Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Thursday 30 November 2006
  only one 'sh' in chicago I was reading in a newspaper today why Chicagoan's pronounce Chicago with a 'sh' sound at the beginning (as in she) and not a 'ch' (as in cheese). It might not mean much to you but after 6 months of living here and being corrected everytime you say where you live can become rather irritating. Of course I soon caught on with the 'correct' pronunciation but never understood why.

Well I read today that there are two schools of thought to the reasoning. One is that the present-day pronunciation of 'Chicago' derives from the variation of a Native American term by early French-speaking settlers, but what is more likely is that the distinctive 'shh' goes back to Chicago's Indian origins.

Native American Indians have a lot of history in the northern midwest with place names such as Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Waukesha and Kankokee still existing today. In fact the state of Illinois is named after the indigenous Illiniwek people, a group of Algonquian tribes that thrived in the area. The word Illiniwek means 'tribe of superior men.'

Tim Samuelson, a cultural historian for the City of Chicago said that the Native American's pronunciation of the city was 'Shig-gau-go,' which translates in Algonquian to 'the skunk' or 'garlic fields.' The actual name 'Shi-cago' probably came before the city itself although it doesn't entirely explain why Chicagoans pronounce it the way they do today. 
Wednesday 29 November 2006
  andersen to leave in january Sad to see that Stephan Andersen will be leaving the club in January to go back to Denmark and sign for Brondby.

"I'm sad to see Steph go, but glad that he will be given an opportunity to play regular first-team football at a high level." Les Reed said today (more).

The move is not entirely unexpected but I for one felt the Dane was never given a chance by Dowie and particularly Curbs, who it was that signed him for £721,000.

Of course next season is a long way away but with Carson likely to return to Liverpool and Myhre moving on at the end of his contract, Darren Randolph could accelerate up the pecking order quite rapidly. 
Tuesday 28 November 2006
  shopping blues Have you ever heard the expression 'come back to work for a rest?' Well, it's not a very oft used saying in my house but that was how I felt today after a long thanksgiving weekend of trawling around the city with family, all of whom were of the female variety. By the time they left for the airport last night I reckon we had more large shopping bags in our apartment than Selfridges order in for their January sale!

Thursday was Thanksgiving day itself and as jet lag got our guests out of bed at a ridiculously early hour, we took a trip downtown to see the parade (above), a copy of the bigger and more famous Macy's one that takes place annually in New York. The rest of the day involved eating with turkey the main event and all the trimmings, similar to our traditional Christmas lunch but with a sackful of pumpkin thrown in for good measure.

Rather worryingly I got sent a 'honey baked ham' as a gift from one of my clients. This we also demolished but then yesterday I received an embarrassed email from said client saying that the manufacturer was doing a product recall on the ham as the batch could be contaminated with Listeria! (more)

The day after Thanksgiving is known in America as Black Friday. It marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season and retailers open at the dead of night to give away cheap rubbish to entice people out of their beds. It didn't work on me but the girls were out battling the crowds looking for bargains, whilst I sat at home and watched news reports of 5 mile tailbacks leading to some of the out of town malls at 3am. The electrical store Sears was giving away $10 vouchers to the first hundred people in their store at 5am. Er, $10 or a life?

Later we gathered at the German Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza before refuelling at one of my favourite city restaurants before getting up and going shopping again, this time with me in tow before crashing out in the evening with either shopitis, jet lag or listeria, I couldn't decide which.

Sunday was a day of refinement as we had tickets to see the musical Wicked, and much later that evening after cocktails, ended up in a packed Blues club where a lady singer called Patricia Scott kept our attention until the early hours.

The Chicago Blues scene is often on the must-list for visitors and there are many excellent clubs and bars that have live music nightly. Chicago benefited from the huge migration of poor black workers from the South into the industrial North in the 1950's, but it is especially known for how it added electronic instruments to the original Blues sound. Muddy Waters was generally considered the father of Chicago blues (more) but BB King and Buddy Guy were all famed Blues Musicians who settled and played in Chicago during the 1950's, 60's and 70's. In fact Buddy Guy still has his club in Chicago.

Earlier in the day we saw Wicked at the lovely Oriental Theater. The show has been roundly slated in London since it's premiere in September and although it's very American in production, I was struck by this colourful fairytale of the Wizard of Oz's untold story about the wicked witches of the East.

Shopping and witches. Now there's an idea for a show. 
  Sonoma and Napa Valley This does feel like a long time ago, in fact come to think of it, it was. Nevertheless I get regular emails from wineries that I allegedly signed upto and a box full of wine about once a month from one of the two places where we were impressed or imbibed enough to become members. The first sip from a glass of Californian Pinot Noir brings back great memories and both those and wine are for sharing, so here you go....

Following our excursion up the picturesque Highway 1 from Los Angeles, we swerved around San Francisco and drove inland to Sonoma Valley, where we spent a night in the splendid El Dorado Hotel. American's didn't realise that they had some of the world's finest wine growing land on their doorstep until the mid 1880's when the Hungarian Agoston Haraszthy bought grapevines from Europe to plant in the curving and cumpled terrains sat on the heterogeneous assembly of rock-types.

The historic plaza in Sonoma is still the centre of most of the activity in the area. The City Hall sits in the middle of the plaza, with the Bear Flag Monument, erected to celebrate a short lived republic.

Enough of that, you didn't come here to learn about bears, you want to know about the grape. Time was short so we didn't venture too far from the town and spent the afternoon in the Carneros region at the foot of the Valley.

Buena Vista (right) is the oldest and one of the most beautiful wineries in the region, established in 1857 by our Hungarian friend. It's a bit touristy though, with busloads of people coming through the tasting room and we didn't get too excited about the wine on offer, although it was slightly more palatable than Viansa, which is the first winery you come too driving into Carneros from San Francisco. Viansa did have a very welcoming Italian market though, which held our attention for a while as we were starving.

The champagne caves of the 385-acre Gloria Ferrer with it's magnificent vista terraced tasting room was a much more worthy stop as was Sebastiani, founded by monks.

Our favourite vineyard stop in Sonoma was Gundlach-Bundschu. Founded by Bavarian immigrants and the 5th and 6th generation of the Bundschu family still manage the estate. Rieslings and Gewurztraminers are the favoured squeeze and it's slightly off the beaten track, but we were welcomed by a very nice lady, who knew her stuff and after a few glasses, we walked out as their latest members.

A stroll and a coffee was needed after our tastings and the charming and relaxing town square and the Sonoma State Historical Park was perfect for that. Circling the square a Mexican mission, an old army barracks, which is now a museum plus hotels, wine shops and cafes all lean peacefully next to each other. We chose the restaurant in our hotel for dinner, and it was an excellent choice.

Over dinner and a great bottle of Robert Stemmler Pinot Noir, I was told that we had an early start the next morning.... a very early start. As a birthday treat we were going to take a hot-air balloon over the vineyards of Napa, something that I'd always wanted to do, and a rather more tranquil prelude to my sky dive a few weeks later.

We huddled outside a non-descript office in Napa at 4.30am, with no sign of the sun and drove out for about 45 minutes to the spot where we were going to take the hot-air balloon. After standing around in the cold air watching as the huge balloon was filled with hot-air, we jumped in and very gently started to climb up into the sky. The views were breathtaking as we watched the sun rise over the miles and miles of farmyards, creeks and vineyards, with the Mayacmas Mountains underlying them to the south from 3,500 feet.

After an hour and a half of tranquil flying, which gives you no sensation of motion or perception of height, despite just a 'basket' for company we were driven back to Napa, which is a very uninteresting, almost ugly kind of place, the complete opposite of Sonoma, although the area down by the riverfront has a huge collection of restaurants and cafes. We warmed ourselves up with a coffee at Alexi's (1517 Third St) and marvelled at our early morning experience.

By 10am there was only one thing to do and that was to taste some wine, so we drove north along the Silverado Trail and made our first stop to coincide with opening time at the Stags Leap wine cellars, which produces renowned Cabernet Sauvignons. From here it was a short hop onto the less renowned Silverado Vineyards.

Driving blind drunk to most Americans is second nature, but I was not too keen especially as we were driving onto San Francisco that evening 50 miles away. I lost the toss and had to stick with H2o for the rest of the day but if you were staying overnight there are plenty of organised bus tours and the Napa Valley Wine Train so as to avoid the local traffic police, thats if you can find one.

Next stop was the opulent Opus One (left) founded by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, a wine king no doubt and local dude Robert Mondavi. The tour is free but a tasting costs $25 per person and is a bit steep when you consider others cost as little as 5 bucks. We gave the tasting a swerve, had a quick gander in Mondavi's place up the street, which I'll add was very beautiful, and then drove onto a winery I was very much looking forward to seeing.

The Rubican Estate (right) is where the Godfather writer and producer Francis Ford Coppola has been making wines for 27 years. After being greeted by the valet and given our very own 'tasting passport' we entered the elegant chateau (close your eyes and you could have been in Bordeaux). Inside vaulted stone cellars and a spectacular hand-carved staircase and a couple of tasting rooms were alive with people. We settled at a counter and were treated to a wonderful tasting experience made possible by a superb sommelier and unrivaled wines. Yep, we joined their wine club too.

By this time we needed food because crackers weren't doing it and we stopped at the Dean & Deluca cafe in St Helena for a snack.

We turned the car around and made our way back down Hwy 29 and onto San Francisco to finish our holiday but not before stopping at Domaine Chardon (left), Moet & Chandon's American sparkling wine house.

Wine buffs or not will enjoy this jaunt around the countryside, parts of Napa like Yountville and Rutherford are very pretty. There are hundreds of wineries, some separated by just a few hundred yards. If the whole stuffy vineyard thing puts you off, there are many decent wine shops, particularly in Sonoma, where locally grown wine can be purchased. It may be cheaper however to buy it at the vineyards own shops. The recent changes to hand luggage on planes is a pain if you leave with armfuls of bottles but all of the wineries we visited shipped and nearly all of the ones I have researched have online shopping. So sample, make notes, go home and get online.

Note the opening hours. They generally only open between 10am and 5pm, some close earlier and avoid summer weekends and bank holidays as the crowds will annoy the hell out of you. And if you get a chance try the hot-air balloon, it was cool.

Map of Sonoma Wineries Map of Napa Wineries
Sunday 26 November 2006
  everton home. what was the score? drew 1-1 A morning in the life of an exiled Addick:

12.30am. Go to bed
05.45am. The alarm goes off. Lay in bed cursing the fact that I'm a Charlton fan, and not for the first time!
05.59am. Decide it could be worse and could have been a Nigel.
06.00am. Get out of bed and into shower.
06.25am. Leave the house.
06.40am. Open pub door to be welcomed by Lisa the barmaid and no one else.
06.42am. Decline a beer and have a mug of coffee instead.
06.44am. Pub TV's kicks into life showing Les Reed applauding the fans.
06.45am. Game kicks off.
06.52am. Danger as El Kak continues to impress me with his decision making with fine tackle on the impressive McFadden.
07.15am. London SE7 looks a tense and nervous place. So is Chicago 60613.
07.23am. Get a text from New York Addick asking me if I was pleased that I woke so early.
07.24am. Have another cup of coffee and try not think about it.
07.30am. Half time. A slight improvement as we start to come into the game late in the half.
07.35am. Trade texts with NYA. A little corner of New York is as depressed as a little one of Chicago.
07.45am. 2nd half kicks off.
07.47am. The pub door bursts open and a bloke with an old 'Candy' Liverpool shirt walks in.
07.50am. He asks me whose playing!
07.52am. Everton take the lead. When you're down, you're really down. I drop my head, the Liverpool fan laughs into his coffee. I stare at him for a few seconds.
08.05am. Amdy Faye shows why he hasn't scored since he was 11.
08.07 am. Darren Ambrose is taken off, had forgotten he was even playing.
08.08am. It looked like Rommedahl chased Valente down to win the ball, played it to Reid to score. YES!
08.09am. Replay showed it was Marcus Bent. I would have put my house on it not being him.
08.15am. The door opens again and a bird walks in with a Liverpool scarf on and joins the bloke at the bar.
08.16am. She also asks me whose playing and if I'm alright!
08.17am. Liverpool bird asks me if I know who Liverpool are playing later! I told her I didn't care.
08.21am. Reid has a good shot saved. I'm starting to think we may snatch it.
08.32am. Rommedahl has a great chance to win for us but neither shoots or crosses. He is the most frustrating player in the world.
08.33am. Benty blows our last chance.
08.34am. Final whistle and I feel a spark of hope.
08.50am. On the way home I talk to a mate on his way home from the game and we share optimism from different sides of the pond.

Opinions from those that were there: All Quiet; Addicks Diary; Frankie Valley; Guardian; The Times
Friday 24 November 2006
  we'll support you forever more Trying to stay positive about anything Charlton this week has been difficult. We're at home tomorrow, and to be honest I'm not looking forward to it at all. Of course I'll be dragging my sorry arse out of bed before 6am in the morning to get to the one pub in Chicago that opens that early for live Premiership matches. I know nothing else. Wind, rain, sun, good times, bad times, as the song goes, "we'll support you forever more."

But we're not the concern are we? Let us hope the players show some pride and bloody effort tomorrow. We've never asked much as Charlton fans, but we deserve more from those that get paid to wear the shirt and so does Les Reed.

The players could take a leaf out of the Valley Flags Campaign's book. The fans behind that, which includes supporters' director Ben Hayes have shown us what a little devotion can do.

While Jordan continues to shout his mouth off like someone with a extra large case of Tourette's, I was interested to read that fans will have to pay £3 tomorrow to hear what Richard Murray has to say on the whole sorry affair. Has the club stooped that low to shed some programmes?

One thing that did come out today was that Charlton only have to pay up a third of Dowie's contract, roughly £800,000, as reported in today's South London Press.

Okay, all together now:
"Get up, get up, get out of bed,
Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red,
Live, love, laugh and be happy."

Come on, I'm doing my best! 
Thursday 23 November 2006
  Thanksgiving My first Thanksgiving in America. For each of the previous 3 years I've gone back to the UK for the extended weekend but this year we have family visiting us, so we are doing it the American way, that is eating, drinking, watching sport on television and sleeping in-between.

The first ever Thanksgiving was said to have been celebrated in 1621 by the Pilgrims after their first harvest. The Pilgrims had settled in Plymouth Colony, which is now in Massachusetts on the beautiful slither of land between Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound. As wild turkeys were in plentiful supply, that is what they ate.

The day sporadically became a regular observance throughout Colonial America, but after the American Revolution, it was George Washington who declared the first official national Thanksgiving Day on November 26, 1789.

However even up and until 1940, various states observed different dates and some, particularly in the south didn't recognise it at all. It is now always on the last Thursday of November.

As for 'Turkey Day,' since 1947 the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys. The live turkey was pardoned and lived out the rest of its days on a peaceful farm. In more recent times two turkeys have been pardoned and in 2003 the public were invited to vote for the two turkeys' names. Last year, so I read, they were named Marshmallow and Yam, and they went on to live at Disneyland.

I was told there's no truth in the rumour that this years will be called Kev and Lis, who will continue to live out their days at Sparrows Lane! 
Monday 20 November 2006
  we are all "rabbits in the headlights" I am still deeply troubled by the antics going on down at Sparrows Lane and the silence is deafening. Whilst fans, the media and even, it materialises Luke Young, continue to wonder what the hell happened last week, both the Charlton board and Iain Dowie continue to play mum.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong but this great club of ours came to being in recent history because of bloody hard work, trust, communication and understanding. Each of these four vital ingredients combined to take us from playing in front of 4,000 fans at a Sainsbury’s in Norwood to a Premiership staple with 25,000 fans in a revitalized stadium.

We deserve more and we deserve better. We have Richard Murray saying nowt, we have heard bugger all from Dowie, which in the circumstances is astounding, except that we now know that he rang his ex-captain Luke Young on Friday to wish him luck and there I was thinking all the players couldn’t wait to see the back of him!

I don’t expect them to tell us everything but how about not treating us like dummies?

It's obvious to me that this internal review did not encompass the players, and it is equally evident judging by the way the players went about their business on Saturday that they were both shocked and pissed off about Dowie’s departure. Remember their faces in the photo after HH knocked in the winning penalty against Chesterfield? That does not look like a bunch of players who were not motivated and "confused."

So, it must have been a non-football related issue. Did they unearth some untruths in Dowie’s case against the Tango Man? Was he acting completely against the management structure? And I still think a certain Mr Andrew Mills plays a part in this whole saga. Was he taking unfair advantage of his missus being a few hundred miles away or as Inspector Sands last night said: was he getting his brother involved where his ugly mug most definitely shouldn’t have been?

Too many questions, and two many very strange quotes, which keeps us even more entrenched in darkness with the grim reaper of relegation suddenly a reality, whereas perhaps up until the Wigan game, it wasn't a consideration.

Of course as a Charlton fan, one doesn’t know when to give up and I hope those that have the pleasure of getting paid vasts sums of money in all of this bloody understand that.

However Les Reed said nothing to put my mind at rest the weekend and I cringe when I re-read some of these quotes:

"We were like rabbits in headlights." I trust that includes you Les?
"We have to get fitter." Er, don't we employ a fitness coach?
"What you saw in the first half was a very confused performance." Good to know, I thought it was simply shite.
"I learned a lot today, and have got some ideas in mind that we can sit down and talk about next week when we have got more time." No rush, you have only been there since May.
"I said to the players after the game that I'm not one for getting too emotional after the game when I can't be sure if my facts are right." Well get your facts right Les because what we want now is some impact and some emotion.
"What I'll do is look at the video; I've already told our video guy what I want to see." That's great, a video guy as well. Can he play in midfield? 
  don't worry we still have gibbs, traore & sorondo.... oh! The reserves did nothing to quell Chicago Addick's heart condition tonight by getting stuffed by bloody Reading 4-2.

The reserve team, which is still overseen by Mark Robson was slated to welcome back Cory Gibbs, Djimi Traore and Gonzalo Sorondo back from injury and Omar Pouso back from the bank, after he was seen cheerfully depositing this week's salary, whilst he gets used to the pace of the Premiership!

"Charlton were ripped apart and were 3-0 down within 35 minutes...." Oh joy, more here courtesy of
  shaken not stirred I'll give you one guess at the weekends lowlight. Easy, sat in front of my computer on Saturday morning in my smoking jacket and fluffy slippers listening to 11 blokes wearing a shirt my 6-year old son has more pride in pulling over his head.

The highlight? That's also easy. The new James Bond movie Casino Royale. I saw it on Friday, and it was good, very good. Put 007 to one side and it was a very credible action thriller. Oh, and the 'ugly, fat and blonde' Daniel Craig is excellent. Don't wait for a couple of Christmas' to see it on TV.

No football this Sunday, so a very welcome lie-in and this afternoon Da Bears strolled to another win beating the New York Jets 10-0. It wasn't pretty but it took them to a season record of 9 and 1. Next week they have another tough test away from Chicago at the New England Patriots.

This is a short week at work as Thanksgiving Day is on Thursday, with the following day off making it a nice long weekend. In previous years I've made the most of the time off and flown home but this year I will be here. We have family arriving in Chicago on Wednesday and have a busy schedule of eating and drinking planned. 
Saturday 18 November 2006
  reading away. what was the score? lost (again) 2-0 Sitting here its fair to say that I'm the most worried I've been for many a year about our Premiership tenure. To me it sounded like the players were holding their own personal protests at Dowie's sacking and the normal motivated performance encouraged by a new manager was nowhere to be seen. Player power, er how about the players couldn't care less?

The first half was abysmal and by far the worst 45 minutes of the season, and they didn't deserve the fans that followed the new management team to the Majedski Stadium in numbers.

The 2nd half was an improvement, although it couldn't have been worse, however putting new handles on doors held my attention much more than the spineless performance and Steve Brown's ever more annoying voice.

Our away forms a joke, we are in it up to our armpits and after a traumatic week in Charlton's history, this result asks more questions than answers them. Les Reed needs to do something and do something quick because the trauma can only get worse.

Opinions from those that were there: BBC Sport; All Quiet; The Sun; Observer;; Back the Boys (A Reading view). 
Thursday 16 November 2006
  one hundred thousand Amongst all of the drama and upheaval going on in SE7 this week comes some good news. As Addicks around the world sourced every available piece of information and opinion on the dramatic news of Dowie's sacking and Reed's promotion, amazingly people even valued my assessment of the situation and due to the unprecedented number of 'visits' what was the score has had in the last few days, at precisely 1.25pm Central Time today, my hits counter burst through the 100,000 mark.

Therefore it is traditional in these circumstances to thank everyone for being so kind, particularly my parents for bringing me into the world in the first place, Mrs Hallett who taught me to write and lastly me for teaching myself how to type, oh and not forgetting Charlton Athletic and Chicago for giving me the inspiration.

Thank you for visiting. 
  what can we expect from les reed? After 15 years of Curbs, I took it upon myself to analyse Iain Dowie as much as I could from 4,000 miles away. I watched sound bites, I read interviews, I looked at his demeanour on the touchline and I studied photgraphs but what I couldn't see was the ranting and raving behind the scenes and what was playing in his thoughtful mind. There was a lot going on - the poor results, the off-field disagreements, the public legal battle with Jordan, being seperated from his family and working in an arrangement that he'd accepted but knew he wasn't suited too. Then of course on top of that during the last two weeks, he was very aware that he was under the microscope and had no control over his future prospects, even, we are told, if results went the right way.

We have not heard anything from Dowie, which is credit to him, but with an expensive court case looming, I wonder how long it will be before he takes some of the money being offered to him by the tabloids to tell his side of the story? Or has Murray and his lawyers imposed a gag on him long term, particularly as they have promised to continue to help him in his case against Tango Man?

So what can we expect of Les Reed? More Curbs than Dowie I'd expect from a disposition stand point. "I am not going to change and all of a sudden become very high-profile, cigar-smoking and so on." (more)

I don't know about you but I liked that extra bit of spark that Dowie had. To get Curbs to come over and clap the fans was harder for him than dropping the exclamation marks in his book! (sic)

Reed is obviously a quieter, reasoned and a much lower profiled man, as proven by how little we really know about him even though he's been around the club off and on for many years. His coaching pedigree is first rate and makes the Gareth Southgate and Glenn Roeder problems over their lack of UEFA qualifications even more of a farce but Reed untried and untested in the managerial hotseat.

However the whole support structure put in place by Richard Murray will allow the Head Coach to do just that, and I expect after working in some high ranking FA jobs over the years, he wouldn't have been short of some media and people skills training.

On the continent this arrangement is very common although it has yet to see much success in England but generations of old fashioned managers and egotistical ex-players are unlikely to have either the skill-sets or the want to make this work. It is somewhat refreshing, although the press probably don't think so, that Reed has broken the chain of clubs appointing managers from the tired old merry-go-round or ex-high profile players.

In fact in Europe, and particularly France, Reed's background would make him the ideal candidate to become manager of a leading league side. The former ex-Wycombe and Cambridge United striker is in very good company in the Premiership with Arsène Wenger, Rafael Benítez and Jose Mourinho all flourishing as background men first before taking a gigantic leap into the corner office. 
Tuesday 14 November 2006
  murray shows ruthlessness, promotes reed and spares mills Exhausting. The combination of an exceptionally busy work period for me and the trauma of being a Charlton fan. It never used to be like this did it?

There are still a lot of questions circling my head, it doesn't really make much sense does it but rarely do decisions made by people far more closer to the action than thee. I see it everyday and often people without knowledge of facts generally have the most to say. Richard Murray, whom I expect has probably made a few tough decisions in his time, has not said very much at all.

I liked Dowie, from what I knew of him. I like that he tried to be his own man (ultimately this cost him), and he tried to impose his style on the way we played. The job was always going to be extremely tough and I thought on the face of it, he was giving it his best shot. He is a man clearly of pride and character, driven by ideas and ideals that he's learnt and totally believes in, often from non-footballing sources, whether it be management psychology, university or fitness practioners.

He was entrusted with big money, although not solely, and some of the players signed during his short tenure could end up being big Charlton favourites, Diawara, Reid and Faye all come to mind and I'm excited about Walton too. As for Scott Carson, his loan signing was a masterstroke. In fact lost in the Charlton news yesterday was Benitez's apparent agreement for Carson to see out the full season at The Valley.

It is said that Dowie was aware of the internal review, and it appears that in two categories he failed the acid test. One obviously was results, and the pressure this season to avoid relegation is immense and magnified by the amount of money we've spent and the wage-bill but without flogging a dead horse, there were signs of improvement.

On this point, the big question is: At what point do you sack your manager? With 12 games to go? At Christmas giving the new bloke no time at all to make inroads in the transfer window? Or with 2/3rds of the season left?

Two. Remember Billy Davies? Only he and the board know why he did not become our manager in the summer. He was our first choice, period. Dowie wasn't, at least thats what his lawyer would have you believe. At the time stories suggested that Davies was not prepared to work within the management team that Murray had already put together - Les Reed, Mark Robson and the mysterious Andrew Mills (more on him later). Also he was not hp with the proposed transfer arrangement. Not as it turned out the amount of cash available as Dowie gleefully spunked £11.2m but the fact that Mr Andrew Mills had the final say-so on players.

Murray believes in this management structure, he would, it was his idea and one that has a lot of benefits but only if the constituent parts worked together. Like others I was left wondering recently what part Reed, Robson and Mills were playing because it was only ever Dowie's voice we heard in public except for that, in hindsight, strange overblown day-off Dowie had after the Bolton cup game.

Lazy media stories of troubles in the camp between players and others within the coaching team not getting on with Dowie may or may not be true, but Alan Curbishley was hardly Kofi Annan.

I just think the club made a mistake, and maybe it started to hit home when they became embroiled in the publicity frenzy that is rent-a-quote-prick Simon Jordan. The club, as we have come to expect, have acted admirably throughout this pantomine, although Peter Varney's quote today when asked about the Tango Man's remarks were hilarious: "I don't watch children's television so I can't comment." he said on Sky.

Results of course, and Dowie's one dimensional non-inclusive management style have all triggered concern for a board that for 15 years had a stable and consistent relationship with the previous incumbent. If we were 5th, then maybe they may have looked the other way, but we are not, and football is solely a results business.

As for Les Reed: "This job doesn't daunt me but it is a challenge and I'm looking forward to it. Charlton is my club. I was born on the other side of the river but my family worked in the docks and a lot of them came over to watch Charlton and always talked about Charlton." (more)

What's that phrase? More of a Charlton person? Something like that. We know him, he knows us, a gamble yes but by common acknowledgment a superb coach, one that will now be able to get his points across instead of watching from the Sparrows Lane sidelines while Dowie and Harbin have the players boxing in a ring. We might even see an improvement in some of the defensive frailties that have cost us. Shit, we may even look dangerous from a set-piece? Reed preaches good football and no one should worry about Darren Bent and the other young players at the club, coaching and mentoring them is the most impressive fact on Reed's resume.

So that leaves us with Andrew Mills and John Harbin. The fitness coach will go I expect, but what about Mr Mills? Was he the man that Dowie excluded, or clashed with and what do we know of this ex-agent General Manager (football)? Of course when the Director of Football is your brother, as big Bob was at Palace then plainly the relationship is going to be a bit closer but Mills interests me and shouldn't escape scrutiny, particularly as under his job responsibilites should fall new players, their fees and their wages. 
Monday 13 November 2006
  dowie's gone! From the official site:

"The Addicks announced on Monday night that head coach Iain Dowie had left Charlton.
The club will issue a further statement on Tuesday morning."

I really don't know what to make of this. I am stunned. Everyone knew it was going to be tough, particularly with the early fixtures and although the board had been pretty quiet, that is their way. I truly believed he was liked by the majority of supporters I really do, and that they were prepared to give him more than 12 Premiership games especially after the relative Carling Cup success.

If he was sacked, that means they would have to pay up his contract until May 2009, it's expensive business this sacking managers. Just ask most football chairmen. And from what I know of Dowie he doesn't appear to be a quitter.

I suppose the world of football won't be shocked, they will just pop into Ladbrokes to pick up their winnings on the first managerial casualty of the season. Meanwhile a little corner of SE London and a much smaller corner of downtown Chicago remain stunned and bemused. 
Sunday 12 November 2006
  benty avoids splinter injury Clever idea that Darren Bent withdraws from the England squad to spend time with his fellow Addicks at Sparrows Lane this week. Better that than risk getting another splinter in his arse from sitting on the bench in Amsterdam.

Meanwhile previous chief Sven-Goran Eriksson showed his complete ignorance of last season's top English goalscorer by even failing to mention him in his reasoning for taking Theo Walcott to Germany.

"Where are the other good English forwards? I saw 100, 120 Premiership games every year and I couldn't find out." Tit.

Finally Sunday's News of the World states that Iain Dowie would be interested in signing Palace old boy Julian Gray from Birmingham. Other papers predict that Marcus Bent might go the other way but with Gray out of favour at St Andrews and Marcus Bent being 1 of only 3 players who have scored in 15 Charlton games since August it makes you wonder who would get the best deal. 
  wigan away. what was the score? lost 3-2 Sloppy defending and the over-reliance on just three players capable of scoring was the wet and windy tale of yesterday's disappointing defeat to Wigan. Just when you thought we'd turned the corner, it's 6 goals conceded in a few days and a midfield that doesn't even look like scoring, let alone an added bonus of a defender.

I listened to the game on the internet but was given a good eye-witness perspective from my brother on the way home from the JJB. One of around 700 Addicks who sat through a poor game he watched as an average Wigan, who man for man have less quality than we have, score at the right times and us not have the wherewithal to get a 2nd goal after Benty/de Zeeuw's strike gave us a great chance of taking something from the game early in the 2nd half.

The conditions and the opposition was asking for a battle and bottle and we simply weren't up to it. Maybe it was a game for Kish or even Hughes? Hasselbaink made a difference when he came on but we were always chasing the game.

Darren Ambrose was again poor and I feel that Dowie will try to off-load him in January. True, he should be playing more of an advanced role in the middle but just like at Newcastle he can't seem to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and make an impression on it. I would rather see Lloyd Sam or Ali John replace Rommedahl wide in a 5-man midfield.

Next week's game is huge. We are in the middle of an 'easier' run of fixtures and we need points. The season has no longer just started and the pressure is mounting, but we need to stick to together. No doubt.

Dowie watch: Perhaps for the first time this season you have to question ID's team selection. Up against a very big and strong Wigan side he opted for a lightweight 5-man midfield, who simply were out-muscled. Is it time to put his attacking beliefs to one side in an effort to grind out a result at Reading next week?
Quote: "We've worked hard on set pieces this week and you can see we'll have to do some more work on it. It was free header from six yards out and should have been defended much better."

Opinions from those that were there: Addicks Diary;; BBC Sport; Independent; Guardian
Saturday 11 November 2006
  wycombe in quarter-finals Wycombe will come to The Valley in the Carling Cup Quarter Finals and although I remember us playing them in a friendly match a couple of years back it will be the first time the teams have met competitively.

We couldn't ask for much more from today's draw, which is in full here:

Tottenham v Southend
Liverpool v Arsenal
Newcastle v Chelsea
Charlton v Wycombe

The game will be played on either Tuesday, December 19th or Wednesday, December 20th. 
Thursday 9 November 2006
  bushwacked So the American people have woken up, we will have 2 years of political bickering as the Democrats rule the house and the senate but at least the poxy adverts have ended.

The arrogance of Donald Rumsfeld will stay with us for a long time yet, even though his ugly mug won't. Don't worry George has employed one of his Dad's mates instead.

Nothing of course changes, America still occupies Iraq, and young soldiers get killed every day. Healthcare cover is ridiculously expensive for those that can afford it and non existent for those that can't. Do-gooder right wing evangelists will continue to be caught with their willies in places they shouldn't and that idiot Karl Rove will still have his hand up Bush's backside, who will of course continue to spout complete bollocks that makes anyone with more than one brain cell shake their head in embarrasment and shame. 
Wednesday 8 November 2006
  in-spired I'm still immensely heartened by last night's result at Chesterfield, our defending at set-pieces aside. I was also cheered by the 750 Addicks who made the trip to game as well. It seems to me that since the Fulham game, our away support has picked up. We still haven't won a league game on the road for over a year but unlike some insipid travelling performances last season, our play has been far more enjoyable to watch under Dowie and I am hugely envious of my brother and best mate who will be heading to Wigan on Saturday.

I have been to Chesterfield and seen it's crooked spire but have never stepped inside Saltergate. Going to last night's game, the first between the two sides since 1981 must have been a great laugh, standing behind the goal, chewing fingernails and celebrating at the end. I even heard there was a slight pitch invasion caused by a over-celebration! I have always said that us Addicks would celebrate a goal at an away fixture like we might never score again!

I have also been to Wigan, but not the ground. My brother and I found ourselves there once, whilst on route to a game at Bolton. Last year's performance at the JJB was truly abysmal and anyone going back again on Saturday after attending last year is either completely mad or only doing so because of what they have seen from Dowie's side so far. I would presume the latter.

Just a quick thank-you whilst I'm on to Russell, a regular commenter on what was the score?, who I met for a beer or 7 on Monday night. I'm sure we looked a bit out of place as all around us in the bar were television screens showing American Football, Basketball and Ice Hockey, yet there we sat talking about football and Charlton completely oblivious to it all. I hope you had a safe journey back home Russell. 
Tuesday 7 November 2006
  chesterfield away. what was the score? won on pens 4-3 (3-3 aet) Look at their faces. It's means more to me that we went through all that tonight, than winning easy or losing and therefore being forced into concentrating on the Premiership job at hand.

The team spirit, epitomised by those players faces at the point of HH's winning penalty, is there in spades and that can only be good. Glad that Jimmy scored, Benty took only 8 minutes to get on the scoresheet and Carson is, well I wish he was a Charlton player.

Great result, history was made tonight. Let's keep it going.

Dowie watch: Will be pissed off that we conceded early in both halves and late in the game and perhaps disappointed in the performances of those players that came in. However under Dowie's leadership we are in the last 8 of the competition for the first time in our history.
Quote: "I also want to pay a great deal of respect to our character. We didn't buckle under difficult circumstances, even at end when we conceded for a third time at a set-piece."

Opinions from those that were there:; BBC Sport; ESPN
Monday 6 November 2006
  weekend workout My weekend. Some good, some stupid and some expensive.

Saturday, clearly under the influence of 3 points, I bought a kitchen. Well laid down a big deposit anyhow. This has been months in the researching but we finally did the deed on Saturday. It's being made in Italy because despite there being a bazillion kitchen shops in America, they are all poop.

Saturday, still clearly under the influence, and not helped by a large bloody mary, I drop my mobile phone down the toilet, just after I'd sent a text (who said men can't multi-task?) and just as I flushed. The phone didn't flush, but will not be the same again and is now dead. If you know my mobile phone number and try to ring or text me, you won't hear me answer it, just bubbling noises.

Later Saturday. I saw the film The Departed. It's an intoxicating movie and the parallel story of two Massachusetts State cops (Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon) was excellent, and may I suggest an Oscar contender. It's worth seeing for Jack Nicholson alone and Vera Farmiga is very sexy.

Sunday lunchtime we played football and we didn't lose! It was a draw, which was better than the Bears, who choked at home to the Miami Dolphins.

Oh and Sunday, there were no fireworks because Guy Fawkes is about as British as you get, although blowing up parliament, with the dull, dull, dull midterm elections coming Tuesday, is an idea that I am sure would catch on. 
Sunday 5 November 2006
  man city home. what was the score? won 1-0 Who would have thought that Charlton, Watford, Sheffield United and West Ham would all win over the weekend, but win they did and although it was disappointing, it does drag others into the party such as Newcastle and Boro, and leave Reading, Man City and Blackburn all looking in their rear mirrors.

Newcastle haven't won in 7, and they have the UEFA cup to occupy them, where strangely they remain unbeaten. Reading are starting to stutter and Blackburn are also in a losing Premiership sequence and are exerting energy in Europe also.

We, however, are on a tiny bit of a role. The defence has been awesome, helped by some luck and the wonderful heroics of Scott Carson, oh to be able to keep him at The Valley. Dowie's vision of playing two wide men alternating on the wings, with Reid in a free role behind Bent is also starting to show some fruition. Yes, we are still bottom, but we are still trying to play, and rather perversely its kind of enjoyable, bloody nail-biting but enjoyable.

Curbishley's stifling safety-first tactics or Dowie's enterprising ones are fuel for any Addick orientated conversation but we knew it would be different, and different it is and I for one am relishing it.

One small thing. Who is that idiot who now does the pitch introductions at The Valley? When I came back from the bog to listen to the 2nd half I thought we had scored, only to realise that he was just announcing that "Charlton Athletic" were coming on for the 2nd half.

Dowie watch: ID's three big buys of the summer - Diawara, Faye and Reid are all showing why he spent big money (in Charlton terms) to bring them to The Valley and it was great to hear the crowd sing "Iain Dowie's red and white army" as he clapped the fans at the end of the match.
Quote: "We've worked hard at our defending; we've sat them down and watched the videos. I think it's the sign of a good player that he only needs to be shown once or twice and that's what's happened."

Opinions from those that were there: The Times; Observer;; Frankie Valley; New York Addick; Addicks Diary; All Quiet
Friday 3 November 2006
  playing for the love of the game I was reading about Neil Redfearn today, he makes his 1,000th competitive appearance tomorrow playing for his 14th club, Bradford Park Avenue in the FA Trophy tie at home to Solihull Borough. Redfearn, who is probably only paid his expenses at the Northern Premier Div 1 side is 41 years old and made his debut for Bolton in 1982, the season they got relegated from the old Division 2 to 3.

Charlton paid a £1m for Redfearn after we won the play-off final and I personally thought he was disappointing in his season with us, although he counts his time at Charlton as one of his career highlights. (more)

What is refreshing though in these days of multi-million pound 20-something footballers is that he continued playing down the leagues and "wanted to give something back." Redfearn missed the real gravy train but still made enough to be able to afford to play for a pittence at 41, and not have to get a milk round or something after he stopped playing, like the majority of players from the 70's and 80's.

"If you love the game, you love the game, and as long as I'm fit enough and there's someone to have me, I'll turn out."

Equally heartening was Paul Ince's choice to join bottom of the football league Macclesfield as their manager. "This is the best place to learn. I don't like publicity, being in the limelight. I like to knuckle down and get on with my job. I'll make mistakes, I'm bound to, but I'll write them down and I'll learn from them. I just didn't want to walk away from football without knowing what it meant to be a manager, or even wondering what it was like to be sacked. I'm enjoying it - there's a thrill to being in charge." (more)

Starting at the bottom certainly didn't do Paul Jewell, Harry Redknapp, Martin O'Neill, Alex Ferguson or Curbs any harm. Whereas others such as Bryan Robson' Glenn Hoddle and maybe Stuart Pearce to a degree have learnt that being born with a silver footballing spoon in your mouth is not always easy when it comes to coaching and managing players.

With the talk here in the US about David Beckham maybe joining LA Galaxy as early as next year, it will be interesting over the next few seasons how many of the Sky TV generation of footballers continue their careers down the footballing ladder. I can't remember many top stars in recent years who have continued playing for "the love of the game", as Neil Redfearn puts it.

Chris Waddle played for Burnley, Torquay and Worksop Town. Gazza, Ray Wilkins and Peter Shilton all carried on playing long after their heyday and Peter Beagrie is still knocking them in for Grimsby after making his debut 23 years ago for Middlesbrough.

One player that can be added to that list is Rob Lee or Robert Lee as Curbs and therefore Addicks' fans always called him. I saw him in the summer and he has finally hung up his boots at the age of 40 after leaving Wycombe Wanderers. The money Rob has earnt from the game meant that he could stick two fingers up at the club after the way they treated his mate John Gorman. When I asked what he was doing, he replied simply that after playing the game almost every day since he was 10, he is going to have a well earned rest. 
Thursday 2 November 2006
  bottom of the table too Team______pld__ w__ d__ l__ f__ a__pts
Hurricanes__ 6___0__0__ 6__ 1__19__0

And you thought Charlton had problems. This is my Sunday teams record so far this 'fall season' with 2 more games to play. Frankly we're toilet. With pretty much the same 'roster' we managed a very commendable 3rd place in the 'summer league,' but that was on a Stamford Bridge type pitch, which is a bit more of a leveller in the Sunday morning hangover leagues of Chicago. This current season we are on astroturf, where the young are younger, the tall are taller and the fit are fitter.

Last week I believe we failed to get out of our own half in the first period but a switch of formation to 4-3-3 in the 2nd created more space and we held our younger, taller and fitter opponents to a goalless 2nd half. I did fail to mention that they scored 3 in the first half!

Anyway, its not about the winning but a corner would be nice on Sunday!

Wednesday 1 November 2006
  bulls demolish defending champions in opener The Chicago Bulls showed the country that they should be taken seriously last night when they walked into the defending champions Miami Heat's South Beach arena and wiped the floor with them, winning be an incredible 108-66. To put the result in context, it would be like Charlton going to Chelsea the first game of the season, standing on the sidelines watching while they collected their Premiership trophy and then proceed to beat them 6-0.

It was an incredible result, with the game live on national television but as coach Scott Skiles was quick to point out it's only the 1st one with 81 to go. "It's one game, we're 1-0, yippee. This is an unrelenting league. We move on." (more
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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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