22 October 2014
Charlton kicked off the first half, and after the second touch of the ball - literally, the second touch! - he was shouting "That's a terrible pass!" If a player wasn't a "waste of space" (Wilson), he "didn't have the pace" (Bulot), he was "useless" (Buyens), or he fell down like a ... , like a ... (he had to think for a while about this one before coming up with the worst insult he could think of) "like a woman" (Tucudean). All this within the first half hour. You can imagine the miserable fun he had during the panicky last half hour, culminating in the substitution of George Tucudean. Normally, scoring one goal and setting up another entitles a player to at least a bit of recognition, you'd think. Invited to applaud, my neighbour shouted "No way!" and folded his arms tighter around himself, a sullen lump of resentment refusing to acknowledge the Romanian's best performance (by far) in a Charlton shirt.
Once again it wasn't pretty, and some players weren't at their best, but a sparse crowd (13,433) had the rare experience of seeing Charlton scoring two goals in one game and the slightly less rare experience of seeing them hanging on through the second half. And as for Tucudean, it was good to see him finally influencing a game decisively.
So did I leave the ground a changed man? A dizzy optimist seeing fairy dust a-sparkle around the "train cancelled" sign at the station? Not quite, but I was happy. Imagine Sam Allardyce in a pie shop. Actually, don't imagine that. I just have and it made me feel ill.