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27 November 2013

Charlton 2 Doncaster 0

There weren't many of them, but the Doncaster fans who made the trip to London last night must surely hate the place more than they ever did. First, of course, it was a trip they shouldn't have had to make. As we've seen again recently, there's something badly wrong with the pitch drainage at the Valley, by which I mean there doesn't appear to be any. The pitch is looking in bad condition already even after a fairly dry period and by February it is likely to resemble the famous Chelsea Beach.

Then the combined farces of Southeastern Trains and Network Rail treated the travelling fans to an exact and accurate version of the London Commuter Experience, with London Bridge station closed for a couple of hours before the game. People were still arriving at the match at half time. Actually, there probably were loads of Doncaster fans who got no further than London Bridge, but took themselves to a pub where they could moan happily about pissy southern beer and London prices.

But the few who made it then had a pretty miserable display to watch. It's hard to say if Charlton were as good as some people thought, because Doncaster didn't offer much. Ben Alnwick, making an unexpected debut in goal after an injury to Ben Hamer in the warm-up, was almost not needed, but looked fine when he was.

In total contrast to the rained-off game, Charlton were in total control for the whole match and only some sloppy finishing prevented a big lead by half-time. But the first goal was worth waiting for. This youtube clip will probably not last long, so see it while you can.



The second half was similar, and after Charlton's second goal - Church finally converting - the team put their feet up on the mantlepiece and smoked a meditative pipe.As did I.




11 November 2013

Charlton 2 Leeds 4

I've got my hand up. I'll take the blame. Before the game I tweeted that the last three games I'd seen at the Valley had been 0-0, and I hoped that would change. Careful what you wish for, someone said.

But on the other hand, I discovered later that I was wearing my shirt inside out. That's the sort of thing that a lot of people would consider lucky. Obviously it wasn't, so I don't have to get superstitious and start wearing that shirt that way forever. Readers, if you see me with a shirt on inside out, it's just my trademark, some might say loveable, incompetence. Feel free to point it out, or simply to point and laugh.

It rained all morning. Not heavily, but persistently. It shouldn't have threatened the game, and my only concern, as I kept checking raintoday.co.uk was whether the rain would stop in time for me to cycle to the Valley. It did, and I got there in plenty of time (2:30) to find a surprisingly sparse crowd. I sat down and checked twitter and found the start had been put back to 3:30. Fortunately I had a stimulating magazine with me to read and here's a top tip from it:

Make your cheese and wine party more appealing by having no cheese or guests.

The pitch at the Valley is a problem, to state the bleedin obvious. Although the rain had stopped, the ground wasn't drying at all, and especially on the east side remained splashy throughout. It's as if there isn't any drainage, but any drying is left to evaporation. Evaporation doesn't happen at this time of year and it's hard to see how the pitch can survive if winter is as wet as autumn has been.

So, finally, I suppose I must turn my attention to the match. Must I? Really? A frustrating game where bad luck, atrocious refereeing, and a top performance by one player steal the points. Leeds are a horrible team. Remarkably, whoever's in charge and whoever's in the squad they continue to be thoroughly unlikeable: the Millwall of the North. Annoyingly, when we think of this game we'll remember the pitch and the result and the unpleasantness of the opposition, when we should be remembering one of the best goals we've seen for a while, from Cameron Stewart. You can probably find it on youtube. I can't be arsed.