey will be with us next season. Please let's hope so, it would be a fantastic boost. But I went to bed last night again thinking how bloody pathetic it is that we are in this situation at all. I know I haven't been to many games but I have said a number of times that we have enough decent players to be at the other end of the table not rooted like a dead tree to the bottom.
Yes we have missed ZZ and Racon for the majority of the season but christ between Pardew and Parkinson they have had almost 40 other players to choose from. I'm sorry those two have an awful lot to answer to.
In the pub beforehand for a very pleasurable couple of hours with Kings Hill Addick and Dave of Drinking During the Game and others we debated numerous issues and one was Kandol. I wasn't impressed yesterday because he just didn't seem at the races. He did help us out in defending set pieces, probably more so than Dicko or Burton would have done, but he just seemed intent on letting his junior do all of his running. Conversely I was inspired by Jonjo, he was a constant menace using space with and without the ball excellently and the lad did not stop running.
Otherwise everyone played well including the much maligned Youga and Agent Butterfeet, who in fact gave a very good display. ZZ although not outstanding, his overall play was still head and shoulders over most on the pitch, Racon was a little quiet but City closed down his space very well.
Sam got better as the game went on, but surely for entertainment reasons only Parky decided to take him off and bring Ambrose on in the last minute who with his only touch of the ball put old enemy Kevin Phillips through in an ominous position. And a mention for Robbie Elliott and his intelligent use of prompt and decisive throw outs as well as a pair of safe hands. And one of our own too.
But I'm going to end on a moan because I can. Although it was nice to walk out of The Valley with a warm feeling and a smile, the supporters deserve more than discounted season tickets and an emotional video clip. What I would like to know is how the club fell into the hands of a couple of blokes who we allowed to steer our club's destiny. It is criminal after seeing what I saw yesterday, and against Reading and three or four other times this and last season, I won't be alone in wanting an explanation, an apology even. What the hell happened?
¶ 18:06 |
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Memories of Birmingham CityBirmingham City 1-0 Charlton, Saturday 8th May, 1993 Of course memories of St Andrews for Charlton will always be about a game that the Blues didn't even feature in but over the years we have had a number of battles with Jasper Carrot's finest, and some of those actually on the pitch.
I remember most vividly our visit to St Andrews on the last day of the 1992/93 season when Birmingham had to win to secure their safety in what was Division 1 and we were comfortably ensconsced in midtable. City's biggest crowd of the season by far, 22,234 had turned out to cheer them to victory and roughly only around 500 Addicks, including me and a few mates, had been curious enough to witness what would have happened if they didn't. The maths were simple. A Birmingham win would have seen them safe, anything else and they were down with Bristol Rovers and either Cambridge United or Brentford and we would have got our heads kicked in!
What else was going on that day to keep the end of season interesting for us was up in the Premiership where a certain team of the 80's were at Arsenal hoping to avoid a heavy defeat which combined with an Oldham win at home to safe Southampton would have seen our friends relegated.
Anyway the game began in a tense atmosphere. The home fans were noisy and we felt we were there just to make up the numbers and in truth I expected us to just roll over. But we didn't. Terry Cooper's team were nervous and in the first half we played the better football and at half time the locals were getting edgy and a lot of their attention was being turned on us away fans couped high up in the corner.
Meanwhile Palace were losing by a single goal and Oldham were winning but it wasn't enough.
Birmingham started brighter in the 2nd half and in the 56th minute they finally took the lead when Paul Moulden scored from close range and St Andrews erupted. Phew I thought because all around us the locals ire was being turned on those of us up from the south on a day out.
Birmingham had a couple of more chances up at our end but couldn't put the game out of reach and although Charlton had had a lot possession we hadn't really created anything and most of our attention was turned to those who had radios pinned to their ears on what was happening at Boundary Park and Highbury. Oldham had gone 4-1 up but Arsenal needed to score again.
Back on the pitch we watched as the ground fell into a complete state of nervousness and we pushed for an equaliser. Corners were forced, Newton made a couple of dangerous runs and Leaburn, who had come on as a substitute went close with a header and we worried for our safety as we went with three upfront
Then as news came through that Arsenal were 3-0 up at home to Palace, our jubilation being confusingly watched by Blues fans, almost turned to despair, if you were there you'd known what I mean, as Peter Garland struck a superb long range effort that had Thomas beaten and bounced back off the bar. Blimey what were they doing to us as we continued to push for a point that we didn't need?
Up at Boundary Park Southampton had pulled it back to 4-3 but Oldham held on, and so did Birmingham, and Palace were to join us in the 2nd tier and after getting the fright of their lives so were Birmingham as the locals poured onto the pitch at the final whistle making it over to our penned in corner but only to befriend us and offer us scarves. How different that might have been if Big Fat Pete would have scored with a couple of minutes to go.
Easter in Bermuda
No one knows why they fly kites in Bermuda on Good Friday but thousands do. My other half has promised me that she will cycle down to Horseshoe Bay today as I'm in Eastbourne, and take some snaps.
Bermuda's kites are made with wooden sticks, colourful tissue paper, glue, and string and the whole caboodle costs less than $5 to make. As I understand it, the shape of the kite and the use of wood is meant to symbolize the cross that Jesus died on and the kite flying in the sky symbolizes his ascension to heaven and weather permitting they should make the skies over the little island light up today.
The other Bermudian Easter tradition is the scoffing of hot cross buns with cod fishcakes stuffed in between. The sweet and the savoury and unusual bedfellows. It took me two yesterday (see photo) to realise that I wasn't keen!
Today after arriving from Gatwick I think I will enjoy the more recognised Easter custom of eating chocolate and drinking red wine.
¶ 10:01 |
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Bermuda lose ODI status
Bermuda's cricket team lost their final group game in the ICC World Qualifiers in South Africa today to Holland and have failed to make the Super Eight competition, instead being dumped into the Losers Plate to decide 9th to 12th place. Not what the locals back at home were anticipating.
Winning just one game and losing four, they actually gave Denmark a decent game today but with the added embarrassment of losing their One Day International Status they won't be getting much of heroes welcome back on the island.
Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, Holland, UAE, Namibia, Afghanistan and Canada all make it into the final eight.
¶ 20:39 |
Monday, 6 April 2009
2009/10 Division 3 season ticket comparisons
Following on from last week's annoucement on season ticket prices I did some research* on other clubs in the League One to see how the cost of going to The Valley compared with that at other grounds, and despite many misgivings it does stand up to some scrutiny.
Only sat at the New Den, Stadium MK (Dons), Walkers (if Leicester don't get promoted), Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium, Banks Stadium (that's Walsall, get used to some of these names) and Yeovil's Huish Park, where £270 won't even get you a seat can an Adult pay less than at The Valley.
Brighton, Hereford, Hartlepool, Cheltenham, Bristol Rovers, Oldham and Scunthorpe have all yet to announce their new prices and I must add that Huddersfield are doing a fantastic £99 early bird Adult special until June 1st in their Family Stand. It still amazes me why Charlton have not considered a similiar offer.
£290 to sit in the lower tier of the Covered End fares pretty well then, the cheapest seats at Elland Road are £431, at Southend to sit on a converted terrace will set you back £420! And no they haven't moved yet, that is in 2010/11.
Swindon Town charge at their lowest rate £349. Heaven help you if it rains, and at Northampton's Sixfields they are charging £350 for the cheapest seat in the Dave Bowen Stand.
Most clubs are however offering differing prices for renewing early, family combos or discounted deals to existing holders. Charlton are not.
The most expensive seat at The Valley next season will be in the middle of the West and East at £425. More than the most expensive seats at every club that has announced it's prices except Leeds United (£636), Leicester (£515) and Colchester United (£546.... shocking).
So sitting in the lower tier of the Covered End for £12.60 a game, and it's cheaper in the NW Family Quadrant, is still very good value but I think the many who like to sit on the halfway line will certainly, if they renew, be paying a higher price to watch their club than the majority of teams in Division 3 next season. Whilst the pricing is more attractive perhaps to younger fans and juniors, the older crowd who want to sit in the middle of the East and West Stands are being penalised, something the board and the target 40,000 committee need to address.
Here are the cheapest and most expensive seats at clubs who have announced their 2009/10 season ticket prices in League One:
Scunthorpe, Oldham, Bristol Rovers, Hartlepool, Brighton, Hereford and Cheltenham all yet to announce.
*Prices are for a single Adult season ticket and as per clubs' official websites and don't take into account any special offers.
¶ 18:20 |
Sunday, 5 April 2009
A great weekend with friends sandwiching a crappy weather day, if not footie day for once yesterday when I didn't even venture outside. Friday we entertained two couples, the husbands of whom I first got to know almost 20 years ago, but before arriving in Bermuda had not heard from or seen since the turn of the century. Both blokes I bumped into within my first fortnight here and we've reignited the friendship we had way back. One of the beauties of living in a small melting pot of people.
Today we had brunch with some other friends with the Hamilton Harbour as backdrop. Very nice and followed by a long walk on Elbow Beach on the South Shore. Named for it's bent shape, kids and Dad's dug sandcastles as the summer get's closer.
I'm hoping the decent weather back at home lasts as I fly back to Gatwick on Thursday night for 10 days, most of which will be spent in Eastbourne. A busy four days precludes that at work as well as my young other half's birthday. Note to self: Buy present, find sunglasses and pack lucky Charlton shirt. Cross that out, no such thing as a lucky Charlton shirt.
¶ 20:26 |
Saturday, 4 April 2009
Southampton 2 Charlton 3Last night I was in the company of a very old mate and a lifelong Southampton fan, he is also very well connected within the club, safe to say we didn't dwell too long on the depressing topic of football. However as we said our goodbyes I actually said to him that I hope they'd beat us today. Now I have been at St Mary's and witnessed a bit of argy bargy and I think Rupert Lowe is a cock, and in my defence I had demolished a fair amount of wine, so this morning I woke wondering if I really did want us to lose.
Following my tennis game being cancelled due to the rain I settled down in front of the laptop and CAFC TV and I jumped up in the air when Jonjo scored. Phew, I thought I'm still in love and how nice it was to win.
It sounded a great game, ably assisted by a decent match commentator and I followed my Jonjo celebration with similiar and progressively louder ones for Racon and Bailey's goals although I grimaced at talk of "survival still being on."
For the first time is absolutely ages I was nervous at the end desperate for us to hold on, and we did and it felt good. I was at St Mary's last season for a game that was one of the few highlights and I'm delighted for the 886 that were there to witness a rare victory.
Bailey, Racon and Shelvey should be quite a force in Div 3, what are our chances of them beginning next season with us? And one whinge why did a striker take our first penalty for 10 years? Everyone knows our forwards don't score goals. I'll be at The Valley next week, lets hope we can transfer some of our recent away form home. Charlton till I die.
Bermuda struggling in South AfricaBermuda won their first game at the ICC World Cup Qualifiers today in South Africa beating Denmark by 9 wickets. However defeats in their opening games against UAE and surprisingly war-torn Afghanistan have left the island's hopes of qualifying hanging by a thread.
Defeats to underdeveloped cricketing nations like the UAE and Afghanistan, where the Taliban have banned the game and the team have to practice across the border in Pakistan has cause furore in the media here. A win today will help lift the gloom but with their hopes now practically out of their own hands, prospects of repeating their 2007 dream look unlikely.
Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland are all currently unbeaten. The current standings are here.
¶ 11:14 |
Thursday, 2 April 2009
Season ticket debateQuite a debate on Charlton Life and theAddickblogs about today's announcement of next year's season ticket prices. Some take the view that the headline reduction of £50 is a good offer and represents value for money, others meanwhile think that the club has not done enough to encourage fans to pay upfront for 3rd Division football, particularly under the current management.
Charlton for differing reasons lost my families guaranteed season ticket income a couple of seasons ago, although I did keep one for a couple years after I moved to Chicago because I wanted to sit in 'my' seat and be with my mates.
Taking the economy issues to one side, without brushing the seriousness of it away, fans are left with the predicament of paying up front giving the club they love much needed advance liquid capital, but still having the ability to pick their games - it is still less than £20 a pop even if you only get to 15 of the 23 home games sat in the Covered End and you get your 'own' seat.
Or do supporters keep their disposable income in their pockets and pay on the day, pick your stand, your block and your row, and let's face it have a bloody good chance of still sitting next to or near your mate.
It will take a very committed and loyal sole to write a cheque now of anything up to £425, but that is what the board is relying on. Murray said "We need to retain as many season-ticket holders as possible to enable the club to regroup and rebuild, and we are doing our bit to make renewing more affordable."
Initially the numbers look expensive, but we come of an already cheap base remember. a cursory look at Colchester United's website shows that to sit behind the goal there next season will cost £342, £52 more than at The Valley. Stories of next season's prices falling at Premiership clubs fail to tell us how bloody expensive it was in the first place, compared to what we paid. Portsmouth charged their fans £620 to sit in a ground that has hardly changed in 100 years.
A lot, and that includes all of my family, will pick their games. The average of £25 per game for a East Stand seat I assume is just that. Higher for *cough, cough* the better quality opponents and lower for the less attractive.
I would have thought that chucking a few meaningless cup games into the deal may have helped sway it but some fans will opt to renew of course and good for them, with the junior tickets incredible value at just £49 or £2.13 a game, I would expect my heart would have ruled my head and I would be doing the same, others however will be taking a little more care on how they blow their 'enjoyment' (sic) money.
With no discounted option for buying early no one I feel will be rushing out to the post office to send in their applications, some may wait until the autumn to see how we start, but what is certain is that most, if not all of us would be far more enticed by a complete clearout at managerial and backroom level to give us all a better reason to convince ourselves that the heart wins over our heads.
¶ 15:24 |
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
The best and biggest April Fool of them all. Alan Shearer is to leave his comfy sofa on the BBC to help rescue Newcastle United from relegation from the Premier League with the help of.... Iain Dowie!
Yep Dowie is finally moving north after all but the rumour that Gary Lineker is to sign on an emergency loan has yet to be confirmed.
Out of the blue this morning Newcastle's favourite son has announced he will finally go back home but probably not at a time most expected. Every Newcastle manager since Shearer retired from playing in 2006 has worked under the gauntlet that one day Shearer would be given the key to the manager's office and they would be turfed out. What now for Joe Kinnear and Chris Hughton I wonder?
Newcastle's run in is difficult and credit is due to Shearer for taking on their plight, but appointing Iain Dowie as your assistant? It's hardly an audacious start. Of course Geordies everywhere have their shirts off and are singing in the streets at the announcement, I just hope for their sakes this really isn't an April Fool. As for the rest of the country the Toon soap opera once again becomes more interesting than Coronation St.
¶ 09:31 |
After living in Chicago for four and a half years, I moved to the beautiful if bewildering island of Bermuda in July 2008. This blog is about being an exiled and depressed Charlton Athletic fan and whatever else the day brings.