Sunday, 23 November 2014

Charlton Athletic 0 v Millwall 0

Another bloody draw but I suppose it's a step up from last year's home game against them. I called the 0-0 before kick-off on the basis that I thought Igor would miss out and we were good enough to contain them at the back, so disappointed we didn't nick it with Igor starting, although he looked a yard short of pace and was playing on his own.

We had a pre-match drink in the Oak and there was an atmosphere of expectancy and the pub was unusually busy for a Millwall game. The gate was also bigger than recent derby matches and I sense more Charlton fans feel more comfortable about playing Millwall than in the past. The gate topped 19,000 and it looked as full as that judging by how many of the regularly empty seats around us were taken. 

I notice some criticism of the atmosphere on Charlton Life but I thought it was decent enough given neither set of fans had a lot to get really excited about. I thought we had the majority of the possession although the BBC are saying we had 49% to Millwall's 51%? We certainly did most of the pressing in the game and i thought we looked better on the ball but once again there was little attacking threat. Igor Vetokele did get a clean head on a cross in the box but he steered it wide. Pope, in for the injured Henderson, made a routine save from a Millwall header and that was pretty much it until the end when we threw George Tucudean on. He came on ten minutes too late for me and once again he fumbled a great chance at the finish after Igor played him in on Forde. Having decided to lift it over Forde he lacked the pace to hold off the covering defenders and they managed to clear.

Solly was at his best today and Bikey held the line. Ben Haim was also solid although he got away with another high arm challenge today which have cost us if the ref had seen it differently. The pair of them kept Fuller quiet for the half-an-hour he was on. Coquelin had a fine match and added more attack to the midfield - it's just a pity he didn't have much to aim for and he had headless Harriott flapping about on the left having come on for Yoni Buyens after 27 minutes. None of the Millwall players did anything of note although I was surprised to see Upson subbed unless he was injured.

That was about it and I don't think much else to report. I understand that Plod decided it was time to mess the visitors about for a change and they were largely corralled onto trains at the station. Probably the most logical way to prevent trouble as a free-for-all would inevitably lead to scuffling which has the potential to get out-of-hand. It's certainly better than kettling the majority  home fans which they did a couple of years ago.

Our style of play may be more suited to the away game at the New Den but that elusive twelfth victory looks like it could roll over another year....

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bring on the 'Wall

I am looking forward to Saturday's local derby more than I should be. I have been going to these games since the mid-70's and our record is so paltry that I shudder when I think about it. Irrespective of where we stand, who is managing us or how we play, we struggle to get results.

Don't tell anyone but I spent a season watching Millwall as an eleven year old when my parents split up and a well-meaning friend of the family took me along with his own son to every home match. I enjoyed it although Millwall were as hopeless as we were (and Chelsea at the time where I also spent some time). My soft spot for Millwall didn't last too long. I was there with my Chelsea supporting Old Man the day they beat Chelsea 3-1 (77?) and I witnessed families being attacked and crying women and children being spat upon. 

My own experience as an opposition fan when we play Millwall isn't anywhere as bad and, I am sure, the expectations for most are much worse than the reality. Our fans aren't on the Bushwackers radar but we suffer more than anyone else from their personal determination to rule the roost in Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Kent. It's why a game against us is their "Cup Final" and they hate us saying it. They sell out in hours and would take close to a home gate if we gave them the tickets.

I have some very good mates from my youth who are Millwall through and through and I am expecting a call to rendevous before or after the match so we can take the piss out of each other other once more. They may have more to crow about in these games but we hold our own in the banter stakes. One of best mates (now in Cyprus) and his four older brothers are all died-in-the-wool Millwall and I will be getting texts throughout the weekend from them.

All that said, we should look forward to this match. They have been very beatable this season and haven't travelled well. We should be closer to a full squad and we have a lot of character about us at the moment. We also have the quality in Igor Vetokele to win this game irrespective of the opposition. Bob Peeters also seems to get it and I hope he can convey that message in a way most of his predecessors ahem failed to do so miserably.

I have friends down from Aberdeen and I pray we put up a better show than the Palace home game they suffered with us last year. My heart is saying one nil will do it but my head still tells me fate will ensure they take something. Bring on the 'Wall!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Scotland 1 v Republic of Ireland 0

The dream lives on. A bruising evening of European qualifying action was justly settled twenty minutes from full time by the best piece of football of the evening. Scotsman Shaun Maloney was on the end of a training ground short-corner routine to stride onto a Brown back-heel and curl a pearler beyond Millwall's keeper. It's a sign I tell ya!

Ireland can have few complaints. They came for the draw and tried to prevent Scotland from playing football. They were shown a series of yellow cards and Martin O'Neill must have been subbing carded players in the second half in order to avoid going down to ten men. That said, Scotland found it hard to create clear-cut chances and it looked harder after losing Steven Fletcher to injury.

Steven Naismith often disappoints me but he was my man-of-the-match last night in a free role which saw him playing all across the Ireland defence and holding the ball up to superb effect. Mulgrew and Robertson were a new full-back combo and both did fine work, especially Mulgrew who got forward and provided support for Ikechi Anya.

The Irish were in good voice before the match in the East End bars of Glasgow but they were drowned out after thirty minutes by which time the stadium had filled up. Traffic into Glasgow was horrendous last night due to the volume (Bryan Adams was playing and One Direction were somewhere as I saw them at the airport this morning), and torrential rain on the road down from Aberdeen and in from Edinburgh. Maloney's strike silenced the visitors.

Scotland are now level with Germany and Ireland on seven points and all three trail Poland on ten. Scotland, however, have played Poland and Germany away and have six points to come from Gibraltar. Gib visit Glasgow next in March before Scotland head to Dublin for a show-down.

I am left thinking this afternoon thinking about the twenty year old who died today following a fall the Upper tier at Parkhead. Alcohol may well have played a part but the front wall of the Upper Tiers at Parkhead is very low. Several others have fallen previously.

Finally, I caught Football Focus today - a rare event for me - and hung around to see Maloney's corker again. Not only didn't they show it, but they didn't how any others. Anyone know if this is the way it works now or why?

Friday, 14 November 2014

Celtic clash at Parkhead

Off this afternoon to Glasgow for a potentially classic celtic encounter as Scotland and the Republic of Ireland meet in a Euro 2016 qualifier. After Scotland's positive start to the campaign, this is their chance at home to cement it and put down a marker as real challengers for an automatic place. 

Scotland currently trail the Republic by three points and eight goal difference, so it really is a must-win. That's usually a worrying sign for us but I am hoping Ireland come looking to maintain their margin and take a point as that should play into our hands. The choice of Parkhead for this fixture is a strange one as the Ireland side will feel more at home here than anywhere else they might have had to play and there will inevitably be a larger away support given Celtic's Ireland-leaning. Nonetheless, the Tartan Army are in good heart given Wee Gordie's fine start as team supremo and we will give our side all the vocal backing they need.

This may be my last game of the qualifiers. The daft idea of playing all of the fixtures on a different day of the week means that most involve at least two days off work which is a nonsense. I may go to Dublin in the Summer for the return fixture but tickets will be hard to come by and Scotland would need to be well in the mix to get me flying over.

It's England on Tuesday night in Glasgow too for a money-spinning friendly. Fifty quid a ticket is cashing in but I won't travel for friendlies, let alone take time off work. England didn't sell their ticket allocation but they are taking four and half thousand which is impressive for a meaningless fixture. I hope the match is trouble-free - it should be - or it will quickly quash this fixture once again for years to come.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Will Roland rethink?

News that the Championship clubs have voted in favour of relaxing Financial Fair Play rules have come as a bitter blow to Charlton as outlined by the current CFO, David Joyes.

Having effectively allowed clubs to make double the loss and base it on a rolling three year period, they have removed the immediate threat to a number of sides spending way beyond their means which makes a mockery of the whole thing. I am no expert on this but there have been many poo-poohing the idea that FFP would ever come to pass. The likes of QPR have laughed at it and threatened legal action, whereas Bolton Wanderers farcical financial management has clearly stuck two fingers up to it.

What's more concerning for us Addicks is how Roland Duchatelet might take the news. His network model was based upon the idea that he could exploit FFP regulations but running a number of clubs sensibly and trading players and other resources. Given the goal-post have just moved by 100%, he may well decide that the playing field isn't going to be levelled anytime soon and he may rethink his investments.

Frankly, I am amazed that 18 out of the 24 clubs voted to change the rules which spookily enough gave them the 75% vote required to bring the changes. Call me a cynical old git if you like but this sounds too good to be true as my Dad would have said. I wonder if money has talked here somewhere in the background?

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

All change in Charlton Church Lane

If you are a member of Club SE7 or even just a recent visitor to the Valley and come via Charlton Station, you can't help but have noticed the final building work to open a Sainsbury's Local on the corner of Charlton Church Lane and Floyd Road.

I say the final building work because the work started so long ago I have forgotten when it was. Let's say three years ago and be generous. I have heard a number of reasons for the delay but it certainly wasn't the amount of work involved. I will go with the most plausible and that was that Sainsbury's realised the original plan was insufficient and had to re-apply for permission for a revised extension out the back. In any event, the signs were up, the lights on and the shelves were being stacked with crisps when I passed at 7pm. No reason not to expect to see it open tomorrow or Friday latest.

You might be wondering why I am so interested in this? The simple reason is that I have been anticipating a revival in the local area for far too long now and I have always said that it would take some mainstream movers to spark what could be a quick turnaround in the fortunes of the area. The local housing stock is decent, like the populous, and we have been hugely under-served for far too long. I am also a firm believer that a lift in the local area would reflect well on our famous club and give football fans a better day out.

Just how long Sainsbury's Local hangs on with a huge Sainsbury's Superstore opening on the former Kingdom of Leather and Wickes site opposite the BP garage on the Lower Road remains to be seen, but it is a welcome start.

It will obviously serve football fans too, although those huge unprotected glass windows looked rather vulnerable to late-night high jinks in downtown Charlton. Sainsbury's have also installed a through-the-window cash till, which takes us to three free-to-use machines within strolling distance of the of mega-Stadium. Progress indeed.

Now can we have a proper pub or even a wine-bar please? I would love to open the latter but I am simply too busy and am at the wrong end of my working career to do it, although I would make a hefty contribution in weekly Customer sales if and when it does happen.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Club SE7

In spite of all the comings and goings of personnel at Charlton latterly, the marketing department has very evidently not been closed down. In addition to a host of other concurrent initiatives, they have now launched Club SE7.

I received a postcard from 'Club SE7' this morning informing me that by "living in the footprint of the Valley" I was "now part of the exclusive Club SE7." The card went on to offer me tickets for the Ipswich Town home match at what I assume to be an exclusive rate of £10 for adults, £5 over 21's and Over 60's and £1 for U11's. On that basis, I will be taking both of my girls and possibly the mother-in-law (Simon - let me know as it would be good to help make this a success?). I look forward to seeing the full impact of Club SE7 flowing through to local house prices.