Spyin' Kop: Charlton away (16/12/06)

Posted by Raul. on December 13, 2006, 05:15:51 PM

Charlton at the Valley comes at a time where things are looking up for Liverpool Football Club.  Seemingly good news about investment in the club last week came sandwiched between two 4-0 wins in the league, away and at home.  We play a team that is, well, going through some tough times.  Not yet half the season gone and their manager already dismissed, Charlton fans are an unhappy bunch and their team comes off a 5-1 thrashing by Spurs.  They can take some comfort however in the fact that they traditionally do well against the  Reds at the Valley.  Three points would be most welcome for both teams, for very different reasons.

Charlton Athletic v Liverpool
Saturday 16 December, 2006
The Valley, London
K.O. 12:45 pm

Charlton Athletic FC
Ground: The Valley, London
Record Attendance: 75,031

FA Cup Winners: 1947
Runners Up: 1946

Early Days -  Very Fishy

On June 9, 1905, a number of youth clubs in the south-east London area combined to form Charlton Athletic Football Club.  Making rapid progress through the local leagues, Charlton joined the Kent League shortly after the First World War, turned professional when the club joined the Southern League in 1920, and was elected to Division 3(S) of the Football League-proper in 1921. Walter Rayner was their first manager.

A local fishmonger, Arthur 'Ikey' Bryan, was one of their early patrons. Arthur used to provide fish and chip suppers for the youngsters after games and his hospitality gave rise to Charlton's famous nickname, the "Addicks", a corruption of the word haddock. The haddock as a symbol of the Charlton team came into full public prominence in 1909 at the final of the Woolwich Cup at Creed's Farm, Cemetery Lane, Charlton, when Charlton beat the military team Army Service Corps 3-0, to win their very first cup trophy. Arthur by that time was vice president of the club and several large haddocks from his shop were paraded on poles by Arthur and fellow fans around the ground.

The club has had two other nicknames, the Robins, adopted in 1931, and the Valiants, chosen in a fan competition in the 1960s which also led to the adoption of the sword badge which is still in use. The Addicks nickname never went away and was revived by fans after the club lost its Valley home in 1985 and went into exile at Crystal Palace.

Grounds Grounds Grounds

The club's first ground was Siemens Meadow 1905-1907. Then followed Woolwich Common (1907-1908), Pound Park (1908-1913), and Angerstein Lane (1913-1915). The boys only played friendlies in their first season but entered the Lewisham League Division 3 in 1906. They progressed through the Lewisham, Woolwich, and Blackheath Leagues, and the junior section of the Southern Suburban League, before becoming a 'senior' amateur club in the Southern Suburban League Senior Division and joining the London League.

Seedy Times

The next significant progress in their history came following the appointment of Jimmy Seed as manager in 1933 as he led the club to successive promotions, reaching the first division in 1936.

Legendary goalkeeper Sam Bartram made his debut the following season and went on to record a club record 623 appearances.

In 1937 Charlton finished runners up in the First Division, in 1938 finished fourth and 1939 finished third.  They remained in the First Division and the steady progress under Seed’s stewardship continued after the war, with Charlton reaching successive cup finals. The team reached it's first ever FA Cup final in 1946 but is beaten 4-1 by Derby County after extra time. The following season they returned to Wembley defeating Burnley 1-0.

In this period of renewed football attendances, Charlton became one of only eleven English football teams to average over 40,000 as their attendance during a full season. The Valley was the largest football ground in the League, drawing crowds in excess of 70,000. In 1957, the then board undermined Jimmy Seed (manager since 1932), and Charlton were relegated.

Yo-yo days

From the late 1950s until the early 1970s, Charlton remained a mainstay of the Second Division. Relegation to the Third Division in 1972 caused the team's support to drop, and even a promotion in 1975 back to the second division did little to re-invigorate the team's support and finances.

In 1979/80 Charlton were relegated again to the Third Division winning immediate promotion back to the Second Division in 1980/81. Even though it did not feel like it; this was a turning point in the clubs history leading to a period of turbulence and change including further promotion and exile. A change in management and shortly after a change in club ownership led to severe problems and the club looked like it would go out of business.

Charlton were promoted to the First Division as Second Division runners-up at the end of 1985-86, and remained at this level for four years before going down again in 1990.

Groundshare Groundshare Groundshare... and the Curbishley era

In 1984 financial matters came to a head and the club went into administration, to be reformed as Charlton Athletic (1984) Ltd.  But the club's finances were still far from secure, and they were forced to leave the Valley just after the start of the 1985-86 season after its safety was criticised by Football League officials. The club began to groundshare with Crystal Palace F.C. at Selhurst Park.

Manager Lennie Lawrence moved to Middlesbrough the following year and was replaced by joint managers Steve Gritt and 34-year-old Alan Curbishley. Gritt and Curbishley's first season in charge of Charlton was complicated by the expiry of their groundshare deal with Crystal Palace - it could not be renewed because Wimbledon were now tenants at Selhurst Park.  So the club began a groundshare at West Ham United's Boleyn Ground, although this would not be a long-term arrangement because the funds had finally been secured for the Valley to be rebuilt and work was underway by the turn of 1992. In December 1992, Charlton returned to a new and improved Valley after seven years away.

In 1995 Curbishley took sole charge. In 1997-98 was Charlton's best season for years. They reached the Division One playoff final and battled against Sunderland in a thrilling game with ended with a 4-4 draw after extra time. Charlton won 7-6 on penalties and were promoted to the Premiership. Charlton's first Premiership campaign began promisingly but they were unable to keep up their good form and were soon battling relegation. The battle was lost on the final day of the season but the club's board kept faith in Curbishley, confident that they could bounce back. And Curbishley rewarded the chairman's loyalty with the Division One title in 2000 which signalled a return to the Premiership. After a decent 5 years in the Premiership with some under and some over performance, on April 29, 2006, at the final home game of the season (against Blackburn Rovers) Curbishley announced his resignation and the search for a new manager. He had been in charge for 729 games, one short of Jimmy Seed's record.

A very ugly manager - but not for long

On Tuesday May 30, 2006 Charlton Athletic appointed Iain Dowie to replace Alan Curbishley as club manager. Dowie left Championship team Crystal Palace after they failed to get promoted to the English Premiership following their loss to Watford in the playoffs.  Dowie's reign at the Valley, however, proved to be a short one as he parted company with Charlton on November 13, 2006, with the club bottom of the table with two league wins. Les Reed replaced Dowie as head coach.

Interesting Factoids

Charlton along with Watford are now bookies joint favourites to be relegated to the Championship.

Charlton reserves a seat on their board for a supporter.  Any season ticket holder can put themselves forward for election, with a certain number of nominations, and votes are cast by all season ticket holders over the age of 18.  Nice one.

I went along to Charlton Life (http://www.charltonlife.com/forum/) to have a chat to some of the chappies there about the game.  Many thanks to Pete Tong, oohaahmortimer, Blackforestreds and AFKA Bartram for answering our questions.

It's been a bit of a turbulent season for the Addicks so far and the league position and Dowie's departure must have affectied the spirits of Charlton fans. How would you say the season has been shaping up so far?  What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

PT: Now Relegation, From day one 5th from Bottom

Ooh: this season is shaping up into a right nightmare fourth bottom at the beginning now second bottom will be a result

BFR: I appreciate being a Liverpool fan you rarely if ever have to look in the lower half of the division let alone the relegation places to find your team. If just this once you scan below Reading...and even Sheffield United and Middlesboro and keep scanning down you'll find Charlton more or less propping up the table - that alone should tell you exactly how the season has been shaping up to date. Ultimately Football is a results driven business and while Charlton have had trouble with Iain Dowie coming and going and Les Reed taking over plus an injury crisis that would stretch clubs with a longer playing roster than ours we are there because we haven't scored enough goals, have let in too many, we haven't grafted for the points hard enough or simply wanted "it" enough. Eventually the table doesn't lie and the bits of bad and good luck balance out, the best teams though create their luck. For all the playing and coaching/managerial changes that Charlton have undergone this year one thing stands out: that we've lost a bit of team ethos that previous Charlton sides have had and other teams with weaker squads have, there appear to be too many individuals out there and not enough players grafting for the team. It doesn't help that we haven't been able to field the same starting 11 for a consistent run of games, more worrying is the constant switching of players and tactics - to date we've played 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-4-1-1 and just about every combination and permutation possible, sometimes one winger, sometimes two, occasionally and recently no wingers at all, allowing the full-backs to get forward. None have to date worked.

Bartram: There's no way of disguising it, its the worst season the majority of us have ever known, and certainly the worst since we returned to the Valley in 92. Everything we have worked so hard for appears to have fallen a part within the past 12 months. The slide started mid last season, but has accelerated at a rate that even the most pessimistic of us would never of predicted. As supporters, i think we have been fantastic so far, we have been upbeat and encouraging during games which is all the club could ask for. Some questionable board decisions have been allowed to pass realitively lightly as well. But confidence on and off the pitch at the moment is at an all-time low.

Our collective expectations are that we will be relegated. This has only occured in the past few weeks. The game after Dowie left, Reading away, had most of us there accepting for the first time we will be in trouble for the whole season. It was the most gutless display i've ever seen i think.

Who do you think is your most important player(s)?

PT: Andy Reid and Scott Carson

Ooh:Scott Carson and Darren Bent.

BFR: Our best player...undoubtedly Simon Walton, strong in the tackle, unlimited energy, young, fearless, etc reports have been glowing, unfortunately he's been doing all this on-loan at Ipswich. Andy Reid has played well, and hearteningly never goes awol on the pitch, he's getting better as the season progresses, Diawara in defence has had some good games, Darren Bent started well but hasn't scored recently and has looked a tad off-form and perhaps is carrying a knock. That leaves Scott Carson who has played consistently well, more below...

Bartram: We have one at present, Andy Reid. Bit of a joke figure at first, overweight and unfit, he has worked and shown himself in every game, gradually improving. 90% of our attacking creativity will come through him. Two months ago we would've seen Darren Bent, but he is not the player he was two months ago. Looks like he is carrying an injury, and a depserate lack of confidence.

Your worst player(s)?

PT: Take your pick

Ooh:Darren Ambrose.

Bartram: Hard to know where to start. Back four is simply not solid enough, cannot cope with movement, but the midfield, particularly the centre area has been a weakness for about 12 months, and continues to be.

What are your views on two players who were at Anfield last season Scotty Carson and Champions League Winner Djimi Traore?

PT: Scott Carson has been excellent.  Traore been out injured - waste of 2 million.

Ooh: Scott Carson-superb...Traore-not seen enough but not looking good.

BFR: Scott Carson & Djimi Traore...well the latter can't control his hamstring, has picked up one red and cracked a bone in his leg and consequently has only played a handful of games so passing judgement is difficult and unfair. Scott Carson on the other hand other than being rested for a League Cup game has been an ever present. At 21 he looks to manner born, good on crosses, fast reactions, good handling skills etc I think he'll go on to become a great keeper and a future England player. He needs to improve his positioning and his command of the area but that will come in time. One irony of our lowly position is that he's probably getting the best practice possible, not just in picking the ball out of the net, but in playing under pressure. Doubtless if he was at Anfield he wouldn't be getting that much experience of either, hopefully for him he's learning from the experience and will become a better keeper. On the whole he has acquitted himself well and if his move were made permanent I think it would be a popular move inside the club.

Bartram: Carson has been excellent despite a couple of rickets, benefitting from playing every week. You will get a mixed view on Traore, some thing he is useless, i think he is desperately unlucky in getting a harsh sending off and then breaking his leg. Has been fast-tracked back, and has got injured again. Jury still out.

Do you have a particular memory of any previous meeting between our clubs? Something that happened to you that day or a decision you disagreed with?

Remember Ronnie Rosentals hat trick at Selhurst on 1st game of the season.

Ooh: 1984 i think a pre season friendly dalglish/rush and co playing at the valley true legends when all i'd ever seen was crap playing down at charlton

BFR: Those I remember fondly have generally resulted in Charlton wins, but I remember one great performance in defeat around 1987 time - Liverpool went on to win the championship that year and beat Charlton 3-2, if my memory is right Colin Walsh scored a blinder and I think Charlton even took the lead. A Liverppol supporting friend told me at the time that most teams would defend at Anfield and try and snatch a goal on the break - pretty much as teams did at Old Trafford in the 90s when Man U were strong, but a weak Charlton team took the match to Liverpool. As for controversy..I'm certain that game included the usual dodgy Anfield penalty...

Bartram: In recent years, Fowler scoring a great overhead kick at the Valley. Always liked Fowler, normal lad with a cracking eye for goal, really enjoyed his book. We had a couple of good nights up at Anfield in the cups when we were in the league below, always a good atmosphere. Love going to Anfield, possibly my favourite other ground and will despair if they leave there. The Hillsborough tribute plaque gets me every time.

Any young up and coming players in the squad that we might not know about?

PT: Harry Arter price tag 10 million if you are a scout for LFC.

Ooh: Our youth system has produced FA for a number of years now.

BFR: ...well there's always Kevin Lisbie.

Bartram: None. We've had a dearth of any talent coming through since Parker and Konchesky.

What sort of line-up will be put out against us?

PT: 4-5-1 - same side against Spurs.

Ooh: The usual crap 4-5-1 line up

BFR: Predicted line-up...as above who knows, I'd say Myhre in goal (Carson can't play), Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, and Herman the puffin eater at left back. Midfield: Kishishev, Faye, Reid, Sam, Hughes, up front Darren Bent.

Bartram: A crap one. Sadly we can only use 11 players. Most likely to be a flat four back, a square 4 across midfield playing deep, and one in the hole off Bent.

Do you have any favourite/best chant(s and perhaps any that require an explanation?

PT: Nope we are not original song writers like you lot - must be the city of culture tag that has rubbed off on you guys.

Ooh:Valley Floyd Road the mist rolling in from the Thames................

BFR: The hilarious 'do the social know you are here' will doubtless get an airing, which as I'm sure you know is a play on the unemployment sitation on Merseyside, however the ruinous and socially divisive economic policies of Thatcherism are thankfully long behind us but old habits die hard. Elsewhere expect Valley Floyd Road and some gallows humour, if things don't improve results wise this could be your last trip to the Valley for a while, so enjoy it.

Bartram: We're not exactly having much to sing about at the moment, though you may notice a fair bit of clapping in time, but no words coming out the month. If by some miracle we win, expect the roof to come off. And on that subject, i'll give you the day Fowler scored that overhead, our stand was being rebuilt and had uncovered seating, and the crowd were singing 'scousers, nicked our roof, scousers scousers nicked our roof'.

What do you think of Liverpool's performance thus far this season? Where do you expect Charlton and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

PT: Charlton 3rd bottom Liverpool 4th.  The pundits saying the Liverpool winning the league this season was laughable - no offence.

Ooh: Liverpool have underperformed as well this season but will get 4th due to lack of competition and we'll finish 2nd bottom.

BFR: Where do I think Liverpool and Charlton will finish this season...for us Addicks things look dire, a team is often psychologically relegated long before they are mathematically relegated and I'm wondering where the fight is and where the points will come from, if we beat the drop it won't be by much. Where Liverpool will finish, no offence but I don't care, Liverpool won't win the PL this year and won't finish runners-up either. They will though quite likely win the real prize - a ticket into next season's Champion League that along with the wealth of the Maktoums will allow them access to even greater wealth, better players with the consequence that the Premiership will get even more unbalanced between the haves and have nots. Sadly winning the Premiership counts for little these days - bragging rights for the fans, the real prize is a place in the CL. If Liverpool don't make it to next year's CL that will be a failure for them.

Bartram: Disappointing. If they don't pick up in the league by the end of the season, really need to start questioning Rafa. Can't say that he hasn't had money to spend over the years. After a run of foreign managers, it would be nice to see Liverpool returning to a British core.

Which Liverpool player will you fear the most?

PT: Gerrard.

Ooh: Gerrard.

BFR: Right now even your tea lady could play well against us.

Bartram: Anyone that hasn't got a blindfold on. If Traore is not back, expect Pennant to give Herieidderson the run around.

Care to predict the score - go on then!?

PT: 1-2

Ooh: 0-4

BFR: I always get these things wrong, just don't turn up late, make sure you're in your seat for the start of the second half, don't leave early and don't blink.

Bartram: Anyone that hasn't got a blindfold on. If Traore is not back, expect Pennant to give Herieidderson the run around.

Thanks once again to everyone at Charlton Life for answering our questions.

© Raul 2006

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