Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Friday 29 July 2005
  Ahh, poor old Jose, Wosey.... "You think it's easy buying a goalkeeper or a central defender or a midfielder?"

"At a smaller club, I could buy six players for £20m - that's easier." (more).

A smaller club, eh. Jose surely does live in a dream world. Lets look at what Chelsea's Premiership 'rivals' have spent so far this summer:

Aston Villa £3.5m
Arsenal £10m
Birmingham £3m
Blackburn £5m
Bolton £5m (Diouff fee estimated at £5m)
Charlton £3.2m (Ambrose fee estimated at £700k)
Everton £8.75m
Fulham £1.3m
Liverpool £18m
Manchester City £0
Manchester United £6.75m
Middlesbrough £9.3m
Newcastle £11m (Krul fee estimated at £700k)
Portsmouth £3.5m
Sunderland £3.1m
Tottenham £5.5m + a ton more on the wageroll!
West Brom £1.5m
West Ham £7m (Collins and Gabbidon joint fee estimated at £3m)
Wigan £1.15m (Chimbonda fee estimated at £250k)

Even their two biggest challengers haven't spent £20m between them. Liverpool have been the biggest cash spenders, followed by Newcastle but they have nearly recouped all that they've laid out. It is Tottenham again that have caught my eye. Their wage bill must run Chelski's a close second.

Charlton are the division's 13th biggest spenders, with a month to go until the transfer deadline. It will be interesting to see how much Stuart Pearce is allowed to spend of the clubs £21m windfall. They have spent a big fat round zero so far. 
Wednesday 27 July 2005
  8 put past the Shots In 1974 I saw my first ever football match at the Recreation Ground, I watched Aldershot play Scunthorpe. Clearly I wasn't convinced because I became an Addick but I was interested to see how the Addicks got on tonight at The Rec'. News was that we won 8-0. Jeffers and JJ both got hat-tricks. Euell, Sam, Hughes and Portuguese trialists Goncalo Brandao and Xaviour Carlos Revez all played. My snout didn't mention Sorondo though.

Last night Darren Bent offered a glimpse on what we might see as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 role this coming season. "He's never played up there on his own so I wanted to have a look to see if he could," said Curbs. Do you think as a player Curbs hated playing in central midfield, that he was a closet full back, or striker or left winger? As a manager he certainly likes playing his players in a range of alternate positions to that they are naturally accustomed.

For a thorough review of the game and of the players that played, read New York Addick's post here.

The squad numbers were announced today. Lisbie's dropped to 12, should have been 112. Bent has taken his 10 shirt, HH has been allocated no. 3, Sorondo will be 4, Ambrose 18 and Smertin no. 25.

Goalkeeper's Rob Elliot (27) and Darren Randolph (33) plus young forward James Walker (34) and winger Nathan Ashton (35) receive squad numbers for the first time. It remains to be seen if they will ever need washing.

Finally, news today that Mark Feeesh is down on the South Coast with Brighton but the 'legend' didn't play in their friendly at Oxford tonight after he picked up "a slight knock in training yesterday."

And Steve Bruce has played down his interest in Jason Euell. "He's a player we've been monitoring and we've asked to be kept informed of his situation but that's as far as it has gone." 
  Millwall sack Claridge After 36 days, no actual matches apart from a couple of friendlies, Millwall sacked summer-job manager Steve Claridge today. Oh, you have to laugh.

Goalkeeper Andy Marshall was concerned about Claridge's style of management during pre-season. "I'm an experienced player, I've been through many pre-seasons - and this one was not right," he said. (more)

7/2 to get relegated. I might have a few $'s on that. 
Sunday 24 July 2005
  Galaxy's apart I played football this morning at 11am as temperatures exceeded over 100-degrees. The heat-index, which shows how hot the air feels based on actual temperature and relative humidity, was supposed to be closer to 110F and my it was fookin' hot. It can only be described as sitting on the runway at an airport in some tropical place amongst some huge jet engines. The weather extremes in this city will never cease to amaze me.

Today in Paris Lance Armstrong collected his 7th consecutive Tour de France. "Not only has he won cycling's legendary race more than anyone in history, he also has made his country pay attention to an event that might as well have been taking place in another galaxy," wrote today's Chicago Tribune. This is very true and quite possibly if it wasn't for his remarkable recovery to beat 50-50 odds on his survival after testicular cancer spread to his brain and lungs, he may still not be that well known in this country outside of cycling fans.

52 million LiveStrong yellow bracelets around the world are testimony to his bravery. Shame is he would rather be silent on the persistent allegations that performance-enhancing drugs played a part in his success.

What he did say was that "an individual can never dictate his own legacy. What people decide it is, it is. I'm a kid from Texas who learned how to ride a bike fast and overcame a life-threatening illness to come back and win the hardest sporting event in the world. I will let other people write on the tombstone."

Talking of different galaxy's, the Addicks drew 0-0 in their 4th pre-season friendly at Griffin Park yesterday. From what I read, looks like Mr Spector is impressing fans. Good to know. Not sure what I make of Jeffers antics but Curbs seems unperturbed. "There was a bit of an altercation, and it was best that he came off - but I don't mind my players being a bit feisty,"

A quick look around at today's transfer gossip, tell's of Birmingham and Middlesbro joining the rather uninterested queue for penalty-miss culprit Jason Euell. One snippet I read was that Boro may offer J-F Hasselbaink in exchange.

Those hard men from Italy have reversed their decision to pull out of their English tour. AC Milan blamed confusion. I reckon they will be able to get away without using the tube particularly as Simon Jordan has told them "they are not going to be anywhere near the West End." Very true Simon, very true. 
Saturday 23 July 2005
  Life goes on differently During my journey back from Bermuda yesterday I was at Philadelphia Airport and out of the corner of my eye I saw pictures on CNN that made my heart sink.

Fortunately this time the scumbags who again tried to kill innocent Londoners failed.

Then this morning we had plain-clothes policemen chase a suspect onto a Northern line train at Stockwell and fire 5 shots into his head.

Londoners will continue to live their lives, but their lives have fundamentally changed haven't they?

Tonight, before I go to bed in the safety of my home, I watch the news to be told of a string of timed car-bomb attacks in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. At least 49 are already declared dead.

Life goes on, but its not the same. 
Friday 22 July 2005
  Chicago did you know? As the weather is expected to reach and exceed 100 degrees over the weekend, I read that 10-years ago this week in Chicago a scorching heatwave killed 739 residents in a seven day spell in the city.

For two days the temperature exceeded 100 degrees. So many people used air conditioning that there were widespread power shortages. Nearly 200,000 homes lost electricity, some for as long as two days. Residents, especially in poorer areas, illegally turned on more than 3,000 street fire hydrants; several communities on the predominately black south side lost water pressure. The city sent crews to seal the hydrants, but when they arrived some were pelted with rocks, bottles and even bullets.

Most of the heat wave victims were the elderly poor living in the heart of the city, who either had no air conditioning or could not afford to turn it on. Many older citizens were also hesitant to open windows and doors at night for fear of crime.

It was one of the worst ever natural disaster death-tolls in the country. The more widely known Hurricane Andrew killed 23, 700 died in the 1906 California Earthquake and during the great Chicago Fire in 1871, 300 people perished. 
Wednesday 20 July 2005
  10 spot 10 goals in a few days. Lets keep it going. Goals get results and results breed a little thing called confidence. Brentford at Griffin Park on Saturday is the next stop.

Jeffers (2), Bent (2), Ambrose, Thomas, Sam, Holland, Hughes and Jason Euell from the penalty spot - wow remember them? - have all netted in the last two games in a 5-2 win at Bournemouth and last night in the 5-1 victory at Torquay.

Equally notable for me was the 187 fans at Plainmoor on a Tuesday night. Just shows what stirring some excitement can do to us Addicks.

I'm still in Bermuda, have to damn work this afternoon(!) and then tomorrow I have a journey that has all the potential to go tits up. I am flying out early from Bermuda to Philadelphia and then connect on another flight to Cleveland, from where I will drive to Akron, Ohio, an hour and a half away, for a meeting with another client, whom I'm meeting for the first time. All to do be done with shoes and socks on my sun-burnt feet!

Oh, and Peter Crouch for 7m? Good luck. 
Saturday 16 July 2005
  Very dark and stormy! Well I've kinda packed and I've just booked a cab for 5am. Tomorrow I'm off to Bermuda with work. Its a tough place to do business, let me tell you. Sun, sea, sand, dark and stormy's....

However, "A massive explosion in the early hours of Thursday morning at Bermuda's sole power plant caused an Island-wide blackout and panic buying at gas stations and the hardware stores. Dozens of exhausted firefighters laboured courageously in unimaginable heat to quell the 60 foot flames, which sent out thick clouds of black smoke across the dawn sky." (more)

And since then the island has been basked in darkness without any power. Flights are still going into the airport, which is backed up by a generator.

Belco (Bermuda electric company) have said that it will take months and will cost $10m to repair the gutted transmission board. However word is that power is slowly returning to houses, shops and offices but few people swapped the beach for work today.

Bermuda lies about 800 miles south-east of New York and is only 21 square-miles big. Low taxes make it a haven for many reinsurance and insurance companies and rather strangely clients like going there!

I'm packing my laptop and if I can find some electricity I will update What was the score? during the week. 
Friday 15 July 2005
  Smertin joins the party Slightly disappointed that Alexei Smertin did not sign a permanent deal today after a week of negotiation, but I still think this is an excellent acquisition, our 7th of the summer. The concern is that he might be recalled by Chelsea and I don't know if this would only be due to an injury crisis or because he's playing so well, that Jose Mourinho just decides he wants him back. I'm hopeful after the week of discussions between the two clubs there is a contract more tightly worded than Carlton Cole's.

Interesting to read this week that two ex-players that fans are divided on, Lee Bowyer and Scott Parker, were instrumental in the signings of Ambrose and Smertin.

I think Bowyer will join up with Ambrose if Newcastle relax their stance on the fee and if the midfielder can cut back on the gold lamae and diamond encrusted curtains at his new gaff in Kent and live on a 'paupers' salary at the Valley.

So a quiet week then. 5 new players, god knows what Curbs was doing for the other 2 days, the lazy git. I commented on Tuesday that with some astute dealings - £4m spent and with £1.5m recouped from the sale of Konchesky - I sense we are still to be surprised by some more signings.

"Not including Sorondo, I'm hopeful I can bring in another four, possibly five new faces," said Curbs on Wednesday.

Things sure are looking pretty exciting with a month left to the new season.

But, then of course there are always the friendlies to worry about and believe me some people will. There was a decidedly edgy start to these last night. Luke Young's late equaliser saving our blushes in the 1-1 draw at Welling.

Personally I never get very worked up about friendlies. I said this last year and although I may have been tempted this season because of the host of new faces, I tend to keep my money in my pocket and wait for the real action to start and lose myself in the cricket or golf instead.

Bournemouth are next up tomorrow and then its further along the coast to Torquay on Tuesday.

I'm off home now to learn the new offiside rule and pack - more on that later, if I get a chance. 
Tuesday 12 July 2005
  Astute acquisitions to lead to big striker deal?
Later in the week this handsome young man is due to join up with the rest of the squad at Sparrows Lane as Curbs today added further to his squad for next season.

After the Carlton Cole fiasco, the Addicks appear to have regained some confidence in the loan system as Gonzalo Sorondo joined on a one-year loan deal from Internazionale, with an option to sign him on a permanent basis at the end of next season. A tribunal today agreed to his work permit.

The 25-year old Uruguayan central defender was one of the few success stories at Palace last season and is a regular for his national team. Charlton's dipping their toe into the loan water is in contrast to what happens in Italy, for example Inter signed Sorondo from Defensor in Uruguay in 2001 and he has only started 8 games for the Serie A side, in between being loaned out to Sporting Liege and the Beagles.

Other news today surrounds the signing of Russian captain Alexei Smertin. Negotiations go on between the Addicks and the Blues with Charlton hoping to secure him permanently for around £1.75m.

There is also a school of thought building that the cost conscious, poker faced dealings done by the Addicks so far this summer, with still the possibility of some exits, means that they are set to spend big on a striker. 
Monday 11 July 2005
  Spector could be one of the best It wasn't quite what we were hoping for was it? But I think every Charlton fan would welcome Chris Powell back into the fold, he will definitely help re-ignite that 'Charlton attitude' in the dressing room and the club is a fine home for him to start his coaching career. I had the pleasure of spending a week with him and his family once in Sardinia, and I witnessed at first hand what a top bloke he is.

I am hoping that Powell and Youga are not included in Curbishley's quota of "five senior players" because in my mind we still need a centre back, a midfielder and a striker and that's only if no one else leaves.

Also officially announced today was Jonathan Spector's one-year loan from Manchester United, first picked up by Ken and pounced on by some media here.

I have read a lot of disatisfaction about the signing of Spector because it is said that we should be giving our own young players the opportunity first. I agree with this but I think you will find that Spector is a hell of a better player than Barry Fuller and he is two years younger.

In the States, Spector is one of three players alongside Freddy Adu and Eddie Gaven, that the US Soccer Federation truly believe can go on to become three of the best players in the world. This is not an idle threat. Millions of kids play 'soccer' here and they are afforded some of the best coaching conditions in the world. It is only a matter of time before a young American player bursts onto the world scene like we have seen in Africa and Asia.

Both Adu (16-years old) and Gaven (18) play in the MLS but Spector, after being spotted at the IMG Soccer Academy in Florida by United, decided to move to Manchester to become part of the famed Carrington academy. Although he has already played for the country of his birth, he also holds a British passport.

It's interesting reading a couple of interviews (one here) with Spector on ESPN Soccernet that he can clearly play anywhere. Up until he was 17, he always played striker. At the The Florida academy he got converted into a centre-half. Fergie, who like Curbishley loves players who are adaptable decided to play the right-footed Spector at left back last season.

I personally think this is a great acquisition, just like Kieran Richardson was for the Baggies last season, and of course it gives Charlton, if only for a season, a nice Chicago link. Watch out for regular Spector watches on What was the score? 
  Mañana According to various sources, tomorrow is going to be an exciting day to be an Addick. A major signing apparently. Hmmm, we've been here before haven't we? Anyway, I'm off to bed shortly and I will wake 6 hours after everyone at home, so it may be some good news to make me choke on my pancakes.

There was also a burst of loan potential over the weekend. The official site still breaks news of our signing of Darren Ambrose, but elsewhere agents are at work with tales of Smertin and Spector. Both may have some truth in them. There is room in the west stand car park for Smertin's caravan. Since signing for Chelsea for a few barrels of oil his skoda and caravan have clocked up a few miles and with Euell's Bentley missing there would be room.

Meanwhile, more interesting for me would be the signing of Chicago native Jonathan Spector. He was born in Arlington Heights (near the racecourse for my regular readers) and is predominately a centre half but can play left back. I saw him play against Bayern Munich here last summer and he was very impressive. The 19 year-old has already made his debut for the national team and was an unused sub against England in Chicago recently.

A major transfer to dream about. Sean Davis? Steve Sidwell? Louis Saha? Javier Saviola? Ok, ok, its time for bed. Goodnight. 
Sunday 10 July 2005
  World hot dog championship made in the USA
I put the tele on today and on ESPN at 1pm was the world hot dog eating championship. It will be a sad day when Sky Sports start showing this pish. Now food is something that is never very far from American's lips. I often get asked what the big differences are between here and the UK, and I normally, say "a load of things but the food." The quantity, the waste, the whole profligacy of it all can be quite nauseating sometimes, particuarly when you are sitting watching Live8 and every 5 minutes commercial breaks interrupt the show about African poverty to advertise Burger King and Pizza Hut!

In a recent poll, American's were asked to stop eating for a minute and offer to tell their most favourite food. Here is the Top 10 most popular foods consumed in restaurants by men and women last year:

1) Hamburger
2) French fries
3) Pizza
4) Breakfast sandwich
5) Side salad
6) Eggs
7) Doughnuts
8) Hash browns
9) Chinese food
10) Main salad

1) French fries
2) Hamburger
3) Pizza
4) Side salad
5) Chicken sandwich
6) Breakfast sandwich
7) Main salad
8) Chinese food
9) Chicken nuggets or strips
10) Rice

You have to laugh that in between those calorific entries they include side salad. On the side of a pack of Krispy Creme's no doubt?

In the US a third of all adults are clinically obese. Very scary when you are walking around a dark night club drunk let me tell you. Even sadder is the fact that in America 1 in 6 kids are clinically obese. Is Playstation to blame for that? Of course not.

So, what are companies doing here to raise awareness? Are they reducing portion sizes? Have they stopped targeting vulnerable segments, such as kids through advertising? Are they eradicating ingredients that cause health problems? Are they initiating programmes and products to help consumers lose weight and get healthier? They could even make some money out of this? No, they are increasing the size of their portions because "that is what the consumers want?"

Well of course it is, isn't it? If we could manage to break American Football games into eighth's then there would be more time for an extra hot-dog or two and a coke the size of a 2-year old.

This below is the 1,420-calorie burger sold at Hardee's and Carl's Jr. since late last year. Arguably, it's the first fast-food sandwich to publicly flaunt its excess of calories and fat. The two companies are owned by CKE Enterprises and their CEO Andy Pudzer insists that "These products sell better than health-conscious products, we don't tell consumers what they want. They tell us."

Burger King have responded by introducing the Enormous Omelet Sandwich — with two slices of cheese, two eggs, three strips of bacon, and a sausage patty — breakfast sales have jumped 20%, says Denny Marie Post, chief concept officer (now, thats a job!). Never mind its 730 calories and 47 grams of fat.

Pizza Hut have the new new triple-cheese 3Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza. Ruby Tuesday sell the Ultimate Colossal Burger to try to keep up with the grandiose name. "That's what people want," says Rick Johnson, senior vice president and Ben & Jerry's have started doing wider cones that's made to hold two scoops of ice cream instead of one. Hang on I like a bit of B&J's (I said B&J!) but I wish they would bring back Cool Brittania ice cream.

It scares me that at the airport last week, Starbucks, a salad shop, a sandwich bar and a pizza joint had no one queueing but at Burger King I counted 25 people waiting in line. And, if only I had my camera, they all looked like they could have easily skipped the meal they were going to buy and not die of starvation. The time of day by the way was 3pm.

And all the time you've got twats like CKE's Andy Pudzer running companies, Americans will continue to eat the kind the shit that is out there. Pudzer has become the 'food police' and media's fast-food demon. Late-night talk-show hosts David Letterman and Jay Leno have poked fun at him naming him the Monster Thickburger but jokes are not enough.

In a recent radio interview Pudzer was talking to the interviewer on his cell phone while steering through a Carl's Jr. drive-thru in San Diego. It was 10am and he ordered a Breakfast Burger, hash browns and a Dr Pepper, when he revealed what was really on his mind: "I'm already thinking about lunch." said the fat fucker. 
Friday 8 July 2005
  Ambrose signs for undisclosed fee Yesterday wasn't a day for transfer talk, even though a Geordie mate of mine spotted on the Newcastle official website that we had agreed terms for Darren Ambrose. The completion of the deal today sounded a formality with Curbs saying that "from the first time I met him he wanted to come to us and that is a big bonus." And clearly his friendship with Darren Bent made the deal all the more sweeter for all parties.

But it is Curbishley that Ambrose credits the most for the decision: "It was the manager here that convinced me to be honest. I think he's a great manager; every job that comes up his name is always there and with the England job, his name is there." Makes Matt Svensson's recent comments look a bit hollow doesn't it?

The new signing also gave us an insight into the current transfer market situation, and how hard the club are working behind the scenes to secure players: "It's been going on a while now - about a month or so - and I didn't think I would be coming at one point."

The transfer fee, thought to be around £1.5m, has not been disclosed. This probably being the work of Richard Murray, who learning from last year seems intent on keeping his budget very close to his chest.

I have seen Ambrose play a few times and I like the look of him. He is still only 21, can go round players and scores goals from anywhere in midfield and a clear hunger to push his career on would have impressed Curbs. 
  Baseball and Softball dropped from London 2012 Today the International Olympic Committee members voted to drop Baseball and Softball from the London Olympics, the first sports to be axed in 69 years. 26 sports will now be played out in the capital city.

On the face of it, you would have thought that this would only effect American's and in Softball, where American's have won the last 3 golds this is the case but this is not true in baseball.

In recent years the game here has been dominated by players from Cuba, Panama, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and for many small Caribbean and Latin American countries this is their only ticket to the Olympic stage.

"It was a shock," Chicago White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras, who played Cuba in the 2000 Olympic Games, said through a translator. "Not having the Olympics will be a big hit in Cuba and for the fans in Cuba." (more)

And who are the non-American players blaming for the decision? Not the IOC, but the major American stars who are more worried about their multi-million contracts in the MLB, than representing their country and the owners of the professional leagues who in the past have taken playing for your country as not important. Why would you want to win a medal when you can win the world series without even leaving these shores? Then there is the small issue of tighter drug testing at the Olympics than in the MLB, not that players are worried about that, no of course not!

In very few sports do America excel in team games, as a nation. Cuba won the baseball gold at last year's Athens Olympics and a weakened American team didn't even make the final of the basketball. Argentina won the gold as mega star NBA players stayed at home worried about terrorism.

In the 2002 winter Olympics Canada won the ice hockey gold. Of course the European's proved that team work and the will to win can surpass talent at last summer's Ryder Cup. American Football is not even considered an Olympic sport, although it did have a trial run in 1904 and 1932. Womens beach volleyball, now that's another thing!

America has some of the most talented sportsmen and women on the planet but in the high profile team games they for do not have the ambition it seems to want play as a nation to win one of the most coveted things in the world - a gold medal. 
Thursday 7 July 2005
  Terrible day, but still proud to be a Londoner Yesterday I said I was proud to be a Londoner, well today I'm even prouder.

I was woken at 4am by a phone call, and spent the next few hours calling and texting friends at home to make sure everyone was safe, which is incredible bearing in mind the amount of fatalities and injured and when I think of the amount of people I know that work in the city.

I worked from home today and the spent most of the time glued to CNN. Casino Avenue was also a valuable source of information early on when the phonelines were blocked by the emergency services and my link to friends and family was temporary halted.

I was talking to a mate in New York, who is a Londoner and I told him that it is days like today, and yesterday that I feel home-sick. For two completely different reasons.

Yesterday I wanted to be at home to join in the elation and celebration but today I wanted to be there to hug loved ones and share in the pain and the upset that Londoners, Brits everywhere feel.

Two days, two entirely different emotions, one attitude - pride. 
Wednesday 6 July 2005
  Happy days Finally a statement from the club on the transfer inactvity, although I think we all knew Curbs wasn't sat at home waiting for the 2012 Olympic decision!

"The club have got some money together and it's there for me to spend. The chairman wants me to spend it and I'm trying to do it. I'm looking to bring in players that are going to add competition to the left-back spot, centre-half spot, midfield spot and the front spots."

£1.5m was added to the coffers on Tuesday when disappointingly Paul Konchesky was sold to newly promoted West Ham. A further £500,000 will follow depending on appearances and it will be interesting to see how many of those will be at left-back. The Hammers official site already has him listed as a midfielder. Oh, you have to laugh....

So, I'm having a nose around West Ham's site, you know to see what its like to buy a new player etc., and I notice that Shaun Newton has signed a new 2-year contract. Well, I liked Newts but on the subject of laughing, wasn't he the player we sold to Wolves 4 years ago because frankly he wasn't good enough for us? But, hey-ho some people think they "are a MUCH bigger club than Charlton". (scan down page). Oh, how I'm having a good day.

Anyway, I digress. Curbishley on the official site added "We've being trying to bring players in ever since the season finished really, and as recently as the first couple of days of this week, but it wasn't to be."

"It's fair to say that we're looking to bring in five players and we will be trying our hardest to do that. They are all quality players - players in the Premiership - and I think that is the biggest problem for us. All the Premiership managers are finding it difficult to bring players in because of the kind of domino effect of player transfers."

Therefore maybe Sidwell and Jagielka are not targets, which I think is a shame. So the new game is looking to see which club is buying which player, in which position and trying to work out if an existing player will be allowed to leave and consequently be one of our targets. I'll start.

Spurs are chasing Villa's Darius Vassell, so Keane to us then? Chelsea are contemplating a £20m offer for Shaun Wright-Phillips. So that is Robben to us then?

Ok, it's a silly game. However just to keep us on the edge of our seats, the club did say "that up to three new faces could be in place by next week." Oh, will they never learn?

To finish with, some more good news from the New Den.

Oh, happy days. 
  London 2012
This is the bloke who made my day at the early time of 6.49am this morning. I was glued to CNN and sat through various items of news including the tropical storm Cindy banging on the door in Louisiana. Eventually the friendly news reader took us live to Raffles in Singapore and with a cheeky grin IOC President Jacques Rogge announced that London will host the 2012 Summer Olympic games.

Bloody brilliant. I'm always proud to be a Londoner, but today it's just a little more special. 
Monday 4 July 2005
  New kit, sky games, transfers & a dumb blonde
Above is the home kit released by today. You can buy it for 40 quid here and the players will wear it for the first time in the home friendly against Feyenoord on August 3rd. Lets hope they can rustle up 11 kits together for the occassion!

The official site said that the away kit will be white and black (hopefully with the stripy socks) and will be "unveiled towards the start of August", with a bit of luck before the first two away games in which we meet teams that wear red. In fact will the white kit be acceptable for the visit to the Stadium of Light on the opening day of the season?

With no sign of an official comment, one can only assume that pictures tell a thousand words and all:sports will continue as our kit sponsor for another season, their last contractually.

The official list of Sky fixtures up until the end of the year have also been announced. Being an ex-pat of course, I pay particular attention to these and despite the fact I would watch us play a boy scout XI, they are pretty uninspiring. Here is the full list, which is 2 less than the same period last year:

Middlesbrough away - non-pay-per-view - Sunday, August 28th, 1.30pm
Fulham home - non-pay-per-view - Monday, October 17th, 8pm
Portsmouth away - pay-per-view - Saturday, October 22nd, 5.15pm
Manchester City home - non-pay-per-view - Sunday, December 4th, 4pm
Arsenal home - non-pay-per-view - Monday, December 26th, 12.45pm

Of course the Boxing Day game is the most attractive, cue my Mum & Dad moaning about getting there for the early kick off. The traditional well supported away game at Fratton Park will be badly effected I suspect by the 5.15 kick-off, although at least it makes for a full day's drinking!

The first opportunity, probably for me to watch the boys live will be Middlesbrough away, the 4th game of the season. This is a revised fixture list.

The transfer gossip involving us has warmed up a bit today. There seems to be some weight behind the supposed acquisitions of Spurs' Anthony Gardner and Reading's Steve Sidwell. I like the idea of a season-long loan of exciting Man United winger Chris Eagles, this may mean Lloyd Sam doing the same in The Championship, maybe with Brighton.

Richard Murray stated that no-one would be leaving until players are signed. If this means Kelly Youga in for Paul Konchesky, then it seems more and more certain that the Dagenham boy will be heading to Upton Park. Konch was our best player in our annual nightmare last third of the season, but £2m will add to Curbs' war chest and I wouldn't begrudge him having a fresh challenge after 8 years at the club.

It's kind of ironic though, that plainly Konchesky feels he can win the left-back berth of Chris Powell, something he was unable to do a few years back.

Lastly, in a somewhat busy day for Charlton news, we hear that back in Sweden Matt Svensson had a few parting words to say about his 'glittering' career in England. People that know me will know I was never much of a fan. Anyone who wore the Palace kit before ours, would have to do a tiny bit more for me than just run around the pitch getting booked.

"Alan Curbishley is highly-rated in England - because people don't know what goes on in the dressing room, he only cares about the first team and doesn't give a damn about the rest of the squad. You just get dropped and banished without a word of explanation.

"The only reason I didn't play in my last year was because I told him I wanted to miss a game against Birmingham because my wife was about to give birth. Curbishley doesn't give a shit about any of his players."

Alan Ball, Harry Redknapp and others also get the sharp end of the Swede's tongue (more).

This does prove two things, one that Curbs is an enigma to some and a hero to others, and Svensson's and Jason Euell's comments prove to us that he does have his favourites, which isn't always the best for dressing room harmony.

And secondly there is nothing more ridiculous than a spoit and average player scorned. 
Sunday 3 July 2005
  My Chicago
Over the years people from all over the world have made Chicago their home, leaving a legacy of huge cultures and diversity.

There are considered 77 different neighbourhoods. I will only attempt to visit a few, some I'm told you would not want to go near for fear of your life, but many others offer a huge array of things to see and do.

One of the great things about the city is its walk-ability, very rarely found in cities and towns across the US. However Chicago is a sprawling mass spreading out from the lake like one of its famous snow storms, north, south and west.

The suburbs, in my experience don't contain a lot of excitement. Very drab and flat countryside, cookie-cutter town homes, restaurant chains, ball parks and highways. There are some exceptions though - Evanston, Hyde Park and Oak Park are all steeped in natural beauty and architecture.

So, I will stay pretty close to the city and won't cast my net too far. As I was there recently with my camera I will begin with Bucktown. 
  My Chicago - #1 Bucktown I got in a cab once to Bucktown and the driver said to me: "You know what, me and my wife sold our little house around here 20 years ago for $50,000. I saw it advertised in the paper this morning on the market for $800,000."

The cab driver was Polish and the late 1800's this area was dominated by Polish immigrants. Bucktown was named for the goats (Bucks) that were kept in many of the poorer Polish residents' backyards. The Poles named their streets in remembrance of their homeland - Kosciusko, Sobieski, Pulaski and Leipsig. In 1913 the City Council, prompted by a Bucktown-based German contingent with (obvious) clout, changed the Polish-sounding street names to Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin and Holstein. Anti-German sentiment during World War I brought about another name-change - this time distinctly Anglo-Saxon. McLean, Shakespeare, Charleston and Palmer Streets all still exist today.

After the war the Poles and the Germans got replaced by the Puerto Ricans and Mexicans and it wasn't until the 1980's when the artists moved in, followed in the 1990's by moneyed city workers and the regentrification of the area was well underway.

The Artists have now all but disappeared moving further south to Wicker Park and Ukranian Village, forced out by rising rents and property values.

Bucktown is roughly bounded by Fullerton Avenue to the north, Western Avenue on the west, the Kennedy Expressway towards the east and the Milwaukee disused railway tracks to the south. The three-way intersection of avenues Milwaukee, Damen and North is the edgy hub of Bucktown. Around here there is an intriguing mix of coffee shops, theatres, nightclubs, trendy restaurants, boarded up shop fronts and clothes stores.

At the centre of the intersection is the remarkable triangular Northwest Tower Building (1600 N Milwaukee Ave), the Double Door (1572 N Milwaukee Ave) is a popular live music venue and further down the street is an eclectic mix of bars, second hand clothes shops and stores that time seemed to have forgot, such as the Singer sewing machine service center (picture below). Brunch is an American institution and my favourite spot is the Bongo Room (1470 N Milwaukee Avenue), a Sunday morning must if you are visiting the city.

Artists still seek haven in the Flat Iron Building (157 N. Milwaukee Ave), an 88,000 sq ft gallery space.

North Avenue is worth a walk down just to visit Quimby's bookstore (1854 W North Ave) and Piece (1927 W. North Ave) is a great place for a Pizza, a real one not that heart attack endusing thick Chicago-style pizza!

Walking north on Damen Avenue is an entirely different proposition to its neighbouring streets as modern new condominiums compete with expensive restaurants and trendy furniture and clothes shops. The Northside Bar & Grill was where I spent last New Years Eve and is a popular bar, once a haunt for the 2001 Real World Chicago cast. The show was centered on Bucktown.

Caffe De Luca (1721 N Damen Ave) is a great place for a snack and a coffee, Apartment 9 (1804 N Damen Ave) is a nice if expensive men’s clothes shop and Potbelly reputatedly sell the best sandwiches in Chicago in an old abandoned fire station (1625 N. Damen Ave).

Many of the tree lined streets that span east and west off Damen Avenue host some good examples of old cottages and new mock Victorian walk up houses as well as several architecturally pleasing looking churches, a legacy to the early immigrants. A leisurely walk along Wasbania Avenue will take you away from the busy main streets. You will also find the retro Italian restaurant Club Lucky (1824 W Wabansia Ave), which is a cool place in the summer.

This part of town was once a well travelled former Indian trail and only 20 years ago controlled by gangs but although Bucktown retains a bit of raw edginess, there is no wonder that its tree-lined streets and proximity to downtown has bought another new chapter to this area.

  Born on the 4th of July It’s Independence weekend in the US (bah, humbug!), although it does mean I get a four day weekend. I was out and about today and the city was very busy and I sensed a party atmosphere to it particularly down N Michigan Avenue.

Tomorrow afternoon I will join some friends for a grill out (BBQ) and then walk down to Navy Pier to watch the celebration fireworks. An old colleague of mine from London arrives in Chicago on Monday (the 4th) for some meetings we are both involved with on Tuesday and Wednesday, so we have agreed to go out for a ‘Liberation’ dinner on Monday night. I’m sure we will be popular, must dig out my union jack shorts!

I watched bits of Live8 today, Sir Bob seemed to purloin most of the best acts for Hyde Park and the television coverage here was constantly interrupted by adverts. I heard Keane, Razorlight and Robbie were excellent but the best I saw on stage in Philadelphia was a wonderful fusion of rock and rap by Linkin Park and Jay-Z.

Will Smith's led 3 second 'finger click' denoting how often a child dies from the effects of extreme poverty was very heart-rendering. Lets see what those 8 men do on Wednesday, other than play 18 holes.

Wimbledon ends tomorrow, and I will watch the men’s final before heading off to the fireworks to witness America celebrate its 229th birthday. 
  Chicago did you know? I found a whole host of these recently, so I will chuck a few out once and a while.

Did you know that Chicago was the birthplace of the window envelope, the cafeteria, the electric oven and the home of McDonalds?

Did you know that Chicago has the world’s largest public library, aquarium and the worlds biggest food festival, which is taking place now in Grant Park? 
Friday 1 July 2005
  East Stand expansion given go ahead A mate sent me a text earlier this evening (gone midnight at home) and told me that Greenwich Council have approved planning permission for the East Stand extension, which is wonderful news. The question next is when will the work start? Of course with our friends at the council pushing the decision back we have already lost close to 8 weeks.

The proposal included an upper tier on the East Stand and the construction of a new south-east quadrant. 4,000 more seats in total along with a new business information centre, a creche for a half-time lie down and college facilities, plus 30 executive boxes and the intriging 'living wall' below.

I'm one for lists and I was only thinking today that we have a few things outstanding. The East stand permission can now be ticked off, but with pre-season training days away there is still no sign of any further signings, in fact even the rumours have dropped off.

And apart from Feesh and Royce, no first team squad players have left either. Then there is the silence on the new kit. On the basis that they never appear in the club shop until Christmas,I guess they will be de rigeur around SE7 next summer.

But why the silence? In the past we voted online or picked one out of the programme. We have a contract with Joma, so what's the big deal? All to do with the new shirt sponsor no doubt and of course they need to go hand in hand. Something Far Eastern was being murmoured, but Curbs recent comments on last season's Chinese tour and our reluctance to go East again this summer may mean we have a backer nearer home. Fads anyone?

We should at least have another item crossed off the list tomorrow. Sky officially announce their televised games during the day, now they have consulted with the powers that be. I wonder if they will bear any relation to the ones 'leaked' earlier? Now, my mates next door neighbours dentist's assistant is married to a copper and he said we are at home to Man City first game of the season.... 
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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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