Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Thursday 30 March 2006
  More acting up from Chelsea? There has been some whispers of overseas companies being interested in investing in Charlton. Some think a Korean or Chinese involvement might be in the tea-leaves, others thought big American concern Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) might be interested as they have The Dome parked around the corner.

As their website boasts AEG own "more sports teams and events than any other company in the world." Well they can now add a "link-up" with Chelsea to that list. Last season AEG backed a pre-season tour here in the US involving Chelsea alongside AEG owned Chicago Fire, DC United and 2005 MLS champions LA Galaxy.

The rather smug Peter Kenyon said "It will help Chelsea work towards its aim of becoming the most popular European club in the US, one of our key target markets." Hmm, I personally think they are a long way behind Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich in the popularity stakes from my experience of walking around American cities and spotting footie tops but maybe a new planned reality television show will give them more credence in the States.

The winner will be rewarded with a professional contract at Chelsea and some tips on cheating no doubt. Incidentially Philip Anschutz is the owner of the Kodak Theater, the home of the Oscars, so Chelsea's play-actors will be in good company!

There is also talk that Robert Kraft, owner of Ilinois based Philadelphia Cream makers Kraft Foods (love-ly) and the NFL's New England Patriots, maybe one of the interested parties behind potential new investment in Liverpool
  Operation Riverside Great credit to the club on trying to encourage as many Addicks as possible on making the long journey up to the Riverside for the Cup replay.

Today the club announced free coach and train travel plus a "heavily subsidised" plane fare to the game. More details are to follow tomorrow. Our initial ticket allocation is 1,500 but this can increase to 5,000. I know some groups of supporters are already arranging their own chartered jets to the game and after the stick we have come in for about our poor away following - mostly by ourselves and the club - this does give me a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside. 
Wednesday 29 March 2006
  Hawaii-5-oh-bollox I walk around not knowing what I am doing from one day to the next most times and when it came to the potential semi-final game at Villa Park I just presumptuously assumed that wild horses would not stop me from being there.

Equally, being of a nervous disposition and a complete pessimist when it comes to Charlton, I didn't want to tempt fate and look that far ahead. All I knew was it was a weekend, in Birmingham, it would be a couple of long flights and costly but worth it to see my team in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time. Plus I have a load of West Ham mates who will make the journey too. Yep, I will be there, subject to the small matter of a replay at the smog monsters.

That is until I woke up in the middle of last night in a cold sweat, midway through a dream that involved Luke Young, ribbons and rather large cups. The reason is a long time ago my company planned and booked for me to go to Hawaii on Saturday 22nd April for 5 days and it was during the night that I suddenly realised it clashed. I know, I can feel the sympathy!

It is our industries annual conference and exhibition and these things are never in Fargo, North Dakota, although Honolulu is pushing it and a complete pain in the arse. But sod all that, I can't get out of it, I have tried and I won't be able to shift my travel plans because Birmingham & Hawaii are about a million miles apart.

I know there are worse places to be and I don't want to sound inconsiderate but that has royally pissed me off today. Anyway, don't want to tempt fate so will keep my groans to myself until after the replay. 
Monday 27 March 2006
  Newcastle home. What was the score? Won 3-1 The earlier kick-off and the extra hour following the clocks springing forward, we are now 7 hours behind for a week, allowed me to listen to yesterday's game on the internet. Billy Bonds was slightly more interesting than Steve Brown, but then again so was the performance. Another win in the final furlong of the season and a fine one it was too.

Darren Bent scored his 20th goal, the first Addick since Andy Hunt in our Championship season in 1999/2000 to hit the mark. When was the last Charlton player to score 20 goals in the countries top division? Update: The Daily Bulletin said it was Stuart Leary in the 1955/56 season.

It was another sterling defensive performance, oh how Fat Freddie must have wished Souness had paid nowt for Perry and not bundles for Boumsong. A word about Chris Powell's form. Mind-boggling. Okay, that's two words but he's the Barry Bonds of English football without the steroids.

Kish and Hughes got some good press from those that were there and once Rommedahl was unleashed he was superb, culminating in the cross for Bothroyd's header. Marcus Bent? I think the jury's still out.

I saw Parker's goal on the box and whatever his detestors say, lets be honest we would love him to still be playing for us. Full marks to him though in taking the stick well, and not giving it out to the Covered End on his goal. Clutching his badge and running to the Geordies was far more forgiving than cupping his ear to the home crowd.

And as for Bowyer, I don't think that will be the last goal he scores for us, do you?

Reports from those that were there:; All Quiet; Addicks Diary; Charlton Athletic Online; SE7 Dreams; Daily Telegraph; Black & White and Read All Over
Sunday 26 March 2006
  Non regulars turn up the volume There has been a lot of talk about the atmosphere at Thursday's game, most agree it was the best for some time. Maybe Tony Christie takes some of the credit, but it has to be noted that a lot of the people who probably attended the match weren't regulars.

I don't how may season-ticket holders took up their tickets but obviously our friendly affordable Premiership football first and Charlton second supporters don't appear to all be as turned on by our historic cup run (first semi-final draw in 59 years) as some other longer suffering Addicks. In my day the Cup was special, and Curbs and the team have rekindled that this year.

The profusion of non-regulars on Thursday definitely added to the atmosphere and as us older-timers will know, the 'old boys always come out for the big games.' And these are almost certainly not the Arsenal and Man U glory games, they are probably more likely to be a critical relegation battle or a midweek Cup replay or a local derby.

Word amongst Addicks seems to be that there could be a fair turnout up at the Riverside, and credit to the club on the offer of free coach travel.

Whilst I'm patting the board on the back, further kudos goes to them on the announcement of 2006/07 season-ticket prices. In nearly all cases the cost will be cheaper than currently, and it is a wonderful idea to heavily reduce prices for under 21's. And as a Dad, £99 for an under 11 is very affordable.

The board have come in for some flak recently, some of it deserved, although posting a £5.1m loss after trying to "kick the club on to the next level," shows ambition they sometimes get accused of not having. The new pricing structure has also rekindled some of their listening abilities and although affordable pricing isn't the only thing to bring the crowds in, they deserve some recognition for doing as much as they can control.

In contrast my local Major League Soccer team Chicago Fire also announced their season-ticket prices last week and they are astonishing. For an equivalent seat to where I used to be in block E of the East Stand, where Charlton want £525, Chicago Fire are charging $820 (for 20 games), which using the most favourable exchange rate is £470. Behind the goal and away from the corporate driven customers it's only £183 compared to The Valley's £325. But give me Kish over Diego Gutierrez anytime!

The MLS season starts next Saturday and I hope to take in a Fire game or two. One of the reasons for the price hike is that they begin at a brand new stadium, Bridgeview (right), after sharing the monolithic Soldier Field. The stadium in the south-west of the city will hold 20,000 and has been completely financed to the tune of $155m by the local council, although it is said that the FBI are currently investigating how the land was financed in the first place. 
  A poor man's Baddiel & Skinner Those of you that live this side of the Atlantic, have you ever seen a show called Fox Football Friday? It is Fox Entertainment Group and Rupert Murdoch's attempt to bring the world's favourite game into the living rooms of American's and frankly it is quite appalling.

Not the idea, because it is a well worked Baddiel and Skinner type blokes sitting in the pub format, but the two muppets that introduce the show are cringe worthily bad. They're both English, both born in Hampstead and strangely one is a Liverpool fan and the other a Chelsea fan! My, my, quelle surprise!

I don't know what American's make of two English blokes sitting in front of a camera, reading the auto-cue very badly, fluffing their lines, taking the staged piss out of each other and being not funny at all. The Chelsea fan, Steven, stares into the auto-cue so badly, I actually think he is looking at someone over my shoulder.

It's a shame because after a couple of after-work-beers on a Friday, it is worth a watch, despite the phone calls from Chuck in Pittsburgh asking if the US will win the World Cup, it's just that Nick and Steven give us ex-pat football fans a bad name. The shows filmed in LA and they extend an offer for people to come to a live recording. One day I might just do that.

Fox Soccer Channel (FSC) itself is an absolute blessing. It morphed about a year ago from what was Fox Soccer World, which used to show a wide range of non-American sports, but had no identity. It was a masterstroke on Fox's part, with a lot of help from its cousin Sky Sports, to specialise in the beautiful game.

The Premiership is its main focus, but it also carries live games from Germany, France, Italy, Argentina and the USA's Major League Soccer as well as various highlights programmes and an evening live feed of the midnight Sky Sports News edition.

FSC is a lifeblood in a country where the mass media are so wrapped in their own sports but someone please take Nick and Steven away and give us a more realistic David and Frank copies. 
Friday 24 March 2006
  Hammers await the winners It was just what we and the Hammers and Boro' would have wanted. Chelsea and Liverpool were pooled together in the lunchtime semi-final draw whilst the winners of our replay will play West Ham. If you are willing to look that far ahead the games will be played on the weekend of 22nd/23rd April.

The omens are with us, lets hope Don Welsh is looking down on us with his scarf on. 
  Boro' home. What was the score? Drew 0-0 We couldn't have asked for much more really, could we? Except the little issue of a goal of course. I thought we were positive enough, the team selection didn't surprise me, saving either one of Thomas or Romm for later in the game isn't a bad idea. We lacked a little quality but I thought Hughes and Holland did well in the middle and Thomas was very lively and was always looking to be involved.

HH, Perry and Powell were awesome, Young struggled a little with Downing but still played his part. For their part both Southgate and Ehiogu were outstanding, bandage and all after getting an accidental elbow from Bartlett, who I also thought played well.

It was an enjoyable game and on television the atmosphere sounded excellent. Lets hope we can get a fair few to make the journey up to the Riverside.

For a spell in the first half we played some very good attacking football. Schwarzer made a fabulous save from the Herminator (above) and maybe Bent should have done better but the slow motion of Rommedahl's 2nd half shot showed that the Dane was a whisker away from being our hero again.

So we're in tomorrow's draw and lets face it, we do like to do things the hard way. Boro' have a serious run of games including two legs of the UEFA Cup quarter-finals and a derby against Newcastle leading up to the replay on April 12th. We should be fresher because as far as we travel from now until then is E13.

For the first time today I was joined in the pub by a fellow Addick. I had my Chicago Addick supporters club form out for him to sign (for a small admin fee of course) until he told me he actually lived in Charlton and was here for work. Damn.

I go to bed tonight knowing we will live to fight another day. I will be home for the replay but already have plans to be with my son on the 12th. Oh well, it will all be part of his Charlton education.

Reports from those that were there: BBC Sport;; New York Addick; All Quiet; The Times; Come on Boro
Thursday 23 March 2006
  Sing your hearts out for the lads I've woken up apprehensive and with a tightness in my stomach. Didn't even drink yesterday and I dreamt of tornadoes, not quite sure what that means? I've had a couple of strange days at work and today will be stranger as it'll be hard to concentrate on anything prior to 2pm Central Time. I will make myself scarce before then and who knows what kind of mood we will be in later?

What I do know is that we are due a Charlton performance. One to ignite the Valley and remind us of some of those electric nights under floodlights. The Ipswich play-off game was one such night and tonight's game is the biggest at the Valley since then.

This evening's game is so important and despite the general depression surrounding the Addicks recently, we don't have a bad record in these one-off winner takes all games.

Forget the dirge of the Premiership, sing your hearts out for the lads tonight. Come on you Addicks! 
Wednesday 22 March 2006
  How many I's in Team (USA)? I'm at home this afternoon waiting on a delivery and watched the Germany v USA friendly game on ESPN. Remember the US are ranked 5 by FIFA and Germany 22nd. Surely a walk-over for the American's then? No, they got hammered 4-1. Admittedly the US were without their Premiership based players and their injured talisman Landon Donovan and Eddie Pope.

The visitors held the World Cup hosts to 0-0 at the half, which was met with loud jeers from the 65,000 crowd in Dortmund, but capitulated after break conceding four goals, although German based Steve Cherundolo did get a late consolation.

"By any stretch of the imagination, this tournament exceeded my expectations in a myriad of ways. Absolutely." That was Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig yesterday following the end of the World Baseball Classic. (more)

To be honest I didn't catch much of it but in short the Americans were beaten at their own game, knocked out in the 2nd Round, by Mexico. Oh how immigrant Mexicans must have enjoyed going to work the next day!

Korea by all accounts were the competitions most talented team, but it was Japan and my tip Cuba who contested the final in San Diego on Monday. Japan, led by pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, beat the Cubans 10-6 in front of a noisy crowd of 42,696. In total a very credible 737,112 people watched the 39 games in 6 cities.

It is no surprise of course that the Americans left the competition with their tail between their legs. This was of course a team event and not one for a group of highly paid egotistical superstars and just as in basketball and ice hockey, Team USA's scalp is a most treasured one. Like George Bush, America's sports hierarchy obviously underestimate the motivation of the opposition.

College basketball's March Madness continues tomorrow with the last 'sweet sixteen.' It's all about the brackets of course and 10 of my picks remain in the competition. I of course haven't got a clue what I'm doing and picked names because they sounded funny, similar tactics I use at the race course. I never win there either. 
Sunday 19 March 2006
  Arsenal away. What was the score? Lost 3-0 Were we playing Brazil's 1970 team yesterday? Curbishley's strange post-match comments seem to think we were. "This Arsenal team are frightening."

It frightened me how much respect we gave them, and the ball for that matter. The biggest shock was how long it took Arsenal to score their first goal, we had offered it on plate with a solid silver knife and fork a number of times before Pires finally took advantage.

Yes Arsenal played very well, but I have seen them play a lot better against us. Yes, they are a good team, but as the table testifies, still not the same without Viera, Cole, a younger Campbell, Pires and Bergkamp. And for as much as I marvel at Thierry Henry, he had, by his standards, a quiet game yesterday.

We were awful, there was no ambition, no battle, no nothing. It was nothing, 90 minutes of nothing from us and it was no "crumb of comfort that we kept it down to three," sorry Al one shot on target and one corner is pitiful.

The team selection was what most of us had been crying out for but Rommendahl and Thomas spent too much of the afternoon chasing back whilst Kish, Euell and Hughes just chased shadows.

I don't mind getting beat, especially at Highbury but watching the game was like watching a lower league team play Arsenal. We huffed and puffed, we kicked the ball high into stands, we launched long hopeless balls forward, we kicked the ball anywhere instead of pass it simply, we were rabbits stuck in the highlights, we just wanted to keep the score down.

What happened to the flair, the ambition and the courage that once produced a 4-2 win against what ended up being the Premiership Champions or the 5-3 defeat the season before that?

Curbishley and Richard Murray talk of legacy. The game on Thursday is huge.

Reports from those that were there: BBC Sport; Observer;; Addicks Diary; All Quiet; East Lower
Friday 17 March 2006
  The luck of the Irish Last weekend in Chicago they dyed the river green and tomorrow at the United Center the Chicago Bulls, who host Miami Heat, will wear a commemorative changed strip of Irish green to celebrate the St Patricks Day holiday. Other teams changing their colours this weekend are the New York Knicks and naturally the Boston Celtics.

Lets hope the change to green will bring the Bulls some luck. They currently sit one place outside of the play-off positions.

My afternoon could be a bit of a right-off with a couple of parties to attend. I haven't got an Irish bone in my body but I could be tempted with a pint of the black stuff and it is my Mum's birthday after all. Happy birthday Mum and happy St Patrick's Day. 
Thursday 16 March 2006
  Picking your games or them picking you? Today I booked my tickets for my next trip back to London. I fly back overnight on 3rd April, and on the 5th fly to Reykjavik for a long weekend. I then return on the Sunday night to hook up with some clients the next day who would have flown in from Detroit. They disappear midweek and then I have some time to be with my son and I plan to go to Craven Cottage to see the Addicks play on the following Saturday.

The Fulham game will only be my 3rd of the season, I saw 6 last season. I am envious of my blog pal New York Addick, whose next trip to blighty coincides with the Boro' Cup game. I wrestled with the idea of getting back for that game, for 20 years nothing would have prevented me from being at a match like that, and it is one of my frustrations of being here but equally it would be hard to convince myself that I would have got good value for my season ticket money if I was living at home.

I'm forever studying the fixtures and their idiosyncrasies to work on little opportunities to get back for games or to see if there could be a chance that a game will be on live or delay, like the Arsenal game on Saturday.

Sadly I guess I have become used to being a faraway fan. I used to be a terrible radio listener and always would have rather been there and suffered than sat 'helpless' at home.

The Boro' game of course is on TV live and if we get through, there will be no way I could watch a game of the next round's magnitude on television or even worse listen in on the radio. 
Wednesday 15 March 2006
  More evidence that Young is on his way out I have further evidence tonight that Luke Young is trying to engineer himself a move away from The Valley in the summer. A trusted friend heard from the man himself that he intends to quit Charlton in the summer and West Ham are the front-runners to sign him.

The word ambition was again mentioned in dispatches and I wonder how much harm this is doing us in the inner circle of footballers, who with little intelligence to make up their own minds, are looking at Charlton as a bit of a graveyard?

With a serious rebuilding job required in the summer I have grave reservations about the quality of player we will be able to attract. With no young players pushing for a first team place and with around half the squad 30+, the ground and the financial legacy is all good but Darren Bent aside, what about where it really matters? On the pitch. 
  American high five I have had a bit of ribbing today about the latest FIFA world rankings. As I tried to explain Charlton is the name of my team not England, but these 'soccer' fans need humoring (sic).

Today FIFA announced their latest world rankings which puts Brazil at number 1 and American Samoa at 205th, with everyone else in between.

The USA are now at an all-time high of 5th, 4 places higher than England at 9th and the main reason for this is the convuluted points system that FIFA and their American sponsors Coca-Cola operate. There are various strength factors relating to competition, region and being home or away but what is lost on my American friends is that in the CONCACAF region that the US plays in, the opposition are far weaker than the European nations that England come up against. There are also far more World Cup qualifying games in the CONCACAF region than there are in the UEFA region, and although there is a points weighting in UEFA's favour it is negligible.

Simply put playing games against Italy (12), France (8) and Holland (3) is a lot harder than playing against St Kitts & Nevis (131) and Venezuela (70). Even the once considered easier European games against the likes of Norway (39), Cyprus (98) and Latvia (68) are no longer pushovers. The US national team actually play Latvia in a World Cup warm up game soon.

This reasoning would also explain why Mexico appear at number 7 in the rankings and Honduras are at 43, higher than World Cup qualifiers Australia (44), Togo (58), Angola (60) and Serbia & Montenegro (46).

Also England these days play a preposterous amount of friendlies that are worth squat in the rankings, perhaps a reason why the six-times finalists Germany, who have played two years of them, are ranked at 22.

Click here for the full rankings but below is the top 20 countries with their associated points.

1. Brazil 835
2. Czech Republic 789
3. Netherlands 788
4. Argentina 765
5. United States 764
6. Spain 763
7. Mexico 762
8. France 760
9. England 756
10. Portugal 755
11. Turkey 743
12= Nigeria 738
12= Italy 738
14. Denmark 736
15. Cameroon 726
16. Sweden 725
17. Egypt 714
18. Japan 712
19= Iran 705
19= Croatia 705 
  Commonwealth games v March Madness
The Commonwealth Games start today in Melbourne and I need to thank the mighty internet for telling me that because living in America, I would never have known. What I cannot fail to know is that on Thursday March Madness starts.

Let me compare the two. The Commonwealth Games will be declared open by the Queen and will showcase 4,500 of the best sportsmen and women from 72 countries. March Madness however is an American phenomenon that will be contested by a load of college kids throwing a ball through a hoop.

The 20-day March Madness is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 Basketball knockout competition featuring 65 of the countries best college teams. Unless you live here, you can't understand how popular college sport is in the US. What it really amounts to is a sleight at professional sport in this country. College kids play their hearts out, not for money, but for the love, the passion and of course the hope that one day they might become a pro. The odds of that happening are thousands to one.

The atmosphere in stadiums are the nearest you are going to get to a full blooded European football match. The crowds are huge, the excitement massive, the prize is pride and a place in the record books.

The games come thick and fast, timed around the country to start one after the other. Its frantic and the money that is bet on this event is extraordinary, $70m is estimated to be wagered on what they call the 'bracket' alone.

The first year I was here I basically locked myself away and ignored it, last year I was coerced into paying more attention and I even had a go at the bracket (I was crap obviously, picking team names like I would horses - Oral Roberts was my favourite) but another year on, I can feel the excitement, it is hard to ignore, although I still do have a problem with watching sport where the players are simply not in the same standard as professionals at the top of their game.

It is like comparing Welling and Charlton, but the effort and the dedication is most endearing and sadly I do see English football going the same way as fans turn more and more to lower levels of the game. It's cheaper, more accessible, fun, better spirited and simply what sport should be about.

Okay, my tips for the Final Four: Duke, UConn, Villanova and UCLA. Oh, and Jason Gardner to win the 100m. 
Monday 13 March 2006
  The dreaded last 10 games! Another reason why I was quite relieved to win yesterday was that it was the first game of the dreaded last 10. There was no mention of yet yesterday but physiologically it was very important. What would be really nice now with 39 points bagged and still with 4 winnable games left at home would be some enetertainment value. You know a little slice of encouragement for season ticket holders.

Thomas showed in his 2nd half performance that he can light up a quiet Valley and it was good to see both Rommendahl and Lloyd Sam come through a reserve game tonight, Glynn Snodin's last before his move to become George Burley's assistant at Southampton. Looking at the two teams though, in reserve speak surely a 1-0 defeat is quite shocking?

For those with a nervous disposition look away now because below is our form during the last 10 games of a season since our first season in the Premiership in all its glory!

1998/1999 D, L, W, L, D, L, L, D, W, L
1999/2000 W, W, W, D, D, L, D, D, L, L (Div 1 Champions)
2000/2001 D, L, W, L, L, D, W, W, L, L
2001/2002 D, W, L, L, L, L, D, L, D, D
2002/2003 L, L, D, L, L, L, L, W, L, L
2003/2004 L, L, D, W, D, L, L, D, D, W
2004/2005 W, L, D, L, L, D, L, L, L, D 
Sunday 12 March 2006
  Boro home. What was the score? Won 2-1 While my 6-a-side team were getting dumped out of the semi-finals, Darren Bent's brace gave the Addicks a vital victory at home to Middlesbrough today.

I was looking at the Premiership table yesterday morning and thinking that if Villa won yesterday and Boro' beat us today then we would be 6th from bottom. That would have made me nervous with a run of tricky games coming up.

Nevertheless I didn't account for Darren Bent, whose namesake Marcus missed the game with an old recurring injury. We've had more than our share of 'Friday afternoon players' recently, I hope he is not another one?

The performance sounded terrible in the first half so it was good to see Curbs try to change it by removing Bothroyd and Hughes for Euell and Thomas at the break. If only he had the confidence to set out with a more adventurous line up to begin with. It sounded like Myhre had another good game but where would we be without Darren Bent's 19 goals, eh?

A couple of side comments. How it must be nice to have a factory line of such good youngsters coming through like Boro do, and how many cracking goals has Mark Viduka scored against us over the years?

Reports from those that were there:; BBC Sport; Sporting Life; SE7 Dreams; All Quiet; Come on Boro
  'Irish' out painting town green There were a lot of drunken Irish people wandering around the city tonight. Okay, Irish 15 times removed but if they can wear a green top, then they're Irish. I was out at a friend's birthday dinner but in every bar were remnants of the start of St Patricks Week in Chicago.

Today was the North Side parade, when the river is dyed green and everyone pretends they're Irish. Tomorrow is what is considered to be the real deal on the South Side. It is said that 15% of all American's tell of Irish ancestry and Chicago along with New England, Boston, New York and San Francisco has a big Irish influence.

Chicago has celebrated Paddy's day since 1843 and tonight and for the rest of this week green beer will be drunk in pubs, the river will have a greener look than normal and buildings downtown will have a green hue about them.

I need to go to bed because my indoor team are in the play-off finals tomorrow morning. A 9.30am semi-final game, followed by the final if we win. All this going on of course while the Addicks play Middlesbrough. No Malcolm Christie or Tony Christie thank god, but lets hope Charlton can provide some entertainment. 
Saturday 11 March 2006
  Curbishley interviewed for England job A couple of months back I stuck my neck out on here and said that Alan Curbishley would become the next England manager, well news broke late Saturday that FA chief executive Brian Barwick has already interviewed him.

"It is accurate that we have met with Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley as part of this process after obtaining permission from his club." said an FA spokesman. (more)

I think only Martin O'Neill's desire to come back into the game will usurp Curbishley getting the best job in English football. 
  Smerts-offski Alexei Smertin joined the "Charlton lack ambition" club today when he joined Dinamo Moscow. It is disconcerting when players that the club pay and the fans support, take a swipe at them as they walk out of the door, particularly when Curbishley praised his professionalism yesterday: "I'm sure Alexei will just have to get on with it because he is a top pro."

This whole loan thing has done us no favours in recent times and the Carlton Cole and Smertin situation proves that we have no rights of veto on anything. With Sorondo injured, only Jonathon Spector's recent form can show Curbishley's loan policy in any good light but then critics say that we are just improving him for Alex Ferguson's benefit.

As for Smertin, people raved about him early in the season, to me he didn't seem up for the fight when it started to go wrong and his timing does look like he was unsettled by the Danny Murphy affair and yet another who didn't get Curbishley or his policy.

It does now leave us very light on options in midfield. With Romm and Thomas still not fit and Barry Fuller out on loan, no you right, Curbs would rather play himself than throw a youngster in, we have to very grateful that Jason Euell's January move to Birmingham fell through. 
Monday 6 March 2006
  A lonesome Addick in Chicago New York Addick is considering setting up an official Addicks supporters club in New York. I was amazed to read his recent post in which he said he watched the Liverpool game alongside six other Charlton fans, and only one rooting for the Scousers.

New York of course is a bigger city than Chicago and has a lot more ex-pats, but in my two plus years here I have yet to meet another Addick. I once played football opposite a goalkeeper who was wearing an old 'Mesh' 'keepers shirt, and when I asked him about it, he told me he got it in the sale, and seemed oblivious to who Charlton were!

There are about five bars in Chicago that show live matches, although only a couple are decent and can be relied upon to be open at 6am for those early killer games and also don't bow down to scummy students who walk in on a Saturday morning bemused at the world's greatest game being on the TV screens and ask for the college tiddly-winks to be put on instead.

After 30 years of going to football with family and mates and just being among other people with the same affection and affliction, it is bloody hard to sit in a bar in ones own little world kicking every ball and muttering obscenities to oneself. I miss that real sense of belonging I really do.

Ken Jennings from Vancouver Island has suggested an Addicks North American convention and there does seem to be a lot us in North America. I'm well up for that, but if someone wants to join me muttering to myself in Gingers Ale House one Saturday morning, then the English Breakfast Tea's on me. 
Sunday 5 March 2006
  Chelsea are pish I saw an interview on Saturday with Alan Curbishley which indicated he may decide to make an offer for Chicagoan Jonathon Spector at the end of the season. In Spector's absence United have signed defender Patrice Evra and any price will depend a lot how he fairs in this summer's World Cup, although his place in the US squad is still unsure and it is unknown whether Fergie would even consider parting with him.

I for one was excited by his arrival pre-season, not only because he is from Chicago, but because he came with a great pedigree. However he got injured, then was absolutely awful when he came in at left-back, but in the last few games he has shown great maturity and potential. We will wait and see.

One loanee, who looks like he probably won't even make our end of season collapse is Alexei Smertin. He was recently injured (yeah right!), played for Russia in the week, very well I understand too, and in front of watching scouts and then missed his flight back to Heathrow. Probably pinged a hamstring at the check-in! Excuse me for being an old cynic, but well?

The Charlton ladies won the League Cup today beating Arsenal 2-1. Wyn was there. Playing with girls on a Sunday morning (sic) in a co-ed indoor league has made me more appreciative of women's football but in the US the game is very acceptable and well covered by the media, which is a long way from where it is at home.

Finally, speaking to my son today, who is 6. We had a conversation that went like this:

Him: "My friend gave me a Chelsea t-shirt."
Me: "What are you going to do with that?"
Him: "Am going to put in my bedroom drawer."
Me: "Not going to wear it then?"
Him: "Oh no, I told my friend that Chelsea are pish. I support Charlton and England Daddy like you."

6 years old, and he has more sense than Scott Parker! 
  Oscar night I am a new year resolution kind of guy. I never used to be, thought that kind of thing was for girls. But the last few years I have sat down in the early days of January and scribbled a few things down. Some have been hard to attain, some have been conveniently forgotten but some I have been slightly more successful with. A couple of years ago I wrote down 'cinema'.

I was frankly bored of missing out on conversations amongst friends about movies, I read, well read (past tense*) a lot of books, but never got to see many films for reasons I'm not sure off. So the last few years I have been a regular at the big screen and now I am a Netflix member too so I can also catch up on the stuff I missed.

Last year I was particularly proud of myself (I'm easily pleased) when the Oscar nominee's came out and I had seen nearly all of the films nominated. This year has been the same. Last Sunday I saw Syriana, a film about America's involvement in the oil industry. Was good and George Clooney is up for the 'Best Actor in a Supporting Role.'

I'm not naïve enough to know that the best films or actors actually win The Oscars, but I"m looking forward to sitting down this evening to watch the 78th Academy Awards in the knowledge that I know what they are talking about and can have my own opinions. Based on the nominees, here are my thoughts on how the little gold statues will be handed out tonight:

Update Sunday 10.25pm. Winners in red below.
Best Film:
Crash Crash
Best Actor: Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)
Best Actress: Charlize Theron (North Country) Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: George Clooney (Syriana) George Clooney
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardner)
Best Directing: Steven Spielberg (Munich) Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)

* I want to think about why I don't read nowhere near as many books as I used too. Lots of reasons probably, no commute anymore, the dreaded internet, I buy too many magazines. It's a mystery though and it appears on my 2006 new years resolutions.  
  Liverpool away.What was the score? 0-0 A classic away point today. I actually enjoyed watching the game on television, it was a bit of a throw-back to days past when Bobby Bolder or Dean Kiely had one of those days when nothing was going to beat them.

Myhre was outstanding in a defensive five once again led by Chris Perry, who makes up for his lack of height by being such a clever player. Spector had a fantastic game not only marshalling Cisse, but was also unlucky with his shot on the turn in the 2nd half and his impressive surge forward in the 1st gave us valuable respite when we were under the cosh. HH and Young were also excellent.

However we offered little in midfield. It was good to see Curbs play two up front, although Bent (D) was indifferent, I thought that both Bent (M) and Bothroyd linked up play well.

But the midfield was completely lacking in any inspiration. Kish did well, but the argument that he is the best defensive midfielder in the club is obviously wasted on the manager who now seems to prefer him out wide. Why?

Hughes battled against far superior opposition but offered nothing going forward, Ambrose also appears lost out wide and Holland..... did he play?

One can only assume that we won't see Smertin again. Has he fallen out with Curbs? Surely he wasn't injured because he played 90 minutes against the world champions on Wednesday. I think Sparrows Lane is becoming like the Bermuda Triangle. Players are disappearing of the planet. Murphy, Smertin, where's Rommendahl? He was one player who I felt could have turned a backs-to-the-wall 0-0 into a shock 1-0 win today.

The introduction of Euell seemed to give the side a lift. How about a midfield 5 next week with Euell, Ambrose and Kish in the middle with Thomas and Romm if fit out wide? I'm not knocking three clean sheets on the trot but at some point we need to take a chance.

Reports from those that were there: All Quiet; Observer; BBC Sport; Shankly Gates
Saturday 4 March 2006
  Crackberry addiction to stay I have always been a bit of a gadget freak but my Blackberry addiction is beyond normal. When my boss first left it on my desk with a note saying: "I think you need one of these so I know where the hell you are," I purposely left it in it's box for a few days, a little out of spite but mainly because I knew that I would be one of those annoying people that walks down the street staring at the screen whilst furiously thumbing the tracking wheel up and down and knowing full well that I would get out of bed in the middle of the night to see if I've received a "Charlton Newsflash" email. Saddo indeed.

With my regular travelling and what with my laptop recently being out of action, my Blackberry has become a godsend. It gives me access to the worldwide web all day long, blogger, emails from mates, oh and work stuff too. I have even developed a blister on my right thumb where I have been a bit over anxious with the tracking wheel!

In recent months the long ongoing dispute between Blackberry's manufacturers Research in Motion (RIM) and a small Virginia based company NTP over a patent infringement threatened a complete shutdown - although government officials and emergency services were apparently going to be spared - of the handheld device. NTP argued that in 1990 one of their co-founders created a system to send e-mails between computers and wireless devices that RIM had stolen.

But yesterday in an out-of-court settlement, Ontario based RIM agreed to pay $612m in a full and final settlement thus meaning I can add repetitive strain to my frazzled brain by mobile phone over-use and stress from being a Charlton fan! Oh joy. 
Friday 3 March 2006
  Young - is he, isn't he? Luke Young's staying according to the official website. The Sun suggested earlier in the week that he might be on his way to a "bigger club", but the Charlton captain has said "There's no truth in that at all." However Wyn Grant has heard another story, off to the Spudz with his mate Murphy and probably Chris Perry, Mike Flanagan and Don McAllister as well. I don't know what to believe anymore.

The only truth is that the only people who will definitely be wearing Charlton shirts in August will be us mugs who go out and buy the new Joma one, our fourth 'new' kit in a space of just over a year.

Liverpool tomorrow with Gerrard will be a tad more difficult than the team we cast aside at The Valley a few weeks ago. The games on live here at 11am my time, so a nice little lie in, a hoover and a cuppa, then settle down in front of the box to have my weekend ruined. At least we enjoyed the first few hours eh?

My laptop's back with a new hard drive and people in our IT help desk in New Delhi got away with just an ear-bashing, because "If I have to come down" frankly wasn't cutting it.

I have found another ex-pat Addick on the net. In Switzerland, down by the Italian border sits an Addick with his computer. Go read Missed Goals and Empty Glasses.

I am not a television buff, although strangely it's one of the things I miss from home, even though I didn't watch much TV then but I have become addicted to the series 24. I am whizzing through episodes of the last series on DVD. I have seen 6 this week and another 4 episodes arrived yesterday. Maybe I'll put that on tomorrow instead of the football, at least Kiefer Sutherland won't join the Spudz!

Drinks with some pals tomorrow, bit of decorating and 6-a-side on Sunday, we won last week so now to the play-off's and that is my lot.

Come on you Addicks! 
Thursday 2 March 2006
  World Baseball Classic Tonight in Tokyo something called the World Baseball Classic (WBC) kicks, sorry bats off. Korea play Chinese Taipei in the first of 39 games as Major League Baseball (MLB) attempts to introduce the All American game to the world.

The game is already popular in Japan, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Cuba (with homegrown players making their fortunes in the Major League), of course we have rounders back at home but it is a slowly growing sport in places such as Holland, Australia and Italy. It is with some interest that the American's have chosen this year, being World Cup and Winter Olympic year (baseball has been dropped as a summer Olympic sport) to organise the first ever proper world event. Of course our own Chicago White Sox are the real world champions, so it is unknown what the winners of this tournament will be called?

The MLB glimpses enviously at the world's true game 'soccer' and has also noted that most actual sports played by more than a few countries have their very own world cup. All except American sports of course.

But with the thought of a gazillion chinese kids running around with NY Yankees caps on and the next Roger Clemens being South African, the MLB are belatedly getting into sports globalisation.

There is also the small matter of merchandising. All jerseys and caps are modelled on MLB logos, I can buy a red China baseball cap with an roman numeral(!) 'C' on it for $31.99 or an authenticated South African jersey for $90. Nice. Other stuff here.

So the Yanks are taking their pastime out to the world, and in the case of parts of Latin America, back to the birthplace of some the games' best players. Here in the good old US of A, no one seems to actually give a hoot. As I have said before the American's don't much care for national teams, and the conventional wisdom is the WBC is a waste of time, been poorly organized, is an injury risk to top club's players and nothing but a money-making scheme, all of which are probably true but, ultimately, they are kind of missing the point.

Contrary to popular belief there are other countries beyond the borders of this one and in the cities of Tokyo and San Juan, where some qualifying games will take place as well as living rooms in far flung outposts of the world, this tournament, given half a chance, may just be successful but with baseball fans pissed off that this interrupts their winter breaks watching players limbering up in Florida training camps, it does seem to be doomed.

I hope to follow it though, depending on how much press it gets. It will be a good measuring stick for the kind of media coverage I should expect for the (real) world cup in the summer. I always love these kind of events, I am a sucker for an international tournament or the Olympics and of course it will be hilarious if the USA team falls flat on its face (like they did in Athens) and Cuba walks away with the title.

Now that would be badly organised. 
Wednesday 1 March 2006
  Benty "very interesting" Warm applause from the Anfield crowd echoed what most Charlton fans felt after Darren Bent's England debut today. I listened to the live commentary and have had the television re-run on tonight and he gave a lively performance, with typical good movement and energy.

He looked more relaxed in the 2nd half, after a, perhaps only natural, over-eager opening and it was pleasing that Eriksson gave him a full 80 minutes.

In fact Eriksson and Grip do seem to be fans of Darren and the manager's comments afterwards were very positive: "Darren Bent showed, especially in the second half, some nice movement. He was a bit unlucky and another time might have scored a goal. For me he was very interesting."

Defoe is obviously Bent's rival for the last strike position after Owen, Rooney and Crouch although the Swede has said that he might take two other strikers. In Bent's favour and I think shown today, he does add something different and his strength and height hopefully will put him on the plane.

But with no more England games until the squad is picked on May 15th, the Premiership form of Defoe and Bent will clearly decide their fate. Lets hope Benty's team mates don't let him, or Luke Young down.

On a different note, I was fortunate to witness Luke Young's England debut and as a Charlton fan I felt very proud. I was wondering if there were any Addicks at Anfield tonight? 
  Millwall Bent out of shape While Addicks everywhere will be feeling very proud tonight when Darren Bent starts the England game up front with someone called Wayne Rooney, spare a thought for our friends up the road, Millwall. Okay, that's enough.

Teetering on the trapdoor to League One (Division 3 if you're as old as me) The Lions yesterday announced pre-tax losses for the period ending November 2005 of £2.4m. Chairman Peter De Savary once described as an entrepreneur, conservationist and yachtsman had great plans for the rust bucket, but yesterday was thinking of steering in different waters when he said "Should relegation to League One occur, the Board have contingency plans in place to take account of this change of status. With 13 players' contracts expiring during the close season, we are in a strong position to plan the size of our squad accordingly." Just hope he remembers that you need at least 11 crew to play football.

There are rumours that Alexei Smertin's recent injury was a bit ficticious, the man himself has made a recovery however and is set to lead his country out against world champions Brazil tonight in Moscow. Smertin's future at The Valley seems very uncertain after he openly talked yesterday of an offer from a Russian club for next season. "I've received an offer from a Russian club and now my agent is considering that," he said. (more)

And with a summer clear out expected at The Valley, one player that we definitely don't want to see go is Luke Young but today's Sun is running a story that he is looking for a summer move to ''a bigger club." This is The Sun mind, who on their website are asking the question: "Should Marcus Bent go to Germany?" I suppose the answer is: if he wants, but as long as he is back for Saturday! 
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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