Sunday, 26 August 2012

Bank Holiday Washout

Charlton Athletic 0 - Hull City 0.
Another very disappointing crowd of below 17 000 (come on, we aren't Crystal Palace), witnessed a game that for periods looked like it had nil nil written all over it, yet by the end had me hoping we'd hang on for that score.

Not much to report about the team other than Taylor went off during the warm up and SCP didn't feel it was necessary to make any changes between the Kick Off and when the players were back enjoying the warm showers and Imperial Leather.

Hull didn't really show much but they certainly looked better than the teams we were used to seeing last season.
Aluko looked very lively and will probably be back up North this morning, wondering how he didn't score at least one.

The main reason the game ended 0-0 was due in equal parts to a couple of errors from the officials and a superlative goalkeeping display from Ben Hamer.

I don't mind admitting that at the end of last season, I was sure we'd need to have a 'keeper upgrade as I really didn't see how young Ben would cope with the Championship.

He seemed to have moments when his concentration went for a Burton, he argued with referees and wound them up with silly time wasting, he seemed to flap at crosses and didn't command his six yard box very well.

I am delighted to have this stuffed right back in my face.
Ben is now much more vocal, is assured around his goalmouth and (so far) hasn't been winding up the officials.
Ben's shot stopping abilities have never been in doubt and yesterday he pulled off some remarkable saves, one towards the end that seemed almost impossible to reach.

The officials in the Championship are 'better' than league one but not immune to cock ups.
Without heading into a rant, I fail to see how a defender diving in to stop the ball with his hands raised and subsequently stopping a shot, goalkeeper style, cannot be given as handball.
When it's inside the penalty area it's a spot kick, end off.
Except yesterday it wasn't.

Charlton had a perfectly good goal chalked off due to incompetence too.
In fairness to the East stand linesman, he raised his flag very early and there was still a good 4 or 5 seconds of play before the ball hit the net but none of the players knew his flag was up and they all carried on.

BWP rushed onto a ball, from an onside position but the lino raised his flag. Those of us level, moaned instantly that it wasn't the case but I found myself thinking it didn't matter so much when BWP's shot rebounded back behind him.
However, Yann followed up with a belter but due to the linesman's original error, it wasn't to be.

Subsequent forensic investigations using television pictures have pronounced "we was robbed", not that they could be bothered to say it on the BBC FLS.

It was a day of the most atrocious rain.
Not only rain but thunder and lightning too.
 I wouldn't mind betting there'll be some fantastic photographs taken with the sky lit up behind the West stand.

By the end of the game, I think most of us felt a draw was a fair result.
It probably should have been a 2-2 game but I imagine both teams will take solace from a clean sheet in what must have been very, very difficult conditions.

A Casualty Rating
Without a shadow of a doubt, Ben Hamer is taking the Lacoste polo for a goalkeeping performance to remember.
Even on a dry, windless day his saves would have been remarkable but on an afternoon that resembled monsoon conditions he was ridiculously assured.

For the second game running, Fat Bloke To My Right was there to warble nonsense towards the pitch.
The fact he takes up a seat and a half is annoying enough, (especially when he goes searching for things in his pocket and I end up feeling like a teenage girl at a party) but yesterday he added eye watering arm pits to the equation.

He's getting the Primark novelty slogan t-shirt.
Keep it freshly laundered pongo.

It was really good to finally meet up with the Lord Lucan of Charlton blogging Hungry Ted after the game.
Crispy and I remarked how he is quite obviously a friendly and sociable type, yet nobody we know had met him due to his solitary Charlton supporting existence.

Don't be a stranger matey!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Still Smiling

Charlton Athletic 2- Leicester City 1.

Unfortunately, I'm coming to this rather late as I was forced to drink Guinness until 1 o'clock this morning, celebrating the remarkable victory.

My take on the game is simple.
Leicester were far, far better than Birmingham were on Saturday, yet they ended the game in a worse position.

Charlton were fantastic at repelling the waves of Leicester attacks in the second half but also made errors that weren't properly punished.
(Jackson and Wilson both lost possession in very dangerous positions that really had 'goal' written all over them.)

The game was won in the first half.

BWP, who ran his socks off all night, scored an early goal that did seem rather out of the blue.
He took his shot early and picked his spot with precision.

My favourite moment of the game was Yann Kermorgant scoring our second. It was written in the stars that he'd score.
Football fans never learn.
Players who are on the receiving end of abuse often raise their game and Yann was no exception.

Yes. Yann missed a penalty for the Foxes, (an important one admittedly) but all players make errors.
He didn't leave them for a bigger wage packet or refuse to play, he missed a penalty he was actually trying to score.

Our own example of missing a critical penalty in a Play Off semi, Nicky Bailey, retained his hero status to most at The Valley but then, he's not French is he?

I laid down my bet for Big Yann to score and settled back safe in the knowledge I'd be collecting.
If only football betting was always this easy!

Kermorgant was booed from way before kick off by the majority of the East Midlanders. It continued throughout the entire game.

I've never wanted a player to score more.

The end of the game was a bit dicey. Leicester could and should have scored at least twice within added on time.
After the equaliser on Saturday it must have been on all our minds that there might be a last second sickener.

The referee missed a blatant push that gave one of their players the space to advance.
We were lucky Leicester wasted the guilt edged opportunity.

A poor crowd of below 17,000 made the Valley rock.
By the time the 4 minutes of added on time had been played- (this actually took 7 minutes), it felt like those old days when there wasn't a spare seat to be found.

Well done Charlton. Four points from six is beyond most of our hopes and expectations.

A Casualty Rating

The Lacoste polo is going to Michael Morrison for his outstanding defensive work and an extra one is going to Yann for sticking one to the Foxes and earning me some money at the same time.

The Primark novelty slogan t shirt is going to the 'rotund' bloke who sat to my right. I do hope he's not my new Season Ticket mate.
His wide girth plus marauding elbows threatened to wreck my evening, even before he opened his mouth to deliver his nonsense advice to the players.

It's Hull on Saturday.
I hope the game is as exciting as last night, and more people will be there to witness it.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A Pleasing Start.

Birmingham City 1 - Charlton Athletic 1.
There'll be more days like this over the course of the season I imagine.

Last season, everything seemed to go our way.
There were games we deserved to win, and obviously did, yet others when we seemed to show little and ended up grinding out a result.

I couldn't help thinking of our away game at Bournemouth, just a few months ago, as I plodded out of St Andrews stadium yesterday.

At Bournemouth, we looked out of sorts and for my money, probably deserved a draw at best.
We could tell we were having 'one of those seasons' when all 3 points were claimed after a bit of a scramble, deep into injury time.

How we cheered.

Yesterday, the boot was on the other foot.

Charlton took the game to Birmingham.
For the majority of the game we looked in control and most certainly worthy of a place in the Championship.

There were many chances missed though and at Half Time I was quite worried that Birmingham were going to come back in the second half, energised and filled with purpose.

As it turned out, they really couldn't be bothered and it looked as though Charlton were going to return home with a totally deserved 0-0 draw.
I know for a fact I'd have been pleased with that outcome, had I looked into a crystal ball before the game.

On 82 minutes, Cort nodded in at the far post and the 1600 + Charlton support rose as one to cheer, climb on each other and generally muck about with gay abandon.

It was the catalyst for hundreds and hundreds of Blue Noses to make for the exits, many with faces twisted into more ugly versions of the quite frankly acne ridden ones they had just moments before.

Some seemed to be offering out our support as they made throat slitting gestures.
Ah, kids of today eh?

Those more loyal Birmingham supporters suddenly came alive as they tried to (finally) get behind their team.

I took a picture of the scoreboard, expecting it to be a triumphant memory.

Lee Clark made a switch and a Serbian bean pole came on for the final 4 minutes.
He made quite an impression.
He jogged on, head butted a Charlton player, (difficult to see who from my view), then scored the equaliser with the last action of the game.

A shame not to hang on to all 3 points but the performance must have given Chris Powell and his players a massive boost of confidence.
Pre game, I was worried our team may have been good enough to canter to promotion but may well struggle in what is effectively Premier League 2.

After yesterday, I think we can all sigh a little bit, have a few 'what if?' moments but finally remember we were within seconds of beating a team that lost only once at home last season.

A Casualty Rating
The Lacoste polo is going to Rhoys Wiggins.
He looked composed and fully at home at this level.
"Viva Rhoys Wiggins!" we all sang.

The Primark novelty slogan t -shirt is going to the Birmingham support.

The main reason I haven't been to St Andrews since our game there in 1998 is due to the incredibly intimidating atmosphere outside the ground as I left.
 I'm too old to be chased down unfamiliar roads and I'd sworn never to return.
In the event, I thought I'd give Birmingham a second chance.

Oh dear oh dear.
Birmingham used to be one of those grounds where you couldn't chat to the person next to you because of the terrific passion and volume of their fans.
(I'm not pretending the Valley resembles the home of Galatasaray as we all know it can be pretty quiet too but then we don't trade on our fearsome 'lions den' reputation.)

The period of uninspiring football under McLeish must have sucked the life out of this once quite volatile set of supporters.

So, it's home to Leicester on Tuesday.
I'm pretty sure big Yann Kermorgant will be really up for this one!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Bad Timing.

A few months ago I was congratulating myself on my fantastic planning abilities.

The scare stories commenting on how appalling London was going to be during the Olympics had led me to believe we were going to be in permanent lock down, with transport chaos and the world laughing at our silly little island in the North Sea crumbling under the pressure of holding a big event.

To this end, we decided to 'endure' the first week of events and then "get the hell out of Dodge", to enjoy a sunshine break.

This last week has been fantastic. My bum has barely moved from watching the games.
I've either been at events in person, sobbing in front of the television or enjoying one of the fantastic communal viewing areas dotted around the city.

Today we head off to Crete.
I've been looking forward to this trip for ages but somehow, now we are off, I really don't want to be leaving this Greatest City in the World.

We will be enjoying our plastic lasagne, eaten with plastic cutlery, served by women with plastic smiles as the 100 metres semi and final are taking place.


It seems wrong.
Greek television had better be pretty good or I'm going to be using up ridiculous amounts of data over the next few days.

Yesterday will go down as one of the greatest days in British sport.
Six gold medals, (plus a couple of other near misses), was beyond the imagination of most of us.

Kids all over the country will be looking up online the details of their local rowing, running or cycling club.
Even as an old fart, I'm feeling inspired to get back to my fighting weight and play more of the sports I lived for only ten years ago.

One final thought.
I'd love it if a new generation of youngsters now looked up to our glorious athletes rather than those muppets from TOWIE and Big Brother.
That would be a success to me.

Has anybody seen ITV over the last week?
Didn't think so.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

We were there ....

My own Olympic marathon in front of the television continues but my attendance at events has now ended.
My previous post mentioned our visit to the Gymnastics at nearby North Greenwich Arena.

On Monday, I met my niece Daisy at Victoria train station and then we headed over to the Olympic park at Stratford.
We sat out on the grass, watching the big screen and enjoying the atmosphere.

Daisy was most excited when BoJo strolled by.
Her scream and jump made him smile.
I was more impressed when Dame Kelly Holmes walked near us, waving at the adoring public who broke out into spontaneous applause.

We had tickets for the Women's Basketball and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

We saw Canada narrowly beat GB and then USA beat Angola.

On Tuesday, it was my nephew Jack's turn.
 I met him, again at Victoria, and we headed off for a boys day out, involving a ride on the cable car running over the Thames.

In the evening, we went over to Earls Court to see GB play Australia at Volleyball.
Despite the event being held at Earls Court, there seemed to be as many Brazilians as Aussies in attendance. (Brazil were playing in the game afterwards).

Great Britain were quite royally stuffed by Australia but we didn't care, it was just fun to be a part of the event.