Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Sunday 31 December 2006
  Happy New Year If you are at home reading this tonight, then I don't blame you. I'm not a New Year's Eve fan by any stretch of the imagination and after my skiing trip was brought to an abrupt halt, I thought about staying in, watching the box and inevtiably powering up the laptop to see what's happening in cyberspace, but I got out-voted and am going out for dinner instead with someone I really want to be with.

In the last year, I have come to realise that I only really want to do things that I enjoy. If I don't love or at least remotely like what I do, then I can't do it. Whether it's being with people, working, hobbies, chores or getting up before 5am on a Saturday to watch Charlton play, I have to want to do it otherwise I don't put any effort in. Simple, all or nothing and I can't stand wasting time, particularly mine.

One of the things I have loved doing in the past two and a half years is writing this blog and I'm inpsired by what I see, read and hear everyday and I'm inspired by you, the people who stop by to see what the hell I'm rambling on about. Thank you it means a lot.

Wherever you are tonight, be safe and I hope that your dreams come true. Happy New Year. 
  Aston Villa home. What was the score? Won 2-1 Phew they will be the death of me. Nurse! More drugs please.

Fantastic result this morning that has kept a big smile on my face for the entire day. When Agbonlahor steered the ball inches wide late on, I had my heart in my mouth but then to see Bryan Hughes head in a late winner was so just after the Fulham game. Pardew as a mate informed me earlier has now been responsible for 25% of our points tally, in just 2 games. Just shows what a proper bit of inspirational bounce can do. It is hard to figure that these were the same players that strolled around under Reed's command.

It was another early start for me this morning and I was on my tod in the pub to watch both teams start sluggishly although despite sleep in my eyes I saw Darren Ambrose run around like his life depended on it and he was very unlucky with an ambitious curler that Kiraly just turned onto the crossbar.

Our defensive play is still peppered by errors and El Kak turns from hero to villian in a matter of seconds. Equally HH proved that he is slowing down in terms of pace and decision making when he gave away a penalty on 39 minutes. I thought either side of the half we lost our way a bit but one of El Kak's long cross-field balls was met by a revitalised Darren Bent who stooped low to head in. It was game on then as we gained confidence and took the fight to Villa magnificiently.

Barry was sent off for catching Rommedahl although I was baying for him to have a shot on goal yards before he went down. 10 men are often so hard to play against but we started to turn the screw as Traore headed against the bar, then with Hughes and my man of the match Holland driving us on as well as Thomas when he came on we finally got our just deserts.

A hugely encouraging and vitally important victory, which as Pards said sends a message out to the teams above us that we are NOT finished yet.

Finally a word about Alan Pardew. He spent the whole 90 minutes in the technical area encouraging all players within earshot and chasing any ball that went out for a throw on, none of this sitting next to Richard Murray in the West Stand with an ear piece on crap.

At half-time he had a face like thunder and when we equalised he went over to a disabled kid sitting behind the bench and gave him a kiss before jumping into the crowd after Hughes scored as all around him the coaching staff went bonkers.

Now, this is what we have been missing, this is what being Charlton is all about. Welcome Mr Pardew.

Opinions of those that were there:; The Times; BBC Sport; All Quiet; Addicks Diary; Frankie Valley; Villa Blog.
Super Al: "We sent the fans home screaming from the hills." 
Friday 29 December 2006
  Snowed over This is the reason we won't now be going to Colorado skiing this New Year's weekend. Nearly all flights have been cancelled in and out of Denver International Airport, including ours this afternoon after 2 feet of snow fell with another load expected to fall tomorrow.

Even if we could get on a plane to Denver the likelihood of us then getting the 100+ miles up to Breckenridge is exceedingly doubtful. Our friends we planned to meet are already there and have told us that the skiing is fantastic but have been warned to prepare to be snowed in with little chance of getting down the mountain passes with gusting winds whipping up blinding whiteouts.

So the choice of staying in the unseasonably mild Chicago or risk spending New Year's Eve at either an airport or in a motel in Denver has been taken. The airline changed their cancellation policy and gave us a credit on our flights, so hopefully we can make another trip later in the winter.

Oh well, I always have the 5.45am kick off to look forward to tomorrow! 
  The men in charge - part two Part two of the Charlton managers I have witnessed manage the famous red and white army.

November 1982 - July 1991 Lennie Lawrence
A complete unkonwn and former school teacher who used to drink in the Catford Cricket Club occasionally was thrust into the manager's chair, intially as caretaker. Lennie steadied the ship, got the best out of Simonsen to chants of 'Simmmmmo' from the Covered End although the Dane eventually left when it became clear we couldn't and never really could afford him.

Despite allsorts going on behind the scenes Lawrence kept us up by beating Bolton on the last day of the 82/83 season in front of 8,700 fans.

The next two season's were ones of stability on the pitch, whilst off the pitch all hell was breaking lose with writs and imposed transfer embargo's. I even owned part of Ronnie Moore's left arm! I was going to a lot of away games now and the small but passionate merry band that followed us were pretty oblivious to what was going on behind the scenes, that was until The Valley's gates were locked by the official receivers, but Lawrence held the team together well, even uniting Hales and Flanagan.

March 8th, 1984 is a day I and around 7,000 or so others will never forget. It was my first year of working and there was a newspaper seller outside our building on London Bridge. I left work at 5, bought a newspaper and in the stop press section down the side of the back page, words simply said "Charlton saved." I ran to meet another lifelong Addick and we hugged on platform 4 of London Bridge like long lost brothers.

Lennie was aready earning himself the name of Houdini and of course, a direct result of clubs' new ownership was our enforced move away from The Valley but by then Lennie was putting together quite a team. Robert Lee (as only Addicks call him) was now a regular and defenders Mark Reid, John Pender and John Humphrey, who for me is head and shoulders above Luke Young, were off a quality we had never seen before. George Shipley was an inspired signing as was John Pearson.

Despite the gut wrenching pain off leaving The Valley, the team made up of a lot of new players, continued their marvellous season ending with promotion at Carlisle with 2,000 of us there to see Lennie carried shoulder high. At the age of 19 I had witnessed one of the best days of my life.

There is no doubt that promotion in 1985/86 saved the club. Despite many fans refusing to travel to Selhurst, neutrals were attracted by 1st Division football and I know many Addicks who became fans at this time. Lawrence has a jolly good argument to be called our greatest ever manager when I look back at his achievements.

Charlton legend's Colin Walsh, Bob Bolder and Peter Shirtliff were all signed by Lawrence after promotion as was Paul Mortimer and Paul Williams. What we would give for one of those now. I also remember fondly (not at the time because my brother and I were in the Cold Blow Lane end) Jim Melrose scoring on his debut at The Den the promotion season.

The play-off replay against Leeds, the draw at Stamford Bridge were all minor miracles performed by Lawrence but the magic started to wear off and some of his purchases were less astute, once he had 'real money' to spend. Andy Jones and Kenny Achampong anyone? The high life had already ended before the fancy dress party at Old Trafford in May 1990 but life under Lennie the next season was to become a low point.

Moves were afoot behind the scenes to get this great club back to where it belonged but on the field, the better players understandably left and crowds dwindled as we struggled to make any impact on the 2nd Division and with finances a big issue better players were moved on. In fact I could only see us going one way as Lennie got stale and was clearly tempted to move on and one could hardly blame him after what he had given the club over 9 years. He did leave us with a couple of gifts though. During that first season down Lawrence signed little known centre half's Stuart Balmer and Simon Webster and also persuaded ex-Addick Alan Curbishley to come back as reserve team coach. An inspiring move as it turned out.

July 1991 - July 1995 Alan Curbishley & Steve Gritt
This annoucement caught us all by surprise and even though it smelt of a cheap option, it was something new and both had been players, albeit different types of ones, who one could see may make good managers.

Curbs and Gritty off course kicked off the new season at Upton Park and with the move back to The Valley still a real one fans rallied behind the novice managers. Some old pals were signed like Gary Nelson and Steve Gatting to add experience and I enjoyed that first season as there was a real sense of belonging amongst the players and boardroom never seen before.

Alan Pardew was signed on a free to replace Andy Peakey's rocket, who left to join Lennie Lawrence's Middlesbrough, who were to win promotion with us coming tantalising close to a play-off spot.

The next season started well and included an away win at landlords West Ham but any thoughts that Curbishley and Gritt had on promotion were to play second fiddle to getting ourselves back to The Valley and both Rob Lee and Anthony Barness were sacrificed for a combined fee of over a £1m to get the final funds in place for a emotional homecoming. The rest of the season passed off reasonably quietly after all the hullabaloo of December 5th, 1992. One point of interest amongst many in the Portsmouth match was that Steve Gritt picked himself over a certain Alan Pardew.

Stability, a familiar Charlton noun, was the keyword again in those first couple of season's back at The Valley. The joint managers bought in John Robinson to replace Lee, probably their best signing, and Phil Chapple, better known as Bambi on ice, as well as Mark Robson. 1993/94 was best known for the Cup quarter final at Old Trafford, when fans proved that there was a real desire to follow the club in numbers, although if you were at Bolton like me the day they put the tickets on sale, then you had to queue overnight on the Monday to get one of the 10,500 allocated tickets.

Season 1994/95 kicked off Target 10,000 and despite nothing really spectacular happening on the pitch markedly the opening day stuffing at Oldham, there was recognition of better things around the corner particularly the emergence of Richard Rufus, Lee Bowyer and Shaun Newton.

Another good thing to happen was Richard Murray taking over as Chairman and as he's gone on to prove, he's not frightened of making a tough decision. Hence, to my surprise Steve Gritt was fired as joint manager during the summer of 1995 leaving Curbishley solely in charge.

Part one is here. Part three to follow. 
  Chinese take away but Pressley deal off Probably the biggest football star in China will join up with the Charlton squad next week to spend the rest of the season on loan.

Zheng Zhi is 26 and plays primarily as a defensive midfielder. Judging by reports he has the passionate qualities we have been desperate for, he got banned for 6 games in September 2005 when he spat and attacked a referee in a match against Malaysia. Amdy Faye he is not. Although unjustifiably he got criticised for breaking Djibril Cissé leg in a world cup warm up match earlier this year but the challenge probably didn't even warrant a free-kick.

Lets hope ZZ is a valuable help in our attempt to stay up and not just another Karim Bagheri, who I remember was dubbed Iran's Zidane.

Meanwhile according to reports Steven Pressley will be announced to the media as a Celtic player later this afternoon. I guess Champions League football is slightly more attractive than the Championship, but it's a shame because he is just the sort of player that Addick fans' want to see in a red shirt.

And in never a quiet moment Arsenal's young striker Anthony Stokes, who has scored 13 goals for SPL's Falkirk whilst on loan could be another new player at Sparrows Lane next week. The fee is expected to be around £750,000 with the bulk of it to be made up in incentives. 
Thursday 28 December 2006
  He is the nicest bloke in the world.... Uncle Les lifts lid on Charlton sacking:

"When I was offered the opportunity to take over the reins at Charlton Athletic Football club there was only one decision I could make being very much a Charlton person and a devoted fan of the club."

"Unfortunately sections of the press delivered inaccuracies to an unknowing public and perceptions of me and the club were formed which were not wholly reflective of the truth."

"The angst of those fans is a product of the passion and emotion which is also manifested as joy and pride and cheering when the good times roll. Take this away and you are left with a pretty dull game. It would also be unfair on the many fans who believed we could survive and who understood that it would be a long term job and gave me unqualified support."

"My position had become untenable in circumstances not of my making and beyond my control. I have not run away from this challenge I have done what is right for Charlton."

"I am still that same coach and probably better for this recent experience, and I will continue to follow my ambition and make a success of my next opportunity wherever that may be. Right man, right club, wrong time! A part of me will forever remain at ‘Valley; Floyd
road.’ I sincerely hope that everybody will get behind Alan Pardew and pull together to ensure he has the best chance to pull it off. You can be sure I will."

More here from tomorrow's Daily Mail
  The men in charge - part one Alan Pardew may have been our 3rd manager in just a 6 weeks but he was only our 21st in our 101 year history. Pardew's old club West Ham have had the least managers in English football by the way, Curbishley being their 11th in 105 years.

My time as a fan has predominately seen Curbs and Lennie Lawrence in the hotseat but before that and of course since then the managerial office has had quite a revolving door. Here are my memories of Charlton managers in my lifetime:

1975 - March 1980 Andy Nelson (appointed May 1974)
My first ever season was Charlton's first back in the old 2nd Division after Nelson promoted us in his first campaign after taking over from Theo Foley. Nelson, who was a strict disciplinarian, had us playing some good football with Powell, Peacock, Hales and Flanagan regulars in games that often produced a lot of goals. One of my memories from those early days was that, a bit like now, we hardly ever won away but our home form was excellent and thus meaning that as an impressionable young boy I rarely saw us lose.

It was going quite smooth on the field but without any investment and actual interest in the club by Michael Gliksten, Nelson oversaw a rapid demise, which would eventually see him replaced by Mike Bailey in March 1980, after initially moving upstairs to an Andrew Mills type roll - it was confusing then if I remember correctly. The infamous punch up between Hales and Flanagan the season before was considered to be the catalyst to the team's downfall and Nelson calling the fans "village idiots" after being booed off after one display at home was one of his final nails in the coffin.

Nelson was a good operator in the transfer market though and sold and then bought back Hales for a huge profit as well as plucking players such as Steve Gritt, Martin Robinson, Dick Tydeman, Phil Walker and Nicky Johns out of relative obscurity and giving a young Les Berry his debut.

March 1980 - June 1981 Mike Bailey
Mike Bailey's only season was one of success with promotion at the first attempt and good runs in both cups. Ipswich ending our FA Cup adventure when thousands of Addicks, including me, saw us lose 2-0 at Portman Road to the best team in the country at that point. Bailey utilised pretty much the same squad as the previous season with the addition of Terry Naylor and a certain young striker called Paul Walsh who burst into the team as an 18-year old. Bailey fixed our away form and I like others was fond of Bailey and had high hopes for the next season after we all waived FADS banners at the final game of the season at home to Gillingham.

That hope was to disappear when Mike Bailey suddenly left the club for 1st Division Brighton.

June 1981 - June 1982 Alan Mullery
In a managerial swap with shades of what we have seen at The Valley these past couple of weeks, Brighton's previous manager Alan Mullery came in the opposite direction to us. He was kind of famous I suppose and I remember the fanfare at the time being very 'un-Charlton-like.'

Mullery acted to completely rebuild the look of the squad with Don McAllister, Steve Harrison and Leighton Phillips amongst others joining the club. Meanwhile sadly for me my favourite player Colin Powell was sold to Gillingham. Phil Warman also left.

The season started well and one of my all time favourite players Paul Elliott had forced his way into the side but this was the year when behind the scenes a certain Mark Hulyer appeared and strange things started to happen out of Mullery's control. As crowds dwindled Mullery pretty much gave up and he resigned with a parting shot at the fans.

June 1982 - November 1982 Ken Craggs
Ken Craggs was an avuncular figure in the mould of Les Reed and took over after being Mullery's long-time assistant.

Meanwhile Mark Hulyer was proving without the beauty of hindsight a bit of a big-shot. Craggs spent some comparative big money but was then forced to sell Paul Walsh after he played just 87 games. The season started badly but then one night lying in my bed watching News at Ten it was announced to the football world that little Charlton had signed the legendary Allan Simonsen for a record £300,000. The tiny Dane played just once for Craggs before he was sacked after a 5-1 home thrashing by Rotherham. Those really were the days and I remember it well, Ronnie Moore scored a hat-trick.

It should be mentioned that Craggs also signed Mark Aizlewood from Luton, who was to stay at The Valley a little longer than Simonsen. Craggs lasted 132 days more than Uncle Les and won 5 games.

Part two to follow. 
Wednesday 27 December 2006
  Fulham home. What was the score? Drew 2-2 I can't take it anymore, with that luck we are destined to go down and that lino needs shooting if we get relegated by 2 points, that was truly a dreadful error on his part and judging by his face at the end he knew it too. I just hope he can sleep tonight because I for one am in for another restless night.

Nonetheless it was a passionate performance with Pardew getting more out of them in 2 days than Reed did in 6 weeks. Players who hadn't giving a darn in recent games were suddenly up for it and the crowd were magnificent in their backing.

It was a tragedy that we didn't get the 3 points because 1 is not enough but when you are down terrible bad luck and dreadful refereeing becomes just another obstacle. We have a lot of catching up to do but with some heart, plenty of desire, Darren Bent back taking chances and a couple of new faces, Fulham showed that teams in the bottom half of the table are all beatable. There's some life left in us yet.

Steven Pressley was an onlooker and his kind of leadership and drive is much needed at the heart of defence. Sounds like he's having a medical and hopefully Pardew can make him our first January signing as soon as.

Finally we looked like a proper club tonight and I would think Pardew has learned a lot about his players. As the new manager said the tingle was back in the tummy. More drugs please nurse we have a long way to go.

Opinions of those that were there:; BBC Sport; Sky Sports; The Times.
Super Al: "I'm disgusted to be honest. Mistakes happen, I thought we were jittery because we haven't won for a while, but you expect the officials to be calm - but he's made a really bad call there. I asked why he gave it and he said it's for handball. We were two minutes away from ecstasy and now we feel deflated. I don't know where the officials got four minutes from either - I'll go and see the referee in a minute and have a friendly chat!" 
Tuesday 26 December 2006
  Christmas at starbucks Christmas passed in a blur of red wine and festive songs last night whilst at a friend's house. It was strange going out on a Christmas night, something that people don't do at home, but walking through Chicago's Old Town and seeing restaurants and bars busy and a Starbucks absolutely packed, Americans, well at least Chicagoans tend to treat Christmas evening like a Sunday and most go back into work today.

Otherwise it was a quiet Christmas peppered with plenty of drink, food and black and white movies. But watching Judge Judy at tea time is not quite the same as an old Only Fools and Horses. Oh how I miss Noel Edmonds, Top of the Pops, The Queen, Eastenders, Only Fools, Parkinson and The Two Ronnies or am I showing my age?

We went to midnight mass on Christmas Eve at the Fourth Church on Michigan Ave and very nice it was too. I'm not much of a believer, Charlton sap my praying capabilities, but we slipped in just before the start and sat upstairs in a packed church with 1,000 or so others.

I have the majority of the rest of the week off, tomorrow I will do some shopping followed by lunch watching our latest manager trying to turn cack into gold. On Friday we fly to Denver for some New Year skiing with friends in Breckenridge
  no writs served at the press conference I guess press conference's introducing new managers at The Valley have become a little old hat as there is little around the media giving us much information on the introduction of Alan Pardew to the press. One good thing was there were no writs issued this afternoon, not even from Mrs Reed, who has got her husband back after his 41 days acting out a story from Mr Benn.

The official site promises more later but this report in The Times pretty much covers the bases.

"My message to the players was whatever happens, we’re going to fight all the way to the end and make sure we draw in somebody else and put them under pressure."

This morning's papers were expecting a bit more meat on the bone but I expect Charlton just want to move on very quickly and get themselves off the back pages. The Independent said that Pardew will be given £5m to spend in January, and Darren Bent may well be sacrificed. Hayden Mullins is an obvious name that has been attached to a move across the river next week.

Pardew will also earn a £1m bonus if he keeps us up, a drop in the ocean to the expected £35m minimum of television money that will be given to each Premiership club at the beginning of next season.

Meanwhile according to The Mirror, Mr Benn's fate was decided after he threw a Christmas party and allowed 'the turkeys' Christmas Day off, the final straw for Richard Murray and cue another hastily arranged press conference. 
Sunday 24 December 2006
  the players let reed down and should be ashamed

Yes everyone is probably laughing at us but Richard Murray had to do what was right and that was replacing Les Reed. He should never have been any more than a caretaker and signing a 3-year contract last week was the cue for many level headed supporters to ask the question: 'What the hell is going on?'
I really feel for Les, he is a Charlton man and he is a good man and the majority of the players should feel ashamed of themselves as they bank this week's huge wages. They let Reed down, they let the club down and they have let the fans down. They've also let themselves down, but let them lick their pride at someone else's club. Charlton don't need them and I don't want to see them soiling our great shirt.

Les clearly had no respect in the dressing room, and I wonder how much the reported half-time tunnel punch up at The Riverside was the final nail in the coffin?

There is also some talk that the players were shocked by the reception they got during and after the Wycombe game, well under Reed I reckon if we'd lost next Wednesday they wouldn't have seen nothing on Tuesday and one can only imagine what another defeat against Villa would have entailed. I don't think Murray and Varney could have faced that, it would have been 16 years of fan-boardroom goodwill flushed down the toilet.

It will now be Pardew's job to decide which players are willing to sweat blood for the club and who aren't. I put more trust in him to evaluate that than I did in Reed. Likewise if we go down and it will still take a miracle for us to avoid that fate, then Pardew is a much better bet to bring us back up just as I'd rather him select players for our future, whether it's a Premiership or a Championship one, in the January transfer window.

The Argentinians aside, whom he clearly had no say in, Pardew has a record of buying hungry and ambitious young British players - Gabbidon, Collins, Mullins, Reo-Coker, Harewood, Ashton, Green, Mears, Etherington, Zamora, Konchesky and the signing of Sheringham who has had the same effect as our signing of Di Canio, except over a longer period.

Some cynics are already asking what will happen if we lose the next 6 games. I never had a problem with losing, if we are not good enough then we are not good enough. I can get my head around that but having no pride, belief or bollocks is something else and that is why Reed has gone. I expect Pardew to instill these qualities in the players because some of them have not always been bad players and yes West Ham have struggled this season too, but interestingly West Ham fans felt sorry for Pardew when he got fired, a bit like we did with Dowie. I also think they admired his inner strength and belief plus his unfaltering commitment to play good football.

We will have to wait until Monday for more meat to the bone but I question what will happen to Mark Robson, Mark Kinsella, Andrew Mills and John Harbin. Robson has to except some of the blame for this season, and like Reed may have been over promoted. What's the odds of Keith Peacock rejoining us? It was Pardew that took him to Upton Park and his role has probably been diluted since Curbs arrived with Mervyn Day.

So one manager in 15 years and now 3 in a few weeks. If Richard Murray is planning to write a book then put me down for an advance copy.
  pardew in, reed out Well I never - Santa has come a few hours early....

"Alan Pardew will be the third man to take the helm of the Addicks since the start of the 2006/07 season following the news, which was officially announced at 7pm on Christmas Eve." (more)

The club is making no further comment at this time, but will hold a press conference at its Sparrows Lane training ground at 1.30pm on Boxing Day. 
Saturday 23 December 2006
  jib jab nuckin' futs 2006 In an effort to lighten the mood on here, the Jib Jab brothers came to prominence before the Kerry / Bush 2004 Presidential election by ripping into the best America could come up with. This is their take on the big news in America in 2006 just in case you missed it. Click here: Nuckin' Futs
  a boro fan's view Just 150 Addicks at The Riverside today - they each deserve a bloody medal in my opinion.

I stole this from a Boro fan on Netaddicks:

"Whilst obviously relieved (but not carried away) with the 3 points today, I felt I had to e/mail regarding your fans today. Yes - there were less than 100 (later estimated at nearer 150) at the match - but don't forget you brought the highest number of away fans ever to The Riverside less than a year ago for the FA Cup Q-F replay - and that on a night match (which even allowing for free travel was an incredible turn-out).

Anyway, to those that were there today I'm only sorry that I couldn't shake everyone of them by the hand and give them credit for making the trip. I've followed Boro for 30+ years home and away and had some pretty depressing and long trips back from away matches over the years and can relate to how they must have felt tonight.

Most Boro fans without doubt see Charlton as their "favourite" London club. An honest, well run and friendly club who, like Boro, have punched well about their weight for some years now.

Sadly, from a Charlton perspective, from what I've witnessed today the bookies odds of 1/5 for relegation even seem generous. There didn't appear to be even a glimmer of hope. I wish the club and the fans well - and those there today should hold their heads high - looking at them they were in many cases 40+ years old - probably lifelong fans but one Dad and his very young son (with a Santa hat on) made me smile and sad at the same time.

If Boro go down I'll be at The Valley next season and look forward to the usual friendly welcome. Either way, keep the faith and the "Spirit of The Valley" going. Cheers - Boro"

It breaks my heart. 
  middlesbrough away. what was the score? lost 2-0 The internet commentary dying today was not the only thing dying up at The Riverside this afternoon. I was left with Talk Sport updates from the ground and it didn't sound pretty but then a midfield of Kish, Hughes, Faye and Holland in front of five defenders was never going to be. Early newspaper reports are scathing and although I fully understand the plan of stifling the home team, if the players are not motivated and can't help themselves from making mistakes then frankly we could have had 10 Richard Rufus' playing because it would not have made a blind bit of difference.

That is 4 points from 21 and a hapless end to the best chance of reaching a major cup semi-final for 50 years under Uncle Les. Even our so called relegation rivals are picking us of with ease - that was Middlesbrough's first win in 6 games. I honestly can't even see us scoring at present, particularly without Andy Reid playing.

On 5Live they were saying that there was a furious row in the tunnel at half-time amongst the players. I'm not buying that, that would require some heart and passion.

We are stuck with Reed, that is clear. If we lose the next two games do we then dare trust him with money we haven't got in the transfer market?

We are a laughing stock and we take the pantomine onto live television on Wednesday. Heaven help us.

You what Les? "We know that it's important we get some business done in January so I can have some flexibility in the squad. I'll be working very hard to get things on the boil so can get it done on January 1st, I don't want to wait until the end of the month to get something done."
Opinions of those that were there: Sporting Life;; BBC Sport; Guardian
  getting in the spirit I've bought my ski stuff. I had pretty much ignored North Face in my time in Chicago, even though they have a massive store at the bottom of the Hancock Center but it's excellent for all thing's skiing, boarding and climbing.

Then last night I became fully engulfed in the Christmas spirit, which hasn't always been the case. We went and listened to the Chicago Children's Choir sing carols in Millennium Park. It was a happy feeling listening to the kids sing all the old favourites and we're even considering popping into midnight mass now, that's if I can stay awake.

Later we saw Pursuit of Happyness, which I thought because of my relationship with my son would end with me balling but it didn't. I was disappointed in the obvious story line and the slow pace of the movie, even though it is based on a true story. Will Smith's son Jaden is a star though. 
Friday 22 December 2006
  fogged The weather is unbelievably mild in Chicago, in fact it has been more similiar to London particularly with the fog that hung over downtown yesterday and the rain that is falling today. I see both Heathrow and O'Hare have been badly affected by the weather, so I am doubly glad that I'm not heading home this Christmas. Meanwhile in Denver, which is where I will be spending New Year, they have had 20 inches of snow - great for skiing, not so good for airplanes in and out of the airport.

Last night I had my last Christmas work night out. It was with a client and actually it was quite a laugh but I was running the risk of getting bored of the season rapidly as I have been out almost every night in the past few weeks. Nevertheless a day off today and the weekend will fuel my excitement for all things Santa as I look forward to a quiet Christmas weekend in Chicago. I am then only in the office two days next week, I refuse to work on Boxing Day (it is not observed in the US) and then fly to Denver (hopefully) on Friday late afternoon.

I need to today go and buy some ski stuff as I don't own any, and later a trip to the cinema is planned. Tonight I will sleep like a baby dreaming of red shirts and goals only to be woken by the alarm and will then tune into the radio for a reality check. 
Thursday 21 December 2006
  is talk cheap? Richard Murray blames Dowie and slates Diawara, Peter Varney tells the players to look in the mirror and Uncle Les says that he would watch us as a fan - blimey Les, have you seen the old cack they've been turning out recently? Oh you have, sorry.

Murray's comments, which were as we've come to expect pretty heartfelt, did disturb me slightly because the appointment of Dowie and the sanctioning of Diawara's signing and others are obviously his responsibility. If people think that Dowie decided how much to spend on Faye, Traore, Diawara and others then they do not understand how the club works or in fact how corporate governance works in any company.

Reading in between the lines it does look like Murray has excepted our relegation. "I am not going to wave white flags but the way it is looking, Reading and Sheffield United are going to get out of it which means two established clubs will go down."

I am also extremely worried about where the money is going to come from in January. We have already overspent and have the largest wage bill ever (that leaves you with a nice fuzzy feeling doesn't it after Tuesday's disaster) and with debt previously at around £22m these are worrying signs. The board have publicly declared they are not going to sell Darren Bent. They might sell Diawara, who incidentially I think has potential, but Murray rubbishing him in the press, "apparently the best centre-half you've never heard of," is not going to help flog him is it?

Onto Varney, again he spoke as a fan, which he is, but unlike us he has ownership, if not financially in the going's on at the club. His words were more of a passionate battlecry than Murray's and I wonder if a public slagging of the collective players will do any good.

"A display like that wasn't acceptable. If you can't be up and passionate about that, what can you be? I would like to think that the players will look at themselves in the mirror after a performance like that against Wycombe."

He backed the management team and likened them to Lennie Lawrence and Alan Curbishley, which is a bit like comparing Colin Powell to Dennis Rommedahl. However he left us with this thought: "We haven't given up, we still believe we can keep this team in the Premiership, but we have got to change some personnel. More than anything, though, we have to keep our chins up and our chests out because we are not accepting that we are leaving this division at all."

And then it was left to Les to give us his thrupence. God this bloke is so nice, and how his life has changed in the last couple of weeks. I bet Mrs Les is well happy. It makes you really want him to succeed but I need a lot of convincing.

"Players don't have to go out there and play for me, I want them to play for Charlton Athletic Football Club and have enough professional pride in their performance to play for themselves. If they do that they'll turn it round."

But Les they look to you as a motivator and master tactician, we are talking about multi-millionaires here with ego's the size of Mars and brains the size of Maltesers!

Oh well for all the words, actions speak louder and the next 3 games are the most important three games since Ipswich (a), Ipswich (h) and Sunderland (at Wembley) and my were we up for those. 
Wednesday 20 December 2006
  call that an apology? At last a peep out of the club on Sky Sports:

"I think a lot of our players have to take a good look at themselves, we need to apologise to the fans."

"The board do not want to see these performances. Bad results are bad enough, but performances, particularly the last three which seemed to have lacked passion and heart, are not what you want to see."

"We have sat down with Les and his team, and we know they want to bring in new players. We are trying hard to do that sooner rather than later, and that is the time when you can judge Les and his team."

Is that it? Christ it is so dark in this void you are keeping us in that I'm even starting to think that Simon Jordan would treat us with less contempt.

My head's full of so many questions, it hurts. For instance, why are we putting so much influence on the transfer window? Are we going to sign 11 players? What good is a Chinese player to us, who can't even read an A-Z? Haven't we been told every season since God was a baby that it's extremely hard to make signings in the window? Can we trust the faceless Andrew Mills (General Manager - Football) with our purse strings? And have they forgotten that before we sign anyone we have 9 points to play for? 
  omar gawd How bad can this bloke be? By my calculation Uruguay is 3 hours behind the UK. When I first came to the US, I arrived in the morning and was in the office later that afternoon. No reserve match, no agent to wipe my arse, nothing.

Surely he can't be worse than the poop we have at the moment. I recall he once had a shot on target for Uruguay - Amdy Faye, eat your passionless heart out - and I believe even scored
Tuesday 19 December 2006
  wycombe home. what was the score? lost 1-0 I have witnessed some bad times being a Charlton fan - the seemingly dark days at the end of Andy Nelson's tenure under Michael Gliksten, then the ambitions of Mark Hulyer that held as much weight as a feather, being 5 minutes from bankruptcy with the very real thought of never being able to watch my club again, the move to Selhurst, relegation with the apparent impending doom that was to follow before fans in the boardroom and on the terraces took over and umpteen defeats to low ranking teams in the Cups BUT one thing is for sure, I have never been embarrassed to be a Charlton Athletic fan. Not until now.

I really was not surprised we lost tonight - particularly when I saw Faye's name on the team sheet instead of Holland and I thought Faye had a virus? Must be one of those 90 minute ones then. Sure he'll be right as rain by Saturday. Fucking not fit to wear the shirt.

Blindly Reg Varney affirmed Reed's position before the game and compared it to past Lennie Lawrence and Alan Curbishley appointments, which in my mind only shows the board's naivety particularly when they seem to be hoping that the January window will allow Reed to make changes. Every bloody transfer window we are always told how notoriously hard it is to sign players and move players on, and who exactly is going to want to buy our crock of shit and who is stupid enough to join a sinking ship?

I'm sure Les Reed is a decent man, a football man and a Charlton man, and it was interesting that most of the vitriol was directed at the players because most of them (and there are some exceptions, strangely one is not even on the payroll proper), don't give a flying toss.

But a manager's job is to get the very best out people, encourage and produce a team greater than it's parts and get them to play to orders and Reed is simply unable to do any of that. Something has got to give, is Varney's talk all bluster to pave off the baying media? Will Reed fall on his sword? Or are we just to join hands with the board and pretend everything's rosy and watch our club go down the toilet because come May, with Reed in charge we will truly be a basket case.

You what Les? Les or anyone else from the club didn't bother to face the media. Nice, we don't mind secrets, in fact we are getting quite used to them.
Opinions of those that were sadly there: All Quiet; Frankie Valley; Addicks Diary;; The Independent; Sky Sports; BBC Sport
  1), 2) or 3) which one are you? Been kinda' of busy to think too deeply about tonight's game. A whole nervousness seems to have settled over Addicks everywhere and fans seemed to have fallen into three categories:

1) resigned to relegation
2) hope that a miracle happens and we survive
3) or the end is nigh and we may as well kill ourselves.

Our plight has made the Wycombe game slightly less important than it really should be. It shouldn't be ignored that making the last 8 for the first time was a fine achievement by Dowie in his 15 games at the helm. Les Reed is correct in saying that a win tonight should have a positive effect on all Charlton parties, and my do we need some of that. A defeat would not be the end of the world but surely the fans camped in 2) above will have a very lonely existence.

I was wondering on the way to work this morning what sort of team Reed would put out. There's No Young for 6 weeks (just in time for him to sign for West Ham then!) and no Andy Reid.

The trouble with guessing a line up is that in the 6 games Reed has been in charge of selection he has played a midfield four (at Reading), a midfield five with Reid in the hole (against Sheffield Utd and Everton), a diamond shape at home to Blackburn and away miserably at Tottenham and then on Saturday four again but with Reid stuffed out wide.

Sam has played up front as has M Bent for a time, and Hasselbaink, only the back four has had any consistency to it, injuries aside.

So it is anyone's guess to how we will line up tonight although what we have to do is stop conceding goals and the one thing I would suggest is playing a midfielder with the sole responsibility of protecting the back four. I would, as I have mentioned before, play El Karkouri in that role and give Sankofa a place at right back, and I think it is crucial that we play two wide men in a 5-man midfield.

Oh, what do I know. Let's tune in later to find out. 
Monday 18 December 2006
  a place for donald trump to hang his hair It was almost 2 years ago when I looked out of the window of my old apartment and watched Donald Trump's hair flap in the wind as he oversaw the first breaking of the ground on a site that will become in 2009 the Trump International Hotel and Tower.

The first 14 floors already stand tall on the north side of the river and it is hard to imagine how enormous it will look when the scaffolding finally climbs to it's intended top floor, the 96th. The design of the building takes in to account it's neighbours with three separate height setbacks to match The Wrigley Building, the Marina City Towers and the Blackstone Group's 330 North Wabash St.

The building will break the world record for the tallest residence in the world (currently held by Chicago's John Hancock Center) and if you are interested they are available for between $470,000 and $1,8m + $150,000 for a parking space but you have missed out on the 14,000 sq ft top floor penthouse, old Trumpy has reserved that for himself.

Meanwhile the planned twisted Santiago Calatrava designed 'drill bit' building will now not be so twisted. Initially plans to build the tallest building in the world included a hotel and retail space but the new design will be completely apartments (all 3m sq ft of space) and where it originally twisted 360 degrees, it will only do a 270 as it makes its way to the top of its 2,000 foot height.

The site is planned to be at a current vacant lot on North Lakeshore Drive, just north of the Chicago River. If the Spire makes it to the finish line, however, it will firmly make Chicago the city of the iconic skyscraper. 
Sunday 17 December 2006
  new manager bounce - curbs 1, reed 0 Obviously Les Reed is blameless that West Ham won today but what Alan Curbishley and his new charges did was maximise the 'new manager bounce.' It happens everywhere - even Macclesfield Town have done it and brings a new found confidence and energy from players and supporters alike.

My company call it 'impactful', however all Reed has done since his appointment is sap every ounce of hope out of the fans and seemingly give the players no leadership or inspirational qualities at all.

With the media with their knives out, the fans and the club might see a defeat to Wycombe on Tuesday as irrelevent but be assured the press will not and will have another field day at our expense. With confidence at an all time low going into the Middlesbrough game on Saturday on the back off winning just 5 points from the previous 72 available away from home, you wonder if over his Turkey and stuffing if Richard Murray decides that he has to stop the good name of his and our beloved club from being dragged further into the depths of despair.

Because at the moment that is where we are, on a fast non-stopping train to, with Les Reed at the wheel. 
Saturday 16 December 2006
  liverpool home. what was the score? lost abjectly 3-0 I don't think I have seen a performance so inept and gutless for a long, long time. The majority of the players wearing the shirt today were a disgrace. Myhre is exonerated and at least Holland looked like he cared but christ. A particular mention for Amady Faye who joined the small elite 'Mike Small club' today. It wasn't that he was bad, he did not give a toss. He ducked out of every challenge and went blatently missing until his number came up on the subsitute's board. £2m for a 30-year old who has never scored a goal and hasn't got any balls.

I know it was Liverpool and I don't care that we lost, although that wasn't one of the best Liverpool sides I've ever seen, it was the manner in which we lost. The first 10 minutes was straight out of a Carry On, it was shambolic with our captain at the heart of it. Traore is having a 'mare isn't he? I almost feel sorry for him. Did you know Liverpool fans had a song for our Djimi? It went like this:

"Don't blame it on Hamann,
Don't blame it on Biscan,
Don't blame it on Finnan,
Blame it on Traore...."

I think I'm going to cry.

With other teams picking up points above us, even the most optimistic Addick has to face realisation. We don't look like scoring, not without Andy Reid anyhow, and we used to wonder who would score if Benty didn't. Answers on a postcard. My dear old Nan had more teeth than the rest of our midfield and the defence has gone to the dogs since Reed took over and what's with the bloody hamstrings? We are a joke.

The January window is a chance to make some changes and get Simon Walton back but as we know from previous seasons it's not easy to bring people in or offload them and seriously whose going to want to join us?

That leaves us with our Head Coach. Please let us hope that his sparkly new 3-year contract has a break clause in it as big as Lake Michigan because no Charlton fan who still has their own mind can honestly think that this is better than under Dowie. He is in my opinion the new Ken Craggs.

Tuesday's game in some ways is irrelevant, although a certain Iain Dowie got us through 3 games and did something no other Charlton manager had ever done. Reed and the players need to give it their best bloody shot. If we lose to Wycombe, should we be pleased or should we be questioning the board's sanity in appointing a 3 man 'coaching team' without an ounce of managerial experience at the top level? Oh, or do we just keep on trusting the board?

As for me, I can't even tell you how hungover I was this morning when the alarm went off at 5.45am but I tell you what, I did it because I bloody care. Amady Faye would have just turned over and gone back to sleep!

You what Les? "There were some great performances from the lads - some worked their socks off - so I was pleased with the work rate but we made too many basic errors."
Other witnesses of our slow & painful demise: All Quiet; Frankie Valley; New York Addick; BBC Sport; The Guardian
Friday 15 December 2006
  chinese water torture Tomorrow morning is another opportunity for some early morning Chinese water torture. Our game is being broadcast live again, and the thought of getting up at ridiculous o'clock is not clever at the moment as I recover from the 4th hangover of the week, with another anticipated tomorrow.

I can just imagine the conversation with Lisa the barmaid when I pitch up bedraggled at 6.30am tomorrow: "Hey luv, a cup of coffee or just some pins to stick in your eyes?" "Oh the regular pins please."

I have been surprised by the amount of Addicks this week who have turned their noses up at the thought of Alan Pardew in favour of Les Reed, sure he has only had 5 games but against weaker opposition and with a fitter squad, I don't think his record stands up against Dowie's previous 12, particularly defensively when perhaps for the first time this season we've looked very susceptible.

However Reid and Robson's signing of new contracts yesterday shows that Richard Murray has made his mind up, and frankly those in support of further change can go and whistle.

My view of employing Pardew is a longer-term one. I would be far happier with him leading us in the Championship and I think the board will come to realise that it's a missed opportunity.

Despite my own opinions, Les Reed will have my backing and I was heartened twice later this week, when firstly The Mirror reported that he'd had the audacity to stand up to Jerome Thomas and Marcus Bent and then this morning when media hacks dusted off Steven Gerrard's award winning autobiography and found the following insert:

"To this day I have no respect for Reed or (England coach) Derek Fazackerley. I felt they could have shown me more sympathy. They were always pushing me, telling me to buck up my ideas."

"They didn't seem to understand that not everyone can board a plane, settle in a strange hotel far from the family they love and find it easy." (more)

Ahhh, poor little diddums, £90,000 a week and he's missing his Mummy. Where were the 2000 European Championships? Belgium wasn't it? Tit.

Come you on Addicks, lets fcuking have it. 
Wednesday 13 December 2006
  curbs becomes hammers boss but lets worry about ourselves Not surprisingly Curbs was named Hammers manager this afternoon and whether he is the right man or not for the job can't concern us, only except when he brings them to The Valley in February. By this time we would have played 10 more games and our fate will be a lot clearer.

If the timing was right West Ham would always have been Curbishley's preferred destination, even though he turned them down once. I wonder how he will deal with the Argentinians and how he will spend the expected £20+ million in January, his recent record of spending big money was not great and if we sell Darren Bent to one of our relegation rivals, then that will send a message to me that Murray has seriously lost his marbles and our beloved football club too.

I also question how Curbs' will cope without someone like Richard Murray to confer with, Murray has clearly strugged with independence, however it will rub further salt into our chairman's ever opening wound if his friend kept West Ham up at the expense of us.

But we need to worry about ourselves and not what is going on across the river. I would prefer Pardew or even a short-term fix because staying in the Premiership is everything. I don't believe Murray will make a another change although who knows what is going on in his mind at the moment.

Meanwhile this from Les Reed today: "We have got some injured players back now, so the squad's getting slightly bigger. We've got some home games to play before Christmas, so those things are in our favour. By January, we'll be in a healthier position, but it's not going to be easy - it's going to be a long haul."

He is trying but is anyone listening? 
  685,000 brits living in america A recent study shows that 5.5m Brits born at home now live abroad, approximately 10% of the overall population. That is a phenomenal number that has doubled since 2001 and it is estimated that 2,000 people a week leave the British Isles to seek adventure in a foreign clime, the largest immigration from the country since 1066.

Most people head to Australia (1.3m) and Spain (990,000) with the USA the next most popular destination; although over 40 countries around the world have at least 10,000 ex-pats living there. A full list is here.

The number in the USA is made up mainly of either retiree’s with Florida being the most popular destination or folk like me who leave for work advancement. Nonetheless the one common bond is that Brits whether young, students, professional or retired leave Britain to chase the dream seeking opportunity, excitement and a better life to the one they had at home. I personally don’t buy into the old mantra that ‘Britain’s gone to the dogs,’ although rather contradictorily I worry about immigration in Britain. The rise in serious crime and the change of values is another factor but if I was looking to avoid these behavioural trends then I wouldn’t be living in the USA.

My reason for coming here was simple – to build a better life for myself, not that my life back at home was bad, its just that I have always strived for more and had an opportunity.

The report lists things that Brits abroad miss such as HP sauce, proper biscuits and chocolate, television and twiglets. For me though it is two great British institutions – football and a sense of humour. 
  political shenanigans It was a weekend of political intrigue in Chicago Addick’s household, well not really but I did meet the Mayor of Chicago on Saturday evening and swapped pleasantries at a party I got invited to her by his niece, who happens to be a friend of mine.

The mayor who yesterday confirmed that he will stand for re-election next year will be seeking his 6th term in office, which should see him pass his father’s record of 21 years as mayor of the second city. In the last election 3 years ago, Daley got 79% of the vote.

The name of Richard Daley sparks much debate in Chicago, whose city politics have never been known for their integrity but there is no doubting the mayor’s powerful influence and unrelenting desire to make Chicago one of the world’s outstanding cities. In his time in office Chicago has moved from a dangerous run-down city to a sparkling model for the rest of the country to follow.

His commitment to the environment, conservation, the arts, architecture, modernising the transport system and his stand on gun control plus his advocacy in supporting Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid will mean he’ll get my support, despite me paying some of the highest city taxes in the USA and of course we are now mates!

Then on Sunday night I saw the film Bobby, directed by Emilio Estevez. The film, which has a star-studded cast, tells a number of different stories about ordinary people connected with the Hotel Ambassador in LA, which later that day in June 1968 would witness the murder of the Robert F Kennedy, who carried the hopes of a young generation desperate for change. Bobby Kennedy was widely expected to be the next president of the United States but his killing changed history and no one will ever know how the country would have been different if JFK”s younger brother followed him into The White House. 
Monday 11 December 2006
  a potential saviour? Alan Pardew has been sacked by West Ham. Proven credentials, a good man-manager with leadership qualities and a Charlton background. It would be a waste if he was not given the opportunity to save our club from relegation and potential long-term disaster. Come on Mr Murray.

Meanwhile Curbs, not surprisingly has been installed as the immediate favourite to take over at Upton Park. 
Sunday 10 December 2006
  can horses vote? Er, Sports Personality of the Year? Has anyone ever heard her speak? 
Saturday 9 December 2006
  spurs away. what was the score? lost 5-1 Any hope was forlorn. That result has knocked me for six and it was painful watching the last 20 minutes. This despite an encouraging first 30 when I thought we had good control of the match.

Spurs probably had no more than five real chances but there is the rub. For all of our often surprising confidence in passing the ball around, it is only Andy Reid that has the ability to hurt opposition defences. With Darren Bent lacking confidence, and maybe struggling with an injury, it is no surprise that o.g. now ranks as our joint 2nd highest goalscorer.

Crazily in the last couple of minutes we had four good chances, each squandered but none more so than Faye's, whose howler just about summed us up.

Much will be made of the substitution and I'm sure detractors will lay the blame at Rommedahl's feet. I don't, I blame the manager, or head coach, because he's not a manager. Kish was the wrong person to bring off as it changed our shape, and he was our most dynamic midfielder.

The TV commentator said that it was a straight swap but you couldn't get two different players at the club. Yes, we had to go for a goal, but I would've worked around Kish, and replaced Sam with Rommedahl, in an attempt to use his pace upfront alongside Bent.

A Charlton defeat can often bring long and miserable Saturdays for me, particularly when I have witnessed it live but I fill empty now and as my fellow expatriated Addick said, it's like watching a much loved relative whither away in front of you.

You what Les? "We've had a very good, strong, heart-to-heart in the dressing room - a real constructive conversation - and we know exactly where we have to go from here."
Other witnesses of our demise: BBC Sport; Guardian; All Quiet; Sky Sports; New York Addick
Friday 8 December 2006
  delusional’s Well it's the 'delusional's' tomorrow at The Lane, just one game away from being a top 4 club! I actually haven't got anything against the Spuds, I have some very good pals that have been delusioned for donkeys years.

But its not only in parts of North London, some Addicks have been criticised this week as being slightly delusional after the last minute victory over Blackburn on Tuesday. I know that everything is not right and the jury in this part of Chicago is still out on Les Reed.

We are still in a scrap, but for the first time in somewhile we looked like we were up for it. The 11, 12 or so that wore the famous shirt on Tuesday, wore it with as much pride as those that watched and that is all we ask.

The next two games are tough, any season, but there is renewed hope amongst the ranks and in over 31 years as a fan, that was often what we lived and thrived on.

Tomorrow's game has been chosen again by Fox Soccer Channel to be shown live in North America. The game kicks off here at 9am and look forward to waking the neighbours. 
Thursday 7 December 2006
  tornado hits london

How mad is this? Actually the UK experiences about 50 tornados every year, the most in Europe but rarely do they happen in big cities. Parts of the American midwest are known as 'Tornado Alley' and often I sit home at night watching television when a tornado warning will boom across the screen mid-programme telling people to get into their shelters
Wednesday 6 December 2006
  welcome back kins After last night, further evidence that Les Reed is instigating the rebirth of the 'old Charlton,' when late this afternoon Mark Kinsella was announced as our new Development Coach, replacing Mark Robson.

Kinsella was player coach at Walsall, who are having a fantastic season. "They know how I feel about Charlton, which is my club. It's difficult to leave, but I'm very excited about coming back to Charlton." (more)

Kinsella is Charlton through and through and was an absolute inspiration during his 6 years at The Valley, which is just what we need and I'm sure he will he get a hero's welcome at the next home game.

A mate was commenting to me today that The Valley is becoming the new Liverpool boot room. Maybe that is Richard Murray's plan. It's a nice thought. 
  who is trevor hemmings? Magazine Four-Four-Two listed today their annual football rich list. David Beckham (£87m) is by far the richest player and Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich (£10.8bn) the richest investor, so no surprise there. But nestled in the investor list at 5th is one Trevor Hemmings with interests in both Charlton and Preston North End. See full list here.

So who is Trevor Hemmings and why is his ownership in Charlton not widely known?

The 70-year old Woolwich born Hemmings has spent almost his whole life in the north-west and has made his fortune from the property and leisure industry. He owns, amongst others concerns Littlewoods Pools, Pontins and the Blackpool Tower as well as many of the countries piers, including Eastbourne. He is also the largest single shareholder in Scottish and Newcastle breweries.

Nevertheless despite Hemmings being voted Lancastrian of the year, the largest single shareholder in Preston normally gets short shrift from their fans who complain he uses his 30% ownership more for his own business reasons than in helping the club. In fact he is three times wealthier than Preston's local rivals owner Dave Whelan at Wigan. Something else that frustrates Preston supporters.

Hemmings is probably better known in the media for his love and ownership of horses including last year's Grand National winner Hedgehunter. He is currently listed as owning 46 horses.

So what about Charlton? I can only assume form his birthplace that he has an old affection for the Addicks, perhaps through his father. He is not listed as having any substantial interest in CAFC, which means he must own less than 3% of the club but maybe since the recent de-listing, he has bought in heavily? However before we get too excited Preston fans will tell you that piers and horses are where he splashes most of his cash.

To validate this Hemmings recently pulled out of financing his local non-league club Chorley FC
  blackburn rovers at home. what was the score? won 1-0 Last Sunday our building had a 'loft walk' where other people in our 107-year old building show off their homes, afterwards we attended a party at one of the most impressive lofts and I dropped a whole glass of red wine on the floor. How to make an impression with your neighbours!

Yesterday afternoon around 4pm I was at it again, this time running around my apartment sreaming and shouting at the top of my voice after El Khak scored that free kick in the 92nd minute to give Addicks everywhere hope.

It was a well deserved victory and I was thinking as Henchoz blatently blocked Marcus Bent that they had done everything we could have asked from start to finish. It was a confident and positive performance underpinned by wonderful midfield displays from Hughes, Kish and Reid.

Reid's perserverance to drive the team forward by playing football along the ground was an inspiration and with Darren Bent assisted by the exuberance of Lloyd Sam, our forward play was much better. In saying that though I still think Bent (D) looks slighty of the pace (for him).

The back five or six if you include the hamstrung Troare were excellent throwing themselves around as if their lives depended on it - blimey, they are finally getting this playing for Charlton thing.

And that was the difference, it was a true Charlton performance, and responded to by wonderful backing from the fans. I'm told that it was like we had won the world cup coming out of The Valley last night. Off the bottom and onto the next game with the pride back.

You what Les? "I feel very good. Having won the game in such spectacular fashion right at the end we're delirious - everyone was on the feet on the bench. I feel very good."
Opinions from those that were there: Telegraph; The Times; All Quiet; Addicks Diary;; Frankie Valley; Sky Sports; Roversnet
Tuesday 5 December 2006
  hope There is always hope....

Come on! 
  what a mess Pessimist, doom merchant, despondent, suicidal, resigned, fed up.... which one are you? I'm a bit of all 6 really but at the end of the day what I am is a Charlton fan, and a Charlton fan I will always be whatever league we play in. Christ, I even used to drive over to a little run down Sainsbury's warehouse in Norwood not so long ago with a few others to watch a game. In fact, it was occasionally fun.

As my brother said to me the other day when he was considering buying tickets for away games at Spurs, Middlesbrough and Arsenal, after I questioned his sanity: "I love that club and they f*****g need me more than ever."

So the rest of you can trot off back to where you came from.

However we are not stupid, well only partially for allowing ourselves to get into this one way love affair in the first place.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Richard Murray and the majority of the current board have performed absolute darn miracles for this little club of ours, and as I contemplated killing myself after Saturday's game a tosser alleging to be a Charlton fan rang BBC Radio London and requested that Murray should stand down and sell the club to Terence Brown. It was enough for me to put the kitchen knife away.

But seriously what the hell have you done Mr Murray because the whole thing is a bloody mess? We are in a hole almost as big as Simon Jordan's gob and are rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the Premiership if not the rest of English football.

I understand that Iain Dowie was on Sky Sports tonight and handled himself well, talking passionately and diligently. Can we not just re-employ him? Come on Richard, people are laughing at us anyway.

Now this brings me to Les Reed. Nice bloke, top coach and all that but despite having a coaching reputation bigger than Gareth Southgate's nose, there must be reasons why he has never been a) offered a position before or b) wanted it. And I think we're all soon to find out.

After the Everton game, I was flabbergasted that he stuck with the 4-4-2, and then the timing of his substitutions was just awful. Bringing Lloyd Sam on for Faye in injury time. Er, what was the point?

Unless Murray does a complete about-turn, then we are toast. I would seriously consider bringing in a Joe Royle, Gary Megson or a Peter Reid until the end of the season to work alongside Reed and pay them whatever they want if they keep us up.

Tomorrow's game is live on television here and like a turnip I have already planned my excuses to get home and watch it, although not before I hide the kitchen knives tonight. Of course a couple of wins would see us up to where Sheffield United are, and if my Auntie was my Uncle and if only Kevin Lisbie was fit, then.....

I have just one wish for tomorrow and that is we jettison any player who is not prepared to sweat blood for the cause. Kish has to play in my mind, drop Faye. Play El Khak in midfield protecting a back four of Diawara, HH, Young and Traore. Drop Ambrose before he gets his shorts dirty and Rommedahl because this is war now and the Dane shouldn't be allowed back until there is a ceasefire. Hughes or Holland in midfield with Reid in front of them. I would play both Bents too, with Sam and Gislason on the bench.

Oh, and has Pouso acclimatised yet or is he still laughing his poxy head off at our expense? 
Monday 4 December 2006
  rainy days and mondays The Cup draw yesterday reminded me of happier times, there were two actually. Can you believe that?

We of course will be seen as classic giant-killing fodder by the media, and not wrongly. Salisbury City will be something different and quite an attraction for southern based Addicks although Forest were only allocated 560 tickets so don't all rush at once.

Nottm Forest is a place I have been to a couple of times. Once back in the 1988/89 season we played them in our last game of the season and unheard off during our tenure in the 'old 1st Division' we were already safe. It was a nice Spring day when we left South London but by the time we got into the ground it was bucketing rain but the excellent turn out of Addicks, some in fancy dress, didn't care as we got soundly whalloped 4-0 but lived to see another top-flight season.

I went back to the City Ground 10 years later, and the open away terrace had since become part of a wrap-around stadium, and although pleasing on the eye, like other grounds it lost it's atmosphere, similiarly Forest had lost their way on the pitch too. In 1988/89 Clough's charges roundly hammered us and finished 3rd that the season to qualify for Europe but 9 years on, although we were both struggling in the Premiership, they were sliding downhill badly whereas we were on the way to better things.

That game, played in October '98, was won by us after an early Eddie Youds goal proved to be the winner - now that's the type of player we could do with now.... 
Saturday 2 December 2006
  sheffield united away. what was the score? lost 2-1 Well I think that's our lot. We have that look don't we? Own goals and last minute defeats all conspire to have us looking like relegation probables. I know, I know there are 23 games left but whilst other teams in the bottom half of the table seem capable of picking up points and importantly wins, we simply are not. 14 months without an away game is a huge monkey on our back and home games are going to be fraught with nerves, and character is needed and unfortunately I don't see any leadership in the dressing room and that I regret to say includes Les Reed.

In my 31 years of watching football, I have seen many a team that has that 'relegation look,' including us previously and lets face it, it's written in permanent marker all over our faces.

Gillespie's goal was a hammer blow and might cause lasting damage. We led for a long while but we were always up against it. We battled but showed little quality when it mattered and the Blades sounded like deserved winners. I'm a very sad Addick today and while there's always hope, its diminishing with every week.

You what Les? "While this is now a step backwards, we are not back to where we were."
Opinions from those that were there: Telegraph; BBC Sport; ESPN;; Addicks Diary
About Me
After living in Chicago for four and a half years, I moved to the beautiful if bewildering island of Bermuda in July 2008. This blog is about being an exiled and depressed Charlton Athletic fan and whatever else the day brings.
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