Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
Monday 31 March 2008
  Wolves at home. What was the score? Lost 2-3 Where did it all go wrong eh? Pre-season promotion favourites, the most expensively assembled squad in tier 2, the best footballing side in the division, the most technically gifted, a manager who knew the division, whose teams only get stronger in the 2nd half of the season and what did we get?

15 wins in 41 games, early cup exits and most telling, just four wins from the last 20 games or 7 points out of the last 30, less than Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley and the same relegation record of Scunthorpe and Southampton. Bloody hell I'm looking down the division as opposed to up for the first time since May last year!

I do actually believe in the 'it's not over until it's over' philosphy but they are giving us nothing to believe in and do we really think that the five teams above us will have a run in four points worse than us, some with a game in hand? Ok, it's over isn't it?

So where did it all go so wrong? My long distance telescope keeps bringing up a vision of a rotund Irish bloke. Some said his departure was good for the team, this blog said that was bollocks, and his fitness and performances for Sunderland and our recripical collapse in form and confidence has kicked us in the bloody teeth. There was no doubt Reidy was a magnificent influence around the dressing room and not only did we sell our best player we lost our most influential person in the dressing room.

Toddy got injured, that has been a huge loss. I think Pardew planned to use him sparingly early season and apparently the Bulgarian is someone that needs to be managed with kid gloves, and undoubtably we lost a potential 20 goals player. Varney got injured pre-season, Gray replaced Todorov and has not settled, beset with family issues, he has now not scored for four months. The influx of loan players and the signing of Gray during the business end of the season did not give us the boost new faces should have done, it did the complete reverse.

The constant tinkering with players and formations, some unfathomable to the uninitiated, and the 'one mistake and you are dropped mentality' has knocked continuity and Pardew's public blaming culture has irrefutably damaged morale, despite his self-promotion of man-management and the obnoxious inconsistency of one minute promoting the importance of the fans and the next taking swipes at them.

From my 4,000 mile viewpoint I wonder how we would have done if we stuck with some of the young and raw players that Pardew introduced but then discarded? I am against sacking Pardew but the bloke, like anyone of us normal folk who does not perform, needs a serious re-appraisal from his bosses because he has failed his performance target miserably. I mean he's not even close. After all, the quality in this division is shit-awful. Stoke, Bristol City and Hull will make Derby County look like Brazil. The champions could go up with less than 80 figgin' points. The last top two team with a points total that low was Barnsley, and at least they actually played like Brazil!

I'll give Pardew another chance, others won't. I actually didn't watch yesterday's game because I had something more important to do. I text my season-ticket mate before the game asking for my regular match updates. He text me back telling me he was in Nottingham and he had given his season ticket away after the West Brom game and won't go again this season. From what I heard he isn't the only one.

Pardew took us down last season, didn't he? No, not entirely to blame, maybe not to blame at all but it appears on his record, he was a little culpable but this season it's his team, charged with a rebuilding job that he had been contemplating since January 2007, he was well supported financially by the board and emotionally by us. You know what? I can forego emotions and money and heartache but being duped and let down? It hurts. Sooooper, Sooooper Al.... what suckers eh?

Who was at The Valley: Blackheath Addicted; Kings Hill Addick; Drinking During the Game; Addicks Championship Diary; Charlton Athletic Online.
Reports: Kent Online;; Express and Star; Daily Mail.
What did Pardew think of it: "I'm not that arrogant as a person to think I haven't learned a lot this year in terms of this division. Some of it has surprised me."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Leroy Lita. But did that goal mean more to him than it did for the team? 
Thursday 27 March 2008
  Trump Tower update
The silver coloured 92-storey Trump Tower continues to climb high into the Chicago sky. The final but tallest 'set-back' which starts opposite the top of the old IBM building office (now to be part hotel) is currently under construction. The glass monster can now be seen from many vantage points downtown with it's unique asymmetrical shape giving the building a different appearance from each angle.

As you get closer to the building, opposite to where I used to live on the 46th floor, it still very much looks like a building site, however peer through the protective scaffolding and plastic screens on Wabash Avenue into the huge high-ceilinged foyer and you will see white-gloved, grey-suited men greeting guests.

This is because some of the hotel is open, including a restaurant on the 16th floor, called er, 16. We plan to go with some friends soon and I look forward to giving you my thoughts particularly as I have watched what will be tallest ever residential building in the world grow from nothing 3 years ago.

Whilst the top part will be for residents the lower portion will be a hotel and rooms are already available for $445 a night. A bottle of water from the mini-bar encrusted in Swarovski crystal is $25 apparently!

Trump Tower updates: August 2005; November 2005; July 2006; December 2006; May 2007; November 2007.
Wednesday 26 March 2008
  Beating ourselves up Often I wished that I had starting blogging about Charlton earlier. It will be almost 4 years coming up, but think of all the laudable or disastrous events I could have blogged on during the last 30-odd years.

Blogging on Charlton at the moment is proving a bit difficult. I like to write based on personal experiences and opinion. A trip to Bumblefuck, Indiana or a fine 2003 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes is one thing but watching my beloved Addicks in the dark only guided by touching and feeling fellow supporters' mood is something a lot more trickier.

I have actually seen two of our last four performances, which frankly hasn't helped my own mood. My current mind-set wavers from despondent to indifferent and this is because most Addicks I speak to or read appear to have given up and as they're the ones suffering every week, I have to go with it, which is a bit aggravating. But you makes your bed.

However we are after all only two points off the play-off's but I get the impression that while Plymouth, Palarse, Ipswich, Wolves and Burnley fans are all a bit gung-ho, we have our chin on the ground and are beating ourselves up for not running away with the league title.

Truth is, is that we have cocked it up. I would rather us revert to the kind of team we had in the earlier part of the season - a team with youthful exuberance, pace and with players that can make a pass. Pards seems to have morphed us into a very bad Stoke side convincing himself but not me, that we need to fight our way out of this division.

To be honest he could play anyone of his 40-man squad now and it doesn't matter. 6 games left to rescue what has already been a long season and we either get lucky or we hopefully learn some tough lessons, get rid of the losers and build a team around youthful exuberance, pace and with players that can make a pass.

There is plenty of that hanging around the training ground, or in some cases, other team's training grounds but in players such as Moo2kil, Racon, Varney, Sam, Basey, Youga, Arter, Yussuff, Bougherra, Dickson, Wright and next season's captain McCarthy, there is plenty to be hopeful about. Hope. That word again. See how hard it is to be original blogging about Charlton? 
Tuesday 25 March 2008
  Film 3 I've seen a few movies in the last week, each different. Last night we went to the Music Box Theatre in Lakeview to see The Counterfeiters, a German language film about a career master counterfeiter who was thrown into a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. Salomon Sorowitsch and fellow 'skilled' jews are partitioned from the horrors outside of their isolation so they can help the Nazi's salvage victory by flooding the wartime economy with counterfeit money.

It is not a typical concentration camp story but the film relays a true story of 'Operation Bernhard,' the largest forgery operation of all time. It was very good and won best foreign-language film at this years Oscars.

The Music Box Theatre mind you was like a throw back to the ABC in Catford in the mid-70's. Built in 1929, the theatre is known for championing independent and foreign-language films. It is said to be haunted by a ghost often sat in aisle 4. I wondered who was stealing my popcorn.

On Saturday we watched Once, another Oscar winner for the song Fallen Slowly. An Irish low budget film about a Dublin street busker and an Czech immigrant who instantly bond due to their love of music but their love for each other doesn't come as easy. The Frames' Glen Hansard stars as the busker come hoover repair man. Director John Carney used to play bass in the band too.

Then last week we saw Snow Angels starring the beautiful Kate Beckinsale. Set in a snowbound Pennsylvania town it is sorry tale of a broken marriage littered with anger, violence and reprehension. I personally didn't like it as I found it morose but it is a complicated thriller with a lot of tragic stories playing out, only cheered by excellent performances from teenage sweethearts Arthur and Lila played by Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby, who was also in Juno
Sunday 23 March 2008
  Racon - a Seagull's view I had a Brighton mate at the Withdean on Saturday scouting on Therry Racon for me. These are his thoughts:

"Looked good on the ball and forced a good save in the first half. Faded at bit in the last 20 minutes but guess he hasn't played much football for a while. He was voted the sponsors man of the match. He should play in our big game at Forest Monday." The Brighton Argus went on to say that he "impressed on his debut, sound in his defensive duties and accomplished in possession."

The Forest game tomorrow is followed by a trip to Elland Road for Brighton, one that Racon is licking his lips for, "Before I signed I looked at the fixture list and saw the games. Everybody knows Leeds in France because it was a big club not so long ago. When I saw I could play against a team like that I was very excited." (more)

Good for him, and I am sure he will come back a better player. A central midfield pairing of Racon and Semedo next season is alright by me. 
Saturday 22 March 2008
  West Brom at home. What was the score? drew 1-1 And that's the most galling thing isn't? Look at the results today. Only Hull and Ipswich won at the top of the table. I mean bloody Hull are the form team by miles, in fact they are about the only team in form in the top 10. Bloody Hull. I ask you....

Frankly anyone down to Preston could still make the play-off's, although they are probably looking over their shoulders. As for us, Pards has admitted at least that his tinkering and adding to the squad has jeopardised our chances of a play-off place. I'm still finding it hard to accept, although plenty of others have, that we won't be there at the denouement. It is still in our own hands.

Yet yesterday watching the game in the pub, the Setanta commentary trying to compete with the barman's favourite mix tape and the chatter from the lunchtime crowd, promotion seemed a bit of a passing fad even though we didn't play too badly.

I mean the effort was there, blimey even Thomas looked up for it, but what happened to the quality, the passing game, attacking with pace up the pitch and how about a decent forward pass into space or an enticing cross? Oh yeh, that was West Brom. They were better than us weren't they? A lot better.

Do you know that we have picked up 26 points from 23 games, that's half a season and relegation form. What has exactly happened? It can't all be to do with the recent loan signings can it? Without Reid there is no creativity, our movement is pedestrian without Varney, McLeod, Dickson or Sam. And without Youga or Moo2Kil we lack that youthful exuberance up and down the wings.

I like Semedo but alongside Holland we just have two tidy up, short passing players. Thatcher has an allergy to crossing the half-way line and Halford, although a lot better yesterday, has a right foot defaulted to just hoofing the thing forward.

However for large parts of the game I thought we held our own against a far better footballing side. Paddy and Sodje were excellent at the back but beyond that we had no cutting edge. Lita and Gray spent the whole game with their backs to the goal and then Lita was taken off for Iwelumo and cue long hoofs. In the last 10 minutes the possession was something like 30/70. Can't we get that Kevin Phillips bloke in on emergency loan?

Who was at The Valley: Charlton Athletic Online; Kings Hill; Drinking During the Game; Blackheath Addicted; Addicks Championship Diary; A Red Divided.
Reports: Sky Sports; Times Online; Independent;;
What did Pardew think of it: We need to win four or five of our last six games to give ourselves a chance, we're more than capable of doing that but I'll admit we're fighting for our lives to stay in contention of the play-off places."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Paddy McCarthy. The first building block to form a team around for next season's promotion campaign. 
  Eastbourne Borough I don't have a second team as I can't afford the emotional burden or the extra grey hair, however I do take a little interest in Eastbourne Borough.

'The Sports' are having an exceptional season and currently sit top of the Conference South table, four points ahead of local rivals Lewes with 8 games left.

Lewes is just 17 miles from Eastbourne and have led the table almost the entire season but have recently suffered a collapse in form not winning for 5 matches. Eastbourne meanwhile are on a roll scoring 12 goals in their last three picking up at maximum 9 points.

Borough take on two of my old local sides this Easter weekend. They host Bromley later and then travel to Park View Road to play Welling United on Monday.

With a population of 100,000 Eastbourne is a big town and it would be great to see them playing at a higher level, although the town does cater for three teams - Town, United as well as Borough. Their crowds average about 1,000, which is the second highest in the division behind Newport County, although somehow over 3,000 crammed into Priory Lane on New Years Day to see them get beat by Lewes.

I made a promise that I would try to see them again this season but it hasn't happened, however I will keep a closer eye on them between now and the season's end and perhaps I will get to a play-off game after all! 
Friday 21 March 2008
  Pint and a fresh start? Will toddle off down to the pub shortly in the snow. It nicely coincides with lunch - I don't like drinking before lunchtime as it makes my toast soggy.

The Baggies should if nothing else allow us the freedom to play football and at the very least I'd hope we get the ball down and play to some of the potential we saw earlier in the season and more recently at home to Palarse. The fire in the belly I watched at Watford combined with the gumption and drive I witnessed at Southampton would all help us to start believing again. The players heart and celebrations after Iwelumo's winner that game would also go a bloody long way to putting a smile on all of our faces too.

As I sit in the pub later, I just hope the crowd gets behind them. I know plenty of fans who have lost interest but there have been darker days and we can each do our bit. It's never too late to start again.

Come on you reds! 
Thursday 20 March 2008
  Complete madness Had a lot of weight on my shoulders this week, it must have made it's way up from my belly during one of those sleepless nights. A lot of what they probably call in the sewage trade as 'shit going on.'

I am hoping to get tomorrow off from work. Easter is not generally observed in this religious obssessed but equally work obssessed country and my employees, generous as they are *cough, splutter* insist on us skipping into the office. However I have never worked a Boxing Day or a Good Friday and don't intend to now. There are of course other reason's while I would like to be somewhere else tomorrow, yep you guessed it the college March Madness tournament starts today, but hey-ho on the way to meet some friends in the afternoon to catch the Butler game (go Bulldogs) I might make a stop into my local Irish boozer to see what is going on in the fizzies.

The frenzy and media coverage to which the next few weeks of college basketball brings to the country can only be understood by sports fans that live here. My first year here I needed some convincing to watch young lads run around a court, missing shots and clearly not as good as their older peers in the professional game.

However fans have realised that they long lost the professional game to sponsors, the prawn sandwich brigade, quiet stadiums and players, who earn more in an hour than the large majority of hard working Americans in a year, tinker with performance enhancing drugs and with some exceptions of course, act like they are above the law.

College kids just want to play and do their best for the crazed fans and their colleges and if they're super lucky get to earn millions in the professional game or more than likely get older with teasured memories to tell their grandchildren.

Today is the first day of spring, which of course means it's going to snow tonight in Chicago. About 7 inches is set to fall starting at 9pm, another reason to get a lay in and have some Cadbury's mini-eggs for breakfast before heading to the boozer if you ask me. 
Wednesday 19 March 2008
  Steve Jones to sell medal Steve Jones is sadly selling his Wembley Play-off medal on ebay. It has been suggested on Charlton Life that fans should chip in and either give it back to him or let the club display it at The Valley. I would certainly be up for that.

I had a lot of time for Jones when he played for us because the bloke never gave up. He played 50 odd games for us but eventually ended up at the financial disaster which was Hornchurch FC, before running his own shop, which I believe went under.

Jones played a huge part in the final after coming on as sub and who can forget that cross for Super Clive's sublime 3rd goal? 
  My Chicago - #15 South Loop A whole new world has opened up south of Chicago's financial Loop distict. This was an area once reserved for the stupid or the brave and even in my time in the city the development and augmentation of the streets south of Congress Parkway has been amazing.

The renovation of Chicago Bears' Soldier Field in 2004 broadened the appeal to both locals and visitors and developers soon caught on building new and modernising old apartment buildings.

Back in the day the South Loop was one of Chicago's first ever residential areas. Initially it was families displaced by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, but later the railways came and they marked the southern edge of the buisness district.

More rail tracks track radiate in more directions from Chicago than from any other city in America and originally the South Loop grew around railroad tracks and stations serving freight depots and passenger stations. Still today Chicago is the most important interchange point for freight traffic between the nation's major railroads and it is the hub of Amtrak, the intercity rail passenger system.

Dearborn Station was one of the original train stations designed by Cyrus L.W.Eidlitz and opened in May 1885. The station was closed on 1971 after 86 years as the first step of Amtrak's consolidation of Chicago's intercity train operations and was left rotting until the mid 1980's when it was converted to offices and apartments. It has since had another spruce up and is now a signature beacon to the neighbourhood.

Back in the late 1880's Chicago's South Loop was also home to the nation's printing industry. High loft buildings filled the narrow blocks near Dearborn Station feeding off the important transport links, but the industry soon died after the demise of the station. However pioneering architects and developers recognized the potential of loft buildings in the area still called Printers Row.

Printers Row is now a small but busy locale that extends north from the old Dearborn Station and is home to many beautiful loft buildings and numerous bars and restaurants spanning all the way up to the Blake Hotel on Congress Parkway and one of my favourite restaurants Custom House.

Printer's Row retains its connection to its print and literary history with an Annual Book Fair, held each June. Started in 1984, the fair draws booksellers and readers from all over the city and surrounding suburbs and hundreds of stalls span both Dearborn and Harrison Streets.

Another facet of life in the South Loop in the late 1880's was the goings on at The Levee, the city's most infamous vice district. Brothels and gambling parlours hung around for quite some years until the customers, like the area, dried up.

The high-rises are the most visible newcomers to the South Loop, towering over the cityscape with their domed tops and their glassy sheens. I read recently that six of the ten biggest-selling condominuim buildings in the city in 2006 were in the South Loop, although as elsewhere sales have considerably slowed in the last 6 months. Not suprising as there has been so much construction activity in this area.

One of the coolest buildings (right) is at 610 S. Michigan Ave occupied by the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Sure, the inside will not appeal to the masses but the environmentally sustainable building is a masterpiece, shaped with cascading faceted glass, built from 726 windows in 556 different shapes.

As architecture flourishes upwards so does what is happening at street level. Like other developing neighborhoods, the South Loop is farther along on restaurants than on retail. The real dining scene started around 10 years ago when local restauranteur Jerry Kleiner launched Gioco and just a year or so after the 100-year old Chicago Firehouse was turned into a sumptuous restaurant called incidentially the Chicago Firehouse (left), the building's facade has kept all of it's original splendour.

Retailing has not been as dynamic, although in recent years some of the larger chains have found homes in the neighbourhood including a massive and very nice Whole Foods. A huge cinema complex is also mooted but the South Loop doesn't yet have any individualistic boutiques that can distinguish one neighbourhood from another and give it that kind of hip feel. However new residents and increasing foot traffic should bring the neighborhood another step closer to maturity.

The largest land owner in the district is Columbia College, the biggest arts and communications college in America. Columbia owns more than 1,200,000 square feet in Chicago's South Loop, with amazingly more expansion plans.

The Auditorium Theatre occupies a big space in the other big university complex in the South Loop. The Roosevelt University actually holds classes in the theatre as well as it being the current home to the Joffrey Ballet. I saw Giselle there in October.

Famous Blues singer Buddy Guy has his club at 754 S Wabash Ave. Arguably Chicago's most famous Blues club with fascinating memorabilia adorning the walls and southern soul food served at night but arrive early as this place gets packed.

Buddy Guys has been down here since 1989 but there are plenty of fantastic new entries on the South Loop restuarant and bar scene. For beer Hackney's has a wide range of draft beers and is in one of the oldest buildings in Printers Row.

For food Zapatista is a great Mexican place with guacamole made for you tableside and a good wine list and I love Eleven City Diner (right), superb anytime of the day. I must mention Hi-Tea as well, as it is owned by a friend's brother. It's excellent for a cup of cha and a sandwich.

When I first came to Chicago in 2004, there was very little reason to head to this part of town, now I find myself in the South Loop often. There are certainly still some growing pains but this pain is relieved by some great restaurants and the ever beautiful Grant Park, commonly known as Chicago's 'front yard,' which borders this chronicled part of town. 
Sunday 16 March 2008
  Ipswich Town away. What was the score? Lost 2-0 Nope. That didn't work. Thought I would sleep on yesterday's result. Even knocked a few pints back yesterday pretending to be Irish like to rest of America.

If I was a neutral studying the table, form guide and the remaining fixtures I would no way have us down to finish anywhere near the top 6. I would keep my money firmly in my pocket. Even the 'come on this is Charlton, anything can happen' rationale is wearing a tiny bit thin.

And as for Pardew's "we will be stronger in the 2nd half of the season" bollocks, well has he not seen the history of our form in the last 10 games this last decade, last season included when we won twice? What we need is another pre-season with the amount of new players he has brought in, not a run into the play-off's.

At this stage of the season it is not about performances, although I understand yesterday's was better, it is about results, goals, clean sheets, consistency and confidence. I don't know where any of these are going to come from and neither do I think does Pards. We look shot, while others look hungry.

Three defeats on the trot for the first time since October, the lowest league position since the season bloomed in late August, a sudden dryness in front of goal and all the creativity of Blue Peter without any sticky back plastic.

Some luck would come in handy but so would a shotgun, please someone put us out of our misery.

Addicks at Portman Road: Doctor Kish; All Quiet; Charlton Life.
Reports: Newshopper; Sporting Life; Times Online; Daily Mail;; Those were the days.
Well Pards?: "The balance of the side is so delicate at this level and we're not quite right at the moment."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Jerome Thomas. Someone told me he was up for it. Well whooppee-bloody-do, that should have been in August. 
Saturday 15 March 2008
  To boo or not to boo That has been the question raised by a number of Addicks this week. I didn't boo on Saturday, not because they collectively didn't deserve it, but just because with my limited access to games this season, I felt that really I wasn't in a position to judge.

That actually was a bit out of character for me. At football, well Charlton, a normally balanced individual turns into a mini monster normally going home after games with a croaky voice and sore throat for my efforts.

The booing on Saturday from where I was sat was aimed at the team as a whole, and a vocal message to the man on the sidelines. Yes, certain individuals were simply rubbish, and among us Halford in particular was subject to some mumblings but collectively the negativity was aimed at the dross dished up by the team.

After close to 40 games the fans had come to expect more, and the bluster of Pardew's post and pre-match comments I think had finally pushed fans over the edge.

However that was last week and 2,000 optimists take off for tractor country later today hoping to see a different team and banish some memories. Memories can be short in football, lets hope the ones I have from last Saturday only last until lunchtime today. 
Wednesday 12 March 2008
  Burnley away. What was the score? Lost 1-0 A correct decision made. That would have been a very, very long journey home and I had to be at Heathrow early this morning to work on a report. A take-away at a mate's house, out of the howling wind and rain, a couple of 1664's, Sky Sports and a good night's sleep were in hindsight an unusually grown up decision.

From what I've read it was a better performance, although frankly a worse one would have been challenging.

I don't understand why Pardew opted to forget the 4-5-1 formation that has won us most of our points on the road, and play Gray and Lita. Both look out of sorts, Lita because he is match-rusty and Gray because he plays like a rusty 1974 Ford Cortina. Obviously booing ex-players and then seeing them play a blinder and score only happens in SE7.

Another defeat then albeit to a superb goal but seeing the crowd of 10,780 pop up on Sky last night brought home a few truths. There are plenty of examples of teams and their fans, who came down with great expectations of a new beginning in our division having a reality check. I think mine has just hit me over the head.

However we're amazingly still 5th but a whole host of teams lie below us with games in hand and probably an easier 4 upcoming games. Our season could well be defined by the time the final whistle goes at Home Park in just over 3 weeks time.

Addicks at Turf Moor: Addicks Championship Diary.
Reports: BBC Sport;; Clarets Mad.
What did Pards say: "We've been in the top six all year. What you need in that last few games is form, that's the story of the play-offs."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: The 300 Addicks at Turf Moor, braver and better men than me. 
Tuesday 11 March 2008
  Idea Turf-ed out Despite some gentle cajoling my brother and a mate couldn't be persuaded to make the long trip up to Turf Moor tonight. Mind you I would have been coming from Eastbourne, so that's a five and a half hour drive each way without any allowance for traffic and this bad weather. Not the best preparation for an early flight to Chicago the next day from Heathrow.

Of course sods law could see Andy Gray do to The Clarets what every old boy seems to have done to us this season, and it would be nice to witness but I understand it is hard to lift the general malaise over Addick-dom at the moment, particularly those that have seen close to 30 games this season.

I have had a nice long family weekend despite the bad weather. A 12-hour sleep yesterday only interrupted by my Dad for tea and toast was what being a son is all about. Plenty of good British television as well as an introduction to Christine Bleakley plus the cup shocks. I can't believe some people are moaning about the FA Cup semi-finals. Surely this is the beauty of the cup isn't it? Pah, let's just give the big four the trophies in August and be done with it.

I've also just read that nice Mr Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson at West Ham last night gave Alan Curbishley the vote of confidence. Right-o.

Anyway back to Chicago on Wednesday. We have some friends coming in for St Patrick's Day, which I normally refuse to celebrate by the way mainly because of the hyperbole that it is met with in Chicago. However Christine Bleakley and our mate's boyfriend who is Irish could convince me otherwise just this once.

There is a load of other stuff poodling along in my life at the moment, which should have more lucidity and certainty over the next few weeks. Ooh, I'm a tease aren't I? 
  Memories of Burnley Charlton 3-2 Burnley, 22nd April, 1978
I remember this game for the sole reason that it was our last home game of the season, even though it had 3 weeks to run. I was er, 11 and frankly didn't want the season to end, even though in hindsight we were rubbish.

In those days though under Andy Nelson we always had a decent home record but could never win away - that season 1977/78 we won just two away but lost just four at The Valley.

Burnley were comfortably in midtable but we were in a relegation scrap with a number of other teams including Millwall. In the end a 0-0 draw at a replayed match at Orient a few days after the official end of the season just about saw us safe.

The Burnley game was pretty exciting from what I remember. With the help of Home and Away, they scored first in the opening minute through Terry Cochrane. Then Big Dave Shipperley powed in an equaliser before whose that scoring goals Martin, Martin Robinson put us ahead just on half-time.

Malcolm Smith then pulled The Clarets level before Shipperley scored a second from a corner by Keith Peacock, who was making his 500th league appearance for us. What a legend.

In the programme Andy Nelson talked of the fans anguish of him allowing Colin Powell, Mike Flanagan and Laurie Abrahams to leave for the New England Teamen with 6 games left (they had scored 22 goals between them). This sure was an idiotic decision by Nelson, who we were to suffer for another couple of seasons. Looking back these sure were dismal times to be an Addick and only 6,000 of us were at the final home game, the 4th worst of the season.

Also in the programme was a plug for Bob Curtis' testimonial match at home to QPR (I think I went!), a profile on Alan Dugdale, whose ambition was to play in the (old) First Division with Charlton (yeh right) and the 1978/79 season ticket application form. Terrace tickets £14 for adults and £7 for under 16's. This was for a season, not a match! I guess you got what you paid for.

Charlton: Wood, Berry, Warman, Tydeman (Madden 70), Shipperley, Dugdale, Brisley, Gritt, Robinson, Peacock, Burman.

Burnley: Stevenson, Scott, Brennan, Noble, Robinson, Thomson, Cochrane, Ingham, Fletcher, Kindon, Smith.
Sub not used: Hall

Attendance: 6,511 
Monday 10 March 2008
  Bloggers meet was Saturday's highlight I have always been a pre-match drinker and rarely after, so I was glad that myself and some fellow Bloggers settled on a 1pm meet and not a 5pm, christ that would have been depressing.

However it was a pleasure to meet some fellow Addick Bloggers and some of their correspondents on Saturday, and equally surprising to find that we were all quite normal, the odd nervous twitch aside!

Over a couple of pints we talked of how this strange passion seems to be a Charlton fan's infliction. I often look around the web for regularly updated fan blogs of other teams, and although there are a few, no club has the amount of intelligent, astute and erudite comment written by fans, each with a different slant and all with the same passion as we do.

No loan players required here. 
  Preston at home. What was the score? Lost shockingly 2-1 I learnt a long time ago that when one picks and chooses their matches over a course of a season, they have no damned right to see one when everything will be perfect. I am after all a Charlton fan and not a Manchester United one.

Nevertheless Saturday was shocking. I told my son after the game that he had reached a milestone. What's that mean he said. Well when you are older you will be able to sit through dross, wonder why an earth you bothered but at least have the pleasure in saying, "well that wasn't as bad as Preston in 2008!"

Of course I have a memory bank of tragic games, but Saturday will make a sad entry into that select band. I don't think I have seen us play that badly in the league, when all things considered, since the early '90's. Go on, name one.

25,000 people were at The Valley on Saturday. That is incredible. It was the biggest crowd in the Football League, more than at Wigan, Reading and Blackburn in the PL (promised land) plus two of the four Cup ties. I met some lifelong Addick fans before the match who had between us travelled around 13,500 miles to come and watch their beloved team. Please Pardew this is not a tough crowd, most of these people sacrifice almost everything to watch the team that they love. The players will do well to remember that next time they check their bank statements.

The toughest thing is that this division is shite. It is there for the taking and we have almost 40 players who on paper should be in the upper quartile of quality in the division. I thought we had a manager even better than that but I am seriously doubting him. He is acting like a women who has a shopping addiction and when staring into her wardrobe, does not have a clue which dress to wear or which bag goes with what shoes. She ends up going out looking like a cheap tart. Lamb dressed as mutton.

Four loan players played the majority of the game dressed in the red shirt on Saturday, what the flying fcuk do they care about the club? They are here each for their own reasons. The only likely one that might be signed is Halford and please someone shoot me if that is what ends up happening. He is Les Berry without the 'tache or the commitment.

And I will never moan about that lazy git, Jerome Thomas again. Scott Sinclair is not good enough to clean his boots. I have just checked Wikipedia and yep he does play for Chelsea FC not Chelmsford FC. But, hang on, people lie on Wikipedia you know.

After the game Matt Holland and Patrick McCarthy came over to clap the fans in the East Stand. I lifted my head from my lap and stared at them. I clapped them back, not because they were the only two players that gave a shit, because they were, but because they bloody cared. I care, 25,000 people care. Pards, please find eleven others.

Who else suffered at The Valley: Dr Kish; New York Addick; Addicks Championship Diary; Charlton Athletic Online; Charlton North Downs; Blackheath Addicted; Kings Hill Addick.
Reports:; The Guardian; Telegraph; Daily Mirror;
What did Pards say: "I feel for the fans today, paying good money and watching a load of crap."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Paddy McCarthy. Alongside Holland and Varney (why was he taken off at half-time?), the only ones that looked like they gave a shit.
Sunday 9 March 2008
  Hump I still can't put my thoughts from yesterday's game into writing . Perhaps I need another night's sleep or more alcohol, I don't know but I can't even force myself to check out other blogs (sorry gents) or the forums, and as for Pardew's post-match comments. Honestly, don't even go there. I am not interested.

Maybe tomorrow, there is always tomorrow. I'm still here, down in Eastbourne, maybe tonight's storm will bring some clarity to Saturday's shocking display. 
Thursday 6 March 2008
  Peter Varney Plenty of conspiracy theorists about today following the announcement that Peter Varney will leave the club for "personal reasons" in June. I don't know why anyone feels they have to add that moniker on an end of a statement, I mean most decisions are made for personal reasons aren't they?

I have had the pleasure to meet Peter on a couple of occasions and he is a top bloke. Have no doubt this is a man that bleeds Charlton Athletic and his role in taking the club on a journey from dark days to ones now of high expectation should never be understated.

Varney was around the club in an unofficial capacity for quite a long time before Richard Murray "took something of a gamble in appointing" him as the club's chief executive over 10 years ago. In that time Varney's accomplishments are there for us all to see. Sure he made some mistakes, people that make decisions sometimes do, but the standing the club has within the game and the community is testament to his career at the club.

I understand that he was a terrific mediator too, and if it is to that or the business world that he ends up, he should leave with our utmost thanks and best wishes. The club will be a lesser place without him but like you and me, he won't be far away. 
  Cheers The Beast they call him in Plymouth. Well thanks to this fuckwit we lost Toddy back in October and then Tuesday the clogger clattered into the unfortunate Izale McLeod and put him out of the game for 9 months. McLeod had been on loan at Colchester since Friday night.

It has been a difficult season for the youngster after his big move during the summer. It is easy to forget that McLeod was player of the year in League Two last season and scored 24 goals. The jump up has been hard on him although one could say that we have never played to his strengths, although clearly his first touch needs to better at a higher level.

But with fellow strikers Todorov and Dickson already out for the season, McLeod now makes three. 
Wednesday 5 March 2008
  Leroy Lita makes 88 Building contractors are busy down at Sparrows Lane this afternoon adding an extension to the dressing rooms. Word has it that Homebase has sold right out of coat hooks.

From a positive point of view, Leroy Lita is a decent player and although he has had some off-field problems and one on, when he nearly 'killed' El Khak by moving his head in the Moroccan's general direction, he scored 14 goals last season and should, with the right service, be able to score goals in the next level down.

Also, clearly we are going to go for it. The board has backed Pardew yet again, and they should be applauded. A roster of Lita, Sinclair, Varney, Iwelumo, Gray, Sam, Thomas, Cook, Ambrose and Zheng should without any use of the imagination score and create goals in this division.

My concern is that Pardew does simply not have a clue who his best 11 are, it would be hard frankly to pick 22 let alone 11. We now have 9 1st team players out on loan, and have 5 in, all from Premiership clubs. Our squad on paper must be by far and away the most talented and costly in the division, yet we have rarely proven it.

The signing of Lee Cook doesn't make any sense. It was probably a panic move to appease some after selling Reid, although Cook does not play in the same position and as for Andy Gray, well the signing of Lita tells me that Pards may have got that one wrong too, albeit unlike Curbishley where we would suffer a players incompetence for seasons, Pards does nip these in the bud and is known for his big churn of playing staff.

Something else that perturbs me, although the train has well and truly left the station, is that of team spirit and togetherness. Just as I felt Pardew had found some consistency within the group of players that he had established, he has added or released something like 12 players since January. A subsequent period in which we have won just 4 games.

One thing is for sure, we need to start Sinclair and Lita both on Saturday, if we have a bench that includes Gray, Cook, Sinclair and Lita then I might not even go. Okay I will really. 
Tuesday 4 March 2008
  Bristol City at home. What was the score? Drew 1-1 It was pretty busy around here this afternoon and I know little of the match although a disappointed mate did give me a post match report.

Why Pardew started out with just a lone striker is beyond me, hardly the work of a tactical genuis and someone who knows their way around this division. The gap between midfield and a solitary Iwelumo tonight sounds as big as the gap between us and automatic promotion sadly.

Our inconsistency is baffling and Pardew for me just has too many players in the squad. I mean how big is our squad? It sounded as Bristol City played all the football tonight, the first 20 minutes aside, whereas we were the mighty hoofers. Good luck to City, clearly they deserve to sit top of the table, but as for us it ain't quite going as planned is it?

Who was at The Valley tonight: Charlton Life; All Quiet: New York Addick; Drinking During the Game; Kings Hill Addick; One From The Training Ground; Charlton North Downs; Addicks Championship Diary.
Reports:; Times Online; Daily Mail; Kent Online; Independent;
More words of wisdom from Pards: "We are mentally prepared to go that extra mile through the play-offs. I've got the players to focus on the fact this is a campaign where the only result for us is promotion."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: ZZ. In a squad of 87, thankfully one of them is ZZ. 
Monday 3 March 2008
  Chicago now has highest sales tax in US I guess over the past few years I have got used to the cost of living in Chicago, but certainly within the past 12 months it has become a lot more expensive place to live. This thought occurred to me following the weekend's announcement that Cook County, i.e. the majority of downtown Chicago, will increase it's sales and services tax from 9% to 10.25% in November, just in time for Christmas shoppers.

Remember VAT is not added to goods and services here but you pay tax at the point of sale. This huge increase, will make Chicago the most expensive city to shop in, in the United States. The rates in New York and Los Angeles are below 8.5% and the next highest rate is 9.25% in Memphis, Tennessee.

Of course, hopefully anyway, tourists will still come to the city to shop, but how many locals will take to the internet, where mostly shopping online can be done out of state tax free or for those that live near much cheaper towns on the outskirts of Cook County, will just drive over the border and get more for their dollars, probably jeopardising many local and small businesses.

The reason behind the tax increase is to bridge a $234 million deficit, of course incurred due to useless legislators and governors not by people who call Chicago their home. 
  Flight of the North American Addicks My flight is booked and Preston tickets are secured. 20 quid for me and my son, not bad when you consider the cheapest Chicago Bulls tickets are $30 each for a seat up in the clouds and $130 for seats as close to action as we'll have on Saturday.

There is a planned pre-match Blogger meet up in the Rose of Denmark, which I am really looking forward to. Blogging North American Addicks maybe a bit short of supply next weekend as New York, Ken at CAFC Picks and myself all head to SE7. I hope others can join us in the pub before the game.

I'm at home until the following Wednesday which means that I catch my Dad's birthday and have the option of being part of a brain's trust to decide if a few friends and I drive up to Turf Moor on the Tuesday. I guess the next two monumental matches will help us figure that crackpot idea out. 
Sunday 2 March 2008
  Sheffield Utd away. What was the score? Won 2-0 Baby it's cold outside, yes Chicago is freezing but the result yesterday at Bramall Lane was enough to warm several eskimo families. I was getting regular text updates from the ground from fellow ex-pat New York Addick, who after landing at Heathrow early Saturday, then rented a car and drove to Sheffield. The lady at Hertz had probably never heard such absurdity. But this is Charlton isn't, and you never quite know what you're going to get.

Charlton Life's gameday community kept me on the edge of my seat, until I had to leave as I had apparently promised to go out. Serious backtracking followed but a promise was a promise I was told, but my phone buzzing "2-0, Sam Sodje has been IMMENSE. Loved the dance for the goal" was all I needed to know.

Our record at Bramall Lane is not good and as Wyn Grant pointed out on Friday our defeat there last season proved to be our nadir, but what we witnessed yesterday was a perfect away performance from the players and Pards getting the man management of the players in the past week and the team selection spot on.

The return of Iwelumo and Sodje plus a return to 4-5-1 was no coincidence and what ever people say of Big Chris, he has a bloody big heart. And Big Sam is simply a better defender than Fortune and as we have seen numerous times previously, is a much greater threat at the other end of the pitch than any of our defensive squad members.

The look on the players, and the reaction amongst the fans has given everything Addick a great boost. It was one of the season's most welcome and best results, but once again it will mean nothing unless we can get another great result on Tuesday.

Who else made the long trip to Bramall Lane: New York Addick.
More words of wisdom from Pards: "We strengthened up the side today with all the physical attributes this division sometimes needs and I thought that worked well for us."
Reports: Daily Mail; Sporting Life; Yorkshire Post;
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Sam Sodje. Immense according to New York Addick and he could play a vital role for us in the remaining 11 games. 
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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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