Friday, October 02, 2009

Leeds preview

It is difficult to preview a fixture against Leeds, without reminiscing about the incredible week in May 1987 when the battling Addicks, somehow preserved First Division status.

It still sends a shiver down my spine when I visualise those two Peter Shirtliff goals, and John Helm's highlights commentary asking, "Is that the goal?" (that secures First Division football for Charlton).

There's also something about Paul Miller's celebration which brings back a fond memory. At the time, we were living a few hundred yards from him and shortly after the final whistle, I raced over there to deliver him a handwritten congratulatory note.

Looking back, it's easy to make the case that those three matches were the most important in our history.

Indeed that entire five-year period from 1985-1989 was instrumental; Lennie Lawrence not only maintained the promotion push, but kept us there for four seasons.

This ensured that whilst matters off the pitch were only developing slowly, at least there was some positive momentum on it to keep fans' belief alive.

When he returns with Bristol Rovers in a few weeks' time, hopefully fans will get a chance to show that 'if you know your history' (as the old song goes), then he'll get a standing ovation.

There was something special about the group of players he put together. Not much individual flair aside from Robert Lee, but they played for their lives. Hopefully his new book will offer some interesting insights.

The intimidatory atmosphere they had to put up with was incredible, not only at St Andrews, but also at Elland Road (where we clung on) and even at Selhurst Park, where at least half the crowd were supporting the away side. Nothing the players will face tomorrow in front of a likely bumper crowd will compare.

Any thoughts about a return to The Valley were merely a pipe dream back in 1987, and the future would have looked bleak back in the Second Division at Selhurst Park.

Attendances would likely have been dire; we'd surely have eventually gone the way of the other eventual tenants of Selhurst Park, who ironically won promotion with us to the First Division in 1986.

Speaking of promotion, our hopes for this season took a big knock on Tuesday night, the first League defeat for the Addicks since Derby away on 25th April, and only the 2nd in our last 18. As Phil Parkinson rightly said, this is no time to overreact.

However there had been some warning signs in previous weeks that a calamity might be on the cards, with the defence's lack of pace and Elliot's indecisiveness being obvious weak points for opposition sides to exploit.

Unfortunately Norwich's late equaliser at Carrow Road slowed down the strong momentum we'd built up all season (the draw with Southampton felt more like a point gained, rather than two lost). It's vital we begin to pick it up again - a two-goal win after all tomorrow would take us top again.

A defeat however would leave us with just 5 points from our last 5 games, a mini run of form which if allowed to continue would swiftly see us back in only a play-off spot.

This season in previous posts, I've asked the question, "What is the Plan B?" For the first eight games, the question was moot with Parkinson able to name an unchanged side that remained unbeaten.

However with the temporary loss of the vital Jose Semedo, and with that unbeaten run now over, do we have the tactical flexibility and depth of squad which may now be required?

A surprise home draw with Carlisle on Tuesday night nonetheless maintains Leeds' unbeaten start, and under the well-regarded leadership of Simon Grayson, one senses that the club's downward trend may have found a bottom.

The division's most potent striker, Jermaine Beckford continues to bang in the goals, reminding sceptics that occasionally real gems can be found hovering in non-League (in his case, the mighty Wealdstone). Unfortunately our own former non-League gem is oddly scoring goals for the team right behind us in 3rd place.

NY Addick predicts: Leeds 2 (Beckford, Snodgrass), Charlton 0. Att: 26,291.


At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A bit post the event but I had to comment on the St Andrews game. People look at me a bit funny when I name it as my 'best' game as it wasn't high on skill but as far as importance to the club it was possibly unsurpassed. Bizarrely, one of my most vivid memories (and one that I have dreamt about!) is Bob Bolder throwing his gloves. I still enjoy watching the Centenary DVD and picking me out in a couple of the crowd shots and reminisce about standing on the platform at New Street willing a London train to arrive before Leeds turned up.....

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

barnet preview?

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I started to write one but lost the will to live after about ten minutes. Barnet are my second team so I won't begrudge them victory though for the first time in a long while a trip to Wembley is a realistic aim.

At 5:27 PM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

Come on NYA.... Team?


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