When Charlton’s 2014 is mentioned to me in years to come, my first reaction will be to grimace, before finding a quiet corner to hide and cry in.
In truth, it could have been a lot worse. Half of it could have been spent in League One, there could have been no cup run and the form shown from October onwards could have been replicated in August and September.
But if there is a calendar year more stressful and more emotionally taxing this one, I’m going to do myself a favour and spend my Saturdays at shopping centres.
Popular players departing, before a squad that was adored for three seasons was effectively dismantled, a club legend being sacked as manager in unsavoury circumstances and uncertainty all over the place. All of that without even mentioning a relegation battle, FA Cup heartbreak and a drop in form.
Even the most optimistic and positive of supporters will admit the painful moments have outweighed the enjoyable ones.
Nonetheless, once I’ve checked it’s okay to come out of hiding and wiped away my tears, I’ll also remember 2014 as a year in which some of the best moments I’ve experienced as an Addick occurred.
There’s been incredible last minute goals, barely believable celebrations and a relief filled maintaining of Championship status. Moments I’ll always be able to look back on and feel a buzz when I do.
It means there’s quite a few contenders for Charlton’s moment of the year. Have a read through my take on twelve of those moments, before voting for your favourite three.
(A big thank you to @PlentyOfShots for allowing me to use his excellent Vines.)
Hugging a man dressed as Robin – Johnnie Jackson’s late equaliser at Portman Road
If not the best moment of the year, then Johnnie Jackson’s stoppage-time volley against Ipswich was certainly the most hard to believe.
That Charlton equalised wasn’t particularly surreal in itself, it was a performance from the Addicks that warranted a point, but the manner in which the goal arrived, and the scenes that followed, make it a barely believable moment.
First, the game might well have been out of sight for Chris Powell’s side. Having competed well overall, two lapses in concentration at the back looked to have condemned Charlton to defeat. The first resulted in Richard Wood scoring a comical own goal, the second saw Jordan Cousins concede a penalty.
But Ben Alnwick, diving full-stretch to his right, kept out of David McGoldrick’s spot-kick, giving Charlton the chance to draw level with just over ten minutes to play.
And with ten minutes to play, Powell threw on Jackson, his final substitute. The skipper had been suspended in previous weeks, but was called upon to pull off a piece of magic, as he so often does in moments like this one.
However, stoppage time was reached with the Addicks barely creating a meaningful opening; Jackson rarely touching the ball. Those in the away end were losing hope.
So the pause before celebrations started was a touch longer than it should have been. Their minds having to make sure they really had just seen two of Powell’s subs, with Church controlling a ball into the box and teeing up Jackson, combine to dramatically steal a point for the Addicks.
Chaos followed, with a man dressed as Robin, stood at least four rows below, ended up hugging me, somehow. The trademark knee slide barely noticed below.
An incredible series of events that led to an incredible moment. The New Year off to a sensational start.
Chris Powell attempting to kiss the fourth official – Johnnie Jackson’s late winner against QPR
Eight months on, I’m still yet to work out an adequate way to describe what it felt like to be a part of the Covered End’s roar. A roar so incredible that I had not experienced anything like it before. A roar created by one of the most incredible moments in my time as an Addick.
There was a feeling of pride around The Valley already, with Powell’s hastily assembled side of kids, loans and rejects competing with Harry Redknapp’s quality-filled team. Charlton simply shouldn’t have been able to battle so competitively with QPR.
But for the final twenty minutes, the Addicks dominated. In fact, there was a feeling of despair that all three points hadn’t been snatched after that incredible tackle from Diego Poyet sent the ball into Astrit Ajdarevic’s path, only for Rob Green to pull of an outstanding save to keep out the Swede’s curling effort.
The prematurely celebrating Covered End, however, only allowed the agony provided by Green’s fingertips to last for a second. Immediately they returned to supporting their side, as they had done so valiantly throughout the game. A mini-roar let out as Ajdarevic picked himself up from the floor and ran over to take the corner.
In truth, most were realistic enough to know their cheers would make little difference. The chance of Charlton scoring from this set-piece was slim.
But Ajdarevic’s delivery was testing enough to keep the dream alive. Jackson’s header accurate enough to extended it further. Green’s failure to react enough to make the dream a reality. The ball sneaking in and the net just about rippling enough to spark carnage in the Covered End behind.
Just wow. The celebrations were completely absorbing. It felt like you couldn’t celebrate loudly and passionately enough, but you had to try anyway. Words won’t do it justice, but if you were there, just take a moment to remember it.
And it’s not just among the fans where emotions were running high. Jackson diving into the Lower North, while Powell made it quite clear to the directors’ box this was a bit of a result. His Charlton, ripped apart and patched up with Tesco Value plasters, able to find a level of fight and spirit not even the most optimistic of Addicks thought possible.
I suppose you can almost forgive him for attempting to kiss the fourth official. Besides, I’m not really sure who I jumped on during the same scenes. Incredible.
Simon Church’s heroic elbow, Ben Hamer’s heroic fingertips, Chris Powell’s heroic swing – Charlton’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday
As much as we’d like to pretend it isn’t, supporting Charlton is a slog. A gruelling lifelong commitment that involves endless suffering. The good moments as rare as a Danny Green corner that beats the first man.
But there’s a reason we subject ourselves to such pain. Because those good moments have the potential to be incredible. Unforgettable nights full of barely believable moments that will be retold again and again.
In fact, it was a privilege to be part of a travelling army of over 1,000 Addicks in Hillsborough’s away end for Charlton’s Fifth Round FA Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday. A vocal support on a Monday night at the famous old ground.
And Charlton’s start to the game meant it only got louder. 1,000 making the noise of five times that as persistent and penetrating attacking play, the sort only matched by the opening spell against Derby County in August, resulted in the Addicks taking the lead. Callum Harriott’s first-time strike rifling into the top corner.
Almost immediately, however, that attacking intent vanished, replaced with a focus on keeping Wednesday away from Charlton’s goal. But this wasn’t a case of siting back and hoping for the best. The defensive effort was organised, spirited and determined enough to mean the Addicks remained in control of their own destiny.
But Wednesday, taking little regard for how impressive this Charlton performance was, drew level after half-time. A bit of a scrappy goal, with a free-kick sent into the box eventually tuned in by Leon Best, and very cruel on the visitors.
Nonetheless, there remained a positive feeling in the still vocal away end. The goal hadn’t changed how impressive the Addicks looked at the back, and, such was the effort and determination on display, you felt like Charlton would find some sort of way to score a goal.
And that they did. Jackson’s free-kick attacked and turned in by Simon Church. Replays showed Church had failed to connect with his head, and the ball and gone in off of his elbow, but that mattered little to the Addicks he celebrated in front of. Carnage in the away end.
There was also carnage on the pitch in the game’s closing stages, with Wednesday doing their upmost to find an equaliser and take the game to a reply. But even when they breached the impressive Charlton backline, they were thwarted by an inspired goalkeeper.
Hamer’s diving stop and reaction to claw the ball off the line following a goalmouth scramble were good, but nowhere near as impressive as his last minute stop to deny Chris Maguire. The forward’s strike deflected off Michael Morrison, forcing Hamer to somehow change the direction of his dive mid-air and tip the ball over the bar. A save worthy of winning any match.
And yet, there was still one more incredible moment to come. Probably the moment that outdid them all. A suited and booted Powell, in his final celebration as Charlton boss, swinging from the crossbar to the delight of the drained but delirious supporters in the away end.
Just wow. One of the best nights of my life.
Stand up if you love Chris Powell – the third minute applause
So easily this could have been placed into a list of the worst moments of the year, an act that affirmed he had gone, but the third minute tribute to Chris Powell is something I’m glad I was part of.
The need for Powell to be dismissed may have divided supporters, but few were pleased with how he was treated and the manner in which the sacking came about. Even less weren’t appreciative of his efforts as boss in just over three years in charge.
Often managers take struggling sides and give them success, but Powell took an entire club on its knees and fought against an increasingly strong tide to completely transform it.
Under Powell, the culture of failure brought about by two relegations and a struggle to get out of League One was replaced by one of pride and belief. He built a side, a title winning side, that was adored. Adored not just because it won games, but because it had an incredible togetherness and spirit.
Half-hearted performances became a thing of the past, with every Powell player fully committed to the cause. Such commitment and spirit saw incredible results recorded in the Championship, with comebacks and against the odds results a regular occurrence.
And all of that despite two successive ownerships making his job almost impossible. The leftovers from the first combining with the second to eventually force him out of the club he loved.
And to say he loved the club is no understatement. To say most Addicks still love Powell is also true.
Cheers, Chris. The very least you deserved was a minute’s applause from three sides of The Valley.
Yann Kermorgant ducking to allow Dorian Dervite to score – the last minute winner against Bournemouth
It wasn’t just the departure of Powell that broke Charlton hearts in 2014. Losing talismanic forward Yann Kermorgant not only weakened the Addicks on the pitch, but strained supporters emotionally.
So there were mixed feelings when the Frenchman returned to The Valley in March with Bournemouth. There was an excitement to welcome him back, but also a reluctance to see him in another club’s shirt and a fear that he could dent his former club’s survival hopes quite severely.
Alas, the game against the Cherries proved to be the night that disillusioned Charlton fans regained hope that their club could maintain its Championship status.
If not as impressive, the game followed a similar pattern to the QPR victory. The Addick competed superbly with an in-form side, before going for it in the final twenty minutes.
The visitors, however, chucked on Kermorgant as Charlton started to push forward. Thoughts of stealing all three points turned to worry; the Frenchman bound to score at his former club.
And Kermorgant did play an important part in the deciding goal, but at the other end of the pitch. Failing to challenge Dorian Dervite, his good friend, Charlton’s Frenchman nodded home from Johnnie Jackson’s corner to give Charlton a dramatic last minute victory.
There was still time for Kermorgant to waste a chance from a Bournemouth corner, and for the forward to get a superb reception from his former supporters following the full-time whistle, but Kermorgant’s return had been overshadowed by Charlton’s survival bid sparking into life.
Ben Hamer breaking several bones in his foot – the last minute penalty save against Leeds
When Ben Hamer left the club in the summer, Charlton not only lost an outstanding goalkeeper but also a charismatic and determined individual. A constant star of Chris Powell’s Charlton, and one of the likable characters that made that squad so adored.
And it’s those sort of characteristics that meant Hamer’s efforts to break a post were hardly surprising. Why simply celebrate a crucial penalty save with a fist pump and a few hugs when you can absolutely leather the frame of the goal?
Having taken the lead through Reza Ghoochannejhad’s stunning second-half effort, as surprising as anything else that has happened in the past year, Charlton held off a tame Leeds side with minimal fuss for much of the period.
But as stoppage-time was entered, Jose Riga’s side were breached. Diego Poyet bringing down Aidan White inside the box.
Ross McCormack placed the ball on the spot as Charlton supporters there in the crowd and listening at home simultaneously hid behind hands and prepared themselves for heartbreak. The Scottish striker had scored four against the Addicks earlier on in the season; this was only going one way.
But Hamer’s sensational save, just as good as a last minute winner, earned the Addicks an incredible three points. Hamer’s volley and Riga’s double fist-pump said it all. Get in.
Marvin Sordell of 2014 playing like Marvin Sordell of 2012 – the Sheffield Wednesday comeback
There was a time, probably with the giddy excitement a new season brings going to our heads, when supporters of Charlton were genuinely excited about the prospect of Marvin Sordell playing for their club. The same Marvin Sordell that, but for a decent performance for Bolton at The Valley a few months prior, had done very little for 18 months.
We were all guilty of it, guilty of believing Marvellous Marv would be the perfect partner for Kermorgant. The goalscorer that would fire the Addicks back to the Premier League.
Alas, come April, the sight of Sordell’s name on the teamsheet led to moans and groans. Quite simply, he was not the goalscorer Charlton needed. Nor did he have the effort and determination to fit into that Charlton side. Three goals in all competitions before April told the story.
So when the Addicks were 2-0 down eight minutes into a game they realistically needed to win against Sheffield Wednesday, having Sordell leading the line effectively meant game over. The couple of hundred Charlton fans in the away end planning for League One and working out if they could get back to South East London earlier than they anticipated.
Even when Sordell, taking a fantastic touch to control Harriott’s through ball and finishing clinically, halved Charlton’s deficit before ten minutes had been played, there was little more than a few sarcastic cheers. Hope not yet restored; faith in Sordell still lacking.
But Sordell was inspired, performing like the pre-season expectation suggested he would. Having held up the ball well throughout the half, a similar classy finish brought the Addicks level just before the break. Having accepted relegation 35 minutes before, the comeback had not only convinced Charlton supporters their side had the inner steel to survive, but also to go onto win this game.
And that they did. Via the helpfulness of Miguel Llera, Sordell gained possession and raced through on goal, tucking past Chris Kirkland with a calmness and composure he had lacked all season. Those groaning before kick-off couldn’t have predicted they would be singing Sordell’s name for much of the second half.
You could question why Sordell hadn’t performed to a standard he was clearly capable of throughout the campaign, but the forward had found his best level when it mattered most. It was that comeback that gave the Addicks the momentum to survive.
The final act of the most spirited Charlton side we’ll see – survival
Sometimes it’s said that a team is too good to go down. The quality within the squad more than enough to make sure a side that’s fighting relegation sees itself to safety.
But that was not true of Charlton’s squad last season. It was poor, made poorer still by talismanic figures being sold and weak signings coming in to replace them.
The signings also impacted upon the tight nature of Charlton’s group of players, and effectively led to Chris Powell’s dismissal.
But, despite all the signs suggesting otherwise, the Addicks were never going to go down. Never has a side, even one partially ripped apart and without its leader, possessed so much spirit and determination. They were always going to find a way.
And it says a lot about that spirit that when the game arrived that offered Charlton the chance to confirm their survival, they put in one of their best performances of the year. An XI made up of those players who had been injected by the incredible spirit of Chris Powell’s Charlton, now led by Jose Riga, dug deep to beat Watford 3-1 at The Valley.
An incredible save from Ben Hamer to deny Troy Deeney was the catalyst for an unforgettable night in SE7. A save that meant Callum Harriott, who had endured a torrid campaign, was able to put the Addicks ahead with a fine strike moments later.
Even when Deeney, lobbying Hamer with a stunning volley, pulled Watford level just after the break, the energy and effort on show suggested this was just a blip, and Charlton would still go onto secure their survival.
And that they did. Jackson, the figure from which such spirit is built around, fittingly put the Addicks back in front, before Harriott secured victory, and survival, with a superb volley. I expected relief, but staying up was an experience full of pride and pure enjoyment.
We are staying up say we are staying up!
Bob Peeters making a decent fist of things – the last minute winner against Wigan
With 15 minutes to go in Charlton’s first game of the season at The Valley, you’d have done well to find an unhappy Addick. Against a Wigan side who, at the time, were tipped for promotion, competing well with them and heading for a 1-1 draw was seen as a decent performance and result for Bob Peeters’ new look Addicks.
However, there was one Addick who wasn’t quite happy. Peeters wanted more.
Instead of playing pragmatically, not risking one point for three, Charlton went for it. The final period of the game seeing some excellent attacking play from the hosts, with Igor Vetokele particularly unlucky not to score. Scott Carson the only thing standing in the way of the Addicks and victory.
But Charlton continued to come forward as stoppage time was entered. Vetokele and Franck Moussa linked up for the latter to volley goalwards. Via a big deflection, the Belgian’s strike looped over Carson to give Peeters’ a dramatic first win.
And he certainly enjoyed it. His celebrations angering Uwe Rosler, the pair coming together and neither too complementary of each other in the post-match press conference. The comedy value of the incident, not to mention the win, immediately putting Peeters on side.
It may have been a somewhat fortunate winner, but one Charlton’s, and Peeters’, drive and bravery deserved.
Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s turn – the explosive start against Derby
I have a horrible habit of laughing at things that impress so much I struggle to believe they’re actually happening. For much of the first half against Derby in August, I was laughing.
For Charlton were simply breath-taking. The passing slick, the threat while running with the ball frightening and the movement outstanding.
And a big part of that was the pure class of Johann Berg Gudmundsson. For years Charlton have lacked a winger with the ability to beat a man, and here it seemed like they had found what they were missing. The Iceland international’s stunning turn and subsequent switch of play to Jordan Cousins resulting in George Tucudean’s opener.
Even after Derby, the division’s promotion favourites, drew level through Jamie Ward, there was still a class about Charlton’s play. Tucudean’s superb run earning his side a penalty on the stroke of half-time, coolly converted by Yoni Buyens. Last season’s losing play-off finalists being outplayed.
Of course, the Addicks went on to win the game 3-2, with some gritty defensive work making sure a mightily impressive victory was recorded, but it was that style of attacking play on show in the opening period of the game that possibly wowed The Valley crowd more than the result itself.
Johnnie Jackson proving that he’s past it, again – the last minute winner at Carrow Road
There’s a thread on CharltonLife entitled ‘Come in No 4 your time is up’. It’s regularly commented on, with supporters vigorously suggesting Jackson is past it. “I love Jackson but…” is seen a great deal throughout, is if that makes it okay to irrationally slate the skipper.
And following Charlton’s goalless draw against Middlesbrough, the thread saw a lot more activity than either goalmouth in that game. In truth Jackson was not at his best, but one below par performance had seemingly meant a solid start to the campaign from the skipper had been forgotten.
You would think, however, that those who want Jackson out of the side the moment he misplaces a pass by half an inch would have learnt their lesson by now.
For each time Jackson’s place in the side is questioned, each time it’s suggested he’s past it, the skipper silences the doubters emphatically. A captain’s performance, a stunning goal or a memorable moment normally have those who were questioning him a few days earlier singing the Charlton legend’s praises once again.
But even by Jackson’s standards, this was special.
Against a Norwich side, then top of the league and the division’s in-form side, Charlton had to withstand a barrage of pressure. It was horrible, horrible viewing. Those in Carrow Road’s away end sweating even more than the men in red attempt to block attack after attack.
And at the heart of that effort was Jackson. For the entirety of the evening, the skipper pressed, pressed and pressed. Norwich’s attacks continuously stifled by the 32-year-old, throwing himself around the pitch with the energy of a much younger man.
Such a performance was enough to prove his worth, but simply doing enough isn’t enough for Jackson. With less than five minutes to play, the skipper found some space on the edge of the box.
With no Norwich defender closing him down, Jackson took a touch and, with Charlton’s first meaningful shot of the game, fired past John Ruddy.
Pandemonium in the stands; knee slides on the pitch. On the back foot for the entire game, Charlton’s leader had somehow won the game for the Addicks.
A proper Charlton man and a Charlton man who still has plenty of offer.
(Sorry, I had to include that somewhere)
Ruining the referee’s accumulator – Gudmundsson’s late equaliser against Cardiff
Excuses can be found for a poor performance, but to play without effort, determination and fight is simply unacceptable. It’s why there was anger and disappointment as Charlton trudged off the pitch at half-time in their game against Cardiff.
Tom Adeyemi’s header and Callum Harriott’s red card had meant the Addicks were a goal and a man down at the break, but the more pressing issue was the lack of spirit on show. With a poor run of results and performances leading up to the Boxing Day clash, heads were down.
To make matters worse, referee Mick Russell seemingly had Cardiff on his accumulator. The red card fair, but his other decision often bizarre. Ignoring the Bluebirds timewasting particularly frustrating the Addicks.
So the response after half-time was both unexpected and incredible. A real classy attacking threat mixed with the sort of fight needed to overcome difficult circumstances.
And those circumstances were made more difficult by the fact that Charlton just couldn’t turn their newly found dominance into a goal. Chances missed, posts hit and David Marshall’s fingers tips turning shots away.
But they kept on going, the effort on show a complete contrast from the first period, and finally Bob Peeters’ side got the reward they deserved.
It was a reward worth waiting for. Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s stunning strike from 30 yards flying into the top corner and sending The Valley into chaotic scenes of celebrations for the final time in 2014.
The second-half turnaround a timely reminder that this side can play football, and 2015 might be slightly bearable.
A huge thank you to anyone who has wasted several minutes of their life to read anything I’ve posted this year. With 49 out of the 52 competitive games in this calendar year attended, not to mention endless rants, I’ve produced a lot of content.
I’ve had an amount of views this year that I’m very happy with, and got some recognition that I’m pretty proud of, not least from the skipper himself.
But all recognition is as good as the skipper’s. Okay, that’s a huge lie, but thank you nonetheless for those of you have given me words of praise or encouragement.