Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best 10 Wins of the Decade

This decade has been a rollercoaster ride, with the club experiencing a promotion, two relegations and both its highest and lowest League finishes since the late-1950s.

However before we wallow in self-pity, to lift our spirits here is a definitive personal list of the ten most memorable wins of the decade (in order):

1. 4 Nov 2001 – Arsenal 2, Charlton 4

There was little to suggest that the black kit-clad Charlton side that arrived for this Sunday fixture had what it took to spring a derby surprise.

They had won only one of their previous nine Premiership matches, and ominously they fell behind in the 7th minute to a Thierry Henry opener.

Steve Brown headed Charlton level against the run of play, before error-prone Richard Wright bizarrely punched into his own net to give Charlton a surprise half-time lead.

However with most Addicks fans preparing for a post-interval onslaught, a most extraordinary four-minute spell instead sent them into dreamland.

Anyone seeking to compile a Charlton ‘goals of the decade’ list would surely have Claus Jensen’s lob very near the top, whilst Jason Euell’s calm finish for the fourth goal was memorable for the sheer delirium it caused amongst the fans camped behind that goal.

Thierry Henry’s penalty on the hour was ultimately merely a consolation, and Charlton held on for a famous win.

Cynics may point to Arsenal’s missed chances (they had 27 goal attempts!) but how many matches have caused so much excitement, that they generated their own full-length DVD in the Charlton club shop?

2. 26 Dec 2003 – Charlton 4, Chelsea 2

Highlights of this game were recently shown on the Fox Soccer Channel in the US, the viewing of which offered both fond nostalgia as well as deflating disappointment at how far we have since fallen.

This memorable Boxing Day lunchtime fixture very clearly marked for me the clear decade peak in Charlton’s fortunes.

Although we would go on to finish 7th in the Premiership, the dynamic midfield performance of Scott Parker ensured he would wear Chelsea blue within weeks, and the heart of the team was ripped out from which it never fully recovered.

Hermann Hreidarsson put Charlton ahead within a minute, whilst Matt Holland’s brilliantly timed header was the perfect response to John Terry’s equaliser.

Jonatan Johansson put Charlton further ahead from close range, before Jason Euell (just as he did at Arsenal) put the Addicks into an unfamiliar 4-1 lead against a supposed ‘big four’ club.

Charlton were in the midst of a seven-game unbeaten Premiership run, and two days later they would win at Spurs to complete a fabulous London derby double.

As late as mid-January, the Addicks were in the top four and dared to dream of Champions League football., but just 4 wins in their final 16 Premiership matches ensured that remarkably a 7th place finish felt like a disappointment.

3. 24 Feb 2007 – Charlton 4, West Ham 0

My day had already started well with the early hours birth of my first child, and it was to continue to get better.

The game was a preview—writer’s dream, with Curbs returning to The Valley and an increasingly confident Addicks side given hope by Alan Pardew’s leadershihp, just weeks after leaving Upton Park.

It was the archetypal ‘relegation six pointer’ too, and the Hammers were blown away by a devastating 17-minute spell which saw the home side race into a 3-0 lead through a combination of rank defending, and cool finishing from Darren Ambrose, Jerome Thomas and Darren Bent.

Despite a more passionate second-half performance from the visitors, they could not gain a foothold and Thomas put the icing on the cake with a late fourth.

Charlton leapfrogged their opponents with the win, but only one team would survive, the Carlos Tevez-inspired Hammers winning 7 of their final 10 matches to complete a remarkable escape.

4. 28 Sep 2003 – Charlton 3, Liverpool 2

Just like the wins over Arsenal and Chelsea above, this famous win over Liverpool was completed infront of a live television audience, lending more evidence to a sceptical public that we were potentially more than mere Premiership also-rans.

Much maligned striker Kevin Lisbie had signalled his intent with a late substitute goal a week earlier at Aston Villa, and a midweek League Cup goal against Luton.

However it’s fair to say no-one expected to see him leave the Valley pitch clutching the matchball, following an outstanding all-round performance of pace and trickery.

Vladimir Spicer had given Liverpool a 15th minute lead, but Lisbie replied with two quickfire goals from close range. Michael Owen equalised with an early second-half penalty, but the Addicks striker had saved the best for last.

With 82 minutes on the clock, he surged forward from inside his own half and with the Liverpool defence backing off, he delivered an uncharacteristically cool sidefooted finish past a stranded Jerzy Dudek, to prompt scenes of unbridled joy not least upon the babyface of the striker himself.

I turned to my Dad at full-time and said, “This could turn his career around.” It didn’t.

5. 29 Jan 2000 – Coventry 2, Charlton 3 (FA Cup 5th Round)

The absence of Manchester United from this season’s FA Cup had tainted the competition somewhat, but nonetheless straightforward home wins over Swindon and QPR took the Addicks into the last sixteen.

An away draw at Premiership side Coventry City delivered neither glamour nor seemingly much chance of victory, especially after Belgian striker Cedric Roussel had blasted the Sky Blues into a 2-0 lead.

However the Addicks were in the midst of a 12-game winning run in Division One, and confidence was high. They dusted themselves down and began a remarkable fightback before half-time.

In the 41st minute, an acrobatic overhead cross from the impressive Shaun Newton was nodded home by fellow winger John Robinson, and in first-half injury time Newton himself was on hand to finish after Marcus Hedman could only parry an Andy Hunt effort.

Charlton continued the momentum in the second half and were comfortably the better side, but with the clock ticking away they could at least comfort themselves with the thought of the extra cash from a replay, if they couldn’t produce the winner.

However with just two minutes of normal time left, Hunt completed the turnaround when his shot squeezed past Hedman to send the large travelling contingent of Addicks fans into ecstasy.

The Cup dream ended in disappointing fashion at Bolton, but the first season of the decade was nonetheless an outstanding one culminating in the lifting of the Division One title.

6. 23 Aug 2003 – Wolves 0, Charlton 4

The season had started with a whimper after a opening day thumping by Manchester City, whilst Dave Jones-led Wolves were eagerly looking forward to their opening Premiership home game following promotion.

Jason Euell took advantage of slack defending to give the Addicks a 5th minute lead, before a stunning Claus Jensen free-kick doubled the lead with just a quarter-hour gone.

Most Addicks fans reasonably expected their side to consolidate their unexpected lead and take their foot off the attacking gas, but the message clearly did not get through to Scott Parker and Shaun Bartlett who combined effortlessly twice to make the score 4-0 with just 33 minutes on the clock.

Charlton fans sang, “What the hell is going on?” (or a ruder derivative thereof), but rather than push on to register a record score, the game petered out as a contest although not enough to prevent Parker being shown red by the fussy Phil Dowd.

7. 19 Aug 2000 – Charlton 4, Manchester City 0

Charlton’s first season in the Premiership had begun promisingly (two goalless draws and a 5-0 win over Southampton), yet ultimately ended in relegation. Alas, Addicks fans were understandably cautious to read too much into this memorable opening day win the second time around.

However they were wrong to be cautious because their side would go on to finish in a highly creditable 9th position, and it was confident performances like this one that explained how.

New signings Claus Jensen and Radostin Kishishev made their debuts for an already injury-hit Charlton, against a City side that included Liberian legend George Weah and future Addicks keeper, Nicky Weaver.

A neat finish from Andy Hunt and a deflected John Robinson goal gave Charlton a comfortable half-time lead, which they built upon in style during a rampaging second half performance.

Mark Kinsella hammered home after a flowing move through a dismembered City defence, before Graham Stuart completed the rout from the spot after Kinsella was brought down in the box.

Charlton were soon brought down to earth with a bang however, conceding eight goals in three days at Everton and Arsenal.

Unlike in 1998/99 however, they did not disintegrate instead building the medium-term Premiership foundation for some of the even more memorable wins outlined above.

8. 6 Nov 2004 – Tottenham 2, Charlton 3

This game was especially memorable for me given the unusual way I received news of the win.

Just before kick-off, I boarded a flight from New York to Atlanta, so asked my Dad to send me match news by text which I would receive upon landing. Once the wheels hit the tarmac in Georgia, I eagerly turned on my phone to receive six text messages that I proceeded to open in the order received.

GOAL (Bartlett 17)
GOAL (Bartlett 39)
GOAL (Thomas 50)

This was just too good to be true, but it threatened to get even better (or potentially calamitously worse) depending upon what was contained inside the remaining three texts. Surely we weren’t leading Spurs 6-0 away?

RED CARD (Bartlett 68)
GOAL (Keane 69)
GOAL (Defoe 79)

Now my heart was racing too fast….we were down to ten men, Spurs had got two goals back and for all I knew there may be a 7th text message just waiting in the ether awaiting delivery.

There was, but thankfully it contained the news I was waiting for…..FULL TIME, Charlton won 3-2.

Spurs may have been in turmoil following Jacques Santini’s shock resignation just a day before kick-off, but new caretaker boss Martin Jol would ultimately go on to lead them to consecutive 5th place finishes beginning the following season.

But drawing attention to problems behind the scenes at White Hart Lane would detract from a brilliant away win, epitomised by Charlton’s second goal.

A superb one-touch move saw former Spurs man Luke Young released down the right flank from where he would deliver a pinpoint cross that Shaun Bartlett met with a bullet diving header.

9. 23 Aug 2008 – Charlton 4, Reading 2

Anyone who wanted evidence that too much can be read into a single good (or bad) performance, should watch the re-run of this televised Championship fixture.

The win gave Alan Pardew’s side six points from its opening three games, and there was nothing to suggest the calamity that season 2008/9 would become.

Charlton began with plenty of attacking verve in a refreshingly open game, and took a deserved 26th minute lead when Matt Holland bundled home after a Luke Varney shot was parried.

Andy Gray doubled the lead from the spot just before the interval (Reading having missed their own penalty), but Charlton’s defence was caught napping in first-half injury time as Ibrahima Sonko headed Reading back into the game.

The third penalty of the game saw the Royals draw level shortly after half-time, but the cavalier approach of the home side would earn a rich reward with two fine goals.

Lloyd Sam crossed for Varney to head home with rarely seen confidence, before on-loan Hameur Bouazza delivered a stunning volleyed fourth that would be an early contender for goal of the season.

With the pace and guile of the likes of Sam, Bouazza, Varney and Yassin Moutaouakil complimenting the experience of Mark Hudson, Nicky Bailey, Jonathan Fortune and Holland, there were optimistic post-match hopes that the lessons of the second half of 2007/8 had swiftly been learned.

Instead the same mistakes would be repeated in devastating fashion as the season disintegrated in a whirlwind of tactical confusion, a crisis of confidence and an obsession with temporary loans.

10. 22 Jan 2003 – Charlton 4, West Ham 2

West Ham may have been bottom, and they may have been led by the awkward figure of Glenn Roeder, but this was the type of confident performance and victory that we began to take for granted under Alan Curbishley.

The scoreline may have been even more impressive if it wasn’t for the two goals Charlton gifted their visitors, via wicked deflections off Richard Rufus and Mark Fish.

Claus Jensen had equalised the first of them with a great free-kick, before a quickfire Scott Parker brace early in the second half seemed to have killed off the Hammers.

Fish’s inadvertent intervention gave them some hope, but Radostin Kishishev popped up to score a late goal, his first for the club to secure a deserved 4-2 derby win.

The memory might have been fonder without the knowledge that West Ham’s comedy defence that day included......Christian Dailly.

Next: The Worst 10 Defeats of the Decade


At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Toronto Addick said...

Great ARticle NYA. BTW will you be attending this:

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Dave said...

NYA - I remember 8 of these matches intimately, although the 4-0 at Wolves and the 3-2 at Spurs are only vaguely familiar. I suspect I might do better on the 10 worst, which probably says a lot about me!

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Toronto, I'm not sure I can call myself an 'overseas supporter' any more since I moved back in late-Nov, but I will be attending the game and it sounds like a nice plan. Perhaps I can use my 'New York Addick' alter ego to sneak entry.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger Marco. said...

I would have to agree with all of your choices except the games away at Wolves and Coventry, though only as I wasn't present at either of them.
I'd swap one for our victory over Chelsea in the Carling cup and the other would probably be when we crushed Norwich, 4-0 I believe, at the Valley during their Premiership season. We looked totally in control that day and could have quite easily doubled our goals scored.

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Marco, I'm going to include the Chelsea game in a different post on some memorable draws from the decade. It will include games where we ultimately won on penalties in a Cup tie.

Funnily enough I had that Norwich win on my longer list of 15 or 16, from which I selected the top 10.

At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another one i remember with fondness was Man City 1 Charlton 4, if i got my facts right it was between Xmas and new year. There was snow on the ground outside Maine Road, and it was on Sky. Oh and it was when Claus Jensen done that crunching ticket just inside there half and ball lobbed over Weavers head into the back of the net. Why do I remember for the rollicking i took when we got home from the wife, unfortunately i was highlighted commiserating with Weaver and the boy was shown waving good bye to the Man city fans.

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about a home game in the Prem -I can't remember who it was against- we won 3-2 clinching the winner in the last moments. Their goalie had equalised the scores moments before (was it Brad Friedel?) I think Jensen scored for us.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

It was against Blackburn in 03/04 - they equalised in injury time but Jensen scored a very late winner. It would have been 12th or 13th on a longer list, but the context (a season petering out) ruled it out for me.

At 12:47 AM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

I have pretty vivid memories of all of those, if I wasn't at the game I actually remember where I was.

The Blackburn 3-2 is a good choice for the Top 10 but can't really argue with NYA's ten. I was at that Wolves game and in the first half we were so dominant it was a classic top Prem side playing a newly promoted one. How things change.

Looking forward to the next episode NYA.

At 6:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howabout Crystal Palace 0 Charlton 1, March 2000, Kitson winner...or any of the other 1-nils v palace!

I look forward to reading the draw list..there's some crackers in there...West ham, Man Utd etc

Richmond Addick

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

Great list.

I particularly remember the Coventry FA Cup game. We were, as you say 2-0 down in the first half and the Coventry fans, who had no idea just how bad their future was going to be, started singing "Can we play you every week?" It was one of those songs that just caught on and soon three and a half sides of the ground were singing it. This included a fat, topless Coventry fan in with the Charlton fans - he was removed after he'd been acquainted with a few of our fans.

The come back in the first half was magical and we spent most of the half time break singing their song back to them.

It was, indeed, one of the best wins of the decade, but it was also one of the best days out.


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