Monday 27 May 2019

WemberLEE !

Lee Bowyer - the man who has turned our club around in the most remarkable cricumstances.

Wow ! Just wow ! Where do you begin to describe the events of not just yesterday but our entire season ?

Since there's probably enought time to cover the season how about I try just yesterday instead !

Just as I was beginning to come to terms with the drama of '98 up pop The Addicks with another Wembley classic that does little for the stress levels.

Typical Charlton is an oft used phrase but it is so apt for our club. Things are never done the easy way and they put us through the ringer but we wouldn't have it any other way.

Charlton give you lows that are very low and highs that are very high !

In terms of the pre and post match events we managed to find a decent pub and the food and drink was very toothsome especially after the win ! Departing from Milton Keynes we encountered several Sunderland fans and didn't encounter any Charlton fans until we reached Wembley itself.

Our party had hoped to meet up with various friends and relatives but due to sitting in different parts and the sheer numbers around this largely didn't happen. No matter, it didn't spoil the day of course.

We were fortunate enough to have good seats just 10 rows from the front and near the halfway line where we like to be. Inside the stadium the atmosphere was unbelievable and I was struggling to recall if it was as good back in '98.

To see so many Addicks inside the gorund was breathtaking. I don't mind confessing to be quite emotional on the walk up to the ground and once inside. Can't really put my finger on it other than a mixture of emotions - remembering family, pride in our club and the sheer joy and astonishment of what our club has done this season.

We had the worst possible start and I'm so glad for Phillips that it didn't prove costly it the end. Since Steer's departure he has been such a rock and won us many points so it would have been if his one error had proved fatal to our promotion plans.

All you can say is that he simply took his eye off the ball. Sadly for keepers if they make mistakes it usually ends in a goal.

However, once we withstood a little pressure from Sunderland for about 5 to 10 minutes ( that included a wonderful save from Phillips ) we started to grow into the game. If there's any justice then we go into halftime at least level and so it proved.

A wonderfully worked goal saw Purrington score his first goal for the club thus maintaining a trend of debut goals being scored at Wembley started by Richard Rufus.

I felt we edged the fist half without creating too many clear cut chances other than Taylor's well struck effort that went just wide of the top left hand corner. 

The corner count must have been massivley in our favour at that stage. I thought we played the better football and can't recall Phillips having any other saves to make.

The second half saw Pearce replace Sarr and it proved to be a good move. Sarr was on a yellow which despite the ref's reluctance to flash cards could have been a risk.

As the half wore on there was little of note and few chances for either side. We continued to waste the opportunites afforded by set pieces. I would like to have seen a bit more variety and better delivery but hey, it's probably not worth thinking about now !

Pratley had a good game and I was a bit concerned when he went off but Williams came on gave us a real shot in the arm and immediately we started to carry a greater attacking threat.

The game was deep into the 4 minutes of time added on when up popped the BFG, the man himself, Bauer, eventually got the ball into the back of the net ! Nothing better than scoring a late winner and it was a wonderful bit of symmetry to the first game of the season against the same opponents except that this late goal mattered more !

I don't think I've known a reaction like it to a Charlton goal. Personally I could hardly control myself cheering and jumping around and hugging my two lads ( 27 and 30 btw ! ). I don't know how I was able to speak after all the screaming and shouting. 

The final whistle followed almost imiediately with Sunderland having no time to reply. There you go and the Addicks were back in the second tier ! What a game ! What a season !

The whole squad and coaching staff are heroes. Lee Bowyer, the staff and players have achieved the most incredible promotion against all the odds. There's too much to list real backing from the owner, lakc of new contracts and thus security, Grant sold with no direct replacement, an enormous injury list etc. etc.

All that aside pride and a real connect between the fans and the players and management has been restored. 

We are a special club and our history is littered with set backs, triumphs & tribulations almost like no other. It has a special place in our hearts and we have a unique bond with it.

The club really gets you and that's further evidenced by the former players there yesterday. In addition, how good was it to see Curbs at the end. 

One has to feel for the Sunderland fans who once again suffer the heartbreak of a Wembley defeat and again accepted with good grace.

We have to enjoy the moment and leave the wonder of what happens next with the club's future to another day.

What an finish to an amazing season ! We won't forget this in a hurry !

Come On You Reds !

Monday 20 May 2019

Here We Are Again !

Following Friday night's excitement at The Valley we are returing to Wembley some 21 years after our last visit.

If you are of similar age to me it really doesn't seem that long ago and acts as a sombre reminder of how time flies and seems to pass more quickly the older one gets !

Of course it just had to be that our opponents would be Sunderland our opposition on 28th May 1998. Most Addicks I believe will be happy like me that we are facing them. Their fans were great following their defeat last time and I have a lot of respect for them as a result.

In striking similarity to last time it is true that it is more importnat for us to win the game than Sunderland. Last time they followed with a straight promotion garnering a record number of points on their way the the title.

If we lose then we face an even more uncertain future and none of us wants that.

The Addicks have been to Wembley 2 before in my lifetime. The aforementioned 1998 game and 1987 Full Members Cup Final for which I was away on holiday and so I can't rightly say I've never seen us lose at Wembley !

Another thing I can say is that I've never seen us lose a penalty shoot out. 1998 aside I've seen one other one and that was the League Cup one versus Luton at The Valley a few years ago.

Back to Friday and what an amazing evening that was ! It was alwas going to be and I was telling everyone I knew that The Valley was going to be rocking but it passed even my wildest expectations.

I'm trying to recall another atmosphere like it. The play off semi against Ipswich might come closest but I'm not sure even that was as good.

The fans passion came through loud and clear. Everything surrounding Friday's game was intensified and magnified by events of the last few years and ultimately was released in joyous eruption made manifest by a spontaneous and peaceful pitch invasion.

Lee Bowyer, Johnnie Jackson, the staff and the players have given us fans something to get behind having played so well  and representing our club in splendid fashion and enabling the so importnat reconnect with the fans.

We have so much to thank the managemnt team for even if we do fall at the last hurdle.

The only downside of Friday you might argue was our performance but you have to acknowledge how well Doncaster played as well as it was something of a rare blip on our part. However, that aside, what a game and what drama !

Just as it looked like we might have thrown it away up pops Pratley to equalise and send us onto penalties. Even then just as it seemed the script was written for Naby Sarr he had his penalty saved.

Like many others I failed to appreciate that Rowe's miss meant we were through. In all the excitement I forgot that was the case !

The reaction to Friday's events on social media has been huge and everytime I access Twitter, Facebook and also Charlton Life I'm reading great accounts from fans of thier evening.

There's little surprise that our allocation of tickets for Sunday's final have sold so well. This is still a tremendmous amount of support and affection for our club. I'd love to think that Friday and the upcoming final will showcase our club and that some wealthy, right-minded individual will think I'd like to be involved with that team.

Lee Bowyer faces a tough week in deciding his team for Sunday. Should he go for experience over youth. I don't envy him the task but trust him to get it right of course.

21 years ago and I recall that Les Reed had a pitch marked out with the exact dimensions of the Wembley one. I expect that level of attnetion to detail will be repeated as we aim to give oursleves the best possible chance.

The lead up to Friday and the game itself was tense and stressful enough. I'm not sure how I'm going to cope before then so it's probably just as well that these Wembley visits don't come around too often.

Whatever happens we do need to make the most of it and enjoy the day as much as possible.

Come On You Reds !

Monday 13 May 2019

Woah, We're Halfway There !

A near perfect performance from The Addicks sees them head to The Valley on Friday just ahead at half time.

Lee Bowyer changed the formation to nullify Donny's threat having reflected on the previous encounter at the Keepmoat. It worked a treat save for the last minute goal the home side scored that to be fair had a degree of luck about it.

It took a few minutes for the Addicks to get into their stride but once they did the created several chances. Taylor and Aribo took two in the psace of 3 minutes too see us go in 2-0 up at half time.

I don't know about anyone else but I was nervous as hell watching the game. I can't remember a time when I've been so on edge for one of our games. I'm likely to be a complete mess on Friday!

When we got our first I let out a great scream that frightened the s**t out of our dog who until then was resting peacefully on my lap! He went and took safe refuge on the other sofa!

The second half was quite comfortable for and just before Donny got their consolation Taylor so nearly got a third with an Aribo cross just evading him.

Barely two minutes later and a deflected cross and bundled at the far post by Blair to take the edge off a competent display.

There were good performance all round and Parker undoubtedly had his best game in a Charlton shirt. Those who watched on tv will have intrigued to learn of the massive difficulties he experienced at a previous club and how he's managed to keep his career going. I had no idea.

Our fine home form especially in 2019 ought to continue and see us over the line. I'm sure that Bowyer won't allow for complacency and will have the lads focused again.

A couple of early goals to settle the nerves would be nice!

The backing at the Keepmoat was rather special even in a season that has seen the away support of the highest level. With The Valley nearly sold out it should be rocking in SE7.

I recall the atmosphere against Ipwich back in 1998 being fantastic and I believe we might witness something approaching that again.

Ramp it all up, get Big DL back on the PA playing all the old favs and throw in a piper to play Valley Floyd Road!

This could be a very memorable night if it goes according script. I simply can't wait!

Come On You Reds!

Saturday 11 May 2019

Play-Off Anticipation

Following last Saturday's wonderful performance The Addicks secured 3rd place and play-off match against Doncaster Rovers.

In so doing we have avoided Pompey and Sunderland and secured the home tie as the second match.

The only danger in all of this is that the team become a litle complacent in so doing. However, the team is managed by Lee Bowyer with assistance from Johnnie Jackson. There is no way those two will allow anyone to apporach the games anything less than a 100% focused.

Added to that the players do seem very fixated on the task in hand as well as being a close knit and supportive group.

All of the above added to how well and consistently the team has performed in recent months.

In terms of personnel, it seems that Igor is unlikely to play in either semi-final with the final should we get there being his best chance of featuring at all.

Whilst Parker doesn't fill one with confidence in terms of scoring to be fair he does do a lot of good work off the ball as Bowyer himself observed.

The manager has done a wonderful job in getting the maximum out of the squad and anyone who plays can be relied upon to give their all.

There are plenty of optons in midfield and picking players for that area of the team will be toughest of all.

One player not to feature all season is Jake Forster-Caskey. Not a bad player to have to add to the squad. No doubt he will have been hugely frustrated not to feature especially given the quality in the team.

JFC must be hoping that he can be involved to some extent and having worked so hard to get back to fitness ahead fo schedule you hpe that this will prove the case for him.

Ticket sales for both home and away have gone through the roof to serve a further reminder of the potential of our club. Sadly our owner won't appreciate anything other than the fiscal element of that.

The atmosphere in the away should be fantastic of course and maybe taken to a new level which given how it's been this season would be phenominal!

Ahead of tomorrow's game today is the anniversary of the Braford fire which serves as a reminder of the sometimes darker side of football and life.

On a lighter note if you're going tomorrow and are a fan of the wonderful I'm Sorry I'm Having A Clue, there is a recording for the upcoming series in Doncaster tomorrow night.

Good luck to those travelling up tomorrow. Let's hope we can arrive at The Valley in a good position.

Come On You Reds !

Monday 6 May 2019

What A Weekend

Saturday's final league home game saw the Addicks turn in a 5 star performance and one that manager Lee Bowyer had been promising for some time.

The team really clicked and some of the play was sublime. Young Albie Morgan confirmed what a prospect he is with a 10 out of 10 display. His pass for Taylor's goal was outstanding and one of many he made. He was only denied by a fine save from Dale's keeper to deny him capping off a fine display with a goal.

Rochdale didn't play well but then again they weren't that bad and I'm not sure that any league 1 side would have lived with us.

The 4-0 scoreline far from flattered us and it could have easily need so much more. Taylor missed three of four chances one of which, an audacious heel flick so nearly came off. As frustrating as he can be he didn't stop running and I'm sure if he could get a goal it can only be good for him.

Should Igor not be fit any time soon then we'll need him and we can only hope he finds some kind of form.

Those four goals allied to a Pompey draw and Sunderland defeat saw us move up to third place. Good news for many reasons not least because your author could not have made either Saturday or Sunday home semi games.

Playing Doncaster is a better prospect than the two aforementioned teams althouh we will need to beat one fo them of course should we get to the final and gain promotion.

The only danger is complancency but I'm sure Lee won't allow that at all. Last year's semi-final defeat ought to serve as a reminder and how much that hurt.

What a remarkable season and achievement 3rd place is. I'm sure we all know that with any half decent backing promotion would already be assured. Sadly, our distant and uncaring owner hasn't lifted a finger.

Given that Bowyer and his team comprising Jackson, Gallen, Avory and many more deserve so much credit. They have ensured that we go into the playoffs in the best possible shape.

There is so much riding on these final games. If we don't go up then one fears for the club next season assuming our Belgian friend is still the owner.

Anyway, let's overlook that and focus on the posistives and look forward to the semi-final games. It could be a marvellous finale to the season.

Last night I was attending the player of the year dinner and it was a fine occasion. It was good to see the ladies team in attendance too.

The award winners are well documented elsewhere and there were many players who could rightly have won.

The fan of the year award went to Chris Thompson aka Ketts aka Dr Kish. It is thoroughly deserved as anyone who reads the Dr Kish blog will know.

Chris is meticulous in his planning for away trips and hasn't missed a game for some time. In addition to that his regular almost daily output on Dr Kish is knowledgeable and insightful. Well done Chris !

Hopefully next Sunday will see us put in another fine performance and set us up nicely for the home semi on Friday 17th ! Tickets are selling well and it should be a cracking atmosphere.

Come On You Reds !