Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Back on Track

Charlton Athletic 2 - Doncaster Rovers 0
Oh Donny……..

Doncaster Rovers supporters have every reason to whinge and moan.

Back in the 'Summer', their Rovers team came to the Valley and kicked off a game that really should never have started due to the appalling conditions. They then gave us a bit of a spanking with 20 minutes of fast and confident play.

The Charlton team really didn't know what had hit them.

At the point the referee called for proceedings to be halted, Rovers were 3-1 up. 

Anyone not at the game would have probably thought "c'est du poisson", (especially if they were French), but it wasn't quite so clear cut.

Rovers had gone down to 10 men, Charlton had just scored and were now due to be attacking the 'dodgy' goalmouth that our blokes had found nearly impossible to defend. 

I fully believed on the day that had the game continued, we would have got at least a draw.

The circumstances and overall picture of the way the game was panning out didn't stop plenty of online harping about Charlton 'cheating' of course.

What cannot be denied is there is a serious problem with the pitch drainage, especially on the East stand side and around the North stand goalmouth.

I feel especially sorry for groundsman Colin 'Paddy' Powell, who's image has changed from somebody who was winning awards for his prowess, to someone who fans of other clubs are blaming for games being in doubt.

Throughout all of the Premiership years, and prior to that if I'm honest, the pitch was more suited to a decent game of carpet bowls or somewhere to practice your putting. It was amazing.

We had similar weather to now for all those years yet the pitch retained the immaculate playing surface.

Sometime during the intervening years there's obviously been some hard financial decisions to make by the club and poor Paddy is now reaping the dividends.

I'm generally fairly pessimistic about Charlton's chances on the walk to the game.

I'm usually the one who is convinced we are going to be on the receiving end of a hiding.
Last night however, I was as sure as could be that we would be claiming the 3 points.

I figured Doncaster had already enjoyed their chance to take Charlton to the cleaners and our team wouldn't fall for it twice. There's also the Sods Law aspect to factor in, along with Donny missing some of their key players.

The Valley was under half full.

It could even have been less than that. Awful transport chaos for anybody not driving to the game meant many, many people never made it to Charlton. The reported attendance of 14,000 was laughable, though I suppose that's tickets and Season Tickets paid for rather than actual bums on seats.

Unfortunately for their hardy bunch of supporters, the Doncaster Rovers team never made it either. They were completely missing.

As good as they were in the original fixture, they were awful last night.

We know to our cost they have the ability to attack with speed and venom yet this time they looked like they'd just stepped off the Red Eye, having crossed the Atlantic budget class, with a fat bloke on one side and a crying baby on the other.

The lack of crowd gave the game a rather odd atmosphere. It honestly felt a bit like a pre season friendly at times or one of those meaningless early rounds of the Cup we generally get knocked out in.

To say the game was rather one sided would not be stretching the point. 

Charlton could/should have been 3 or 4 goals up before Dale Stephens unleashed an amazing volley. 

The ball was always destined for the back of the net, the Donny keeper stood no chance.

The chances kept coming (and coming) before Church managed to get the ball to (finally) go between the uprights when he found himself 1:1 with the 'keeper.

Of the chances Church had, it was one of the more difficult to tuck away yet it was the one that had him wheeling away in triumph.
Odd game eh?

The game was so one sided, instead of having a good moan when Churchy failed to knock the ball into an unguarded net, (somehow contriving to copy one of my golf air shots and finishing up on his rear end), we all belly laughed, safe in the knowledge it wasn't going to be a costly miss.

Danny Green made an appearance late on, fresh from stretching his legs on loan in League One.

He wasn't on the pitch long enough to make an impression and neither was Sordell who also ran about a bit when the game was already up.

The original game against Doncaster Rovers was an odd affair and last night also felt strange to me. Yes we won but I didn't walk away from the Valley with that extra bit of pep in my stride that I normally have after a win.

I'm assuming 'normal' service will be resumed on Saturday when Ipswich Town, now managed by Millwall Mick come calling.

I'd settle for a point and I know if we do grab one, I'll feel more elated than I did last night after the win.

I'm a complicated old fart.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Another Loss

QPR 1 - Charlton Athletic 0.

A rather 'over the top' security arrangement meant many visitors were fearful of missing Kick Off but I think most supporters were in place by the time the players emerged from the tunnel.

This could have been so much worse from a Charlton perspective.

The wealth of experience and quality in the QPR squad made our hard working players look like a park team, yet it was just one moment of sublime skill that settled the encounter.

Charlie Austin really shouldn't be messing around in the Championship. 
It's highly likely he won't need to be playing second tier football next season and I for one wouldn't begrudge him the chance for MOTD to do a focus on him.

Austin's 30 yard belter was the kind of goal that is just perfect.
It was so good, it even raised the voices of the sleepy QPR support (momentarily).

QPR are hardly Barcelona or Manchester United yet their support seems to have settled into the complacent attitude of entitlement.
Why should they bother getting behind their team? 
They 'knew' they'd win anyway, so they sat back and watched their highly remunerated mercenaries, safe in the knowledge they didn't have to strain their throats.

The 1800 Addicks in the sold out away section were there to party, regardless of the result.
Many had traveled from South East London via interesting pub crawls and a sizeable 'crew' (ahem)  had made their way West by disco boat.
There was a definite whiff of 'eau de pissed bloke' in the air.

Crammed into the sold out, compact Loftus Road ground, it should have been a rip roaring London derby but other than when the away fans 'told' the home fans to sing, they weren't really interested.

'Arry, the current fella charged with burning his bum on the QPR managerial hot seat, was celebrating 30 years as a manager, so it was fitting he should be serenaded.

I'm certain he appreciated the reminders to pay his taxes and hearing his face resembles a scrotum.

Charlton huffed and puffed but had nothing in the final third.

I can't question the commitment and hard work from our team but the reality was, we were never going to score in open play. 
The best we could hope for was a dodgy penalty or a free kick in a dangerous area.

With many QPR fans already walking down South Africa Road, Charlton won a late free kick.

It was our glowing opportunity but Jackson was in more danger of hitting a Charlton supporter in the top tier than the back of Rob Green's net.

Green was reminded again and again how he had 'let his country down' which did seem a little harsh. It's unlikely he'll be that bothered though as he will rarely have had a lazier afternoon. 
His kit won't be needing a wash and he didn't have to make a single save of note.

Charlton were toothless going forwards. 
Church ran and ran but needed some help.

We all got excited when Yann Kermorgant was introduced, then crestfallen when we realised he was replacing Church.
Two players up front might have been able to do some damage but when Yann began winning headers (to flick onto himself?), it became clear nothing had changed.

Sordell came on with 5 minutes to go and the two attackers did look lively, but the game was already up.

QPR attempted to turn the screw. 
Shaun Wright Phillips late introduction was accompanied by the 'better than Shaun' song, only for him to respond by being extremely unlucky not to score, his shot bouncing off Ben Hamer's cross bar. 

A game we really could have lost by a shameful scoreline, in the end was fairly respectable.

It's now consigned to history and we can look forward to the visit of Doncaster on Tuesday.

We've had precious little fortune lately so a nice jammy victory would set us up for the visit of the Tractor Boys next weekend.

One final note.
I was disappointed not to see the Mexican(?) bloke wearing the sombrero in the QPR crowd. Maybe he was there and I didn't see him?
At previous visits to Loftus Road he was always an animated and good natured supporter who took the chanting aimed towards him with a beaming smile.

I do hope he's not been a casualty of the 'new' QPR regime or been priced out of football. 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

We Will Remember Them

Once a year, (though really it should be much more often than that), I am reminded how trivial my day to day life really is.

As much as I enjoy filling days with thoughts about the fortunes of my local football team, Adidas trainers, 80's casual brands, searching out the best coffee in London and listening to music that makes me feel fine, it's all a bit meaningless.

Today being Remembrance Sunday, it is the time we bring to mind those who have fought in wars both recent and not so recent.

As I've got older it's become more and more pertinent to me.

As a small boy, I would go on parade wearing my Cub Scout uniform but I didn't really understand.

Now, I can look back at family photographs and hear tales of young men who died without reaching even half my current age.

What a waste.

I imagine most families in this country will have been touched by somebody close perishing in battle.

Today, I am particularly remembering Grandad Roy and Uncle Reginald.

Roy trained at the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich and was killed on a depth charged submarine, HMS Sterlet, 18th April 1940, during WW2.
Grandad Roy, back centre 
Roy, a few months before being killed.

Reginald was injured in WW1 and sent home to recover.
Unfortunately, his lungs had been so badly wrecked by gas he died soon afterwards.

We Will Remember Them

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Ref'll Fix It

"Yooooorkshire. We are Leeds etc etc".
Charlton Athletic 2 - Leeds United 4
It's quite difficult to write this without coming across as a bitter old bloke, who can't accept it when his team is beaten.

As supporters of Charlton, we are unlike the supporters of the Sky 6, so we are quite used to taking defeat on the chin.

Today felt different though.

It's possible to be the better team, yet lose, at least in part due to odd decisions by an incompetent referee.

I was already in a stinking mood when I got to the Valley.

I'd only realised the game was having a delayed start due to a waterlogged pitch as I was walking from home, approaching the Valley Cafe on Charlton Church Lane.

At this road junction, coming down Delafield Road,  I witnessed a young lad having his Charlton scarf forcibly removed from around his neck, then the cowards run off with it into a laughing mass of northern bell ends.

Within seconds, I then saw two older ladies, (both looking to be in their seventies), being surrounded by drunken yobs with arms outstretched, beer bottles in hand, chanting "Yorkshire" in their faces.

It's safe to say Leeds United supporters were playing (down) to their reputation as a pathetic copy of our close neighbours from Bermondsey.

The game will be remembered for Ross McCormack scoring 4 goals but what it really should be remembered for is an appalling case of officiating.

I cannot deny McCormack took his goals well.
He is just the kind of player our potless club desperately needs but finances dictate it is a pipe dream.

Unfortunately, only his first goal wasn't somewhat 'ref assisted'.

Charlton equalised with a fantastic screamer from Stewart and at that point it looked as if there was only going to be one winner.
The Addicks were on a roll.

Charlton had been denied a cast iron penalty in the first half when Church was clipped running onto a goal scoring opportunity.
He had no reason to go down. It was as clear as day yet our Leeds supporting referee saw it differently and waved play on.

Within moments of the second half starting, in almost the same position as the Church incident, there was an almighty dive without much help from a timid challenge, yet our Yorky approved ref pointed to the spot.

Charlton equalised again after tremendous work down the left from Church, crossing for Jackson to poke the ball home.

Unfortunately, Leeds only had to get the ball back into the Charlton half for them to be awarded a dodgy free kick.
It had all the hallmarks of the kind of awful decision that gets chewed over in the pub afterwards and discussed by pundits.
Bad decision leading to goal.

Exactly that dreaded scenario occurred, with McCormack bagging his hat trick, though why Hamer decided to watch events rather than getting stuck in I have no idea.
Inside the 6 yard box he should be claiming everything but he may as well have not been there.

Leeds were highly fortunate to be in front, yet worse was to come.

In added on time, Leeds won another free kick. The 'offence' was a good 5 yards outside the area yet the Leeds Tom Daly ended up well inside the box, safe in the knowledge his pal would give him a penalty.

He looked shocked when he only received a free kick.

At 3-2 down, within added on time, we were all feeling cheated as we knew the better team hadn't prevailed.

That all changed though when McCormack scored his final goal, direct from the free kick.
That's a thumping surely?
A wonderful strike, yet Hamer really could have done much better.

 Hamer didn't really have much to do today except pick the ball out of the net.
He wasn't called on to make any saves, unlike Kenny in the Leeds goal who made at least 2 world class stops and also saw his woodwork rattled.

It was one of those days today.
Our team played well and deserved better.

Leeds and their nauseating followers can head back up to Yorkshire, (or Sussex etc according to their flags) full of the joys associated with an away win.

They didn't deserve it but they won't care a hoot.
An away win is always the best kind of win.
Scoring 4 goals isn't something that happens regularly either so they'll be full of it.

Charlton can take solace from playing well, against 12 men.
We deserved to take at least a point despite what resembles an emphatic beating when seen purely as a result.

Maybe we will be allowed to bring our own ref to the game up at Elland Road?