Sunday, November 19, 2006

Steve Brown's tackle

Apologies to any female readers who clicked on the link in the hope of seeing a key part of Steve Brown's anatomy. I would understand the attraction though; an ex-girlfriend for example used to describe Brownie as a 'real man' (which implied in turn that somehow I wasn't).

There's a happy ending for her though. She snagged a 'real man' in the end (now happily married to a policeman) but unfortunately there's no happy ending for Charlton in sight because let's face it, there's no 'real men' left in the current side.

I bring up Steve Brown's tackle because I listened like many thousands of others no doubt to him summarising on BBC London and he was clearly as upset as we all are about the state of our so-called 'team'. I deliberately distinguish between 'club' and 'team' because the 'club' will always be bigger than the group of players that just happen to represent it.

Brownie was not an especially gifted footballer nor is he an especially eloquent summariser, but he brought something else with him to the pitch which he now brings to his radio microphone, namely he actually gives a toss. He obviously cared about winning football matches and he wanted us to know he cared. Which of us don't still smile at the thought of those death-defying diving headers or his goalkeeping heroics?

And I am sure that despite the fact he works at West Ham these days, he is genuinely upset about what he saw on the pitch at Reading yesterday and is determined that we should all know about that too. And now having seen the highlights, just watch Rommedahl's reaction during the build-up to the first goal, or the static defence pleading for a non-existent offside on the second goal instead of chasing back and making a challenge, and ask yourself if it's not actually blindingly obvious what's wrong with the team right now.

There have been thousands of tackles in Charlton's history (no pun intended) but as far as I'm concerned there is only one 'tackle' that counts. Indeed, as far as I'm concerned all true Charlton fans will be comfortable referring to it merely as 'the tackle', because it was not only the best I've seen, but because what occurred afterward changed the club's history forever.

In his book, Curbs describes it as follows:

"Steve Brown was another player who was Charlton through and through. He was an unsung hero who I knew I could play anywhere across the back and also in midfield......"

"When I put him on as substitute for Mark Bright six minutes before Sunderland got their fourth goal I was hoping he would stiffen things up and stop them scoring. That plan quickly fell apart but four minutes later Steve Brown made one of the most important tackles of Charlton life."

"After Brownie threw himself into a challenge in the middle of the park and won possession for us, the ball eventually find its way out to Steve Jones on the right......"

We all know what happened next. Jones crossed to Clive Mendonca who somehow controlled it, swivelled and fired home all in one motion and we were on our way to the Premiership. The reason I bring it up is not dewy-eyed nostalgia again for that day at Wembley, but because the tackle sums up everything that was right about Charlton then and is wrong about it now.

Back then and in truth for most of the 1990s and probably up until Scott Parker left, the core of the team was made up of players who would give everything for the club and understood what it meant to play for Charlton. I'm thinking of Brownie obviously, but also the likes of Robinson, Balmer, Kinsella, Rufus, Stuart, Nelson, and even Carl Leaburn. None of the aforementioned players were blessed with much natural talent, but what would you give to be able to transfer some of their heart to the far more gifted likes of Jerome Thomas or Dennis Rommedahl?

The core of the current team is made up of players who see us a clear 'step down' (Hasselbaink, Reid etc..) or foreigners who'd probably never heard of Charlton until they turned up to sign the papers (Diawara, El Karkouri, Rommedahl etc..) We used to be able to rely on the likes of Young and Hreidarsson to shake people up a bit, but I'm concerned even they have given up, seeing the writing on the wall.

During the upheaval last week, the Board let the players off far too lightly pinning the blame for our troubles on the 'structure' and by implication on Dowie. I'm not sure us bloggers will be as generous, and already Frankie Valley, Chicago Addick, and now me are questioning the commitment of the players themselves. During the gloom though, dust down the DVD of that play-off final, fast forward to the 103rd minute and feast your eyes on Steve Brown's tackle to remind yourself of the way it was and will hopefully one day be again.


At 4:36 PM, Blogger BC Addick said...

New York Addick you have hit the nail right bang on the head. I responded to Chicago's blog yesterday and tried to say what you have written down here. Our players at present are gutless and dont give a shit about our team. Brown yesterday siad "I would have not put up with that from one of my players", I think he was referring to Romm. Our that had brwon and rufus and kinsella etc etc would have beaten this current crop of players hands down because they gave a shit and this lot dont. Young should never ever be captain. He tried to get away from our club in the summer but couldnt because of his injury...what type of example does that give if you are captain. The players need a rocket up their a#@e's coming from murray and reed but that isnt going to happen. I live in Canada and have for the last 18 months. One of the main things taht was holding me back from going to Canada was not watching my beloved team. I am glad it didnt. I am so pissed off with this team at present. Maybe we need to go down and get rid of most of them. I must say though, Bent is an exception here and carson. Ashamed to be a charlton fan at present.

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here, here. Steve Brown always looked knackered after about 10 minutes, but always gave everything for 90 minutes!! Also John Robinson, you knew what you would get from him on the wing - total commitment. We miss players who have developed with the club like these and even Scotty Parker. I can't see us avoiding the drop this season, let's hope that we can rebuild and not stay in the championship for too long. The only positive of relegation is that those players that don't care about Charlton will be off faster than you can say "money grabbing t@$?ers".

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous Darcy said...

I made this point 2 years ago, that was Curbs team out there minus Carson/Reid. This mess has been a long time coming and is going to take longer than a few months to sort out.

At 7:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the first time during this terrible spell I have contemplated that we could go down. However looking at the league table all it needs is a few wins and we are out of it. Up until Wigan I felt that we were making steady if unspectacular progress. The team moral has slumped and this weekend showed it. We really should not be going to Reading and not getting a result and yet I felt that we were the newcomers to premiership and 'can we get away with a point'. Sadly I think the players are in that mindset and I fear for Darren Bents patience in a team that is well and truly punching below its weight. Its hard to make a case for him to stay and no doubt the other clubs are going to try to exploit it. As for Reed I felt buoyed by the appointment but I don't see him as a front man or motivator but I am truly willing to be proved otherwise. The passion of Brownies tackle seems a long time ago and the reality is that we are a very different team to then. Here's to next week.

At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How right you are. The Likes of Brown , Kinsella , Robinson and Rufus would have never alowed lightweights like Rommedahl to get away with that.
Not since Parker left have we had any bottle in the team.
Hopefully Reed sees this and ensures we haveKish and Faye central asap.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Kappacino Kid said...

The spirit of Brown, Kinsella and the rest of the play of team was alive and well yesterday, commitment drive enthusiasm, if you were not there all those years ago all you ahd to do was look at the Blue and whites, Sidwell for Kinsella, so sad, lets hope it was a hangover from last weeks events. Curbs turned our season around after a tonking at West Ham making brutal decisions, Reed has to do the same nowe or it will be too late and if we leave the prem now it may be we will never return.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger beauzo said...

I'm not gonna defend any of Charlton's half-baked self-serving work-shy sponging excuses for players but (especially with that berk Poll in charge) if any player had even thought about that kind of TACKLE they'd have got a red card and probably an extended ban. The pansy pansy rules which now outlaw proper contact and challenges still don't excuse the fairies who take the field for Charlton each week. Steve Brown remains one of my very favourite Charlton players but he with all the others you mention are from a dead and bygone era. I laughed out loud when he took the opportnity to recollect how often he warmed the bench. Still, if he brings his boots next week I'd put him straight in the team, in the 10 minutes he'd manage he'd show more commitment drive and integrity than all the rest put together, with the possible exceptions of Carson & D Bent.


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