One visitor to the guestbook suggested that the red background colour scheme made the page difficult to read, so this time, as a tribute to our success in the away kit, I have experimented with something that is meant to look like black on ecru. Any comments welcome.
In a football comic I read once as a kid, planet Earth played planet Mars. On October 11th, South East London's finest, gathered at little expense from around the British Isles (and Australia via Serbia) found themselves up against the Rest of the World at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have been likened to the United Nations, but this is unfair on the UN as they don't use mercenaries. And against some individually talented players, Charlton acquitted themselves well, only just missing out on what would have been another deserved away draw.
It was in a mood of some foreboding that I set out from Leamington, realising that I was not wearing the ecru shirt in which I have never seen the Addicks defeated away from home. Arriving early, I was able to admire Chelsea's well appointed ground with its open side opposite and the superb rake in the away seats which, together with the positioning of the dugout, ensured a fine view. With the blue motif, it looked like Millwall with money. Actually, I pinched that idea off Rick Everitt who I sat next to for the game: alongside him was Glynne, fresh from cleaning up the list. I can testify that Rick takes no notes in the game and has a loud voice when it comes to the singing and chanting. The warm up was a little bizarre, reminiscent of one of those Communist countries where inadequate loudspeakers transmitted the thoughts of the Great Leader to the population. Chairman Bates, looking like many an East European dictator, was seen musing over the merits of a FA Premiership bar of chocolate proferred by one of the interviewers (all of whom found it necessary to wear sunglasses.
Once again using a 5-3-2 formation, Charlton started brightly and forced two corners. However, when Ilic brought down Casiraghi in the 18th minute, he was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow card and the resultant penalty from Leboeuf put Chelsea 1-0 up. Charlton continued to play with spirit, but the midfield often seemed conspicuous by their absence. At least the assistant referees seemed to be well versed in the offside rule, but the referee seemed to sympathise with Chelsea's lack of dosh as they attempted to help themselves to some clothing by tugging the shirts off the back of Charlton players. Five minutes before the break, Casiraghi and Ilic came into contact again, but this time a badly concussed Ilic had to be strechered off.
After the break, Charlton came out in attacking mood and it was Eddie Youds, making use of a long throw from Danny Mills, who secured the goal that seemed sure to come. Petterson made a couple of good saves and it was only good goalkeeping by De Goey that enabled him to tip a cannonball of a shot from Danny Mills over the bar. The London cab drivers' player of the year, Dennis Wise, came on to shouts of 'taxi' and got himself booked within a minute for petulantly throwing the ball away. Chelsea started to come back into it a little more, particularly after some new countries were brought on with the introduction of Flo and Petrescu in the 73rd minute and Poyet finally scored from a corner, putting in an unstoppable header. There simply wasn't time for the Addicks to get the result they deserved. But they did not lack in organisation or commitment.
Match summariser Bob the Dog has once again given the Silver Bone to Danny Mills. Mills was once again highly effective in defence, moved the ball forward well and very nearly scored with a cracker of a shot. Ilic's enthusiasm and commitment may have been his downfall. When Andy Petterson went on, he look scared. He is a keeper who can be very good, but can also be rather poor, but he made some excellent saves and the second Chelsea goal was not down to him. Chris Powell had an excellent game, snuffing out the Chelsea prima donnas, but also making some excellent overlapping runs in attack. Youds scored another great goal and also played his part in defence. After his good performance at Nottingham, Tiler was something of a disappointment, although he did have a shot on goal that required a good block. Rufus was not very prominent in this match. Apart from Mortimer who penetrated the Chelsea defence on a number of occasions, and did not give the ball away, the midfield did not impress. Redfearn was not greatly involved and Kinsella had a below par performance, losing possession too often for comfort, although he improved in the second half and had one impressive shot on goal. Up front, myself and the master think that Andy Hunt had an excellent game. He battled away, constantly worrying the Chelsea defence and displaying excellent on the ball skills. In contrast Clive Mendonca had a subdued game, not just because of marking. He sometimes seem to lack confidence in situations where a more physical player might be more at ease. Steve Jones did not make his usual appearance from the subs bench, as he was replaced by Mark Bright at the last minute after appearing in the warm up. Robinson came on in place of Morts, but was not at his best, although he made an important clearance off the line. Keith Jones was brought on in the last minutes of the game to strengthen the defensive midfield, but made little impact. I give this match three woofs.
That was the verdict of an exultant Steve from Sidcup after Charlton had ironed out the Hammers 4-2 in a stunning and well deserved victory at The Valley. We left Leamington in torrential rain with the Leam on red alert and conditions were no better at The Valley with a strong wind driving the rain and broken guttering dumping water on an immobile steward and some unfortunate spectators in the front area of the East Stand.
Charlton started strongly and forced two early corners, but West Ham then powered their way back into the game and started to gain corners. It was a set piece that provided them with their first goal with a header first attributed to Wright and later to Rufus. One Covered End lister thought that it was down to Wright, but our initial reaction in the East Stand was that it was an own goal and a rather soft one at that. Meanwhile, the referee, who regarded himself as something of a humourist who could banter with the players, was trying out new contact lenses which screened out any offences by players from 'big' clubs, most notoriously in the second half when Robinson was elbowed. Nevertheless, Charlton applied some pressure and it was defender Carl Tiler who scored the equaliser in his home debut at The Valley. It was a six yarder in a goalmouth scramble, but those goals count as well! The linesmen had been quite good at applying the offside rule, which the Addicks were relying on too much as a defensive tactic (to Curbs's displeasure, as we later learned) and the Hammers managed to break the trap to go ahead just before the break with a goal from Berkovic. We too were looking for the offside flag, but the decision was probably the right one, and Andy Petterson had no chance.
At half time, the Bloke Beside Me forecast that we would win 4-2, but I have to admit that I was less optimistic at that stage and was looking at a 2-2. Nerves had taken hold of me and I saw the relegation spots looming. O ye of little faith! As is so often the case, the Addicks came out fired up after the break, but West Ham nearly made it 1-3 with an attack on the break, but were denied by a decisive intervention by Andy Petterson who saved at full stretch from John Hartson. Petterson was impressive as a replacement for the victim of the Match of the Day opening credits curse, Sasa Ilic. Then Wright shot wide after Danny Mills had deflected a centre from Frank Lampard. Charlton put the Hammers under the cosh, but were not rewarded with a goal. The Bloke Behind Me was by now into full 'Sort it Out Curbishley' mode, bemoaning the lack of a winger, the fact that we were playing too deep and constantly shouting 'I'll go'. Morts put in a beautiful curling shot that was only denied by good goalkeeping by Shaka Hislop. Carl Tiler was brought off and Robinson brought on so that Charlton could revert from 3-5-2 to their classic 4-4-2 formation. Eventually it was the impressive Danny Mills who put in the equaliser with a header from a Morts corner. Charlton now stepped up the pressure even more. Youds drove in a free kick long to Hunt who turned and fired an outstanding diagonol shot which left the capable Hislop with no chance and put the Addicks 3-2 ahead. The mood of joy and united celebration in The Valley at this point was as fantastic as I have ever seen. One odd incident saw the ball helped across the line by a ball girl to the incoherent anger of one of Hammer Steve Lomas who had to be led away. Their petulance eventually earned them three yellow cards from a ref whose sense of humour was fading, while the sporting Addicks had a card free day. Charlton continued to attack and, after a weaving run, Robinson was brought down in the area and the referee, who by this time seemed to have forgotten which club was the big one, pointed to the spot without hesitation. It was Neil Redfearn who stepped up to send the ball crisply into the back of the net, Mendonca having by then been subbed by ex Hammer Steve Jones. As one Addick commented afterwards, 'Watching Charlton for so long, you fear that Redfearn would miss and West Ham would go down the other end and score.' But, regardless of the weather, this was a day for celebration after one of the most authoritative second half performances I have seen at The Valley.
As we left, the birth of Rick and Corinna's daughter was announced, reminding us that this was a special week in more ways than one. Harvey Gardens was half flooded, but we made our way cheerfully to the station where a special fast train was awaiting to whisk us to Charing Cross where we joined the Tilehurst Addick on the Bakerloo. Another Addick with a Viglen shirt got on at Marleybone. Nothing unusual about that, as there is a nest of Addicks in the High Wycombe area. However, I became more intrigued as the train headed into the 'Green Desert', the area of thinly populated countryside north of Princes Risborough. So I went and introduced myself and it turned out that he was a season ticket holder from just north of Banbury. To round off an excellent day, we had a family meal planned at Giovanni's in Warwick to celebrate my wife's birthday next week and she proudly wore her Mesh shirt to the bafflement of assorted Sky Blues.
Match summariser Bob the Dog grumbles, 'the master has invited my great nephews who support Southampton and Reading for the weekend, so it is a wonder I have got these notes done at all.' Yet again it is the superb Danny Mills who wins the Silver Bone, putting him on track for the season prize of a year's supply of treats. Mills made some marvellous runs which unsettled the Hammers and scored an excellent goal. Andy Petterson made a number of superb saves and was in no way to blame for the goals that went in, but I still prefer Ilic. But it's good to know that if Ilic is out, we have a reliable replacement. Opinions differed about Carl Tiler , some listers thinking that he was indifferent apart from the goal, but I felt that he did his job well and is another good signing by Curbs, described by an Addick on 606 as a 'very, very nice man.' Youds was not as prominent in some games, although his assist for Hunt's goal was a key contribution. Apart from his disputed role in the first West Ham goal, Rufus tidied things up with his usual calm authority. Chris Powell was on top form (why did Derby ever let him go?) making some superb runs down the left flank. Redfearn had a rather poor game apart from the penalty, although he did have one lob which nearly went in. Kinsella had a stunning game, making decisive interventions all over the place. Mortimer displayed his considerable skills throughout the game and had two shots on target. Robinson was at his best when brought on and tore holes in the Hammers' defence with his weaving runs. Hunt was always involved and scored an outstanding goal. The most disappointing player was Mendonca . OK, he was heavily marked, but he seems to be more disturbed by physical play than some players. Is it a case for a Michael Owen type rest on Tuesday? As is often the case, Steve Jones came on too late to make a difference. I give this match five woofs.
Charlton's hopes of Wembley glory through the Worthington Cup ended at a rain soaked and windy Valley on Tuesday night when Leicester defeated them 2-1. Particularly in the second half, this was one of the weakest performances that I have seen by the Addicks this season, and there can be no complaint about the result. Leicester were impressive, playing bright, attacking football which made the Charlton defence look fragile.
We left Leamington in torrential rain. We should have realised that it was leaves on the line season as we had to wait almost half an hour for a train at Charing Cross and the pressure of the crowds when we did board came close to being a safety risk. As someone said. 'We're paying for this.' At times like this, I am glad to have a twenty minute drive to work through the Warwickshire countryside. Because the train was so crowded, it stopped at each station for two or three minutes, but we eventually made it to the Rose of Denmark. Among the listers present was Robin who was bringing his seven year old son for his first home game at The Valley.
Charlton started brightly enough, and they had a chance to go ahead when Hunt laid off to Mendonca who was one on one with the goalkeeper. Mendonca seemed to hesitate and then aimed for the top right hand corner of the net, but managed to just miss. Charlton at least then managed to contain the Foxes under half time. Very often, the Addicks put on a better performance in the second half, but on this occasion it was the Foxes who emerged rampant from their burrow to go 1-0 ahead. Charlton equalised with a beautiful shot from Mortimer , but then threw it all away by conceding a goal which seemed to leave the Addicks defence frozen. Charlton's play then seemed to go to pieces, with their passing losing its usual fluency. Lisbie was brought on to add some pace in place of Keith Jones . One blessing was that the Bloke Behind Me was not behind me, so I was spared his drafting of Curbs's resignation letter. The introduction of Bright and Parker seemed like an attempt to give them a run out and by then it was all effectively over with a chance from a late corner not converted.
On the way to the station, we met Prague based Addick Richard Hunt. His message was that we should learn from the mistakes we had made and go on to beat Leicester in the upcoming Premiership fixture. The 10.07 was fifteen minutes later and we had to get a cab at London Bridge in order to make the last train home. Such are the delights of the long distance supporter on a wet, windy evening when we have lost at home!
A very cross Bob the Dog writes: 'The master did not get home until after 1 a.m.' This was a match in which our usually strong defence looked weaker than usual. Petterson was not particularly to blame for the two goals, but his performance lacked conviction and authority - he was inclined to over react to rather weak shots. Hopefully, Ilic will be back for Spurs. Chris Powell was on form and made some good runs down the left in combination with Mortimer . Danny Mills had an off night and was eventually substituted. He made fewer of his penetrating runs than usual and often seemed out of position defensively. Rufus was competent at tidying up, but his distribution was not good and he made one hopeless and wasted shot at goal. The injured Redfearn has come in for some criticism recently, but his merits became more apparent with his replacement by Keith Jones who was professional and proficient, but lacked the pace and physical presence needed against Premiership sides. Mortimer was criticised by some fans near my wife, and, although he sometime seemed a little lethargic, his goal was beautifully taken and he displayed his ball skills on a number of occasions. With Carl Tiler cup tied and missed, Eddie Youds was his usual authoritative self, although he did come close to a booking. Kinsella played his usual vigorous and impressive game and it is difficult to visualise the side without him. Robinson was disappointed to be left out of the starting line up against West Ham, but he had an often disappointing game. One free kick went sailing way over the goal and his shots on goal were weak. Hunt was substituted, but I thought that he had a reasonable game, giving the Leicester defence some trouble. Mendonca was more in it than he has been in some recent matches, providing some beautiful turns and out foxing Leicester many times, but he seems to have lost his touch in front of goal. Lisbie showed his pace and might have achieved more with better service. Bright showed his age and I can't remember the energetic Parker actually making contact with the ball. I give this match one woof and award the coveted Silver Bone to Paul Mortimer .
Charlton resisted early pressure from Spurs and then went 1-0 ahead just after the half hour with an excellent goal from Andy Hunt. Playing their 3-5-2 formation with Mortimer replacing Robinson, the Addicks faced danger after three minutes when a Youds foul on Armstrong led to a free kick for Spurs fifteen yards outside the area. Ilic dealt superbly with the resultant delivery from Anderton, tipping it round the post. Spurs stepped up the pressure and the resolute Tiler earned a yellow card. The resultant free kick was wasted by the woeful Justin Edinburgh. Charlton were finding it difficult to obtain and keep possession. A corner set up Campbell with a free header from fifteen yards out which was cleared off the line by Kinsella. The impressive Kinsella then followed up with an important challenge on Anderton. Mortimer picked up a yellow card for obstructing a free kick. With Charlton stepping up the pressure, Powell did the Lambeth Walk and found himself one on one with the goalkeeper, but put it over the crossbar. Then, with the Spurs fans watching in respectful silence, Tiler put in a lovely ball to Mendonca, Mortimer put in a return pass to Sir Clive, Mendonca scuffed it in front of the goal, it hit the post and Andy Hunt slotted the rebound into the back of the net. Rufus had picked up a knock in the first few minutes of the game, and, after a further injury, was substituted by Robinson who slotted into the wing back role formerly occupied by Mills who went back to help the central defenders. Even the sight of the assistant referee who ate all the pies failed to cheer up the Spurs supporters who started to grumble as they decided not to take sugar in their half time tea.
As cleaners headed for the Spurs dressing room to clean away the broken tea cups, Ilic made a good save from Anderton after a ball right on target bounced in front of him. Then Anderton played the ball in past Mortimer to Carr who set up Nielsen to put it in the back of the net. Youds then made a narrow clearance as Spurs nearly scored a second. Calderwood was given a yellow card, followed by Edinburgh who brought down Robinson. Then Edinburgh redeemed himself with a cross at chest height which gave Anderson a free header to score. With Spurs having scored twice in seven minutes, a despondent Mortimer was replaced by Steve Jones and Charlton switched to an audacious 4-3-3 formation. The offside trap was proving something of a problem for Charlton: in all, there were twenty-four offsides in the match. Armstrong came down the inside left channel, drawing a good save from Ilic who palmed the ball away for a corner. As Charlton picked up their tempo, Kinsella was the latest player to become the unjustified victim of the referee's yellow fever. Using his favourite left foot, Hunt shot for 25 yards to see the goal spilt by the keeper. Steve Jones turned away from the hapless Edinburgh and used his strength to power forward, setting up Andy Hunt for his second goal. George Graham was seen remonstrating with the fourth official for the failure to give a foul when the player from the little club south of the river saw off Edinburgh. With eight minutes of normal time left, Brown was brought on for Redfearn. Jones dragged a shot wide. Clements and Allen were brought on in a last attempt at a home victory and the referee made sure that as much time as possible was added on to allow justice for the big club. But the whistle blew at 2-2 and Edinburgh was seen giving his views to the match officials. The South London relegation favourites were left in a perilous 10th position in the League.
Ace analyst Bob the Dog has awarded the Silver Bone to Andy Hunt for two fine goals which demonstrate beyond doubt that he was another good acquisition by Curbs. Kinsella was also excellent, always involved, and making a vital clearance off the line. Tiler is proving to be another good buy by Curbs with authoritative headers which clear the ball being his trade mark. Rufus picked up a knock which affected him for a while early in the game and eventually had to go off with an ankle injury. His presence in the back three was missed and may have been one of the factors that contributed to the Spurs recovery. Powell once again his showed his skills as a cool defender and also went forward when the opportunity occurred. But what a shame he missed a chance to score. Three times Player of the Month Mills put the ball into Powell for his scoring chance and was able to make one or two of his runs before being pulled back after Rufus went off. Player of the Month runner up Eddie Youds was less prominent that in some games, but played his part, although he came very close to scoring an own goal. Redfearn was eventually substituted and may not have fully recovered from his injury. Mortimer went off slowly looking despondent. This was not one of his more inspired performances. Mendonca has not scored since mid-September and was caught a number of times in this game by the offside trap. Ilic showed that he has lost none of his skill and verve during his enforced absence and made some crucial saves. Neither of the goals were down to him. Robinson looked a bit uncomfortable in the right wing back slot, but looked happier on the left where he moved after the 4-3-3 formation was used. Jones provided the assist for Hunt's second goal, but fluffed a chance to score himself which would have given the Addicks three points. Steve Brown forced a corner shortly after coming on. I give this match three woofs.
For the home game against Leicester and subsequent matches, go to Volume 4. Volume 4 here.
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