Charlton Athletic is the religion of some and the enjoyment of others.Few predicted that the Championship would be easy. It has not been, we are now in our third season and our fourth will be a major test for the club, especially Katrien Miere and Roland Duchatalet. The team will need to be strengthened to challenge at least for a play off place, with an investment in players.
"It was Best of times, it was the Worst of times."
Charles Dickens summed up the very essence of being a
Charlton supporter and of our season in this line from “A Tale Of Two Cities.”
Hope over expectation, Hopes dashed on the rocks of reality
… So many phrases can be used for us addicks and the life we lead.
And that’s it 2014/15 is over, the campaign is confined to
the history books, we’ve had our highs and our lows and a fair bit in between.
We had a new manager, we loved him, despite his Millwall
past and helped by his attempt to smash Uwe Rossler, then we sacked him and we
hated him. We had a new manager, we
hated him, then we appointed him and then we loved him.
We had our own
peasants revolt. In a cold Hall in Woolwich the rabble roused, it's not about
results we said, and the results got better and the rabble dispersed and the
Trust appeared to go quiet.
We went unbeaten longer than any others, neck and neck with Forest. And both
Clubs proved, being unbeaten does not win promotion, too many draws and after
clutching wins from jaws of a draw, we sunk to a stream of draws and multiple defeats,
before we swung back with the SE7 version of total football and a streak of winning
Our fans hit the depths with a couple of alleged supporters
spitting at former player of the year, Scott Carson, but the true Charlton
emerged as the perpetrators were roundly condemned by their fellow fans and we
rose to the occasion when Bournemouth took over our ground to receive the
The fantastic Valley pitch
The owners, can we still call them new?, continue to make
errors on the customer service front, the catering is not fit for purpose and
if ever you wanted to drive people away from buying programmes just ask
Charlton. Season ticket prices have stayed low, but the increasing of the upper
age concession is unnecessary and a slap in the face to long term supporters. On
the other hand the pitch is something to be proud of and the big surprise is
that Rotherham came first in the season pitch awards, the new seats were put in
place and we are promised a new screen and a credit card entry system – welcome
to the 21st century Charlton.
JBG at Eltham Addicks
On the playing field, on the whole the owners have moved
forward from the days of Reza Piotr … But Roland can't help himself and we got
Le Point and Tucudean, no where good enough, although Le Points recruitment did
bring light relief in the fabulous Ghent fans who came to see him, when he was
not even selected for the bench. However you balance that with the recruitment
of Igor Vetokele and Johan Berg Gudmonson and later Watts, Roger Johnson, Chris
Eagles and Diarra, as well as the Ioan's of Bulot and Buyens and the continued development
of the youth – Cousins and Gomez – respectively Player and young player of the
Of course and finally we have the CEO accused of lying over
the management situation, telling the fans that we’ll just have to accept
Duchatalets way, the target of an insidious anti campaign, and an uncomfortable
train journey, but on the other hand I believe that the managerial situation
was her being undermined by her boss, I've worked for people like Duchatalet
before and believe me, it's no
fun when they cut you off at the knees, she has
been charming and more balls than many of the keyboard warriors – continuing to
travel with supporters, she has been open with fans at forums but won't be
bullied. Overall with me she's in credit but needs to implement some of her
ideas with more care and comprehension . The programmes and catering were a
shambles and the communication with fans has at times been even worse, although
at others has been good. But she shouts with us, she walks with us, she's
despondent with us and for now that will do for me.
So that's it . 12th, a non entity of a position,
but it has been one of the most interesting seasons supporting Charlton where
we have not been looking positively or negatively at getting out of the
It may have been the best of times it may have been the
worst of times but at least no one lost their head …. Well no one except Bob
This will not go down as my favourite Good Friday ever, to say by the end I was a little cross is an understatement. It all started so well in East Dulwich at the Cherry Tree with a pint or 3 with a couple of friends an dended with a row with another "mature" Charlton fans who seemed to be taking his annoyance at the result, the performance and the "lock in" out on an innocent bus driver at New Cross Gate.
It seems to me that the season is now well and truly over, a positive result from the Toolbox, would have carried the fans and the players to the end of the season, but now it looks and feels like it will juts peter out.
Now all we have to look forward to is more internal fighting over the ownership politics that the "Don Quixotes" of the club seem to be pursuing and Millwalls last gasp avoidance of relegation as they put Blackpool, Wigan and Rotherham down. I don't begrudge Millwalls win, they were no where near us in terms of skill and class but they wanted it and ultimately got it. My Man of The match goes to their Mike Russell, who was outstanding for them.
Fans singing we'll never play you again to the opposition never get it right, as we have found to our cost. I sang that to Palace many years ago and now look at us.
"You'll never beat the Millwall" - We will, but if they don't avoid relegation it maybe many years from now before we are in a position to.
Meanwhile those at the beam back must be pig sick that they missed the atmosphere of the rain, the obnoxious knuckle draggers, being held back for 45 minutes, our fans throwing plastic bottles on the pitch (and on their fellow fans).
‘Whatever you do this
season, make sure you beat Millwall.’ Whenever two teams are gathered in one
space, there you will find a local derby and the inescapable fact of life that
playground, pub or, or indeed, home becomes a miserable, all but
no-go area when your lads are at the wrong end of that all important result. In terms of this form of neighbourhood watch,
Charlton fans have long had their problems. In close to sixty meetings, the
reds have only beaten the blues nine times.
This is only Charlton’s
second visit to the pompously, OTT- named New London Stadium. On the first, I gave our makeshift,
injury-hit team an early lead but the game ended sickenly for us with an injury
time Millwall winner. It gave me one
further reason for disliking the Lions’ computer designed, state of the art and
hence, characterless New Den.
……. But for me, its
undeviating four-square symmetry lacks a human dimension”
The Toolbox with Lewisham recycling centre standing proud in the background
All those years and nothing changes.
The record now stands :-
Millwall Charlton Draw
28 10 25
It is seven games since we last beat Millwall, forget the 19
years crap, you can only beat them if you play them and we did not for 13 years. But no wins in seven is appalling, as is
conceding 11 and only scoring 4.
So excuse me if I go in trepidation to the Toolbox on Friday, All the signs indicate that the gap between our two teams is greater than for
many years in terms of player quality, managerial quality and morale but this
is Charlton and however well the turnaround has been you know there is always a wet haddock round the corner waiting to slap you round the face, hopefully it
won’t happen this Friday and if it doesn't then Friday really will be Good
Friday and Luzon really will be a Sir.
Who would have thought on a cold, not cold, freezing night
in February, at a Trust organised meeting of fans, we would go on a run of
games resulting in only eight goals conceded, but 20 scored in 9 games and only two defeats.
On that day the assembled supporters, young and old voted
that a continued attempt to have a dialogue with the club was favoured (Not “one
last attempt” as captioned in the recent VOTV).
Football is a results business and at that time the fan base
were at the wrong end of a 3 month run without a win and an incredibly poorly
handled managerial change.
But football is fickle and I wonder now how many there that
night, see this Charlton side as one they cannot relate to? Sure attendances are still poor, but is that
just down to this regime or the tripe we have been served with over the years
since relegation from the Prem? It will
take consistent results and
investment before we see the fans
hitting 17-19k consistently.
What has happened – Luzon, Watt and Johnson and the right decisions
by the Owner / CEO and a charm offensive from our CEO, who has been unwilling
to get involved in mud slinging.
For those that feel disenfranchised now, there is still much
to worry about and those of us who are either pro this regime or could not give
a toss about the off field politics and activities (the majority), would do
well to heed there calls for caution.
Although to say that we are in a similar crisis to that of the move to
Selhurst is ludicrous and mere rhetoric.
However, even those, like me, that do not want Charlton in
the Prem*, realise that we either go up or down, a team without ambition is a
team that will not attract players and will ultimately go backwards. At the end of the season Johnson, Eagles, Diarra
are out of contract, Bulot and Buyens go back to the Mother / Sister ship.
What happens next will display the ambitions that Duchatalet
has for us. There is not a single player I would “die in a ditch” for, but for
each player out of the above that we may lose I would want a replacement – same
The good news is that we are trying to tie up JBG (My player
of the year) on an extension (Contract not cord), a request has been made for a
season long loan of a Premier League midfielder, although his parent club have
said wait till after pre season, feelers have been put out for other players,
what we don’t know is the quality of those players and despite some fans desire
to know the “ins and outs” of everything that goes on in the club I am simply
happy to know that the club are already planning for next season.
Those dark days of the Trust FACILITATED Woolwich meeting
seem to be over for the moment, my only beef is the change of concession age to
65 – no coincidence that I have just hit 58.
However, the real test will come when we kick off the new
season and arfe able to assess the squad we have then …. In the meantime there
is a date on April 3rd – where Luzon can be the quickest managerial legend in
Charlton history. Zero to hero Mr Luzon, its in your hands.
It is only a few weeks ago that there was a gnashing of teeth (as well as chattering in Woolwich) and a feeling that the Duchatalet regime was destroying our club and taking us down to League 1, from where we would never return.
Luzon was renamed as Luzer and 20 minutes into his regime chants of “You don’t know what you are doing”.
Demands were made that fans meet with Duchatalet, not his lying henchman and negatives were being sought and exploited.
But this is a results business. Regardless of what is said on the fans forums, the majority of fans want to turn up to a match see us play good football and win.
So the recruitment of Johnson, the playing of Watt for 90 minutes, moving Cousins to central midfield and we have three home wins in a row and four out of five and all is well at the Valley.
Or is it?
When you distil the unrest it came down to poor communication of the direction that the club is going. The poor football, previous years poor recruitment, the confusing departures of Yann and Powell, as well as the botched recruitment of Luzon, put the club under the microscope held by niche of us that are not only interested in the club on the field but also off the field now and in the future.
It is hard to know if all is well at The Valley, beyond the end of this season, because we really do not know Duchatalet's intentions. Eagles and Johnson are only here on short term contracts, Bulot and Buyens are on loan from sister ship Liege.
Word has it that Katrien has said that we have exceeded our player’s budget.
The desire and re stated intention is that Charlton Athletic breaks even. So fans are wary, without any explanation, of how we get there.
Will we release the short term and loan deals, bringing down expenditure, but then surely making us less competitive on the pitch?
Do we keep short term deals release loanees and make everyone operate on short term deals – creating uncertainty and only keeping those that cannot secure more security elsewhere.
How about selling the youth? Well really only Gomez has any chance of commanding a sizeable fee and that is only based on potential, so I do not see a £5m up front transfer fee coming in there.
Maybe Katrien will be able to answer these questions in the forthcoming Bromley Addicks meeting, it would help the club and its relations with all fans if she were able to give some information on the behind the scenes strategy.
I know people want to talk directly to Duchatalet and people have branded Katrien a liar, but I don’t believe that this is the case. I believe that she is honest and works hard for the club, but was seriously undermined during the sacking recruitment process by her boss. Believe me I have been in similar situations with “entrepreneurial” bosses. however, she will take a long time to rebuild her credibility with most fans.
Some questions were asked on Charlton Life about Duchatalet’s commitment for the future and even though I am more for than against this regime, I think they are worth each fan considering them:-
Let's see if he spends any cash in the summer outside the network
To be honest I don’t care where the players come from, as long as they improve the club. Duchatalet has not been afraid to bring in players from outside the network and they have been the best of the bunch, until Tony Watt came in, JBG and Igor, so it’s the quality we should be looking at, inside or out.
Let's see if communication improves
For the vast majority of fans the communication is Tony Watts foot behind the ball, its what they care about, they leave the politics of business and home at the turnstiles. But for some of us, an indication of where we are heading would be appreciated. Katrien is charming, professional, rides the train with the fans (even now) and is attending meetings. If she adds to this substance then even the majority of the fans who have an interest behind the scenes will be satisfied.
Let's see if he can resist interfering with team selection
To be honest, if he is picking the team now, then I wish he had been doing it since November.
Let's see if Luzon makes it past the six month mark
Well I expect that if he does not then we will be in another slump and we’d want him out.
Now that we have all but secured another season in the Championship, Luzon is going to have to avoid the traditional Charlton March seasonal slump or we’ll be meeting back in Woolwich, because for the majority of us … IT’S ALL ABOUT RESULTS
This is the reason why we support Charlton and not Man Utd or Arsenal or Man City or any other of the top clubs.
We lose games, more often than not we are on the wrong side of the score line, dropping points here and there. Frustration abounds when supporting Charlton.
But every now and again comes a stream of bright sunlight, a moment in time when all that frustration is swept aside.
The Play Off Final, The Division One Championship winning season and then there are individual games or even just moments of a game like Johnie Jackson last minute winner against QPR.
Today four wins out of five, when we could not see the next point, when the fans were questioning the commitment of the owners (and we still don't understand their game plan), but today, tonight, tonight was about football and Charlton and a celebration of quality football.
Forest probably had more possession, but we made the chances and were the more dangerous and throughout my time supporting / following Charlton when we have taken the ball into the corner to waste time we have lost possession. Tonight Tony Watt, Frederick Bulot and Jordan Cousins kept the ball in the corner for the combined minutage that we have held the ball in my 40 years, it was a joy to watch.
The bubble of our recent success rose over night and it may burst overnight, but these games since Watford are why we follow Charlton and not the fancy dans of the Premiership.
There are two issues today that have fans screaming blue murder at the new regime fleecing them. Today's programme price and the new Season Ticket prices.
The first is today's programme, a special edition is being sold at £4 instead of the usual £3. The club are giving a proportion to the community trust, it would be nice if they were to say what proportion.
The club are being accused of profiteering from a large crowd. If we go back to that last "Football for a Fiver", the club charged £5 plus a £1 to charity and there was no choice over paying the extra. This year we have a choice over contributing the extra £1 so if you don't like it don't buy the programme.
- Got to get to the game now, so comments on ST prices will follow in part 2.
Saturday 28th February will forever be celebrated as Chris Powell day when the hero returned to the Valley to say goodbye to the Club he learnt to love and the club that quickly loved him.
There has never been in my lifetime a manager so loved as Chris Powell, I don't mean at any one club, but at all. There are plenty of managers who have been former players and represented their club at inter national level, Kenny Dalglish would be one - but non have generated the love (literally) and affection that Chris generated, even being given the title of Sir by many.
The affection for Chris has come from a player who joined us three times before becoming manager, who was always a real gent, appeared to tuck his shirt in his underpants and had the most irresistible toothy smile. We even forgave him or rather ignored the fact he came from a Palarse "academy", he also gained 5 caps while with Charlton, our most capped England player.
The love was further enhanced by his inevitable dismissal from his beloved club nigh on a year ago and he has now in the South London Press given his side of the story.
He knew it was inevitable and we knew it was inevitable that he would not retain his position. It is what happens when new owners take over as we have seen at clubs like Watford. New owners invest a lot of money in buying clubs and then making them into the vehicle that they want them to be and many want to have their man in charge, someone they know and have confidence in. Powell had to look no further than his own appointment to see a manager not given time, and we were in an enviable position of being in the play off zone, not struggling against relegation as had been Powells position.
Tomorrow will see a virtually full Valley for the first time since the Premiership days, fuelled by "Football for a Fiver", frustration with the Duchatalet regime and the return of Powell. Powell will be greeted by awarmth that will never be afforded to an opposition manager or for that matter a Charlton manager past or future.
I'll be applauding him before the game and hopefully commiserating with him as he takes his final bow after the game, but will not join in with any minutes applause during the game -what a nonesense that would be, but then there are a few that would rather we lost to Powell.
I am hoping that tomorrow will enable the faithful to grieve, to finally exorcise the loss they have felt for Powell over the last year and we can "move on" from the HUDDERSFIELD Town manager and get on with supporting our team. We have turned a corner but we are by no means out of the woods yet.
When Powell leave the Valley pitch tomorrow, I want him to feel bitter disappointment and have the same feeling in his gut that Curbs would have had following his return with West Ham.
Amongst the gloom and doom at The Valley, I came across on twitter a parody account of Guy Luzojn. Whilst some have found the humour annoying it made me giggle so I thought I would give a bit of coverage to his account @GuyLuzoncafc .
Parody it maybe but it hits the nail on the head when it comes to his understanding of all things Charlton and Football.
I was on my weekly bicycle and stop off at Greenwich, Novotel for a coffee and a read of their Independent and came across the report on Charlton beating Blackburn 1-0 in the FA Cup.
No I have not got it wrong, in 1947 the first ever live club TV match was televised and it was between Charlton and Blackburn as a trial run prior to the FA Cup final being televised, which Charlton went on to win 1-0.
Sam Bartram said it was a poor game and was lucky that a slip towards the end did not result in a Blackburn equaliser.
That cup final was the second cup final to feature Charlton and was the 2nd cup final in a row where the ball burst.
So those were happy days - on TV and we won (Now this is against the law), we won the FA Cup (Eee Aye adee o) and the ball burst.
It was a different era from the money fueled, network inducing world that football is played in today.
The Trust has to date taken a view of working closely with the ownership regime, however following Katrien Meire telling the fans that they just have to accept Rolands way and now an unwillingness to engage further on the plans for the clubs future, the Trust has decided to get stuck in and roll its sleeves up, here is its statement.
"Further to our statement of 14th January 2015, the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust wrote to the club's CEO Katrien Meire to follow up our offer to discuss the growing anxiety of supporters about the direction of the club, and how they might be better involved.
We have received a disappointing response. Whilst Ms Meire has suggested that we meet with a colleague to discuss what the club needs to do to maintain and grow the fanbase, she declined any dialogue on the vital matter of where the club is heading.
Her explanation - that she had nothing more to tell supporters regarding the direction of the club - reminds us of her words " To read on Click here
Le point has joined today, we seem to be strengthening every where but not the position that we have all screamed out to be filled. Not only have we not strengthened the striker position but we have weakened it in numbers if nothing else with the loaning out of George Tucudean.
We now seem to have a dearth of players who can play at centre half and central midfielder and the good news is there are two more centre halves on the way, potentially.
We need a target man who can muscle and bustle. In numbers you would normally argue two staters and two back up and in Igor, Watt, Church, Karl Ahearne-Grant we have players but we don't have quality. Igor has not scored since Reading and the rest have not scored.
I welcome Monsieur Le Point and maybe we need him, but he won't score 10 goals this
Season and nobody on the books currently looks like they could.
There is still time in the window and I hope that Rollies advisors know more about football than me. However, if we don't add to the forward options I fear for the remainder of the season, starting with Rotherham.
Firstly, I'd like to thank Bob Peeters for his efforts as our Head Coach, ultimately the the job overwhelmed him and it appears that his run of poor (awful, terrible) results, accompanied by what sounds like him losing the dressing room did for him.
For me, results can always be turned round but if you lose the dressing room then you have to find the exit door and it appears that Roland and Katrien have shown him it.
The margin of success and failure if fine and it could all have been so different if Bikey had not fired high over the bar or Igor Vetokele had not done similar or even if Watts first bit of action, as a red, had been more than just another almost moment. How much better we would have been if Wenger had not recalled Coq.
After a start that involved a large element of luck, Bob's luck ran out and now he is going back to Belgium.
Bob is not totally to blame, Roland has to take his share of the blame. Positively he invested in the grounds infrastructure and the team, but you need strikers and with only Vetokele being recruited as a striking goal scorer, once he picked up a knock, the goals dried up and the league positions slipped away.
Roland has also to take blame for a rooky manager with only slight knowledge of the Championship.
So who is next?
Could Riga come back ... he would be welcomed but would his or Rolands pride allow it? Then there is Guy Luzon, a man nobody speaks well of . More news from the club over the week and then its off to Watford. GuHy Luzon - He's got hair but I don't care!