Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Monday 31 July 2006
  Sh!t of a job, heck of a lifestyle I have borrowed this expression from an Australian colleague of mine I had the pleasure to be with again recently and it probably explains my coming week pretty well.

This morning I was in the office at ridiculous o'clock to prepare for a day of client meetings that start with a breakfast at 8.30am and conclude with a dinner, with a lunch thrown in for good measure in the middle. No wonder I feel like a fat lard at the moment, despite running around in 90 degree heat midday yesterday playing football.

On Tuesday we all fly to New York. An afternoon of meetings with a dinner after and then Wednesday I have other stuff to do there, including catching up with an old London business associate of mine for, you guessed it, breakfast!

I fly home Wednesday night and will be in the office on Thursday but then have another dinner that evening, in one of my favourite Chicago restaurants Joes. Friday morning I go back to the airport and take a short flight to St Louis for a lunch which I called, and therefore can’t get out of, to resolve an ongoing war of words between a client and their underwriters.

Friday night you can bet I will be calling out for a night that involves nothing more than a mug of tea and an early night. 
Saturday 29 July 2006
  Arty farty The arty genes in my family belong to my brother and my brother alone, but in recent years I have started to appreciate art in a different way. I used to look at splatterings of paint on canvas and think "bloody hell, my boy could have done that before he mastered the art of holding a pencil."

But in older age, like some other things, I have come to be more sympthatic to what I see before me. The vision, imagination, ambition, patience, skill and hard work, often for not much reward, that can go into a piece of artwork is sometimes incredible and I admire people who can create something that I can only lie in bed and dream about.

I live in an area of Chicago called River North, which has the highest concentration of galleries to be found in the USA outside of New York. A former manufacturing area that converted to an art district in the early 1980's, the 60 or so loft-style galleries and related businesses makes walking around the neighbouring streets very inspiring.

This morning I joined a Chicago Art Dealers Association (CADA) organised tour around four galleries starting with a free coffee at the local Starbucks. Every Saturday morning of the year at 11am a guide takes you to different galleries each week and it's free, interesting and educational with each gallery owner on hand to give you an insight into their own history and their shown work. If you are in Chicago, try to include this 90 minutes in your weekend. 
  Addicks in Land of Valencia About 200 Addicks will be among 35,000 Los Ches in the Mestella tonight, a different kind of pre-match friendly that Charlton had been used under the 15-year reign of Alan Curbishley.

Tonight's game is Valencia's 3rd pre-season friendly after wins on a Dutch tour against Go Ahead Eagles and Turkish side Fenerbahce.

If you are not one of the lucky 200 or so able to enjoy the mediterranean port town with it's winding ancient streets known for it's oranges and construction, hence the huge success of joint sponsors Llanera, then the game is being shown live on Setanta. Set what? Yes quite. 
Wednesday 26 July 2006
  Thomas injury adds to lack of depth The two 45-minute XI's that played in last night's defeat to Hibs showed again how the squad is short on quality with previously untried youngters Ashton, Tanksa, Gislason and Carvill all getting a run out. With Darren Bent, Marcus Bent, Kevin Lisbie (yawn) and now more unfortunately Jerome Thomas all injured the need to for new blood is even greater but with more signings promised it is still early to be too pessimistic.

Djimi Traore is expected to sign this week from Liverpool, which gives us more options at the back, but surely ID's attention must be turning to the strike-force and the hopelessly threadbare midfield.

Hibs of course have been training for 3 weeks longer than us and played four competitive Inter-Toto games before last night, so the result doesn't worry me in the slightest but Thomas' broken fifth metatarsal and the lack of quality does. 
Monday 24 July 2006
  Bermuda – Washington – New York – London - Essex Wow 9 days without an internet connection, feels like someone had chopped my forefingers off!

I'm now sat at Heathrow with plenty of time to spare until I check in. Back to Chicago today, with an expected dinner date tonight with an underwriter who is flying in from Vancouver to see me, christ I'm so not up for that. Then tomorrow I have a day of 'leadership meetings' followed by another poxy dinner and then later in the week I'm in Cleveland for two days before, hopefully, a very quiet weekend.

The Bermuda trip was the start of a very busy period for me, travelling wise, with trips to Detroit, St Louis and New York as well as Cleveland planned in the next couple of weeks ending up with a vacation on the west coast towards the end of August.

The Bermuda work meetings went well. The client(s) are fun, which always helps. I didn’t get too much time to laze, although we did go out on a boat cruise last Sunday. The temperature was a good 20 degrees cooler than it was in both Chicago and London, and unfortunately the daily Bermudian rain shower lasted the whole time we were on the boat Sunday, which was a shame.

The WAG’s were with us, all Gucci bags and bikinis. Two of them seemed to have a problem with each other, which made me laugh. One of them was a geography high school teacher but didn’t know where Dubai or the United Arab Emirates was - very worrying indeed. “We normally go on a Caribbean cruise, I fancy the Mediterranean, but my husband thinks it too dangerous!” You got to love their global view.

I know there are some visitors to What was the score? that live down in Bermuda and although it’s a bizarre and sometimes challenging place to live, I do feel drawn to it and think that possibly one day I would like to work and live there. I will write more on Bermuda later.

Travelling from Bermuda to London via Washington and then New York on Wednesday - no flights connect directly from Bermuda to London on a Wednesday - was painful. For some reason the American immigration authorities in Bermuda found the fact that we were not actually going 'home' to Chicago very confusing and couldn’t have been less helpful or moody if they tried. The BA bird had serious attitude too. Give someone a uniform and a badge and they become all high and mighty, it’s one of things that pisses me off more than anything.

Thursday was a mad rush day after landing at Heathrow seeing family and then driving down to Essex on early Friday for my mates wedding. I owe my mate a lot, as he put me up "for a few weeks," which ended up being over a year after I left my ex-wife. Of course he often reminds me of this and the reading he and his now wife asked to me to give at the ceremony entitled "I will be here," was somewhat fitting as I was nearly always here when his then girlfriend used to come over!

The wedding was superb, held in a beautiful place under a scorching sun and it was great to catch up with some really good old mates. 'Bubbles' was sung, as I suspect is compulsory at a high-class Essex wedding, during the very funny speeches, although what the bride's Dad thought of the best-man's rabbit story and subsequent gift I hope never too know. I bumped into ex-Addick and a good friend of the group Rob Lee, and last saw him at the end of the night very tipsy, only to see him looking sharp on Sky Soccer Saturday the next day - it's amazing what those make-up girls can do.

Saturday and Sunday I was with my son in Eastbourne, who I left with a nice mark under his eye after he went speeding into a roped off cricket wicket while we ran around after a ball on Sunday morning. At least he wasn't stupid enough to cut his finger while cutting a sandwich!

As far as the mighty Addicks are concerned, the news that Darren Bent signed a new 4-year contract last week gave me a huge buzz but despite his intelligent and mature words, some fans are still not convinced and draw comparison with Scott Parker when he signed an improved contract. Come on, if Benty scores another 20 goals next season, do you really think he will stay at the Valley beyond 2007? Let’s just enjoy him again, salivate at his new partnership with JFH, believe and thank both Richard Murray and the continued impressive early management endeavour of Iain Dowie, which has also resulted in Luke Young agreeing a new contract too.

On Saturday morning I drove past the Valley in order to pop into the club shop and buy my son and I the new kit but it is always comforting to know that the Charlton I have known for over 30 years doesn't change. Despite advertising on the website for weeks that the new kit would be in the club shop last week, a small handwritten note on the door announced that it won't now be in until today. No bloody good to me as I am now sat here at the airport. They know how to piss you off don't they?

Friendlies and me don't mix, even though I was slightly tempted to make a detour via the rustbucket Saturday, but it was nice to see us demolish (score, if not performance wise) our lower league ex-rivals. I did pick up a bit of gossip the weekend that we may put in an offer for Millwall's Marvin Elliott, who scored their goal, a cracker by all accounts. The All Quiet report can be read here and it's Hibernian tomorrow night.

And, old news I know, but as predicted here John Harbin has joined Dowie’s staff as Performance Manager, alongside Mick Kelly, who will act as goalkeeping coach. Bearing in mind Kiely’s shortfall at kicking and Myhre’s at crosses alongside the inexperience of Andersen, Elliot and Randolph, I was always surprised that Curbishley never looked into this backroom aspect or was that what Mervyn Day did apart from eat burgers? 
Saturday 15 July 2006
  What was actually said between Zidane & Materazzi Since Sunday evening the whole world has been debating what Italian defender Marco Materazzi said to Zinedine Zidane to make the retiring Frenchman react in the way he did. Today, with the help of Italian lip-reader Arturo Belladini, What was the score? can reveal what drove Zidane to self destruct.

Materazzi was seen to hold Zidane's shirt on the edge of the penalty box in extra-time, at which point Zidane said: "If you want my shirt so bad you can have it."

Materazzi responded: "I don't want your shirt you m***** f*****. You're a f****** old man."

As they jog away Zidane is seen to laugh at this and it is unclear how he responded, since he had his back to the TV camera. Materazzi then offered a volley of abuse: "You should've quit two years ago, you're a f****** has-been!"

Materazzi then continued: "M***** f*****! your mum is a f****** terrorist and you are too, f*** you old man f*** you."

"Old man, this arena is not for you any more m***** f*****."

Zidane carries on jogging away but then Materazzi finishes up the retort with: "You are only good enough for Crystal Palace now"

At this point Zidane turned and head-butted him. And now we know. 
Friday 14 July 2006
  2016 Olympic proposals, but no Erasure! Chicago was one of 5 American cities that offered proposals this week to become the USA's 2016 Olympic bid. What will either appeal or turn-off the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the unprecedented idea of having Opening and Closing Ceremonies in two different stadiums, Chicago Bears Soldier Field and a 80,000-seat temporary track stadium just south of there.

A walkway would connect the two venues and allow for a greater number of spectators to watch the two most revenue generating Olympic events.

"Currently, such an idea would not be compatible with Games operations," IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. "However, the IOC is always open to ideas and proposals, which, if made, would be discussed and studied." Hmm, doesn't sound very hopeful.

Full details of Chicago's proposal can be found here.

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has already confirmed that it will submit an American city nominee. The other cities were Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Philadelphia, but Chicago remains the media's favourite. Other likely international candidates include Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo or Fukuoka (where Wyn is now), Berlin or Hamburg and Moscow.

Meanwhile this weekend sees the beginning of the Gay Games VII in Chicago. The 7-day event will open at Soldier Field on Saturday, with "British pop superstar Andy Bell" performing, and will close a week later at Wrigley Field. 12,000 athletes will compete in 30 events including 'soccer/football.' at various venues across the city.

Despite a large gay population in the city the event caused initial angst from some local communties and protests are expected from do-gooder Christian groups, however the Games has received over $10m in corporate sponsorship.

Regrettably I have given up my place in the egg and spoon as I will be out of town next week! 
Thursday 13 July 2006
  "Left finger, right finger!" Off to Bermuda this weekend for some R&R and worky meetings with a client the first half of next week. Then the latter half of the week I fly to London from Bermuda for my mates wedding on the Friday in glorious secluded Essex. I expect the bride to be in full claret & blue regalia but I am told that Luke Young won't be there as he's going nowhere!

Alan McLeary's testimonial was tempting but not tempting enough on the Saturday. I used to hate going there when we were regular opponents (but nearly always did) so I have no urgency to go back to the rust bucket.

This trip begins a few weeks of travelling for me so my new visa will get a good staring at by miserable and normally foreign sounding immigration officers at airports whose conversation only normally extends to: "left finger.... right finger..... look into the camera." 
Wednesday 12 July 2006
  Train scare in Chicago hours after Indian bombings On the way out of the office last night the Loop area hummed with fire engines, ambulances, speeding unmarked cars and helicopters and it turned out that following the earlier awful train bombings in Mumbai, a derailment and a subsequent fire on a CTA Blue Line train left 1,000 rush hour passengers having to be led through an underground tunnel to an escape stairwell.

150 people were taken to hospitals, primarily to be treated for smoke inhalation, while 2 people were considered to be in critical condition.

Federal transportation investigators have launched a probe into the derailment in the tunnel between Lake Street and the west bank of the Chicago River. 
Tuesday 11 July 2006
  Peacock joins West Ham. Whose next? Merv? I trust Captain Peacock will know which side his bread is buttered on the August 19th? A little bit of insider knowledge wouldn't go amiss, if you know what I mean Keith?

Seriously, when I first saw the headline Peacock goes to West Ham, I thought Pardew had seriously lost it and brought Gavin out of retirement - come on he did sign Spector! But good luck to Keith, he knows Pardew well, and I am sure he didn't want to be sitting at home twiddling his thumbs waiting for Richard Murray to call. He will be back at home one day I am sure I am sure, particularly when they find out he's only at Upton Park as a spy! 
  You can take that to the Baink "This is a big signing for us. He brings leadership to the team, he has been a winner in everything he has done and his goal record stands up to scrutiny."

"What shone out when I spoke to him was that he still wanted to achieve things. He is a top, top player who I think will become a focal part of the dressing room, a focal part of the team and a focal part of the future." (more)

It is appears obvious that JFH, who has scored between 16 and 26 goals in each of his 9 Premiership seasons, took a serious pay cut to join Charlton today. As Richard Murray said: "No-one has ever come to Charlton for money."

I believe this is an excellent signing for us for a number of reasons. He is a proven goalscorer (18 last season), it demonstrates to Darren Bent, and us, great intention and ambition and Hasselbaink has all the characteristics of a real mentor, like DiCanio was, in the dressing room.

In what is becoming a daily occurrence Dowie again expressed a change in man management style when he said: "I don't want players in the dressing room who feel they are standing on egg shells - I like characters who feel like they can have their say."

Welcome to The Valley Jimmy. 
Monday 10 July 2006
  American's put little old soccer back in the box The World Cup seen from Chicago

Well that's it for another 4 years. I was thinking during the final yesterday about being a kid during the '74 and '78 world cup (I still love this music), a teenager for the '82 and '86 ones and then being at work and drinking in the pubs for the '92 and '96 finals then newly seperated from my (now ex) wife and therefore being able to watch the majority of the 2002 matches (an extreme reason to split I know!) and now here in Chicago for the latest 2006 German finals. Yet all those years and tournaments seem to blend together in a mix of a personal lifetime.

I know memory plays tricks but where was the skill, theatre and drama of previous tournaments? It was great to see the hosts do well but how bad were we? How disappointing were Brazil? Argentina, probably the best team went home the day before England did.

The Czech's started on fire but disappeared, Spain played some good stuff but choked again (they have only once made the semi-finals and that was in 1950). Holland, the inventor of total football also suffers from total internal politics and once again dressing room disputes marred their competition.

France, ageing like a good bordeaux, became the neutrals favourites but Zidane's chest-butt put pay to that, but it at least consigned Rooney's nut-job to past history!

Only Australia surprised anyone and were very unfortunate to go out to the eventual winners. And the Asian and African nations look further away than ever of lifting the famous trophy. Sepp Blatter once said "it wouldn't be long before an African team would win the World Cup." Well, the twat also said that "women should play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball," tighter shorts he suggested!

And where were the stars? What happened to Ronaldinho and Van Nistelrooy? And how much did Chelsea pay for Shevchenko?

I'm an old football romantic but there were no Cryuff's or Arie Haan's. Or a Brietner, a Baggio or a Socrates. No Rossi's or Platini's. No Valderrama, Milla or Cubillas. Just the memories of play-acting, over zealous refeering and teams being over cautious to the point of tedium. It says something that my favourite game was Holland v Portugal. And it also tells you a lot that the top goalscorer, Miroslav Klose only scored 5 goals, two more than anyone else.

From an American point of view and from what I saw around me I think 'soccer' took some big strides. Despite a political commentator on MSNBC calling the game "anti-American," and one idiot in the media suggesting that US government use World Cup gatherings across the country "to round up illegal immigrants," television audiences increased by 112% on the 2002 tournament, with an average of 3.2m per game (3.8m watched the final compared to 24m in the UK) and whereas in the past fans probably had to fly down to Mexico to watch a game, most pubs here in Chicago had the games on live. ABC showed just one game live in 1982!

Of course the thing with Americans is that they like a big event, they would prefer it if they could win it but don't we all but what peeves it's critics, besides low-scoring matches and draws, is that 'soccer' does not depend on the United States for success. We do just fine without them.

So American's put little old 'soccer' back in the box for another 4 years but meanwhile the MLS continues with little or no media exposure and they wonder why they don't have a cat in hells chance of ever being best in this game "the rest of the world insist on calling football." 
  The future is a brighter red What happened to the days when fans could vote on the new kit? It was leaked yesterday on Netaddicks a day before the club revealed it but I actually quite like it, particularly the "brighter red."

The away kit is supposed to be a black and gold number and will appear on the official site before the end of July.

The home kits will be in the club shop on Thursday 20th, according to the OS, but it didn't say how many!

Sunday 9 July 2006
  Zidane loses it The World Cup seen from Chicago

What an earth was Zidane doing? It was a totally bizarre act, which would ordinarily deserve a lengthy ban if the French genuis, I'm talking about his feet here not obviously his brain, was to continue playing. What an absolutely outrageous way to finish such a glittering career. Truly incomprehensible.

In extra time the Italian's seemed dead on their feet and only one team looked interested in winning the game before the dreaded onset of penalties but then suddenly with Henry substituted and Zidane banished to the dressing rooms following his moment of madness, you just knew that the Italians would come good from 12 yards and I don't think I have seen 5 better taken pens.

I fancied them from the onset, but backed Argentina, and credit to their professionalism with so much uncertaintity ahead in Serie A, although of course the players, who will become much sought after free-agents will come up smelling of roses and as always it will be the fans that suffer from no fault of their own. 
  Friendlies show another change in management thinking Away games at Valencia and Hibernian have been chosen ahead of a trip to South Africa to complete the pre-season schedule. Policy on pre-season friendlies is another early sign of a change in management philiosphies between Dowie and Curbs', who preferred the low key approach against lower opposition, normally on the road, which I guess was to help build confidence. Although rarely have we started the season as well as we did in Curb's last one.

Alternatively Dowie it appears from the selected opposition favours much tougher summer tests, perhaps building sharpness and condition quicker. At Palace Dowie was known for the emphasis he put on fitness and in my mind Charlton never finished matches as strongly as they did after Les Reed left the coaching staff. So the two combined should mean a much fitter and energetic squad.

This is the final list of friendlies, which is surely the most attractive we have seen for many a year:

Sat July 22 Millwall A
Tues July 25 Hibernian A
Sat July 29 Valencia A
Wed Aug 2 Welling United A
Sat Aug 5 New Zealand H
Tue Aug 8 Germinal Beerschot A
Fri Aug 11 FC Utrecht A 
  Tourist I've had a very touristy weekend. Friday after work I headed to the world's largest food festival, The Taste of Chicago. Last year the event stretching over 3 blocks near Grant Park and lasting 10 days attracted 3.5m people. People obviously go there to eat, something American's are exceptionally good at, but during the festival there are number of live concerts too and we sat on the lawn and watched Macy Gray strut her stuff on stage. I saw her a couple years back, also in Chicago, and she is good entertainment if you like a bit of contemporary R&B.

Last night we tried unsuccessfully to get into see the new Superman film at the IMAX on Navy Pier (we are going tonight instead) but hung around to watch the dinner cruises sail by, listened to live bands, caught the firework display and watched some very strange people (it is not a place to catch the great and the good of Chicago) and had a few beers in the warm evening sun.

This morning I played football - a goalless draw we should have won - and am now sitting on the couch doing what I do slightly better, watching the football. Zidane has just sublimely chipped in a penalty kick in front of a 1 billion viewing audience! Pure class. 
Friday 7 July 2006
  Walton becomes first of the 'Murray 8' I always throw my head back in despair when people within the club declare that we are going to buy 'two players by tomorrow lunchtime' or 'three next week' and Richard Murray did it again earlier in the week when he announced: "Myself, Iain and Andy Mills are working extremely hard to bring in new players and build the squad. We hope to bring in six to eight new signings before the start of the season."

But we live in hope, and the first one arrived today in the form of 18-year old defender Simon Walton from Leeds. Clearly one for the future, the Leeds born Walton played 33 games in Leeds' first year in the Championship but just 5 last season mainly in midfield scoring 3 goals.

The move seems to have upset some Leeds fans, seeing another one of their potential starlets walking out of the door.

Lloyd Sam has today signed a new 4-year contract, which is further evidence of Dowie encouraging the youth a lot more than we saw under the previous management. 
Thursday 6 July 2006
  Addicks move for Hasselbaink Some late transfer gossip on Sky Sports says that Charlton have moved in for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink after his proposed move to Celtic fell through. The Dutchman is now 34 but he scored 18 goals for 'Boro last season and 16 the season before that.

I think he would be an excellent foil for Darren Bent and his temperament certainly seems to have mellowed over the years, which means his influence in the dressing room could have as positive impact for us as it did with the youngsters at The Riverside last season.

Meanwhile those following the fortunes of ex-Addicks will have seen Chris Perry sign a 2-year deal for West Brom, today Malmo signed Jonatan Johansson and Barry Fuller signed for Mark Stimson's Stevenage after turning down League Two Barnet, where he played 15 games on loan last season.

Meanwhile Reading's Steve Sidwell has turned down a final new contract offer but with Charlton waiting (very) patiently in the wings, the Royals director of football Nicky Hammond said today that "Whatever happens we know he'll be playing here next season." (more)

Other known target, Palarse midfielder Ben Watson is thought to want to stay and play under his England U21 boss Peter Taylor rather than follow Dowie though defender Emmerson Boyce is the latest in the long line of stripey nigels to be linked with a move to The Valley. 
Wednesday 5 July 2006
  Support the Valley Flags Campaign Today saw the launch of the Valley Flags Campaign, and What was the score? has joined forces with New York Addick to help this worthy cause from this side of the Atlantic.

The Valley is no different in my view from many other new or remodelled football stadiums, where the move to create a environment for families has seen a reduction in good old fashioned passion and singing. Clapping as I have said before has become the new chanting!

Bringing back the passion to The Valley does not mean that we need to lose our envied reputation as a place to bring families and children. In my experience people like to feel they are part of something very special and this is what being a Charlton fan is all about.

Large poignant and emotive flags and banners are used already in some of European's most atmospheric grounds. With the backing of Addicks' most committed and passionate fans, The Valley can be a special place to watch football again. Please therefore support The Valley Flags Campaign in whichever way you can.

For ways in which you can help the campaign, please visit
  Trump Tower update The Trump Tower continues to inch it's way up to a planned 92 stories along the Chicago River. Prices start in the "low $800,000's" if someone is looking for a holiday home?

Chicago continues to see a surge in new high rise buildings with 40 buildings of 50 stories or higher either been built, under construction or in the development stage since the turn of the century. It's a surge in high-rise construction that hasn't been seen here since the 1960s and 1970s when the Sears Tower, John Hancock Center and other buildings helped give the city one of the most distinctive skylines in the world.

And while there is a flurry of high-rise construction elsewhere in the United States, particularly in New York, Miami and Las Vegas, the tallest of the tall are going up in Chicago. Of the three tallest buildings under construction in the world, two are here in the windy city, more than a century after the world's first skyscraper — the nine-story Home Insurance Building — went up in 1885. Chicago does love a tall buildings. 
  My Chicago - #5 Ukrainian Village The first of wave of Ukrainian and Russian immigrants arrived in Chicago in the late 1800's, by 1930 the Ukrainian population was estimated to be between 25,000 and 30,000 and they were nearly all gathered in the small area bounded by Damen Ave, Division St, Chicago Ave and Western Ave.

Although boosted by a new wave of immigration after Ukraine became independent, only around 2,000 people that now live in this neighbourhood claim to be of Ukrainian descent, the rest are young professionals who chase cheaper housing than they can find in Wicker Park or Bucktown north of here. However when I went walking around there the other day the signs are very much there. Little old ladies dressed in black talking hurriedly in mother tongue stood in groups whilst men dressed straight out of the 1970's played board games in the street. The Village Grocery (2204 W Chicago Ave) was busy and there was much activity around the many cultural type associations and the beautiful Saints Volodymyr and Olha Church (2245 W Superior St, right).

The highlight of the stroll was walking into an outdoor church service, with men and women dressed in traditional dress. It was all very sombre and I felt humbled to sit at the side of the road and watch.

New apartment buildings sitting in between some rundown housing gave evidence of gentrification as did a couple of trendy cafes and bars like Atomix (1957 W Chicago Ave) and The Dark Room (2210 W Chicago Ave).

Further west on Chicago is The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (2320 W Chicago Ave), founded in 1971 and Ukrainian bars Saks (2301 W Chicago Ave) and Old Lviv (2228 W Chicago Ave). Pop into Kasia's Deli (2101 W Chicago Ave) to peruse such delights as pierogi and borscht. If beetroot soup is not your thing try the very funky Bleeding Heart Bakery (2018 W Chicago Ave).

If it's shops you're looking for visit home store Sprout (745 N Damen Ave) for garden stuff or RR#1 (814 N Ashland Ave) for just stuff.

Other points of interest are the Ukrainian National Museum (721 N Oakley Blvd) and the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral (1121 N Leavitt St), which was consecrated in 1903 and designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan to serve as a centre for the Russian neighbourhood. The construction was partially funded at the time by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Now it is designated a National Historic Landmark in the USA.

What I find ever amazing about Chicago, is that places like this exist just a stones throw away from the main hub. Families recreating a place far away, of which many probably have never even been too. Within the shadows of one of the world's biggest cities, their own little world.

L to R: Sunday service; Village grocery; Bleeding Heart Bakery; Macedonian Church. 
Tuesday 4 July 2006
  Luke Young stays I'm not overly hp about Luke Young staying. Yes, we should be keeping our best players and building winning teams around them but I would have grabbed £4m for a player who took a good two years to show any kind of value and has obviously been talking to West Ham for at least 3 months. I also don't think he is our ideal captain.

Nonetheless if he pulls a red shirt on in August he will get my backing. Credit to him for not talking to the press, he has he pay rise, his agent has his fee and we all know that loyalty begins and ends of the terraces. One thing that Young's commitment to the club does mean is the start of the transfer merry-go-round, with Charlton target Tyrone Mears, now expected to sign for West Ham.

Jason Roberts, despite declaring his interest in us, yesterday signed for Blackburn Rovers, joining Francis Jeffers at Ewood Park. Jeffers is on a pay-as-you-play deal. Rovers have lost both Craig Bellamy and Paul Dickov to Liverpool and Man City respectively. 
  No lasting memories from England's World Cup The World Cup seen from Chicago

I left a country in mourning on Monday and returned to a pretty much disinterested one getting ready to celebrate it's 230th birthday today.

I, like probably most of you, have read, watched and listened to continuous interviews, articles and phone-in’s and the 40 years of hurt doesn’t get any better. I just hope that Steve McClaren can prove that he is his own man and not a Sven clone because them sitting next to each other peering at a scrap of paper whilst Scolari was up encouraging his pretty average team is not an endearing memory.

In fact what were the English memories from the 2006 World Cup? It is hard to think of any isn’t it? Maybe the sight of Walcott sitting on the bench? Rooney’s sending off? Joe Cole’s goal against Sweden? Owen’s injury? Hargreaves at last being accepted? I’m struggling to think of any others.

David Beckham brought applause from the media yesterday for jumping before he was pushed but it just shows how far his stock has come since 1998. I don’t expect Rooney will have the same problems as he is already far more in the hearts of the normal English club fan, and he’s not married to a very annoying woman, well not yet anyway.

Although Steve Gerrard is one of my favourite players and should be England captain for no better reason than he is someone we should build the team around (with Rooney), I think McClaren will go with John Terry, although I’m not convinced that he would be the first name on the team sheet during the next 2 years, particularly with the emergence of players like Michael Dawson.

McClaren’s first game will come soon enough and it would be nice if he could throw a bit of new blood into the squad, if not necessarily the team, although with Beckham, Owen and Rooney missing it will need some fresh faces. Let’s hope he gives Darren Bent a boost before the season starts. It will be interesting to see how players like Bent, Defoe, Johnson, Ledley King and Wright-Phillips (if he ever gets a game) respond to missing out on what ended up being a debacle. I think they will be react well, and perhaps a lot better than considered failures on the world stage Lampard, Robinson and Carragher,

Finally as a Charlton fan I don’t really care if Theo Walcott is never heard of again, or that he becomes another Jermaine Pennant but as a human being and an Englishman I hope that Arsene Wenger can take him under his proven wing and make him into someone we will not only have seen play but enjoy watching by 2010. 
Monday 3 July 2006
  Scorching London left behind So I’m back in Chi-Town armed with a new 2-year visa. It all went smoothly thank-you for asking. It was another hectic week of whizzing from here to there. I spent a nice day with my parents on Sunday in glorious weather. Typically the powers that be felt it necessary to put out heat wave warnings as the country touched 90 degrees. Sorry, but the Yanks laugh about things like that as much as they do about the quality of our dentist’s and our inability to make ice.

I saw my brother a couple of times, including a week ago with some mates, including one I fell out with about 9-years ago and haven’t seen since. We used to be pretty close and it was good to put water under the bridge over a couple of pints and some old stories.

The stag passed off well, although it came to a sad ending on the news that the groom’s brother’s father in law died of a sudden heart attack Saturday morning. Why is the timing of death always so bad?

The highlight was seeing my son and number one Peter Crouch fan give me a rendition of ‘the robot,’ not seeing him every day makes me appreciate the little things and I will go to bed every night until the next time I see him with this picture in my head. His whole love and appreciation of football has changed completely since the build up to the world cup, which was very reminiscent of me for the German one of 1974. The only difference then was that my hero was Johan Cruyff! 
Sunday 2 July 2006
  Eriksson leaves legacy of what exactly? The World Cup back in London

I watched the game yesterday in an heaving pub in Hackney and at around 6.45pm came the familiar heads in hands and sighs of disbelief at yet another glorious defeat. The script of course was written a long time ago - young hero dubiously sent off, penalty shoot out, and plenty of people to blame.

The silence in the pub by London Fields was deafening as all around me pink-faced men and women stared into their pint glasses in utter amazement. Sven said it was different this time, and it was. In previous occasions the country believed and despite the raw patriotic fever that I have seen all week, this time we didn't. From the minute the squad was announced people with a bigger English heart and a lesser knowledge of the game than the head coach knew that there was only bad news ahead.

But, who's the stupid one? £25m the richer, with no accountability, a few more notches on his IKEA bedpost, Real Madrid calling and a unsigned book deal lying on his doormat.

And the English game is left with what legacy exactly? What style did this alleged European super-coach impose on our game? What players did he make into world beaters? What youngsters has he nurtured through the English FA system? And are we to expect more of the same under his studious pupil Steve 'my hair doesn't move' McClaren?

The day after another wretched night for English football eaves me with a number of further questions:

1) Can cheating scumbag Ronaldo ever play in the Premiership ever again?
2) What purpose did Theo Walcott's inclusion serve? Come on Sven 50 million people are dying to know.
3) How big was Darren Bent (who was reportedly at the All England Club) and Jermain Defoe's grin last night?
4) Just how bad was Frank Lampard without the multi-talented Chelsea midfield around him?
5) Wouldn't it be great if Owen Hargreaves was one of those in "friendly talks" with Iain Dowie?
6) How fantastic was our support in Germany? That deserves some credit and frankly it deserves better than the players gave.
7) Why do I now want France to win the whole thing? Is it because they have players that caress the ball and not hoof it?
8) And does this reflect bad on the Premiership or the English FA?
9) By the way what is Brian Barwick on?
And 10), a question from my 6-year old son this morning: "What happened to Crouchy? He would've scored a penalty, wouldn't he Daddy?" 
  Au revoir Chris We've said goodbye to him once already and it appears that Richard Murray has again left the door open for him to return again but amongst the Luke Young stories this weekend, Chris Powell left the Addicks to join Watford on a one-year playing deal. This is further evidence of an Iain Dowie clear-out and reading in between the lines it doesn't look like the communication has been too great between the different parties in the last month or so.

The Sparrows Lane revolving door only has an 'out' sign on it at the moment and with contract's expiring yesterday, we wait to see what "exciting targets" Dowie, Murray and Mills have up their sleeves. Jason Roberts, Steve Sidwell and Ben Watson continue to be linked.

As expected Sky have altered some of our games, which albeit a pain in the bum, actually get me furiously marking my calendar as these are games I can watch in exile either in the pub or at home.

Talking of calendars, here are the confirmed pre-season friendlies, with the first game in just 20 days time at some place called Millwall. If anyone knows of this team, please write to the usual address.

Sat Jul 22 Millwall A
Wed Aug 2 Welling United A
Sat Aug 5 New Zealand H
Tue Aug 8 Germinal Beerschot A
Fri Aug 11 FC Utrecht A
*Negotiations are still going on regarding some games in South Africa between the Millwall and Welling fixtures.

Germinal Beerschot play in a suburb of Antwerp at the ageing 1920's Olympic Stadium and FC Utrecht is only an hour's drive away from Antwerp if people are considering a short summer break. The Dutch side, who finished 6th in the Eredivisie play at the much more impressive looking Stadion Galgenwaard
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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