Tuesday, 31 March 2020

If You're Looking For Leadership........

then don’t expect to find any from the PL, the EFL or a majority of well paid footballers.

We know from bitter recent experience just how inept the EFL are and indeed continue to be. Similarly the PL has a comparable track record.

However, we are in unprecedented times and given that, one might think it’s not too much to hope that these particular leopards might change their spots! You fools! The one constant in the ever changing face of daily life is that it’s business as usual for them.

Presented with a pandemic their immediate, short-sighted decision was to postpone football matches for a couple of weeks with their procrastination resulting in that decision only made the day before the vast majority of games were to be played.

Only they could compound that decision by a couple of weeks later deciding to move on to another unrealistic deadline of 30th April. As far as I’m aware this is still the deadline. God give me strength!

Our nation is, save for the key workers, stuck indoors. Therefore, you’d be forgiven for thinking it allows an opportunity to come up with some rational plan for the way ahead. Time enough, even for the good people at those organisations, to produce proposals for a number of potential scenarios.

Their silence is deafening so one must assume that no such plans are forthcoming. Of course not, their overriding objective is to keep alive the hope of ending the season and minimising revenue loss.

There is absolutely no desire to end the uncertainty for players, staff and fans alike by simply writing off the season.

We ought not to be surprised by any of this. For its part the PL was born out of greed. No matter how anyone might want to dress it up that is the reality pure and simple.

At its inception we were told that the aim of the new Premier League was to improve the standard of the domestic game and further, that of the national team. The promised land would make our England team more competitive. Well, we’ve seen just how well that’s gone.

Back in the day when we had smaller squads and plenty more games we were so much more competitive than now. We even had the home internationals offering 3 more games at the end of a long season. All played in a week too if I remember correctly.

Any uncertainty over the avaricious nature of the PL and the majority of the teams in it is being ably demonstrated now. The inaction of many clubs and their players speaks volumes.

Whilst Barcelona’s players have just taken a 70% pay cut to protect their staff, Newcastle United and Spurs have just furloughed their staff. I say staff in the loosest sense of the word as it would appear that the furloughing doesn’t extend to the players.

Why would it? They’re having to struggle on their meagre salaries most of which offer more in a week than the majority of the country earns in a year!

Two clubs with massive assets in terms of players alone are coming cap in hand to the taxpayer. Meanwhile smaller, family runs businesses will go to the wall when a fraction of a PL player’s weekly wage would save them.

I’m not sure this is what the furlough scheme is for.

I keep reading about the need to finish this season to maintain the integrity of the leagues and football in general. A bit too late for late and with every passing day, whatever perceived integrity there was vanishes further into thin air.

Their desire to finish this season is driven only by the financial rewards central to their very being. They don’t want to kill the goose that, upto now, has laid the most golden of golden eggs.

By contrast, those clubs in rugby chasing less attractive eggs are having to cut wages across the board. For them, staff means anyone working for their clubs.

At the same time comparatively wealthy Newcastle United and Spurs are kindly passing the funding and support of its non-playing staff to the tax payer. 

Those overpaid players not even doing what they’re paid for ( through no fault of their own I know ) sit at home counting their money as there is little else to do and nothing to spend it on at the moment.

Are the fans of any club expecting a refund on their season tickets when this season is cancelled? As Charlton fans we’ll just be grateful if we have club. No, we’ll have written that off and in many ways given the bigger picture I don’t care.

There are many businesses and organisations dear to me that are going to need support once this mess is over. I’ll quite happily and expect to make donations to do so. Sadly, that’s not matched by football’s elite and wealthy…….a truly damning indictment of football’s governing bodies.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Seb Lewis

I don't feel that I can add anything to the numerous wonderful and heartfelt tributes to Seb. I just wanted to acknowledge our Number 1 fan and his outstanding loyalty and dedication.

I'd like to offer my condolences to his brother Ollie and the rest of the family.

Like others, I can't see his achievements being surpassed. Seb will never be forgotten and there are several plans to arrange a memorial of some sort which is very fitting.

RIP Seb.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Another Fine Mess!

The past couple of months have certainly been different both for our society as a whole and also our club. Though one would be tempted to argue that for our club events have not been that unusual given our history over the last 40 years or so.

Charlton are never far from a crisis and thus, to an extent perhaps, we oughtn’t to be that surprised by the latest happenings in S.E.7.

It seems that for us, bad owners / chairmen are like buses but even they are red at heart!

Naturally, we hold our time in the Premiership in close affection for what was achieved, enthralling matches, winning against the odds, players that made you proud etc.

More than anything now though we reflect on those days when the only remarkable things were happening on the pitch.

The chairman ( then at least ) was good and saw eye to eye with the management team which was supported. He genuinely cared and wanted the best for the club.

Sadly, it all unravelled like a house of cards following Dowie and relegation and it’s something we’ve never recovered from.

A succession of ever changing and largely hopeless managers barring a couple of notable exceptions certainly hasn’t helped. Owners who hold no real affection or concern for the club and its fans have done untold damage.

It’s been a steady decline punctuated by more than one false dawn. As someone once said “ it’s the hope that kills you ! “.

I guess we should have expected that when Duchatalet was replaced by a seemingly rich benefactor from the Middle East accompanied by a chairman who made all the right noises, it was going to be too good to be true!

Thus it came to pass. Southall has been exposed for what he really is and the odious and deceitful character has apparently left the club. Sadly, like a tenacious bogey, it’s not so easy to part ways.

Southall still has some investment in the club although thankfully, His Excellency’s share, means that he doesn’t hold the overall say and decision making.

Last week’s events were astonishing, even by Charlton standards. It all led to an amazing crescendo on Thursday with some staggering scenes that saw Southall lash out like a cornered animal.

He attempted to fire more people than Lord Sugar! Thankfully, Louis Mendez was on hand to capture our erstwhile chairman as he disappeared into the South London night in his luxury car.

Leaving without comment, Southall demonstrated that his lovely motor might loosen lingerie but certainly not his tongue! For once he had nothing to say.

One hopes we’ve seen the last of him at The Valley or even the training ground.

It’s not ideal but we now pin all our hopes in Nimer with the dream that he has sufficient money with a willingness to invest in order to make our club at the very least sustainable.

The only people that emerge from this sorry saga with any credit are, as ever, the club’s loyal and long suffering staff. Most notably the suspended Chris Parkes, the sacked gang of three and the management team who never let on about the transfer embargo and took the flak for the poor transfer window.

The EFL has again proved to be flawed organisation that really shouldn’t be trusted with safeguarding football’s club, players and fans. How on earth it thought it acceptable to impose a transfer ban and not make that public is beyond belief.

That is aside, of course, from how they apparently sanctioned a takeover telling us all was ok following the usual tests only for that clearly not to be the case!

They along with the Premier League and the F.A. are now entrusted with making decisions regarding this season and future of the domestic game going forward. God help us!

Clearly no football will be played on 4th April or any time close to that. The suggestion to play games behind closed doors is as ludicrous as those organisations!

Players may be fit and virus-free, although that’s unlikely, but more than players are needed! No regard for the officials, physios, stadium staff etc.

Extending the season when players are out of contract really isn’t an option either.

On that basis it seems a non-starter. This week they should decide that all things considered to write-off this season. It’s the only sensible option and I don’t only say that as a fan of a club in a relegation spot.

To promote or relegate any team without the completion of all fixtures just isn’t practical and would open up a whole raft of legal action.

We can but hope that sensible decisions are made for our club and that all the events on a national and local level are sorted we can go back to supporting our club as we would hope!

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Vital Win

Dillon another good performance including a world class save.

It's hard not to agree with Bowyer's view that we made hard work of yesterday's win.

Having dominated the first half with Barnsley's only real effort being the one that produced that outstanding save from our No.1 we looked very shaky after they equalised.

We seemed to stuggle to get going yesterday in front of a big Valley crowd that was boosted by the free ticket offer. There was no lack of effort from the home fans to motivate the lads.

It was clear that retaining Taylor even if only until the end of the season was vital and his overall performance was clear evidence of that. We could have spent a few million in the transfer window and not got a player of his ability and he is integral to any success.

Lyle's goal on 9 minutes was the boost the team needed. Barnsley's frustration was shown in some nasty and persistent fouling. Sadly the inconsistent referee " aided " by the totally ineffective East Stand did little to help. 

The Tykes number 18 was very lucky not to get a second yellow in the first 45 minutes. The Man in the middle gave yellow cards for far lesser offences.

Taylor was the target for abuse from the away fans and in response he did his best to wind them up. He didn't have to try too hard to be fair. 

Andre Green playing despite the sad loss of his grandfather earlier in the week scored the crucial second in time added on in the first period. A fine shot that was fired into to the bottom corner.

2-0 is always a tricky lead ( Glen Hoddle was right on that ). Given our recent habit of conceding goals early in the second half there was every reason to be nervous!

Thankfully we overcame the opening few minutes without Barnsley scoring. However, the withdrawl of Williams and Taylor saw the Tykes get a foothold in the game and go on to score on 71 minutes.

The Addicks were then foreced into a rearguard action for the rest of the game. Barnsley went on to hit both post and bar as we were a little fortunate not to concede again.

Stout defending from the Addicks eventually ensured that Barnsley didn't add to their goals tally. 

A crucial 3 points secured was a big step towards the goal of moving up the table. We now have a full week before the next vital game against Stoke comes up.

The additional players will help to add competition for places as well as offering Bowyer the chance to rotate his squad a little. Hopefully other players will return from injury to further boost that.

We must hope for much better luck with injuries for the remainder of the season. If we do then we have a good chance of staying out of the relegation zone.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Taking Stock

" marvellous isn't? you know. wasn't it? "

It's not yet a month since the takeover was made official and the disastrous reign of Duchatelet was finally ended. The new owner's communication has already far exceeded that of the Belgian. 

The plans for the club are everything one could hope for embracing on and off the pitch matters and importantly the club's connection to the community.

Lee Bowyer has been given a decent 3 year contract with offers on the table for the rest of the management team. Steve Gallen has been appointed director of football.

The plans for the training ground and the academy have been revealed and they all look fantastic.

Matt Southall has been a very visible chairman who has thrown himself fully in his role. From day one he has made himself available to anyone remotely connected with the club.

Matt has attended numerous meetings including one last week with trustees of the museum amongst others after having paid it a visit.

Amazingly, I note that someone on Twitter accused Matt of meeting " political " fans! Really? What a laughable comment and of course, utter tosh

I appreciate that we have one day left to get some bodies into the club. That they haven't arrived to date will not be for the want of trying.

Looking across a number of clubs and there hasn't be much transfer activitiy to date with most of them.

I suspect that there will be a trickle down effect with the top level clubs wanting to ensure that they have cover where the may be selling players on or loaning them out.

However, some of our fans have little patience and lack an appreciation of what's been done to date. You can't overturn 6 years of neglect within a matter of weeks.

It's not ESI's fault that we find ourselves with management and players on short or expiring contracts and a threadbare squad.

It's worth bearing in mind that it's not in Matt's interests if things go wrong. He himself has someone ( other than the fans ) to answer to. He certinaly won't want to make a mess of it.

There are so many issues to be positive about albeit that in terms of players much remains to be resolved within the next 27 hours.

Hopefully, in a packed Valley on Saturday fans will appreciate that they have much to be grateful for and will be cheering the team on to a vital win!



Sunday, 12 January 2020

A Whole New Ball Game!

Along with many others I travelled to The Valley with an extra spring in my step following the recent events surrounding the club. A renewed air of expectation and anticipation permeates around S.E.7.

New year, new owners, new hope! The last remnants of the previous poisonious ownership apparently gone and the Duchatele era an unpleasant footnote in the club's history.

Numerous stay away fans returned yesterday demonstrating their faith in the new owners. The attendance was just under 20k boosted also by a sell out in Jimmy Seed stand as you'd expect for opposition that has spent most of the season in the top two places in the league.

I arrived at The Valley just after 11am and with Crossbars not open and not meeting up with others until later I had time to make a long overdue visit to the museum.

What a fantastic job all concerned have done with it. I met Ben Hayes and a couple of his fellow trustees and they were all keen to show me round and point out particular items of interest.

As closely as I've followed the club I had not appreciated that our first England cap was awarded to Seth Plum. The museum has been able to track it down and it now resides there.

It is one of the many unique items housed in the musuem. Aside from the club memorabilia there is a separate fans section that accommodates all manner of things from programmes to old tickets to protest posters. I was told that a section containing protest items is now being organised.

Until March the museum has the Play Off final trophy and Ben kindly photographed me with it for which I was very grateful.

I can highly recommend a visit and will certainly being doing so again as you could happily spend a good few hours there and still not see it all!

Post museum and intoCrossbars for a couple of post-Roland beers to celebrate! Matt Southall passed through and again got the derserved round of appluase that resembles the one Del and Rodney in the Nag's Head when they became millionaires. Thankfully for us Matt and his colleagues have a lot greater busineness acumen than the Trotters!

On to the game and it was good to see a return to the league squad for Williams, Forster-Caskey and Hemed and a league start for new loanee Green.

The Addicks started brightly and could have gone when a stray pass went to Gallagher but sadly he put his shot just wide of the post.

It was the Baggies who went ahead though when Lockyer was dispossessed out wide and the subsequent shot fell to Zohore to tuck away.

A few minutes later and The Addicks won a corner and an Albion player thought he delay it by throwing the ball into the away fans. They then decide it would be a good idea to play keep ball. Karma is wonderful thing sometimes and when the replacement ball arrived it seems that the Baggies suffered with a loss of concentration.

Eventually the ball was headed home by Davison for his first Charlton goal.

The second half didn't start well with Albion regaining the lead when Sarr deflected a shot past Phillips.

West Brom continued to have the better of things but The Addicks kept battling away and the introduction of Forster-Caskey, Hemed and in particular Williams brought a greater threat.

On 76 minutes Lockyer's header went in off the post having hit the keeper before settling in the back of the net. This has been given as an own goal to the keeper but it's Tom's goal in reality and he should be credited with it.

Bizarrely the Addicks' second equalizer followed antoher bout of primary school keep ball from the fans behind Phillips' goal. Thanks folks!

Both sides kept attacking with the home side pressing for a third as much as the away team. It remained level though and the ref finally blew the final whistle.

All things considered The Addicks would have been the happier with their point. No doubt Albion played some good slick football at times but a depleted yet spirited Charlton team pushed them every inch of the way and were good value for their point.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the wonderful tackle in the second half from Naby. How wonderful it was and perfectly timed as it could so easily have ended in disaster. However, all credit to the big man and he was spot on and denied a clear threat on our goal.

It was great to see some players returning especially Williams as i said, how much have we missed him.

All the players deserve a mention for yesterday's efforts with particular praise to our younger players. It all bodes well or the future.

This being the Championship the games don't get any easier but with displays like yesterday and players returning with the possibility of new arrivials there is plenty of room for optimism.

Preston await next week and I'm sure the lads will be chomping at the bit to go again.


Friday, 3 January 2020

Finally !

At long last the takeover of the club by ESI completed yesterday. The timing is of course good news as it allows us to make moves in the transfer market following the opening of the window on Wednesday.

The statement on the club's website was wonderful to read and in total contrast to those of the previous owner.

Speaking of the deluded one I managed to catch an interview he did on Sky Sports News with our very own Jum White ( you remember Jim the guy who only had our interests at heart and gave Roly the 3rd degree in a series of hard hitting interviews ! ).

Remarkably Roly says he'd do things differently if he had his time again. Really ? That's hard to believe because there were many opportunities to change but he chose not to do so or listen to people who knew a lot more about running a football club than he ever will.

He has done so much damage over the last 6 years and caused untold misiery. However, he's gone and we and football in general are well rid of him and now need to look forward to a future that ought to be a hell of a lot brighter.

Defeat to Swansea last night was not totally unexpected but there was plenty of reason for optimism and pride especially given our second half performance. Sadly, we lost Taylor to injury and it seems we'll be without him for a couple of weeks.

There's plenty of work to be done across all areas of the club. Contracts need to be sorted for both management and players. These need to be done quickly because it's easier for Bowyer to attract players if the position of himself and the management team is secure.

Club staff need to be put in place and I'm sure that will also follow.

As for us fans, well we just want matters right on the pitch ( and off it too of course ). Anything will follow on from that but it's seeing our team playing well and being competitive that matters most.

Other aspects such as the return of Floyd and Harvey, improved catering, etc. will hopefully happen in due course.

I believe the new onwers appreciate the potential of our club and recognise how special it is. If handled with care in the right way then we can return to the top table. There a few clubs in the top flight who are on a par with us who have made it there.

It would be great to a Leicester as Curbs used to say or even do a Charlton as others used to say when we rose to the top !

The last few years have been draining in lots of ways. I've been amazed at the number of people who purport to follow football that were so oblvious to our plight and that of other clubs too.

It would seem that this is a great opportunity to make our club great again. Let's hope ESI are able to deliver that for us !