Sunday, 23 November 2014

Oh No George!

Charlton Athletic 0 - Millwall 0

I don't mind admitting I exited the Valley yesterday feeling completely gutted. 

This wasn't really fair on the events of the day but I'm sure I wasn't alone.

The performance from our team had been good. 

The now 'traditional' bending over to be spanked by our nearest neighbours had failed to materialise.

The opposition team had been kept at bay, not really testing the late stand in 'keeper Pope.

The (ahem) 'twelfth man' we had been promised would be roaring the visitors to victory were drowned out every time they, very occasionally, raised their voices above a murmur.

For the majority of the game I'd not really been worried about the possibility of a loss.
-All fairly relaxing. 

This was a 'new' Charlton derby experience.

Except it wasn't. 

I can't recall actually winning a derby game since playing against Crystal Palace in January 2009.
(I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong).

No sooner had I announced that I really hadn't seen anything yet from Coquelin to make me think he'd be getting into the Arsenal team, he turned it on and became our best player.

All over the pitch Charlton were winning the little battles - not least Chris Solly who is starting to return to being 'that' player Lawrie Wilson was brought in to replace as we all knew he was off to the Premiership sooner rather than later.

The game ebbed and flowed, Millwall having their own brief period of ascendency after they made some good substitutions, Easter and Fuller changing the dynamics of their play.

Yet still we weren't troubled and I felt sure we'd hold onto our record of being unbeaten at home, unless there was another one of those calamity connections where we were robbed by a horrible deflection.

With the game entering 5 minutes of added on time Charlton were pushing forward and Millwall were having to defend for their lives.

Then came the golden, (platinum?) opportunity we've waited so long for.

In almost the final few seconds of the game there was a moment I've played over and over in my head, though probably not as many times as George Tucudean.

His life could have been so, so different.

In 40 years time, as an older man, when coming back to visit the Valley, he'd be lauded onto the pitch and cheered to the rafters when being announced to the crowd. 

He'd have been a hero. 
His name would be sung, his face on t- shirts, a glorious image of him wheeling away in celebration while all around him there is pandemonium would have been circulating on social media, people changing their profiles to include the name 'George'…..

Oh George.

In fairness to the young Romanian, it's not like he was trying to cock it up. 
He, like us, was desperate for him to put the ball into the net.

I mean, it's not like he's a footballer or anything, training every day to kick a ball is it?


The failing of George to put his foot through the ball and get it into the more or less unguarded net has it's roots in his last outing for Charlton.

Away at Reading, 1-0 up and with the clock running down, he had the opportunity to kill the game off when going 'one on one' with the 'keeper.

He blasted the ball straight at the bloke between the sticks and the chance was gone.

Yesterday, when he really should have blasted the ball he hung on, played a rather weedy chip over the approaching custodian and then found he didn't have the strength to finish the job off.

George probably thought he'd learned from his mistake at Reading.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out.
He could have been George Best. He could have been George Clooney. He could have been George Harrison.

He went home feeling like George at Asda with the popularity rating of George Osborne.

Oh No George!

Friday, 21 November 2014

El Chavico

Yes, I know, I've been rather tardy since the Fulham game.

It's been a hectic few weeks and the prospect of cranking up the MacBook to post something has just been too much of a chore.

I did contemplate posting a review of The Specials who I saw last Saturday up at the Roundhouse Camden with Crispy but a rather cursory glance online made me realise other people had done it quicker, and better than I'd have managed anyway.

However, here I am with thoughts on the South East London 'El Chavico' that has sneaked up on us like a bad smell.

I must admit, like most Addicks, I'm fearing the worst while hoping (and really hoping) for the best.

Form goes out of the window in this fixture.
It doesn't matter how tip top we feel and how crud Millwall appear to be pre game, they just seem to get the breaks and exit with the bragging rights.

Last season's fixture at the Valley was a 0-0 all over. It was dreadful. Both teams were appalling.
A desperate attempt at a football match with both sides showing the viewing public who had tuned into Sky that our area of town can serve up some absolute stinkers for them when necessary.

Despite it being 'one of those games', a shot that was more likely to trouble the corner flag than the defence managed to catch Dorian Dervite's ankle and deflect into the far corner of the Charlton net.

1-0 down is hardly game over, yet we all knew it was that day. (It was against Millwall you see.)

There can't be many fixtures in the football calendar that have you instantly thinking about your ex-wife  but Charlton - Millwall is sadly just that fixture for me.

The last time we beat Millwall at the (New) Den, not including a pre season 'friendly', I was desperate to be there.
It was bitterly cold, it snowed, and I'd never visited the New Den before.

Unfortunately, it coincided with the evening my wife was having her 'leaving drinks' from her job, working at Harrod's.

I had a cunning plan that miraculously paid off.
I made sure I was rather conspicuously present, buying drinks and making the kind of small talk you have to make in these situations, pretending I'd heard all about people and saying how 'lovely' it was to finally meet them, then at the critical moment, I hared off to Bermondsey.

I don't think anyone has ever made the journey from De Hems Dutch bar off Wardour Street to the New Den with such trepidation.

I knew the locals were unlikely to be throwing out the welcome mat for me and I also knew my name may not have been exactly 'mud' when I finally returned home but it would certainly be rather tarnished.

I made it to my destination very soon after Kick Off.
I was rather nervous the game may have been off due to snow, (this was not just pre twitter etc but also pre mobile phone in my case so there was no way of knowing) but as I approached the ground the reassuringly recognisable sounds of football made me relax a little.

However bad I felt later on that night having to apologise for dipping out, it's now completely paled into insignificance as for the next 19 years I've been able to say "I was there" the last time we won.

I was also there, a few months later in March 1996, (sitting with my ex wife, so she obviously didn't hold a grudge) when Millwall came to The Valley.
We sent them packing with a 2-0 hiding that could have been more.

Since then, Charlton have moved away from Millwall to visit the Premier League and now returned to be neighbours again in the Championship, after tussling in League 1.

This fixture is no more important than any other, yet we've made it so due to our appalling record against Millwall.
We want to beat them purely because we haven't for so long.

I really hope this time will be 'the one', but know in my heart of hearts it's just as likely to all end in the usual letdown.

Please, please can the team put in a performance?

We've waited too long.