Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Thursday 30 September 2004
  There she blows?
It is not all Twinkies, apple pie and hot dogs living in the Land of the Free you know? Most American's live with the continuous threat of surrounding natural catastrophe's. Just this summer the States has been hit by four hurricanes, a sizeable earthquake and now experts are saying that Mount St Helens has a 70% chance of erupting in the next few days.

The area around Mount St Helens has been sealed off after geologists noticed tiny quakes were happening three or four times a minute with larger ones with magnitudes of 3 to 3.3 occuring every three to four minutes. The volcano erupted almost 25 years ago killing 57 people and sending half a billion tons of ash into the air. It left the nearest major city, Portland in Oregon - 50 miles away - covered in a thick layer of ash (buy gifts here!). Keep an eye on what is happening here with VolcanoCam.

Meteorologists say the 2004 hurricane season has been among the most destructive of the past 100 years. Hurricane's Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne have all swept through the East Coast of the United States causing 'insured' damage in excess of $30bn. Of course this is just the insured amount, in my experience people who live in trailers don't normally have insurance at the top of their priorities.

Between them, the four hurricanes have killed dozens and forced millions more to evacuate their homes across the Caribbean and three southern US states during the last six weeks and with the hurricane season still with 8 weeks to run, it probably ain't worth fixing that roof just yet.

For residents of Southern California, earthquakes are an unavoidable part of life. Californians don't only have sun, skiing, wine and a major economy (scarily managed by Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger), they also live on the San Andreas Fault, which runs almost the entire length of California. The last major tremor was in 1994 (6.7) and there was a less damaging reminder last week (above) but ask anyone from LA and they will say "we are due one."

Residents of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas also face a possible threat from the earth moving and not always after dark. The New Madrid seismic zone runs across the five states where they border the Mississippi River. The last serious shake was in 1811 mind.

Because of their devastating potential, there is great interest in predicting the location and time of large earthquakes. Psychics, cranks and self-deluded people are always doing it but although a great deal is known about where earthquakes are likely, there is currently no reliable way to predict the days or months when an event will occur in any specific location. Just look where you're going when walking down the sidewalk.
  Bye, bye Twinkies
The big news of the past week in America was not the impending live Presidential debates or the tightening of Immigration controls at airports but the demise of the famous snack cake Hostess Twinkies. Manufacturer Interstate Bakeries who employ 33,000 and whose shares have lost 90% (more) of its value since March filed for bankruptcy last week.

For those of you that have never experienced a Twinkie, they are cream-filled sponge cakes shaped like ladyfingers which pack 160 calories per cake and are loaded with all kinds of 'goodies' like shed loads of trans fats, despite this you won't be surprised to hear that they are mighty popular in the USA, with 500 million baked each year.

There is a popular urban myth that Twinkies are made entirely out of artificial ingredients, and contain no food products whatsoever, therefore they have a very long shelf life (possibly decades). At some point many years ago Hostess over produced Twinkies by the billions (possibly due to an error in market research), and could not sell all their stock. So Hostess stored the billions of excess Twinkies in a giant warehouse and have been distributing them ever since. Nasty.

Twinkies have been around for almost 75 years and Americans eat them in all kinds of ways, mostly three at a time and preferably deep fried. Yuk.
Wednesday 29 September 2004
  Ramblings So what has been happening around here recently? Here in Chicago the NFL season has started and the Bears don't seem to be as toilet as last time. They have a new coach called Lovie Smith who is a headline writer's dream. Lovie was recruited from the St Louis Rams, who used to be the Los Angeles Rams (Cleveland before that) but packed their bags into a RV and parked up in St Louis a few years back.

Whilst on this tack, the Montreal Expos baseball team has been awarded to the City of Washington DC! Montreal will play what appears to be it's last home game tonight against Florida at the Olympic Stadium. A little thought for the thousands, if albeit few, Montreal baseball fans? Nope, not a chance.

I actually get my first live taste of American Football on Saturday when I head up to Wisconsin to watch a college game. In what is essentially our non league, college sport is in many corners far more popular than professional sports here in the US. It is considered more competitive, more passionate and has a raw edge to it with players doing it for the love and the ambition as opposed to the money.

The attendences at college 'football' are huge. Wisconsin Badgers, for example, had 82,000 last week against Penn State and are expecting similiar on Saturday against Illinois. Some of the college stadiums are enormous, University of Michigan regulary pull in 110,000 screaming college kids. My old school sports teams used to be watched by a couple of obsessed parents and an old man and his dog.

34 days to go before the Presidential Elections. Bush is leading in the polls by 8% according to latest polls - a slimmer lead than a couple of weeks back as both candidates limber up for the first of three Presidential debates in Miami tomorrow night.

In the meantime British hostage Kenneth Bigley begs again for his life while the release of two Italian aid workers was considered to be worth $1m by the Italian government. What to do, eh Tony?

On a happier note the Chicago summer is still with us with temperatures of 80+ the past weekend although it did drop a tad yesterday. I have belatedly included some Chicago links on What was the score? but I have still to come across a blog worth championing.

Question. Why does it take so long to make a cup of coffee in Starbucks? Another question? Why does a Chicago taxi driver always answer a request for a destination with a puzzled look and then asks for the best way to get there? I dunno, you're the cab driver.

I was at the 'Friendly Confines' again last night, well not actually in the stadium, but on a roof on top of an apartment block. Bloody cold it was too by the end of the game in which they got hammered 8-3 by the Cincinnati Reds.

The rooftops at Wrigley Field are another part of it's uniqueness. In a legal battle earlier this year the Cubs struck a deal with the majority of rooftop owners that has the them paying about 17% of their revenues to the team, whereas before they paid nout. Once upon a time of course locals sat on their roof's on a deckchair with a Bud and a hotdog, now the buildings are owned by business men who charge upwards of a $100 per head for the pleasure to sit on a bolted terrace like seat with the same Bud and hotdog.

The 13 rooftops surrounding the stadium are estimated to bring in revenue of $10m per season and following the Cubs announcement that they were to extend the bleachers and thus block the view of the rooftops it all came to a head, resulting in the legal agreement. However the stadium, opened in 1914 has more pressing matters such as the pieces of falling concrete from the underside of the upper deck!

Anyway, the Cubs are contriving to throw away their place in the wild card. They lost again this afternoon to the Reds 4-3 and are now behind the San Francisco Giants and level with the Houston Astros who both play tonight.

The Race for the Wild Card:

Monday 27 September 2004
  Blackburn at home. What was the score? 1-0 I know diddly squat about our game tonight. I was at the airport (again) after a superb weekend in which so much was crammed. I got a text from Vito informing me of the win and the goalscorer. Upon further investigation it sounds like we are slowly getting it together with improvement all over the pitch particularly from Murphy, Hughes, El Karkouri and Young. It was a shame about losing Jeffers early on because I really would like to see him & Lisbie with a run in the team together.

According to Inspector Sands the game was "comical", always a good sign. There never was much laughter on a journey home after a defeat.

Reports from those who were there: All Quiet; The Guardian; The Independent.
Wednesday 22 September 2004
  Notice to Charlton fans
Rustle, rustle. Number 6. Charlton Athletic. Will play. Rustle, rustle. Number 10. The Cheese Rolls.

Note to less passionate Charlton fans. This game may not be for the faint hearted. Please feel free to join in or stay at home.
Tuesday 21 September 2004
  Slippery fish avoided
Well we survived the banana skin, or should that read fish skin? Do fish have skin? Oh well, it doesn't matter. I followed it on the BBC London commentary and although I kept being ruddy interupted by work people - I ask you? Do they not know this is the 2nd Round of the Carling Cup? - it did sound that we were under the cosh for large parts of the game.

I think the corner count was something like 10-2 to them and as the official site put it, "Dean Kiely, the crossbar, the North Sea wind and some poor finishing, as well as two excellent finishes from the two Merseysiders were the only reason the Premiership side beat a League Two side who just 10 days previously had been hammered by Macclesfield Town."

So, we are still playing shite but are sitting 10th in the table and through to the 3rd Round of the Carling Cup. Could be worse, could be trying to get myself out of the Sainsbury's car park with 4,000 others after watching that pile of pony called Chrystal Palarse.

Reports from those who were there: Sporting Life; Super Clive.
Monday 20 September 2004
  Same old Europe, taking the piss
Not since The 7 year war had Europeans taken the piss on American soil as much as they did at the weekend in Michigan.

The European team clinched the 35th Ryder Cup 18½-9½, their biggest margin in the 77-year history of the competition and let me tell you, it has been a pleasure being at work today amongst the septics. I picked up a few bets although no one gave me odds despite my best efforts and their overwhelming confidence leading up to the event. In the world's top 20 rankings only 3 Europeans feature whilst there are 9 American's.

Despite this the European team led by German Bernhard Langer clearly oozed team spirit and togetherness unlike our American cousins who have a well known dislike of each other, (more) although their leader Hal Sutton did give the press a few laughs with his well known direct style. (more)

At the 18th hole the finishing players were met by a 'soccer' styled frenzy as the Europeans sung such classic's as, "When Bernhard goes up to lift the Ryder Cup, we'll be there, we'll be there," whilst the Yanks skulked home in their gas guzzling SUV's.

When asked if there might be a few beers afterwards Darren Clark replied, "It's 1745 now, we've got to be in the hotel lobby at 0545 for our flight, so we've got 12 hours," Love it.
Saturday 18 September 2004
  Birmingham away. What was the score? 1-1 I came into work this morning and in fact am still here. I couldn't get the commentary on the BBC London site as it kept fading so listened and watched Sky's online Soccer Saturday where Alan Smith's dulcet tones accompanied our game.

It sounded like the first half was pretty pants but the important thing was that we were much more solid and I was pleased that we were frustrating them Bluenoses. Curbs made some changes dropping Rommedahl, Euell and Jeffers to the bench, Murphy & Kish kept their places though. Clearly Bryan Hughes and Talal El-Karkouri (I'm sure I read somewhere that he was a defender?) were installed to provide a much stronger line of defence across the middle and that clearly worked.

Then out of the blue Alan Smith tell's me that we've scored and it's Luke Young again. Sounded like Lisbie could have and should have scored but the ball fell to Young who tapped it in.

Then they went down to 10 men when Damien Johnson got sent off and I wondered if that would wake up St Andrews which it clearly did as Bruce brought on Dwight Yorke and David Dunn and it was Yorke who powered in a header to equalise from a corner.

It was a shame we couldn't hang on with a man advantage but it did seem a huge improvement with another fine performance from Perry, safely back from his kidnapping and Fortune. It was nice also to see Curbs throw on Romm & Euell late on in an effort to make 1 point 3.

According to the Inspector only 600 made the trip, which was about the same that went in '96 (see below) - proving my logic again on the home v away support debate. Nevertheless it sounded like there was a few sore throats on the train back which is good.

Reports from those who were there: All Quiet;; Addicks Diary; Sky Sports.
Friday 17 September 2004
  Time to get behind them It's times like now that I have pangs of homesickness because I know if I was at home I would be going to bed about now with that little feeling of apprehension mixed with excitement that only a planned away journey can bring. Because tomorrow see, is the kind of game I would have rounded up some mates for and got our arses up to St Andrews for no other reason than they need our support and backing.

I remember in the 95/96 season a few of us going to St Andrews on a Sunday in the freezing cold of January to watch us play in front of the TV Camera's when the easy option was to role out of bed late and watch the midday kick off in the cosy sanctuary of our own homes. It was never an option, we were coming off the back of some mixed results despite being 2nd in the table and Birmingham were unbeaten at home and 3 places behind us. Charlton needed the hardy 600 or so fans that day and they rewarded us handsomely.

We went 3 up in the first half and were taking the piss quite frankly - Grant and Leaburn added to an early own goal, although City scored just before half time and then again early in the 2nd half. John Robinson then got a 4th but then City scored again and we were left to hang on in the dying minutes (wouldn't be Charlton otherwise of course). I remember it being a bit naughty outside after the game as well.

So if like Inspector Sands you are going tomorrow, support and encourage every player in a red shirt like your life depended on it. Come on you Reds.
Thursday 16 September 2004
  Target 10,000 A little round of self congratulatory applause never goes amiss, particularly as I had no one to clap in a red shirt on Monday night. On Sunday, after just 3 months, What was the score? swept past 10,000 page views which I'm quite chuffed about. Over 80% of the 10,000 'hits' according to Bravenet have been from unique visitors, i.e. a visitor that has not visited in the previous 24 hours.

What was the score? means a lot of things to me and is a living document of my time in Chicago as I learn even more about myself and other people after a rollercoaster couple of years in my life. It is also my blank canvas to write down emotions, thoughts and opinions about a whole host of stuff primarily of course my love for Charlton Athletic which is a relationship that is approaching it's 20th year. It does sometimes upset me though that the relationship is a bit one sided!

Now I know my Mum is a regular visitor to What was the score? but I accept that not everyone is interested in whether I am eating my greens or not. Without a doubt most of my visitors come from Forever Charlton, which all fans would agree is a wonderful source of a wide variety of Charlton news and views. Then of course there is the traffic from the rapidly expanding Charlton blog society.

I remember back in June when Inspector Sands had these words to say about the birth of What was the score? "please be upstanding for a new Charlton blog: Chicago Addick. There's room for more than one of us in this town, you know?" One? Blimey, what have you started Inspector?
Monday 13 September 2004
  Southampton home. What was the score? 0-0 How terrible was that? Martin Tyler said during the commentary that "if you were watching Charlton for the first time, then believe me this is not a typical performance." Well the two of us in the pub - the barman and I were not impressed.

There were times last season - pre Parker's move - when I thought we had one of the best midfield's in the Premiership. This season and particularly without Holland it is looking like any team can out think, out pass and out battle us in the crucial middle third of the pitch. The midfield stunk tonight - and you could perm anyone from the 7 players who tried their luck there - they were all atrocious.

Euell had the look of a chicken without it's head, Kishishev cannot replace work rate with quality, fact, and Murphy is looking like we signed him from Lincoln and not Liverpool - did he put one pass to a team mate all match? Rommedahl received a lot of the ball in the first period and got himself into good positions but his final touch was woeful.

The strikers can probably escape criticism because all they received were high and wayward passes, although I would question why Jeffers had to make way for JJ and not Lisbie or is it only Curbs who sees his threat?

Fortune was our best player by bundles. He handled the threat of Beattie and Phillips exceptionally well. Perry looked a touch rusty but also came out of the game with some credit and Kiely looked more assured and made an excellent save to prevent Delap scoring. A point most definitely won but Curbs, it needs to get better than this.

Reports from those who were there: Sky Sports;; Football 365.
  Paulo scores on debut
Yesterday was the first day of the new Serie A season and our old friend Paulo Di Canio was making all the headlines. He scored the only goal from the penalty spot on his debut for Lazio against Sampdoria but not before clashing with team mate Simone Inzaghi who is the regular penalty taker for his new team.

Inzaghi did not celebrate the goal and he and Di Canio had to be pulled apart by the other members of the team after Paulo celebrated in his normal fashion (see video).

"He wanted to take the penalty, but for me it was something that was too important. I've always taken penalties." (more)

Good old Paulo.
Sunday 12 September 2004
  It's not like the good old days - Carlisle '86 Memories are wonderful things. Some of my best ever memories have been sitting or standing in the rain cheering a win or a draw or a goal or a last ditch goal line clearance (Minto at Leeds in the Cup). Then there was the time when the sun shone on all Addicks at Wembley, one of the greatest days of my life. You can't change the past and despite some of the things that have happened to our club, we probably wouldn't want too but I have noticed how we have all become a little bit nostalgic recently perhaps pining (maybe only a little) for the good old days....

Carlisle United, Brunton Park, 3rd May, 1986
It was a very early start for me and my bro'. Four* of us were going and we were on the first train out of Hither Green to Euston in readiness for the long journey to Cumbria. We only needed a point from our two remaining games (we had fellow promotion candidates Wimbledon at Selhurst still to play), but like a couple of thousand other Addicks we wanted to see us win promotion in style at Bob Stokoe's Carlisle, who themselves needed to win to avoid relegation.

The 1985/86 season will of course go down in history, not because of our promotion but because of the badly photocopied piece of paper stuffed into our hands outside The Valley before a game on September 7th, 1985. Amazingly we only lost 2 of our subsequent 'home' games that season after our enforced tenure away from our real home, where fittingly we had left with a 100% home record.

Our form at Selhurst was combined with some excellent away victories at places like Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Brighton, where we won 5-3 and a superb away performance on April 23rd against Fulham when even the most pessimistic fans started believing in promotion.

Lennie Lawrence had put together probably the best Charlton team in decades and after losing to Portsmouth in mid March we never lost another game that season, winning 8 and losing 5 of the remaining 13 games and it was Portsmouth who were snapping on our heels for one of the two remaining promotion spots as Norwich had already been crowned Champions.

The fans on the train were in good spirits, cards were played, newspapers read and stories swapped. I had never been on such a long train journey in my life and it seemed to take ages. We finally arrived at Carlisle Station and I remember it being a nice little town, my brother was an old looking 15 so we had a couple of shandy's in the pub but the nerves were starting to appear despite talk of the 2-1 victory at Brunton Park that secured our promotion (from old 3rd to old 2nd) in the 1980/81 season.

At the turnstile we were searched by police and as I turned round my brother was being shoved away by a local bobby because they had confiscated a bus ticker roll from him and he had given them loads of backchat! It took me a good 10 minutes to convince the spotty young PC to let him into the ground. We, or should I say my brother did not travel 300 miles to sit on a park bench for 2 hours to wait for the train home.

The Charlton boys were in good voice and it was the locals who were more nervous as kick off arrived. We were standing under cover in the north east corner of the ground and as always the late red contingent from the pub enforced the opening of the Petterill End too as fans spilled around behind the goal.

What followed can only be described as a typical Charlton performance. We were 2 goals down after 20 odd minutes. A centre half called Saunders scored twice. We had a lot better goal difference than Pompey but if I remember rightly they rushed into an early 3 goal lead at home to Bradford (they eventually won 4-0) and Wimbledon had 2 games left including one against us. There was a look of increduality around us as good old Charlton contrived to throw the whole thing away and with the Carlisle fans in full voice, no one could have expected what was to come with 5 minutes of the first half remaining.

A man called Jim Tolmie not only changed the game but probably Carlisle's history because they have never recovered from that season's relegation. From fully 25 yards (tell me if I'm exaggerating) he swerved with the help of a gust of Cumbrian wind a marvellous effort past his own goalkeeper and into the net to bring us back into the game at the half.

The 2nd period was all Charlton and we took control of the match. Mark Stuart (where is he now?) weaved his way past a couple of defenders to equalise and then with us singing promotion songs in between looking at our watches, Mark Aizlewood (where is he now?) collected the ball in the middle of the pitch and I can see to this day the determination in his eyes as he moved forward and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the back of the net. 3-2, we were back in the top division for the first time in almost 30 years and dreaming of trips to Old Trafford and Anfield as Lennie Lawrence (where is he now?) was carried aloft by fans on the pitch.

It was a lot shorter journey home, although the real journey started when we got back to Euston and all public transport had stopped. It didn't matter we walked, sang and hugged getting home to waiting parents at 4 in the morning.

Team: Johns; Humphrey, Reid, Thompson, Pender; Lee, Shipley, Aizlewood (capt), Stuart; Melrose, Pearson; Sub: Gritt
Attendance: 6,526
Final Div 2 table.

* One of my mates that came with us that day was Carl Prosser. Carl considered himself a bit of a neutral football fan. He was born in Bradford and therefore had a soft spot for the Bantams. He was also a bit of a closet Millwall fan but followed CAFC on a lot of away games, however in those days his one ambition was to visit the 92 league grounds and what better way to see Brunton Park.

A month or so back Carl died very suddenly aged 37. He was an absolute diamond of a person and this posting is tributed to him. He ended up running his own business with another old school friend which included numerous football related local media as well as the production of the Millwall fanzine The Lion Roars.
Saturday 11 September 2004
  We will never forget I can't let today go, without remembering 176 of my work colleagues who died 3 years ago after two hijacked planes hit the World Trade Center in New York. Some I knew, some I knew off, most I had never met in my life. I, like millions of others will never forget that day for as long as I am lucky to live.
  Chris Powell - a true gent I wonder what Chris Powell will be thinking after spending today's West Ham game against Sheffield United on the bench. True he did only sign on Friday but Rufus Brevitt is a tidy player and will be tough to remove in a space of 4 weeks.

I had the great pleasure to spend 10 days with Chris and his beautiful wife and little girl in Sardinia once after we met on the first night of both of our summer's holiday. He was a very fine person indeed, about as normal as you are going to get in a modern day professional but as he said, after being shown the door at Sainsbury's and then playing on loan at Aldershot, he was not exactly born with the proverbial silver football at his feet.

I must admit I haven't come across many footballers in my time, although I do count Rob Lee as a mate and I did have a pint with Scott Minto & Anthony Barness in Henrys, Bromley on a couple of occasions and then there was Phil Warman's niece who I went out with many moons ago - some of my mates took great delight in telling me that they could see the resemblance mind!

However Chris Powell was a very intelligent & fun bloke and it was just after his first call up for England and he told us the story of him being so nervous that he turned up at the hotel the squad were staying at 3 hours early and proceeded to wait in his car for the next player to appear who then happened to be David Beckham. Powell said his legs just went very wobbly at the sight of the young protege greeting him in a car park.

I have a photo of me and Ronaldo (the goofy one) in my apartment in Chicago which was taken from the same holiday. The Inter Milan players were using the hotel's spa as part of a summer break and I didn't know who was more star-struck, me or Chris?

We did swap numbers but I never kept in touch, unless you call cheering from the East Stand at the sight of him jumping out of the tunnel after a home victory. Another great memory of him was his first game back at Derby after we signed him. I have never seen an opposing player get such a long and rousing reception. Good luck Chris, you deserve it.
  Cubs win, Bolton draw I went along to Gingers Ale House this morning and met a mate for breakfast (American, Newcastle fan with a good understanding of the game) and we watched the Bolton v Man U match. It was a decent game with two unbelievable cock ups in injury time, one gifting Sir Les what looked likely to be a winner but then United snatched a draw when David Bellion scrambled home from close in following uncertainty from Jaaskelainen.

Despite the hordes of foreigners Sam Allardyce has signed during the past couple of years, I am amazed to still see Anthony Barness (see above) playing at left back, especially as I've always been convinced he is better right footed. Wasn't he another player Curbs converted?

I came home and watched Tim Henman lose another Grand Slam semi final. He battled well but it was not enough losing in 3 sets to the phenomenal Roger Federer.

Last night I was at Wrigley Field to see the Chicago Cubs - who I have seen probably 14 times this summer and have taken to my heart - beat the Florida Marlins 11-2. It was a double header, making up one of the games lost between the two sides in a Hurricane swept Miami last weekend. Fortunately we were too late for the earlier game which saw the Marlins win easily 7-0.

The Cubs also won this afternoon, the 3rd in the 4 game series 5-2, which puts them ahead in the National League Wild Card race. Unlike other American sports where almost everyone qualifies for a play off, in Baseball only the 3 divisional winners make it plus the best runner up in each League. I think I will do regular Cubs updates on here as we approach the last few weeks of the regular season.
Thursday 9 September 2004
  Come on Timmy! I have been taking a keen interest in the US Tennis Open. Tim Henman has just won his quarter final match against Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty 6-1 7-5 5-7 6-2 and will play Roger Federer on Saturday (September 11th) in New York. Both of the men's semi's will sandwich the women's final at Flushing Meadow on what the New Yorkers call their "Super Saturday."

I am a bit of a cynic when it comes to Henmania, but his confidence is noticably improving and without the huge weight of expectation that hangs around his neck at home and with his back to worry about and not his opponent, this might just be Tim's time.

Next Tuesday also sees the start of the Ryder Cup which will take place not too far from here at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield, Michigan. Is this the only time that us Brit's feel part of Europe?
Sunday 5 September 2004
  Something old, something new I see the issue of our new found supporters has been a matter for debate again on message boards and blogs. This thought has been with me ever since half time of the Villa game when Steve Gritt and an older player (his name escapes me) were introduced to the crowd to not a lot of interest from those around me in the Covered End. Now, Steve Gritt is a modern day legend at our club and deserved a bit more than a small ripple of applause in my book. Whether the majority of the crowd were shocked at being 2-0 up at half time or more concerned with their balti pie's I don't know, but there has definitely been a shift away from the very passionate support we had home and away in the days leading up to the return to the Valley.

This of course comes with the territory of being a growing and successful club, both of which we have been. The game appeals to the new modern day fan because of the cosy and safe 'atmosphere's' that can be found inside football stadiums and we live in a world where Sky has stolen football from my generation who were told by their Dad's that the only way to see a game was to wrap up warm, and come and stand on the terraces with them. Kids and adults have more lifestyle decisions now and a 100 quid a pop Saturday afternoon (if you're lucky) is not always top of the list.

The expectation that success brings has unquestionably muted the atmosphere at The Valley as well as at other stadiums, not helped of course by bigger new all seated stands and complete stadia. At Charlton we have become particularly good at clapping. Now this is a start but when the drummer starts the Red Army chant the folk in the East and West stands clap, but don't sing. It cannot be because they don't know the words, maybe it's because they're embarrassed or they don't want to upset the family in the next row. Well fuck them, singing has not yet become a crime in football stadiums - although I did get warned once at Loftus Road for being too noisy!

I can see why the 30 and 40 somethings are pining for the 'old days' a little and god, no I don't want us to get relegated before you ask, but when I'm out in the pub with my brother and our mates, why is it the talk is always of Grimsby away, or that trip to Hereford in the League Cup on a Tuesday night or getting chased down the road at Stoke eh?

As I commented to New York Addick after his excellent posting today, our away support has not grown in line with our away support (see this thread on Net Addicks too) because of the reason's above combined with costs and that we are missing a generation of supporters because of our enforced absence from the Valley - the 18-25 year old's who do have more disposable income and time. I do however disagree with NYA when he says it doesn't matter. It does, it is measure of how a clubs size and support is judged, and football fans will always point a finger at a teams away support, good or bad. This goes some way to explain why I have always had a smidgen of respect for teams like Brighton and Bristol Rovers whose away support belies their home.

What we need is to bring back some of what made being a fan, a Charlton fan, incomparable and it hasn't got to mean the swearing and the trouble, it just needs some organisation and communication and perhaps for the newer fans (and you are very welcome honestly) to realise that there was a Charlton pre 1998.

Look out for a little series I will be running on What was the score? entitled "It's not like the 'good' old days." soon.
  Stuff This is a long weekend in the States with Labor Day Monday which signifies the end of the summer although the weather is pretty nice here in the Windy City (85 according to my weather chart) at the moment, pity the same can't be said for Florida, which must be awful for the people down there.

It has been nice to just do nothing and relax after travelling loads recently resulting in forever playing catch up at work and being really, really tired. It does seem like I spend most of my life on planes or waiting for them. I worked out that I have been in my 'new' apartment 8 weekends and each one has been mad, half of which I have been overseas.

This week's TV and media was taken up with the Republican Convention in New York where President George W Bush's Thursday night 'Stand with me' speech (clearly not written by 'Dubya' himself) was the highlight. We had tears, smiles (he always seems so pleased with himself), winks and a few self criticisms, "You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. People sometimes have to correct my English," he said. "I knew I had a problem when Arnold Schwarzenegger started doing it". Um, think that is not the only flaw George. Invading countries for no reason at all is one other that comes to mind.

Thursday was a tough day for me. My son started school on Thursday 4,000 miles away. As a parent it is probably one of those days that you need and want to be a part of, I obviously wasn't. However he spoke excitedly to me on the phone afterwards. He loved it. According to my ex, whilst other kids cried and clung t0 their Mum's he went and sat at his new desk and wondered what all the fuss was about. I guess, some of the things he has been through and conquered in his little life have held him in good stead.

I watched the England game yesterday - like my fellow exile New York Addick, it also cost me 20 bucks for the pleasure. How many times have we seen David James make crucial fuck ups like that? I know goalkeepers get more scrutiny than most, but surely now is the time to establish Paul Robinson as our number 1? And maybe it's something they put in the water over here, but like NY Addick I wonder what has happened to David Beckham. He was no threat in possession at all, either looking for a free kick or just needlessly giving the ball away. There were certainly no signs of his acknowledged leading by example qualities and surely Sven can't go on picking him (at present) because of his dead ball qualities? Portugal, Turkey, hello?

I see that huge club Southampton are in the news again with the story that Rupert Lowe is considering employing the ex England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward. "We are interested in learning about the techniques he used to win the Rugby World Cup." (more) Plenty more long balls then. And Millwall have unearthed another gem in Graham Stack. Perhaps he will end up at Aston Villa next season with that other twat.

Charlton fan blog mania has hit the web. There seems to be one born everyday. Among them are Roehampton Addick, the off-the-wall musing's of Reet Smoot, fellow exile New York Addick, Wyn Grant's Addick's Diary (exiled in Leamington!) and Goodbye Horse who has come into the warm confines of blogger after standing outside the fish & chip shop for years. Dave at Forever Charlton calls it the re-emergence of the fanzine days. I don't know about that but it's certainly a wonderful new medium and an excellent way to put dreams, worries, thoughts and pub talk down onto paper (sic) to either share or for ones own piece of mind. To all Charlton bloggers - Keep it going.
  Have you seen this man?
What was the Score? is joining the campaign started by All Quiet in the East Stand to find missing centre back Chris Perry. Please report any sightings.
Friday 3 September 2004
  Live Strong
The yellow rubber wristband produced by the Lance Armstrong Foundation has become one of the summer's 'must haves'. Cyclist Lance Armstrong, who set up the foundation after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 is the brain's behind the yellow band to raise awareness and money for the Foundation. "Yellow wakes me up in the morning. Yellow gets me on the bike every day. Yellow has taught me the true meaning of sacrifice. Yellow makes me suffer. Yellow is the reason I'm here." (more)

Armstrong in one of sports most amazing stories not only survived cancer but has since gone on to win every Tour de France since 1999.

The bands are priced at a $1 each and the first 5 million were sold by Nike, which also donated $1 million to the cause. By mid July these were gone, a further 6 million were made and stocks have almost been entirely exhausted raising more than $11m for the foundation and making them almost impossible to get hold of. The charity has announced that they have no plans to produce more bands once the final ones are sold as they have made more than they planned to fund this year's events and projects.

All manner of stars have been seen wearing them showing support for people battling cancer, mine has a dual meaning as it was given to me by someone very close to me.

But as always there are people out there trying to make financial gain. They are being sold on Ebay for upwards of $46. It makes me sick.
Thursday 2 September 2004
  Aphrodite, Apollo, Zeus, Holmes & Pinsent
I'm sure the Olympics used to last longer than 2 weeks? It kind of came and went but I did enjoy my 4 yearly fill of Archery, rowing, judo and beach volleyball (oh, what a wonderful invention that is?). One of my (many) life time ambitions is to attend an Olympic games, I was nowhere near Athens but did manage to watch as much of it as I could in 3 different countries - United States, Bermuda and the UK - on television.

After much concern whether Athens would be ready and able to host a modern Olympics, from what I saw and read it was a raging success - though try telling that to the non capital living Greek taxpayers? There were some empty seats at various competitions, such as the football and tennis and the swimming pool might have been missing it's roof, but overall the Greeks brought together the old and the new extremely well with the shot put contest at the Ancient Olympia being one of the highlights.

Ignoring the Eastern Bloc boycotted 1984 Los Angleles games this was the most succesful Olympic Games for GB since 1924. 30 medals - 9 golds, 9 silver and 12 bronze - was 2 more than we won in Sydney, so it was "mission accomplished" according to British Olympic Association boss Simon Clegg, but was it?

Outside of Kelly Holmes' supreme achievement, heptathlete Kelly Sotherton's bronze and the surprise if not magnificent gold won by the 4x100m boys (above), the track and field team (58 athletes took part) was hugely disappointing. Too many of our frankly not good enough competitors were eliminated in early heats.

Our Field Hockey team (gold medalist's in 1988) managed their worst finish for 36 years (9th) whilst their women counterparts did not even qualify. The shooting team, traditionally a good bet for medals, had a nightmare with Sydney winner Richard Faulds failing to even reach the final. Our Judo and Taekwondo teams also left without a medal after being heavily fancied.

And always the bridesmaid never the bride Tim Henman was on the plane home as quick as you could say Hercules, beaten in 2 straight sets by a Czech. Even worse for our Timmy was the match was played in front of just a handful of spectators.

However there were some truly great moments. Who will forget Kelly Holmes running the perfect race to win the 1,500m following on from her 800m earlier in that week? She is only the third woman in history to do the double and something that even the 'great' Coe, Ovett and Cram never acheived.

The 100m sprint is the vanilla Olympic event and after the American's won 5 of the 6 medals in the mens individual 100 and 200m, the relay was considered a non event. However we watched in awe as Jason Gardener, Darren Campbell, Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis changed baton's faultlessly to sprint home one hundredth of a second in front of the decorated USA team. I enjoyed that I can tell you?

Then there was rower Matthew Pinsent who broke down in tears on the medal podium. I am told that this man has the biggest lung capacity in the UK. He is a legend, just like his mate Steve Redgrave.

Shirley Robertson, Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb won the sailing Yngling class, it was Robertson's second straight gold after winning the single-handed Europe class in Sydney. This was then followed by a gold from my tip Ben Ainslie. The sailing team won two gold medals, one silver and two bronzes to emulate the five-medal haul from Sydney in 2000. Amazingly we have now won 19 sailing gold medals since the 1900 Olympic Games, one more than the USA.

Professional cyclist Bradley Wiggins won a full coloured set of medals and Chris Hoy smashed the Olympic 1km time trial record to also win a gold. Two other tips came good too. Diving pair Peter Waterfield and Leon Taylor won a synchronised silver and in the modern pentathlon which was devised by the founder of the modern games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, as the ultimate test for the complete athlete, Georgina Harland run a massive last running leg to claim a superb bronze.

The other lasting memories were from 17 year old Bolton boy Amir Khan. I watched him in the early rounds and was memorised, unfortunately I missed the lightweight division final as I was sat at an airport, but there was no disgrace as he took silver after losing 30-22 to triple Olympic champion Mario Kindelan, who was one of six Cubans to win a boxing gold.

This is a full list of our medal winners.

Among other men and women who grabbed their chance of Olympic notriety were American swimmer Michael Phelps who left Athens with six golds and two bronzes, narrowly failing to emulate Mark Spitz's tally of seven golds in Munich 32 years ago. Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj crowned his glorious career with gold in the 1500 and 5,000m. This man had held every title in middle distance but until last week a gold medal had always eluded him. It took American Justin Gatlin just 9.85 seconds to blast from virtual unknown to immortality, winning the closest Olympic 100 metres final in history by one hundredth of a second.

Greek's Fani Halkia, hailed as a 'Winged Goddess', took the 400 metres hurdles gold, China's Liu Xiang won the men's 110 metres hurdles gold in world record time (equalling Colin Jackson's 1995 mark) while Xing Huina scored one of the biggest upsets by winning the women's 10,000 metres.

Then there was Greek weightlifting hero Pyrros Dimas who had won gold in the last 3 Olympics. This time he had to settle for bronze in the 85kg class, but he got a 5 minute standing ovation from his loving public which brought the medal ceremony to a halt.

The Iraqi football team was not surprisingly adopted by the American public (and politicans) as they captured everyone's heart but eventually lost in the Semi's to Paraguay. Ryu Seung-min became the first South Korean to win an Olympic gold in the Chinese dominated table tennis and Argentina ushered in a new world order in Basketball as the country that invented the game and pay their NBA stars millions of dollars lost 3 times - they had never lost in 68 years previously! "Shooting is a lost art (in the U.S.)," lamented U.S. coach Larry Brown. Oh dear.

Inevitably doping scarred the Games. Doping doubts permeated these Olympics like never before, with centre stage taken by Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou. The couple missed drugs tests and then sought refuge in hospital after claiming to have been involved in a late-night motorcycle accident. This was then played out like a world TV reality show that overshadowed the first week of the Games.

Russian Irina Korzhanenko won the first gold medal of the Games, finishing first in the women's shot put competition staged at Ancient Olympia to symbolise the return of the Olympics to the country where the ancient and modern Games originated. She then tested positive for the steroid stanozolol.

By the closing day 24 athletes had tested positive for banned substances - twice as many as in 2000.

And then from nowhere China stormed to 63 medals including 32 golds, easily their best ever medal haul as they get set to host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Will it be London's turn 4 years later. I hope so.
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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