Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Monday 30 October 2006
  big ben and bulls get set for new season Whilst Charlton lurch around the foot of the table like a drunk, it's time to remind you of Chicago's sporting dynasties.

Yesterday lunchtime the Bears swept to their 7th consecutive victory. "Soldier Field did not need a scoreboard Sunday. It needed an abacus," as the Bears took a 41-0 lead over the once great San Francisco 49ers at half-time. Next up are the equally trounceable Miami Dolphins before the Bears credentials get a real test with three away matches against New York Jets, New York Giants and the New England Patroits.

The Baseball season came to an end on Friday when the St Louis Cardinals beat Detroit Tigers 4-2 to record a 4-1 series win. St Louis were pronounced 'world champions' despite having the worst season record in the 102 years of the competition.

On Saturday the cities 'soccer' team Chicago Fire fizzled out of the MLS play-off's after losing to New England Revolution on penalties or PK's as they say here. Despite taking a 1-0 lead from the 1st leg to Foxboro, MA and then taking an early lead, New England hit back with two goals to take the tie to extra time and then the dreaded spot-kicks. I was asleep by this time as the fare was pretty crap to be honest.

DC United now play New England in the Eastern Conference, whilst on the west coast Houston will play Colorado with the winners taking all at the MLS Final in Dallas on November 12th at the wonderfully name Pizza Hut Park - only in America!

On Friday last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the Bulls tip-off lunch here in Chicago, where players and coaches discussed the coming season and answered questions from the audience. As I have said before basketball has become my favourite American sport and I have a real soft spot for the Bulls. There are some big expectations this year, particularly since the inspirational signing of 'Big' Ben Wallace from Detroit Pistons. Inspiration does not come cheap at $15m a year mind but his presence and experience should really augment the talented set of youngsters that Scott Skiles has put together, including of course my favourite Luol Deng.

The opening game is tomorrow night and they have a stinker of a starter away at NBA champions Miami Heat but I'm looking forward to an exciting season and will keep you updated. Go Da Bulls. 
Saturday 28 October 2006
  october 28th, 2003 It was 3 years ago today that I first arrived here to collect some keys in an envelope left at a lonely company flat. That night as I climbed into a strange bed I was excited but apprehensive and if I was honest probably didn’t expect to still be here 3 years later.

But I am, and I am happy. Deep down I don’t know if the life I have here, living downtown, in a 1,400 sq ft apartment, travelling a lot and entertaining a lot is sustainable – somehow my life at home seemed a lot more grown up and it is hard to imagine that I will be here forever, even though I have a Green Card application form sitting on my desk at work.

Life here is good though; there is something very veritable about this land of opportunity. My job, which was the motivation for me coming here in the first place, has been good. I have met some great people, I love this city and I have a lot of fun.

I was wondering last night if I have changed. I guess that is for other people to answer. My life changed suddenly forever before I came to the States, so it is hard to imagine what kind of life I would now be living if I’d stayed at home.

I am still a sarcastic cheeky bastard though and although during the first 6 months it was questionable I have kept my sanity. Certain people, well one in particular is to be credited with that. No, apart from becoming a bit more lenient with people and more patient, I don’t think I have changed at all. My mates at home, my family, my beloved Addicks and this blog are all reasons for that. 
  newcastle away. what was the score? drew 0-0 After a first 45 minutes when we played the worst we have all season, a change of formation saw more bodies in midfield and with the locals getting frustrated we slowly grew into the game and may have even have, undeservedly so, snatched it in the end.

Carson was outstanding all game as were the four in front of him. Driven on by the outstanding Young, Diawara was excellent after a nervous start and El Kak, despite some god-awful distribution also played very well. The Moroccan is so competent on the ball sometimes but his long passing is appalling. Why-oh-why do we let him take the free-kicks?

The midfield was where we were poor. There was little quality and Darren Bent can only dream of a decent pass. Reid doesn't look like he is getting any fitter and often today his play was laboured. Faye was bloody awful and I hope it was a one-off back in front of his old club. Holland was Holland and Rommedahl was, well Rommedahl. Full of north-eastern promise but just a big tease. I thought Hughes did well when he came on and gave us more aggression in the middle as did Kish.

And incidentally at half-time I thought our best player outside the back five was Marcus Bent. He seemed up for it today and worked tirelessly chasing El Kak's hopeless punts.

A good point then, and a clean sheet giving us another confidence boost and although our forward play lacked conviction it was more than made up for defensively which gives me a little warm feeling inside.

Just to finish on, how does Duff have the bollocks to say afterwards on camera that Diawara fouled him for a penalty when Diawara was quite obviously for the world to see nowhere near him. And give me Iain Dowie any time over that mind-numbingly dull Glenn Roeder. Oh, and lets be honest Scott Parker is still good, isn't he?

Dowie watch: Switched to 4-4-2 to incorporate the up for it Marcus Bent, but was quick to change it early in the 2nd half after being lucky to still be level. He would have been pleased with the way we finished the game though and a 3rd clean sheet in a week is part of the journey to improvement.
Quote: "Three clean sheets, a victory and two draws in a week is not too bad as long as we build on it next week."

Opinions from those that were there: BBC Sport;; Addicks Diary; Independent; The Sun
Friday 27 October 2006
  trash talking Where do these people get this stuff? This is Dan Roebuck in the Guardian:

"Dowie has lost the support of fans, who question his tactics and have been less than impressed with his signings, and he will be under even more pressure if his team doesn't rise from the foot of the Premiership soon. His side must travel to Chesterfield in just under two weeks, where the home team has already knocked out Manchester City and West Ham. And whereas both Pearce and Pardew have so far survived defeat by the Spireites, you feel Dowie might not be so lucky."

Meanwhile, back in the real world, "Iain is a workaholic. He's the first person here in the morning and usually the last to go at night. He needed a break." Les Reed on Dowie after he took a day off yesterday. Reed's support of Dowie in the media during the last few days has given an insight into how the coaching team operates behind the scenes, something we haven't visibly seen since the announcement on May 30th.

Whatever Dowie's fate, and I for one am still 100% behind him, we will never be able to knock his passion, application and workrate.

Tomorrow's game is live on television here at the more respectable time of 11.15am. I have a couple of mates going to St James', and I will be there in spirit. 
  my chicago - #7 wicker park Another look around one of Chicago's colourful neighbourhoods.
Wicker Park takes its name from the two brothers who bought the patch of land along Milwaukee Avenue in 1870. For them the timing was perfect because a year later came the Great Chicago Fire, after which homeless Chicagoans looked to build new houses. The area became popular with wealthy Swedish and German merchants, particularly those in the brewery trade as big mansions sprouted up along the streets of Hoyne and Pierce.

After WWII Wicker Park became more ethnically diverse with an influx of Puerto Rican immigrants but with families heading to the suburbs and no investment the 1970's saw it become a place to avoid as arsonists and criminals moved in. In the 80's though efforts by community development groups to stabilize the neighbourhood through new affordable-housing construction coincided with the arrival of artists attracted by the neighborhood's easy access to the Loop, cheap loft space in the abandoned factories.

Today the area has benefited as Bucktown's cheaper cousin and is an eclectic mix of musicians, artists, and young professionals. In my 3 years in the city I have seen West Division street attract plenty of cool clothes shops and bars and the 2004 film of the same name set in the neighbourhood didn't do it any harm at all.

The park itself complete with fountain provides a centrepiece and is a popular hangout for families and the homeless alike. The different styled mansions mostly remain, lording it on quiet streets sandwiched between the busier thoroughfare's of Ashland (to the east), Division (to the south) and Western (to the west). The old beer magnets homes aside, Chicago's only remaining Turkish Baths, opened for a 100 years and one of only a handful left in the United States, plus the recently closed Czar bar are all throwbacks to days past.

Another reminder of the area's roots is the Polish Museum of America (984 N. Milwaukee Ave). It was established in 1935 and is one of the oldest ethnic museums in America.

Hidden away is the Chopin Theater (1543 W. Division St) producing I read somewhere "non-traditional, non-commercial plays purely for the sake of art."

If want to find out of the beer merchants left a legacy then try Lotties Pub (1925 W Cortland St) or the newer Small Bar (2049 W Division), which shows Premiership games live.
If it's a cup of tea and a slice of cake that you want, be sure to visit the Alliance Bakery (1736 W Division St). Or for something a bit stronger sample the belly dancing and hookah at Sigara further up the street at 2013 W Division.

One of my favourite places to eat in Wicker Park is the retro-styled Club Lucky (1824 W. Wabansia St). It has a mixed crowd and waitresses dressed in sleek red-striped jackets serve you, whilst Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin croon in the background.

Wicker Park is the quiet but less refined cousin to Bucktown, a short stroll away. More quirky than trendy West Division Street is where most things happen, although venturing onto its side streets will give a lot more away in terms of Chicago's ethnic history than many other of the cities environs.
Wednesday 25 October 2006
  bolton home. what was the score? won 1-0 "Can we play you every week?" was perhaps a little ditty sung by the Covered End tonight but as the internet coverage here was dead, I never got to hear it and of course therefore know squat about the game, except that we won.... ooh hold that thought.

Nice, isn't it? Faye, Reid, Diawara and D Bent were all rested in order for them to recover from slight knocks. M Bent took his chance well and JFH also stepped up and I understand Myhre and the back four were excellent as they withstood a pounding from Wimbledon, sorry I mean Bolton in the 2nd half.

The only downer was Jerome Thomas being carried off on a stretcher but according to Sir Les Reed it might be a case of bad bruising.

A real tonic then, and then Chesterfield in the next round. There should be much needed smiles at Sparrows Lane tomorrow.

Dowie watch: Put out a second string but a battling performance would have cheered him greatly. I heard that he got applauded off the pitch - good to see.
Quote: "Iain is very happy and has been positive all the way through this. We're not letting the pressure affect us. This is a club where people are patient. The fans cheered us off tonight and we'll move on." - Les Reed after the game.

Opinions from those that were there: Sporting Life; Guardian;; Addicks Diary
  San Francisco It seems like a long time ago I was there but here are my thoughts on the Streets of San Francisco.
“San Francisco is a mad city – inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people.” Rudyard Kipling.

The Spanish, the Gold Rush, earthquakes, the summer of love, the gay capital, Levis, the boom, and the crash. All these things are unmistakably part of the colourful timeline of the city of San Francisco.

I had been to San Francisco before and until I moved to Chicago and became completely biased, it held the title as my favourite American city. It is a compact place and asks to be walked, this despite its huge sloping streets screaming down at you from each turn of a corner.

It is a city, much like Chicago, of neighbourhoods with the Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other and the marvellous Golden Gate Bridge dissecting the two and taking cars, cyclists and people to and from the city to Marin County

The expression laid back is rather trite, this city is almost horizontal. It is cool, but without the edginess of Los Angeles and it can get foggy. Don’t be surprised to come here and not be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge, all 4,200 ft span of it, for the whole time you are here.

You will be amazed at how many people are wearing ‘San Francisco’ hoodies or sweatshirts when you head out for your morning stroll. Don’t be amazed because you too will end up buying one once the fog and cold sets in during the day.

Another icon of the city is the cable car. The first one appeared in 1873 and was invented by Englishman Andrew Hallidie. Despite its early popularity for most of the 20th century the system was in a state of disrepair until locals saved it from politicans and accountants. The rebuilt system was re-opened in 1984 and now serves just 3 lines, with 40 cars. It’s not cheap ($5 each way) and the locals tend to ignore them and get the more frequent and cheaper buses, but of course they are packed with tourists like me watching the driver maneuver the cars along miles of underground cable.

The cable cars are busy and only seat 30 people, so it is rather strange in the age of seat belts and airbags to see people literally hanging on for dear life as they make there way up and down San Fran’s steep streets, like the route from Market St to Powell Street.
A stroll around Chinatown is a must. Along Stockton Street and Grant Avenue pretty much everything goes. Birds chirp in cages hanging from ceilings, turtles are piled up high in boxes on the street, fruit of all imaginations is hawked, and huge freshly caught fish flap around on blocks of ice awaiting their fate and steam billows out of noodle shop after noodle shop. I have never been to Beijing but this must be a close imitation.

In North Beach the quivering fish are replaced by laid back Italian coffee shops and family owned pasta restaurants. This 'Little Italy' ‘hood next to Washington Park and overshadowed by the huge Saints Peter and Paul church comes alive after dark, try Moose’s (1652 Stockton St) for some laid back jazz.

A short stroll from here is the Coit Tower, which can be seen from most viewpoints, so no need to get close unless you want to go inside. The building is named after an old eccentric called Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who financed the spout-like structure in 1934.

West of here are the roller coaster streets of Russian Hill – this is true ‘Streets of San Francisco’ with some of the cities most expensive real estate, oh by the way there is not a cheap real estate part of town. My favourite bit of the city is here on the 1,000th block of Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth. The street sharply zig-zags down a steep hill and is said to be the ‘crookedest street in the world.’ It has to be seen to be believed.

The ponderous San Francisco Art Institute is also worth exploring. Higher still over the city and you will find Nob Hill. Stand here and survey everything around you. The panorama is magnificent and if you want to rest your weary feet after the climbing up and down the vertical pavements, pop into the Top of the Mark bar situated on the top floor of the Mark Hopkins Inter-Continental Hotel (999 California Street).

From here jump back on the cable car and head to Fisherman’s Wharf. The locals turn their noses up at the tourist trap that is Fisherman’s Wharf and personally the area around Pier 39 is naff but the sea-lions basking in the sun is worth the journey.

It is also here that you book your tickets for an excursion to Alcatraz. Only in America of course could they make a prison, which from 1933 to 1963 held some of the countries most infamous criminals including Chicago’s Al Capone, into a tourist attraction but for the 2nd time I was unable to ‘escape to Alcatraz’ as all the tours whilst we were their were sold out. Take heed if you plan to visit in the summer.

If you have the legs you can walk from here to The Marina and the old Spanish fort, Fort Mason. The Marina was one of the worst hit areas during the 1989 earthquake and is mainly residential although around Fillmore and Chestnut Streets you find quite a bar and restaurant scene. Fort Mason has a military history through the Civil War and WWII and isn’t much more than a collection of institutional buildings. Further along is the huge expanse of open land called The Presidio. This vast area also has its past steeped in military history and contains the San Francisco National Military Cemetery and millions of rollerbladers, joggers and dog walkers.

We entered San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge and it we drove its 2 miles under beautiful blue skies, which was lucky because the afternoon we went down to see it in its full glory it was covered in fog.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of America’s greatest symbols. It was built by a fellow called Joseph B Strauss and was opened in May 1937 after 4 years of construction. The suspension bridge was named the Golden Gate because of it’s striking colour but is actually painted 'international orange' and a 1,000 gallons of fresh paint is put on it every week by a full-time team of 25 painters.

The neighbourhoods of Upper and Lower Haight are today home to the professional classes but back in the 60’s it was the ground zero of the Summer of Love. The main drag of Haight Street (below) is a confusing collection of bohemian shops selling vintage t-shirts and hippie jewellery and trendy boutiques, but all around here the city pays tribute to the hippie era. An apartment where Janis Joplin lived, the house owned by The Grateful Dead and the mansion painted entirely black by members of Jefferson Airplane. Band member Grace Slick famously said “If you remember the 60’s you weren’t there.” Well he could pop back and jog his memory.

Surrounding Haight Street many of those 60’s wild child’s have done very well for themselves as gorgeous houses reside in an area surrounded by huge open spaces – The Golden Gate Park, Buena Vista Park, Corona Heights Park and a narrow strip of open space called The Panhandle.

Castro is south of here and the epicenter of the cities gay community. It is said that more than 10% of San Francisco’s populate is gay or lesbian and many originally settled in The Castro area and have made a lot of money in renovating old the run-down Victorian houses that sit proudly on the quiet streets.

Other area we explored was the slightly less attractive neighbourhood of SOMA (south of Market St). Long windswept streets host the cities arty district. The club scene happens here as does the re-gentrification of old lofts and warehouses. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and Sony’s Metreon are unusual bed-fellows in the only open space south of Market Street, The Yerba Buena Gardens. Walk directly down 3rd Street towards the Pacific Ocean and you will find AT&T Park, home of baseball’s San Francisco Giants. Opened in 2000, it lies next to the ocean, where on game-days a Labrador sits in a dingy waiting to fetch any home runs hit out of the stadium. I don’t make these things up you know!

The main hub of SF is Union Square, the cities communal front garden. This where most of the theatres are, the big department stores hang out and art galleries.

Hotels take their places along Powell, Post, Mason and Geary Street, including where we stayed. From here everywhere seems walkable, although beware of the nigh on perpendicular roads hiding behind every other corner.

Restaurants are not of the famed quality that can be found in LA but a good meal is never far way, although not necessarily cheap and better options maybe found in the surrounding neighbourhoods. As you might imagine there is a big Asian influence and there are a lot of vegetarian restaurants too, our favourite being Greens, which is in Fort Mason.

Bars and pubs are plentiful. The Tosca Café (242 Columbus Ave) is real 40’s America, try a famed Irish coffee and The Redwood Room in the Clift Hotel (496 Geary St) is a late-night people watching place. Martini’s were invented here, the best ones we were told can be shaken and stirred at Martuni’s (4 Valencia St). If a cup of Darjeeling is more your thing, then pop into the Imperial Tea Court (1411 Powell St) in Chinatown.

Downtown San Francisco is compact and belies it power as the financial centre of the American west coast. Like most financial district’s it is quiet at the weekend but it allowed us to get up close to one of the icons of the city, the Transamerica Pyramid, San Fran’s tallest building at 853 ft. The diverse architecture of these streets includes the Bank of America building (555 California St) and the Embarcadero Center, an office and retail complex.

A stark contrast to its rival LA, San Francisco is homely (if you can afford it), affable and easy to get around. There are many must-see attractions, some of which can be busy but what I like about this place is its pace. You can meander the streets without a map and get a real feel for the place and its people, who don’t seem to have a care in the world.

Click on photo to enlarge. L to R: Coit Tower; Top of Lombard St; The Marina; Union Square; Alcatraz from Nob Hill; Hanging from a cable car. 
Tuesday 24 October 2006
  international supporters club update To International Addicks,

Just in case you didn't see this. Rick Everitt replied to my post dated October 19th as follows:

"Is the club listening? Yes.

With Ian's departure, Wendy Perfect and I requested that responsibility for the ISC pass to us in our Target 40,000 capacity, because we think we are best placed to support and develop it.

It will take us a few weeks to get to grips with what has been promised and delivered to date. In the meantime, rest assured that the ISC is not being neglected - far from it."

So that sounds postive then.

On the topic of a North American Supporters club. I personally have more interest in being part of this because unless I'm allowed dead people then finding 9 other loons who'll spend their Saturday morning's screaming at the tele' is highly unlikely here in Chicago.

I know in Hamilton Bob Miller has managed to bring together like-minded folk and possibly it could be done in New York and Houston but I reckon the idea of a collective North American group would be easier for the club to affiliate itself with enabling a greater reach into this huge mostly untapped market.

I note with interest what Celtic's North American fans have achieved, probably helped no end by the huge ex-Irish catholic population in parts of the United States and of course prolonged success, and wonderful marketing in Man Utd's case, has seen the bigger Premiership clubs become recognizable brands.

However not everyone in this country is a Yankees or a Lakers fan and therefore not everybody is a lemming. It is a huge market and in partnership with Rick, Wendy and the club plus enthusiasm, willingness and good communication from our side, there is no end to what we can achieve. We once didn't even have our own ground you know?

As always more thoughts are welcome. 
  my chicago - #6 evanston Another installment into the neighbourhoods of Chicago and its surrounding areas.
Evanston is not actually in Chicago, its 20 miles north of the city sat snug on Lake Michigan but during the summer I took the purple line train (about 40 minutes) up there to explore one of the most expensive commuter belt areas in the state.

The Northwestern University dominates this 7-square-mile town, although officially a city. If this is considered to be a 'small' university, then I would like to wonder around a big one. The 240 acre campus is home to around 15,000 full-time students and is said to have one of the 'most selective admissions in the country.'

The beautiful campus grounds nestle up to Lake Michigan, the university actually came first in 1851, with Evanston growing up around it afterwards later in the century.

Northwestern is consistently highly ranked for its law, arts and medical schools as well as the famed Kellogg School of Management. ‘The Wildcats’ also excel in basketball and American football and play in the Big Ten Conference, the smallest college in the conference.

Famed graduates include Charlton Heston, David Schwimmer, Jerry Reinsdorf (owner of Chicago Bulls and White Sox) and Hugh Hefner, whilst Cindy Crawford flunked, oh well I guess she had other attributes?

The main part of Evanston spreads itself a few blocks in from the lakefront, with beautiful houses situated the few blocks nearest to Lake Michigan, the houses getting bigger and grander the closer you get to the water.

The beaches are sandy with volleyball nets and parkland being divided by pedestrian walkways and bicycle lanes. Further north Northwestern University has it’s monopoly with some wonderful views looking south along the lakefront back to the Chicago skyline.

The main shopping area has some familiar signage to it with the obvious names and touristy places are more common than shops selling anything original. Café’s and bars are plentiful and there is a nice restaurant scene, with Oceanique (505 Main St) one of the best.

Open spaces proliferate, with 75 parks in the town plus 5 sandy swimming beaches. The Gross Point Lighthouse is situated in a park near the lake. Although most people come here for the countryside and the lakefront there is an eminent theatre scene with The Piven Theatre one of the more well known ones. Began by the parents of actor Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame, the theatre is nationally acclaimed for its acting school and forms part of the Noyes Cultural Center (927 Noyes Street).

The Evanston Historical Society, the magnificent chateau looking mansion of former U.S. vice-president Charles Gates Dawes shares with visitors the history of Evanston (225 Greenwood St), whereas the American Toby Jug Museum (910 Chicago Ave) displays 6,000 erm, jugs, not surprisingly the largest collection in the world.

Beyond Evanston are the highly desirable and commutable towns of Winnetka, Lake Forest and Kenilworth, where the houses get bigger and so do the prices. However, if you are in a car a drive along the lakefront and through some of the best countryside in Illinois is well worth a diversion.

L to R: Northwestern University grounds; A student wandering the gardens; Chicago skyline from Evanston lakeshore. Click on photos to enlarge. 
Monday 23 October 2006
  "did I win?" As I have always have said, you rarely read of someone finding tragedy whilst supping a pint in a pub, whereas jogging is a sure way of finding an early grave. I often amuse myself down on the Chicago lakefront as joggers pass by me whilst I munch on a hotdog, looking as if they are about drop dead at any minute. For every finely tuned athlete there are 20 who really should be at home with their feet up. Bodies are hunched over, legs are dragging and faces crumpled and they call that fun.

As if to prove my point, yesterday's Chicago Marathon winner Robert Cheruiyot is still in a Chicago hospital with minor (thankfully) internal and external bleeding. In a move to rival Paul Robinson's attempted clearance against Croatia, Cheruiyot approached the finish line raising his finger to celebrate his winning time of 2 hrs, 7 mins & 35 secs but as he did so he slipped on the advertising mat slung across the street and fell backwards bashing his head on the concrete. (more)

There was some debate while he lay there to whether he'd actually crossed the finish line, he did.... just, but ended up being carried off in a golf cart unconscious! Never diss St John's Ambulance again!

Cheruiyot last night underwent several extensive neurological examinations, including three CT scans but will hopefully be okay to run again in 3 months. Time for him to learn that a pint is much less dangerous. 
  eastbourne Eastbourne has become my home from home whenever I am back in the UK. My parents moved there almost 3 years ago after spending their whole lives in South East London. It was a brave move to up sticks and head into the unknown albeit no one plans more carefully than them. They have a great place, which very much feels like home when I'm there. Despite my Dad liking the occasional flutter they will agree they have never been one of life’s greatest gamblers but it makes me proud that they took one moving away from all they knew to a place that is very different in so many good ways, even though sometimes I get the impression they are the youngest swingers in the town, known for its retirement seekers.

Eastbourne sells itself as the 'sunshine coast' but with a larger than average age group, it is also considered to be the retirement coast, although the area has seen lots of new build houses in recent years in an effort to appeal to younger families.

Eastbourne is said to have been a major Roman settlement but it was the London, Brighton and South-Coast Railway that arrived in 1849 which saw the town grow in size of both population and grandeur, as the Duke of Devonshire oversaw the construction of some impressive buildings at that time. WWII was not kind to the town. Outside of London it was Southern England’s most bombed place. A large number of Victorian buildings were either damaged or destroyed, often by our own pilots, who unloaded unwanted munitions overhead.

The 1980’s saw the local governments agree to the construction of one or two hideous structures, none other than the TGWU headquarters on the sea-front. Sovereign Harbour was completed rather controversially at the time in 1993, containing expensive housing, restaurants and Europe’s largest marina.

Nearly all of the coastal fronted land is still owned by the Duke of Devonshire, which explains why no garish shops or bars have ever taken the place of the literally hundreds of Victorian hotels, including the Grand (below) that stand side by side facing the sea.

Unlike many of its fellow south-coastal seaside towns, investment has been made and it has a wonderfully well kept picturesque seafront sandwiched between Beachy Head and Sovereign Harbour and adorned with flower beds and coffee shops.

Eastbourne Pier protrudes out from the deep cobbled beaches with several Martello Towers situated along the front along with its famous bandstand, still actively used. Rarely do you see many people on the beach, although my son loves it as he makes a beeline for the sea as if it was magnetized, but the promenade that runs the length of the beach is always awash with people walking and slowly at that as the old dears ponder what they are going to have for tea in one of the many tiny hotel restaurants.

It is a place to mooch, listening to the sea and breathing in the fresh air. In the summer many Londoners do just that seeking a day in the warm and clean air, just 100 minutes away from London Bridge.

The town is awash with many open public places, with Princes Park worth a stroll with its large lake and swans. The annual Air Show and the important women’s pre-Wimbledon tennis tournament, played in Devonshire Park, both attract many visitors.

Amazingly Eastbourne boasts three football teams – Borough, Town and United. My new 2nd team Eastbourne Borough FC being the most successful.

The areas between my parents home - about 4 miles from the sea - contains some much missed country pubs hidden amongst pretty villages such as Wannock, Jevington and East Dean (home to ex-Addick John Robinson) and wherever you look the beautiful South Downs are never far from sight. To me though it is the sea that is Eastbourne’s main attraction, growing up in inner London I dreamt of living by the sea and although I'm now just a 15-minute walk to the huge expanse of water that is Lake Michigan, my Mum & Dad’s place allows me and my son to spend many a precious hour watching and listening to the tide crash in and out.
Sunday 22 October 2006
  watford home. what was the score? drew 0-0 It was tough being distanced again back on my sofa listening to the internet, but at least we didn't have to endure that doom monger Steve Brown.

In many ways it was like the Fulham game, in that we were extremely positive in the 1st half but ran out of steam in the 2nd. By all accounts Reid was outstanding in a role that many of us had hoped he was signed to do. Diawara endorsed what I said after the Fulham game. Some neat football, the return of Thomas, Dowie's bold decision to switch to an attacking use of a 4-5-1 were all positives.

The negatives, on paper anyway, all seem improvable. Rommedahl needs to be more effective after he has got past the first man, our set pieces need to have more cutting edge and the coaching staff need to work on our final third pass. And if Bent doesn't score we need others who look like they just might.

I am worried, but probably would be more anxious if we were in the same position with Curbs as manager with the squad he assembled last season. The Cup game with Bolton may do us a favour Wednesday as we look to build confidence and fitness before St James' Saturday. Keep the faith, the clocks haven't gone back yet.

Dowie watch: Proved he is willing to change the 4-4-2. The system allowed Reid to excel, although Benty appeared isolated. Diawara looks a very good signing. The point did break the disastrous run, but clearly he is feeling the pressure however the majority of fans still seem to be behind him, despite some final whistle boos.
Quote: I understand [the booing] and I have to accept that blame. At home against Watford, bottom of the League, I am not going to try to spin it away. We have played eight games and got four points. The fans are entitled to vent their feelings. I have had good support here, so if there are any brickbats to be thrown you have to take them."

Opinions from those that were there: The Independent; The Times; All Quiet; Addicks Diary
Friday 20 October 2006
  12,430 mile round trip Home sweet home. Back from Bermuda, sorry Reet but didn't get to Docksiders, just inside an office, restaurant, hotel room and repeat. In the last 11 days I have travelled by plane and car 12,430 miles (I know because I'm a saddo and just worked it out!)

So feet up and a quiet weekend, just a BBQ to go to on Sunday hosted by a couple of friends that are running the Chicago marathon on the same day. I actually play footie in the morning so won't be out cheering the 40,000 runners on.

Tomorrow's game (succinct preview here) is on live delay a couple of hours after the final whistle but I won't be able to ignore the radio in the morning, the games just too important and it really is, even though we are still in October.

If you are going tomorrow, I want to hear you on the radio. Let's give them a repeat of Operation Craven and hope they can give us something different back. 
  the hughes dilemma Like everyone else, well except for Trevor Francis and Steve Bruce (he played 228 games under them at Birmingham), plus Alan Curbishley and Iain Dowie it seems I have a hard time understanding what Bryan Hughes gives to the team.

Hughes is one of those players who would be a star, okay maybe that’s an exaggeration, in the Championship, but does not quite cut the mustard in the Premiership. He tracks back (not always), he gets into some good attacking positions (not always), he harries opposing midfielders (not always) and can put in a decent cross (but not always) but in my mind he does always give 100% when he is wearing the shirt, which to us Addicks means he won’t get booed but equally won’t win many plaudits either.

So what is it that coaches within the game see? Apparently Curbs wasn’t the only suitor for his services when his contract ran out at St Andrews. Is he a good trainer? Does he take instructions well? Does he just do things that 25,000 of us don’t see? Or perhaps he’s the next Arsene Wenger, well he was crap when he played too!

It is amazing to think after signing 3 additional midfield players during the summer that Hughes is still a first choice, and under a new coaching staff as well.

You see my dilemma is that Bryan Hughes son is my son’s best friend. They go to the same school, they sit next to each other in the same classroom and they play for the same football team. A perturbing thought a 6-year old running around with ‘Hughes’ plastered across his back!

So, similarly when my son was doing Peter Crouch goal scoring celebrations during the summer and proclaiming him as the best footballer in the world, I had to just grin and bare it and now I have the Hughes dilemma. "Daddy, Bryan’s so nice, why aren’t you a footballer like Flynn’s Dad?" "He’s the best Charlton player by miles."

What to do, except just nod and try to explain to him why he’s got Darren Bent’s number on his back and not the number 20. 
Thursday 19 October 2006
  what do we want from an international supporters club? In so many ways Charlton's communication with it's fans is excellent but it is becoming obvious that in the past couple of seasons bussing in new fans from the wilds of Kent and Sussex has been more important than building on their relationship with supporters outside of the country, many of which are lifelong fans that for a host of reasons now live their lifes abroad but cannot shake the Charlton drug.

"The Charlton Athletic International Supporters' Club currently boasts more than 500 members, drawn from over 40 different countries." (more)

What that statement actually means is that the club collects "the just £25" from 500 individuals for nothing in return. The introductory pack seems as scarce as a goal scored by someone other than Darren Bent and the whole idea, initiated by Ian Cartwright, has been derailed for the past 18-24 months.

And the club is losing out. Premiership football is the most popular non-domestic televised sport in the Americas, Scandinavia and Asia. The club bangs on about it's overseas connections, but what about the fans? The amount of blogs written by Addicks overseas and the people that regularly comment on them demonstrates the need for a more co-ordinated and committed effort.

The fans are willing to make it happen, but are the club? So what do we want from an International Addicks group?

1) Information on fellow members, mapping where they are on the globe so we can build new friendships.
2) Help and support in mobilising overseas Addicks into forming new branches.
3) Regular updates on what is actually going on within the ISC.
4) Discounts and information on merchandising.
5) Ticket information and details on how to purchase, with an improved shipping system.
6) Weekly foreign television schedules showing Addicks games.

Anyone got any other suggestions? I know between us we can make this happen, but it would be nice if Charlton cared. 
  all deng long With the new NBA season starting in less than two weeks, news reaches Chicago Addick that old Lewisham boy Loul Deng has been given a UK passport by the Home Office, meaning that he is eligible to play for Britain in next summer's European qualifiers and future Olympics. The decision to grant Deng's naturalisation came after intense lobbying by UK Sport, British basketball officials and London 2012 officials.

Chicago Bull Deng was born in Sudan but his family came to Britain as refugee's to escape the civil war in the African state. He then lived in Lewisham from the age of 9, until he left for the USA at 15 for a high-school scholarship.

It was recently said that Deng, who earns £1.4m a year and is 6ft 9, is one of Britain's highest paid sportsman, although to most people at home he is an unknown. Not in Chicago though, Deng is considered one of the brightest young players in the NBA and will form part an exciting Chicago Bulls squad that has high hopes for the new season.

Deng has spent the last two summers in London helping promote basketball through the Nike Midnight Madness tournaments and has taken the best players in the competition to Chicago to learn more about the game. "Although I've been living in the US for a number of years, London will always be my home. It's the city I grew up in and where my family lives today." 
Wednesday 18 October 2006
  international supporters club It appears that Ian Cartwright, who was running Charlton’s International Membership Scheme has left the club and Rick Everitt's group has picked up responsibility for it.

I applied to be a member in the summer and had a response from Ian saying that they were ploughing through the many enquiries, think he said 10,000? How many overseas Addicks are there? Anyway with Rick at the helm, I have high hopes that the Valley Express will soon be doing some cheap deals from Chicago.

Wendy Perfect has been charged with going through what is outstanding, so if like me you have heard nothing, there may be a response sooner rather than later.

Of course like a lemon I left my credit card details, which leads me to assume that I am still picking up Lisbie’s wages, which now extends to grapes and flowers while he convalesces from yet another freak injury. 
Tuesday 17 October 2006
  fulham away. what was the score? lost 2-1 After dominating the game two goals in two minutes, and one for, surprise, surprise, Santa Claus is enough to ruin any evening and the feeling of dread straight after Fulham’s 2nd was easily detectable amongst the army of Addicks behind the goal at Craven Cottage.

I write this however whilst sitting on the plane back to Chicago, and after watching the game again this morning on Sky, I still feel surprisingly upbeat. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it was the thousands of Addicks who turned up last night to show how much we really care. This club is going nowhere without us having a part to play.

Then maybe it was the way we again tried to dominate the game with some crisp attacking play, a trait driven into them by Dowie’s perseverance. Perhaps it was because Dennis Rommedahl showed the Addicks faithful why he can be the player we always hoped he could be. Or was how Romm and Benty looked when they came over to our end at the final whistle – shit they had faces like they really cared. Then was it the continual impression Amady Faye makes on me or the stirring and athletic display from Diawara.

Ok, I wasn’t born yesterday. It’s tough, the season is going to be a long one and we, the board and the players are looking to Iain Dowie to do something about it. And the pressure, of course, mounts.

Dowie was undone by Coleman’s tactical substitution, Reid or Hughes should have been replaced by the time McBride handled and scored all in one movement. Our final ball was too often poor and we didn’t make their goalkeeper do enough. And please can someone else look like scoring apart from Darren Bent?

Shall I go on? Ok, Reid has a lot to prove – at some point he will not still be getting fit. El Kak is not good enough, although I thought he did alright last night. And JFH needs to be on the bench and I will think this out loud…. start Marcus Bent Saturday. There I said it.

One thing that was a winner last night was Operation Craven. The power of the fan, the Charlton fan is not dead. Us, we, whatever, were magnificent last night. From standing outside the Eight Bells two hours before the game, seeing many familiar faces and some unfamiliar ones, until the very end, the backing showed us and the players how much we care. It just confirms what a few blogs, some message boards and word of mouth can do.

And my overriding feeling last night after the game, this morning in bed, now on the plane is that there is only one place I want to be on Saturday - The Valley. What is it about Charlton? It bloody does it to you, doesn’t it?

Dowie watch: ID looked on helpless after Fulham scored two goals in two minutes following us dominating the first hour of the game. It appears that he will not sacrifice the way he wants us to play football, whereas Curbs would have had a completely different view. The Addickted still seem to be with him, despite the media trying to pretend otherwise, but for how long?
Quote: "The magnitude of pressure that goes with the job is increasing all the time, every time you don't get a result."

Opinions from others that were there:; All Quiet; The Times; Frankie Valley;; Addicks Diary; Charlton Athletic Online;
  penicillin just don’t work Not for the first time I am questioning my love of the Addicks. The thought of Operation Craven compelled me to delay my flight back to Chicago by 24 hours, which means I literally go to bed tonight after getting home from an eight and a half hour flight, set my alarm for 3.30am tomorrow morning and go back to O’Hare, whence I just came, and fly to Bermuda for client meetings that begin at 3pm (1pm CT). Agreed Bermuda ain’t the toughest place to work but it is not Henley Grange either!

I spend until Friday on the island and then head home for the weekend, carrying with me the bug of being a Charlton fan. Penicillin will not work on this little ailment as some of you well know.

So that will mean I have been out of the office for almost 3 whole weeks. Have Blackberry, laptop, mobile, passport and a few pair of spare under-crackers will travel!

I will be as busy as John Harbin working on Andy Reid’s belly over the next four weeks but after Thanksgiving (the last Thursday of November) things should have calmed down for me, and maybe that small scratch that bleeds red and white might just have started to heal as well? 
Monday 16 October 2006
  operation craven on the march Well the day has come. I should have been heading to the airport about now, but have delayed my trip back to Chicago by 24 hours so I can get to Craven Cottage tonight to join around 1,500 others in getting behind the Addicks, when they most need it.

I will drive up from Eastbourne to meet 4 of my mates in town a little later to discuss team selection over a few pints, and remember if you have left it late, you can still purchase tickets (cash only) at the door tonight. Come on.... it's important.

Jerome Thomas, Souleymane Diawara and Omar Pouso all return to the squad, alongside a fitter Andy Reid. No Super Kev of course as he has suffered another "freak" injury. Words fail me they really do.

Anyway, lets do our bit from the minute we get into the ground until the last ball is kicked. As I have said, some things are just too important and, well, we bloody care don't we?

Come on you reds! 
Sunday 15 October 2006
  i do like to be beside the seaside An afternoon at Eastbourne Borough FC yesterday was a fine way to shake a bastard hangover and give my son further introduction into the world of live football. The Priory Lane ground, which is about 15 minutes from my parents, was a cheap and friendly environment to watch grass-roots footie and for £9 and £2.50 for kids (£5.50 for seniors) the standard of this Nationwide Conference South match wasn't too bad at all.

In fact I quite enjoyed my first non-league experience for many a year. When I was younger I used to be a regular at Bromley, Welling and Dulwich Hamlet but apart from a couple of games at Hornchurch, I had not seen football at this level for some time and was impressed both on and off the pitch.

508 watched an unfortunate Thurrock lose 3-1 to the home side, who scored both their 1st and 2nd goals against the run of play. Pat Harding scoring Borough's and his 3rd goal late on to send the locals home happy to the tune of 'I do like to be beside the seaside.' 
Friday 13 October 2006
  t g i f Works done with for the week and I'll be making my way over to Hornchurch later for a few bevvies and a chicken madras. Tomorrow and the weekend I will be at my parents in Eastbourne.

I've been in town since Tuesday night, a day when I was in Munich, Hannover, Amsterdam and eventually London. I flew into City Airport and low over The Valley, which got the spine tingling and thinking about Monday's game at Craven Cottage. If you are still uhm and arghhing over going, then just remember how better you will feel when you see those red shirts enter the pitch on Monday evening. Book your tickets via this link.

Apart from a few hours of thunderstorms Wednesday the weather here has been very pleasant unlike in Chicago, which got it's first snow of the season yesterday. Mad when you consider when I was last there on Sunday it was 70 and I was in my shorts!

I can't but help mention the England game. I never saw it, it doesn't bother me. Charlton bother me, and I have too many other things to worry about let alone why Steve McClaren always looks like he's going to a funeral. As I have said before for Sven, read Steve. Sven had all the personality of a dullard, whilst McClaren has a charisma more plastic than a credit card. 
Monday 9 October 2006
  sonniges münchen Gutenmorgen, wie jeder heute ist?

An uneventful flight from Chicago to Munich. The weather here is beautiful this morning and I have a couple of hours to chill before my first meeting, which is here in the hotel.

A colleague and I have a dinner tonight with probably two of the most boring men I have ever met. Germans who are never known for their scintillating wit and banter, at least normally like to drink, except for these two, so after a 9 hour flight I could be in for a long night over a plate of pork knuckle and sausages!

Before I left home yesterday I saw that da Bears went 5 & 0 thrashing the Buffalo Bills 40-7, whilst the Chelsea of Major League Baseball crashed out of the play-off's to Grimsby, well Detroit actually. The depressed motor-city embarrassing the $200m payrolled New York Yankees. Oh, how we laughed. 
Friday 6 October 2006
  oh i see, you're german A day or so of relaxation at home before I travel to Munich on Sunday night. I like Munich, especially on Sundays when everything shuts and families hit the streets and parks to be, well just that – a family. I won’t have much time for anything else other than sitting in a meeting room, eating in a restaurant and sleeping in a hotel room. This is my life at the moment, and it ain't all its cracked up to be!

From Munich I head to Hannover and then onto London for the latter part of the week, working until Friday, when I will hire a car and head under the Blackwell Tunnel and out to Essex to catch up with my mates in Hornchurch in the evening for a night of high-brow conversation.

Next weekend I have my son, who will be modeling his new Charlton shirt, and then I have extended my stay until Tuesday so I can do my bit for Operation Craven
  a blind date in new york It was the meeting of the minds last night, well not really but my blind date with New York Addick was probably a lot more interesting than most blind dates with any female company could have been, that is unless she was an Addick living in America writing a blog with perhaps bigger boobs!

Pints of beer were consumed, stories of away games were taken in turn to be told and a general nervousness of the unchartered waters in which the HMS Dowie is sailing was agreed upon.

Not surprisingly NYA and I had lot in common. Both Addicks, who had taken a leap of faith both as young kids when taken to The Valley by our respective Dads and later in life coming to America with a visa and a hope that it would all work out.

An engaging a thoughtful young man (well younger than me anyway), NYA talked excitedly about him and his wife’s forthcoming new addition, about being a lifelong Addick, this despite growing up in North London and about making the most of living in America and the opportunities that it presents. We also talked about how hard it is to turn friendly American’s into more than just ‘buddies’ agreeing that simply it’s hard to even attempt to replicate some of the lifelong friendships you have back at home.

We discussed the pros and cons of getting relegated – the good old days reincarnated or the road to ruin? We wished that Curbs had been a bit more unguarded in his book. “I woke up and went to the training ground,” is not going to win him a Pulitzer prize or convince big-hitting chairman that he is one of the most thoughtful minds in football and we agreed that Bryan Hughes is a large waste of space, this after only one sip of beer.

NYA couldn’t remember why he started his blog but I suspect it was similar reasons to mine, wanting to share experiences and equally store them somewhere other than to memory and back in those early days after arriving in the States, plainly just having no one really to tell.

The night and beer count flew by but it was eventually time to head back into the New York night. An enjoyable blind-date and not only because he picked up the tab! 
Wednesday 4 October 2006
  operation craven My brother and I were quite upbeat after watching the Arsenal game on Saturday but we both agreed that the Fulham game is huge. Stick your Man U’s, Chelsea’s and Arsenal’s; it is this game which will mold our season we said, and it's up to us, the fans to do our bit.

Well, seems like Charlton Life, All Quiet and the message boards agree with us. Quite frankly apart from a couple of exceptions our away support has been pony these last few seasons, well that needs to change starting with Craven Cottage. It is no coincidence that we have not won an away game for almost a year.

The board have been brave and stuck their neck out; they have employed an honest and good young manager, and backed him in the transfer market. Dowie has not hidden behind excuses and has tried to entertain us.

Now it is our turn, let’s show them that we care, lets show the players and the manager what it really means to be a Charlton fan. Let’s turn out in numbers, fuck Sky Sports, and really get behind them.

I will be there along with 4 mates. I have a 4,000 mile journey home early the next morning. If you have Charlton in your heart, have the cash in your pocket and are able to get there, there really are no excuses. 
Tuesday 3 October 2006
  oh brother My brother left last night after a tiring but excellent weekend of doing Chicago stuff. The weather was kind, with shorts still a la mode, although last night it thundered and lightning’d like you’d never seen resulting in my brothers return flight being delayed by 3 hours. I was at the airport this morning and it was still chaos.

Of course Chicago is a wonderful walking city and we walked and walked, stopping for the odd beer or three here and there. We took in a Cubs game on Friday, sitting behind home plate to watch their miserable season continue right up to the last weekend of the season.

The Cubs, who last won a ‘world series’ 98 years ago – and you thought being an Addick was bad – ended up with the worst record in the National League and fired their head coach Dusty Baker yesterday. With the White Sox also bowing out, the title will go to a new home with the play-off’s starting today.

It is obvious to anyone who spends a little time here that this is a huge sports city with 6 professional teams, each one with a glittering history. But the team on everyone’s lips at the moment is the Chicago Bears, who hammered last year's Superbowl runners-up Seattle Seahawks on Sunday to remain undefeated. My brother and I watched at home with a cold beer and let me tell you the natives are getting a bit excited around these parts.

Today kicks off a 3-week bout of travelling for me with New York, Munich, Hannover, London and Bermuda all on the itinerary. I arrived in New York an hour or so ago and am looking forward to meeting for the first time my fellow blog cohort New York Addick on Thursday night for a beer. 
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After living in Chicago for four and a half years, I moved to the beautiful if bewildering island of Bermuda in July 2008. This blog is about being an exiled and depressed Charlton Athletic fan and whatever else the day brings.
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