For coverage of the game against Palarse at *****hurst Park, please go to Volume 12
This is what the Addickted sang towards the end of Charlton's 4-0 battering of Grimsby at The Valley on Wednesday night. Earlier the whole ground had risen to salute 'the champions' during a pause in the game. All four goals came from headers. After an early Shaun Newton goal, Charlton lost their early dominance of the game and went in only 1-0 ahead at half time to the evident dissatisfaction of some supporters. But a first goal for the Addicks from Svensson followed by goals by leading scorer Andy Hunt and substitute defender Carl Tiler produced the final tally.
Charlton started the game with verve and determination while Grimsby looked as useful as a trawler without any cod. They received their reward on seven minutes when Svensson put in a good ball to Newts who headed into the back of the net. There was another opportunity a few minutes later when Rufus put a ball into Svensson who headed it not far over the crossbar. Just before the quarter hour Charlton had their first corner, but inevitably this saw a cluster of red shirts at the near post and nothing was achieved. Then Chris Powell put in a good cross to Newts but Coyne palmed the ball over. It looked as if one of a number of red shirts might connect with the corner kick, but it was not to be. There was concern a few minutes later when Newts went down and had to receive treatment and he seemed a little subdued for much of the rest of the half. The ball having been sportingly kicked out by Grimsby, Robbo threw it back to their keeper but was made to take the throw again by the fussy referee.
The second portion of the first half was a scrappy and enervating phase of the game. The Mariners remained at sea, and although they could knock the ball about well enough, they never looked like a threat in front of goal. Charlton seemed to have suddenly run out of ideas and their 'attacks' petered out with tame balls at the keeper. The crowd, which had been very noisy in the first part of the game, became almost completely silent and all one could hear was the occasional shout of 'Come on Charlton' from Clare Cole or 'sharpen up you reds' from the market trader to my left.
There was one chance just after the half hour when a poor clearance by Coyne led to a Charlton corner. Rufus stormed in to connect with the ball, but his header missed. A minute later Grimsby won a free kick in a dangerous position. Kingsley Black blasted in a powerful shot, but the hero of the hour, Newts, was there to head it off the line. Just before the break Stuart put in a cross which Newts connected with, but the ball went just over. There was a sense of frustration among the Addickted as the team left the pitch. Steve from Sidcup commented that most of our attacks had been down the left, often involving Chris Powell, and wondered if we had been more versatile when Greg Shields had been available.
Curbs is reported to have had a word at half time. Carl Tiler was immediately brought on for Steve Brown, presumably because the Brighton battler had picked up a knock. Nine minutes into the half, Newts put in a great cross to Svensson who headed unhesitatingly into the back of the net. Grismby brought on Bradley Allen, returning from injury. He was greeted with warm applause by the Addickted and a chorus of 'Super Brad' from the Covered End. But in fact Super Brad he was not, providing a reprise of the headless chicken act for which he was famous as an Addick.
Charlton now made it 3-0 with Robbo putting in a cross from the left to Hunt on 60 minutes which allowed him to head into the back of the net to Coyne's evident frustration. Loan signing Paul Kitson had been taking his tracksuit off and a few minutes after the goal he was brought on in place of the man up front who received a standing ovation from the crowd. There was then a mild sensation when Grimsby put in their first shot on target of the match from free play, the ball going just past the post. Robbo was taken off for Scott Parker. Svensson was not far over with an attempt and then Kinsella had a good try from a distance. Svensson then won a corner, but Kinsella delivered the ball to the goalkeeper.
The Addicks' fourth goal started with a move by Scott Parker. He put in a fierce but accurate shot from over thirty yards out which was deflected for a corner. This time Kinsella put in a high and menacing ball towards the far post which Carl Tiler had the height to connect with and put in the back of the net. Kitson and Coyne then collided and both required treatment, allowing the crowd to stand and acclaim the team. Although Charlton continued to dominate possession, a fifth goal did not come, so the score equalled that against Stockport. But a 9-2 aggregate against the Cleethorpes club is itself no mean achievement.
Bob the Dog's credentials. He has recently benefitted from a complete makeover from his sponsor, Elaine's canine beautician.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has named Shaun Newton as recipient of the Silver Bone. He scored one goal, was the provider for another and made a crucial defensive clearance. He must be one of the candidates in contention for Player of the Year. Kiely had relatively little to do apart from collecting the odd loose ball, although some wag behind me insisted on shouting 'stay in you area, Kiely' every time he moved off the goal line. Chris Powell had a good game: my notes include references to two good crosses. Steve Brown was doing the business and was taken off because of a calf injury. Rufus was as dependable as ever and although Barness played one or two poor balls, he was generally competent and reliable. Stuart improved considerably on his performance at Maine Road and Kinsella also looked less jaded. Robbo was a little below par, although he provided the assist for the third goal. Hunt kept getting throttled by a Grimsby defender, but received no protection from the referee whose day job involves wringing necks in the poultry industry. There was nothing in his performance which required him being taken off, but Kitson deserved a chance. Svensson is the new man to hate among some sections of the crowd. He did sometimes dwell on the ball too long, but hopefully his goal will give him more confidence. Sometimes it seems as if he thinks his role is to provide flick ons to Hunt rather than having a go himself. Tiler was excellent in defence and I took real pleasure in the goal by the man hailed as a donkey by some Addicks when he first signed. Parker looked like a man with a point to prove and his fans who ring in to Charlton Live will have been heartened by his performance. Lets hope he gets some more chances to show what he can do as Charlton's position becomes more secure. Kitson had not even trained with the team, but slotted in well and showed that he is a class act.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the referee who was a fusspot who had clearly learnt the rule book by heart.
A 42nd minute equaliser from John Robinson (but later credited to Newts) gave Charlton a share of the points at Maine Road and took them thirteen points ahead of the three teams on 65 points. However, the vociferous Pam from Sidcup was not happy with the outcome, sharing the view of many of the Addickted that if chances had been taken, Charlton could have come away with all three points. However, City also squandered some good chances. Charlton were under the cosh at times in the match, particularly in the first half hour, but the game opened out more in the second half. Most people would think that a draw was a fair result and a good one for Charlton who will be increasingly hard to catch as the games run out.
We set off from Watford Gap in the West Sussex minibus at the unusual time of Saturday lunchtime. We soon pulled off the road into Foxes territory at Lutterworth whose inhabitants were surprised to see a group of Charlton supporters in their midst. Vern disappeared into a betting shop where he was told he would not get a price on Charlton being promoted, but they could offer 250-1 on us winning the Premiership the next season.
Brian Cole had booked us into remarkably good value rooms at the Holiday Inn at Manchester Airport where we were untroubled by any aircraft noise. The whole party set off for dinner at the Nag's Head where we did not see Dave, but youngsters wearing United and City shirts. Pam from Sidcup regaled us with tales of her exploits in a loud voice which left no one in the eatery in doubt that the Addicks were in town. One of the highlights was her account of how she lost her cool in the toilets at Leicester. We headed back to the bar at the hotel. Mrs C rang up to check how things were going and was greeted with the sound of Pam reenacting a famous scene from a film, leading Mrs C to ask 'What's that?'
The Man City supporter who brought me my coffe at breakfast forecast that we would get 'toasted', but I told him it would be a draw. It was an easy drive in the morning to the salubrious home neighbourhood of City. The turnstiles were very narrow, preventing one from taking the option of bringing in the wheels from the minibus. John Salako was the last player out for the warm up, to be greeted with ironic applause from his fellow players. (Neal Target thinks that the applause was in fact directed at Mervyn Day, acknowledged with two ironic bows). A penalty shoot out for junior supporters of both teams involved City mascot 'Moonchester', a hapless alien who thinks that Maine Road and its surroundings represent the height of Earthling chic.
City were on the attack almost at once. Chris Powell managed to clear their first attempt, but then Taylor managed to put in a curling shot which went just a yard wide of Deano's post. Charlton then managed to mount some pressure with Steve Brown (later to be named man of the match) putting in a great long pass. However, Deano was then judged to have handled outside the area, although those who watched on television argued that his feet were outside, but his hands were inside. Quite how the linesman could have worked matters out from his position remains a great mystery, but the referee judiciously decided on a yellow card and a free kick which led to nothing. The crowd continued to boo Deano every time he got the ball for some time afterwards. City kept up the pressure and won the first of ten corners just after the quarter hour, but Deano punched the ball out.
In the opening half hour of the match, the Addicks seemed to allow City too much time on the ball to set up attacks from within their own half, just sitting back and waiting for the next onslaught. With the pressure continuing the composed Barness made a good clearance. Another City corner followed with Deano again called on to punch the ball clear again. On twenty-five minutes there was the first real period of Charlton pressure with a cross from Newts flashing across the front of goal. Then Andy Hunt headed the ball into net, but the joy of the Addickted was short lived with Robbo having made him offside. Affronted by this insult, City swept back down the pitch again, Ian Bishop picked out the unmarked Goater who mishit the ball with his shin so that it described a parabola above Deano's head and into the back of the net. Inner city Manchester was en fete. Meanwhile, news had filtered through that the tractors were 0-2 down to the combine harvesters in the yokels' derby. Charlton started to lift their game and on 42 minutes a thirty yard shot by Robbo was deflected off Newts and went into the back of the net. Hunt then made a good run, but his ball flashed across the front of goal with no one available to connect with it.
I returned from the gents (which had plenty of room but a very narrow entrance) to see the pitch being thoroughly watered in front of each goalmouth, a fact that attracted the indignant attention of Rick Everitt seated two rows behind me. Whether this was legal or not led to some debate on Charlton Live but, unlike cricket, it seems that there is no rule about interfering with the playing surface.
The Addicks had a half chance to go ahead three minutes after the re-start. Svensson put in a good ball to Robbo, but the father to be slipped on the wet turf and the ball went wide. Robbo then put in a cross for Kinsella, but the midfielder was just short of connecting with the ball and putting it in the back of the net. Six minutes into the half Robbo shot just wide but the shot worried Weaver enough for him to make a diving save. Kinsella was not having the best of games. First he gave the ball away and then he picked up a yellow card for a late challenge.
City then had a great chance to shoot at an open goal but for some reason Whitley chose to put in a cross rather than shoot with the ball going out of play. Newts then had a chance to make good use of a header from Svensson, but shot straight at Weaver instead of passing the ball to the unmarked Robinson. As a disappointed Newts retreated, City swept up the other end on the break, but managed to miss. City then took off Bishop and brought on Granville, the disgruntled Bishop taking an age to amble across the wide pitch.
Nearly twenty minutes into the half Newts was on the attack again, Weaver stopping his shot with his legs. With Svensson looking unlikely to break down the City defence, the time had come to bring on Pringle who is superb until he gets in front of goal. Charlton nearly found themselves in trouble immediately because of a poor ball by Kinsella. City then had two corners in succession, but Charlton managed to break, Robbo putting in a good cross to Pringle who inevitably failed to connect, bringing groans of 'It's Walsall all over again' from around me. City then managed to convert a free kick into a corner. This was followed by another free kick given away by Tiler which was converted into a corner, but Stuart managed to kick the ball out of trouble.
Pam proclaimed that Charlton were ****, but the match was turning into an exciting end-to-end contest. Pringle had another chance ten minutes from time having used his pace to defeat the offside trap but shot straight at the keeper. As City supporters started to leave to allow themselves time to re-fit their hub caps, City won a succession of corners which threatened to lead to a 2-1 outcome. The typical City corner soared high into the air to arrive near the far post, a tactic Charlton could take lessons from. However, the Addicks were able to get the ball clear to the opposition end and the referee surprisingly blew up without adding lots of minutes on. We then had to wait in the ground for 'safety reasons while congestion outside cleared', i.e., while assorted scummers were moved away. This did, however, give us a further chance to salute the Charlton team during their warm down. Then it was out to the coaches and a circuitous route through the city during which we received many friendly salutes from the City supporters. In my view it was a case of 'to the Londoners 1-1'.
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to John Robinson , not just for the goal, but for an excellent all round performance. The winger was the inexplicable target of booing by the cultured citizens of Manchester, but this only seemed to inspire him to try even harder. (One explanation of the booing is that he objected to a free kick being moved away from the touchline where it was awarded, but if this was the case it says a lot about the extreme partisanship of City supporters). Deano was the victim of a marginal decision by the referee. He could not have stopped the Goater goal, but did not have that many really threatening shots to stop, although his punch from a Pollock header early in the game was a crucial stop. Barness was composed and competent and cannot be faulted, although Brown showed once again that he won't let you down. Powell made some good defensive interventions and created a couple of promising crosses. Tiler did not look like a man returning to his first 90 minute appearance in the first team squad after a long injury. Apart from one mix up with Steve Brown, he was generally authoritative. It has even been suggested that he should keep his place when Rufus is available on Wednesday. Newts used his pace to good effect, but failed to take advantage of one good chance to score. Stuart made a couple of important interventions, but generally wasn't in it very much which was the pattern against Swindon. Sacrilege though it may be to say so, Kinsella was below par, playing the team into trouble a couple of times. But one paper named him man of the match, so perhaps we expect too much. Hunt had an excellent game, turning and outwitting the opposition a number of times. He would have scored but for Robbo playing him offside. Svensson made some useful flick ons, but never really came close to scoring. Hence the arrival of Pringle who really unsettles the opposition but can't score from clearcut chances.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to the linesman on the side away from the Charlton fans. As Pam commented well into the second half, 'he's a bit dodgy', which some of us had worked out already. Pam, you're a gem!
Having tasted defeat at home to Swindon on Saturday, we decided to console ourselves with a visit to Nene Park on Tuesday evening for the FA Trophy match between Rushden and Diamonds (in 2nd place) and Sutton United (bottom of the conference). We should perhaps have remembered that the last time we went to Nene Park was after the cup defeat at Bolton. On that occasion Rushden were held to a points sapping draw by mid-table Hednesford.
We arrived at Nene Park to be greeted by a curious gnome figure who turned out to be from a local garden centre which was supporting the match ball. Further colour was provided by the unusual brown and yellow quartered shirts of Sutton, the small contingent from London providing shouts of 'yellows' and 'United'. It was soon apparent that things were not going Rushden's way with the team hit by the long-term injury to key player Michael McElhatton. Rushden's big fault is a lack of pace on the ground and it was soon apparent that there was going to be an over reliance on hoofing the ball around the park, usually up into the stratosphere. No big surprise, then, when Rushden were 0-1 down by half time.
There was, as they say, everything to play for. For Sutton that was who went first 2-0 ahead on 51 minutes and then 3-0 ahead on 67 minutes with a shot from Ekoku (brother of). Even the introduction of Miquel de Souza around 60 minutes made little difference. One of the most impressive players for the Diamonds was veteran Ray Warburton who occasionally looked threatening down the wings. In the last fifteen minutes Diamonds stepped up the pressure and finally mentioned to get a shot past the keeper through Mark Cooper on 85 minutes. After a lack of corners in the first phase of the match, Diamonds won a number in succession and even Turley ran up the field on one occasion to take part, nearly getting his head to the ball and managing to get back to his goal when the move failed unlike Ilic at Blackburn. But it was all to no avail: the London contingent could chant 'Wem-ber-lee'. As at Bolton, they were more up for it.
We rarely leave a match early but did so on this occasion to avoid the queues of traffic out of the car park (although attendance was down at around 2,700). Ironically, Diamonds face a repeat league match against Sutton on Saturday and, as with our league fixture against Bolton, it is the more important one to win.
Charlton were top of the league and Swindon were bottom. Swindon had only won twice away to Charlton in twenty-three encounters, the last time at The Valley nearly eighty years ago. No wonder that in the lounges before the match the Addickted were forecasting a 3-0 or 4-0 win for Charlton: Bob Bolder even went for 6-0. Instead Charlton lost 0-1, a reminder that you can never, outside of the Pools Panel, 'read off' results from the form book and a warning against complacency.
The match was effectively lost in the opening minutes when the normally reliable Dean Kiely spilled a shot from Cowe and the ball tricked over the line. All Charlton's efforts to get back into the game were to no avail, albeit frustrated by some dubious refereeing decisions. The Addicks won countless corners, but none of them could be converted into a goal. As the match wore on, Charlton's efforts became increasingly frenetic and panic driven. Instead of relying on their usual accurate passing game, there was too much hopeful hoofing of the ball up the pitch: it looked like Rushden and Diamonds on one of their bad days. What made things worse was that chances were created but golden scoring opportunities were lost, particularly involving Salako in the closing minutes of the match. The one consolation was that all the other leading clubs lost as well, apart from Barnsley, meaning that Charlton maintained their twelve point lead over Ipswich and Manchester City.
The zimmer frame crowd at the Rose of Denmark had selected this match to take up one of the hospitality packages in the West Stand. While we were waiting for them to hobble into view, Rick Everitt came over and had a word, although his attention was distracted by an autograph seeker. Then web site match reporter Mick Collins came along, providing an opportunity to chat with the maestro of the witty match report, although I have heard that his comparison of Barness with a barge will not appear in the Voice of the Valley version.
The clatter of zimmer frames told us that we were ready to go in. I must say that the package was good value. The food was good and Bob Bolder was an excellent host. David Hatch came equipped with a laptop computer so that he could quickly show people photographs taken with his digital camera. David did have to wait for his meal while the cat food special was prepared. Everyone was in a buoyant mood, oblivious of the disaster to come. A cheerful John Window joined us. Having noticed that there is a 'Barney Way' near the station, I backed Barness at 33-1 to score the first goal.
Kap Varma remarked that the body language of the management team looked buoyant as they came out to the applause of the crowd. Shaun Newton made an early run and Andy Hunt shot rather weakly at the keeper, perhaps a taste of what was to come. But then Swindon started to press forward and scored their shock goal after four minutes.
The crowd was stunned into silence and it was some minutes before Charlton got their act together, inspiration being provided by the forward runs of Anthony Barness and Chris Powell. On eleven minutes Barness shot wide and then Robbo sent a shot straight at the keeper. Good work by Chris Powell then forced a corner for Charlton. One of the most impressive forwards on the day was Rufus and he hit the bar. This was followed by two Charlton corners. The Addicks were awarded a free kick and three players hovered round the ball, but it was Svensson who hit it at the keeper. Svensson had to have his shirt replaced after it had been ripped to shreds by the opposition. Svensson then put in a threatening header, but Talia, who takes lessons in jumping from his pet kangaroo, put the ball over.
On the half hour Charlton had a clear call for a penalty. Powell had his shirt pulled in the box, but managed to get a good pass across to Svensson who was brought down in the box by Talia and another player. The referee, who set new standards with his sight problems and lack of judgement, ignored all appeals. Stuart put a header over, then Hunt just missed with a ball he would normally have put away, heading wide of an open goal. Good work by Hunt produced yet another Charlton corner, but Hunt just missed again. The increasing desperation of the Addicks was shown by a completely wild shot put in by Kinsella. As Kap remarked, the half had gone quickly, but it had not gone well.
We returned late after our half time cup of tea to the giddy heights of the Upper West just in time to see Swindon come close to making it 2-0. Whatever the team had been told with their half time cup of tea, it didn't seem to have much effect because the Addicks continued to play too many wild balls. As Sports First commented, 'Charlton's play was strangely disjointed with passes going astray, in contrast to their usual precise build up. Despite having the territorial advantage, Charlton could not turn it into goals.' They were not helped by the referee who showed a woeful ignorance of the advantage rule. Five minutes into the half he should have let Robbo play on instead of awarding a free kick between the corner flag and the box.
It was man of the match Rufus who was the first Charlton player to come close to scoring in the second half. Having shaken off two defenders, he put in a shot on fifteen minutes that went just over. Clearly this was a time for Curbishley to sort it out and on 66 minutes Powell was pulled off for Salako. This allowed Charlton to play three at the back and gave Robbo more of a roaming role. On 70 minutes the off form Hunt was replaced by Pringle, although there might have been a case for taking off Svensson.
Swindon used up all their substitutions in the closing half hour and Reeve was booked for tackling from behind. Talia got a yellow for timewasting. Svensson had a chance to score with a ball from a corner but put his header over. Salako then blazed the ball wide when he could have squared it for one of the players in the box. In injury time, Svensson put in a shot which tested the goalkeeper. The ball fell to Salako, but instead of putting it in net, it went wide of the post.
We then had to evacuate the stand, but this went smoothly enough and were soon back in to see Matthew Robinson, son of lister Mike, present a bottle of champagne to a genial Richard Rufus. It was a strange day because we had enjoyed our day in the lounge with our fellow listers, and were able to talk about plans for a bigger get together, but the result was almsot unbelievable. The one consolation was that I was not in my usual seat and was hence spared the moaning of the Bloke Behind Me who must have been one of the morons in E block reported to have booed the team off the pitch. A more sporting gesture was the shouts of 'Deano' from the E block of the Covered End, combined with applause for the Swindon players.
Match analysts Bob the Dog has been joined by trainee match analyst Hooch the Pooch for a sleep over. Both dogs agree with the verdict in the lounges and have awarded the Silver Bone to Richard Rufus who came close twice to adding to his goals tally. Dean Kiely made a very foolish mistake which he will not want to see on the end of season video. But we should remember the number of times he has kept us in games this season. Barge-asteroid Barness was impressive, making some excellent passes forward and also making his own incursions into Swindon territory. Powell was also good and was taken off only for tactical reasons. Brown was less prominent in some games, but could not be faulted. Stuart in my view and that of others had a very poor game: up to now he has always been reasonably consistent. The master's notes contain a number of remarks on the lines of 'Stuart again'. He kept getting beaten to the ball or losing it. Kinsella was also below par. For a long time, I have been concerned about his corners which invariably drop short of the near post where they are either collected by the keeper or cleared by the opposition. I lost count of the number of corners we had, but very little came of any of them. Newts was one of the better players on the pitch, making some good forward runs. Robbo came into it more in the latter stages of the game as the formation was changed around. Svensson is very industrious, but one wonders if he is capable of scoring. Hunt had a poor day, although he showed some nice touches on the ball, turning it effectively away from the Swindon defence and getting himself into promising positions - but it was the final touch that was lacking. Pringle was expected to turn it around in the last twenty minutes, but failed to do. Salako was little short of a disaster, missing two chances to score, although I did think that his corners were more impressive than those of Kinsella.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given her Hiss of the Match to useless referee Ray Oliver (Ray 'something') as he was called by an indignant Addick on 606. He may be a personnel manager, but he knows nothing about man management in a football match.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page for pictures of the Rose of Denmark, home of the zimmer frame boys, and a gathering of listers in the dugout: Joe and Janet Dray, cat food specialist David Hatch and Mike and Matthew Robinson.
From the home town of Deano
Round the corner from his old school
Leamington & Warwick, Mid-Warwickshire Boys League