Friday, 30 November 2007

Telly Addicks

Image © BBC
It appears none other than Bjorn Borg is a Charlton Athletic fan - can't get much better than that can you? One of the greatest tennis players of all time as a fan, a real star, whooda thunk it!

This gave me a bit of inspiration to see what other celebrity Addicks we've got lurking around The Valley - sadly the results weren't quite so glamorous... here's the top 5:

  • 5. Jim Davidson
    Hmmm, not a lot to shout about with this one... could be worse though, could be Bernard Manning


  • Image © G. Bushell
    4. Gary Bushell
    You'd hope this starts getting better soon really. Could be worse though, could be Jim Davidson... ;)

  • Image © K. Howman
    3. Karl Howman
    Those of you over the age of 25 will remember Karl as the Jack the Lad painter Jacko from BBC comedy Brush Strokes. Those of you not approaching a mid-life crisis will know him as the lazy bastard in the Flash adverts


  • 2. Steve Ryder
    Who can forget Steve as the anchor of the flagship BBC Sports flagship programme, Granstand? Probably everyone - it was as enjoyable as eating barbed wire and didn't have any sodding sport other than Darts, Horse Racing or Bowls. Rubbish.

    Better things are happing for Our Steve now though - he's the face of ITV's F1 coverage. Hopefully he can have a word about those bloody adverts

  • 1. Mrs Trotter
    "I didn't know Rodney's middle name was Charlton."
    "Yeah it was me Mum. She was a fan."
    "Of Charlton Heston?"
    "No Charlton Athletic!"

    Those lovable Police-dodging Trotters are a national treasure. Forget the knock-off goods, lurid dressing gowns or the Batman and Robin outfits - these are the fine offspring of our Top Addick, Mrs Trotter. With her on board, that makes us practically Royalty!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Advertising Nightmares - Why I Love The Beeb

Image © BBC
Adverts are one of the necessary evils of modern television you can't escape these days. Our friends running the multitude of commercial digital channels out there have got clever though. Very clever.

Not content with producing a cacophony of programming claptrap that even the most patient among us would want to chew our own face off to avoid, we're a captive audience for their revenue stream as we desperately channel-hop for televisual salvation. Yes, the conniving bastards all put their adverts on at the same time.

To be fair, in some cases they can actually be quite good - the Carlsberg Pub Football Team, the John West 'bearfight', the iconic Nicole/Papa Clio ads, anything with Kylie in it...

On the flipside, they can be as appealing as rectally ingesting a paving slab.

As it's allegedly therapeutic to share problems amongst others, here's my top ten painful advertising moments:

  • 10. Benecol
    Vorderman, you've already told me it will 'reduce' my cholesterol. You don't have to insult my intelligence further by moving your hands together to emphasise the point

  • 9. Head and Shoulders
    "Everybody knows a bloke like Mickey". Yes, he's a c**t

  • 8. Gillette/Wilkinson Sword
    A never ending game of pathetic one-blade-upmanship. How long before we see the 382-blade razor which vibrates like an Anne Summers rabbit?

  • 7. Any shampoo advert which claims to wash more 'Vitality' into hair
    I suppose you scientifically tested that with the 'Vitalityometer'? What the fricking hell does it mean?!?!

  • 6. KFC
    Actually, I've got nothing against them at all - it just makes me really, really hungry... :(

  • 5. Howard from The Halifax
    Who gives you excrement

  • 4. Terry's Chocolate Orange
    "It's not Terry's, it's mine." No shit there Dawn

  • 3. Crazy Frog Ringtones
    **** **** **** **** **** ****er

  • 2. Dairy Milk
    Gorilla - great, love it. What makes me want to slice my ears off with a crayon is having Phil f**king Collins blasted through my stereo. His sales went UP as a result of this little gem. Damn you Dairy Milk

  • 1. Celeb-fronted 'Secured Loan' ads
    Yep, I've bottled naming companies. But I did enjoy this rather humorous quote: "People trust her to be good with numbers so think they're not going to get shafted. It's like Paul McCartney acting as the friendly face of Bernard Matthews"

Seen any more annoying than these? Post them here...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Cut Down By The Blades - Charlton 0, Sheffield Utd 3

Charlton's 4-match unbeaten run came to an abrupt end last night at the hands of Bryan Robson's resurgent Sheffield United. An abject home performance by the Addicks was countered by a well-organised team who had clearly done their homework.

Charlton stayed with the same 4-5-1 formation as in recent matches, and started brightly. For the first 20 minutes they gave the visitors the run-around, with Reid and Thomas having freedom to roam around the pitch and control the game. The central defence pairing of Fortune and Sodje that hadn't conceded in over 360 minutes of football looked solid.

Unfortunately, the lack of distinct formation eventually proved costly. After some good attacking play by the Addicks and 2 efforts from Lloyd Sam, it was The Blades who eventually broke the deadlock. Chartlon's defence failed to guard the far post after a high cross from Bardsley, leaving Thomas to clumsily haul down Carney for a clear penalty. Beattie made no mistake from the spot.

The second half saw two changes, Holland suprisingly on for the hard working Semedo and Varney for Lloyd Sam. The home side pressed again but were constantly kept out by tight-marking United. Reid and Thomas never seemed to have the space they needed, appearing to get in each other's way at times. With creativity stifled, the long-ball game re-appeared. This seemed to suit Sheffield United, and they began to grow more comfortable in defence.

Then came 2 turning points which could have swung the game around. Kenny made a fantastic point-blank save after a Danny Mills drive to keep Iwelumo out, followed by Zeng Zhi hitting the crossbar from 8 yards after an excellent centre from Varney.

Charlton's lack of bite in front of goal was punished just 4 minutes later. A scramble in the home penalty area led to Cahill slotting the ball in for a 2-0 lead. Referee Halsey seemed strangely hesitant to give the goal, but it stood and Charlton's task had doubled.

By this time the attacking ideas had all but dried up, route 1 being the only option employed despite clearly being innefective against a solid United defence. Charlton's misery was complete in the final minute after a United break, Chris Armstrong clinically finishing from Beattie's fine pass to wrap up an excellent victory for the away side.

The feeling of a missed opportunity was made worse by the news that Watford had lost 2-1 at home to Burnley. The chance to be 2 points off the top was now lost.

Our next opponents - Burnley. Pardew will have to dust down the tactics and get some beleif back into the squad, as the visitors on Saturday will have the bit between their teeth after an away win against the league leaders.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

It Could Be You

Image © BBC
Tomorrow lunchtime I'll be making my regular Wednesday purchase, like millions of others across the country. Yep, I'll be picking up my lottery ticket.

I used to be a member of the smug band of people who could claim to be above participating in this bi-weekly idiot tax, but alas, over the last few months I've found myself strangely drawn into the affair.

It's not really the jackpot that keeps me coming back - does anyone even look at how much it is anyway? It could be 50p and a free double-leg amputation and I wouldn't even notice. No, what I come back for is the rush... that brief, pathetic rush of hope entering your brain from the instant the ticket is in your hands. There's the cursory run over the numbers. These look good...

I've already started spending the cash in my head at this point. That dream of never working again, who you're buying cars for, who you're sending a turd giftwrapped in anthrax paper... the possibilities with all that cash are endless. Yet we all completely ignore the fact that the odds of winning are an astronomic 14 million to 1. Someone has to win tho, eh?

Let's consider those odds again for a minute, and look at the betting alternatives out there:

  • White Christmas: 5/1

  • Miss Israel for Miss World: 249/1
    (sounds like a US bombing capaign)

  • Frank Lampard for Sports Personality of the Year: 999/1 (Stingiest. Odds. Ever)

  • Earth getting hit by a comet: 909,000/1

Then there's the bizzare million-to-one real-life events. Consider the story of this poor bugger. The guy managed to fight off and kill a Lion that fancied having him for a spot of lunch. Amazing stuff, a herculean effort. Sadly though, as part of some sick Final Destination style accumulator bet, a pack of Hyenas killed him on the way home. Apparently, the odds of this happening are far less than 14mill/1.

Yet in the face of this we still crave for an even unlikelier lotto win when there's more chance of us becoming part of the Deli counter in the Safari branch of Sainsburys.

We're all convinced our 6 numbers are coming up every week, that it's our turn. So surely after writing this I'll change my mind on Lottery participation?

Sod that, I'm off to get my ticket. I'm feeling lucky.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Shred U Like

Paperwork. Everyone hates it, to me its up there on the hideousness scale with being force-fed loft insulation. But as the old adage goes, it has to be done...

My task in question was sorting through a 3-year old pile of bank statements, phone bills, and general marketing wank that I really couldn't care less about, let alone waste a day off on. I'd quite happily chuck it out the window recycle it but we can't now can we. Times have changed.

We are now a nation obsessed with Identity Theft. Everyone's rustling through our bins these days aren't they? You can't so much as throw a birthday card away without worrying about your Gran getting signed up for 15 credit cards and shares in Northern Rock. And if that isn't enough to get you caught up in this, The Government will give you a helping hand by losing your bank details in the post.

Unfortunately, a few years back I was one of those saps unlucky enough to have their debit card fraudulently rung up to the tune of over £300 smackers. I hate myself for admitting this, but since then nothing with my name or address on it leaves the flat without first resembling a New York tickertape parade. Sad I know, but once bitten eh?

This perhaps is where we could start having some fun with sentencing policy. In my case I wouldn't want the culprit to go Her Majesty's Finest for a few years. No Siree. I'd have him/her round here shredding my pile of chuffing paperwork. Every last pigging receipt.

It's a winner isn't it? I don't waste a day of my life, the taxpayer saves on prison costs, and think of the rehabilitation value. There's no way anyone would re-offend after a day of listening to the noise of my shredder. Celine Dion's greatest hits played backwards though a screaming baby seems like a pleasure in comparison.

Think of the fun we could have with these sentences. Burglars could be made to queue in Ikea on a Saturday afternoon for replacement furniture, then work out how the f**k to put it together with no instructions and 3 screws missing. Muggers could be sent to a School Bully Convention with 50p dinner money and 'kick me' tattooed on their forehead. Shoplifters from TK Maxx could be forced to actually wear the merchandise.

You could even televise it, with a text-vote at the end for the thieving dunce you want to stay in for next week's humiliation. I'm on to a winner here aren't I?

Anyway, I digress - back to the shredding... *sob*

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Injury Time Agenda - Preston 0, Charlton 2

A sterling display from the players yesterday, and a demonstration that we might just be cut out to compete in this league. Even when it gets dirty.

Preston played the physical game I was expecting and hassled us at every opportunity. They must have needed a Pantone colour chart to check the seven shades they kicked out of us, the white round bouncy thing clearly being an afterthought.

The Charlton team appeared to have listened to what Pards said earlier in the season about knowing when to keep things short and tidy and when to play it long. Iwelumo continued his role as an imposing target man whilst Sam and Thomas were constantly fed dangerous balls by Reid, who controlled the game.

Thomas in particular stood out - Preston simply couldn't cope with his trickery and pace. His display came as a surprise to me at a wet and windy Deepdale, and hopefully is a sign that Pards might finally be getting the best out of a gifted player who had up until now failed to show the attitude and fight we need this season.

Charlton's efforts were rewarded in first half injury time. Another run from Thomas and a touch from Iwelumo set up Zheng Zhi on the edge of the box, who cooly struck the ball into the bottom-right corner.

Preston cranked up the pressure in the second half, but despite some fantastic saves by an impressive Weaver, including an excellent point-blank stop, they never really looked like penetrating the defence.

Sodje was claiming everything with his head and Fortune was always on hand to tidy up - one particularly excellent last-man tackle in the first half standing out.

Mills was comfortable on the ball and quite happy to come forward into the attack with Sam on the wing. The only weak link appeared to be Basey, who looked vulnerable at times. However, this was only the fifth game for the Academy product and he will only improve from this experience.

Substitutions from both sides seemed to break up the flow of the match. Charlton's changes included the return of Matt Holland for the hard-working Semedo, Ambrose for Sam, and Varney for Reid.

Preston inflicted lengthy spells of pressure from numerous corners, but Charlton still looked dangerous on the break. This culminated in yet another injury time goal for the Addicks as Iwelumo's second assist fed Varney. The striker's pace was too much for a weary looking defence, and he confidently slotted under the advancing keeper.

So, 12 points from the last 4 matches, 0 conceded, 7 scored - including 6 in injury time! The team is now showing the consistency that's required to earn a promotion spot at this level. However, Tuesday's home tie against Sheffield United will be a real test.

Pie Watch - A poor display from the Deepdale catering crew I'm afraid - the Balti pie was as dry as a Glasgow pub at closing time and had barely been so much as introduced to a chicken. 2/10

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Cretin's Day Out

Planning has never been one of my finer points, but when faced with the modern day train fare system it's a necessity.

The idea is simple. Assuming you book a ticket 6 months before you're actually born, you can expect a reasonable price. Have the sheer gall to even consider booking with less than 2 weeks to departure and you're presented with inflation levels that make Zimbabwe look like an economic superpower.

Having booked my tickets somewhere around the last Ice Age, I was fine. All I had to do was be at Euston for the 08:38 to Manchester on Saturday morning. Simple.

Things start to go slightly astray though when you factor in the effect of a Pigeon Detectives gig the night before. The musical equivalent of a kebab, it's frankly impossible to watch them without your brain being repeatedly bludgeoned with an alcohol soiled anvil. But in a good way, as they're actually pretty corking live. Top stuff.

Post-gig beers were followed by the general consensus that popping open 2 litres of duty-free vodka for a 3am karaoke session was a 'good idea'. This conclusion was rapidly re-assesed when I woke at 8am, giving me just 38 minutes to catch my train. F**k.

"Not to worry" I thought. I was still wearing the same clothes from last night, which I'd slept in. I smelt like a decomposing badger marinaded in coffee breath, but at least I saved time on a shower. I rapidly slung whatever I could into a rucksack and ran for the tube. Well, I say 'ran' - the pathetic stagger of a crab with meths injected into its eye-sockets and legs tied together is possibly more accurate.

I somehow arrived in Euston at 8:34, my train waiting at the platform - result. This was the train I absolutely had to get on. The train my non-transferrable ticket was booked for. The train I thought I had no hope of catching. So, in a flash of dunce-level genius, I queued for food and missed it.

An Ostrich with it's brains swapped for custard would know food was an idiotic proposition at that moment, but its a comfort to know the bounds of stupidity can always be broken. I missed my train by a minute for a ham sandwich.

Dejected, I went to the ticket office queue to ponder what this cretinous action was going to cost me. Fifty, sixty, a hundred sovs? Body parts? After the horror stories I've heard about replacement train tickets I was expecting to have to fellate the cashier.

It turns out I didn't even need to get half-way through my pitiful excuse when the guy simply stamped my ticket and told me to board the next train. I was stunned.

So, a word of thanks to a very special person in my life right now - I love you, Cashier Number Twelve. xxx

Prediction: Preston 1, Charlton 1

Friday, 23 November 2007

Haute Cuisine

Stopping off at a motorway service station can get your brain working in decidedly odd ways. The monotony of driving somehow turns these glorified piss holes into a misguided beacon of salvation, like a tarmac-desert mirage. But shitter.

My moment of weakness at this visit was food. The thought of eating alone in such locations usually gives me the urge to peel my retinas off with a spoon, but for some reason a Whopper meal seemed like the best idea since... well, the last bad one really.

I've nothing against fast food in principle. Hey, some of my best mates are burgers. Why not give it another go? So, meal in hand, I did the same as all other motorists when surrounded by restaurant facilities. I went straight back to the car.

What is it about service stations and food? You spend hours driving in the same seat, desperate to get out, scratching at the windscreen until your fingers melt into mushy blood soaked stumps. Yet within seconds of escape you're back in the car park taking part in some bizarre culinary dogging ritual, your car destined to be tainted with a takeaway smell that would make a tramp's armpit vomit.

Things start so well - the first bite brings back all those fantastic memories... ketchup soaked meat... grill lines lovingly applied with a soldering iron... onions so unnecessarily strong they have a half-life... tender luke-warm fries... Why have I left this so long?

It's only when you finish that reality kicks in like a depressing post-coital tristesse. Shame, guilt, anxiety....You turn your back on the grease-soaked crumpled paper bag, wishing it won't be staring lovingly at you in the morning. You desperately plan ways to get it out of the car without your mates noticing. How did you get yourself into this mess?

Not to worry though - there's always the half-time pies at Preston to look forward to tomorrow...

Thursday, 22 November 2007

From Russia With Love

Well, at least there was one happy Englishman coming away from the game last night. Not only did I avoid swapping sandwiches for a helping of humble pie after yesterday's prediction, a sly pre-match trip to the bookies with 3 squid on the Boys from Bilic bagged me nineteen chuffing pounds fifty for the bargain!

Yep, I owe you one Barwick - you and the rest of the jokers in the Soho Square blazer brigade have got me in the money in a big way. I'm gonna live like a king next summer on nineteen and a half smackers. Who needs the Euros anyway?

In fact, I'm positively looking forward to the World Cup qualifiers after this evening's masterclass. A blissfully negative 4-5-1 at home displayed tactical nous from a mind shallower than a retarded amoeba. We had those tablecloth merchants bricking it, eh? Another corking display of ineptitude from our 'Golden Generation', I almost fell off my chair when 2 Croatians waltzed the ball past 6 'players' to go 2-nil up. Seems only Crouch, Richards and Beckham were disobeying orders by appearing to actually play some football.

So, with McClaren looking forward to Giro day, what clueless cretin are you planning to put in place so I can make a killing next time?

One piece of advice Bozza, though I'm sure you're clever enough to know this already - next time the FA spunk £757 million on a stadium with a retractable roof, any chance of getting one that actually covers the sodding pitch?

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Mystic McClaren

Not as daft as we think he is eh? Who could have predicted the results over the weekend - Israel putting one over the Ruskies and Macedonia upsetting everyone's favourite tablecloth wearers, Croatia. Steve McClaren, that's who.

Yep, the man who emerged from his FA interviews with barely a thread in his trouser knees could teach Russell Grant a thing or two about predictions. Sod guessing tonight's team sheet, I'm having a bash at his lottery numbers.

So, what will happen tonight then? My gut feeling - I reckon Croatia will come away with the spoils. Despite sporting a kit more likely to strike fear in the heart of picnic baskets than the opposition, they're no mugs. Bilic is as cooler than a monkey's nuts in an ice age, plus there's the all important fact - they've already qualified. Walk in the park for them. Nothing to play for, and thanks to the back-page hype they can't wait to stuff us.

In contrast, I've just seen Gerrard's interview on Sky Sports News. Paula Radcliff's infamous televised convenience break has nothing on this - he's shitting it! If this is the captain, what chance have we got?

Early reports suggest a back-four of Richards, Campbell, Lescott and Bridge. I'd put a mortgage on Richards having a blinder, but the other 3? I fancy Kranjcar and Eduardo to run rings round that lot.

If Gerrard's worried about playing in front of that defence, I wouldn't dust off your passports for 2008 just yet...

Prediction: England 0, Croatia 1

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

So where's my £900 Darling?

Image © Envirowise

I'm feeling a bit lighter in the wallet today - if you believe the latest reports on the Northern Rock saga, the Government have lent in the region of £24 billion to the beleaguered bank.

Small potatoes eh? These figures must flow around the money markets every day. Give the boys a cash injection and everything will sort itself out. Bank back in the black, no more feeding cups of tea to customers like an upmarket soup kitchen, and the housing pyramid scheme gets back on the up.

It’s not until you look deeper into the gravity of the situation that you start to worry. The loan to Northern Rock is provided by the Treasury, which is taxpayer’s money. That’s you and me (assuming you’re also being shafted by the IR on a regular basis).

Now, I’m all for lending my mates a few quid here and there. I’ve even been bailed out by the folks when I ran out of cash for beans. But get this – that £24 billion equates to each of us lending Northern Rock £900. Yes, £900 smackers. Each.

That plasma telly, Charlton season ticket, the trip to the Maldives… ok, more likely the monthly beer fund… is currently tied up in NR’s coffers. Strangely enough, I’m not angry. Mildly peeved, but I’ve had worse days. Surely we should be livid, losing £900 each? Marching on Parliament and all that?

Yet I feel strangely apathetic and happy to sit by and watch my hard-earned cash be poured away by a series of poor decisions beyond my control. Squandered, never to be seen again. Perhaps, I wonder, if it’s the feeling of familiarity causing this feeble defeatism.

After all, it wouldn’t be the first person I’ve called Darling that’s cost me £900…

Monday, 19 November 2007

One From The Training Ground

What a cracker that third goal was last week eh? Zheng Zhi with his head of all things. "Nothing like a spot of luck from a free kick" I thought while traveling back from SE7. That was until I got some insider info the other day - ZZ's blinder was a rehearsed set piece!

Nope, not a typo or deluded info from the bloke at the pub who's dog's aunt's mother's brother is the postman at Sparrow's Lane - this is from the brains of Pard's himself.

Saturday's stadium tour at The Valley revealed a few interesting nuggets in the changing rooms, and I don't mean the Gent's after a visit from Reidy. No Siree. In between the magnetic pitch whiteboard and a flip chart with enough spelling mistakes to put myself to shame, I stumbled upon the Set Pieces boards. Yep, this was one from the training ground folks - who'da thought we did tactics in the fizzies?

"Attacking Wide Free Kick Left" - Thomas peels off behind the wall, McIwelumo and Sodje attack the centre, leaving ZZ room to spare at the back post to crack one in. You wouldn't believe it but they only chuffing well pulled it off.

I left with a warm, confident glow - I know what Reidy's up to when he's holding an arm up from a left-side free kick. I know why Fortune's only up there for corners. I can even confirm Thomas does some work off the ball that doesn't involve 20 step-overs.

The one explaining Lloyd Sam's desire to put the local mole population in danger at corner kicks was strangely absent, but I guess you can't give all the secrets away eh Pards? ;)