Cr e p u s c u l a r

22 October 2016

Beckenham Town 1 Lancing 3

Another enjoyable game in the world of non-league gave me what was surely a better experience than watching Charlton scrape a point at Gillingham. For one thing, it didn't involve going to Gillingham, that bit in the "Garden of England" where people have dumped their burst mattresses and old fridges.

Beckenham's ground is ridiculously easy for me to get to (5 stops on the Hayes line) and with admission at £7 (£4 concessions) why wouldn't I go there?

The game was one of 101 ties in the first round proper of the F A Vase which, if I understand it correctly is open to teams in Step 9, which both Beckenham and Lancing are. Although they play in different leagues, their level should be roughly equal.

That was how it turned out for the first half, both teams playing decent football. Either team, with a little more precision in attack, might have taken the lead but Beckenham's Alebiosu, a clever player on the ball, took a well-worked chance.

In the second half, though, Lancing's better organisation and teamplay overcame the increasingly ragged efforts of the home team and two goals in the first 15 minutes turned the game around. Beckenham didn't give up, but didn't have any ideas, and away victory was clinched with a sweet individual goal from Alex Fair with less than 5 minutes to go.

The travelling supporters, about 10 of them, celebrated loudly and their team will go into the draw for round 2 with some optimism.

17 October 2016

Charlton 3 Coventry 0

To the Valley for the first time this season, breaking my boycott to be part of the protest. Details of the Pigs in Space event have been widely reported, including - importantly - in the Belgian press, and video of the violent suppression of a peaceful protest made it to the Evening Standard. The irony of that is exquisite. I'd suggest that at the next game CARD try to make the stadium a sea of North Korean flags, with two possible outcomes. Either a striking image is created or there's a beautiful story of hundreds of symbols of an oppressive state being censored.

The game itself wasn't bad, in fact. Not high quality, but open and, in a way, flowing. Coventry weren't as clueless as you'd expect, except where it mattered (scoring and defending). Charlton played much more attractively than they have in the away games I've seen. With Ademola and Holmes both starting, they tested the opposition more.

The first goal was against the run of play but well taken by Holmes. A suspicion of offside but the replays showed the officials got it right. The second goal was apparently well made, but I was standing at the urinal at the time, and the third goal came as I was leaving, hoping to get home before the rain. (This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am not your man for a full match report.)

But I never leave early, I thought to myself, and I've cycled through snow to get to a match. Clearly I don't have the same attachment as I used to. During the pre-match build-up and at half-time it felt like being at an away game, observing the rituals from the outside rather than feeling part of them. It's a testament, I suppose, to the importance of Dave Lockwood. When he was trying to raise interest in the absurd fans sofa or the ludicrous pie-cam, I would feel sympathy for him, as for an actor lumbered with an awful script. I simply didn't care about what was going on on Saturday. I've searched hard and found I don't even have an opinion about the crossbar challenge.

And the stadium was so empty! Rationally, of course, I knew it would be, but I was still shocked. Presumably it's usually emptier still, without returning exiles. Without the Coventry fans and without the protests the atmosphere would have been dead. Once again, though, we saw that a protest can bring some life to the team, and the biggest win for some time.

So, despite the win, a rather depressing experience. This is not how it's meant to be.

26 September 2016

Oxford 1 Charlton 1

 It's tempting to say more about the trip to Oxford than the game, just as it was more tempting to stay in the pub (Beerd, on George Street) than to get the bus, the slow, slow bus, to the Kassam Stadium and my lofty seat offering an excellent view of the car park.

The first 45 minutes didn't help, don't help. A fairly frantic opening saw Charlton pressing for about 5 minutes, then Declan Rudd making an excellent save before the game subsided into a low quality affair, Charlton ever more defensive and Oxford unable to make any clear chances.

Half time came along with its village fete style entertainment featuring a man in drag (on a stag, was his excuse) and his best man trying to catch a football in a wheelie bin. It was both less and more amusing than it sounds. Generally their efforts were about as successful as the two teams' had been.

The second half promised more of the same. Charlton's goal came from a penalty, one of the clearest and most unnecessary handballs I've ever seen, and was confidently put away by Johnnie Jackson. Charlton, particularly after Ricky Holmes came on, pressed forward more, overstretched and let Oxford equalise. It was a pretty good game from then onwards but both sides didn't look particularly likely to score and didn't.

A packed bus, a slow, slow bus, took us back to town and a packed train - three coaches, GWR? Who do you think you are, Southeastern? - got me back to London.

It looks like this might be the last game I'll see for a while. All the away games next month are problematic for me in their own way so perhaps I'll try the non-league experience again.

23 September 2016


Another bizarre week at Charlton.

The least expected thing was that Roland Duchatelet turned up in SE7. Or SE9 at any rate, when he attended a meeting of the Target 20k group at Sparrows Lane (we think - but even the venue hasn't been officially disclosed).

Completely predictable was that he'd say something stupid, probably involving a percentage figure. And so he did, pointing out that Charlton represents about 1.5% of his interests, so he can't give the club any more time than he has. When you think of the way he has used the 1.5% so far - appointing Katrien Meire, listening to Thomas Driessen, selling Yann Kermorgant, sacking Chris Powell, appointing then sacking Bob Peeters, Guy Luzon and Karel Fraeye, writing the notorious Statement {...} - you can see he's been busy and perhaps we should be grateful he hasn't given the club more of his valuable, poisonous time.

The ball's now in Katrien's court. She's got to come up with a ridiculous statement involving the figure 1%.

Maybe it will represent the amount of deliberation by the T20k group that isn't confidential. The anonymous representative of the group said today that most of the discussions are confidential and the rest is circulated, but he didn't say where.

Which isn't very satisfactory. No-one seems to have ever seen details of the group's discussions. What are they discussing and why is it so secret?

I imagine they spend most of their time eating biscuits and laughing at the sheer absurdity of a target of 20,000 attendance in the present circumstances. Then Katrien Meire presents her lastest big idea, and they all have another good laugh. (If this isn't what happens, the group can easily refute it by releasing some minutes.)

It's been clear for some time that her main idea is to give away tickets to anyone who'll take them: local residents, schools and other groups. I suspect that what's being covered up is how badly that's working and the lack of any other plan. Or to put it another way, Katrien's incompetence.

While it's never been clear what Duchatelet's motivation is, it's increasingly obvious that Katrien is using the club to advance her career. For her it's important that any failure is unreported. Why is a group of fans colluding in this?

Hungry Ted and Albury Addick have also blogged about this

03 September 2016

Walton Casuals 3 Greenwich Borough 2

You don't need to know the details but a "transport police incident on the line near Romford" this morning meant that I had the afternoon unexpectedly free, and so I decided to support non-league day with a visit to the Whyteleafe Stadium, where Walton Casuals were playing against Greenwich Borough in the FA Cup preliminary round.

I feel like I should know more about Greenwich Borough as they're relatively local, but I don't even know where they play. According to a flag I saw today they call themselves the Pride of SE9, which narrows it down, but is honestly one of the most modest claims you could ever read. Recently they've signed Bradley Pritchard, and while I don't share a certain fellow blogger's total devotion to him, I did appreciate his performances for Charlton. But he wasn't playing, so really I was a neutral at the match.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable game. Greenwich took a quick two-goal lead and were well worth it for most of the first half. On 40 minutes, though, Walton got back into it as Greenwich eased off. And in the second half Walton stormed it, outplaying their visitors and thoroughly deserved their 80th minute winner. They go into the draw for the next round and though I've no intention of doing a "road to Wembley", I'll look out for them. They are currently guests at Whyteleafe while their own ground is redeveloped, and their hosts also won today, so there's a possibility of a landlord and tenant derby.

The ground is small but nice, coping with today's crowd of 71 with plenty of room to spare. It is set in beautiful Surrey suburban countryside. Just opposite there's this very Dickensian front gate to a world of forbidden passions and family intrigues.

So, all in all, a good day out, and I'd recommend to anyone the experience of going to somewhere a bit out of the usual.

02 September 2016

Thomas Driesen (3)

... and here - thanks to @ce2310craig is a picture of him shortly after Jose Riga took over.

Thomas Driesen (2)

The News Shopper has found a couple of pictures of Thomas Driesen, the mysterious network scout, and he's not at all the spotty nerd we feared he'd be. Perfectly clear skin.