Sunday, 30 October 2011

That Was The Week That Was.

This last week, I was lucky enough to be able to choose what to do as being a teacher, it was Half Term break.

I really enjoy my job and you won't find me grumbling too hard about our present conditions, (though of course, I feel pretty differently about having our pensions stolen).

Much as I'd like to pretend I was working hard, due to staying as late as the caretaker would allow me for the two weeks before the break, I didn't really have too much to do.

The week started well with the previously reported on 4-0 win over Carlisle.
Sunday was pretty laid back with plenty of coffee, toast and favourite sounds to listen to.

On Monday, I trotted over to St Pancras station to join the Eurostar train to Paris.
I've travelled Eurostar on quite a few occasions. I still enjoy it and marvel at the engineering of the tunnel, along with the fact that it is now not much over 2 hours before you can be sitting in a 'Paul' with a nice sandwich or cake and an espresso.

I love Paris and I've seen most of the tourist sights many times. For this reason I didn't go charging around with an itinerary, I just ambled around, propping up bars, sitting in cafes while taking in the life of a city geographically very close but culturally very different.

I do enjoy visiting the Tour Montparnasse for the wonderful panoramic view of the city. It has the benefit of rarely being busy and never having the long lines of clueless tourists that wreck a visit to the more famous Tour Eiffel.
From the top the view is spectacular.

In recent years the roof terrace has had glass added around the edge which is a bit of a shame, as part of the 'fun' used to be nearly being knocked off your feet by the wind as you opened the door to climb the final few steps.

I only spent a short time at the top, though I did make use of the excellent cafe a few floors below.

Despite actively not wanting to be a 'tourist', my  iPhone was out of my pocket like greased lightning to take the above snap.

Over the next few days I enjoyed ambling about, kicking my heels by the side of the Seine, though I particularly like the atmosphere around Pont Saint Michel and Saint Germain.

I can kill an afternoon here, just doing absolutely nothing. A cafe, a newspaper and I'm as happy as can be.

Unfortunately, I had to take refuge in an Irish Pub when the heavens opened.
(Poor me).
The rain came down so speedily that being outside was just impossible. The ancient streets were quickly deep enough to lose your shoes, as happened to an unfortunate girl who had stepped out in a variation on the flip flop.

My favourite place to be in Paris is at Montmartre, especially in the evening when the sun goes down.
I love heading up to Sacre Coeur to see the lights come on over the city. It is most definitely a feel good moment for me.

Again, I just couldn't help reaching for my iPhone to take some pictures, almost identical to all the others I've taken in just the same place.

On this particular trip I managed to find my current 'best salade Nicoise in the world'.

Along with my permanent quest for the best coffee, the best beer (real ale), I will nearly always choose a 'SN' when one is available.
The one I had at a fine eaterie in Montmartre hit all the notes, including good quality green beans, not skimping on the anchovies and the most perfectly 'just so' slightly runny eggs.
I also detected some basil oil had been used.
It was perfect.

I started to walk back to my hotel, passing through the seedy Pigalle area (with the coach loads of tourists all arriving for the Moulin Rouge) before hopping on the Metro as it started to rain.

I had a very enjoyable rest of the evening listening to Charlton put Wycombe to the sword through the online commentary.

A great result away from home. (2-1 win).

The next morning I sat at a pavement cafe, reading and thinking how happy I was.
 Easy Life.
I spent most of the morning at the ultra modern la Defense region on the western extreme of the city.

I particularly like the Grande Arche, (it's huge!) and how it is perfectly lined up so you can stand under it and also be looking through the Arc de Triomphe way off in the distance.

The Arc de Triomphe is in the distance, I promise!

My journey home to London was event free.
 Even when a young mum, carrying crying twin babies threatened to sit near me, it didn't change my blissful existence.
(Luckily, she'd got the wrong seat).

On Thursday morning I got up and drove South in order to enjoy my dad's birthday. He had requested we all visit the Still and West Portsmouth.
My dad was born at Southsea, Portsmouth and this particular pub is a place of pilgrimage for our family.
It's a great pub that my gran, (his mum) and her sisters used to frequent in the 1930's and after.

We always comment and nod as we pass 'grandma's chair' where she would spend time in a bygone age.
What she'd have made of customers (me) asking for the WIFI password and the Gales Ales now being Fuller's I don't know but it's always special for us to visit.

The family enjoyed a fine meal while watching the ships going past the window.

Portsmouth has changed a bit over recent years but we weren't going to visit Gunwharf Quays or the Spinnaker Tower, we spent the afternoon going around HMS Victory.

It's many years since I went around the Victory and it was great to share the experience with my nephew Jack.

I stayed with the family until Saturday afternoon when I drove home, arriving just in time to listen to Charlton stuffing Hartlepool 4-0.

Back to work tomorrow and for once, I feel I've used my time off constructively.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

"I Have A Really Good Feeling About Today".

Charlton Athletic 4Carlisle United 0.

Yes, prior to the game today, a (fairly heavily refreshed) young lady wearing Carlisle colours, told us she felt that today was going to be their day. She had the 'feeling'.

I hope she enjoyed her time at the Rose of Denmark as she would have been pretty miserable once she got settled at the Valley.

Right from the off, Charlton looked to be completely in control.
Danny Green, who had seemed quite lethargic last weekend at Stevenage, was like a different player.
He was a man possessed as he raced onto every free ball.

Green was not alone. The entire home team were keen to erase the memory of defeat in Hertfordshire.

The first goal was a beauty. Kermit nodded the ball into the net after some fantastic approach play down the left from Wiggins.

Goal number 2 owed plenty to a great kick from Hamer, then BWP chasing down the defender who completely ballsed up his clearance so Bradley could stuff the ball into the far corner.

The 'dreaded' Charlton two goal advantage? Not today.

I commented to Jeff, (Crispy being airborne on his way to Tokyo), that it seemed like men playing against boys and for once it wasn't hyperbole, just a fact.

Goal number 3 was the culmination of a bit of a scramble where perhaps 5 Charlton players could have poked the ball into the barely guarded net.
Again, Kermit was the Johnny on the spot who wheeled away in celebration.

There was just time before the interval for Carlisle to completely shoot themselves in the foot.
Robson was already the holder of a yellow card when he made the sort of ridiculous challenge that must make managers despair.
A second yellow followed and even the most pessimistic of Charlton supporters must have thought we may just be heading for 3 points.

Once Charlton returned to attack the Covered End, it became even better.

There was one of those goals that receive an equal amount of cheering and laughter.
Danny Hollands speculative long shot from around 25 yards, surely didn't have enough quality to beat a professional 'keeper but the ball squirmed through his grasp as if it was wet soap.

At 4-0 up, I was really hoping we'd go on and give Carlisle a bit of a spanking. There was still only one side in it but the chances were either narrowly missed or in some cases, missed by quite a large margin!

It mattered not one jot.
It was a joy to be a Charlton supporter and heaven knows there's been enough times when it's been a pretty miserable existence in recent years.

The referee was poor in the second half. He must have been officiating from a position of sympathy for the Cumbrians.

He let two footed challenges (from behind) go, gave free kicks for clean challenges and also tried his best to get the Carlisle back into the game when he awarded them a penalty. The ball clearly hit Wiggins arm- though it was also clear there was no intent and it was ball to hand.
We've all seen them given. This referee was obviously one of those refs who 'gives them', (yet when exactly the same thing happened later on up the other end, he waved play on.)

It was completely Charlton's day, as proved when Hamer made a spectacular save to deny Carlisle from the penalty spot.

A thoroughly comprehensive win.
Still top of the league and for now at least, it's great to be an Addick.

Casual Rating.
The Lacoste Polo is heading to Rhoys Wiggins who was immense today.
The Primark novelty slogan t-shirt is heading to Mystic Meg from the Rose of Denmark.

I think she needs to polish her crystal ball.

It's been a good week for Charlton Casual.
My team won 4-0 and the Stone Roses, after 16 years reformed.
Happy Days.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Run Ends.

Stevenage 1 - Charlton Athletic 0.

Not much to be proud of up in Hertfordshire this afternoon.

The day started off well with a few drinks in the town centre before a (not necessarily by the most direct route) walk to the ground.

If you weren't there, the Stevenage set up is a bit like Welling, only with a fairly decent stand for the away supporters.

The reported crowd of around 4,700 seemed ridiculously small. It really felt like there were many more inside but I guess the cramped surroundings just made it difficult to tell.

Even before the game had kicked off I was shaking my head in embarrassment.

Charlton 'supporters' were fighting among themselves. It went on for a good five minutes, with all the usual posturing and threats making the atmosphere quite unpleasant.

We were close enough to feel we might get sucked in if the problem escalated. The stewards didn't seem interested in intervening so it carried on until the protagonists ran out of steam.

It was all a bitter disappointment as Crispy's young daughter Hannah was experiencing her first Charlton away game. This was most certainly not a good introduction.

Once the game started, the morons stopped squaring up to each other and spent most of the first half abusing the stewards.

Stevenage started well and really did try to spread the ball about. They were keeping pace with the league leaders and not letting Charlton settle on the ball.
Even their most ardent supporters would have to admit their goal was down to 99% luck.

A tame shot was never going to beat Hamer but for the second week running, a savage deflection left him with no chance at all.

Stevenage now reverted to type and became the pub team of cloggers we had been warned to expect.
This isn't a criticism of Stevenage, just an accurate description of the tactics they employed.

Crunching tackles, pushing off the ball, shirt pulling and time wasting were now what the hosts were dishing out to the guests.
The officials were pretty poor and just seemed to accept this was the way Stevenage played but when Charlton tried to mix it, suddenly the whistle was blown or the flag raised.

I was most annoyed by our duffers in black when Cort used his strength and guile to shepherd a ball out for a goal kick, right in front of the Charlton support.
Oddly, despite over 1,500 people baying at the error, a corner was given.

Though on the receiving end of a very physical approach, Charlton ended the game with 4 yellow cards while Stevenage had just the 2.
Go figure.

Charlton were better in the second half and on another day could have gained at least a point.
When BWP raced through on goal, we could all see the net billowing as he pulled the trigger but for once his shot beat the keeper but not the far post.

The keeper Day, (named after how long it takes him to take a goal kick?), made a few fine saves, not least the one from Cort, who really must have thought his header was goal bound.

Late changes bringing on Evina, Hayes and Waggy were somewhat nullified by the dreadful time wasting.
Even the Stevenage ballboys seemed to have been briefed to be as slow as possible when handing the ball back to the Addicks.

When the final whistle blew, (with still a full minute of the 6 added on to play, not including the probable 3 minutes that could have been added for time wasting within that period), the Stevenage players celebrated with their supporters as if they'd won the league.

The Charlton players seemed more interested in rounding on the officials.
The picture at the top of this piece is the officials waiting to leave the pitch.

The officials were crud but we didn't lose because of them.
We lost because, for the second week running, the team failed to find a way to unpick a side with no interest in playing football, only in getting points by any means necessary.

If we want to get out of this league we need to be able to stick it to teams who are tugging shirts and kicking off the ball. We can't moan and say this isn't fair, believing we deserve better.

We are in tier 3 for a reason. We were bad enough to fall down this far, we now have to prove we are good enough to climb out.

A loss isn't always a bad thing. Purely from a mathematical perspective, a win and a loss is better than 2 draws.
We just need to win next week against Carlisle.

A Casual Rating.
Due to apathy on my part this will be brief.
Stevenage deserve respect for having a game plan and keeping to it. It wasn't pretty (at all) but today it proved successful.
The Lacoste polo is going to Jackson who was tireless in his running, never giving up right to the end.

The Primark novelty slogan t- shirt is going to the idiots who were fighting in our section.
Sod off to follow Millwall.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Time Bandits.

Charlton Athletic 1 - Tranmere Rovers 1.

A well drilled Tranmere team came to the Valley and did a job on us that could have grabbed all three points.

They were by far the better side all through the first half, creating swift attacks from the opening minutes while Charlton never really got going at all.

The goal they surely deserved, had a touch of good fortune when a shot from the left deflected off Chris Solly, giving Hamer no chance.

Crispy had another of his Nostradamus moments, pronouncing that he could see them scoring soon, only about 4 seconds before they did!

At the time, it looked like a wonder strike as we couldn't see the deflection from our angle.
Whatever the method of the ball entering the net, it was just the kick in the pants the Addicks needed to raise the energy levels.

Unfortunately, the much called for improvement didn't materialise.

Despite their vastly superior efforts, Tranmere had obviously decided that should they sneak an away goal, they were going to kill the game with time wasting, niggly fouls, pushing off the ball and generally being annoying gits.

Half time came and Chris Powell had an opportunity to lay into his charges.

Green and Kermit had been given the nod over Wagstaff and Hayes. Other than these two players, it was the same side who had weathered the first half storm at Sheffield, before running away with it in the second.
Green still seems to be suffering from his virus but I was quite impressed with our Breton boy. He won header after header and is gradually forming an understanding with BWP.

Could we have another good second half to grab the 3 points?

BWP didn't have one of his better days. He was clobbered early in the game and visibly jarred his back. He wasn't running too well afterwards and perhaps this effected his game.

Our team tried harder in the second half, the crowd woke up and there was more of a buzz around the Valley.
Unfortunately, the blatant time wasting and Tranmere gamesmanship was ruining any kind of tempo.

I had my own Nostradamus moment when I announced I thought we'd need a penalty to score as we didn't seem to be creating enough.
Within 5 seconds we had one!

I had little idea what the penalty was for, - there was so much pushing and shoving going on in the area I missed the incident but I was very thankful.

Jackson stepped up but I became more and more convinced he was going to fluff it as the Tranmere players performed their well rehearsed jiggery pokery to put him off.

They had players stand in the area blocking the ball, they then started a long discussion with the referee, they also tried to start conversations with Jackson.
 The referee could and should have yellow carded at least 5 players, not least the goalkeeper who refused to retreat to his line but he seemed to have lost control.
Once the ball had finally been placed, it was picked up and taken away by the keeper...... it went on and on.

Never have I wanted a penalty to be scored more.

Jackson stuffed the ball in the net and surely we were up and running?

Well, no.
Charlton created more, were more lively down the wings after the introduction of Waggy but Tranmere's  time wasting was getting everyone so frustrated, it was making our team rush when in reality there was plenty of time to score a winner.

BWP had a glorious opportunity to stuff it to the cheating Tranmere but scuffed his chance from only a metre out.

We could have lost the game of course.
A calamity at the back, involving a Norman Wisdom style collision, left the ball spinning away goalwards but luckily none of the Tranmere players were able to reach it, to tuck it into the unguarded net before it went out for a corner.

I left the Valley feeling a little flat.
Then I remembered we are still top of the league and unbeaten. There will be many, many teams who would love to swap places with us.

I'm hoping next weekend at Stevenage will be a game when our team 'click' and give the opposition a bit of a lesson.
Whatever happens, it'll be better than my last (only?) visit to the town.
 I ended up at the Lister hospital with snapped ligaments when 'helping out' at a campsite event for kids and falling in a rabbit hole!

I shall watch my footing carefully.

A Casual Rating.
My Lacoste polo is going to Jackson for keeping his cool to convert the penalty while madness seemed to be going on all around.
Well done JJ.
I'd like to add another award to Kermit Kermogant who is adding touches of class. Once his team mates work out where his flick ons are going, our attacking play will have another dimension.

The Primark novelty slogan t - shirt is going to the whole Tranmere team (except the impressive Showamuni) - but especially the goalkeeper Fon Williams.

What a horrible, horrible cheating team.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Poor In The Paint Pot.

Charlton Athletic (B) 0 - Brentford 3.

If you saw this game, either live or on the tellybox, then you don't need me to report what you saw.

If you didn't see it then consider yourself lucky, unless you are a Brentford supporter.

Brentford scored within 2 minutes, were given a perfectly correct penalty and then in the second half put the game to bed, despite the linesman flagging for offside in the build up.

It mattered not one jot.
Losing by 3 goals is no better or worse than losing by 2 in a knock out cup competition.
As a club, we often seem to save our very worst performances for the television cameras or the cups.

A minor cup competition, live on Sky, was always likely to be a bit of a high hurdle to clear.

I would have loved to have won this evening but I'm not too bothered about losing. The league is everything this season.
Well done to Brentford who showed last year they like to take this competition seriously. They obviously plan on pushing for Wembley this time too.

I saw us play Brentford 3 times last season- ( 2 times at theirs and once at the Valley). We failed to win any of those games.
After tonight, should we add games against Brentford to those on Sky, those in the North West and those in the cups as fixtures we often struggle in?

Let's hope the team can give Tranmere a good spanking on Saturday to make up for this evenings disappointments.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Charlton Too Hot For The Blades.

Blades 0- Addicks 2.

As London basked in the most glorious heat wave today, how did I choose to spend my precious free time?

Wearing just a pair of shorts, I lay on a towel, spread out on the sofa, with a cooling fan clattering near my head.
My MacBook was 'tuned' to the commentary provided through the Charlton website and I had a large bottle of Sprite to work my way through.

I'd started off thinking I'd sit outside to listen to the game but after a short walk to buy a newspaper and then a trip to the bins, I realised I'd be more comfortable indoors.
Phew, What A Scorcher!

I heard Gravesend had broken the record temperature for October, touching 29.9C.
The lady on television had helpfully explained that because Gravesend is 'near London', it often comes top of the the temperature charts, as London's warm air is blown down to Kent where it arrives at the town.

Needless to say, South London itself was unseasonably warm. Going through the area around Blackheath Standard (in my air conditioned car) felt like cruising around a Mediterranean village in high season such was the prevalence of short dresses, summer shirts, shorts and flip flops.

Up in Yorkshire a well refreshed Charlton crowd were certainly 'up for it' if the various twitter messages were to be believed.

The first half, just as at MK Dons, was largely forgettable from an Addick perspective.
It seemed as if Sheffield United were the better side and probably should have been at least a goal up at the interval.

The game changed when Hayes came off for our new Breton hero, 'Kermit' Kermorgant to score with his first touch.
The commentators had been suggesting Green should come on for an out of sorts Waggy but Sir Chris had a moment of inspiration and sent the Frenchman on instead.

The #cafc hash tag went into meltdown, only for it to happen all over again a few moments later when BWP scored our second, after what sounded like a bit of a defensive cock up.

We reminded each other he's "Better than Shaun" and I could clearly hear those 1000 plus Addicks at Bramall Lane agreeing with the sentiment.

Despite our recent record when defending two goal advantages, Charlton managed to hold on, (to the delight of the worldwide Addicks using their 140 characters to continue praising the team).

In added on time, United could have scored a consolation but managed to hit the post instead.

At the beginning of the week, I'd have been most excited if a crystal ball gazer had let on that we were about to gain 4 points from two tough away games, only conceding once, (and even then not from open play as MK relied on a penalty).

We are now sitting pretty at the top of the pile, 5 points clear of our nearest rivals.

Heady times for Charlton supporters.