Saturday, March 04, 2006

Rock On Tommy

Well that was certainly backs-against-the-walls stuff but we hung on and acquired a valuable point, and the dubious distinction of our third consecutive nil-nil draw. It reminded me of the types of performances that typified our first season back in the Premiership in 2000/01 - tons of effort, but very little quality. I'd have hoped we'd have pushed on a little on the quality front, but the club seems to be in a transitory phase right now so we may have to put up with it for a while.

The back four were immense, limiting Liverpool in fairness to very few 'clear-cut' chances, and when they arrived, Thomas Myhre was in fine form. Up until now, Myhre had struck me as a really solid keeper who did all the simple things exceptionally well in that calm Nordic way, but who might have been a little lacking in the shot-stopping department. However that series of first-half saves has proved me well and truly wrong.

If one had to pinpoint the 'problem' area, it would again have to be the central midfield. My Dad texted me at half-time to ask, "what is the point of Bryan Hughes?" and I must confess I would struggle to answer him, even with the help of three lifelines. If any readers can provide any insights I would be grateful to receive them ("to make the other players look better" is true but not the answer I am looking for). To be fair to Hughes (and Holland), they were competing against perhaps the world's best central midfielder (not Hamann, the other one). However there is something quite patently lacking in our midfield, and in my view putting Kish back in the centre would at least be a start.

I watched the game in a quiet Upper East Side bar which amazingly perhaps contained up to seven Charlton fans (and only one Liverpool fan). In a city which is dominated by Liverpool and Man Utd followers, this was truly amazing. It has given me the confidence to go ahead and try to organise an official USA supporters club.

I had already arranged to meet a charming middle-aged couple in the bar, both genuine New Yorkers, who have developed a love for the Addicks thanks to having received some overwhelming hospitality from the club on a trip to London. Clad in Charlton hats and scarves, any fans sceptical about the point of the club's emphasis on community-spiritedness and friendliness should be obliged to meet with them. I can assure you that when Robbie Fowler appeared to have given Liverpool a late late win, whilst I watched it with an air of calm resignation, their exclamation of horror was both genuine and heartfelt.

Indeed, many fans on the message boards have expressed some concerns about the atmosphere at the Valley, and suggested that it may be due to the club's stated aim to acquire 'new' fans (via the Valley Express initiative for example). I think these critics miss the point - I don't believe the lack of atmosphere is related to this at all (I will explain another time).

We lost a generation of fans during the wilderness years of 1985-1992 - as someone else pointed out, we seem to have very few fans in their early 30s since their formative football supporting years would have occurred when we were playing halfway around the South Circular. These fans can never be won back because they are now supporting West Ham or Palace.

However the club knows the marginal cost of a Valley seat is essentially zero and even if just 10% of the fans offered incentives to attend develop a real passion (whether it be via a return bus ride or a free ticket), then the long-term future of the club will be far surer. Even if the other 90% contribute to a 'happy-clappy' atmosphere, then this will still be a better atmosphere than the 12-15,000 so-called 'real fans' could generate.

My opposition to the club's stadium expansion stems from the risk of them getting 'ahead of themselves.' Whilst the zero marginal cost issue still applies, the capital expenditure required to build the new seats runs into the millions and these funds might better be spent on a new midfielder right now.


At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NYA, It sounds like you have the makings of getting Charlton's third international supporters' club off the ground and that would be great! When we started to build our group I was only aware of one other local fellow who had
Charlton roots, so I decided to create some new followers! We convinced a Rangers and a Celtic fan that they needed an English Premiership club to support, we nailed down two or three neutrals, educated them about Charlton and got them on side. Friends of friends came along and before long we had a nice cadre of Charlton support. It can be done and I would encourage you to do so! Bon chance. Come on Chicago Addick, you can do it too! How about you out on Vancouver Island, Ken Jennings? If we really work at it a North American conference or convention would be the next step. NYC would be perfect. Ian Cartwright, are you listening?

At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to sign off again. Anonymous is Bob Miller here in Hamilton, Ontario.

At 2:31 AM, Blogger Ken J said...

Spot on with the teams frailty.I think both Kish and Ambrose are played out of position....and Spector...and HH, etc etc..
And as for you, Mr.Bob Miller, I thought you had adopted the 'Anonymous' tag in an attempt to emulate Bryan Hughes and Matty Holland.
NYA- Great to hear of your resolve to start a supporters group and as far as Vancouver Island goes, well, we do have a few committed to getting up at 7am to watch the televised games..and it has to start somewhere, right?
North American Addicks convention? I'm there with bells on!
I was over at the City Addicks meeting the week before last and if we can get something like that going - wow!

At 4:24 AM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

Ken, I couldn't agree with you more about our mid-field. There is absolutely no cutting edge out there. Early in the going, Murphy and Smertin were providing some of that but Danny had a hissy-fit and buggered-off and I have no idea what is up with Smertin. I have a real thing about loans within the Premiership and think they should be disallowed. I really like Jon Spector BUT he belongs to Manchester United and I assume could be pulled back at any time. While he is out there, learning his trade and getting better, it is not for the longer term benefit of Charlton and we should have one of our own out there learning and getting better! A "wet" coast supporters' club would be a great thing! The North American Celtic Supporters' Clubs gather annually and were in Las Vegas last year with a significant turnout. We have a ways to go to emulate that but as you say, it has to start somewhere!

At 4:59 AM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

I would be a shoe-in for a North American Addicks gathering.

Happy to host or travel.


At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Lesley Angeles said...

If you manage to set up a supporters club, do you think you will offer free or subsidised travel to the conventions?

At 12:59 PM, Anonymous Mike Barry said...

My nephew, Bo Amato (one of Ken's 'Management Team' on CAFCPICKS is doing his best down there is the Washington DC area. Spends most of his time 'Soccer' coaching for a living, but gets to the bar with a small core when he can for the games. He might be interested. Sounds like a get together would involved a few air miles though!!

At 1:54 AM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

I think we should see if the Flask Express want to run buses.

Great idea Lesley.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

There are enough competitive airfares around that continental travel would not be a major hurdle to overcome. It's the bar bills which would scare me!

Seriously though, when I see what the Celtic fans manage to arrange, with their annual bash at various loctions around North America (I think it is in Windsor/Detroit this year), it is something to which to aspire and with a bit of effort on the part of a handfull of individuals who are already staunch Addicks, I see no reason why something could not be initiated.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

Hey NYA, you might know the answer to this.

Is it only non-season ticket holders that need to produce ticket stubs for the 2 Boro games?

If you're a Season ticket holder does this still apply, or do they only have to go to the Cup game to be given priority for the SF.

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Hugh Jersey said...

This is a fantastic idea.

Who knows for the long away trips (such as to White Hart Lane or to Highbury) we may have more supporters at our meet-ups than the team have watching them live.

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous Cat Chenery said...

I've heard that the FA cup semis will both be played at Cardiff, so just having a season ticket will be enough to guarantee a seat. That goes against what they said in the programme about needing stubs from both Boro games but has come from a ticket office source.

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

If you had a North American convention I'm sure that Brits would join you and make a holiday out of it


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