Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Bulls turn up the Heat
A very enjoyable afternoon at the United Center today to watch the Chicago Bulls
beat Miami Heat 93-87
to level the best of 7 series 2-2. The atmosphere created by the sell out 22,361 crowd was electric. The unbelievably huge Shaquille O'Neal was given a typical Chicago reception as boos rained down onto the field everytime he touched the ball.
Crowd favourite Andres Nocioni led all scorers with 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Chicago and the decisive basket was sunk from fully 26ft by Captain Kirk Hinrich with just over a minute left.
The 5th game of the series is in Miami on Tuesday.
Despite sitting in my hotel room Wednesday evening
and writing that Curbs' would leave the club in the summer, it still came as a shock today and as Saturday in Chicago comes to a close, I feel more and more poignant about Richard Murray's pre-match announcement.
Despite Curbs' saying it was all done Friday night, this is clearly not a sudden decision by both men, manager and chairman have known for a long while that their unique relationship had come to the oft-proclaimed end of the road.
But huge credit to Richard Murray for insisting on the way it would be announced to the world, truly the Charlton way, and the most agreeable to the fans. It would have been horrible to have read it in the Sunday rags. Curbs said that he "wanted to leave by the front door and not the back,"
and it brought a lump to my throat as Addicks rose around the ground in injury time to give the great man a standing ovation. After 15 years the fans even sung his name!
He will forever be remembered at the Valley as quite rightly Jimmy Seed is. I thought about those 15 years today and I realised that Alan Curbishley has been part of my life for a very long time and half of my Charlton supporting one. Curbs has been responsible, at least partly, for some of my favourite ever days in my life. He is a legend, he has lived and breathed Charlton for every second of those 15 years and he deserves all our thanks and although it will be strange without him, change brings excitement too.
I mentioned Jimmy Seed and it has been written that his departure in 1956 brought many years of despair for the club. That was down to the ownership of the club at the time, but Richard Murray and his board are not in it for the same reasons that the Gliksten's were.
Murray and his fellow board members should now relish this opportunity, the time is right for change and we should put our trust in a man that other fans' would give their right arms for.
As for Curbs, I think he will take some well deserved rest and do some world cup punditry, but he is after all a football man 100%, 24-7. Mrs C will I'm sure soon get fed up of him moping around at home. Whatever he does, he deserves his place in Charlton Athletic's rich history.
So this is new territory for us Addicks isn't it? It's clearly imperative that the board makes its choice soon to enable the new man to build for next season. There will be many changes, and I really hope that we use players such as Darren Bent, Young, Ambrose, Thomas and Andersen as foundations and not as forms of currency.
As for the new man? Well there is plenty of choice and I know who I don't want. People that have been out of the game for too long, and managers from beyond the Championship, it is a different world managing a Premiership club, therefore the new man ideally needs previous experience of doing so.
My two favourites would be Chris Coleman or Paul Jewell. You have to believe that these two men would consider Charlton a step up, but of course it will always come down to money. If we are to look down a division then what about Adrian Boothroyd or Billy Davies supported by Les Reed? Ian Dowie would appeal too, despite his current appalling taste.
It's going to be an interesting few weeks. Who said it was boring be a Charlton fan?
Blackburn home. What was the score? Lost 2-0
The game somewhat came second today as it did to my bodyclock. I didn't think for a minute last night that I would need to set my alarm for a 11.15am kick off, even imagined myself waking early and watching Mourinho throw his medal into the crowd
. Why did he do that? Shows a bit of disrepect if you ask me.
So what time did I wake up? 12.33pm to be exact. Christ, leapt out of bed, put the tele' on, saw we were losing, yawned and put the kettle on. Settle down with cuppa and Powell scores into his own net. Further frowning and yawning.
A few minutes later the commentator said something like: "Alan Curbishley will be very disappointed that his last ever Charlton home game ends in defeat."
Cue mad rush to put the computer on....
We were of course terrible, although the Curbs' bombshell surely had an impact on the players. Blackburn were all the things that we haven't been for the majority of the season. Progressive, precise, energetic and hungry.
Lloyd Sam impressed me in the time he was on and I'm personally glad that Andersen was in goal but of course all of this was secondary to the announcement made before the game by Richard Murray.
It was quite a day in the Premiership, not only our news but with Chelsea being confirmed as champions and the terrible news of Rooney's injury
. Owen also struggled on his first game back for Newcastle today. Not the way we hoped to learn that Darren Bent (barring injury himself) would almost certainly guarantee his place on the plane to Germany.
Reports from those that were there on a historic day: cafc.co.uk
; Cynic Athletic
; All Quiet
; Addicks Diary
Curbs to leave after 15 years
Richard Murray: "Yesterday I sat down with Alan to discuss our plans for the future and Alan was as honest as he has always been throughout his time at Charlton and told me he would not be extending his current contract. We enjoy a fantastic relationship and Alan only wants to do his best for Charlton for whom he has a deep affection. Alan is, in my opinion, the greatest football manager this club has ever had. We both agreed that it would, therefore, be in the interests of the club and Alan if we parted company at the end of the current season. We do so as the best of friends. Alan will manage a Charlton team for the last time at Old Trafford next Sunday and today is his last match in charge of a Charlton team at home. When Alan emerges from the tunnel today I would ask each and every one of you to stand and pay tribute to a remarkable man and leave him in no doubt of the genuine affection you all hold for someone who has done so much for our football club and is, in my opinion, the greatest football manager this club has ever had."
And he is and the fans let him know it as they gave him a two minute standing ovation towards the end of the game.
The king is dead, long live the king.
The FA couldn't have made more of a dogs dinner of appointing a new England manager if they tried. Discussions with Luiz Felipe Scolari, which were meant to have led to an offer in Portugal Friday night, ended in farce after the Brazilian declared he is withdrawing from the race. (more
)"I don't want anything more to do with England because in the space of two days my life has been invaded and my privacy has been disrupted. As I speak, there are still 20 reporters outside my home. If that's part of another culture, it's not a culture I'm used to."
This from a man from a country whose people live and breath the beautiful game.
What has the FA done and what the hell do they do next? Clearly the press leak on Wednesday came as news to the English contingent of candidates and last night's debacle further throws the whole thing into further shambles.Curbs
doesn't get a mention in Saturday's press which states that the FA will turn to either O'Neill, McClaren or Allardyce if Scolari stays true to his words. McClaren mind you didn't seem distracted on Thursday when he led Middlesbrough to a wonderful victory
over Steaua Bucharest. And if Arsenal's great achievement
in getting to the Champions League final is undermined by the fact they have few English players, Boro's bright young guns should be celebrated.
With Middlesbrough in the final of the UEFA Cup, Wigan reaching the Carling Cup final, the Hammers in the FA Cup final and Bolton and Blackburn challenging for a European place, it just shows what a touch of ambition, risk and luck can do.
According to reports last night Chris Coleman looks to have snatched Jimmy Bullard
from Wigan for £2.5m. Just the player we are looking for in my opinion but clearly Coleman is far more organised for next season than Curbishley, who was busy this week retrieving Kevin Lisbie back from Derby
. Maybe the kit-man has gone down sick or something?
Some good news from the club in the latter part of this week is that Luke Young
is still on course to be back for the final game at Old Trafford next Sunday, a day before the England squad is announced. Ex-Bristol City player and manager Brian Tinnion
has been appointed head of the Addicks Spanish soccer school.
Addicks season over but da Bulls' goes on
Back to the sunshine of Chicago after 5 days in the Honolulu sun. I actually worked a lot harder than planned. No Pearl Harbor visit, no exploring of Diamond Head, no suntan, just bigger rings under my eyes.
Last night the Chicago Bulls
pulled off a magnificent but heated victory
over Miami in the NBA play-off's to pull back to 2-1. I have tickets Sunday for game 4 and I'm expecting a great atmosphere as da Bulls look to pull off a big shock by equaling the best of seven series.
The game starts at midday and I'm playing football in the morning. Our team currently prop up the table with just a solitary point from 4 games but don't panic Chicago Addick is back in town!
Otherwise a quiet weekend planned, some painting and other chores to be done plus the Blackburn game is on live here tomorrow, so will position myself in front of the box with a cup of splosh and hopefully witness the boys put a smile on mine and others faces for the rest of the day.
Scolari offered England job. Where does that leave us?
Thursday's newspapers will announce that 'Big Phil' Scolari has been offered the England manager's job
. The FA's chief executive Brian Barwick has flown to Portugal to finalise the deal, which includes offering the Brazilian £1.5 million a year less than they pay Eriksson. This fact alone could mean that an English manager may still get the job.
However on paper no English manager or British one come to that can match the achievements of Scolari, the only surprise is that he is not the quiet, shy and retiring individual that the nation thought the FA were after. Expect more Brian Clough than Sven-Goran Eriksson in press conferences. The FA made a dreadful mistake never given 'old big head' the job, lets hope for once they have made the right decision.
This of course leaves Charlton fans with the question: "What happens to Curbs now?" What was the score?
has said often that he could get the job, because of circumstance rather than compatibility. To many Charlton fans he came closer to getting the job than they could ever have imagined, but a combination of lack of top-notch experience and perceived media naiveness has gone against him.
Question now is does he stay at Charlton for the final year of his contract, sign an extended one or leave the club altogether. Personally I think the former would be asinine as the immediate future of the club and it's manager needs to be assured, the club is not used to such uncertainty.
Equally I think Curbs has shown all the mannerisms recently of knowing that he has come to the end of the road. He and the club seem to have found themselves in that very cul-de-sac that he has mentioned many times before in the 15 years at the club.
With the standard of our football deteriorating, if not necessarily our league 'success,' if judged on position and with the playing squad in need of major surgery and perhaps unprecendented investment Richard Murray has to put the club first. I personally don't think Murray buys into the argument that we frantically need to make changes in order to move to the 'next level,' because this next level isn't very far away - roughly 7 points at the moment! And those early season games proved what can be achieved with a little ambition and risk taking.
Now risk taking are two words that the club's board have rarely considered but this summer I think they must. The club hasn't gone backwards in terms of performance, if judged on points (50 could be achieved for only the 3rd time in 7 Premiership seasons), but what the club has become is stagnant, and stagnant with an ageing squad and a disgruntled fanbase.
I want to see Richard Murray and co become risk takers this summer, I am bored with the same, its monotonous and is driving away fans. All successful organisations need structured change.
I think Curbs will leave in the summer and whether he goes to Villa, Birmingham or more likely becomes a sought-after television pundit whilst waiting for the obvious job vacancies in the Autumn, the time has come to throw the dice and take some risk.
An Alan Curbishley is not easily replaced but there are several good candidates out there. Chris Coleman to name but one. Anyhow, that conversation if for another time and whilst the FA fly to Portugal to address it's future ambitions, Alan Curbishley and Charlton Athletic need to resolve ours.
Wide awake in Waikiki
The great thing about having a blog is that when you are wide awake in the middle of the night you can get up and write something down and not just lie in bed wondering if the magic sleep genie is going to come and pay you a visit. It also avoids putting the television on to watch recurring news items on CNN and the poxy little clock in the corner.
Honolulu is 5 hours behind Chicago and 11 behind London, I have never been this far west before and my body clock, which is normally quite compliant, doesn't seem to like it at all.
I have a full day of meetings today, okay it ain't going to be hard, but I will be needing copious cups of the local brew
to keep me awake.
Anyway, for those of you 11 hours ahead in the UK if you have today's racing results and lottery numbers I would be very appreciative!
Jealous of the Hamsters
Just back from a walk along Waikiki Beach. It's a strange place really, very east meets west. All hula dancing and south Pacific one minute, then turn the corner and it's Starbucks and capitalist America the next.
Have just seen that West Ham beat Middlesbrough
earlier today. Congratulations to them and my West Ham mates - another trip to Cardiff for them, one would be nice, wouldn't it? Can't help feel a tinge of jealously at West Ham's sucess but they have proved what a bit of imaginative football can do. What a fantastic season the Hammers and Wigan have had.
It was the London marathon today and I noticed that Chicago
winner's Deana Kastor
and Felix Limo
were both triumphant again. If I can I would like to keep up with Danny Wallace's efforts to walk the race. Wallace suffers from MS and I read this interview
when I was home recently. It is a sad tale, and his cause deserves some publicity and support. As he says: "I hope people don't feel sorry for me. Just pick me up, so I can go on again."
Also yesterday was Chicago Bulls
first game in the NBA play-off's. They have a tough draw against one of the favourites Miami Heat
and all. In the first of seven games the young Bulls lost 111-106
. Next game is tomorrow (Monday). Go da Bulls.
15 megs of fame
On the plane journey to Honolulu
via a delay at Los Angeles airport I picked up this week’s Economist
, enticed by their ‘Survey of new media'
The major difference between today’s new media revolution whether it’s Blogs
, Instant Messaging
or Live Journals
says the survey is that it’s participatory and not authoritarian. The new media generation basically wants the ability to discuss the issues and not be told them.
The word “weblog”
was invented in 1997 and this became shortened to “blog”
two years later. The longest running blog of all is said to have started in 1997. When I wrote my first post on What was the score?
in June 2004 I was one of 5 million bloggers. There are now 27 million and Technorati
tracks an amazing 50,000 new posts every hour.
The result of all of this plus 24-hour television is that newspapers sales are in steep decline. Rather belatedly most newspaper titles are espousing the online media, after shunning it for a long while although the exceptions to this are The Guardian
and The Times
, which have long been regular staples for the news and article internet browser.
I don’t buy a newspaper anymore and in fact only read one is coffee shops. I seek all of my news and observations from the modern media, whether news sites, portals or blogs, wrapped up with a dose of late night television news.
However it is not that I have given up on newspapers, it is just a consequence of me living here and frankly being bored by the insular rantings of the US mass media and no longer having a commute. When in the UK I like nothing more than a lazy Sunday reading the Sunday Times
for the generally thought provoking articles and specific supplements and the News of the World
to see which latest footballer has just spunked half a million quid on a turn of a card.
I am a news junkie and I crave up to date news and sport at my fingertips. I really don’t understand anymore why someone would want to read a football report from a Saturday afternoon in Monday’s newspaper or what the ‘latest’ share prices were at 4pm yesterday or for that matter the weather two days ago in another continent. That is not news, nevertheless from the very early days of being a paperboy I do like nothing more than pouring over newspaper print.
One author has said that “the last reader will recycle the last newspaper in April 2040,”
but The Economist
survey points to the fact that the newspaper industry is in a perfect storm, despite falling circulations. Cost cutting has resulted in above average profit margins and newspapers are cutting their cloth and print accordingly. Recently famed media mogul Rupert Murdoch said that newspaper websites have to become “a place for conversation,”
this after he bought MySpace
, an 'online blogging and social-networking site.'
Online news sites such as Guardian Unlimited
and Times Online
have long been regular staples for internet news and article junkies like myself. In fact they feature pretty high in the list of most linked sites from blogs – 22 million blog’s link to Guardian Unlimited
and 18 million to Times Online
. The most linked websites are the New York Times
(56 million) and CNN
(52 million). My preferred “go to”
site, the BBC
, has 25 million links according to Technorati
points out that that most bloggers want to co-exist with the old media and this can only improve journalism as it becomes a collaborative process. The London bombings
last summer were used as an example when “citizen journalism” produced such harrowing images taken at the scene, which were soon being uploaded to professional news media within minutes.
A new joke in blogosphere goes that Andy Warhol’s proverbial “15 minutes of fame”
has now become “15 megs” (megabytes) of fame. My brother is a designer and has always said “that everyone thinks they can design, but not very many of them can.”
If you’ve ever clicked onto the “next blog”
button you will realize that this is also true when it comes to writing, but as The Economist
says it is the taking part that matters!
Read some of The Economist's
'New media survey' here
Bolton away. What was the score? Lost 4-1
For the second week in succession I spent the duration of Charlton’s game 36,000 feet in the sky, which is probably where dejected Addicks' fans at the Reebok wished they were watching the game from too.
Reading the various reports it is clear that we were pants and the end of the season has well and truly arrived for us. With half of the available players probably looking for a summer move elsewhere, it is of course no concern of their’s to try for a higher placing and therefore more Premiership prize money. Did I hear the word pride? Hmmm.
Mind you if I had seen the team prior to the game, it would have been the one I would have chosen what with the injuries we have except for the exclusion of Kishishev, who in my opinion operates best in a five-man midfield. But, what do I know, except that allowing players to leave on loan or otherwise without replacing them is pure folly.
Of course the manager is only responsible for picking the team and coaching them during the week, once they get on the pitch it is down to them blah, blah….
Alan Curbishley, who once said that “this is my strongest ever squad,”
was left bemoaning it after the game Saturday and once again the only plus point was a Darren Bent goal, from the spot and his 22nd of the season.
I’ve not seen the goals but Thomas Myhre again comes in for some close scrutiny. Goalkeeper’s errors are of course accentuated, and he was enormously responsible for our vast improvement defensively after Christmas but I still maintain that Stephan Andersen is the future No.1 at the club. Is it my memory or were the young Dane’s gaffes less evident and crucial than the Norwegians?
If the England manager’s position was chosen on a round robin results basis between the respective candidates, Mr Curbishley would surely have flunked, a bit like his teams in the North-West of the country, which is frankly now a bit of a joke. Well, at least we can laugh eh?
Reports from those that were there: Addicks Diary
; Times Online
; BBC Sport
Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city and also one of it’s smallest. A home for dreamers and individuals, neither Scandinavian, nor European but Icelandic and proud of their Viking past and their ultra-modern city.
The home to puffins, geysers, volcano’s, strong coffee, trolls and elves, Europe’s largest glacier and biggest desert, geothermal and hydroelectric power, Hermann Hreidarsson
, the world’s cleanest air and purest tap water. It’s also bloody expensive.
Modern architecture and trendy boutiques sit next to surreal natural beauty. Only 300,000 people live in Iceland, two-thirds of whom live on the Atlantic coast in Reykjavik. People walk the streets with ridiculous hairstyles and cheekbones so high they could pierce the low clouds in the sky.
The people initially come across as a bit rude but they warm up very nicely hurriedly talking about what you must see on your stay and what bars you must visit if you want to see Bjork
or Eidur Gudjohnsen, and how they come to London because “it is cheap!”
As I mentioned earlier, this is not a cheap place. The Icelandic’s have one of the highest costs of livings on the planet. In a supermarket we bought two apples, two bananas and two drinks. Cost £15. Recent economic problems
involving some of the countries biggest companies has seen the exchange rate improve though.
However what does not cost any money is the countries unbelievable unique natural beauty. The lava fields, hot springs, fjords and tectonic plate where the earth is divided in two, not to mention the famous Northern Lights
, which unfortunately due to the weather we were unable to witness. The best time to see the dazzle of lights created by the Aurora Borealis is said to be in the Spring and Autumn, but the sky needs to be clear and not too cold.
Call me naïve but I was taken back by how cold it was in Reykjavik. Their springs and all-day long summers are supposed to be quite mild but I was knocked back by Artic winds blowing of the Atlantic. Cue expensive purchasing of gloves and balaclavas.
The city itself can pretty much be wandered around in a day. The main centre with its harbour is small. The trendy boutiques and cool looking bars and restaurants may take a bit longer to explore but this is a holiday with two distinct attractions.
On our first day I ticked one of my “things to do before I’m 40 boxes.” The Donkeys at Blackheath aside I had never ridden a horse before and what better than to be led by a striking Icelandic horse
, introduced by the Vikings, through the lava fields. The freezing wind made the afternoon very liberating.
With another box having to remain empty after we were told we couldn’t dog sled due to the season, we decided on a whole day visiting what is called the ‘Golden Circle.’
Sat in a jeep with humungous tyres, we battled through snowstorms, twice having to be rescued as our jeep became stuck (glad we didn't take up the recommendation of a rental car!) to travel west firstly to the Þingvellir National Park
. We fought blizzards to watch in awe the dramatic rift in the earth where the American tectonic plate tears away from the Euroasian plate. We were told that Iceland is actually growing by 2cm each year as new land is created by the expanding fracture, neither American nor European.
Þingvellir is also the site of the Viking government from AD930 until 1271 and the National Park is home to a diverse wildlife including European and American birds meeting in the middle so to speak. The visibility was such the day we were there that we could hardly see our snow-covered jeep let alone any birdlife. Another strong cup coffee was very welcoming.
From here we drove to Geysir
, a place that gave its name to the rest of the worlds hot springs. The air is heavy with the smell of sulphur and only fellow tourists make you realize that you are not on another planet. There are a number of geysirs here but the main one is called Strokkur
, which spouts hot water 35m up in the air about every 4 minutes. Check which way the wind is blowing though!
All around here are bubbling little pools of water, often above boiling point, mixing with layers of thin ice on volcanic rock. Not something you see every day.
Next we drove onto a breathtaking expanse of water and mountains called Gullfoss
. Half frozen with a tiered effect. You could walk, or actually slide on the ice nearer to it to be able to almost look inside. A wonderful sight in the snow, which probably changes dramatically in the summer with it's famed rainbows.
Finally after earlier being told that the weather was too bad to drive up to the glacier to skidoo, the late afternoon had cleared just enough to allow us to. In the middle of nowhere in a scene reminiscent from Star Wars. 20 skidoos lined up for us and other groups to use. We were led in convoy at speeds upto 100kmh flying through the icy mountains at times witnessing incredible scenes and at others hardly being able to see 10 metres in front of us. If the horse riding was liberating then this was absolutely exhilarating.
This day trip was expensive but if you find yourself in Reykjavik do nothing else but the Golden Circle trip, it's like nothing you have seen.
On Saturday afternoon we went to Iceland's most popular tourist spot, the Blue Lagoon
disturbingly situated next to a powerplant, this milky blue oasis is the stuff of postcards. The distinctive bluey-green hue comes from the minerals and the algae that have dissolved in seawater, which has been proven to be good for the skin.
It was slightly freaky to be walking around in my shorts in below freezing temperatures. The water is kept at a bubbly 39oC all year round and the silica mud that you smother over yourself is said to be the reason why the Icelandic's look so young! There were massages available too but we missed out on them as it seemed churlish to get out of the water until we were completely wrinkled.
Swimming is Iceland's national sport and everyone must be able to swim before they leave school. Football
is also huge too with the national stadium being at Laugardalur, just outside the capital. They were expanding the 7,000 capacity when we were there.
Reykjavik is not a shoppers city, but more of a browsers. Trendy boutique and art galleries line the main shopping streets of Laugauegur, Skolayoroustigur and Huerfisgata alongside coffee shops and cool looking bars.
The Icelandic's are known to like a good time and at weekends the locals don't go out 'til gone midnight (the bars close at 8am!). On the Thursday everything was pretty quiet but on the Friday the opposite was true as the streets were packed with people lining up to enter bars at 3am, at what point I was heading back to the hotel. One word of caution though. Don't be taken in by the hip and cool tag the locals afford the club scene. Not unless you still find Lionel Richie and Witney Houston hip.
Damon Albarn has a stake in Kaffibarrin
, but the clientele resembled a sixth form common room, Cafe Oliver
was an older crowd but lively and friendly. Vegamot
was also worth a visit for a people watch and Thorvaldsen
was a good place to start off in the lively area of Austurvollur Square.
A couple of people watching observations. The whole blonde thing is a myth. The majority have black hair looking like it was cut by a blind hairdresser. Almost everyone smokes and smoke-free bars are about a 100 years away. Everyone is either very young or those silica face packs work wonders.
The hotel bar where we stayed at Hotel 101
was very cool and busy. I was disappointed in the hotel a little bit as I thought the service could have been better but it is a walking modern art gallery and is bang in the middle of Reykjavik postcode 101 and the cities busiest area, hence the name.
Icelandic food wasn't easy to find, although saying that the delights of Puffin, picked ram testicles, raw whale meat and reindeer were not high on my diet! However I did sample some cod chins (I'm told that the locals prefer to eat the fish heads as opposed to the fillets) in Þrir Frakkar
one night. Puffin, which I promised I would order, was thankfully off.
Whaling is a hot topic here as many see it part of their cultural heritage, however as tourism increases the pressure is on to just watch them and not eat them.
The restaurant named after chef Siggi Hall
, who is supposedly Iceland's answer to Jamie Oliver, was very good if not a bit quiet. However for a cheaper option, well they don't really do cheap options but try Naestu Grosum
, which was an excellent place for lunch. I didn't sample the famous Hot dogs at Baejarins Beztu
, but the 'pylsur'
do come well recommended.
Places to look out for on walking around Reykjavik's streets should include Hallgrimskirkja, which you can see from every vantage point. The church sits high up on a hill and resembles a volcanic eruption. Opposite is a statue of Leifur Eiriksson
, the first known European to discover America. The City Library
and the Harbour House Museum
are close to the harbour, which we had an extremely brisk walk along.
The harbour has a not too unpleasant waft of fish, to remind you of the cod chins you ate the night before but the view of Mount Esja which looms over the harbour and the wonderful Solfar viking boat sculpture more than make up for it though. One of many sculptures that line the roads and pavements of the city.
The town pond (Tjornin) was created at the end of the last ice age and at one end of it you can find the City Hall
. Huge colourful houses surround the lake on both sides and looking from the City Hall you can see The Pearl
(Perlan) in the distance, an amazing modern glass building which hosts an observatory, art exhibitions, cafe and one of the cities best restaurants.
The cities oldest street is Aoelstraeti. On this street under a new hotel have been found remains of a Viking settlement dated AD 874-930. Beyond 101 are tiny streets packed tight with colourful corrugated iron clad houses huddled together from the winter and I'd imagine that in the summer this place looks completely different. Reykjavik even has its own beach at Nautholsvik. Completely man-made with a hot tub.
In the summer the sun rises at 2.40am and sets at 11pm but in the winter Reykjavik's does not get light until close to midday. Can you imagine having to work like that?
Two last quirky things that make this country so fascinating. Icelandic people actually believe in trolls, elves and ghosts. If you don't believe me ask an Icelandic. They also have a patronymic naming system, which explains why all their names sound the same.
It works roughly like this. An Icelandic surname is made up of a fathers first name, say Hreidar plus either sson if a boy or dottir if a daughter. Therefore a son would have the surname Hreidarsson and a girl would be called Hreidardottir. Charlton's very own Viking's son would have the surname, if his parents are true to their roots, of Hermannsson. Got it?
Two weeks away from Chicago and the weather here is the warmest I have seen for a fair few weeks but I'm only here for a few days before I go kicking and screaming to Honolulu on Saturday with 'work.'
Of course there won't be any FA Cup semi-final distraction to worry about just a little end of seasoner up at that lucky hunting ground The Reebok, although other than last season's thrashing we haven't faired too badly up there in recent years.
This week I play my favourite work game of 'catch up' as well as entertain some ex-colleagues from London tonight and try to stay in one place long enough to get the lovely Maria to cut my hair.
Friday my boss (Chicagoan born and bred) has decided to take myself and another Englander and good mate out for an early St George's Day lunch. There is a pub downtown called The Elephant & Castle
which doesn't do a bad job of steak and kidney pie and a pint of Boddingtons, so you will find me in there Friday afternoon although I expect the barstaff will not have a clue what the red cross on the white background stands for.
As I have mentioned on here before I have had all kinds of American intelligensia (sic) give me their college educated opinions on what the flag of St George is. Not one has yet guessed correctly with still the 'first aid flag' polling the most votes.
I have never been to Hawaii and before you get to envious you should read this article
. I am hoping to get some respite from the work-grind to venture out though and take some photographs of the island of Oahu. Aloha.
Pompey home. What was the score? Won 2-1
At 36,000 feet up in the air I know little or nothing about the game first hand. It sounded like it was more of the same for 75 minutes but a young man called Darren Bent turned the game around by firstly setting up Hughes to score his 2nd goal in 3 games and then belting away to finish emergency centre forward Hreidarsson's flick to finish with aplomb.
Reports from those that were there: cafc.co.uk
; All Quiet
; The Times
; Charlton Athletic Online
; Addicks Diary
Fulham away. What was the score? Lost 2-1
I saw with my own eyes yesterday the lack of any invention or prowess from a Charlton side desparate for a change of direction.
I had an enjoyable afternoon supping pints in the Dukes Head across the river from Bishops Park and only a close vote saw us leave the pub at 2.45pm to walk over the bridge and witness just my 3rd live game of the season. Bloody terrible form really (mine I mean, I haven't started on the team yet).
I'm always conscious to give it billy big bollocks on here because I am now the fan that I used to hate - armchair, irregular and opinionated. However I do know that if you read and listen to enough fan's views you get a balanced one and our recent deft of entertainment continued yesterday at what is still one of my favourite football grounds. I liked this picturesque ground when I saw us play the Cottagers in the 70's against legends Bobby Moore and Georgie Best and I liked it now with it's mini modernisation and strange balconies in each of three corners and the famous cottage in the other.
I was astonished by the away turn-out to be honest, the 2nd time in a few days I have felt proud to be one of them. Oh I do like an away game and my mates and I have vowed to see more next year. Fellow Addicks were surprisingly up for it, despite the massive disappointment of Wednesday, getting behind the team for most of the game.
The 1st half mirrored The Riverside a bit, whereas we were probably the better team and had more chances but still found ourselves going a goal down early to another sloppy free-kick. Myhre insisting on a two-man wall and then berating them as the ball went past them and him into the net didn't do him any favours after Wednesday's occurrence.
We then scored, and with the away end rising alongside Addicks in the neighbouring 'neutral section' to a long forgotten Jason Euell song, all seemed well but just like the Cup game, our defence parted like the red sea to allow another goal. Seeing Boa Morte run at our defence reminded me that taking players on and not just hoofing it is actually allowed in Football Association rules. Credit to Darren Ambrose though, who at least tried to get to ball
down and play it when he received it.
At half-time behind the stand sipping cold bottles of beer, the general feeling was that we were the better side of two poor ones and that kicking into our end we were still in with a shout.
Curiously Messrs Curbishley, Day and Peacock obviously didn't as we shut up shop for the next 43 minutes and played for a 2-1 defeat. Perhaps the players should have had a Carlsberg and not a cuppa at half-time.
In saying that we twice came close in the dying minutes. Marcus Bent who I have realised is more lazy than a lazy thing, was unfortunate with a volley pushed over by Niemi who then saved from Hreidarsson following the resultant corner. An equaliser would have been nice but frankly most Addicks weren't bothered suffering from that little end of season illness called: "It's all bollocks isn't?"
It is quite beyond me why Curbishley kept Thomas on the bench and dropped Rommendahl completely, whilst Holland retained his place over Hughes. And Chicago boy or not Jonathon Spector has now proved to me that he cannot play either left back or right back. What is the point please?
The one plus point for me was another good performance from Sorondo, a man playing for his future. On that note can we please see Osei Sankofa before his hair goes as grey as mine. And how about at least a place on the bench for either Lloyd Sam or the young Icelandic Rurik Gislason on Monday. Christ how up for it will Pompey be and their supporters? Luckily I will be on a plane where no contact with the outside world is allowed.
Reports from others that were there: BBC Sport
; All Quiet
; Addicks Diary
Boro away. What was the score? Lost 4-2
Very disappointed but the 2nd half had that familiar feel to it and I think the game showed to a nationwide audience the flaws we all know so well both in the team and the manager that coaches and picks it.
I'm afraid that last night was
Curbishley's England interview, at least by non-Charlton and Middlesbrough English fans who were at home watching on television, and to a lesser extent Darren Bent. England's fans were probably turning to each other after 20 minutes and saying that if Defoe was playing the game would have been over. And it is hard to disagree with them.
Bent came in for quite a lot of criticism from Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer and Alan Pardew after the game on BBC1 but they all made it clear that he's still very young and this is
his first season. What they didn't say is that he has scored 20 goals in a team that creates very few chances. We all know a season without Darren Bent and maybe Jon Stead (who Curbs was desperate to sign) instead would have left us a place below Stead's Sunderland in the Premiership.
If Bent doesn't score then who does? Okay, he missed two sitters but firstly he was there and secondly no one else was. For the first chance Hughes missed a free header and Holland flapped at the ball before it made its way to Bent.
Our midfield was poor. No creativity, imagination or strength, all necessary and crucial attributes that put the best above the also-rans. Kish was trying to cover but was once again he showed he's speed of thought is that of a snails.
Spector is terrible. The "best defender in pre-season training"
does not cut it in April. He looked like he had just got of the plane from O'Hare and been thrown straight onto the pitch. Perry and HH were therefore trying to cover for him and this caused them to make errors, especially Hermann.
Why didn't we play 4-5-1 to allow our most creative players to give at least a platform to Bent? What was the purpose of Bartlett, the assist aside, apart from coming back at corners?
Rommendahl talked recently that he has changed his game thanks to Curbs. Why? All of his career the Dane has used his superb pace to get past players, now he just goes inside or looks for the pass. He was involved in everything early on but then he wasn't utilised or when he was it was deep.
Yes, we were beaten by a better team with class strikers each costing and earning a lot more money than ours. Boro' have also got some young players
that we can only dream off but for the first 20 minutes we looked so dangerous and then in the first 2o of the 2nd half we looked so, well Charlton!
So the season's over, the England charade continues
and the summer will be a fraught one. In the meantime I'm going to Fulham Saturday. Please can I see players like Jeffers, Sankofa, Euell, Ambrose, Thomas, Sam, Gislason and Sorondo given a chance? They're playing for their futures, whether at Charlton or elsewhere. They about tomorrow, frankly Spector, Kish, Holland, Hughes, Bartlett and Powell are so yesterday.
Finally a word for the fans and the board who provided the platform. They should be proud of themselves. The travelling Addicks created a wonderful atmosphere and unlike those out on the pitch and in the dugout were a marvellous advertisement for Charlton Athletic. A potential new signing watching at home may not have been impressed with what he saw on the pitch but he would have been in the stands.
Those Addicks on trains, planes and automobiles: cafc.co.uk
, Addicks Diary
; BBC Sport
; The Independent
; All Quiet
; Frankie Valley
; Come on Boro
Young injury talk premature?
I arrived in London yesterday after a few excellent, if freezing cold days in Reykjavik - more on this when I get some time.
Meanwhile we are now only two days from the long-awaited replay at The Riverside. 50 coaches, 2 trains and 3 aeroplanes will help carry Addicks to the game, the biggest 90 minutes since our return to the Premiership.
Rightly the fans and the clubs recent focus has been on this game but in the back of our minds is what is going to happen at the club in the summer. The current management team's continual trimming of the playing squad saw last season's fan-favourite but another one Curbs' forgotten men Talal El Karkouri, being allowed to leave the club
on loan for the rest of the season. El Kak will join Al Gharafa of the cash filled Qatar's first division. This trade seems somewhat against Curbs' normal cautious manner of releasing squad players, particularly when we are short in midfield and have injuries in defence.
Announced in Saturday's programme and on the official website today
was that Barry Fuller will not feature again at The Valley. The reserve captain was generally accepted to be the best youngster of his age group in the squad however he is added to the large list of released ex-academy players not to be retained.
The 21-year old has impressed on loan at Barnet
and may stay there if offered a permanent deal or will hope to find a club higher up the league pyramid.
Speculation about Alan Curbishley's future was fuelled when the man himself indicated this weekend that this may be his last season at the club, England job or no England job, although he continues to use any opportunity to extol his chances. What was the score?
and others have been saying that this is the plateau of Curbishley's long and successful reign and fans are split right down the middle on whether this will be a good thing or an extrordinary bad thing.
Whatever, the "I, the club and the fans will know when my time is up,"
moment is going to come sooner rather than later and I expect that Richard Murray has known this for some time.
If Curbs ends up at Soho Square, St James' Park or just back at his home in Essex come August, waiting for the inevitable early season job vacancies, then summer at the Valley will be rather fraught. More players are needed and so will a new management team and Charlton fans are not used to these uncertainties.
Luke Young's summer could be one of frustration as he has as much as declared himself out for the rest of the season and therefore the World Cup. However Curbs' today said that talk is premature
, a strange mix of messages but all Addicks hope that the Young's manager knows best.
Everton home. What was the score? Drew 0-0
I was floating in a bubbling hot geothermal pool
in icy cold temperatures in Reykjavik on Saturday afternoon, so have little or nothing to say about Charlton's 6th 0-0 in 9 games.
Alan Curbishley rested Darren Bent and Chris Powell, whilst Euell, Bothroyd and Sorondo were all given opportunities to push for a Middlesboro place.
One thing that jumped out at me and I have said it on What was the score?
before is the age of our squad. And how many under 30's are first team regular starters? Darren Bent? Marcus Bent?
A massive rebuilding job is required in the summer by Curbishley or his successor. More on that in the next few weeks but it is all about Wednesday first.
Reports from those that were there: All Quiet
; Addicks Diary
; Frankie Valley
; Blue Kipper
Over 5,000 to travel to the Riverside
4,850 people have rekindled my pride in being a Charlton fan. That number will increase to 5,250 on Thursday when another 400 tickets go on sale
for the Middlesbrough replay.
What an absolutely fantastic response. Planes, trains and automobiles will carry the red army up to the Riverside and I hope that every person that had already booked transport and hotels managed to get a match ticket. Speaking to one of my mates yesterday who said he wouldn't be able to get down to the ticket office until Wednesday (whoops!) he just said he will go in the home end.
Great credit to the club too for it's Operation Riverside
idea. Oh, its like the old days. Come on you Reds!
It has been nice to have had my feet firmly rooted here for most of the last month but that all changes tonight when I leave Chicago for two weeks.
Work has been hectic, and I've been living in a mess at home as builders continue to work on the place. It's looking good though and after owning my loft for a year now, I am very happy here. I just hated renting, I really did.
Tonight I fly overnight to London but only to crash at a hotel in Gatwick because the next morning I leave for Reykjavik until Sunday. Then back to London to meet clients for dinner Sunday evening and then with them until Wednesday, when I get my son and drive down to my parents in Eastbourne.
Of course Wednesday night I am completely torn. I could sacrifice seeing my son and travel up to Middlesbrough, but I wouldn't forgive myself. So it will be the 2nd best thing, which is being with my Charlton supporting family in front of BBC1.
The buzz about the replay seems to be exceptional. I heard over the weekend an estimate of 4,000 Addicks anticipated to make the long journey
and judging by a couple of phone calls I had this morning from people at The Valley, the tickets and train and plane seats are going like hot cakes. It's going to be quite a turnout and should give the team a real lift.
Easter weekend I am back in town and will meet up with some mates to go to the Fulham game, before ending up in Oxford and then back to Heathrow on the Easter Monday and home.
Well home for only four days before I fly to Honolulu. And let me assure you I would still rather, subject to the obvious, be in Birmingham....
Chicago - The Economist's 2006 survey
Many thanks to New York Addick and Simon Collis for pointing me in the direction of last week's The Economist
. They ran a special report on the city of Chicago and very interesting it was too."A visitors first impression of Chicago is likely be correct: this is a city buzzing with life, humming with prosperity, sparkling with new buildings, new sculptures, new parks and generally exuding vitality,"
it started it's 18-page survey by saying.
The last time The Economist
published a report on the city was in 1980 when industrial decline, political bickering and racial antagonisms shadowed the capital of the Midwest.
The report celebrates Chicago's revival, refusing to lie down after a long period of deindustrialisation, helped by the infamous windy city political machine, new investment in the area by big businesses and a population spurt. As someone once said to me "if it wasn't for the harsh winters then half of the country would want to live here."
The survey runs articles on how what was once a swamp became the countries 2nd city, helped by it's proximity to the lake and the reversing of the river flow
in the mid 1800's and how a town of just 20,000 souls in 1847 became the centre of the countries entire rail network just 10-years later.
On how important O'Hare
is to the city and it's propinquity to the agricultural heartland and large coal and iron deposits. And after the great fire of 1871, how architects such as Daniel Burnham
, Louis Sullivan
and Dankmar Adler
helped begin, which others like Frank Lloyd-Wright
and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
continued to create a place that is "architecturally the most most interesting city in America."
The City of Big Shoulders has plenty more culture to shout about. The Symphony Orchestra
, The Lyric Opera
, The Joffrey Ballet
, it's Universities, of which one is the University of Chicago
, whose 78 Nobel prize winners is only second to Cambridge in ranking. It's parks, lakeshore, art galleries, museums, the blues clubs, its sports teams and its absolutely huge convention centre
Plus a tourist attraction, Navy Pier
, that attracts twice as many visitors as the Grand Canyon, which to me tells us more about Americans than anything else!The Economist
says that some experts now declare Chicago as a "global city."
Home to such multinational companies such as Motorola
plus the Chicago Board of Trade
and the Chicago Merchantile Exchange
, where $463 trillion of financial derivatives were traded in 2004.
The article gives interesting insight to the connection between big businesses, local government and how their joint philanthropy is intertwined. All driven of course by the "dictatorship"
of Mayor Richard M Daley
, who has spent 17-years in office.
Daley is a phenomenon according to the article. A white mayor running a city that is two-fifths black and a quarter Latino. A democrat that works with mostly Republican businesses. The "boss of a machine."
Chicago's recovery is also measured in population growth - 4% since 1990. Most of the growth has been in the ever expanding suburbs, and Latino's accounted for 96% of the growth of the six counties round Chicago.
Chicago has more hispanics than any other US city but Los Angeles but Chicago has always been home to immigrants. Germans, Russians, Poles, Italians, Irish, blacks fleeing the south, other midwesterners and of course a bloke from south-east London.The Economist
ends with a cautionary note though. It says that in terms of capturing the imagination Chicago is only rivalled by New York and Los Angeles. It's growth is in the suburbs and not in the city as people seek space, safety and schools.
The city crime rate is still high (450 murders in the city in 2005!). The poor find it impossible to afford housing and manufacturing used to provide a good living for people without academic qualifications, and it still does if you can get a job. But as the article states: "It is hard to send your child to college if you work at Wal-Mart."
Mayor Daley is doing his best to tackle the problems but his era is drawing to a close with no obvious successor in sight and recently scandal has once again dogged the infamous windy city politics.
However Chicago has moved from industrial wasteland to a city of marvellous culture, spaces and architecture. And the article finishes up saying that Chicago's "broad smile is even more attractive than its erstwhile broad shoulders."Many words and all quotes directly taken from The Economist's March 18th, 2006 Survey of Chicago entitled 'A success story.'Parts of the survey can be read here, but the whole piece has to be purchased.
Curbs - a lot more chipper
Have you noticed how much happier Alan Curbishley is these days? A big smile, a little one-liner here and there and he looks so much more relaxed in front of the camera. He says that the England speculation is affecting his job at Charlton but the results have not borne that out nor has his demeanour. In fact Curbs seems to bring up the subject of the national job more often than reporters do!
The FA decision makers meet again this Wednesday with Curbs' name still very much in the frame. "O’Neill is ahead at the moment, but some feel he may be better suited to club management, like Brian Clough, and Curbishley is running him close,"
said one inside source.
Remember the days when you could scour the newspapers and not see any mention of Charlton? Well not anymore. The Sunday Times has an interview
with the England candidate and then the Independent on Sunday
catches up with new Addick's hero and art collector Thomas Myhre.
The Norwegian has become a big fan of Curbishley: "He's as good as anyone. He's very modern, he's out there all the time, taking sessions, technically and tactically. He's what a modern manager is. He's very passionate."
West Ham away. What was the score? Drew 0-0
I enjoyed the game again today. I sat in the pub (completely on my own) and rarely fretted that our East End cousins were going to score. Myhre's great save and Kish's header of the line did ensure that we came away with another clean sheet and a point.
We do lack that cutting edge that you feel would nick us a goal and our set-pieces are both uninspiring and bloody obvious. However what we lack in class Hughes, Holland and Kish make up for in work-rate. Romm was our luxury player today but did not impress and was replaced a bit too late in my opinion by Thomas.
The game seemed to take on a pattern of periods of pressure swinging between the two evenly matched sides, although worryingly we never particularly gave Hislop any real cause for alarm.
I'm starting to think that Marcus Bent is a lazy sod. He has a nice touch and drops off to receive the ball in deep areas, but his workrate is not what we have come to expect. Bothroyd in his fleeting appearance looked to have a lot more passion for the game.
The major fret is over Luke Young's injury
though. He is already said to be doubtful for the Boro replay and I just hope that his twisted ankle won't affect his England ambitions. That would very cruel.
And apparently it was Teddy's 40th. You would have thought he was the Queen the way the commentary team here were banging on about it but nonetheless he has had a fantastic career and Curbs tried to sign him once you know?
Hayden Mullins man of the match? Erm, what about Chris Perry? I thought he was fantastic. He reads the game so well and it is rarely mentioned that he has spent his whole career in the Premiership.
Reports from those that were there: BBC Sport
: Addicks Diary
; All Quiet