Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Thursday, 31 December 2009
  Happy New Year Can you believe it was ten years ago that we were all wired up and ready for the new millennium? We left work on the Friday thinking that nothing electrical would ever work again. Y2K? What was that? If it was around now Apple would find an app for it.

10 years ago my ex-wife was pregnant with my son and we went around to friends for dinner, she was pregnant too and it was horribly boring as we watched the world welcome in a new century from the couch. Tonight we are staying at home, probably I reckon for the first time since I was 16 but I am really looking forward to it. The three of us are going to pop out in a while for a glass of bubbly (start them early is what I say) and then once we get home I'll open a bottle of 2006 Chateau Margaux with the wood fire blazing and watch a couple of films I got from the video shop this morning. The simple life.

2009 was pretty much absorbed by the birth of our daughter at the end of October and as much as my son is quick-witted and smart, she is beautiful and cherished. Our lives will never be the same again, just enriched.

The world has known better years and I have many friends and acquaintances that have lost jobs, to you I know that luck is just around the corner. To Addicks everywhere let's raise a glass to the re-birth of little old Charlton and to everyone that comes by here on a regular basis to read or to comment, thank you and all the very best for a happy and healthy New Year. 
  CAFC Team of the Decade - Part VI The final part of the jigsaw then and the two forwards to play in a 4-4-2 formation. 50 years ago Johnny Summers was the darling of The Valley, in the 60's we had Eddie Firmani and Stuart Leary, during the 70's there was King Arthur Horsfield, and in the 70's and 80's we had Killer Hales and Mike Flash Flanagan. We ended the 90's with Super Clive and Andy Hunt but sadly both of those players were to end their careers abruptly by injury and illness. Clive played his last game for us at 32-years of age and Andy at just 30. In fact Mendonca didn't even play in this decade after his career was sadly ended prematurely by a hip injury. Hunt meanwhile stole the limelight in our championship winning year by scoring 25 goals.

Of course finding a goalscoring forward languishing in the youth team, someone else's reserves, going cheap in a transfer window or in an agent's un-photoshopped dvd is harder than unearthing Osama bin Laden. This decade few strikers actually stick in the mind like players I listed in the opening paragraph but a fair few did give us some good service and a few nice memories too. Then of course there was Darren Bent, who was our goalscoring darling of the decade.

I will pick two front men from this all too short list of forwards from the past decade:

Andy Hunt (33, 19 goals)*
Shaun Bartlett (109, 30 subs, 26 goals)
Jonatan Johansson (104, 63 subs, 33 goals)
Jason Euell (111, 44 subs, 37 goals)
Paulo Di Canio (24, 11 subs, 5 goals)
Deon Burton (37, 11 subs, 17 goals)
Darren Bent (77, 2 subs, 37 goals)

*This decade

Andy Hunt's record in September 2000 was played 8 games and scored 4, which included two at Highbury in a stirring 5-3 defeat. He also scored a header in the 2-2 draw at home to Coventry but was withdrawn after an hour. Hunt said at the time: "About the sixth game, at home to Tottenham, I just felt like I'd hit a brick wall. It was like carrying a really heavy load around all the time, and from then on it just didn't go away." Hunt never played a first team game again after suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. One would assume retiring from something that you love doing because of chronic fatigue would be unbearably hard but Andy and his wife Simone moved to Belize and built up a very successful adventure holiday business, which is now on the market as they plan to move back to Europe.

Shaun Bartlett came as a bit of an unknown quantity from FC Zurich, initially on loan but he signed at the end of the 2000/1 season for £2 million. After coming on as a 67th minute sub at Liverpool, the South African started the next game at home to Man Utd and scored the opener in the breathtaking 3-3 draw. His 2nd in the 79th minute was the catalyst for John Robinson to get the late equaliser.

Bartlett scored another 5 in 18 games in his loan spell but once signed permanently he was never as prolific. He did put in some excellent performances though over the next five seasons often being our last line of defence at set peices. Apart from the fact he used to live a couple of doors away from me and I used to chat to him when he washed his car, my overriding memory of Shaun was his goal of the season at home to Leicester in 2001.

Jason Euell was one of our first big signings, bought for a still record fee of £4.75 million from Wimbledon after he scored 19 goals in the Dons' first tier one season after relegation. Euell was always a cross between an attack-minded midfielder and a striker and he was hardly booming in front of goal but 11 in the league in that first season (2001/2) was almost a third of our total and they without any doubt helped keep us up. Amongst those goals at The Valley were memorable braces against both West Ham and Chelsea.

Euell got 10 the following season (2002/3) and 10 the next (2003/4) but goalscoring did become a bit sporadic for Euell, and one-on-ones which he often found himself in due to a good turn of pace were often fluffed. In fact Curbishley, as was his want, regularly played Euell in midfield (my, did Curbs love a utility player) as Bartlett, JJ, Di Canio, Lisbie, Carlton Cole and Jeffers all at some point vied for his place.

Euell overcame the terrible death of his newborn daughter while his girlfriend was in labour in early 2002 but remarkably kept his form until the obligatory dust up with Curbs. They did make up but a shoulder injury kept him on the sidelines for most of 2005/6. Euell was set to join Birmingham City in January 2006 but an injury crisis at the Midlands club led to a change of priorities and the deal fell through but he did leave for Middlesbrough seven months later.

By the time JJ moved to Scotland in January 2006 the Finn divided supporters but what can never be overlooked was the dramatic beginning to his Charlton career. Signed from Scottish champions Rangers for £3.75 million after we won promotion he scored 7 goals in his first 8 games. Later he scored at home to Chelsea and on New Year's Day he was the matchwinner at home to Arsenal but not before scoring twice at Maine Road in the 4-1 stuffing 9 years ago yesterday. JJ finished with 14 for the season.

As so often with our strikers JJ could not continue his goalscoring feats and managed just 5 the following season but two did come in the climactic 4-4 draw at home to West Ham in November, including the last gasp equaliser. In the ensuing Premiership campaigns JJ found himself more and more of an impact player coming off the bench but he kept up a knack of scoring in local derbies by being one of four goalscorers in the famous Boxing Day victory over Chelsea.

JJ did find again his scoring touch whilst on loan to Norwich at the end of the 2005/6 season but a move never materialised and he then moved on a free to Malmo in July 2006. He is currently at St Johnstone in the SPL.

Deon Burton is a journeyman footballer having played for 12 clubs in his 16 years as a pro. Signed with very little fanfare from Sheffield Wednesday by Parky originally on loan at the end of November 2008, he scored once before the move was made permanent in January of this year. It was 17 games before Deon got put the ball in the net again but Wayne Rooney would have had difficulty scoring in the same team.

Some Addicks claimed they had already seen something in Jamaican's play before he claimed a true striker's hat trick at home to Norwich on the last game of our season horribilis. A level down Burton has been a real stand out this season and it feels good to see a striker scoring goals again. Deon has 12 so far and deserves his place on my short list.

One season was enough to witness the mystery and the power of Paulo Di Canio. Curbs showed him a video around his house of where we had come from in the summer of 2003 to convince the Italian, who grew up himself amongst tough times in a Roman suburb, that Charlton was to be home after leaving West Ham following their relegation. His signing was an 'Allan Simonsen' moment and it is widely belived that Di Canio took a large pay cut to join. I was at his debut at Wolves when we were four-up at half-time (those days don't come along very often as a Charlton supporter) and then if that wasn't enough Di Canio ran on in a red shirt as a substitute in the 77th minute.

Alas it was only to be one season, despite Di Canio's promise of two as his boyhood club Lazio came calling but 35 games were enough for us all to be hypnotised by the beauty and the art of Paulo Di Canio. The outrageous chipped penalty in front of the Covered End against Arsenal being his Charlton eulogy as we finished the season 5th, our highest league position since 1953.

£2.5 million doesn't get you much these days, it certainly wouldn't fetch a Darren Bent who has scored 62 Premier League goals in 120 starts for three clubs but that is what Curbs paid Ipswich for a 21-year old boy from Cambridgeshire. Benty scored two goals on his debut at ironically Sunderland and then the winner at home to Wigan five days later. In fact he started the 2005/6 season with eight in eight and we had unearthed (what Ipswich supporters already knew) something special. Just as Firmani, Leary, Horsfield, Hales, Flanagan and Mendonca had become the darlings of The Valley, Darren Bent was about to join them.

Benty however was scoring goals, of all kinds, at the highest level of football in the country and against the best teams. His second season was a dismal one for us all. He played under three managers but with relegation almost a certainty he committed to stay and fight in January 2007 and for that we will always be grateful.

Unbelievably he still managed 15 goals in our relegation season and signed off with a superb volley at Anfield in our final game. Mention Darren Bent to a Charlton fan and it will always evoke a knowing nod and a smile. Legends don't normally fossilise over two seasons but we make an exception for Darren Bent.

Paulo Di Canio and Darren Bent missed each other by a couple of seasons, but what a fanciful front pair they would make, eh?

Chicago Addick CAFC Team of the Decade:
Goalkeeper - Dean Kiely
Right back - Luke Young
Left back - Chris Powell
Centre half - Richard Rufus
Centre half - Steve Brown
Left midfield - Graham Stuart
Right midfield - John Robinson
Centre midfield - Scott Parker
Centre midfield - Nicky Bailey

Forward - Paulo Di Canio
Forward - Darren Bent 
Wednesday, 30 December 2009
  Who is Freddy Hall? Ooh, how exciting.... "Bermuda international goalkeeper Freddy Hall is set to join English League One club Charlton Athletic on a two-week trial. The 23-year-old has been recommended to the Addicks by former Newcastle United and West Ham 'keeper Shaka Hislop who coached Hall at Quinnipiac University." (more)

Freddy Hall, who hails from St George's, was due to go Major League Soccer trials to be held in early January in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in readiness for the MLS Draft and then the new season which kicks of in March but it looks as if his college coach Shaka Hislop has given his former Reading team mate Parky a heads up and we are to take a look at him first, with maybe a thought that he could replace Darren Randolph as back-up to Elliot.

Hall impressed during the most recent (summer) NCAA Division One season leading all kinds of statistical tables, that only Americans concern themselves with, and also being selected in the All-Conference team. Avid college sports backer ESPN also named him as one of their top 10 goalkeepers of the '2010 class of prospects'.

Hall played for 3 seasons for the Quinnipiac Bobcats whilst he studied for an Information Technology. Quinnipiac is a high-ranking university in the suburbs of New Haven in Connecticut with a growing sports pedigree and I notice his fellow team mates include two Brazilians, a Belgium, a Swede, a couple of lads from the Caribbean and another 'keeper from the north-east, who played with Southampton's academy.

Bermudian's sportsmen sadly lack any kind of real ambition and it is something that Shaun Goater for example continues to grapple with but Hall has been schooled in the USA since a young age and in a recent interview bemoaned Bermuda for being too small, which at least told of some ambition to make a career for himself outside in the big world. The 6ft 2 Hall also achieved varsity status in basketball but be aware Quinnipiac his hardly known for churning out sports superstars unlike fellow north-east schools such as Brown University, where Cory Gibbs attended. Oh. 
  Just beachey Four days off for Christmas was nice wasn't it? When I came back to work yesterday I certainly didn't have that "well was that it" moment, which is so often the case. It was sad not to see family but we had a great Christmas day with friends and went down to the beach as planned in the morning. It was a beautiful sunny day, fleece weather to be sure, but the sky was high and cloudless.

Elbow Beach for champagne, sausage rolls and mingling is a real tradition amongst ex-pats in Bermuda and walking down the steps around 11am to see people standing around in their santa hats was like looking out on one big open-aired cocktail party with the ocean as a backdrop. We saw loads of people that we knew, kids ran around in their Christmas best and men stripped off Christmas jumpers to dive into a frigid sea in their shorts.

My other half enjoyed her first glass of anything alcoholic in a long, long while and as champagne corks popped, the eccentricity of the British was there for all to see, with the Canadians, Irish, South Africans and Americans all joining in the merriment. We might not be here for a Christmas again so it was a great and completely - for me anyway after spending Christmases in Chicago - abnormal thing to do. 
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
  CAFC Team of the Decade - Part V Onto the midfield maestros then and plenty of good candidates. It is an area where Charlton managers have shopped well in the past 10 years, even Pardew who signed both Nicky Bailey and José Vítor Semedo. We began the decade with a midfield of Robinson, Newton, Kinsella and Stuart with Parker snapping at their heels. After promotion to the Premiership Radostin Kishishev and Claus Jenson were added. We end the decade with a midfield that cannot find a starting place for Therry Racon or Jonjo Shelvey, so in form are Nicky Bailey and Jose Semedo with Matt Spring proving to be an admirable alternative.

Plenty of worthy picks then but I have narrowed down my shortlist to the following:

Scott Parker (109, 18 subs, 10 goals)*
Claus Jensen (121, 10 subs, 17 goals)
Mark Kinsella (72, 4 goals)*
Matt Holland (182, 32 subs, 14 goals)
Danny Murphy (60, 4 subs, 9 goals)
José Vítor Semedo (64, 17 subs, 1 goal)
Nicky Bailey (72, 1 sub, 22 goals)
*This decade

In over 35 years of watching Charlton I have never seen a young player wear a red shirt as good as Scott Parker. It's simply a fact, whatever it was that turned his head at the end of 2003. All we know was the 23-year old's Charlton career was about to come to a shattering halt and with it our dreams of European football. What is also not up for any debate is that Parker's career was never the same after his spat with Curbishley, who justifiably put him on the transfer list following Chelsea's shall we say interest?

Only at the start of this season (his 3rd with West Ham) did he match the the total amount of games played for us during his young days at The Valley. That is six years between Chelsea, Newcastle and West Ham and on top of that he has only added two full England caps to the one he got when with us.

It's actually very sad. There was a lot of furore amongst Charlton fans, from me included, when he left, albeit for £10 million but when I watch the Hammers now I still feel an abundance of pride (and sadness) when I see him run from box to box like his life depends on it. I think the grieving has ended in regard to Scott Parker and I think we can all agree that he would walk into a CAFC Team of the Decade.

For many decades Claus Jensen was the kind of skilful player I'd never thought a Charlton team would have the luxury to include but the Dane gave us good service in our glory years, however perhaps 'Santa' saw the writing on the wall and moved onto Fulham in the summer of 2004. Jensen was never going to get his shorts too dirty but he used to stroke the ball around the park and had a wonderful range of passing. He could score goals too, 17 in total for us and many of them corkers. Jensen is now living back in Denmark after retiring due to injury and is writing music.

It is a real surprise to me that Matt Holland has unwittingly hung up his boots this season. If there was ever a model footballer, then it was Matt Holland who spent six years with us during the decade after signing from Ipswich in 2003. Considered too small by Arsenal and West Ham's academy he began his career at Bournemouth and amassed 642 appearances until he retired this summer after a 20-year career. Holland was Mr Reliable and his loyalty shone through some dark days as we crashed and burned down the leagues.

The vitriol I felt when Scott Parker left was nothing like I felt when Mr & Mrs Danny Murphy decided that The Valley wasn't Hollywood enough for them and decided to move upmarket for Tottenham's reserves in January 2006 after just 64 games. The signing of Murphy in August 2004 put me in some kind of parallel universe thinking we had made it. Signing Liverpool first team players (he played in 43 games the season before and also started for England)? Whatever next?

Murphy's first season though was a bit of a struggle although he did score against Spurs in our 2-0 win in March but it was the season after that he really excelled. That was until Joanna Taylor (aka Mrs Murphy) realised she wasn't get invited to many film premieres. Murphy was never a Charlton player in the true meaning of the word but a list of our best central midfielders from this decade would be remiss without him.

Mark Kinsella symbolised a Charlton team that burst into this decade. Curbs seemed to dally over his signature for ages but when he finally joined, the Irishman made an instant impact and just got better and better. Nonetheless Kins' best times for us playing were pre-2000 but he did lead us to our 2nd promotion in three years at end of the 1999/2000 season. The following season Kins was still first choice but Scott Parker was too good to keep out of the side and as Parker developed it was Kinsella's place that Curbishley decided to hand over to the youngster especially with him struggling with injuries.

Kinsella's departure to Villa was swift, although one felt rightly as it proved, that his Charlton career was not over there. He managed a full season for Villa after Curbs sold him for £750,000 in the summer of 2002 and then dropped down to the Championship with West Brom at the age of 31 but was still a Republic of Ireland regular. You cut Mark Kinsella in half and he bleeds Charlton and that is more than partly what this series is all about but Mark's place in my Team of the Decade has gone elsewhere.

I wanted to end my list with two from the current team as we end the decade with just 3 league defeats in the past 32 games. For a young man Semedo has spent time playing in Portugal, Italy and England and his calming imfluence and strong tackling has become a fixture in this season's Charlton side and his versatility was proven again at Griffin Park yesterday. A fit Semedo will play a very important role in the second half of our promotion campaign.

Now for reasons that are not difficult to understand the bulk of my Team of the Decade is going to represented by players that were with us in the first half of the 2000's but I am going to spring a surprise and select Nicky Bailey alongside Scott Parker as the central midfield pairing in my team.

Bailey's career says a lot about him as a person. Discarded by Fulham at 15, he started work in a local leisure centre, whilst turning out for Sutton United before moving up the non-league ladder to Barnet. Congruent to Kinsella when at Colchester, Bailey helped Barnet win the Conference title and then establish the Bees in League Two and as we found out earlier in the season he is still revered by their supporters.

This is Nicky Bailey's 2nd season at The Valley but he already has an aura around him that suggests he has been around a lot longer. Last season in a truly atrocious team he scored 13 goals from midfield and swept to the most one-sided player of the year title for donkeys. This season, with players around him who now share his desire, he has put in some truly magnificent performances leading the team with the captain's band around his arm from the front.

With another 9 goals already this season including the heavenly effort against Millwall, Bailey is easily the most potent goalscorer on the above list. He is also beginning to annoy opposing team's fans (Barnet aside) and in all manner of ways and that is always a very good sign. I don't know how long we can keep Bailey for, but already he has made a very big impression.

Chicago Addick CAFC Team of the Decade:
Goalkeeper - Dean Kiely
Right back - Luke Young
Left back - Chris Powell
Centre half - Richard Rufus
Centre half - Steve Brown
Left midfield - Graham Stuart
Right midfield - John Robinson
Centre midfield - Scott Parker
Centre midfield - Nicky Bailey
 
Monday, 28 December 2009
  Depleted but not deflated Brentford 1 Charlton Athletic 1
It sounded like a very good game. Brentford impressed me at The Valley earlier in the season and have lost two of their last 12. Meanwhile it was pretty much our reserve team out there today and on the back of an exhaustive game on Saturday I feared that we didn't have enough in the tank to fight back after Carl Cort put the Bees ahead just after half-time.

Parky sprung a surprise by starting Dickson and selecting Wagstaff over Shelvey. Wagstaff struggled it appeared but Dickson did make his mark, not least winning the penalty that Bailey in the absence of Burton dispatched. With McLeod almost certainly off to Hearts this week, perhaps Dickson will join Burton up front at Walsall on Saturday, although the game is already threatened by the weather.

From the radio (and the two bloke co-commentators were a vast improvement) we had a lot of chances, Dickson sounded like he should have been less adventurous with a lob in the first half but similarly in the 2nd period Brentford rattled our bar from a free-kick and Llera cleared off the line late on.

With us looking uneasily over our shoulder in the table to me today's performance once again emphasised how much the players - led by Nicky Bailey - want to fight and battle for each other, the supporters and their manager. Three draws from three games when considered in isolation is not good enough but when each one of those games are examined individually then over a 46-game season these results will happen and happen to all clubs.

Pessimistically Leeds stretched their lead to 8 points, so frustrating after being just two behind them before the Millwall game. And both Norwich and Colchester are 3 points behind us with a game in hand. On a more upbeat note, it has been a thrilling first half of the season and the team have restored faith and desire. However we need to regain the momentum but you never know a postponement on Saturday will give Parky another week to get some players fit.

Talking to a mate at the game it sounded like another good old fashioned away trip as travelling Addicks got behind a much depleted side, but players nonetheless that have reminded us of what it means to wear the shirt.

Reports: Addicks Diary; New York Addick; Drinking During the Game; Croydon Addick; Hungry Ted; Post match views on Charlton Life.
Parky Quote: "We've lost two matches in 24 and that's a terrific return for us so far. Now we've got to kick on as a club and as a team."
 
Saturday, 26 December 2009
  We've only got 9 men. Charlton the 9 men 2 Swindon Town 2
Ding dong merrily on high. That is the kind of passion and courage that will get us up this season, we'll ignore the fact that Sam Sodje and Deon Burton's foolishness made this a point won as opposed to two lost but the courage shown and the way it was received at The Valley takes us to Brentford in great spirits despite the victories of the two teams that sandwich us.

It was a shame that we never got to witness how Parky's Plan C would develop with Shelvey and Spring returning to the diamond looking midfield with Akpo playing high up the field alongside Burton but it did sound with 10 men that we were dominant, nevertheless 11 v 9 for almost 60 minutes is a vastly superior advantage at any level of the game.

Emma was the CAFC TV commentator and alongside Tony Hudd was marginally more listenable but when after announcing that we just had a minute of injury time left to play, she went into a full match summary I finally caved into any hope. As I said to my mate later, I had no idea how Llera's goal materialised because Emma simply interrupted her one-way conversation to announce the goal and then I was off running around the house like a complete loon. Llera's goal I understand was not only late but it was lovely too. Happy Christmas Miguel.

My mate was of the opinion that Wagstaff and Dickson were enormously responsible for our late fight back and it is heartwarming to see that never say die old fashioned Charlton spirit again. If a week ago the Millwall game felt like a defeat, then today was like a victory. In heaven the bells are ringing!

Reports: Blackheath Addicted; Drinking During the Game; Addicks Diary; New York Addick; Charlton Casual
Thursday, 24 December 2009
  On the rock Christmas on the rock for us as we are still waiting for our daughter's passport. The office shuts at midday today and unlike in my old London days there will be no persuasive influences to go for a "quick pint" fortunately. Tonight we will take our daughter who has listened to Andrea Bocelli's Christmas album on repeat for a month to a Christingle Service, which continues what has become a Christmas Eve tradition for me and my festive-other-half.

Customary among ex-pats on the island is to head for Elbow Beach tomorrow late morning to sit on the sand and drink champagne and eat breakfast. The event is lauded by almost everyone we have ever spoken to, although the weather is not too clever at the moment but before you start glaring at me with your scarves wrapped around your necks, yes I accept it's still much warmer here than where (most) of you are.

We have been invited to friends on Christmas Day and return the compliment on Boxing Day, but not until I have sat (probably with a pack of Tums) to listen to our early kick-off at home to Swindon. I was both in that very wet away end at The County Ground and witness to Dean Kiely's horrendous mistake the last time we played them in the league and I am leaning towards Wyn Grant's choice of at least starting with Akpo, Burton, Wagstaff and McKenzie although I fancy Parky might consider a return for Shelvey.

Finally then I hope you and your families all have a wonderful Christmas break and that Santa finds his way to The Valley ok. 
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
  CAFC Team of the Decade - Part IV This is where it's get a little more difficult. We have had some marvellous midfield players over this decade and undoubtedly if you look at our Div 3 squad now it is the area where we are strongest and probably strongest in the division. If I look at my long list of potential Team of the Decaders then it it includes nine internationals so picking four (in an old fashioned 4-4-2) is strewn with difficulties.

Anyway I am going to pick two to be going on with, both having the abilities, if not necessarily their natural disposition, to play out wide. This is my shortlist with games played and goals in brackets:

Graham Stuart (126, 12 subs, 18 goals)
Andy Reid (38, 2 subs, 9 goals)
John Robinson (105, 9 goals)*
Radostin Kishishev (167, 33 subs, 2 goals)
Lloyd Sam (87, 24 subs, 7 goals)

*This decade

Kish is one of those players that was probably only really appreciated if he didn't play. So much of the Bulgarian's work went unnoticed like Keith 'the crab' Jones and now Semedo. It was the simple tidying up and unfussiness allowing more creative players to thrive that made him so important in Curb's Premiership years. Kish's name in and around the teamsheet was a constant for six seasons after signing from Litex Lovech for £300,000 in August 2000. Yes he would frustrate the hell out of us and describing his shooting as wayward was being kind but the fact that he is still a member of the Bulgarian national team (he has 80 caps) and back as captain of top flight Litex underscores his value to any side.

For a season and a half of dark, dark days Andy Reid to me always appeared like a candle in an underground mineshaft. Signed by Iain Dowie, the Irishman with the sweet left foot is now a regular in Sunderland's first team after originally being signed by Roy Keane on the last day of the January 2008 transfer window.

Reidy struggled with injuries and fitness but when he was on song, we all sung along to his Irish charms. I wrote on the day he was sold that his "game wasn't all about brute force, gamesmanship, fight and determination. It was about quality and creativity." He was our best player and his sale was the end of any Premiership quality we may have had and the diverse paths of ours and his since then say a lot.

To move us on from this torpor, let me cheer us up and talk about Johnny Robinson. Charged with filling Robert Lee's shoes after he moved to Newcastle in 1992, the then 21-year old had a troubling beginning to his Valley career but by the turn of this century he represented everything that was good about Charlton as we swept to the title.

Addicks' fans affection for Robbo knew no bounds as he upped his game further to compete with the Premiership's best and played for three seasons before moving to Cardiff for a free at the beginning of 2003/4. Who can forget his equaliser in the 3-3 draw with Man Utd in a thrilling day at The Valley just over 9 years ago and his constant menace down the flank plus of course his tireless grousing to linesmen and referees. A CAFC Team of the Decade just has to contain the Welshman, who lives near my parents in the beautiful village of East Dean and runs his own soccer schools.

I included Lloyd Sam because he has been with the club throughout the 2000's and is currently our longest serving player. At 25 he has yet to start 100 games for the Addicks but can add games on loan at Leyton Orient, Sheffield Wednesday and Southend to his total. He should at our current level be one of the best players in the league and at times this season he has shown us his full potential but so often when he should dominate games he doesn't seem to have the necessary wherewithal.

We haven't really been blessed particulary with an out and out left sided winger during the past 10 years and the position still bothers Parky and the 2009/10 vintage as we enter the new decade but my choice for the role as the left-sided midfielder is Graham Stuart.

Evertonians cherish Graham Stuart like we do, say a Chris Powell, the Tooting boy putting his name in legend after scoring twice, including the late winner at home to Wimbledon on the last day of the 1993/4 season to keep them in the top flight. At 30 he moved down a division to Sheffield United (in a swap deal that involved Carl Tiler) but Curbs spent $1.1m on him 18 months later to help in our fight against relegation from the Premiership in March 1999.

As Curbs kept the integrity of our squad together after our relegation, many players stood out as simply being too good for the 2nd tier and Graham Stuart was one of them. One felt Stuart's career had been reborn and the next season back in the top flight his goals from midfield, particularly before Christmas including the winner at St James' Park, gave us a strong platform to build on. I felt that Stuart's experience and dexterity also helped a young Scott Parker in those early years of this decade. The end though came pretty abruptly. As Curbs became even more guarded in his formations Stuart started to lose his left midfield place to Kishishev, Konchesky and an improving Jerome Thomas.

Stuart left for Norwich in January 2005 but only played 8 games for Canaries before retiring at just 34 years old. He now lives on the Lancastrian coast and does work for Sky Sports.

Chicago Addick CAFC Team of the Decade:
Goalkeeper - Dean Kiely
Right back - Luke Young
Left back - Chris Powell
Centre half - Richard Rufus
Centre half - Steve Brown
Left midfield - Graham Stuart
Right midfield - John Robinson
 
Monday, 21 December 2009
  Tornado Crazy weather on both sides of the Atlantic this weekend. My son was working out if his Mum would allow him to use a tray to go sledging on and my parents were describing the South Downs as the Alps yesterday. Then on the east coast of America, in one day over two foot of snow fell in some of the worst precipitation seen since records began although I always find it astonishing that every NFL game was played yesterday whereas the football schedule continues to get descimated.

Here in Bermuda on Saturday we had our own little weather story when a tornado burst through Hamilton around 3.40pm. I was out in the car at that point and I would never have thought that driving at 10mph could be so treacherous. The tornado touched down in Reid Street and part of the solid limestone roof of the Magistrates Court was blown off and landed in the road, fortunately on a busy shopping day no one was injured. Meanwhile as I drove down Front Street mopeds were toppling like dominoes and large branches were slapping into the car.

The photograph is one I took yesterday of workers fixing the Court roof. 
  Horrible memories resurface Charlton Athletic 4 Millwall 4
I slept better last night once I'd learned to compartmentalise this game from the rest of the season. 13 and a half years and at 3.30pm (11.30am here) Saturday all those horrible, horrible emotions had come seeping back. Ian Dawes injury time equaliser in 1989 appeared in my sagging head like yesterday.

These games happen though and we have to treat them as one-off's. Leeds had a similiar experience in their recent draw with Huddersfield, although unfortunately Norwich have no Ipswich this season.

There was a lot of positives to take away however. It was a fantastic fight back and we started both halves positively. Nicky Bailey's goal was the finest to grace The Valley since Shaun Bartlett's in the 2000/1 season and most importantly we didn't lose because all week, Saturday morning and before Mooney burst into the penalty box in the 31st minute I was convinced we would.

Burton according to eye-witness reports was excellent, Mooney divides supporters but I think he has a good footballing brain (certainly Mensa belonging compared to McLeod) and Bailey led by example. I was surprised that Wagstaff started despite his recent good form, no disrespect to Scott but it was always going to be a game for men, and I was hoping McKenzie may have appeared earlier.

Our defending for the goals was shocking though but we also lacked our two first choice full backs. I have always liked Basey but midfield or centre-half will allow him to sweep his complete lack of pace under the carpet. The five minutes of injury time was always going to be a killer. Our games always finish last but Man City's win over Sunderland which I had one eye on on the box was done and dusted before even the 90 was up at The Valley. In fact Mark Hughes had already been sacked by the time Schofield sickeningly equalised.

So the most goals ever scored in this fixture and one to remember I suppose. If there was a neutral in the ground then the game had everything although the referee, who by blue and red accounts was terrible, will be pleased there was no beach balls. So we move on then and the run continues, if someone had told me at the Bournemouth friendly in August that we would be unwrapping 2nd place at Christmas I would've started to believe in Santa again.

I have read and heard from family and friends at the game a lot of reports of various disturbances in and around the ground (Marco summarises here), this despite supposed rigorous restrictions layed down by CAFC. Stewarding and policing sounded extremely lax and I feel many questions need to be asked of the club because when 12 Millwall supporters are sitting together in home areas and when Charlton fans are getting attacked in the toilets behind the East Stand this is not the result of a season ticket holder bringing a Millwall supporting mate.

Reports: Charlton Casual; Drinking During the Game; Addicks Diary; Blackheath Addickted; Many Miles; Doctor Kish; Croydon Addick; And Nothing Else Matters; Charlton Athletic Online; Stickleback.
 
Friday, 18 December 2009
  Derby day I have been dwelling on tomorrow's first meeting with Millwall for almost 14 years since last Saturday when the final whistle went at Edgeley Park (I had been trying not to think about it before). We spent almost my entire youth living next door to Millwall season ticket holders and I had many other school mates (and later drinking buddies) who were staunch followers of the Lions, one of whom is the editor of The Lion Roars.

To me and my family you can keep your Palarse, this is the real south London derby and Dave at Drinking During the Game recapitulated my memories entirely in his post earlier in the week. I wasn't at the snowbound Kim Grant game on December 5th, 1995 even though I had a ticket because my flight was delayed by bad weather in landing at Heathrow that day but I got home to listen to the majority of the game on the radio.

I suppose my spirits were exorcised by the Lee Bowyer led victory at home later that season but to me the name of Millwall still provokes nasty memories of Terry Hurlock, Alex Rae, Barry Kitchener, Kevin Muscat and Pat Van den Hauwe, of always suffering the ignominy of defeat whether it be in the school playground, in the back garden or at Catford Bridge station on a Monday morning. Recollections of standing behind a floodlight pylon or after the 2-2 draw trying to find my parked car with my brother whilst being hunted down by neanderthals and being thoroughly depressed.

Nonetheless tomorrow's game has began in good spirits and credit has to be given to both them and us in dropping the shirt sponsors from tomorrow's shirts and dedicating the game to the memories of fan's Rob Knox and Jimmy Mizen. Both clubs will wear shirts with Street Violence Ruins Lives on the front.

Dave is right and the world and the game has moved on, although I am not sure our friends from SE16 have, at least their supporters have always liked their attachment to the club's reputation. I don't expect to sleep well tonight, a life-threatening bout of man flu and a 7-week old baby will add to my overcrowded head full of Millwall memories. I hope to sleep a lot better Saturday night. 
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
  Bermuda.com Bermuda.com is under new management. Premier Brown's former press secretary Glenn Jones will take control of the listings and guidebook website in January and according to the site's owners Media House Jones "is brimming with ideas to help push the website forward."

I have said ever since I got here that Bermuda's internet inventory is shocking. I mean finding out about events and happenings by word of mouth can be charmingly winsome but it is wholly tiresome and ancient too. I list on the right hand side of the page Bermudatourism.com and it is the least bad of a very bad bunch of information related sites.

Bermudaguide.info, Bermuda4u.com, Bermuda-island.net, Bermudavacationguide.com are all desperately amateur and outdated efforts and the island and it's much sought after visitors deserve better so I will be keeping an eye on Bermuda.com to see how it develops.

I like how Glenn Jones rolls though, he was quoted as saying today that he "has a raft of ideas to help make the site like a public square... that's where I hope to take it." There is certainly plenty of potential. 
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
  CAFC Team of the Decade - Part III Two centre-halves then to add to Sir Chris Powell and Luke Young to make up my back four. I have put seven onto my shortlist and I need to choose two. The seven are:

Mark Fish (109 games, 2 subs, 2 goals)
Jorge Costa (24 games, 2 subs, 2 goals)
Richard Rufus (111 games, 7 goals)*
Jonathan Fortune (166 games, 29 subs, 9 goals)
Steve Brown (72 games, 4 goals)*
Christian Dailly (24 games, 1 goal)
Talal El Karkouri (97 games, 10 subs, 8 goals)

*This decade

Mark Feeeesh who is acting as an ambassador for the South African World Cup joined us from Bolton in November 2000 and was a regular for four seasons but by the 5th his fitness was called into a lot of questions as was the media work he was doing back in South Africa and sadly at the age of just over 30 his career ended. He is currently going through a high-profile divorce in South Africa.

Jorge Costa made quite an impression during a half a season loan from Porto. Despite being club captain at Porto the then coach froze Costa out of the club and Curbs stepped in stealth-like and signed him for 6 months in December 2001. In just 22 games (13 at home) he became the darling of the Covered End and spawned an ageless song. He played alongside both Fish and Fortune with Rufus injured and his ferocious commitment is well remembered. Meanwhile Porto's fans forced their coach to resign and Costa or the Tanque as he was known was welcomed back and played for another four seasons and lifted the Champions League in 2004. Costa is now manager of S.C. Olhanense in the Algarve.

No doubts to the most prolific goalscorer from centre-half during the past decade. Moroccan Talal El Karkouri was not blessed with the best awareness, and was certainly prone to sloppy tackles but El Kak did however give us plenty of feel good moments in his three seasons with the club, none more so than when taking free-kicks from long distances. One at home to Arsenal and one in Les Reed's only win against Blackburn stick in the memory.

I have included Christian Dailly from the 2009 vintage on my list because I credit him with a lot of what has been good at Charlton this season. The Scotsman is Scotland’s 6th most capped player and has had a stellar career and I am more than happy that he chose to add us to his impressive résumé.

If things had been different during the summer, then Jonathan Fortune may well have been lining up alongside Dailly but finances meant that Fortune, I think almost begrudgingly, had to seek out a career elsewhere and is currently playing in Sheffield United's reserves. It was at the very beginning of this decade that Fortune made his league debut but for Mansfield and his first game for the Addicks wasn't until the opening game of the 2001/2 season when he came on at half-time at home to Everton. Although whilst hardly ever unifying Addicks as to his abilities there was no doubting Jon's loyalty during his many years at the club and his 82nd minute headed goal in a game against Crystal Palace in May 2005 will be a lasting legacy.

My two Team of the Decade centre-halves pick themselves however. Yes there was Costa’s heart, Fortune’s loyalty, El Karkouri’s free-kicks, Fish’s calm, and now Dailly’s influence but they have nothing on two men I have had the pleasure to call Charlton players. By the time Richard Rufus came onto the scene I was a bit old to have a favourite player, but he was my favourite player and there were seasons when if he wasn’t on the team sheet for a game, we realistically didn’t have a cat in hells chance of winning.

Richard read the game brilliantly, his tackling was almost flawless, he had the pace of a cheetah and when he scored that goal at Wembley my life could have stopped right then because whatever was to happen next would never have been so beautiful. Rufus is a legend and it still saddens me that a knee injury ended his career at just 29 years old, and he never did get that England cap that he deserved. His final game was at Anfield in May 2003.

Blithely I could have picked Steve Brown in any position for my Team of the Decade. I could have played him anywhere and he would never have let me down. During our relegation season (the last one) I used to listen to Brown on Radio London and in his voice you could hear how much our demise hurt him. Brighton born Brownie made his debut in September 1991 but in this decade helped us win the Championship title and then played three Premiership seasons often filling in anywhere and coming on as a sub to settle nerves in the middle of the field late in games.

He scored in the wonderous 4-2 win at Highbury but is in my mind equally remembered for almost single-handedly winning the game at home to Tranmere in our promotion season when he came on at half-time with us 2-0 down, played in midfield and scored our first of three goals. Remarkably Brownie played in goal no less than four times and is probably one of the most appreciated Charlton players of a generation. He has just taken his Brighton and Hove Albion youth team to the 4th Round of the Youth Cup.

Chicago Addick CAFC Team of the Decade:
Goalkeeper - Dean Kiely
Right back - Luke Young
Left back - Chris Powell
Centre half - Richard Rufus
Centre half - Steve Brown
 
Monday, 14 December 2009
  Strike one With the delay in getting little 'un's passport back from Washington DC we had made plans to be in Bermuda at Christmas but we certainly had an eye on coming home the week after for new year and the beginnings of January. However news of British Airways' cabin crew voting today to go on strike will virtually ground Brits in Bermuda over the Christmas season.

Thankfully our plans were not finalised but I know of many friends who had flights booked. The strikes are set to begin on 22nd December and run until 2nd January and BA have said they will text passengers with schedule updates. It is usual here for unworking spouses to travel home early with children whilst the working half joins the family in the UK later but BA's selfish cabin crew and it's union will now separate families for Christmas. Bah ruddy humbug eh?

I arrived in New York earlier and am here until Wednesday working, although I did just manage to slip up to Greenwich Village to do a tiny bit of Christmas shopping. Bleecker Street was humming with Christmas shoppers and Marc Jacobs' unorthodox store had a queue of about 30 people outside it. Perhaps it was the slogan 'Guys, Rubber, Leather' that sent people there to line up in the cold.

In a bit I'm of to one of my favourite pizza places, Adrienne's, to meet some colleagues before a full day tomorrow. 
Sunday, 13 December 2009
  Boat parade Last night was Bermuda's Boat Parade, the last official event of the island's 400-year birthday celebrations. The parade began in 1999 and was a much talked about annual event but it was cancelled last year as the event began to lose it's popularity. However that was not the case this year as almost 70 boat owners dressed their boats in a variety of sparkling fancy dress and sailed a catwalk around Hamilton Harbour.

It was a colourful sight with boats of all shapes and sizes, with some as long as 60ft following each other in a tight line in the pitch black. Front Street in Hamilton would have been the prime viewing gallery but we went to some friends in Salt Kettle whose back garden looks out onto the water. We had a magnificent view and were just a few steps away from very nice wine and superfluous sausage and mash!

Most boats celebrated the 400-year occasion indulging in anniversery regalia. My favourites were the ones that storied the island with the small boat depicting a huge onion (photo) my personal fave. Meanwhile the most extravagant was one owner's nautical memorial to Michael Jackson (photo).

The parade lasted about 2 hours and the boats did a couple of slow laps, and the night ended with an impressive firework display held out on an island in the middle of the harbour. 
Saturday, 12 December 2009
  Mad Hatters Stockport County 1 Charlton Athletic 2
A vital 3 points on the road today, particularly with Norwich and Leeds being held to a point each on their travels. It always sounded like we had a bit more in the engine and the only suprise was that it took until the 73rd minute to get a second when it should have easily come before the break, although like the end of the second period we did do our best impression of a wobbly jelly.

It was Scott Wagstaff who scored the winner sending the ball into the net to relief all around after a pass from the Mooney, who sounded as if he carried a threat all game. In the first half Sam Sodje headed us in front from a pinpoint Basey corner and I must admit at that point I had visions of another Trannymere, but the home side short on confidence made a good fist of it.

It was a shame not to keep a clean sheet and I have no idea what materialised at the end but Robbie Elliot was credited with an own goal.

For me the CAFCTV radio commentary is a godsend but Radio London's Emma is absolutely flippin useless. She is fully two or three seconds behind play and one has to listen to the crowd noise to work out what the hell is going on. She literally will say nothing for ten seconds while she either sips on her Horlicks or broods over what next to say. It's a football match, fast paced, not ruddy crown green bowling.

The last few minutes were not enjoyable but my pacing around was only multiplied by Emma who did not have bloody clue what was going on. Despite all around her County fans celebrating, it finally dawned on her that Stockport had scored and only in her match report later did she note that Carl Baker was sent off in the melee at the end.

Sorry, but I do feel better now and I'm going to savour another 3 points on a day where for once other results went for us. Save journey home Addicks.

Reports: Addicks Diary; Doctor Kish; And Nothing Else Matters; Charlton Athletic Online
  My Bermuda - The Parish of Southampton
Southampton Parish, the second most western of the nine parishes is the next Bermuda parish under the Chicago Addick microscope. The parish took it's name from Henry Wriothesley, the Third Earl of Southampton (1573-1624), an English aristocrat and a good friend of William Shakespeare. He served against the Spaniards in the Calais Expedition of 1596 but in 1599 was implicated in the Essex Plot and was sentenced to death, eventually reduced to imprisonment for life. Henry was out for good behaviour two years later.

Commuters from Southampton can jump the ferry from the Rockaway stop, which only opened in 2002 but has a regular fastish service into Hamilton. Tourists stay at the popular Southampton Princess Hotel, a giant of a pink building occupying over 100 acres it can be seen for miles. It's private beach is a nice plus and I've never been but the spa is supposed to be the best on the island. The hotel also has a superb par-3 golf course with stunning views.

Nearby Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is the Parish's most famous landmark towering 362ft above the island. A very nice, if noisy restaurant has joined a low-key cafe and shop at the foot of the first ever cast iron lighthouse from where the whole island can be seen in it's incredible glory. Revolving on a trough of 1,200 pounds of mercury the light beam can be seen by ships 40 miles away.

For those looking for beaches, Southampton has plenty, 14 in fact including the island's best Horsehoe Bay. Bermuda's famous pink sand is on full display here and the arced beach get's very busy during the summer months. Beach tennis, open air movies, sandcastle competitions and other events are often held on sands. For those wanting just a toe dip and a stroll then from here you are able to walk on a trail past many little coves and parks divided by coral walls. Keep walking until you get to Chaplin Bay, wherte you’re likely to find yourself with little company. For somewhere even more tucked away, try Church Bay (left) a quiet spot and fantastic for snorkelling.

I mentioned the par-3 golf course at the Southampton Princess but this parish is an oasis for golfers. The newly opened Port Royal, recent home to the PGA Grand Slam and I have only heard good things about it. Port Royal is a public course. Southampton also has the Bermuda Golf Academy and Driving Range, complete with a half decent Indian restaurant. As well as the driving range, there is also a fun and picturesque mini golf course.

For those wanting to see a piece of working Bermuda, then try to seek out Wadson's Farm on Luke's Pond Road. Tom Wadson provides the best organic meat and vegetables for the island's restaurants and you can buy fresh produce from the farm on Saturday mornings and Wednesday and Friday afternoons.

Looking east back towards the capital Hamilton, you will stare in wonder at the stillness of the Great Sound. Rent boats or jet-ski's from the place at Jews Bay behind the Waterlot Inn on Middle Road. Southampton has 8 islands within it's parish. They range from the terrifically named Haggis Island and Little Crumb to the larger and occupied Five Star and Perot (right), on which I had the pleasure to attend a wedding in August.

The Parish section of Middle Road, one of only three main traffic arteries on the island is worth exploring by bus or moped outside of midweek rush hours. Going east from Overplus Lane (the boundary of Sandys and Southampton Parishes), you'll be parallel the Bermuda Railway Trail. Explore side roads and view some great sea and land views. The area east of Port Royal Golf Course is particularly beautiful. An area in Southamption for a nice walk, particularly if you had a dog or a pram is Barnes Corner. The buses also turn around here allowing you access to the rest of the island.

There are two other hotels worth considering in Southampton. One is the family run Pompano Beach Club which occupies a smashing South Shore location and The Reefs, which has recently had a bit of a facelift. Restaurant wise the best ones belong or are within walking distance of the Southampton Princess. Bacci is a very good Italian and one of my island favourites is Waterlot Inn, a steak restaurant, good but very expensive. For cheaper eats and great entertainment visit the popular King Henry VIII's on South Road near the lighthouse.
 
Thursday, 10 December 2009
  CAFC Team of the Decade - Part II You were right, the goalkeeper was easy but what about the full backs? Well left and right back has become a real struggle in recent years with such luminaries as Jonathan Spector (blimey and we thought he was pony), Djimi Traoré, Greg Halford, Danny Butterfield and Martin Cranie all playing there at some point. Only this season do we finally looked to have found a couple of reputable owners of the full back berths. Simply we were spoilt in the early part of the decade.

Right back at the turn of the century was never nailed down with Greg Shields, Steve Brown, Andy Todd, Mark Fish, Radostin Kishishev and Jon Fortune all filling in until we signed Luke Young from Spurs in the summer of 2001. It was one of the early signs of the big time for Charlton, because Young had a big reputation at White Hart Lane and I remember well Spurs fans I used to work with being dismayed at the £4m sale of the then 21-year old.

However his early years at The Valley were not particularly good. I personally never took to him and around me in the East Stand he was commonly known as Lukewarm. It was fully two seasons before he started to become more appreciated and after shaking off some injury problems Young became a mainstay in our defence and the 2005 Player of the Year and I was proud to be at his England debut in Chicago in May of the same year. He was another who fell out with Alan Curbishley but after he left Young stayed until we got relegated.

Despite Pardew's penchant for a loanee right back unless I choose Steve Brown, and I could practically pick him for every position including goalkeeper, I have a very shortlist of one for right back of the decade.

Luke Young (202 games, 6 subs, 4 goals)

Left back gives me more options but frankly a competition for the place is an absurdity. However just to be impartial I'll throw three names onto the left back list as follows:

Hermann Hreiðarsson (147 games, 2 subs, 4 goals)
Paul Konchesky (104 games, 65 subs, 6 goals)
Chris Powell (193 games, 3 subs, 1 goal
)*
*This decade

The Herminator was the relegation expert when he came to The Valley in March 2003 for £900,000 (he had to wait until August for his debut) but aside from his Palace background I had always been an admirer. The Icelandic played with his heart on his sleeve and made the left back position his own but often fitted in at centre-half. It appeared he had learnt his lesson from his previous employers though and had a clause inserted in his contract that he would be allowed to leave Charlton on a free transfer if we got relegated and he moved onto Pompey.

Paul Konchesky became the youngest player to appear for Charlton (a record broken by Jonjo Shelvey) when he played against Oxford United in August 1997 at the age of 16 years and 93 days but it was only at the beginning of this century that he started to become a regular feature in the side at left back but his opportunities were always sporadic and Curbs often played Konchesky on the left side of midfield much to the Dagenham boy's chagrin.

You may see a trend forming here but he too fell out with Curbs and moved on loan to Spurs in the days when we used to give them our cast offs only to come back and claim a regular place in the 2003/4 season. In the week after his return he came on as a sub (as a left midfielder) in the 4-2 Boxing Day victory over Chelsea and then played right back in the 1-0 win back at White Hart Lane two days later.

Konchesky could never supplant Hreiðarsson though and eventually moved onto his boyhood club West Ham in the summer of 2005 for £1.5m.

Sir Chris Powell also has Crystal Palace on his resume but he well and truly learnt the errors of his way. Loved at Derby County he was signed by Curbs in the summer of 1998 after we won the play-off final for £800,000. He was instrumental in helping us get back to the Premiership and then after well over 400 career games got picked by Sven-Göran Eriksson for the England friendly against Spain in December 2001. We all felt so proud.

There have been few players so loved down the years by Charlton fans. His trademark leap from the tunnel after games was always worth getting caught in traffic for. He left twice but both times came back home and his last season with us played 19 games under Pardew and memorably scored only his 3rd goal for us in his last game at home to Coventry.

Chrissy Powell is a Charlton legend and I've bored you about this before, but I once spent a 10-day holiday in his company and he is possibly the nicest bloke you've ever met too and to this day the reception he got at Pride Park on his return with us is one of best I have ever seen an opposition player get. He is still registered as a player for Leicester and has made two appearances this season but is primarily employed as first team coach. A future Charlton manager? I hope so.

Chicago Addick CAFC Team of the Decade:
Goalkeeper - Dean Kiely
Right back - Luke Young
Left back - Chris Powell
 
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
  Second hand Gold David Gold and Karren Brady's presence at The Valley on Saturday has become a lot clearer. You chat up a girl to make the girl who lives down to road, and the one you really fancy jealous. It's a well known ploy, especially I would have thought in the world that David Gold lives in.

Today's Daily Telegraph says (as does the BBC) that David Gold and David Sullivan are expected to table a bid for West Ham this week but then the newspaper says it's expected to fail because the porn twins only want to pay a quarter of what the Hammers owners, CB Holdings, want for the club unrealistically wanting payback on every penny they have lost, lent or spent on their east end investment to date.

I don't know what my West Ham mates or readers think about this but the whole process seems nonsensical or is it? The BBC meanwhile reports that Gold and Sullivan would take a substantial shareholding in West Ham but then invest their evident budget of £30-40m to buy players in the January transfer window. Probably not the cutest business plan the successful men have ever put together.

In all of this what is becoming apparent is that if the 72-year old Gold and 60-year old Sullivan fail in their bid to move into the club that they support, then we become the next default choice. I am not sure how I feel about this. Richard Murray has gone on record that they are good football people, and there is plenty of evidence that supports this. But better than Richard Murray. Way no. Richer. well, yes of course.

The South London Press, who used to regularly proclaim takeover news, say that the Charlton board already have an offer from Gold and they have 6 weeks to accept it. Unquestionably we need investment, but I don't really want to be anyone's second choice if we can help it. Maybe it is all a ruse but you have to believe that David Gold, even at 72 needs the football drug and he longs even more for the power and with plenty of begging bowls sat outside some football clubs these days, he is bound to throw a few quid into one of them sooner rather than later. 
Monday, 7 December 2009
  CAFC Team of the Decade I have been thinking about doing this for a while but got a little usurped by Charlton Life, anyway I want you to join me in a discussion to pick Charlton's best team of the decade from the 2nd half of the 2000/1 season when we began the new century in 2nd place two points behind Man City on our way to the Division One title right up to this season's current crop in the 3rd Division.

I doesn't take an awful lot of research to state that the first half of the decade was slightly more productive than the last half nonetheless I am going to pick players not just on ability but also on their consistency and desire in a red shirt during this period.

So for today first up goalkeepers and undoubtedly the easiest task. Looking back over ten years I have put three on my shortlist as follows:

1) Dean Kiely (222 games for CAFC during the decade)
2) Scott Carson (38)
3) Robbie Elliot (44 so far)

In our 2006/7 relegation Scott Carson was one of only a few players who finished the season in any kind of positive light with Addicks fans. On loan but overlooked, we may have had a chance to sign him permanently from Liverpoool if we'd remained in the Premier League and it would have been a popular (if not inexpensive) signing. He started all but two league games in goal and did let in 55 goals, but one can only wonder how many it could have been if it wasn't for Carson and he deservedly (there wasn't much choice) won Player of the Year.

Robbie Elliot is still on one of the lower rungs to Charlton greatness. 44 games the boyhood Charlton fan has played and despite having some detractors most of us were pleased to see him back in between the posts on Saturday and not for the first time this season, he pulled off another vital save with the game finely balanced at 0-0. Maybe when a CAFC team of the centuries second decade is done in 10 years time, Robbie will be a shoe-in like this man.

Dean Kiely was signed in the summer of 1999 from Bury for a cool £1m and was Alan Curbishley's first and only signing after we were relegated from our first ever Premier League season. Kiely was already 28 when he came south to The Valley and had started almost 350 league games for York City and Bury. It was about the best million quid Curbs ever spent.

Deano played 222 games for us (after 1/1/2000) and his toothless grin and athleticism sits with me now. He won us games in the Premier League almost single-handedly but eventually fell out with the man who signed him. Deano has often since talked about his relationship with Curbishley and the reasons it soured. Charlton unquestionably has a place in his heart and he is now back-up 'keeper ironically to Scott Carson at West Brom, where he is about to be rewarded by boss Roberto Di Matteo with an extended contract as the 39-year old consider's coaching.

Deano is a bit of a lay-up as they say in Basketball and the next 10 players in my CAFC Team of the Decade won't be anywhere as easy but he does epitomise everything that was good about Charlton during the last 10 years and actually it better describes what I am trying to do here by saying I am looking for 10 more Dean Kiely's. What are your thoughts?

Chicago Addick CAFC Team of the Decade:
Goalkeeper - Dean Kiely 
Saturday, 5 December 2009
  A holly jolly 3 points Charlton Athletic 1 Southend United 0
Sadly I was pretty much otherwise engaged during today's game. I was babysitting and despite my best endeavours, Now That's What I Call Christmas was dispelling the crying a lot better than CAFC TV's commentary team and so it continued for pretty much the entire game including half-time. The Charlton commentary acted as only white noise to our 5-week old as I la-la-la'rred through A Holly Jolly Christmas, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year and Little Saint Nick amongst others.

Whenever I did get a quick earwig at the commentary all I ever heard was Tony Hudd putting the ruddy mockers on us. "James Walker's on, oh wouldn't it be just if he got a last minute equaliser?" Er, no I'm sorry who have you suddenly become 'the bloke behind me?' There is no need for that at four quid a month. Tony dear, remember your audience.

David Gold sat next to Peter Varney at today's game and just to get the tongues wagging cafc.co.uk has been on meltdown all evening. Anyway returning Addicks don't yet seem in the Christmas spirit and today seemed like a right old slog but we all know full well that once in a while 3 points is the same pretty or not. Norwich won again, so did Colchester but MK Dons were held as were Leeds at home to fellow Yorkies' Huddersfield. 20 games gone and millions left. Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock.

Reports: Back at home New York Addick; Blackheath Addicted; Addicks Diary; Stickleback; Doctor Kish; Drinking During the Game; Deepest Darkest; Charlton Casual; Charlton Athletic Online; Many Miles; And Nothing Else Matters
Friday, 4 December 2009
  World Cup fever Well the World Cup draw was pretty kind wasn't it and I'm bloody glad we're not stuck in Groups D or G. England have surprisingly never played Algeria, but we may well see both Madjid Bougherra and Hameur Bouazza line up against us in Polokwane. Algeria are rated at 500/1 and Slovenia at 175/1 so we have to be pleased with that and personally I am pretty thrilled to see the USA in our group, which has already allowed me some friendly banter across the water here.

Group's D and G are twin groups of death, D being particularly nightmarish and Group G already has me marking my calendar for 'working from home' days. Remember our 2nd Round match opponent will come out of Group D. Group A looks the easiest on paper, which is convenient for the hosts. One of South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay and France will represent a quarter final clash against England if we can get there.

Italy are notoriously slow starters but Group F looks a banker for them. Spain may come unstuck against Chile and Honduras in Group H and the Swiss who strolled through qualification will be quietly confident. South Korea could well cause Maradona another case of tourettes in Group B but Holland look like they have a nice path into the last 8.

I reckon all of the African Nations have a chance of 2nd Round qualification although it's two best sides Ivory Coast and Ghana would be legitimate winners if they can come through their 1st Round groups.

I thought usually the groups, and in particular the seeded teams are based around one or two locations to avoid the need to travel great distances but in South Africa it looks like the games in each group are spread all over. The BBC calculates that England have to travel over 1,300 miles from their starting point at Rustenburg (a beautiful platinum mining centre 1,850 metres above sea level high up in the countries north-west corner by the way) to their 2nd and 3rd group games.

Anyway, that has certainly wet the whistle, the excitement built quite nicely sat at my desk this afternoon and I can't way until June 11th.

Group's dates, times and venues here
Thursday, 3 December 2009
  Hotel, Motel, Holiday Inn, say what
The Elbow Beach Hotel closed for business on Monday with 160 people now looking for work or worse still having to pack their bags and go back to whence they came. Bermudian Premier Dr Ewart Brown recently talked about the myraid of proposed hotel projects on the island, none of which are anywhere near having a hole in the ground let alone a bed to sleep in.

A recent article in the Royal Gazette by Ruth O'Kelly-Lynch (probably the most Irish name I have ever heard) reported on the chances of some of these ever making it off the drawing board and I threw in some of my own investigative blogging as well.

Ariel Sands (left) has been in the Hollywood-set Dill family since the 1950's. Diana is the Bermuda-born American actress, once married to Kirk Douglas and father of Michael and mother-in-law of Catherine Zeta Jones, who is often spotted in the local grocery store. The Dill family remain major investors in the beautifully located Ariel Sands but the quickly corroding hotel's plans for a new resort/fractional ownership property sadly remain in a pile of unfunded hotel deals sat in the world's nervous investment houses.

Near me in Paget, the Four Seasons picked up the Coral Beach and Horizon's resorts for a relative snip in Bermudian property terms but they have so far been denied planning permission to build their own fractional residences and a 150-room hotel. I believe also that the Four Seasons Group are very concerned about the restrictive work permit laws and therefore their ability to bring in what they would call quality hospitality staff to work in the hotel once it is open, if ever built. Planning permission was originally submitted in october 2008.

Well known Caribbean hotelier John Jefferis is behind the Coco Reefs Hotel and it's dream to build 66 fractional villas and a six-storey hotel. Jefferis recently said "I have always thought a recession is a good time. Some of the best developments have been built during a period when the economy is in distressed mode," and certainly Jefferis has the knowhow. The Coco Reefs is still open but has an ageing sparsity to it despite the ludicrous rack rate of $450 a night.

The highest profile location slated for a new hotel is in Hamilton on the corner of Par-la-Ville Road and Church Street, overlooking the city's prettiest park. In June Starwood Hotels announced their plans to open a luxury St Regis hotel with 140 rooms, a spa, infinity pool, 4,000 square-foot ballroom and a grand outdoor courtyard. This morning it still looked like a car park but according to a spokeswoman developers plan to break ground next summer.

In August last year I wrote about the old Club Med hotel in the UNESCO World Heritage town of St George's, which sat closed for 18 years before finally being demolished. Developer Carl Bazarian (who was on the US Airlines flight that landed in the River Hudson) is the developer behind the Grand Hyatt. This is an important project for Premier Brown and there was a huge fanfare when Hyatt signed the agreement to build on this beautiful site at the far east end of the island. Nick Faldo was also witness to the agreement and will be involved in the re-development of St George's Golf Club. Since then the usually media friendly Mr Bazarian has been slow in coming forward on updates to the project.

Morgan's Point is worth a blog post all on it's own. The former US Naval Base was handed back to Bermuda in 1995 but was badly polluted. It's 260 acres has been off-limits (right) to visitors and residents since May 1995 and is easily the largest piece of unutilized land in Bermuda. In 2007 The Jumeirah Group was attached to plans to turn the peninsula into a huge 900-room 5-star development but the Dubai investors will today be pleased that they managed to wriggle themselves out of that one. Before anything is done with the land there needs a mighty clean-up exercise to include the removal of all asbestos-containing materials and a number of underground fuel storage tanks plus several miles of underground fuel pipeline and the capping of two landfill sites. A messy business that will cost the taxpayer $30m.

New York based Scout Capital still advertise on their website their ownership of the former Wyndham/Sonesta Hotel on Southampton's South Shore. In January 2008 developers Scout announced plans for a $300 million resort called Southampton Beach but despite demolition being completed there is no tell-tale signs of new life and rumours say that Scout have become sellers and not developers of this 32-acre site.

In Warwick Parish the long abandoned Golden Hind restaurant site was earmarked for a residential and hotel development to be called Grand Atlantic Resort and Residents. The Government then stated that the area should be used for affordable housing in a public-private partnership with a completion date of 2013.

The historic but dilapidated old Canadian Hotel on Reid Street in Hamilton is another piece of property longed talked about as potential new hotel. Once owned by black businessman and major philanthropist James 'Dick' Richards the building was most recently a homeless retreat and is now owned by Ted Powell, who has recently said that they are still working on financing the project.

Bermuda continues to face a chicken and egg situation when it comes to tourism. The American cruise-liner traffic will still come but it is the lower end of the tourism dollar. People that arrive on the liners have everything they can possibly want on board including enough food to feed a small continent. They can stuff their fat faces on board, then crawl around a tropical island for a couple of hours, drink a rum swizzle and then get back on their boat just in time for an afternoon snack.

Top quality, service driven hotels will bring a different clientele to Bermuda, one willing to spend money in local businesses, thus boosting the economy but until the hotels are built and priced right, then those dollars will be absent from these shores.

It's funny that almost in every press release or website announcement developers claim that their project will be the first 5-star hotel built on the island since Clyde Best was a small boy, notwithstanding that at best these are still ideas in an architect's head or in an investment house's trash bin, the first actual 5-star hotel opened on the island in April.

Privately owned Tuckers Point Hotel (left) is a beautiful property situated at Castle Harbour at the east end of the island and looks very endearing on the eye. However bearing in mind how very expensive everything is, in my experience and I have heard the same from many people the service is truly shocking and a quick glance at Trip Advisor suggests recent visitors think that way too.
 
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
  Hogges to switch to PDL? An announcement is expected to be made soon of Bermuda Hogges resignation from the 3rd tier of American's soccer league the USL 2 and that they will instead join the US Premier Development League (PDL) which is an amateur set up for players under 23, although the rules do allow for some players older. This would be a much better move in my mind for the Hogges and will allow Bermuda's younger players to thrive in what is a competitive and well organised shop window for the MLS and teams in Europe.

As I discussed last week the USL is a ramshackle collection of professional local sides, now severely dented by the ego's of men who think a splinter league (the NASL) is a better place to show their talents to each other and a few hundred fans each week. The Hogges fitted very nicely into the USL and successfully managed to come bottom, 2nd from bottom and bottom in the last 3 seasons.

However football men with the ability and passion of Kyle Lightbourne and Shaun Goater and part owner and club secretary Paul Scope's hard work and money deserved better and with the support of the Bermudian Football Association and importantly better desire from the countries best young players the PDL should turn out to be a much better option if the country is to have any success in the Olympics, Pan Am Games, the CONCACAF Gold Cup and even World Cup qualification.

The PDL is a showcase for the best young talent coming out of schools in North America and both Jonathan Spector and Watford captain Jay DeMerit both served their apprenticeship in the league before moving to England. 68 teams are split into 8 divisions and include a number of MLS' youth teams such as the Chicago Fire. Games are regularly shown on the Fox Soccer Channel and somehow watching youth football is far more enjoyable than the old has beens or never has been of the USL. I hope the Hogges make the switch. 
About Me
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.
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