That was how Joe Royle described his highly rated Manchester City squad after they had been demolished 4-0 by Charlton at The Valley. There is no doubt that there was a strong contrast between the disjointed nature of City's play and the fluency, coherence and accuracy of Charlton's teamwork. Royle tried to claim that City deserved at least one penalty and possibly three, and comment tended to focus on City's failure rather than Charlton's success. But the match left Charlton once again top of the Premiership at the start of the season, but with more prospect this time of avoiding relegation.
On the way down from Leamington we were greeted by various gestures by City fans. My first destination at The Valley was Curbs's office, an oasis of calm among the excitement of the day. Curbs was relaxed and confident as I gave him a bottle of champagne and he presented me with his yellow shirt from last season. I gave him the best wishes of everyone at the Rose of Denmark which clearly somewhat bemused him. The event was recorded for posterity by photographer Tom Morris who ribbed me about dark secrets he knows from my past.
Diamond geezer John Window and I had agreed on the Lyngby trip that this was a match we must win and that was also the mood at the Rose of Denmark. The group there was enhanced by the presence of well known lister Richard Pool home from Thailand while an off list fan of Bob the Dog introduced himself. I felt that the absolute minimum we needed from the match was not to be beaten, but was hoping we might win 2-1. Soon it was time to set off for The Valley where an Iranian flag was draped over the rails of the Jimmy Seed stand. The mystery of what Brian Cole was doing by the touchline last week was solved when it was revealed that he had got himself a Saturday job as announcer (please read out the substitutes more slowly, Brian, and give their numbers). The popular Sussex coaster pointedly welcomed last season's runners up to the home of the champions.
After the minute's silence was meticulously observed, Stuart and Lisbie had a last minute chat about their respective roles, then the game started at a cracking pace. The referee, who had an unusually good game, spotted that Hunt had been held back and awarded a free kick within shooting distance. Jensen stepped up to repeat his feat against Vicenza, but the curling ball was tipped over by Weaver. The subsequent Charlton corner was caught by the self effacing goalkeeper. Tiler then showed why he was in the team by providing two good defensive headers. Weah showed his world class quality by blasting over the Covered End goal. Lisbie had a chance to put his name in the history books after seven minutes when he picked up a loose ball six yards out but put the shot over Weaver and against the bar. Hunt then displayed his skill by completely outfoxing City's excuse for a defence and put in a right footed shot which left Weaver with no chance. Ten minutes in the game and Charlton were 1-0 ahead against a team tipped as an outside chance for the title.
Modest Andy Hunt likes to protect this privacy, but the shy striker posed for this Roland Silcox picture.
Powell then won the first of six Charlton corners by playing the ball off one of the hapless City defenders. A great break then produced another Charlton corner and Lisbie put in an opportunistic header which tested Weaver. City had the first of their shouts for a penalty, then Kiely had to make a great save from Wanchope on to the post. This was followed by a City shot over the cross bar. A curious offside decision denied Lisbie when he was through. Good work by Robbo produced another Charlton corner. Wanchope was then brought down and received a yellow card for dissent for forcibly expressing his views to the referee and his assistant. A good build up led to a poor final ball from Robbo. There were worries when Robbo had to receive attention, but it seemed that he was only winded.
As the half hour approached, City were awarded a marginal free kick which gave them a corner but Deano safely collected the ball. There then occurred a moment which most people have forgotten in the glow of the victory. Powell rather unnecessarily headed the ball out of play, nearly scoring his first goal at Charlton in his own net. The resultant corner had to be cleared off the goalline by Kinsella. Charlton started to step up the pressure. Powell forced another corner and then Jensen put a ball into Lisbie with the youngster just missing the target. Robbo put in a rather speculative shot which went straight at Weaver. A push on Stuart produced a somewhat harsh yellow card for Haaland and then a late tackle on Tiatto by Stuart put his name in the book. On 42 minutes Lisbie put in a shot and Robbo was able to use the rebound to make it 2-0. In what is possibly a club record, the whole half had gone by without a single complaint from the Bloke Behind Me, not even a 'Sort it out, Curbishley!', let alone one of his routine calls for the manager's resignation.
Joe Royle had clearly decided that desperate measures were called for and pulled off admittedly useless defender Kevin Horlock and brought on wide man Shaun Wright-Phillips, perhaps hoping that his pedigree would add a touch of class to City;s game. Early in the half Kinsella had a fierce shot saved by Weaver. The popular goalkeeper was now playing in front of the Covered End and was regularly regaled with chants of 'Weaver, Weaver, what's the score?'
Lisbie was making full use of his pace, but was sometimes a little hesitant in his finishing. Nevertheless, his spirit was recognised in a tentative chant of 'Super Kev, Super Kev, Super Kevin Lisbie' from the Covered End. Thirteen minutes into the half a shot from Robbo was only just over. A strange offside decision robbed Charlton of one chance. Hunt missed a chance and then Kiely made a great save from a good shot from outside the area by Haaland. The consensus was that this was an even better save than the one he made in the first half. The Manchester City corner was followed by a free kick from the edge of the box and then another corner. With less than twenty minutes of the half played, City were applying some pressure and showing that they might be able to get back in the match. But then Wright-Phillips showed that he was possibly not a chip off the old block when he blasted over.
The game by now was being played largely in City's half and an exchange of passes between Stuart and Kinsella led to the captain putting the ball past Weaver on 72 minutes. Steve Brown then came on in place of Jensen who received a warm standing ovation while the Covered End launched into a chant of 'Stevie Brown, he'll never let you down.' On 80 minutes Kinsella was through on goal in a one-on-one with Weaver who brought him down. Weaver received a yellow card to round off his day out in London and Graham Stuart neatly dispatched the penalty into the corner of the net.
A thumbs up from Graham Stuart and a thumbs up for his well taken penalty. Photo credit: Roland Silcox collection.
Lisbie went off to warm applause with Newts replacing him. City fans were by now streaming out of the ground to chants of 'Easy!', 'You're not very good' and 'Can we play you every week.' Konchesky was brought on in place of Robinson on 86 minutes. By now the City players were staggering around the pitch like men in a nightmare while Charlton played keep ball. 'Give us five' chanted the crowd, but there was not to be an exact replica of the victory over Southampton. A great start, but it could have been six or seven if we had taken all our chances and we are not going to encounter such a weak defence every week.
We headed back to the Rose of Denmark which now had a large contingent of City fans in residence. There was some good humoured chanting by both sides, City fans being eager to sing and dance to unrepeatable ditties about Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton. One female Addick stood on a table in an attempt to rouse the Charlton contingent. As we walked back to Canberra Road with listmaster Glynne, the sound of police sirens could be heard and a rather menacing group of City fans were seen coming from the direction of Charlton Liberal Club. But by the time we reached the grounds of Charlton House, the quiet of a South-East London evening had descended and Glynne disappeared into his house which we started the drive home, inspired by the bottle of champagne we planned to open.
It was suggested by listmaster Glynne to match analyst Bob the Dog while he was sniffing his way up Charlton Church Lane that the Silver Bone might go to Alan Curbishley and the board of directors for their contribution to the team spirit which was one of the clear differences between the two sides. A special replica bone will indeed go to the boardroom, but Bob has awarded the coveted trophy for the first time to Hackney's finest Kevin Lisbie. It was a spirited and courageous performance by the young player who was more than ready to take on the City defence and he won deserved praise on Match of the Day. Deano made two great saves at key stages of the match and showed that he is worth a million pounds several times over (he was the one point of criticism from the Bloke Behind Me who stated his preference for Royce). Apart from one nearly disastrous error, Powell had another great game, forging down the wing and putting in some excellent crosses. An idiot on the Net Addicks Board described Kishishev as 'just a squad player'. He put in another first rate performance, Bob noting that he made only one error throughout the whole match. Critics of Tiler will find it difficult to fault his performance - he provided a series of excellent defensive headers. Rufus was always there to make the decisive final intervention when it was required. Robbo has won warm praise from Sport First and in my view had an outstanding game. Mick McCarthy was apparently watching the game and he must have been impressed by the outstanding performance of captain Mark Kinsella. He was everywhere in defence and attack. The Bloke Behind Me had to grudgingly admit that Jensen 'might turn out to be quite a useful little player.' In my view he was brilliant, commanding the midfield and completely outfoxing City. Another great signing by Curbs. Stuart had a good game and delivered his penalty calmly and effectively, wiping out the memory of last year's miss. Sue Allen must have been sent into paroxysms of delight by Andy Hunt's early goal. He showed what I have always believed, that he will deliver many goals for us this season. Steve Brown was brought on to provide three at the back, but had little to do against a demoralised City. Newts used his pace to good effect and tormented the ineffective City defence. Konchesky was on in cameo role, possible to prepare for standing in for Chris Powell.
Juneau the Soccer Cat favours plenty of fur and had thought of awarding the Hiss of the Match to Dean Kiely's haircut. However, she did not want to award it to a great player who is also a local Leamington lad so it has gone to the bald headed linesman on the East Stand side for his curious offside decisions. Juneau wants to add that the standard of play by Charlton reflects the professionalism of her sponsors, vets Walker, Duffin and Daniel. Having filmed at the practice, BBC TV decided that they could not use the footage because the vets were too calm, collected and professional. Just like Charlton!
Juneau the Soccer Cat prefers a good head of hair.
Having completed his training as a match analyst, Hooch Hands (known to his friends as 'Hooch the Pooch') has been appointed northern match analyst and will be presenting his first report from Everton. Remember that we will be the only Charlton site providing coverage of Tuesday night's clash at Harbury Lane in the Midlands Combination Division Two between Leamington and Earlswood Town.
What was meant to be a friendly at The Valley between Nationwide Champions Charlton and Serie B champions Vicenza deteriorated into an increasingly bad tempered encounter. The satisfaction derived from a 3-2 victory over the Italians through goals from Jensen, Stuart and Lisbie was offset by the sending off of the normally cool and calm Chris Powell who ran thirty yards to give physical expression to his views on an unpleasant tackle from behind on Andy Hunt. Fabio Firmani was also sent off, but this was scant consolation for the Addicks who face the threat of Powell being suspended in the early phase of the Premiership campaign if the booking is reported. Another concern was Jonatan Johansson limping off in the first half, but it looked like a bad knock rather than a hamstring as some feared.
It was evident from the start that Vicenza were possessed of olympic level diving skills, exemplified when one player undertook a series of acrobatic rolls after being tackled. In what was initially a tight match, Vicenza engaged in some physical challenges. After referee Steve Tomlin awarded one free kick, he was given a shove by a Vicenza player, but settled for an immediate substitution rather than a sending off. Although he made increasing use of his whistle to blow up for a series of free kicks, it was clear that he was losing control of what was meant to be a friendly. Inevitably, he drew a chorus of 'you're not fit to referee'.
It was a long drive down to Charlton, but worth it with the prospect of football at The Valley again, even if it was overshadowed by the week's desperately sad news. Coming in, we noticed a different and more pleasing smell from the catering outlets. Fish could be smelt cooking, perhaps suggesting that Olafur Johansson had fulfilled his ambition of supplying the club with his country's main product. It was 30 deg. C. in the shade in the East Stand, so the temperature must have been much higher on the pitch, perhaps contributing to the boiling over of tempers.
In the opening moments of the match, Rufus put in a fierce but fair clattering challenge on Firmani. This led the ref to have a word, and it may be that Vicenza took this as a signal to play what is evidently their usual game. In any event Johansson was brought down minutes later. The free kick was taken by Jensen with a fierce shot on target. It was then Vicenza's turn to have a free kick from twenty-five yards out. Their first shot came off the Charlton wall, but they were able to collect the ball for a second shot, drawing a good save from Dean Kiely.
It was an evenly balanced match at this stage and Rufus's defending skills were called upon. Robbo then put in an excellent cross, but there was no there to connect with it. Thirteen minutes into the game Hunt came close, but the ball was somehow dealt with by keeper Enrico Milan. Within a minute Vicenza had a free kick on the edge of the area, producing a great stop by Rufus in front of goal.
With Johansson clearly struggling, Lisbie was brought on eighteen minutes into the half. With Charlton awarded another free kick, Kinsella had to march forward to get the Italian wall to move back. The only reward on this occasion was a corner, but Charlton were increasingly displaying their skills and putting the Italians under considerable pressure. Just after the half hour, the heat led the ref to call for a drinks break, if only for his own benefit. Minutes later Vicenza put the ball just over the Covered End crossbar. On 38 minutes there was the incident when a Vicenza player pushed the referee (I think that this was a clear and quite forceful push on the referee, rather than one player pushing another into the ref). When everything had calmed down, Jensen and Kinsella set up their free kick routine Lyngby style with Jensen powering the ball into the back of the net past a bemused Milan. There was just time left for a Vicenza player to strangle Hunt, producing a free kick which led to a Charlton corner.
Robinson had been required to come off by the ref and was replaced by Stuart for the second half. Lisbie was increasingly settling in and a few minutes after the re-start beat the goalkeeper but then just missed with his shot. After a completely fair tackle, Vicenza's No.14 shirt then produced the most incredible acrobatic display of rolling in agony, leading Bob the Dog to make an unsuccessful attempt at imitation in the cramped conditions of the East Stand. No.14 had to be stretchered away to boos and whistles from the crowd. There was more pushing and shoving on the pitch and a section of the East Stand crowd stood up to shout 'Eyeties. Always the same, dirty, cheating Eyeties.' Good work by Newts produced a Charlton corner, but he was replaced immediately afterwards by Scott Parker.
As at Lyngby, Kishishev had been a joy to watch. He used his pace to great effect along the right. A typical move was to go so far along the wing, then cut inside and lay the ball off, drifting back to the wing again to collect a return pass. He is beyond doubt a player of quality (well spotted, Richard Hunt). A typical display of skill saw him play the ball into Stuart, who returned to Kishishev, who then played an accurate pass to Lisbie. Unfortunately, Lisbie's header just missed. Lisbie then created a chance to score with a great cross across the front of goal. Salako was then brought on in place of Kinsella.
The brawl that led to Powell being sent off seemed to unsettle Charlton and Luca Toni put in a cannonball shot from twenty-five yards out that left Deano with no chance. Jensen was replaced by Konchesky. A Charlton corner led to a terrible cross by Salako which sailed up into the air and over the goalline on the far side. Parker put in a great ball to Hunt but his shot hit the crossbar. A Salako corner then found its way to Stuart. 'Shoot!' shouted the Bloke Beside Me and this is what Stuart did, and what he is so good at, leaving Milan with no chance. Kishishev played Lisbie through and this time he took his chance well, making the scoreline 3-1. However, the Charlton defence left Toni plenty of space to use his powerful left foot to make it 3-2. Charlton played with the ball for a while, but then Hunt forced a corner. Meanwhile, there seemed to be trouble in the West Stand at the far (Covered) end. Lisbie played Hunt in and the ball went across the front of goal.
Basta! By now the referee had had enough and blew up. Steve Brown came out on the pitch to accept the Forsport 'Challenge of the Champions' trophy from the Italian ambassador, Luigi Amaduzzi. Steve made a short speech, assuring us that he would never let us down in the coming season.
As a lover of Italy and Italian football, I was sorry that the game was marred by so much petulance and bad temper. We lingered in South-East London, enjoying a post-match drink at the Rose of Denmark. On the way home, we listened to Forest, Blackburn, Wednesday and Rangers fans each claiming that they were the 'biggest' club in the division and thereby deserving of the championship. A Wimbledon fan blamed their 0-0 draw at home on the fact that 'we have Leaburn up front.'
Match analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the bottle of Campari to Claus Jensen who showed once again that he is a quality signing, not least in a dead ball situation. His partnership with Kinsella should be formidable. Deano was not to blame for either of the goals which were well taken. Kishishev was excellent and another candidate for the man of the match award. I feel a chant coming on: 'Oh Mr K .. home and away .. he makes the play.' Chris Powell was up to his usual excellent standards, bringing the ball forward and crossing it accurately. We shall miss him if he is suspended. Rufus was a rock in defence, while Steve Brown showed again that he is a great shot stopper. Newts was in the game much more than was the case at Lyngby while Kinsella is clearly at the top of his form. Robbo showed that parenthood has done nothing for his temper, but put in some good crosses while he was on the pitch. Johansson had little chance to display his skills before being taken out, but Hunt showed that his game is at the same high standard as it was last season. Stuart managed to give the ball away in one potentially dangerous situation, but made up for it by scoring a superb goal. Lisbie played as well as I have ever seen him. He always has pace, but he showed guile and skill as well. But his finishing is still open to question: he missed two good chances to score. Scott Parker drew praise from Curbs after the game and he was certainly capable. The impression made by Salako was much more negative and Konchesky had little chance to show what he can do.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to useless referee Steve Tomlin. Bob the Dog is sponsored by Elaine canine beuaticians for the complete canine makeover and Juneau by Leamington vets Walker, Duffin and Daniel - see them on the new series of Vets in Practice.
Charlton's new signings impressed in the pre-season friendly against Lyngby which the Addicks won 2-1. The goals were scored by Jensen and Johanssen, while Kishishev provided an exhibition display of his outstanding football skills. Although one had the impression that Charlton were not playing at full power against indifferent opposition, there were some encouraging signs for the coming season.
If Charlton showed that they were polishing their football skills, this was not true of your correspondent's reporting skills. I arrived at the match quarter of an hour late, although that was partly the result of misinformation. As substitution followed substitution, I found myself unable to help Rick Everitt in his record keeping for the benefit of current and future generations of stattos. I even managed not to note down some key events on the pitch. Rick and I did, however, agree on an overall attendance figure of 350.
Following directions provided by Mediaslime on the list, we made our away along the long walk from Lyngby Station to the ground. We passed Big Mama's pizza house where we heard that Mediaslime had himself earlier been present, although it was suggested that he was horizontally, vertically and visually challenged. In any event, his directions worked, but we were puzzled why the streets were deserted. As we walked through the woods towards the ground, a sudden burst of shouting and a loudspeaker announcement told us that Jensen had scored for Charlton. The ground itself was by no means as bad as Mediaslime had made out with two quite decent stands on both sides, plus a clubhouse. A large banner declared 'Welcome Back Claus'. For the record, the Jensen goal arose after a push on Stuart had led to a free kick on the edge of the box. With Kinsella providing a dummy, Jensen accurately guided the ball into the back of the net. It was, of course, the first goal scored by Charlton outside the British Isles since that netted by the 'legendary' (Ian Cartwright's words, not mine) Carl Leaburn in Ancona in the Anglo-Italian Cup.
Charlton tried to double their lead almost immediately with two attempts at goal, one involving a Powell cross. With Lyngby on the attack, Steve Brown tried the risky but successful manouevre of dribbling the ball across the front of the goal before clearing it. Kinsella put in a good shot with the Lyngby keeper diving to save it. Kinsella was then in the heat of the action again when he foiled an attempted attack by Nichlas Hindsberg. Charlton then conceded a corner, but Lyngby once again demonstrated their lack of accuracy in finishing by sending the shot over. Kinsella then put in another good tackle to frustrate the Danes, but Lyngby managed to fire in another shot on the half hour. Charlton were, however, looking increasingly fluent while Lyngby were reduced to some wild shooting. The splendidly named 'Mads Junker', Lyngby's No.32 shirt, made little impression. Charlton's attacks were, however, often rather hopeful with little bite. A Lyngby corner just before half time gave the eighty or so Addicks present pause for thought, but not for very long.
At half time, Rick Everitt rushed off to a grassy knoll which formed one corner of the ground. Had he suddenly taken up 'method' acting? Was he going to stage a renactment of the assasination of President Kennedy? The Rickster seemed deep in thought. But suddenly, all was clear. His mobile was out and he was beaming back the good news to Clubcall.
We made a long circuit of the ground, thinking that this was the sort of match which might attract elusive Iceland addick, Olafur Johansen. Johansen was nowhere to be seen, but a beautiful and well dressed woman was sitting in complete isolation on one area of the ground. Who was she? A girl friend of one of the Lyngby players or of one of our new signings? We were able to buy a beer to sip in the second half. On the way back, two young Danish girls asked us, 'Are you English? Are you good?' Of the legendary Lynsgby ultras there was no sign.
Three minutes into the second half, Todd received his first yellow card but the resultant free kick from the edge of the box was effectively intercepted by Steve Brown. Lyngby did seem to be in it more and the game was being played with more pace. Perhaps they were encouraged by announcements that Brondby were 0-2 down to Hamburg in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, news which sent the Brondby faithful into paroxysms of joy. Kiely made a good save nine minutes into the half and Lars Larsen just missed the target with a header. By this time we were entering a period of end to end play with Kiely often worryingly exposed by his defence, a problem noted at the Reading game. While I was trying to advise Rick on a double substitution by Lyngby (I think that Jari Pedersen and Rasmus Marvits came on), Johansson showed the tremendous pace for which he is renowned and put in a clean shot on goal which left Per Fahlstrom with little chance (I presume the words RM in the programme sheet mean reserve keeper). Immediately afterwards Robbo put in a shot which almost made it 3-0, but was just saved at the expense of a Charlton corner accurately delivered by John Salako.
While the professional and amateur reporter puzzled once again over the facts about the substitutions which would be required by Colin Campbell, a frantic bark from Bob alerted me to the fact that Kiely had once again been exposed by the defence, but fortunately the ball was cleared. Just after thirty minutes of the half, Ulrich Vinzents qualified for a pizza and topping of his choice from Mama's Pizza House when he put a penalty past Kiely. The score nearly became 2-2 a minute afterwards, but a diving save by Kiely saved the day. Lisbie then looked as if he was going to break through, but was cynically brought down. The free kick led to a Charlton corner which saw Salako in action once again.
Curbs had been invisible up to now in the hut which served as the opposition dugout, leaving Mervyn Day to go beserk on the edge of the running track. However, Curbs was clearly not happy with matters and the 'Cheftraener' came to the edge of the track shouting instructions. He was still there when Todd was red carded, leading both the Essex men to get into an argument with the referee. By this time bad light was threatening play. The Charlton team could now return to the downtown Radisson, while we made our way out to the Radisson at the airport.
The next day we made our way back to Heathrow, while the team headed backed to Stansted on Go. John Window regaled us with the story of how he had ended up the previous evening in a gay bar offering Danish folk music on the mistaken impression that it was a jazz club. Many thanks to Ian Cartwright and CASC for organising the trip.
It was suggested by Kevin Portch that match analyst Bob the Dog should get his claws manicured after the submission of his 'Barking Mad' team for the Dream Valley competition which contained a number of mistypes. Equipped with his pet passport, the canine match analyst was on sparkling form, ignoring with equanimity comments from the direction of Rick Everitt's party about the coveted Silver Bone. In fact, the Silver Bone is not awarded for friendlies. However, the special prize of a souvenir fridge magnet from Tivoli Gardens goes to John Robinson. One source suggested that the recent parent was not too happy at getting up at 5 a.m. in the morning to go to an obscure destination, but it didn't show in his skilful play, work rate and general commitment. Deano made some great stops, although he also conceded two avoidable corners. Kishishev demonstrated why he has received so many international caps with Bulgaria. His reading of the game, and the accuracy of his passing to his new team mates, was a joy to behold. Chris Powell was as busy as ever, providing good defensive cover, but also surging forward when the opportunity presented itself. Stuart was excellent at times, but was less evident during other parts of the game. Todd was often the last line of defence and performed well in this role, so well that a glory seeking Danish referee sent him off, allowing him to boast of the day he dismissed an English Premiership player. Newts was very subdued and did not contribute much. His substitution was justified other than on the grounds of giving lots of players a game. Kinsella showed that he has not lost the form of last season. Andy Hunt was in just for the first half, although this of itself must have made the day of vivacious Sue Allen from Thamesmead (she even showed her sponsorship photos of herself with Andy when we landed at Heathrow). Steve Brown was his indomintable, fully committed self. Claus Jensen showed that he is a great acquistion for the club, as did Jonatan Johansson . John Salako is very much out of favour with the Addickted these days. He showed once again that he can deliver a fine corner, but often surrendered the ball in open play. Lisbie has his following among the Addickted, but his performance confirmed my view that he is a good footballer but not Premiership quality. Scott Parker has an even bigger following that Lisbie, but he made little impression on the game after he came on.
Juneau the Soccer Cat has no hesitation in awarding the Hiss of the Match to 'dommer' Jan West Larsen. He won't be the last referee to receive it this season.
The picture at the bottom of the page shows Bob and Juneau relaxing before Bob undertakes his first overseas match assignment in Denmark.
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In front of the Bloke Behind Me