04 May 2013

Charlton 4 Bristol City 1

Once again the season ended with a happy day and a feeling of optimism. While there weren't the spectacular scenes of last year, once again we could reflect on a season that turned out to be a bit better than most people expected, and much, much better than some feared a couple of months ago.

I won't go into details of the game, particularly not the first half.

Just as we were all settling down for a similarly uneventful second half, Yann Kermorgant scored a brilliant goal - an unstoppable volley from a cross by Mark Gower - that threw wide open the goal of the season contest and ushered in a free-flowing display by Charlton. Although Bristol City were understandably not very good and not very interested, in that form Charlton could have beaten anybody in the division. One more goal from Kermorgant, one from Obiobiobika, and the last from Johnnie Jackson couldn't have gone to more popular players.

But, then again, every player is popular. You can search through the team and you won't find anyone who doesn't deserve their place. There are no skivers in the team, and what's more they all seem to be decent human beings. It's all so different from when Pardew's mercenary millionaires were underperforming on a weekly basis. I often wonder if fans of Chelsea, say, ever get bored of sighing "Yes, I know, perhaps he has shagged his mate's girlfriend/has shot a work-experience trainee/is a racist - but he's a really good player". We never have to do that. I've never met the man, unfortunately, but get the feeling that Chris Powell has high moral standards, and he infuses them into the squad. (Oh, I love him so much it's embarassing!)

As in all good parties, the guests get party bags, and Bristol City's was a silly goal. I hope they do well next season. It's always struck me as ridiculous that Bristol - England's sixth most populous city - can't seem to sustain a top-flight football club.

In other results, Millwall (bastards!) were saved from relegation by Crystal Palace (bastards!), who managed to stay in the playoffs. Wolves, disastrously but deservedly, whimpered into League One, and in a dramatic series of events Hull City became hot favourites for relegation next season.

All the drama elsewhere means that very few people will pay attention to Charlton's performance today, so Nick Pope will have to wait for his name to be used wittily in a witty headline. But those of us who were there will wonder what might happen next. Chris Powell took half a season to work out how to win League One. He's had a whole year to suss out the Championship. I'm really looking forward to next season.

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