Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Oxford United 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Something of an end-to-end match at the Kassam Stadium this evening but those amongst the 689 Addicks present will be disappointed we didn't take full control of the game in the opening half-hour when we were dominant. Holmes, Fosu-Henry and Sarr all missed chances before Fosu-Henry continued his scoring running with his sixth of the season. Having failed to go two-up we duly conceded an equaliser and suddenly Oxford were at it and they might have gone two-one up minutes later.

The game opened-up after that and Amos made a couple of very good saves as we continued to create chances at the other end. Reeves got a breather after 66 minutes making way for Billy Clarke. Oxford made all their changes and the last saw Jon Obika enter the fray. I feared the worst but he was kept quiet. Instead, Fosu-Henry made way for Ahearne-Grant who promptly spurned a good scoring opportunity. I think we burned Ahearne-Grant by over-playing him when he was younger but he really hasn't added anything to the team for a long time now and if it wasn't for the fact that we have very few other options, he shouldn't even be getting these late substitution appearances because he has no confidence and looks one dimensional.

A draw was a decent result this evening on a night when there were eight other matches drawn (seven finished 1-1) so very much a case of 'as you were.' We are in fifth with a game in hand which could move us to third on points with Bradford City, so best we beat them on Saturday and save the game in hand for trying to catch Wigan or Shrewsbury!

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Charlton Athletic 1 v Doncaster Rovers 0

A solid result by all accounts as Charlton edged passed Donny courtesy of another Fosu-Henry goal. We should have made the game safe but inevitably had to suffer as Donny made strides for an equaliser. The referee was knocked out at the start of the second-half so our match went into ten minutes of added time. The win lifts the Addicks into fifth but it's tight in the play-off contention zone and we will do well to hold our position this week as we travel to Oxford United and Bradford City.

Oxford won again today and sit one place below us so have the incentive of leap-frogging us in the week. Bradford have had some topsy-turvy results but are above us and will also put up a big fight to maintain their differential. It's very much a test of of our play-off credentials because these are the sides we need to better if we are to be there come May.

Meanwhile, the Wings continued their good sequence with a 2-0 win at Weston-Super-Mare. Colchester loanee Eliah Phipps opened the scoring after 22 minutes and the always-interested Joe Healy killed the game just after half-an-hour. Welling move into the play-off places in National League South and I am heading to Gloucester next week to see if they can sustain their current fine form and really get themselves in the mix.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Papa Roach

Out last night with Mrs Peeps to see Papa Roach at the Brixton Academy. I missed them awhile back when they 'bottled out' of a Wembley Arena appearance in the wake of the Bataclan atrocity in Paris. I was a bit miffed at the time but returned to see them last night when performing on their own south of the river.

I am a bit ashamed to say that I have never been to the Brixton Academy before and it was actually 30 years since I last set foot in SW9. We had a few pints locally before going in and I was impressed with the size of the venue, if not the condition as it's definitely looking very tired.

I always contend that you can get to really like any music if you listen to it often enough. I grew up listening to a lot of Elvis Presley and early rock n roll and was then indoctrinated in Country before finding my own independent way in music. Over the last fifteen years it's been American rock with a hard edge in my house courtesy of my wife. What was always ok has since thrown me a few real favourites and Papa Roach have been a staple.

Frontman Jacoby Shaddix exudes Californian showmanship and he knows how to work a crowd. The routinely heavy rock numbers are interspersed with some decidedly 'hard rap' numbers which Shaddix seems to revel in, especially when he has the audience tied to his raised flat right hand as he conducts them to his tune. For me, rousing renditions of 'getting away with murder' and 'scars' were the high spots but there were no really low numbers. 

I may be getting older but the speakers sounded and felt like they had been supplied by Boeing. There was a boom on the bass which actually vibrated your extra bits of flesh, if you know what I mean. Stone Sour next up in December and they are close to the top for me when it comes to this genre.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The end of a dream

Back in 1996 I saw all three of Scotland's European final games. A creditable scoreless draw against the Orange machine that included Bogarde, Davids,  Seedorf and Bergkamp set us up for that fateful 2-0 Wembley defeat where Gazza scored in his pomp and Alan Shearer administered the coup d'etat. We trekked back to Villa Park to take on Switzerland needing a win and England to wallop the Dutch. Ally McCoist's rifled home a 25 yarder at the Holte End to put Scotland in front and whilst we needed to improve our goal difference by five over the Dutch to qualify, the Swiss kept us out in the second-half. Meanwhile the Gods were having fun as England scored again and again and got to 4-0 over the Netherlands.  I know this because a tidal wave of noise and chaos swept around Villa Park. It was then that the Gods threw Patrick Kluivert into the fray at Wembley and he scored the consolation goal that put Scotland out.

It had been a hectic eight days and my mates and I committed to France '98 on the back of it. We hired a large place in the countryside outside Bordeaux and based ourselves there for a fortnight. It was a fantastic time as we travelled up to Paris for the opening match of the tournament when "we near-ly beat Brazil, we near-ly beat Brazil." An extraordinary day that lives long my memory. Walking across the Seine at 11am and hearing the strains of "Flower of Scotland" coming from way below on the river. I was staggered to see a fishing boat from my small hometown chugging upstream just to be there.

A 1-1 draw with Norway in Bordeaux left us needing a win against Morrocco in St. Etienne. I drove the minibus across France and back after a demoralising 3-0 humping. It was the end of another finals but we were hooked and all looked forward to many more adventures in the years to come.

I lost count of the qualifying matches I have traipsed around Europe to see since but I threw the towel in last year when I admitted defeat and said I couldn't muster the enthusiasm for another campaign. A couple of others also eased off but tonight there are five of them in Slovenia drowning their sorrows once again. Goal difference,  bloody goal difference! If only Armstrong had booted that ball out of play in the last seconds against England.......

I wouldn't have gone to Russia even if Scotland had qualified and, as for Qatar, you are having a laugh. The corruption of FIFA visited on the world's football fans for eight years. I will be in my 60's before there is any chance of seeing Scotland again in a finals. Who'd a thought it?

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Welling United 4 v Chippenham Town 0

Welling have been threatening to trounce someone for awhile and today was the day as they hit four and might have had more. Chippenham looked a tidy outfit but they couldn't contain Welling when the Wings showed a little more quality. The bumper gate of 595 was treated to four excellent goals.

There were plenty of Charlton fans in evidence, including the German Addicks brigade who had clearly committed themselves to this weekend and had to make-do with what I am guessing was a first ever visit to Park View Road. I am sure they weren't disappointed.

The very capable Joe Healy opened the scoring for Welling on 38 minutes when he arrived with perfect timing to head home an excellent cross from Jeff Monakana who had beaten two Chippenham men out wide before popping his cross to the back post. The Wings had been sizing Chippenham up for the first half-hour and it had looked like a matter of time before they took the lead. No surprise then that Welling notched a second before half-time. Another fine move, this time down the left flank saw Tom Bradbrook peel away to reach a far post cross (from Nanetti I think) and steer a bold looping header back and across the Chippenham keeper which crept in at the far post.

After the break Welling slowed it a bit as they settled the game and Bradbrook secured the points, if they were in any doubt, with a glancing header which beat Thompson to his left. Mark Goldberg joined the fray before the end and netted the fourth after some neat interplay through the middle and he was denied Welling's fifth by Thompson who managed to paw away his effort.

The win moves Welling up to 8th in the table, one place outside the play-off places (six in the National League South) and they head to Gloucester in a fortnight on a roll. I have a train ticket and will be cheering them on. Up the Wings!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Non-League Day, this Saturday

The annual 'Non-League Day' is upon us once more and it falls this Saturday, 7th October. As Charlton's home match against Peterborough has been called off due to international call-ups, why not take advantage and get out to your local non-league club and show them some support?

Regular readers will know I have been frequenting Park View Road this season and I will be there again on Saturday to see the Wings make a case to move into the top ten of the National League South when they entertain Chippenham Town.

I have been quietly impressed with the quality of the football in this division and Welling are a capable team when they get going. They aren't consistently strong from 1 to 11 but they make up for that in team spirit and when they are on form they can be irresistible. They have drawn too many matches this season but have only lost three from twelve and are on a bit of a roll.

It's only £12 to get in (£2 discount for Charlton season ticket holders who bring their passes) and only another pound to get a seat if the stands, although I have enjoyed standing once again as well as the customary non-league tradition of changing viewing ends at half-time. There are two tidy bars as well with real ale and live sport.

The banter can be pretty good too. At a recent match one wag kept screeching at the referee that "that's nowhere near ten yards" at every infringement. Eventually he bawled out "can you quote for my carpets?" Down at Havant & Waterlooville last week, a 1980's throwback with Pompey's '6.57' tattooed on the back of his neck wandered up the assembled away contingent with the tired offering of "who wants it" to be met with a spontaneous song of "new Wealdstone Raider, we've got a new Wealdstone Raider!" A tad embarrassed he turned tail and headed back to the home section where he was met with the same humiliating chant. Getting to love non-league!

Karl Robinson ups the ante

Hot on the heels of his comments about 'guarantees' of transfer funding for January, Karl Robinson's latest press talk reveals what the supporters have always known and that was Ademola Lookman was sold in part to cover Sparrows Lane development costs as well as to offset the annual operating loss. 

Karl is now saying that "I think if Esra goes, people have to be aware that we have to have an injection to make this team better." My take here is that there are either firm plans to spend in January or else Karl Robinson is drawing a line in the new turf that enables him to excuse any failure to get promoted and publicly place a 'lack of backing' for Charlton's failure to return to the Championship under his management.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Fleetwood 1 v Charlton Athletic 3

A weekend away with a large party and a packed agenda meant I had to rely up score updates from others. I was down near Uckfield which appears to have next to no mobile coverage. Anyway, the news was good as we recorded a convincing away win against a side who are likely to be competing with us for a top-ten finish.

It was a surprise last night to hear that Tarique Fosu has added himself to our legend of hat-trick scorers. I have yet to see Tarique play but the reports have been mixed and it is some feat for a winger to score a hat-trick. I have yet to see the goals but there is also some inference that he was fortunate to score three times but whatever, that's what he did and he won the game. The surprise injury that Robinson alluded to in the week was clearly Chris Solly as Esra Konsa came in to the righ-back position. Let's hope that's a tiredness injury and not something that will keep him out for any length of time. The three points lifts us back up to fifth and must serve as a well-needed confidence boost after some poorer displays and failures to grasp or hold onto opportunities.

Karl Robinson has taken the decision to postpone Saturday's home match against Peterborough on account of us having the requisite three players (Magennis, Da Silva and Konsa) on international duty. I am not always convinced re-playing midweek suits us but given our current squad limitations and dependence on Josh Magennis, it's the correct decision.

Karl has also now said that Duchatelet has 'guaranteed' him money for the January transfer window if we are challenging for promotion so he can "have a right go." I have no doubt that there has been a discussion around this, as I am sure there has been in each of the subsequent seasons with the incumbent. Whether it's quite a 'guarantee' is something else and it was very interesting to hear Robinson also say that answering the question 'might get me into trouble.' Irrespective, I think it's helpful that Karl has put this out there and help set the expectation. Who knows, it might even force Roland's hand a bit to provide him with more funds than intended, if indeed, there was ever any intention.

Friday, 29 September 2017

"Two new injuries" to "very, very small squad"

In August he was telling us he was "very happy" with his squad and that we would be pushing for promotion this season. News today from Karl Robinson that he now believes the squad to be "very, very small" and he teases us that we have two new injury concerns but won't tell us for some unfathominable reason who they are.

In the SLP article he does say that we are still in a competitive position (despite dropping out of the play-off places) and that he expects us to "have a right go in the (January) transfer market." Those words may well come back to haunt him. We have never had a right go in the January transfer window under Duchatelet despite being told every Summer that we might do something after Christmas IF we were challenging for promotion etc. It's simple expectation management and why nothing will change all the time we have an unambitious and disinterested owner.

We sold Ademola Lookman for £8-11m last January but Robinson saw none of it.   We could cash in on Holmes, Konsa or Aribo in January but that would be about covering our operating loss for the season, not about strengthening our chances of promotion.

I assume from Robinson's comment on the official site today about the two new injuries that these aren't significant although it looks like one, at least, may be out for Fleetwood given what he says. Why he has to mention things every so often that he can't or won't expand on is reminiscent of school kids with unimportant secrets. I do wish he would grow up and learn to keep his trap shut if he isn't going to explain something properly. Let's all pray that Magennis isn't one of them or we could be fielding Craig Levein's infamous 4-6-0 formation.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Walsall 2 v Charlton Athletic 2

Ordinarily a decent away point. However, coming on the back of a couple of defeats and a drab home draw against Bury, it isn't quite good enough and conceding a goal in the last minute having just taken the lead for a second time feels like a loss.

For the opening half-hour we really took the game to the Saddlers and should have had more than Fosu's goal to show for it. Josh Magennis saw a header tipped onto a post and we were shooting at will. The problem was we let Walsall equalise before half-time and the second-half was poor as Walsall came more into it and levelled the play up a bit. Substitutes were coming and going before Ricky Holmes volleyed home after Solly's cross was cleared and fell for him with a minute or two left. The 263 travelling Addicts were probably still celebrating when Walsall's Agyei curled in a 30 yarder to piss on our chips. Fleetwood won 3-0 at Bradford tonight and will be chomping at the bit come Saturday.

One point from two games away after our recent sequence isn't promotion form (two points from twelve going to Fleetwood) so Karl will need all his powers of hyperbole to fire his troops to avoid a grim trek back from the Lancashire coast . We sit in seventh after ten games but Blackburn and Fleetwood are a point behind and have a game in hand against each other, so realistically we are eighth. I would have settled for that in August but we will do well to match our initial ten results so mid-table beckons come Christmas with all that, that will entail.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Charlton Athletic 1 V Bury 1

Another disappointing performance and result against a club and side we arrogantly believe we are better than and whom we should be beating. There is so much more to it than that but many can't see it.

We had a terrible start and a poor half having fallen behind to a fine curling shot from distance from the old stager, Jermaine Beckford. Big Josh headed a decent equaliser but we simply didn't have enough threat or dominance to win it. There were less than 10,000 there and the general feedback was that we look increasingly  more likely to be mid-table mediocrity than play-off, let alone automatic promotion contenders.

I was down in Goring-on-sea at Addict Pete's and we spent a fantastic afternoon strolling the streets of Arundel and walking our dogs out along the Arun before catching the second-half of a match at Worthing RFC. The news from the Valley once again confirmed that I am missing little this season as another Duchatelet annus horriblis unfolds.  I was also receiving regular updates from Havant & Waterlooville where the Wings won an exciting battle 3-2 in a game that sounded like it had everything, goals, a double sending-off and a penalty save.

Karl Robinson's post-match press conference was once again a mixture of the strange and the ridiculous.  He now seems to be open to the opinion his squad has limitations in direct contradiction of his early season pronouncements of how he now had what he has wanted all along and that we would be making a serious promotion challenge. He told us, too, that Bury are in a false position in the league, although I am not sure many would agree or that the table will look much different for them in 2018. The funniest line, though, has to be his statement that "an injury allowed us to change shape - we went from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3." It made no difference of course but that's Karl trying to tell us he has a Plan B but that it took an injury to try and which didn't work because we only have one out-and-out goalscorer who isn't prolific!

Two away games now at Walsall on Tuesday and Fleetwood on Saturday. We would do well to win one of these given current form although some will say these are minnows we should be rolling over, just like Bury. The truth is, we are a shrinking club whose squad of players are League One plodders in totality.

Friday, 22 September 2017

CARD fight on

A statement from the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet via the SLP makes it clear that CARD continue to oppose Duchatelet's ownership of Charlton Athletic Football Club and that they will maintain the pressure on him to sell up. They also say that they won't be organising any in-game protests whilst Karl Robinson's side have any realistic hopes of promotion.

I think that is a sound position as it broadly reflects fans current views and, let's face it, it's the fans who make the protests effective, not just the Card organisers. The statement does refer to ongoing support of other clubs who are suffering bad owners and being mismanaged, especially ones we are due to face, which brings the Blackpool game into question.

I am left wondering though whether we have seen the height of the mass Valley protests. I have no doubt that anger and resentment will again build this season based upon what I see as the inevitable consequences of lack of ambition and ongoing budget-cutting in a desperate bid to turn a profit for the billionaire. Already the squad size is being questioned and nearly everyone can see the folly of starting the season with only one proven striker. The last minute sale of Novak and the panic acquisition of Dodoo rubbing salt into the wounds. 

Regular readers will know I am no big fan of Karl Robinson, certainly the tosh he spews to the press, but he has done ok in difficult trading circumstances and he deserves our support. However, he is looking tactically limited given his move to tailor the squad to his preferred formation and the lack of strikers means we look unable to change things when it doesn't start well for us. We have lost all three matches we have fallen behind in this season.

The big question is, when the ultimate disappointment of this season sinks in, how will fans respond? There may be a spontaneous West Stand gathering or a call to protest by CARD but my fear is we will see something more damaging in that yet more disaffected supporters will simply walk away, finally convinced that it's Groundhog Day until we have new owners with some ambition and real transparency. This doesn't mean it has to be billionaire owners willing to throw money around like drunken sailors, just people with the club's best interests at heart and who are honest with supporters about the money available and what can or can't be done. 

It's mighty Bury tomorrow at the Valley in a match which takes on far more significance, given the two previous defeats, than it might otherwise have done. Ordinarily we should see them off but it may be a tougher test given the absence of talisman Holmes through suspension and the gloom of defeat at Gillingham last week. Whilst the focus has been on our lack of up-front options, the irony is we have shipped more goals than any of those clubs around us which means we have a poor goal difference. Lee Clark may set out to frustrate us and play on the break. Our fans have been solidly supportive so far this season but the first booing may be just around the corner. If the Shakers can open the scoring, it could be another bad day for the Addicks. Nicky Ajose is ineligible to play against us but former Addick Michael Smith may start alongside Jermaine Beckford. What price Smith to score?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Richard Collins RIP

So sorry to learn  of the death of former Charlton Athletic board stalwart, Richard Collins. Needless to say, Richard was a huge Addicks fan and one who served the club as Director, Managing Director and Chairman for a long spell in the 1980's. He stepped up in difficult times and was part of the "consortium" including Fryer and Sunley who saved the club from extinction after the Mark Hulyer debacle. 

Richard was from that era when local businessmen (I think it was all men) who were doing well could get involved and make a difference if they had cash to spare and an over-developed sense of loyalty. Collins memorably drove a Roller with personalised plates and I always felt a bizarre sense of reassurance whenever I saw him entering or leaving the Valley. Amazing to think it's the players who drive the big motors today and the Chairmen are billionaires, not millionaires.

When the time is right, it would be good to see Richard's contribution to Charlton Athletic recognised in an appropriate way. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Gillingham 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

Bad day at Black Rock. We were beaten by the Gills for the first time in a league encounter for over 200 years. Two defeats inside five days and the inquest has begun....

Personally, I am not in the least surprised. We may have deserved more from this game but we clearly didn't do nearly enough to win. We simply don't have enough cutting edge or a strong enough squad to expect to roll sides over week-in, week-out or to win automatic promotion. It really shouldn't be surprising to anybody. We haven't spent any money visibly strengthening our squad. We have simply shifted our footing within our wage bill, and whilst Robinson may have done well on that basis it's pretty clear that we aren't going to waltz the league. As I keep saying, there will be no sustainable change all the time we have an owner whose crystal clear focus is on making a profit. In this league that means running a tight budget and profiting on player sales. Simple as. However frustrated or angry you might be, he isn't - he really doesn't give a toss and no-one is going to change his mind, not Karl Robinson or Katrien Meire, let alone the rest of us.

Meanwhile, I watched the Wings again, this time in F A Cup action and a real sense of deja vu. Up against Haringey Borough, a side two divisions below them, I watched the Wings out-run and out-fought for much of the match. Boro scored early after a long ball was knocked over the advancing Dillon Barnes and rolled into an empty net. The visitors dominated for the rest of the first half whilst Welling waited for someone to take the initiative.

After the break the Wings did pick-up and they looked like the superior side for much of the half but they simply lacked the urgency to turn the match. Joe Healy equalised and Christian Nanetti earned a penalty which should have won the game. Unfortunately, his poor spot-kick was gobbled up in the Boro goal and within a minute the visitors had a penalty of their own. The Wings left-back, Jefford who had a woeful personal display, hauled down his man in the box and Gabriel scored his second from the spot. After that it was a case of countdown and time-wasting for the north London outfit who could afford a couple of bookings as they eased their way into the next round. Welling can now concentrate on the league and a visit next week to Havant and Waterlooville - Addick Tony and his son are booked on the train - hardy souls.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Charlton Athletic 0 v Wigan Athletic 3

I bought seven tickets for some old mates from Bexleyheath today who were taking in their first match for several seasons. They were duly handed over in the White Swan over a swift pint and they mocked me for heading to Welling instead of the Valley and I reminded them that they were all Glory Hunters. As I left I did wonder if we might put in a traditionally duff showing, the sort we reserve for whenever our less fanatical fans show any interest. 

By all accounts it looks like an insipid performance where Wigan had us sussed and Karl Robinson had no Plan B. This is a common theme when our one upfront gets isolated and we really need to be able to revert comfortably to 4-4-2 or even 4-3-3. Ironically, we probably don't have the personnel to do this having spent so long unable to play Robinson's preferred 4-2-3-1. Wigan's opener came just before the break which is always tough, especially at home and they killed the game in the 70th when Massey netted again. The late third was probably salt-in-the-wounds but by then it made little difference. 

As always, what the manager has to say should be interesting but he hasn't dealt head-on with previous games like this and instead has a tendency to waffle or say something confusing or slightly controversial as if to deflect the real explanation. 

It probably won't do us any harm to have lost our second match as expectations have been growing wildly based upon some good results against mediocre opposition, albeit with much better football than we have previously witnessed under Robinson, or dare I say it, under Duchatelet since he took over three years ago.

Meanwhile, over Shooters Hill at Park View Road, the Wings secured their second successive home win courtesy of a 1-0 victory over lowly Whitehawk from east Brighton. I met up with a few other disgruntled Addicks with soft spots for the Wings and we endured the drizzle on the terraces for 90 minutes which reminded me of much happier times (last century!).

Welling started brightly and bossed the first-half against a huge Whitehawk side who had clearly been given orders to run at goal and shoot at every opportunity.  I'm not sure it really helped them as they wasted some decent positions but it was evident Welling were going to score, so they knew they needed a goal. As it was Welling had the ball in the net within two minutes after Nanetti was rolled a free-kick in acres of space on the left of the box and his driven low cross was steered home by one of three sliding Welling players, at least one of whom was offside. 

Whitehawk hit back and a determined left wing run caught Welling unprepared on the right but their man saw his pile-driver tipped up and off the bar in fine style by Dillon Barnes. The drizzle was steady by now but Welling kept at it and Harry Phipps saw a thumping header brilliantly tipped around the post by Alex Tokarozyk. Flo Bojaj then should have scored Welling's second when he beat the last man and drew Tokarozyk before sliding the ball past him. Unfortunately, it rolled on a little further than he wanted and shaded the post. 

There was still time for the boss, Jamie Coyle to power a header inches wide before the break. Whitehawk had done their homework on Welling and having doubled-up on Monakana and Nanetti, they had managed to prevent over-supply from the flanks but were still fortunate to go in at half-time only one down. 

The rain intensified and Whitehawk looked much better after the break. They visibly stepped up and were working very hard as a team to deny Welling space as they tried to fashion chances. Credit to the Welling team for restricting them but it made for a quieter second-half. Welling threatened a second in a better ten minute spell towards the end but they looked satisfied with the three points before the whistle. The win moves the Wings up to half-way in the table which is a better reflection, I think, of where they deserve to be after a number of creditable draws and the disappointment of a few last minute goals which have deprived them a few more points.

Charlton should bounce back at Gillingham on Saturday but it's a derby match and the Gills usually step up a bit for us. Welling play Haringay in an F A Cup qualifier and I might just get to that as well.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Charlton Athletic 2 v Southend United 1

Five wins from six and up to second in the table. Winning breeds confidence and may have helped us to a victory we might not have secured last season. Two goals from Magennis and Holmes in quick succession after twenty minutes of the second-half won the match but the Shrimpers did pull one back and we had the usual nervy last ten as they pressed for an equaliser. Tuesday evening will be the best test yet of our promotional credentials, especially as Wigan went down to the only goal of the match at table-toppers Shrewsbury Town.

I went over the hill to see Welling beat Poole Town 2-0 in an enjoyable match watched by considerably fewer than the 12,000 at the Valley. Welling took some time to get on top but when they did, they should have taken the lead just before the break but a one-on-one was wasted. After the break, Welling's fine wing-play from Christian Nanetti and Jeff Monakana put Poole under pressure and lead to two well taken goals. The first saw Colchester loaned Eli Phipps take a ball in from Monakana and turned two defenders inside-out before his shot squirmed in off Hutchings in the Poole goal. The second wasn't long in coming and Joe Healy powered a glancing header in from another fine right-wing cross from Monakana. Poole saw an effort headed off the line in the 90th minute and they hit the bar from the resulting corner but it was too little too late. I might just journey over the hill on Tuesday to see if the Wings can double-up by beating division whipping boys, Whitehawk. As fellow-Addick Tony said today,  "once a Wing, always a Wing!"

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Oldham Athletic 3 v Charlton Athletic 4

Karl Robinson and his band of merry men managed a very rare Charlton treble today by completing their third successive away victory inside eight days. The match was eventful with plenty of talking points. 

Ricky Holmes opened the scoring from 35 yards with another superlative strike. Fosu-Henry scored to double our first-half advantage as we dominated early on. Oldham hit back before the break with a spell pressure of their own when
 Davies had pulled one back from the spot after Bauer had conceded a penalty.

Oldham started quickly after the players reappeared and were level within six minutes when Doyle netted. Charlton fans the world over began swearing at this point and repeating the mantras of their fathers. However, Oldham, who haven't managed a single point this season, were down to ten men within three minutes when Fane was dismissed for second yellow. 

Could we beat ten men? After a week of striker-disappointment, up stepped Billy 'midfielder' Clarke to put the Addicks back in front and, with a point to prove to lots of us, substitute Dodoo put Charlton out of reach with a debut finish. There was still time for Oldham to score a third but time ran out for them and we move up to third in the table. Heady times indeed but there will be much stronger tests ahead as we seek to maintain a challenge. The fixtures are falling fairly kindly for us at the moment. The next four sides we face are Southend (H), Wigan (H), Gillingham (A) and Bury (H). Wigan are currently fifth in the table but that will mean that all of the other eight sides we will have played are currently in the bottom-half of the table. I'm not complaining but we should expect some stiffer competition sooner or later.

Karl Robinson will be grinning broadly tonight and he deserves it after a testing week, one which I suspect he will have lots to say about at some point in the future when he not reliant upon Roland Duchatelet to pay his wages. 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Desperation stakes

A couple of weeks praying for an additional experienced striker and on the last night of the window we move Novak out and bring in Joe Dodoo!

A 22 year old who played 20 times for Rangers last year scoring, er, three times (not a hat-trick). On Saturday we go to bottom-placed Oldham without an experienced striker. It's Dodoo or a youngster. Three goals between them.

Proof, if any needed, that Duchatelet won't invest a penny more and the club is being run on a fixed budget and is simply not geared for a promotion challenge. Time for Robinson to wake up and get real. His hands are tied and nothing is going to change whilst Duchatelet calls the shots.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Robinson gives up on new striker

Karl Robinson may have sounded like he's been playing spoof in the media with other clubs over the last few weeks in terms of his efforts to strengthen Charlton's striking options. You could argue he is still doing it with this week's latest pronouncement in the SLP, but it sounds very much to me that he's finally putting a brave face on a constricted budget.

He might also be leveraging his current position publicly to help build expectation and pressure on the owner to put his hand in his pocket come January, IF we are challenging for promotion. Sounds to me very much like the previous Duchatelet/Meire position when the aim was to be "competitive in the Championship with ambitions for the Premier League." They said at that time that they might spend in January, IF we were challenging for promotion. As we know that never happened. Instead they sacked Bob Peeters when we had the best of their first half-seasons rather than back him.

Once again Robinson's words are frustrating. He says it might be the time "press the button" on a signing, implying thats all he has to do. He goes on to say that if we are competing in January "they will be knocking on the door...saying go and get the best striker you can buy." Clearly they (Duchatelet and Meire) haven't been saying that in this window or knocking on the door. What does "get the best striker you can buy" mean? Surely he means 'get the best striker you can within the budget.' He's been trying to do that in this window but the likes of Wigan and Bristol City have been able to laugh off our offers for their squad strikers and demand unrealistically high fees because we are the mighty Charlton.

I am no fan of Robinson but he appears he could be turning a corner as things stand and if the owner and CEO agree, now is the time to help him, not hope we can compete with only two proven strikers and youngsters. Why would Duchatelet spend in January rather than say let's see if we can do it without spending? Maybe they will give him the money needed but perhaps it would come from a Lookman-type exit. If there isn't more money, why would the likes of Wigan or Bristol City do a deal with us in January unless we are paying more than offered in the close season? Robinson seems to think prices fall in January when demand is greater!

I find myself feeling sorry for Robinson this evening and perhaps affording him the credit of doing his best in difficult circumstances and treading what might be a difficult line between his budget and managing supporter expectations.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Rotherham United 0 v Charlton Athletic 2

A good away win this against a side who were relegated from the Championship last year. Rotherham missed a sitter after ten minutes and six minutes later Patrick Bauer scored a trademark header from a corner to give the Addicks a lead. 

Semi Ajayi headed wide from six yards out before Josh Magennis netted after 66 minutes. The home crowd were not happy as Proctor was felled in the run up to our goal and he was stretchered off after it. Karl Robinson won't care too much, he has his third win out of four and the Reds are up to fourth in the table. 

It's difficult not to look at your early season wins and reflect that the sides you have beaten aren't doing well in the table but that's as much a result of you denying them any points when they aren't many on the board. Bristol Rovers looked lame when they couldn't beat us with ten men but they have now just won two in-a-row. Northampton look like potential Division whipping boys having lost all four and yet Plymouth, who beat us at Home Park, have managed only a draw and two defeats. If these are signs, then we go to Oldham next week and they sit rock-bottom with Northampton having also lost all four.

However you look at it, it's a four point improvement on last year when we started with that 2-0 loss at promoted Bury, a 1-1 home draw with Northampton before winning at Walsall and drawing with Bolton at the Valley.

If we can strengthen our forward options before the window closes this week, we might just have a chance of being properly competitive this season. If we don't and it bites our bum again this year, there should be no excuses from anywhere about where the responsibility resides. 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Robinson - "Squad strong enough now for automatic promotion"

The club's website has today confirmed that two bids have been made for a striker but both turned down and the suggestion is that the price being asked is too high. Given the word on the street is that Robinson was telling fans last weekend we have had an offer of £1.2m turned down for Will Grigg, you have to assume that there is some truth in this but that Grigg won't be leaving mighty Wigan unless they can bring a better option in their opinion for that money in the meantime.

Robinson has also told KentLive this week that he believes the squad is strong enough today to make automatic promotion with or without any additional striker. He also says we made a bid for David Ball from Rotherham during the Summer but were turned down on that also (what price he scores againot us tomorrow). Sounds very much like Karl knows we are short upfront but is either putting a brave face on it or is continuing to manage expectations in the hope he gets someone in before the window closes next week. The Lee Novak situation will also be interesting in that Novak wants away and it's hard to keep a anyone focused and committed if their heart is not in it. Maybe we will see one in and one out that might not improve the situation?

Karl's tendency to prattle on and waffle is also evident when he talks about having to keep everyone fit (in order to sustain a promotion challenge). He says it as if we can somehow guarantee that by working hard at it. The reality in today's game is players will succumb to pulls and tears and no-one can legislate for bad tackles. We have already lost Magennis to injury this season, so the writing is on the wall.

It really is looking like we are again left trying to throw a double-six in order to get back to where we were when Duchatlet bought us.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Charlton Athletic 4 v Northampton Town 1

I was away camping this weekend but crept into the car to tune in at 4pm to catch-up on the Addicks. Radio 5 were covering Liverpool v Palace but flitting around the grounds. It was fully 25 minutes before I heard we were two-up and then shortly after that the Cobblers had pulled one back. I could imagine the mass nail-biting in SE7 and decided to switch off.  I then got a couple of texts confirming a surprise 4-1 victory.

It sounds like we played well but Northampton probably aren't this seasons yardstick. Two mates included the word 'flattered' in their updates but the post-match views on Charlton Life are very positive.

It was good to see Holmes firing another peach against his old side and that Forster-Caskey scored a late double. That probably won't help Robinson's case for another goal-scorer and I can hear Duchatelet saying "let's see where we are at Christmas." Josh Magennis' header after two minutes put us at ease and playing with one up front, this is the sort of scoreline and performance Robinson believes we can trot out week in, week out. 

Two away games in-a-row at Rotherham and then Oldham, neither of whom have started particularly well. Rotherham have lost twice whereas Oldham are bottom of the table and are still looking for their first point. 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Managing expectations....

Before last Christmas, Karl Robinson decided that he was going to travel to Belgium to make his plea in person to Roland Duchatelet for more funds to strengthen the side in the January transfer window. To bolster his case, he took Katrien Meire and captain, Johnnie Jackson. On his return he told us that they had a frank exchange of views and we would need to see what happened. Nothing did happen and we continued to struggle until the last few weeks of the season.

During the Summer we have had the usual clear-out to cut the wage bill and have finally managed to offload big earners in Texeira, Vetokele and Watt amongst others. Most fans, myself included, were surprised we managed to hang onto Ricky Holmes, not because the fee being talked about was massive (£700k?) but because Holmes resisted the lure of Championship football. His new deal was a boost and it looks very much like we didn't push any deal for Esra Konsa, despite what appeared in the press as a lot of big club interest. The Ademola Lookman deal may well have emboldened Duchatelet to play the longer game here to optimise the transfer fee when it eventually comes. 

Robinson has tunnel-vision on playing a fluid midfield with only one striker and this might not be helping his argument for another striker. The signings of Mark Marshall, Billy Clarke and Ben Reeves gave some cause for optimism. However, we still looked short of realistic striking options, certainly for a promotion campaign. Magennis is injury prone and Lee Novak looks beyond scoring double-figures over a season nowadays. That leaves us with inexperienced options in Ahearne-Grant, Umerah or Hackett-Fairchild. So, we really do need another proven scorer and probably two to support any realistic promotion effort and the need to be able to play 4-4-2 when needed. 

Most Charlton fans can see this very clearly and Karl Robinson has been forced to comment in the Newshopper this week to help manage expectations. It looks very much like Duchatelet won't support Karl here and he is being told he can have limited funds which would only support bringing in the sorts of players who won't make any real improvement on what we have. This fits very much with Duchatelet's strategy of cutting and maintaining smaller operating losses so he can maximise profits when selling our most promising players. What happened to the £12-15m raked in last season for Lookman, Gudmundson & Co? Duchatelet's trousered it all arguing it offsets historical operating losses and the purchase of the club.

Given the pilgrimage to Belgium last year, how long will it be before Karl Robinson realises his career aspirations are at stake as well as the reputation of Charlton Athletic and is openly critical instead of telling us it's "not my fault?"

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Plymouth Argyle 2 v Charlton Athletic 0

Disappointing to lose our first game of the season in only our second match but it looked a struggle from the off given we were forced to play Josh Magennis who was either still carrying a knock or, at best, just over one.

We seemed to start brightly in front of 990 travelling Addicts but after failing to take any early chances, Argyle came more strongly into the match and didn't look back after taking an early second-half lead. Their late second on the break finished us off.

Karl Robinson has been very upbeat of late and has said how pleased he is with our squad. This is a team who will fight to the death and run through brick walls etc. We continue to be linked with any available lower league strikers and it's pretty obvious we are in desperate need. The embarrassing Tony Watt situation finally played out earlier today with him moving to Belgian club Leuven. Final proof, if anyone was left in any doubt, that he hasn't been wanted at this club for a very long time. Robinson wasn't overly keen when he came back from his latst underwhelming loan at Blackburn and promised to make him cry or some other nonsense by working him so hard. The fact that he featured last week, albeit as a second-half sub, and once again angered the Valley faithful with another lazy, couldn't-care-less showing, showed just how thin we are upfront. The fact Robinson had to call on him showed we were scraping the barrel again. We have to hope Watt will stay at Leuven until his contract at the Valley is finished and we are spared anymore of his 'I am ready this time' nonsense.

Lee Novak isn't the answer and I haven't seen Billy Clarke but he's hardly prolific and at the other end of his career from Karlan Ahearne-Grant. KAG is apparently looking more like the hungry youngster who broke onto the scene with pace and confidence. However, it's asking too much to expect him to contribute the sort if number of goals you need from a second striker to sustain a promotion challenge. If Robinson is serious about this season he needs one but probably two strikers to provide the support and cover we need upfront.  He has been linked this week with Matt Godden but Stevenage are obviously leveraging their position asking for £1.5m which looks way beyond what Duchatelet will support. We probably need to find someone who will play for all or at least part of Watt's wages.

Northampton come to the Valley next week where we need a Josh Magennis firing on all cylinders. Better still, Robinson needs some support in the market. Otherwise we risk doing what we have done in each of the last three years under Duchatelet and calling out glaring squad weaknesses until it's too late and another season is squandered.

Friday, 11 August 2017

What a load of rubbish!

So much has been said and written about Charlton Athletic's disastrous run under Roland Duchatelet that we shouldn't have to continue to suffer people getting the basic facts wrong. The latest poor Vital Charlton piece by Michael Tucker is typical.

Apart from his dream of promotion, which we all share, Michael is entitled to his opinion that the current situation mirrors that of the lows in the 70's. I would agree that they are both post-war historical lows but for completely different reasons and circumstances.

However, what really annoys me is that, once again, someone is somehow attempting to blame CARD for the current mess. Tucker says "without realising what they are doing, their actions have turned the club and the Valley back to the seventies when we suffered many stay away supporters who felt the club and team was lacking the woe (sic) factor and the attendances dropped down in figures." What a load of cobblers. CARD don't run the club and they have never organised a boycott of matches - they don't have the support for it amongst themselves, let alone the fan base.

Michael - I am not sure if you were around in the 70's but the reason gates fell away was because the club was being badly mismanaged with a lack of investment and we ended the decade by being relegated to the third tier for the second time in six years. To your point, Charlton were woeful, not it's supporters. They simply didn't want to pay to watch the drivel that was being served up.

The current mess started fairly shortly after Roland Duchatelet bought the club. It was nearly two years before CARD was formed and even later before we saw fans protesting. I think even CARD get the fact that some supporters are tired of the protests and others are happy for them to stop because the owner hasn't been persuaded to sell - CARD haven't organised a mass protest at the Valley for many months - the last was in Belgium lead by the Belgium 20 and supported by CARD.

The reason we are where we are is because of Duchatelet's failed strategy of network players, numerous consecutive naive management appointments and a completely ridiculously hopeless Chief Executive who has insulted the supporters' intelligent repeatedly to the point of no forgiveness. Performances and results haven't been good enough for three seasons and we have again suffered a humiliating relegation. CARD are not responsible for any of that. 

Everyone wants to move on this season and we are all hoping for something much better so let's stop finger-pointing and making ridiculous accusations to try and stir it. It remains to be seen whether we can make any significant improvement on the pitch this season but that's what it will take to start repairing the damage of lost supporters. Better still, if Duchatelet sells up and takes Meire with him, this club can finally move on and hundreds, if not thousands, will quickly return, even if the football isn't materially better.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Forever Charlton App

Ever since it was launched, the Forever Charlton website, which aggregates all things Charlton, has been my first-thing go-to site everyday. 

I am pleased, therefore, to see that those responsible have now launched a Forever Charlton Android App which enhances their offering and gives us much easier and direct access to pretty much everything a Charlton fan would be interested in. It's £2.99 via Google Play - great value. I hope everyone with an Android mobile or tablet downloads the App to help make it the success it deserves to be.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Air Canada - you have to laugh!

Air Canada lost my case on an overnight flight from Canada on Friday. I filled in the appropriate form with Global Baggage Solutions at Gatwick on arrival and have been waiting since to hear what's happened. 

I tried Global Baggage Solutions several times today and eventually got someone who told me that "it can take up to a maximum of 48 hours to get a baggage location." When I told the lady that it had now been longer than forty-eight hours she replied "it can take longer than 48 hours." So there's no maximum of 48 hours? "No, 48 hours is the maximum."

I tried Air Canada direct by email and received this reply...

"Thank you for contacting us regarding your travels with Air Canada. We appreciate your feedback and you can rest assured that an Air Canada representative will get back to you within 30 business days. Thank you for your patience as you wait to hear from us.

Pleas note that this automated message confirmed that we have received your correspondence and there is no need to resubmit your information. We are on it!

Best Regards

Customer Relations
Air Canada"

Six weeks to respond to an email! Katrien Meire will be impressed. I hope she doesn't get any ideas.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Charlton Athletic 1 v Bristol Rovers 0

I flew in from Toronto this morning after two superb weeks in Canada on holiday with the family. We were delayed a couple of hours and Air Canada managed to lose my case so we were well late as I pulled into Charlton after 3pm. That meant parking miles away and it was strange to walk around the ground whilst the match was in progress but we scored as I did so.

Whatsapp had informed me we had already lost Novak to a straight red early on so I was expecting the worse. One-nil is a decent result then, in the circumstances, but we drubbed the Pirates home and away last season and I suspect they may be one of the division's whipping boys this year. Still, you can only beat what's in front of you and we have done that.

I haven't blogged during the close season as I wanted a break and have been pleased not to spend so much time following not very much which has been a welcome relief. 

The club have got some things right during the close season; they persuaded Player-of-the-Year Ricky Holmes to stay and have resisted efforts thus far to cash in on Konsa. Robson has been officially flanked by Bowyer and Jackson and even Katrien Meire has managed to avoid any further major PR disasters by keeping quiet.

Karl Robinson has been keen to tell us about the new attitude amongst the players and his overall satisfaction with the squad he now has and expects us to challenge for promotion. The glass-half-full brigade have lapped it up and that has lead to the best feel-good factor since Meire was deployed.

However, I remain absolutely convinced that we cannot prosper under Duchatelet unless he has a Road-to-Damascus type conversion in terms of his game-plan and ambition for Charlton Athletic Football Club. It's still very much a damage limitation exercise for him and the last thing he wants is to be promoted to the Championship where his operating losses would gear-up to where they were two and three years ago. He will still cash in on Konsa in the near future because that will help balance the books this year, just as Lookman did last year. There are those who say promotion will make the club more saleable and attract a higher price but wouldn't we be in exactly the same position where Duchatelet's expectations would again outstrip reality?

Somewhere along the line he will sell because his heart's not in it and his network plan has failed. However, all the time he can 'wash his face' financially and keep Meire in relatively high-profile (and well paid) work, he can afford to remain in Sint Truiden and let her get on with following his current exit strategy, even if that takes longer than he would like.

I will continue to follow the club I have loved for 40 years but have steadfastly, if a little reluctantly, joined the 'not another penny' mutiny. If you are still going, then good luck to you but for me it's come to this.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Charlton Athletic 3 v Swindon Town 0

Another protest day and another day where the match was a sideshow. Relegated Swindon were comfortably beaten by a strolling Charlton side. The result leaves us in an elevated, and frankly flattering, 13th position. Meire will no doubt refer to this as an 'easy' season, as she did following our 12th place finish in the Championship prior to relegation but it felt anything but easy and was hard to stomach.

I had a prior appointment with God so couldn't make the game but I did catch-up with friends after the match in the White Swan where the mood remained defiant and determined that we must continue the protests until they are eventually forced out. As I have said before, I will boycott all games next season if they are still here, but I will continue to protest and play whatever small part I can in seeing it out. Nothing's going to change until they are gone.

The protests themselves lacked the high profile impact of previous shows but it was effective, nonetheless, as 2500 fans blocked the West Stand car park and hundreds more security and police personnel were deployed to protect Meire and Co as well as to try to contain any protests. As it was, thousands of spoof paper season tickets were cascaded from the upper West and thousands of black and white balloons were released causing play to be stopped for a couple of minutes. There was a post-match pitch invasion which even the serried ranks of security couldn't stop.

The rumoured 'anti-protest' predictably failed to surface but that's because it doesn't really exist outside the weird world of half-a-dozen would-be internet warriors. My guess is another repeat close season of failed expectations will probably quash even those before the season starts. All that supposes Duchatelet doesn't find a buyer before then. I remain convinced he wants out and that the club is for sale but that he still hasn't come to terms with the reality of the loss he is going to have to swallow to get out. Logic tells you he is going to have to get real one day soon because he's signing up for another year of hefty downside in 17-18. We won't see another Ademola Lookman for a few years at least.

Meire's hands will be tied even more tightly and her statement that the budget for the close season of "a million pounds" suggests season ticket sales won't rally based upon any galactico signings. The rumour is that Ricky Holmes will be cashed-in and, if that happens, I can't see us finding anywhere close to a replacement. Konsa and Aribo may attract the more vigilant bidders too but the bigger risk is just another cull and churn of the existing first-team squad as the wage bill is trimmed and we get even more mediocrity.

Gate revenue will inevitably drop again on the back of a further fall in season ticket sales. I can see another 30% refusing to commit to a whole season and more moving to a week-to-week model where they have the freedom to pay if we're performing and not if we aren't.

Strong rumours too that Chris O'Loughlin could be the next back-room departure following that of Nugent and Clarke this week. We have nearly lost more background staff than players in the last two years. It really isn't a settled ship. If Congo Chris does go, at least we will be spared the imposition of another Duchatelet aberration as manager . It could also open a space for Johnny Jackson who will surely say more than play more next season.

As supporters we deserve a break given the continued suffering and I intend to take one. Maybe things will look brighter come August?

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

How much longer?

That is the question increasingly being asked by despairing Charlton fans. The lack of further news on takeover rumours begins to suggest the Aussie trail may have gone cold and if that news was a leak to leverage a deal or smoke out other interested parties, it may have failed.

This weekend Charlton fans will once again protest at the continuing slump in club fortunes and the ongoing oppression by Duchatelet and Meire at the final home game of the season against, fittingly relegated Swindon. Elsewhere, Leyton Orient, a club we have always been closer to in size and reputation than Arsenal have fallen out of the football league for the first time since we were formed in 1905 due to incompetent foreign ownership. If there is no-one ready or able to relieve us of The Belgians, I am afraid the O's are far more likely to be the route we follow than the Arse.

Sundays protest will be proportionate and well-directed as always but there is an increasingly vocal group (albeit very small) of 'anti-protestors' who, for some unfathomable reason, seem more desperate for the protests to stop than for any reason of actual support for the Belgian Regime. Frankly, I don't get it but they should be careful what they wish for - all of us would rather be supporting the club than burning resources, emotions and love for the club. This close season threatens to be another major step-backwards for the club we have all loved and, given where we already find ourselves, that would almost inevitably lead us to a new historic and future-threatening low. If the protests wane or stop altogether it won't be because of any other reason than our core support has finally fallen below critical mass to carry one out or there's basically too few supporters left attending games to care enough.

It's incredible that there is still anyone able to somehow believe that this close season will be any different to the pattern and plan of their last three. Regime talk about the long haul, commitment to learning from their continuing mistakes, supporting the manager etc is simply the line of false optimism they have to trot out to continue to justify their tenure on the club. They say it's the hope that kills you.

I pray that the protest this Sunday is hugely successful and that Meire is angered by it. I hope Duchatelet is embarrassed once again, like he should be and that our fans are fired-up once more to plan another visit to St. Truiden if necessary. Unfortunately, I can't be there until after the game as I am committed elsewhere - something I once would never have agreed to but another sign of what's happening to the club I loved so well.

"Poor-me" as a recent commenter posted on here. Poor-me indeed but I will be gone come August if they are still here, along with another tranche of supporters who have clung on thus far. That could really see us in a place where it will be more a case of "poor-you" who are still left suffering in relative silence.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Season over

If it wasn't mathematically certain following our 3-0 humbling of Medway's finest on Saturday, it was confirmed last night with Bury taking a point from Bolton Wanderers. We are safe for another season. All that remains is the paper challenge for Karl Robinson to avoid a stain on his copy-book and another blot on the Regime's of Charlton Athletic finishing in their lowest league position since we made our way through the leagues in the 1920's.

We have two games left against teams below us in the table which will determine things. Saturday's visit to already-relegated Chesterfield is not likely to get the pulses racing and you would expect us to collect points but it will likely be a case of who's bothered most. Swindon Town may be relegated on Saturday if they fail to beat Scunthorpe in Wiltshire and either Bury or Port Vale can manage home wins against Northampton and Bolton Wanderers respectively. 

I won't be at either game so my season is finished and I reflect on a season where the compelling attraction of forty years has finally been broken. Never for me a sense of entitlement or even of match-to-match expectancy. Buying power played no part whatsoever in attracting me in the 1970's like a moth to a flame. The relative highs and lows of the 1980's didn't affect my devotion either as I saw more than 90% of all games played, home and away. I did less away games in the 90's but still saw more than 75% of all matches. I kept my averages up during the Premiership years of the 00's and even the Championship and League One after our second relegation although there was, understandably, less of a draw to away games.

It's been a struggle to go to away matches for a few years now and certainly since Duchatelet started watching us on TV but I remained a regular at the Valley. That ended with me stopping my season ticket this year for the first time since I was in short trousers. I knew the likely consequences of this and so it has proved. I have just done a count and I actually only saw ten home games this season. I thought I had at least done half of them. Away from home it was limited to Bradford (with a mate back from overseas) and Coventry to support their protest. So, a little more than a quarter of all games....

As I have said previously, there is no chance of me renewing next season if Duchatelet is still ignoring us and Meire still smirking at us. My Wife has lost all interest. I am still in love with the beautiful game, even if The Regime has severely tested me. That season ticket at Welling or Ebbsfleet is looking more attractive. I like the idea of watching a club again that has ambitions and a realistic plan and who is honest with it's supporters. Success isn't the be-all-and-end-all but hopelessness and duplicity is intolerable. It wouldn't be like watching Charlton but it would be more enjoyable than watching Charlton under the Belgians.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Congratulations to Brighton & Hove Albion

Really pleased to see the Seagulls promoted back to the Premier League today. Their brilliantly well-run club has maintained faith with the experienced and pragmatic Chris Hughton and have consolidated before making their push this season.

They are a classy outfit from top to bottom and a role model for football league clubs. Great leadership, honest ambitions, first-rate supporter engagement which generates excellent support and creates the conditions needed for success.

As Charlton supporters it is something we know and understand because we tasted it for the best part of ten years. I really miss it and am left wondering if we will ever see it again. 

Charlton Athletic 3 v Gillingham 0

Gillingham's dire history at the Valley continued this afternoon as they maintained their record of never having managed a victory in 15 attempts. In fact, they have only beaten us on four occasions in thirty league attempts.

The BBC stats suggest the match was close with the Gills having 53% possession and managing 18 shots to our 14. However, I understand they were poor in spite of the stats and that we were good value for our win which effectively secures League One football next season. I couldn't face it after Friday and felt sure we wouldn't show up so I am pleased we haven't checked out early this season.

Pearce headed home after 20 minutes to add to the recent spate of goals from centre-halves and the Gills were fished after half-an-hour when Ricky Holmes whipped in yet another free-kick. The Gills were trying but their final ball and finishing let them down badly. After the break it took nine minutes to wrap the match up when Magennis finished a Charlton counter-attack. Chelsea loaned Dasilva had another impressive game and has made himself a real contender after a slow start. He's very unlikely to be here again next season, of course, along with half the others.

I will miss the last two games this season, so another miserable season has ended for me prematurely. My interest now is purely focused on new ownership or, failing that,  continuing the fight to get an ambitious owner and a credible Chief Executive who knows what they are doing. It would also be good to see a number of the "just following orders" brigade finally dislodged when the time comes. We will also have to stomach those who will be wise after the event but I guess it was ever thus.

Praying we get some news now that our league status has been secured....

Friday, 14 April 2017

Coventry City 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Struggled up a congested M1 earlier today in order to join protesting Coventry fans who have had the stuffing knocked out of them over the last ten failing years by owners SISU. A coachload load of Addicks arrived prior to the 2pm march to the ground and they were warmly greeted with a round of applause by several hundred Sky Blue fans at the Cherry trees club. 

Along with maybe fifty Charlton fans already there, maybe 500 fans in total walked together carrying respective banners and placards. The march made its way down towards the Ricoh Arena and we were handed spongy pigs before getting to the ground. An accompanying policeman helpfully told us to conceal the pigs well as the Stewards had been instructed to search us on entry. At the turnstiles we were all frisked and pigs were bouncing out from pockets in all directions, but at kick-off hundreds rained down from both sets of supporters congregated at one end of the stadium. The match was halted and then the referee went to the unnecessary step of taking all the players off for five additional minutes before play eventually resumed.

As expected, it wasn't much of a match. Charlton saw more possession but Coventry took the lead towards the end of the first-half. Byrne head onto the Coventry bar from a superb Dasilva cross when he should have buried it. After the break the match continued in a similar fashion with the pony-tailed pairing of Holmes and Jones running the show for their respective sides. Bauer headed an unlikely looking Charlton equaliser and when the lively Jodi Jones was replaced by Kyle Reid you knew the match was over.

Sorry to be the ones to relegate our suffering hosts but I think they knew it was all over for them bar the shouting. A threatened pitch invasion by the disgruntled locals was faced down by serried ranks of stewards and police. The point effectively makes us safe given the number of sides still needing two wins plus to overhaul us. Nonetheless, it's been another miserably thin season and one we will look back on and thank Kevin Nugent for the seven vital points he won for us in the three matches he was caretaker manager sandwiched between the conservatively boring Russell Slade and the bull-shittingly hopeless Karl Robinson.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The final lie?

"The club is not for sale." Meire's latest pronouncement when questioned about the ongoing rumour and tell-tale signs that the club is in the process of being sold. Karl Robinson also told us this a month or two back after he demanded to know if there was any truth in what he was hearing which might suggest he was taken for a mug when appointed several months before. He too was reassured that the club wasn't being sold. It's looking decidedly like 'the club is not for sale" is the final Meire lie, akin to a managerial 'vote of confidence.' 

Of course, when you are attempting to get the best deal you can in a negotiation, denying a sale is ongoing is an understandable strategy. You don't want prospective buyers to see that you may be under pressure from your supporters as that could give them potential leverage in negotiations. You also don't want to disrupt the normal running of the club and it's revenue streams. News of change can also scare the horses and players might decide they don't need to try quite so hard or even decide that that their future lies elsewhere, both of which can be disastrous for results. 

In our case, of course, any sale is hardly likely to register on our commercial operation, given there is practically nothing happening on that front. Those blindly renewing their season tickets will continue to do so and match day sales are already at a realistic low-point. You could also argue, given performances under Robinson, that the players won't be affected either, certainly not detrimentally, or that we are safe enough now not to worry. However, Meire will maintain her line until it's hopeless denying it and then exit stage left.

The latest news from the Daily Mail that an Australian Football Consortium (that's their name too) is lining up a sale in order to take us into the Premier League and to aid development of soccer in Australia is the newest rumour. Personally, I am not convinced AFC will become our new owners but rather that news of their interest may have been leaked deliberately to push other candidates to firm-up better offers. 

There has been immediate concern that the Australians are a newly established body still looking for funds to acquire an English club and that they wouldn't have the backing to fulfil their ambitions or that we would become a club focused solely on developing Aussie talent. Both of these may be true but for me, anything is better than an absent owner who has no footballing ambition and who has inflicted a disastrous Chief Exec on us and who has been too stubborn to remove her, allowing the problem to fester and the club to plunge into decline on all fronts.

The hope, of course, is that we are eventually acquired by serious football owners with ambition and backing. Given the loss Duchatelet faces on his investment, we also have to pray that whoever buys the club does not commit the cardinal sin of somehow failing to own the key assets of the Valley and Sparrows Lane. Left in the hands of Duchatelet you could see how he could eye a way to eventually recovering his losses at the expense of the football club and it's supporters he has so little consideration for.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Returning the favour

This Friday Charlton play the return league fixture against Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena. Back in October, relegation-threatened Coventry City supporters turned up in decent numbers for a joint protest about bad owners of football clubs. Seven months on the Sky Blues teeter on the brink of what looks like a certain relegation. With Charlton probably needing another three points to ensure their own survival, it's ironic that we could achieve it at the expense of our fellow-sufferers and send them down.

Joy Seppala and disastrous SISU have taken Coventry on a downward spiral that makes even ours look jovial during the ten years they have been in control. They have ripped the heart out of Coventry City and look certain to take the club into the fourth tier of English football for the first time in their history. The club have very few remaining assets and are in their final year of renting at the the Ricoh Arena and are likely to start the 2018-19 season at another venue having already spent time playing home matches at Northampton's Sixfields.

Several hundred Coventry fans marched up from the Antigallican back in October to join around two thousand Addicks in processing down Floyd Road in unison before occupying the club car park in a pre-match protests. Famously,  both sets of supporters then threw several thousand stress-ball pigs onto the pitch in further protest which held the match up for ten minutes and which gained extensive worldwide media attention.

Now is the time for Charlton fans to return the favour and join the Sky Blues fans at the Cherry Trees Club at 1.45pm or earlier and support their march and protest. Make the effort if you are going - they played their part, let's play ours.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Charlton Athletic 2 v Southend United 1

A late own goal by the Shrimpers handed the Addicks a lifeline at the Valley this afternoon. The three points moves the Reds onto 50 points and keeps them 16th in the table, five points clear of the drop. I can't comment on the match as I decided not to bother at the last minute. I did the Upbeats walk this morning and shared a couple of pints with fellow walkers before kick-off but couldn't bring myself to risk sitting through another game like Tuesdays. The walk was another reminder about all that is good about the supporters of Charlton Athletic and the brilliant work of the Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust. In excess of £20,000 raised by the time we set-off.

By all accounts we held our own today and deserved to edge it, although Nouble might have grabbed a point for the Shrimpers at the end of the match but, predictably, fluffed his lines. We should be safe now and the relative comfort gap  may be enough to secure another win that would almost guarantee our League One survival. Ironically, we could end up relegating fellow strugglers and Regime-sufferers, Coventry on Friday if we manage a second consecutive win, although we might be getting ahead of ourselves there.

Katrien Meire carried out her latest PR victory today when she met Valley Gold reps pre-match. Apparently, she said that Karl Robinson will have a transfer budget of "around a million" for the Summer. For once that sounds an honest appraisement but would clearly be insufficient to change this squad into promotion-challengers. News too that "Roland wants to come to games" but feels he can't at the moment. Almost too ridiculous to comprehend given the fact that Meire can swan about at home matches unscathed with only a couple of security men in attendance. She should know that her presence is more inflammatory than the ignorant, absent, hapless President. Still, blaming supporters is the only thing left for his shameful absence. Let's hope that we can all consign this drivel to history in the coming weeks with new ownership.

Elsewhere this week we had to witness the Club Secretary apologising on behalf of his wife  on her Facebook account for her most recent outburst against protesting supporters when she managed to equate the level of hatred towards the Regime with that of ISIS. Mr Parkes has been with his wife for over 50 years and his words were heartfelt but very sad that she couldn't bring herself to say sorry or show some humility. 

On a more positive note, I was pleased to see the Charlton-Welling connection strengthened this week as Alex Dyer gets his first chance in management. A thumping 4-0 win at PVR against relegation-threatened Gosport gives the Wings breathing space as the season winds down. If the Regime are still here come August, I am heading over the hill for my football fix.