It was well known that referee David Elleray was a housemaster at Harrow School, but what was less well known before Charlton's 0-0 home draw with Leicester is that he is actually head of Leicester House, wears blue underwear, and has a fox as his private crest. Supposedly one of England's most experienced referees, Elleray's bias and ineptitude, compounded by the failure of one of his linesmen to recognise the most blatant offside, had the Charlton faithful chanting, 'You're not fit to be a referee.' Not only did Elleray award every marginal decision in Leicester's favour, whilst ignoring the most blatant offences against Charlton, he actually got his card out of his pocket to give a second yellow to Heskey for a foul, realised that he had already given the arrogant diver a yellow for unsportsmanlike behaviour, and quickly put the card away again as he was surrounded by foxes. In short, he chickened out. Perhaps he ought to stick to his blossoming writing career, although goodness knows what his entry for this game will be.
My football weekend had really started in deepest Lincolnshire on Friday where, as I watched the sugar beet being harvested, my thoughts strayed to The Valley. I was the speaker for a luncheon club and I sat next to a director of Scunthorpe United who was full of praise for Charlton's 'brilliant' performance. And the person who gave the vote of thanks mentioned that he had been to The Valley to help celebrate Roger Alwen's 50th birthday.
Coming from Coventry on this occasion, my wife started chatting to a Charlton fan on the Northern Line who did not have a ticket for the game. Then at Charing Cross we met up with a supporter from Tenterden. At The Valley I met up with the amiable Brian Cole, who asked me if I could spell 'resignation' after it was revealed that the legendary Mic Milner had applied to come to Warwick. While waiting to be let in by the West Stand side gate, we were approached by a Rangers/Charlton fan [sic] who was very upset at having come from Glasgow and finding that he could bot get a ticket (there were touts around, which is one sign of how much things have changed at The Valley). We were eventually admitted on to the pitch, where I was interested to note that the home dugout was flooded, and presented the Addicks on Line Player of the Month Award for the last three months to the popular Danny Mills.
Like many goalless draws, it was not a game lacking in incident with Leicester playing a physical game. As is often the case, Charlton started brightly, forcing two early corners. Morts made a beautiful manoeuvre to regain control of the ball in midfield. But Leicester started to apply some pressure and won three corners in succession which required skilled defending from Sasa. In one of the most dramatic moments of the game, the ball had to be cleared off the line by Kinsella, but then the same happened shortly afterwards at the Leicester end. Morts had to go off in the first half, ruefully rubbing the back of his leg, and Steve Jones was brought on in his place. Jones missed two chances to score with headers, while Robinson put one chance high and wide. Then, just before half time, the often fragile looking Charlton defence was caught as sixes and sevens, and with the ball going to and fro in the area, a Leicester goal, perhaps an own goal, looked inevitable. Mills booted clear a shot from Heskey, but the ball hit Izzet and then rebounded hitting Mills again. But somehow Charlton survived.
The interval saw a Charlton fan called Ernie brought on the picture for a television programme, to be told that he was going to Australia. One wag suggested it might have been better if David Elleray could be spirited off to Australia. Leicester nearly scored after the break with Heskey out foxing Tiler and find himself one on one with Ilic. But his final touch was poor. Charlton showed more authority in the second half, and less than ten minutes from the restart, Mark Kinsella put in a stunning shot that was nearly spilled by Foxes keeper and ex-Millwall player, Keller. A few minutes later Steve Jones headed down a cross from Chris Powell for Mendonca who bore down on goal and put in a shot that went just wide of the post. Leicester managed to press forward on a number of occasions, particularly as Charlton showed a worrying tendency to lose the ball when in possession. A final last minute corner could not bring the Addicks a much needed goal. As Steve from Sidcup commented, 'I would have been gutted if we had taken nothing away from that.'
'It was a spirited and determined performance by the Addicks', comments Bob the Dog , annoyed to hear that his very existence had been called in doubt by Brian Cole. 'But it sometimes lacked finesse, and Leicester's physical play sometimes unsettled Charlton.' The Silver Bone goes to Mark Kinsella for another excellent all round performance. He also came as near to scoring as anyone. The subject of recent criticism by some E mail Addicks, Sasa Ilic added another clean sheet to his collection and could not be faulted for his performance. Danny Mills had another game in which he looking threatening in attack as well as convincing in defence, although he was sometime seriously out of position. Chris Powell had some good overlapping runs with John Robinson, although was tested by Leicester's physical players. Carl Tiler had a disappointing game which included some potentially serious defensive errors and a chance to score with a header which went sailing over the bar. Keith Jones is one of Bob the Dog's favourite players because of the way in which he snaps at the heels of defenders. He had a quiet first half, but came into it more in the second half and showed some deft touches. Morts was having a good game until he had to be withdrawn injured. Robinson made some great weaving runs and also played a crucial defensive role. Some of his corners seemed to be over hit. Eddie Youds was as steady as ever, and one always thought that he might be the one to score at a set piece. Andy Hunt had an excellent work rate as always and made some excellent passes and lay offs. Mendonca saw a little more of the ball than in recent games and had some beautiful turns and came very close to scoring. Steve Jones put himself about, but missed a couple of chances to score. I give this match three woofs.
A Clive Mendonca penalty in the 37th minute was not enough to give Charlton victory in this tie between the promoted clubs, with Boro responding with a goal from Stamp to even things up in the second half. And it would be difficult to complain about the result, with Alan Curbishley acknowledging it as a fair one in his comments on Match of the Day. The result confirms Charlton's status as the draw specialists of the Premiership, with the Addicks having drawn seven of the thirteen games they have played.
We made it to the Rose of Denmark for this match and met some of the usual crew, plus one or two new faces, including Swindon's Kevin Hatfield. Robin was resplendent in a Dulwich Hamlet shirt in a tasteful pink instead of his usual Yorkey's Knob wear, the change being to commemorate Dulwich Hamlet's first ever appearance in the first round of the FA Cup. As we walked past the station on our way to the ground, Robin remarked that there had been times when he thought that he would never see again big crowds heading down the hill at Charlton for a top division game.
Charlton found it hard to gain possession in the opening minutes of the game, suggesting that it was going to be a tough contest. The Bloke Behind Me was soon in overdrive, suggesting that we always seemed to be one man short. Sasa made one impressive save after which he had a few words with his defence, while at the other end Carl Tiler put in a lob from distance which nearly went in. Gascoigne had been less evident that one might have expected, and was to disappear at half time. Even a change of boots minutes into the game seemed to do little for him. Perhaps his lack of presence was due to the attentions of the Keith Jones, and it was when Gascoigne brought him down in the area that Charlton secured a penalty. The keeper anticipated which way Mendonca would go, but was unable to stop the ball settling in the back of the net.
Charlton's second half performance was disappointing. They seemed to be playing rather defensively, Bryan Robson later commenting on Match of the Day that this was not what Boro had anticipated as Charlton usually came out and attacked them at The Valley. If it was the intention to play defensively, it was a mistake as a lead of one is always precarious. It may be, however, that the power of the Boro attack led the Addicks to lose their shape. Boro kept pushing relentlessly forward and when the ball did go into their own half there was often only a lone Clive Mendonca there, attended by two defenders, who could do little with it. Mills was pulled off in the 60th minute to be replaced by Redfearn. It was difficult to see the logic of this substitution, although Redfearn did put in a shot which nearly went in. With the Boro pressure mounting, the inevitable happened and Ilic was in no position to stop the powerful header from Stamp. With the Boro fans in full voice, and the Charlton faithful rarely roused by the drums, Charlton did their best to recover the three points. Sasa even took a throw in himself to gain precious seconds. A last minute Chris Powell corner was put in the net by Andy Hunt, but was disallowed because of a push by Redfearn. Our journey home was not aided by Virgin deciding to withdraw every other train on the Birmingham service on a day when there were a number of major sporting events in London.
The Silver Bone has been awarded by Bob the Dog to Richard Rufus . He carries out his role so efficiently that we don't always notice it until he is not playing. Sasa Ilic could not be expected to have stopped Stamp's header. He made one good save, but most of the balls he had to deal with were straightforward - it was that sort of game. Chris Powell was once again seen making some penetrating runs forward and was resolute in his defensive role. Danny Mills had a good game and his substitution was a surprise. Admittedly, he was caught out of position sometimes, but that is inevitable given the kind of game he plays. Eddie Youds was as steady as ever. Carl Tiler comes in for quite a bit of stick from Charlton fans. He does make the occasional mistake, but he had an inspired shot on goal that bothered the Boro keeper and his passing is generally accurate. Keith Jones is another player who picks up his share of criticism, but he harried Gascoigne into submission and showed some deft touches in the second half. Robinson had one of his less good days. He picked up a fifth yellow card, admittedly not for dissent this time. He often seemed to be playing too defensively and when he did go forward, he often seemed unable to get round the opposition. Kinsella was as effective as always and put in two long range shots which required close attention from the keeper. Perhaps he should have come forward more. Hunt was as involved and combative as always. It was good to see Mendonca score, if only from the penalty spot. But they all count and I hope he will get a confidence boost. A novel role for him was taking corners. Redferan put himself about when he came on and came close to scoring. The 'supersub' sobriquet must be getting Steve Jones down a bit and on this occasion he was unable to turn the game around. This wasn't the best of games I have seen this season, a scrappy and sometimes tedious affair, and I give it two woofs.
Sometimes one has to pinch oneself to remind oneself that the tremendous progress that Charlton has made in the 1990s is not just a dream. The latest financial figures from the club which accompany the new share offer provide some hard statistics which underline just how much has been achieved.
These figures relate to the year ending June 1998 and therefore take no account of enhanced Premiership income. But they are still impressive enough. Turnover increased by 33% to £5.77 million. Match receipts were up 44% to £2.8 million; marketing and sponsorship income was up 51% to not far off a million; and shop sales were up 31% to £571,000. Programme sales went up from £199,000 to £266,000, and this was before the arrival of the new team headed by Rick Everitt who have made it a much more interesting read. Television and radio rights increased by a very small amount to £214,000: this is one area where we will see a big difference in the Premiership.
Five players were purchased during the period at a total cost of just under £2.9 million. The current insurance value of the playing squad is £21 million compared with £10 million in 1997. The net book value of players' registrations was not far short of £4 million in June 1998, almost ten times the figure recorded for June 1996. Over £4 million was spent on capital expenditure at The Valley (principally the new West Stand). With all this going on, it's no surprise that operating losses before transfer fees almost doubled to £1.175 million, with overall operating losses at £1.763 million.
As one might expect, wages and salaries rose to £3.45 million compared with £2.24 million in the preceding period, while signing on fees and loyalty payments showed a relatively modest increase to £608,000. The playing, training and football management staff has remained steady at around 57 over the past three years, but administrative staff have increased from 24 in 1996 to 35 in June 1998 - not a huge number for a Premiership club.
As Richard Murray is not taking up all the new shares he is entitled to, his stake (and that of his immediate family) falls back from 28.6 per cent to 24.6 per cent. Martin Simons's percentage declines from 11.4 per cent to 9.1 per cent. Next in line are two directors well known to listers: Mike Stevens and Robert Whitehand. One lister I talked to had the pleasure of meeting Mike in Chicago and confirmed that he was 'Charlton through and through'. Robert Whitehand is a regular contributor to the E mail list and has been named as the director we would most like to see in the Rose of Denmark (not that we're not proud of all of them). Oh, and in case you had any worries, the club document states that 'There is no intention to dispose of the Valley.'
In a fiercely competitive match in front of a sparse crowd at Park View Road, Charlton's table topping reserve side beat AFC Bournemouth 1-0 to maintain their position. A 54th minute goal from Anthony Barness gave them the points. Barness won a strong contest for Bob the Dog's Man of the Match.
This was my first ever visit to Park View Road, made possible because of a late afternoon appointment in London. It was even more of a dump than I expected it to be. And I found the absence of any announcements to correct changes in the team sheet or give other information odd to say the least. Anyway, Curbs as well as Keith Peacock were in attendance to see how the Addicks would deal with a youthful Bournemouth side.
The early play was ragged with a lot of long ball and little sign of effective passing by the Addicks. Barness blazed over an early opportunity. Salmon's lack of match experience showed and he fumbled a ball which was then driven across an open goal before the linesman remembered how to raise his offside flag. Trying to avoid a ball, referee Habgood fell over and gave himself a yellow card for diving. Whether he picked up his back injury then is uncertain, but in the second half he subbed himself with one of the linesmen (both of whom had red and yellow flags).
With the well organised seasiders giving Charlton trouble, (No.11, Mohamed Berthe, was impressive, if sometimes petulant, throughout) increasing signs of exapseration emerged from the home dugout immediately in front of me: 'get it down and pass it'; 'we're second to everything'; 'it's not good enough' and 'start to match their work rate' were among the comments. Holmes missed a clearance, then Salmon sliced a clearance into Danson Park, one of innumerable balls to head in that direction during the evening. The impressive Lisbie put in a cross, and then a Bournemouth free kick came off the Charlton wall at 33 minutes. Lisbie missed a chance, Parker drew a save, and Newton showed some of his pace. But at half time it was 0-0 to the Bournemouth.
Matthew Lee came on after the break for Frazer Toms. The pressure was eased in the 54th minute when Barness scored with one of his rocket shots, albeit aided by a deflection. Parker blazed over a free kick, Bright drew a save and Parker missed again. The impressive Paul Konchesky was giving the seasiders trouble with his pace on the left flank. Charlton's movement and passing was a great improvement over the first half, but the elusive second goal wouldn't come. Barness missed, Lisbie shot over the goal and Bright shot straight at the keeper. Then it was Newton's turn to fire over, not long before he was substituted by James. Bournemouth continued to look dangerous on the break, although twenty minutes after the re-start the impressive right back, Anthony Griffin, who had made some good runs, was replaced by David Birmingham. A shot from Konchesky drew a good save from the composed Colgan and Barness, who was showing considerable skill, fired a through shot. Berthe drew a save from the improving Salmon, and Bournemouth made another good break. With Charlton looking a little desperate again, the man in the middle remembered that he was in charge and blew the whistle on a hard fought but justified victory against an impressive Bournemouth side.
Finally, a big thank you to Connex. The 21.14 from Bexleyheath was cancelled and, after a succession of empty trains sped through the platform, the next train was ten minutes late. I arrived at the City line underground at Euston at 22.43. My gym work paid off and I was the last passenger on the 22.45 to Coventry. Commuters must love Connex.
After much thought, Bob the Dog selected Anthony Barness to receive the silver seashell, not just for his goal, but for his effective passing throughout the game. Also very much in contention were Keith Lisbie who showed tremendous pace and skill (surely he should be on the subs' bench for Premiership matches), and Paul Konchesky who has the Mills like ability to be effective in defence and attack. Salmon looked as if he had not leapt into action for some time. There was a worrying moment when Holmes came down hard on the slippery surface in the first half. He made an effective contribution with some good forward movement. Newton does not look fully match fit yet. Steve Brown gave 100% as usual and made some decisive interventions to prevent Bournemouth breakthroughs. Scott Parker showed real skill in getting past players and made some beautiful passes, but seemed unsure in front of goal. Jonathan Fortune played his part, but was not prominent. Mark Bright displayed some superb technique which was a delight to watch, it's just that he lacks the pace now. The substituted Toms was not in it much. His replacement Matthew Lee did an effective job. James came on too late to see much of the action. MacDonald was left on the bench, having hit heavy traffic from New Cross on the way to the game. I wonder what his dad thought? I give this match three woofs.
This was the verdict of lister Vern as the Brighton and West Sussex minibus paused to refuel after leaving Elland Road. And the silence said it all: no one could disagree with him. It was difficult to argue that Charlton had not deserved their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Leeds United.
As I went to get my car to drive to Watford Gap, I was passed by a youngster in full Leeds kit: not a good omen in Leamington. We met up with the West Sussex minibus, with Brian Cole seemingly preoccupied with collecting details of Eddie Stobart trucks. (Following some controversy on the list, I should point out that Brian was collecting this information for another person who was driving at the time). But Brian had a nice surprise when he got to Leeds as the capacious turnstiles allowed him to enter frontwards, rather than having to execute a sideways movement or be admitted through a side gate. And when we got inside there was plenty of room in the spacious buffet area to stop and chat.
Leeds put us under the cosh for the first few minutes with wide gaps opening up in the Charlton defence. But somehow Charlton managed to resist the onslaught, with both Rufus and Mendonca having attempts from headers. The home crowd remained largely silent with the Addicks clear victors in the singing and chanting stakes. But the game was clearly tilted in favour of the hosts, and Leeds went 1-0 up before half time.
Matters went from bad to worse when Leeds scored again after the interval, this time, with a certain inevitability, through Lee Bowyer. Mortimer was brought on in place of Mills and quickly displayed his trickery and his ability to manoeuvre through packed defences. And it was a beautiful angled strike from Morts that gave the Addicks a brief hope of a comeback. Indeed, it was so good that it was used on Match of the Day to trail the 'other matches' section at the beginning of the programme and must surely be a candidate for Goal of the Month. But Leeds went up the other end and scored again. By this time the Leeds supporters were in full voice, provoking the response 'You only sing when you're winning.' Leeds were particularly good at accurate long-distance diagonal passing and were also firm and decisive on the break. With the Charlton defence stretched as attempts were made to push forward, Leeds made it 4-1, leaving the outpaced and outplayed Addicks with little excuse, but hopefully some lessons learnt.
A devastated Bob the Dog has his tail between his legs, but has no hesitation in awarding the Silver Bone to Paul Mortimer for a quality strike and for generally raising Charlton's game after he came on. Sasa Ilic had a disappointing game and it is arguable that he could have made more effort to save two of the Leeds goals. Chris Powell was effective down the wings in defence and attack and was one of the few players to come out of the game with his reputation intact. Danny Mills had some impressive runs forward, but found himself substituted, arguably for tactical reasons. Richard Rufus made some decisive interventions in defence and also brought the ball forward more than once, but he was also caught out a couple of times. Eddie Youds was as firm as a rock, but got himself booked as a result of his commitment. Carl Tiler had a poor game, confirming the view of those who consider that he does not display enough quality, although he did have one shot on goal that troubled Martyn. Redfearn was not very involved and gave some weight to the views of those who have recently expressed disappointment over his contribution. Robinson also had a poor game, never really managing to trouble Leeds on the wing. Kinsella made some good contributions, but was eventually substituted, possibly because he was knackered. Hunt never really looked like scoring. Mendonca had one chance and displayed some nice turns, but never really looked as if he was going to score in open play. Steve Jones showed plenty of commitment when he came on, but relatively little skill. Keith Jones looked out of his depth when he was brought on. I give this match one woof.
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