I’ve not always been proud of Charlton over the past two years or so. Always a proud supporter, but sometimes disillusionment, apathy or embarrassment have taken over.
This week, however, I should be feeling incredibly proud. The club’s decision to promote the newly formed Proud Valiants LGBT fans’ group is an excellent one, and I’m certainly proud to support a club willing to actively offer its support to such a group.
Alas, I’m not. Instead, I’m angry, disappointed and baffled by elements of the reaction to both the group forming and Charlton’s acknowledgement of it.
In truth, some of that anger has been quelled. The way the club dealt with the now banned supporter for his foul Tweets, the worst of which have been deleted, reaffirmed the earlier feeling of pride, while almost every supporter I converse with is supportive.
Nonetheless, the reaction, in parts, has been incredibly depressing. A search of the hashtag will show incredible ignorance, a read of the comments on Charlton’s Facebook page will leave you infuriated, and I’ve opted not to check the debate on CharltonLife.
I wouldn’t bother doing this if it was just a couple of supporters being a bit ignorant. I’ve got exams to worry about, a flat to find, and the County Championship is taken up most of my sporting attention.
But that more than just a handful are expressing extreme levels of ignorance, and in some cases hate, means I feel like I must express my disappointment.
Wasting far too much time staring at photos of Yann Kermorgant aside, I’m not gay. But I couldn’t possibly feel any stronger about the need for complete equality for those who are LGBT. In football or otherwise.
In fact, despite not being gay, my support of LGBT individuals has meant I’ve suffered from homophobic abuse in a football environment.
While officiating an U16 League Cup semi-final this year, the rainbow laces that I wear on my boots all year round were spotted by a group of parents on the touchline. It sparked a prolonged and quite intense period of abuse, split between the sort of stuff you’d hear on a playground by 12-year-olds thinking they’re hilarious and really quite nasty comments to the extent that, were it not for my old man loitering behind them, I’d have felt threatened.
Such comments were justified because, apparently, by wearing the laces I was “inviting” it, and, in the view of the team’s manager, the parents were “not like that”.
I was one of the assistant referees that day, and I forwarded my complaints onto the referee, but I have never been informed if anything was done about it.
Combine that personal experience with homophobic chants being passed off as ‘banter’ inside football grounds each week of the season, and it is absolutely ridiculous to suggest there is no need for a Charlton LGBT supporters group. Football still isn’t accepting enough.
In fact, the comments suggesting a group isn’t needed show why it is. If so many can’t see that football is still not a completely welcome place for LGBT supporters, players and staff, then LGBT groups must be formed to raise awareness.
And they must also be formed to give the individual LGBT supporters a greater sense of belonging. To meet likeminded people. To be able to go to football without fear they will be victimised.
It’s not about sectioning off gay Addicks from the rest of supporters. It’s not about creating divisions. It’s about creating a group that will allow LGBT fans to be more accepted and feel a greater part of the collective Charlton support.
Nor is there a need to respond with a straight male Charlton supporters group, as a worrying amount have implied. Are we victimised? Nope. Some of us are the ones making sure others are victimised. The creation of the group doesn’t isolate or threaten you.
Nor is it aiming to make Charlton exclusively supported by LGBT fans.
I’m just looking at the aims of the Proud Valiants, here, and nowhere does it say they’re looking to enforce homosexuality onto every single Charlton fan who walks through The Valley’s turnstiles this season.
In fact, their aims are completely inoffensive and won’t impact those who don’t wish to be involved. The amount of comments I’ve seen that suggest the individual is in some way threatened by this group is baffling.
And then there’s this religious argument. I have as much interest in religion as I do in taking the bins out this evening, so I sincerely apologise if I myself am about to make a comment which could be considered ignorant.
I fully appreciate that some religions are not accepting of homosexuals. I don’t agree with it, but I appreciate why people have faith and why they follow it so strongly. That’s all fine.
But I cannot understand how that overrides logical thought to such an extent you feel the need to openly hate and discriminate against LGBT individuals, Charlton fans or otherwise. No religious practice justifies making life a misery for someone who has had absolutely no impact on your life whatsoever.
Likewise, Charlton ‘siding’ with the Proud Valiants doesn’t mean they’re discriminating against religious groups and their beliefs.
Nor does their decision to ban the abusive support show a sign that they’re preventing free speech. This idea that free speech covers being disgusting abusive makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall.
Oh, and finally, if you’re not actually ignorant and just full of homophobic hatred, just stop. Nothing is more ridiculous than the ‘you’re attracted to the same sex as yourself so I’m going to send abusive messages and threaten you’ principle. The sale of Kermorgant makes more sense, especially when compared with those who are being abusive and believe they’re doing nothing wrong.
Heaven forbid if any of our players ever came out.
Not the cleanest piece of writing you’ll ever read from me. It is just a rant. A bit of an angry one. But a rant that I hope corrects at least a small amount of ignorance.
Good luck to the Proud Valiants. They, obviously, have my full support.
The tears, of which there were many, that followed the confirmation of Oguchi Onyewu’s departure from the club may not yet have dried, but the news of 15 players being let go by Charlton means it’s time to start thinking ahead to next season.
For most, there were mixed feelings towards the released list.
While largely deadwood, Tal Ben Haim possibly still had something to offer, and the mutual respect shared between player and supporters suggested there would have been no complaints if Lawrie Wilson had been kept on.
But there was also a suggestion that moving these players on would allow the Addicks to push on. Better quality players could replace them, and a top six push could be instigated.
I am not at all suggesting our ambition next season should be to finish in a play-off spot. I do want to see progression, and on-the-pitch efforts to reflect a sense of ambition from those at the top of the club, but I don’t believe that translates to needing to challenge for promotion.
However, there is a feeling from some that it is not an unrealistic target. There’s quality within the squad, a platform has been set, and there is now an opportunity to add top six quality to the squad.
For that to happen, there are several actions and changes that need to be made by Roland Duchatelet, Guy Luzon and the players.
- Hold onto our key men
Irrespective of the end-of-season slump, and some rather disappointing performances from a handful who had previously impressed, the core of Charlton’s squad in two spells during 2014/15 showed they have the potential to lead the Addicks into the top six.
Stephen Henderson is one of the best goalkeepers in the division, Johann Berg Gudmundsson can win a match on his own, and Tony Watt’s power, pace and trickery proved so crucial.
Throw into that the thought that Young Player of the Year Joe Gomez and Player of the Year Jordan Cousins have the potential to get even better, and there are certainly a number of individuals in this Charlton squad who could play at a higher level.
With that, of course, comes attention. Especially in the case of Gudmundsson, who has made no secret of the fact he’s undecided about his future, and Gomez, wanted by a host of Premier League and Bundesliga clubs, the Addicks have a task on their hand to keep them in SE7.
But it is absolutely vital Charlton keep their key men if they want to over achieve next season. Some will argue it doesn’t really matter as long as the money is reinvested properly, but there is more value in keeping a settled core of players than remodelling the squad in the name of profit.
Besides, cashing in on key men at Standard Liege didn’t exactly work out well for Duchatelet, and there’s always a danger the money could go elsewhere in the network when a player is sold.
- Alter the spending philosophy
And if Charlton are to keep a hold of those key players, the club’s current spending philosophy will need to be addressed.
It can certainly be argued that wanting to abide strictly to Financial Fair Play is ethically sound, honourable and will prevent the club from entering into the sort of turmoil that might threaten its existence.
But it seems more apparent that Duchatelet is using FFP as a cover up for what would appear to be his main desire behind owning Charlton and the network strategy as a whole. To make profit, and to make profit as a priority above footballing success.
If the Addicks want to succeed, then such a practice must be ditched. The value of keeping quality players at the club, and adding more, must be seen as higher than the money they could bring to the network’s bank account.
In terms of adding to the squad, we’re not going to match the wage demands of a top player like a club with parachute payments can, but that doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t be ambitious with who we attempt to attract to the club.
Centre-backs are now desperately needed, a more advanced centre-mid wouldn’t go a miss, and a couple of strikers to share Vetokele and Watt’s workload are crucial. But we shouldn’t settle for Roger Johnson, Christophe Lepoint and George Tucudean. We should be in a position now where almost every signing is of high quality and will improve the squad.
And if Duchatelet wants some inspiration, he only needs to look at what the club who played us off the park on the final day of the season have achieved. Bournemouth might well have been heavily criticised for their expenditure and losses, but being called FFP cheats can be laughed off when you’ve just won a league title and will be playing in the top flight.
Alas, I fear this will be the main stumbling block. I cannot see Duchatelet altering his strategy, or pouring money into us at the expense of his other clubs. In fact, Katrien Meire’s admission that the clubs in the network should be playing at different levels suggests their desire to get Charlton into the Premier League doesn’t match how much supporters want to be there.
- Give the head coach more control
Like most Charlton fans, Luzon has grown on me.
I still completely reject the way he was appointed, and as such my trust in Duchatelet and Meire is less than Andrew Strauss’ in Kevin Pietersen.
But I do have a reasonable amount of trust in Luzon. He definitely got a few things wrong towards the end of the season, but his role in turning things around can’t be understated and the players seem to have a great deal of respect for him.
As such, it would be beneficial for all if he was given more control. Given his relationship with Duchatelet, you would think the trust would be there for that to happen.
He won’t be able to completely build his own squad, but he shouldn’t be dumped with Duchatelet’s signings and told to make it work.
There should be a stronger influence from Luzon on those sort of decisions, allowing him to have the players at his disposal that suit his plan and his philosophy. Quality is nothing without a cohesive unit, as Chris Powell had.
Nor should there be any influence at all over who he should be picking. I’d really rather not get to January and have another sacked boss talk of the pressure he was put under to pick an under-performing network player.
Balls to this head coach nonsense. Cut the strings and let him have some freedom.
- Continue to keep things simple
At the risk of offending those 3-2-1-3-1 loving chaps who rejoice at a 93% pass completion rate from a regista, football’s really bloody simple.
Keep it tight at the back, show some fight, composure and creativity in midfield, and have some players with some genuine threat in attack and you’ll probably win some games.
That was the philosophy Luzon used to get the Addicks playing some superb football after 14 winless games. Two banks of four keeping things tight when without the ball; four main forward threats running riot when breaking.
The back four were solid, Cousins ran himself into the ground in midfield, and, when all else failed, Henderson was there to pull of a stunning save or two. It provided a base from which the forward four were able to obliterate opposition defences on the break, with Bulot, Gudmundsson, Vetokele and, especially, Watt unplayable at the start of that winning run.
Of course, Luzon would be proved a very poor coach if did not have some tactical flexibility, but it does mean he shouldn’t attempt to be creative or clever when there is no need to. Oh, and Eddie Howe used a 4-4-2 formation throughout his side’s title winning campaign, which almost certainly confirms it’s the right way to go.
- Utilise the network, but don’t rely on it
I don’t agree with the concept. I’d rather we weren’t in it. Yohann Thuram briefly played a significant part in my life.
But it’s there, it’s going to be used, and it should be utilised to our advantage. Much like another club who achieved promotion last season.
More good than garbage was sent to SE7 in 2014/15. George Tucudean poor, Yoni Buyens rarely looking like he was that interested after November, and Marko Dmitrovic a bit pointless, but the others were of decent quality.
A minor slum takes little away from how well Tal Ben Haim performed for much of the season, Frederic Bulot’s turnaround after the AFCON was sensational, and Tony Watt was an absolute pleasure to watch.
There are players within the network that can make a difference, who deserve to play without Duchatelet making sure they do. In fact, I’d put getting Bulot back high up on the list of priorities.
But we should not be reliant on the network.
Watford weren’t reliant on theirs. An experienced core, full of players who have achieved in the Football League before, was complimented by those recruited from Udinese and Granada.
And that’s exactly the make-up we should be going for. Not Buyens slogging through another half-arsed performance in a key position.
- Make use of the in-house scouting team and recruit from the Football League
Which brings me onto my next point. The Football League’s got some good players in it. Sign them.
If what Peeters said upon his departure, that the in-house scouting team were being largely ignored, is true then that is incredibly disheartening and frustrating.
Of course, some players signed from other European clubs have made an impression in SE7 since Duchatelet’s takeover, but that doesn’t justify stubbornly ignoring the quality available in the Football League.
Hopefully the signings of Chris Eagles, Alou Diarra and Johnson are a sign that players with experience of the English game will be signed more frequently, and I’m equal hopeful the fact that Eagles and Johnson failed to impress on a consistent basis hasn’t provided justification to exclusively shop abroad.
For players snapped up from Football League clubs will not only have the skills already required to be suited to Championship, but are also more likely to provide the leadership and drive that was occasionally missing last season. A fit again Johnnie Jackson will obviously help with that, but more is needed.
- Have a bigger squad, and with better balance
The lack of depth in Charlton’s squad was what ultimately saw a promising start to the campaign turn into a potential relegation battle.
Not addressing the lack of numbers sufficiently in October and November left regular starters complacent, Igor Vetokele broken, and Bob Peeters clueless as to how to address the slide without options available to him.
As such, it was no coincidence that Luzon’s Charlton began to win games once additional bodies were recruited. Having competent options on the bench and to cover for injuries crucial.
But even when the squad was bolstered, there were too many similar players in the same positions. Four centre-midfielders who do exactly the same job and, Gomez a side, a bundle of centre-backs who turn into Sunday League players against any sort of pace.
Depth and variety are vital if the Addicks are to have a chance of breaking into the top six.
- Continue to promote from within
If Charlton are to mount a serious attack on the top six, then there must be more money spent and a greater quality of player recruited. But this shouldn’t come at the expense of academy graduates being given their opportunity.
It’s fair to say that it went a little too far at times last season. The bench a crèche and Karlan Ahearne-Grant played when he arguably wasn’t quite ready, but the success of Gomez, Solly and Cousins indicates the pool of talent must continue to be utilised.
That especially true given the success of the U21 and U18 sides in the campaign just gone. A Kent Senior Cup win, with Ahearne-Grant shining, for the development side and a marvellous triumph for the academy, beating Brentford to become national champions.
- Take the damaged Igor Vetokele in for repair
As Vetokele hobbled off the pitch during the final day defeat to Bournemouth, there was some suggestion that he wasn’t actually the player his early season form suggested he was.
The goals had dried up, his overall play was hugely disappointing and his effort was minimal. Send him off to Standard Liege and find someone else.
But there is absolutely no doubt the Angolan is a player with considerable talent. Even after the combination of Duchatelet failing to provide Peeters with another forward and Peeters continuing to play Vetokele despite the fact he was completely broken, there were still plenty of excellent performances.
Yes, he fell hugely short of the 20-goal tally he threatened to reach, but he still managed to make opposition defences struggle. His on and off-the-ball work, in particular his persistent pressing, a valuable asset throughout the run of seven games in nine through February and March.
However, he was always going to struggle given the strain placed upon his body. A good rest over the summer, in addition to some transfer business that means the Addicks won’t be totally reliant on him, might well mean we’ll get to see Vetokele playing to his maximum once again.
- Send Christophe Lepoint off to STVV
I’ll be handing in my season ticket if he gets just one minute of football in 2015/16*. I don’t even want to see him feature against Welling.
*Disclaimer: No I won’t. But still, don’t play him.
For Part One, click here
The Roland Duchatelet Decision Making Trophy
It’s been another year of bizarre decision making from Charlton’s owner. Some of those decisions have paid off, and some haven’t, but he’s in good company.
- Bob Peeters and Roland Duchatelet for forcing out Michael Morrison
When Charlton’s vice-captain signed a new contract in the summer, it was celebrated as a sign that the ownership weren’t completely inept. But just three months into the season, Morrison had been shunned and subsequently moved onto Birmingham City. Cue individual mistakes from the remaining centre-backs and defensive disasters galore. His performance against the Addicks for his new club in April only reaffirmed the questionable nature of the decision.
- Roland Duchatelet for failing to add to the squad in October and November
Charlton’s start to the season was fantastic, but there were always signs it wasn’t going to last. The crèche of a bench, Vetokele having to play with his limbs hanging off and defensive errors the most obvious. Help was needed if the Addicks were to keep picking up wins. Instead, we were constantly fed absolute rubbish about there not being enough equality in the loan market, few players were brought in and a 14-game winless run started. The lack of activity was made even more frustrating by the impact of Francis Coquelin.
- Katrien Meire’s nightmare week
What started with a pretty innocuous message in the programme became a full-blown disaster. Charlton’s CEO backed Bob Peeters a day before removing him, but that was just the start of it. Then she embarked on a thorough process to find his replacement, which conveniently concluded a bloke Duchatelet had previously sacked was the right man for the job. Next was a simply bizarre comment about Luzon being our Sir Alex Ferguson, which would have been misguided even if the appointment was a universally accepted one. Nonetheless, we were told we had to accept what Duchatelet was doing by Meire because it was his club. Not quite. Finally, she saw sit fit to get the train to Watford after that week. That isn’t to excuse the actions of the supporter who confronted her, but Meire’s decision to travel via public transport wasn’t wise. It was almost as if she was going out of her way to compound our dismay and misery.
- Bob Peeters and Guy Luzon for using Andre Bikey as a striker
Genuine tears were shed in SE7 whenever the robust centre-back was pushed forward in the hope his presence would help to rescue a point for the Addicks. Rarely did it do anything but confirm defeat, and mean you left The Valley feeling even more disappointed.
- Whoever came up with the sex stunt idea
Charlton’s media team, regardless of the seemingly ever-changing make up of it, consistently produces quality content – they all do their jobs very well. So that none of them appeared to overtly promote the sex on the pitch video away from club channels felt telling. Whoever was responsible will say it was a success, with it spreading far and wide and publicity for post-season use of the pitch high. But it was crass, embarrassing, and not something that should be associated with Charlton Athletic.
- Roland Duchatelet for forcing Yann Kermorgant out of the club
Yes it was last season. Yes I should have moved on by now. But it still remains a ridiculous decision and I haven’t. His impact for Bournemouth throughout their promotion winning campaign only highlighting further what a ridiculous decision it was to sell the Frenchman.
The Winner: Katrien Meire’s nightmare week
That was all a bit depressing, wasn’t it?
The Find Franck Award
Franck, everyone is very worried about you. Please just call home and let us know you’re safe. An award for Charlton players who, in one way or another, went missing at some point this season.
- Franck Moussa
A signing that excited many an Addick, especially after watching his goal of the season strike for the 1000th time, but one that disappointed on two counts. The first being that his performances when he was fit to play were largely disappointing. The second his bizarre injury, originally supposed to keep him out for a few weeks, that meant his substitute appearance in the draw with Leeds at Elland Road was his final game of the season.
- Yoni Buyens
The Standard Liege loanee started the season performing like Xabi Alonso, but ended it like Mikel Alonso. His composure from the penalty spot meant he still provided something to the side, but rarely did it make up for how poor he was on the ball. That he was constantly dispossessed, regularly misplaced passes and tame defensively from November onwards was extremely disappointing given the manner in which he started life in SE7.
- Andre Bikey
Another one who started the season in superb fashion but deteriorated as the campaign went on. In fact, Bikey went from fan favourite to liability, with his defensive efforts crucial to the unbeaten start and part of the reason the Addicks went 14 without a win.
- Lawrie Wilson
It was incredibly disappointing to see a player who performed such a vital role in the Addicks avoiding relegation last season play without confidence for much of this. His chances were limited, but when given a game, he looked nervous and anxious. Being subbed at half-time after being made to look silly by Michail Antonio a sad way for a likeable character’s Charlton career to end.
- Callum Harriott
Expected to kick-on after his heroics secured Charlton’s Championship status last season, Harriott has made just 13 starts this season. And while injury is partly to blame and being played out of position is partly to blame,, the winger has struggled to make an impact when given an opportunity to impress. He’s made good use of his time, though.
- Christophe Lepoint
Nope. No idea. What was that all about?
Winner: Yoni Buyens
The penalties were, of course, very useful, but the decline in his overall play was barely believable. The Buyens that played for the Addicks at the start of the campaign remains missing.
The Scott Parker Award for Best Reception for a Former Player
It was a season that saw former Addicks play against their old employers for the first time, or for the first time in quite a few years. One of those men was Parker, who received a rather disappointing level of abuse in both fixtures against Fulham, but he was one of few to be abused in any way. In fact, most got a hero’s welcome, and quite often they returned that appreciation.
- Darren Bent
It might have been eight years since the forward had last pulled on a Charlton shirt, but Bent evidently had not forgotten about the club or its supporters. The goal scorer was appreciated by the visiting Addicks at Derby before and after the game, and he responded by coming over to the away end at full-time to show his own appreciation.
- Chris Powell
This is a blog that carries Chris Powell’s name. This is a blog that has, on several occasions, expressed admiration and love for Chris Powell. Chris Powell is bloody marvellous, and someone who I will adore for the duration of my life. With that in mind, it’s no wonder I found a sold out Valley welcoming him back so powerful. The roar when he walked out was incredible, the third minute applause and signing of his name a lovely touch, and that he was still good enough to acknowledge the home supporters at full-time despite his side’s defeat just reinforced what a fantastic bloke he is.
- Michael Morrison
Morrison’s praises have often been sung. but even so, the centre-back is an unsung hero of the three seasons prior to this. An almost an ever-present, with a fully-committed and whole-hearted display given in each one of those games. So that Morrison spent a good few minutes at full-time applauding the travelling Charlton fans, who sung his name and applauded back, at Birmingham instead of celebrating his side’s victory shows the feeling was mutual. A cracking bloke.
- Yann Kermorgant
Applause, which was returned, was given Kermorgant at various points throughout Charlton’s home defeat to Bournemouth, but it was come full-time that the Frenchman reaffirmed his incredible class. Taking time out of his side’s title celebrations, Kermorgant showed his appreciation for the Charlton supporters, who were signing his name for at leas the third time, before diving into the West Stand to greet friends and family. What a hero.
Winner: Chris Powell
It was no less than he deserved. The final unforgettable moment that Chris Powell gave to Charlton.
The Bramall Lane Trophy for Worst Away Day of the Season
I presumed that, if there was some solace to be taken from the FA Cup defeat at Bramall Lane last season, then it would that an away day would never leave me so distraught. It turns out I was wrong, as Charlton had a right old go at making a number of my long trips beyond miserable.
- Bournemouth 1-0 Charlton
The first sign of major cracks in Bob Peeters side. Karlan Ahearne-Grant clearly wasn’t ready for first-team football, Igor Vetokele was broken and the back four simply couldn’t cope with Bournemouth’s pace. Bournemouth’s one should have been four or five. Oh, and we wore that bloody kit.
- Fulham 3-0 Charlton
Your usual sub-standard performance on TV. The Addicks embarrassingly gifted Fulham two early goals, and lacked any real threat even when given the chance t go forward in the second half. The third a long time coming. Oh, and we wore that bloody kit.
- Blackburn 2-0 Charlton
- Watford 5-0 Charlton
Players not only not performing, but not willing to try. A group of supporters, although with their side until the final whistle, divided in their views of their owner, creating a poisonous atmosphere. Only Johnnie Jackson and Tony Watt, by standing in front of the away end at full-time and looking supporters in the eye, gave any hope while the rest cowered away. I was out of love.
- Middlesbrough 3-1 Charlton
Watford-lite. Granted, Boro were in unstoppable form at the time and played in a manner that meant someone who had spent the last six months on the moon or inside Yoni Buyens’ sweat glands would have been able to see that, but Charlton’s effort was poor. Half-hearted performances that meant a difficult task became impossible and demoralising.
- Millwall 2-1 Charlton
That there was genuine hope made this edition of the bi-annual failure to beat Millwall even worse. The Addicks came into the game on the back of seven wins from nine, while the Lions were plummeting towards League One. But Charlton, reduced to ten men after Chris Solly’s red card, played without the spark that had been so visible in that winning run, and still looked uncomfortable even after Alou Diarra had at least given the away supporters a goal to celebrate. At least the capitulation that saw the Lions grab two goals to win proved meaningless, with Neil Harris failing to keep his side up.
Winner: Watford 5-0 Charlton
I’d rather just forget that ever happened.
The Hillsborough Trophy for Best Away Day of the Season
Charlton’s other trip to Sheffield in the FA Cup last season was much more enjoyable. The elbow of Simon Church, heroics from Ben Hamer and Chris Powell swinging on the crossbar making for a special night. And this group of away days from this campaign came close to matching the brilliance of that trip.
- Brentford 1-1 Charlton
Those Addicks who travelled to Griffin Park were still not sure what they were going to get from their club in 2014/15. A new squad, for which there was both excitement and anxiety, had to prove themselves. And while the first-half performance was concerning, the second meant you not only left West London with a lost voice, but also hope for the season ahead. That despite Harriott’s horrendous miss and Brentford’s equaliser.
- Norwich 0-1 Charlton
My old man went absolutely balmy. My old man, who was released by Norwich as a kid and isn’t exactly fond of the club, never goes balmy. I’m pretty sure there were even a few fingers flicked in the direction of the home ends. Oh, and Johnnie Jackson is an expert in creating carnage. That’s all needs saying about that one.
- Reading 0-1 Charlton
It was just a shame that the Addicks decided they didn’t fancy doing more winning for a bit after this. A proper battling display for Bob Peeters’ side earned them a deserved victory, despite having to sit deep and withstand Reading pressure for much of the second half. And the effort and energy required from the visitors to dig in and hold was replicated in the stands, with vocal support throughout the 90 minutes and passionate celebrations at full-time.
- Wigan 0-3 Charlton
Was the home victory over Brentford a fluke? It certainly wasn’t. The Addicks road their luck in the game’s opening few moments, but were dominant and dynamic thereafter. Bulot and Gudmundsson an absolute joy to watch, Watt frustrating in front of goal but creating so much for his teammates it hardly mattered, and Cousins putting the sort of whole-hearted performance you’d expect from his injured captain. A cracking Friday night up north.
- Cardiff 1-2 Charlton
Slow, turgid and flat, Charlton’s Christophe Lepoint-inspired display at the Cardiff City Stadium was beginning to deprive a previously vocal away end of its noise and energy. But then Watt and, erm, Church stepped up. Watt’s equaliser was a fantastic finish that came against the run of play, sparking pretty decent celebrations in the away end, but Church quickly made those who had groaned as he entered the field of play look silly by winning a late penalty. Buyens’ finish and the full-time whistle leading to very decent scenes, with even Luzon coming over to show his appreciation.
- The CAFC Supporters Trust Open Meeting
In truth, it was more of a home game. Although not hosted at The Valley, it was a night where the spirit of the club, channelled by its supporters, shone through. As someone who had not experienced the campaign to get back to The Valley, and was filling incredibly apathetic towards the club, this night proved a crucial experience in terms of getting some energy back for Charlton. There were also some important points raised that cannot be ignored despite the Addicks avoiding relegation by a considerable margin.
Winner: Norwich 0-1 Charlton
JOHNNIE, OH JOHNNIE JACKSON
The Astrit Ajdarevic Social Media Award
At times this season, the only thing that kept Charlton fans from throwing themselves onto the nearest train tack was the humour and brilliance of their fellow #CAFC Tweeters. It’s therefore to be expected that most of the contenders are from around the time when most supporters were utterly depressed with goings on at their club. I’ve excluded myself from the running, or no one else would get a look in.
The Club and Players
- CAFCOfficial emulating Blackpool
- Lawrie Wilson enjoying his goals against Colchester
- Johnnie Jackson bantering off Crystal Palace
- CAFCOfficial’s honest excitement after the best moment of the season
- Diego Poyet sitting on a reply to a Tweet for 25 days in order to laugh at Millwall’s demise
- Everything Johann Berg Gudmundsson Tweets
- *That* Tweet
- The faulty floodlights against Blackburn fixed by familiar faces
- Luzon’s other job
- Grassing up Luzon and the club
- The post-Watford depression explained perfectly
- Chris Powell still doing Charlton favours
The Winner: *That* Tweet
There can only be one winner, really. Just a shame it didn’t quite predict the future…
Chris Powell’s Flat Cap Bloggers and Writers of the Season
I wanted to do a Blog Piece of the Season, but such is the quality among the Charlton blogosphere that I immediately realised that this would be unfair. I’d leave far too many quality pieces of Charlton related ramble without attention.
Instead I’ll give a mention to all the Charlton writers whose work I have read this year and deserve some credit. The first being a former blogger in the shape of Rambling Addick. His piece at the start of the season may not be something everyone agreed with, but it there were parts of it that everyone could identify with. On top of that, it was superbly written, and showed a strong level of emotion. One Last Ramble – Rambling Addick
Valley Talk has been quieter this year, but that merely means the pieces that have been produced have been of sheer class and quality. His humerous look at Luzon’s appointment and more serious piece before the open meeting were both outstanding. EXCLUSIVE: The inside story behind Guy Luzon’s appointment as head coach Roland Duchatelet’s unhappy congregation
I’ve very much enjoyed Louis Mendez’s column on the NewsShopper website this year, especially the one following the defeat to Norwich at The Valley. I was beyond anger after Charlton’s abject first half Canaries display – Louis Mendez
That Hungry Ted’s blog entered a stage of depression at one stage this season showed just how dire the situation got. For Hungry Ted’s Charlton outlook is regularly positive, and his post after the Watford game was very uncharacteristic. I mean, look how positive he normally is – The Alternative End
For someone who follows from affair, Chicago Addick is regularly insightful and accurate in his posts. His reading of Katrien Meire’s charm offensive in particular was very good.
I also enjoy Brain Haines’ (http://sticklebackplastic.blogspot.co.uk/) superb one-liners and overall excellent pieces that he produces. His tale from the victory over Bolton gave me a very big chuckle.
Of course, I have to give a mention to Voice of The Valley. It’s been a real privilege writing for such a well thought of publication, as well as being quite surreal to see so many people read my pieces in each addition at The Valley. I hope they’ve not brought the quality down too much.
Elsewhere, the interview with Chris Powell that appeared in the Standard brought those emotions that had been pushed to one side back again, while Richard Cawley’s interview with Bob Peeters following his sacking was a fine piece of work. In fact, the local coverage, including the South London Press, NewsShopper and London24, of Charlton has been marvellous.
And finally, the already praised media team, who have had an incredibly tough season, have done a stunning job throughout the year. The sex stunt and a rather questionable April Fools aside, they’ve represented the club well and tried to have a laugh along the way.
My Moment of the Season, as I have mentioned on a couple of occasions, definitely came at Carrow Road. The whole day, from Chris Powell’s incredible reception to Tony Watt’s unbelievable solo goal, that took in the win against Huddersfield a very close second.
The Worst Moment of the Season was seeing
Charlton wear that awful third kit twice a number of players head straight down the tunnel at full-time following the Watford defeat. That a player not even involved in the game, Johnnie Jackson, came over slightly restored some faith, but I felt completely detached from the club at that moment. Horrible.
I expect Player of The Season will be a tight one (edit: as it was), but my vote has gone for Jordan Cousins. I appreciate Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s sheer quality means he’s getting a number of votes, but Cousins’ performances consistently feel you with pride. Even in those dark days, the battling of Charlton’s academy graduate put a smile on your face.
So that’s that for 2014/15. I’ve got plenty of content planned for the summer, but I will be taking a short break to get a few assessments and exams out the way. Probably no more than a week or two, knowing myself. So thank you for a stupid amount of views, some lovely comments and even the less lovely ones. You’re all ace. Up the Addicks.
At its best, it was absolutely brilliant. At its worst, it was soul-destroyingly bad. From the thrill of winning seven games in nine to the despair of going 14 without victory, Charlton’s season has very much been a mixed bag, but a solid mid-table position provides a steady foundation.
So too can the same be said about off-the-pitch events. Recruitment, at times, very promising and producing rewards, but an ownership still seemingly intent on frustrating supporters who have invested years of emotional attachment into the club. Improvements undoubtedly made, but we still appear to be a slightly underfed guinea pig in an experiment.
It means there’s been a very big mix of emotions for supporters this season. At some point throughout this campaign, probably every feeling, good and bad, has been experienced at some point. At the very least, it hasn’t been dull, and there’s quite a few goals, performances and events worthy of an award or two from Chris Powell’s Flat Cap.
The awards will follow a similar format to last year’s, with some familiar categories and a few flashy new ones. Effectively emulating the make-up of Charlton’s squad.
A big thank you to @PlentyOfShots, for being both an absolute hero and producing some fantastic Vines that make this awards blog more than just dodgy photos and boring words. Follow the account on Twitter if you haven’t already – it’s a fantastic piece of work.
The Danny Haynes Goal of the Season
While departed players were contesting Charlton’s best strike last time around, Johann Berg Gudmundsson has taken after Danny Haynes and attempted to create his own Goal of the Season competition. Most clubs wouldn’t have seven strikes of such quality altogether, let alone from the same player.
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Rotherham United (Rotherham 1-1 Charlton)
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Cardiff City (Charlton 1-1 Cardiff)
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Blackburn Rovers (Charlton 1-3 Blackburn)
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Middlesbrough (Middlesbrough 3-1 Charlton)
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Brentford (Charlton 3-0 Brentford)
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Huddersfield Town (Charlton 3-0 Huddersfield)
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Blackpool (Charlton 3-0 Blackpool)
Winner: Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Cardiff City
The Less Impressive Goal of the Season
Any goal not scored by Gudmundsson was a bit boring, really. But, apparently, they count just as much as the Iceland international’s strikes. And, in truth, there were a few that matched the quality of Gudmundsson’s best efforts (mostly ones that he assisted).
- Jordan Cousins Vs Wigan Athletic (Charlton 2-1 Wigan)
- George Tucudean Vs Derby County (Charlton 3-2 Derby)
- Johnnie Jackson Vs Norwich City (Norwich 0-1 Charlton)
- Frederic Bulot Vs Wigan Athletic (Wigan 0-3 Charlton)
- Tony Watt Vs Huddersfield Town (Charlton 3-0 Huddersfield)
- Frederic Bulot Vs Nottingham Forest (Charlton 2-1 Huddersfield)
- Tony Watt Vs Leeds United (Charlton 2-1 Leeds)
Winner: Tony Watt Vs Huddersfield Town
Jackson’s winner against Norwich was undoubtedly the better moment, but for sheer quality, Watt wins this hands down. A fantastic run followed by a stunning finish to cap off arguably the most impressive performance of the season.
The Bradley Pritchard Miss of the Season
Everyone’s favourite goal-shy Zimbabwean may have departed SE7, but his spirit has lived on. In fact, Pritchard himself would have been proud of some of the comical finishing on show during this campaign.
- Callum Harriott Vs Brentford (Brentford 1-1 Charlton)
- George Tucudean Vs Millwall (Charlton 0-0 Millwall)
- Igor Vetokele Vs Cardiff City (Charlton 1-1 Cardiff)
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Fulham (Charlton 1-1 Fulham)
- Igor Vetokele’s
Winner: George Tucudean Vs Millwall
Under any circumstance, it would have been a disgusting miss. But to fluff your lines in the final minute of a derby fixture, one in which your side has not won since 1996, is criminal.
The Knee Slide Trophy for Celebration of the Season
While this season didn’t quite bring crossbar swinging or Louis Mendez taking his shirt off, the standard of celebration remained high.
- Bob Peeters Vs Wigan Athletic (Charlton 2-1 Wigan)
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate your first win as Charlton boss than by getting in a totally unnecessary fight with the opposition manager. Wigan manager Uwe Rosler took exception to Peeters expressing his delight at Franck Moussa’s late winner right in front of him, and responded by squaring up to the Belgian. He quickly realised that picking a fight with someone of Peeters’ size wasn’t wise.
- Andre Bikey Vs Wolves (Charlton 1-1 Wolves)
He’s six-foot tall, weighs just shy of 13 stone and his large build means agility and pace aren’t his specialist skills. But, having lashed in a volley against Wolves that required flexibility, Charlton’s charismatic Cameroonian centre-back somehow managed to pull off a faultless flip in celebration. It defies logic that a man of his size can do something like that.
- Johnnie Jackson Vs Norwich City (Norwich 0-1 Charlton)
A signature knee slide from the skipper following his late and dramatic winner against Cardiff, which sparked absolute carnage in the away end. I’m still recovering.
- Tony Watt Vs Cardiff City (Cardiff 1-2 Charlton)
This was neither spectacular, acrobatic or involved anyone getting punched, but Watt’s climb onto the advertising hoardings in front of the away fans at Cardiff was symbolic. Watt had been, and was, boss. He deserved his place above his teammates.
- Johnnie Jackson Vs Millwall (Millwall 2-1 Charlton)
That flair that was set off after Alou Diarra’s goal at The Den? The skipper did that, the little hooligan.
Winner: Johnnie Jackson Vs Norwich
The He’s Better Than Gus Performance of the Season Award
Named after the academy graduate’s efforts to win a man of the match award in every single game, Charlton’s best individual performances this season have come from a number of different players.
- Johnnie Jackson Vs Derby County (Charlton 3-2 Derby)
While the most marked characteristic of the fantastic victory over Derby was the flowing attacking football that resulted in three superb team goals, the victory would not have been possible without Jackson’s battling in the middle. The skipper’s display was a typical blood-and-guts effort, combined with class and composure on the ball that helped to break up attacks and get new ones started.
- Igor Vetokele Vs Brighton and Hove Albion (Brighton 2-2 Charlton)
Since their promotion to the Championship Charlton had been in desperate need of a clinical finisher, and Vetokele’s performance against Brighton suggested they had finally found their man. Two fantastic strikes, mixed in with some excellent work away from the box, would have been enough to give the Addicks victory had now Tal Ben Haim and Andre Bikey not let Lewis Dunk go free in stoppage-time.
- Stephen Henderson and Johnnie Jackson Vs Norwich City (Norwich 0-1 Charlton)
In the case of Henderson, it was save after save to thwart Norwich’s persistent attacks. For Jackson, it was an unrelenting show of fight in the middle to help contain the opposition’s threat, rewarded with the winning goal.
- Chris Solly Vs Reading (Reading 0-1 Charlton)
The closest Solly has come to replicating his performance from the goalless draw with Cardiff in 2013. The full-back was simply outstanding, not letting a single Royals player beat him throughout the duration of the game, and providing the assist for Vetokele’s winning goal.
- Tony Watt Vs Brentford, Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest
With the Addicks heading for the bottom three, they needed a saviour. And they got one in emphatic fashion. Watt was untouchable during those three home victories, scoring three and constantly at the heart of every Charlton attack. Oh, and he also did this.
- Jordan Cousins Vs Wigan (Wigan 0-3 Charlton)
Cousins was fantastic throughout the winning run, but it was at Wigan where he offered his very best performance. That the Addicks still managed to dominate the midfield despite Buyens being unable to make the simplest of passes indicates just how brilliant the academy graduate was at The DW.
- Johann Berg Gudmundsson Vs Leeds (Charlton 2-1 Leeds)
With Charlton flat and fortunate to be just a goal down against the Whites, Luzon was left with little choice but to throw his match-winning winner on at half-time. And Gudmundsson provided exactly the impact Luzon hoped he would. The Iceland international completely changed the tempo of the game, and played a part in both of Charlton’s goals.
Winner: Tony Watt Vs Brentford, Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest
There’s a good a chance we would have stayed up without Watt’s impact, but we certainly wouldn’t have won seven games in nine, and won them so convincingly. The Scot was unplayable during those three games, and an absolute joy to watch. More of the same next season please, Tony.
The Yohann Thuram Performance of the Season Award
If there is one positive to be taken from this season, it is that Thuram did not return to SE7. Unfortunately, a few of the current crop of Charlton players did their best to emulate him.
- George Tucudean Vs Wolves (Charlton 1-1 Wolves)
Presented with two glorious openings to double Charlton’s lead, the Romanian forward couldn’t finish either of them. His head soon dropped and effort started to lack – a performance that summed up his six month stint in SE7.
- Nick Pope Vs Blackburn Rovers (Blackburn 2-0 Charlton)
Given his exploits in League Two and his efforts prior to the trip to Blackburn, the young goalkeeper’s ability is unquestionable. But Pope suffered a nightmare day at Ewood Park, with confusion between himself and Andre Bikey allowing Rhodes to score his first, while a poor goal-kick led to his second.
- The lot of ’em Vs Watford (Watford 5-0 Charlton)
I walked away from Bramall Lane last season taking some solace from the fact no away day or Charlton performance could ever be so demoralising. I was wrong. The effort and application from the Addicks rounded off a thoroughly depressing week.
- Yoni Buyens Vs Middlesbrough
- Andre Bikey Vs Norwich
Error-prone and clumsy throughout the evening, Bikey made matters much worse by going wondering in the final few minute to allow Cameron Jerome to score Norwich’s winner. A bizarre decision that summed up an abysmal night for Bikey and the Addicks.
- Christophe Lepoint Vs Cardiff
The January signing was given a chance to impress at the Cardiff City Stadium, but instead spent his time charging around the pitch in an attempt to concede a record amount of fouls without being sent off. Contributed very little, if anything.
- Roger Johnson Vs Blackburn
It was all go swimmingly for Relegation Roger/Roger the Relegater. In fact, he was playing his part in helping the Addicks move away from the bottom three. But, in emphatic fashion, Johnson imploded during the defeat to Blackburn. The defender was at least partially to blame for all three goals, with their second coming as a direct result of his bizarre and comical error.
Winner: The lot of ’em Vs Watford
An utterly embarrassing display. The exact opposite of what was needed, to restore some belief and faith, in that situation
The Fraser Forster Best Performance by a Non-Charlton Player Award
Named after the then Norwich goalkeeper’s incredible performance that prevented the Addicks recording victory in 2010 and sealed the Canaries’ promotion to the Championship. the award extents this year to include performances from away from The Valley. Mostly because there were few stand out opposition performances in SE7 this season.
- Bradley Pritchard
None of you were there to see it, but the former Charlton man’s display in a pre-season friendly for Leyton Orient against Northampton was sublime. Pritchard not only bossed the midfield, obviously, but scored a lovely side-foot goal that belonged to a man with greater finisher prowess. What a hero.
- Tim Robinson (Huddersfield 1-1 Charlton)
One of many referees who allowed Tal Ben Haim to get away with murder this season, but the one most worthy of praise. With Huddersfield a goal up and James Vaughan through on goal with two minutes left to play, it appeared as if the Addicks were heading for defeat. But Vaughan was thwarted by Ben Haim’s assault inside the box that went unpunished by Robinson. Two minutes later, through Vetokele, the Addicks had pulled level.
- Marc Pugh and Matt Ritchie (Bournemouth 1-0 Charlton)
Oh, look, an actual serious contender or two. Bournemouth, as a unit, were unstoppable at Dean Court, but it was the power and pace of Pugh and Ritchie that provided the most damage. Not even Chris Solly could stop the wingers as the Addicks were constantly caught out at the back.
- Michail Antonio (Charlton 2-1 Nottingham Forest)
The Addicks may have won the game at The Valley in March, but Forest’s tricky winger did his absolute best to try to prevent that from happening. His goal, a fabulous individual strike that left several players in red for dead, was stunning, and his overall play throughout the night was in much the same vain. So much so that Lawrie Wilson, run ragged by the Antonio, had to be substituted at half-time.
- Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn 2-0 Charlton)
- Jordan Rhodes. Again. (Charlton 1-3 Blackburn)
- Jos Hooiveld (Millwall 2-1 Charlton)
In truth, the Southampton loanee was lucky to stay on the pitch, but his cynical trip of Watt aside, Hooiveld was faultless in the South East London Derby. He kept the Scottish forward under control, prevented the Addicks from causing a real threat on the break and scored the winning goal to top it off. Unfortunately.
- Bournemouth’s forward line (Charlton 0-3 Bournemouth)
The Addicks may have offered little resistance, but Bournemouth’s attacking play on the day they won the Championship title was sublime. Callum Wilson impossible to stop, Matt Ritchie performing like a player who should have won the Championship’s POTY, and Yann Kermorgant, well, just being Kermorgant.
Winner: Bournemouth’s forward line
The He Used To Be Shite, But Now He’s Alright Trophy
In a season that saw Charlton go from sublime to stupidly bad and back again, there have been plenty of Addicks who have proved their doubters wrong.
- Morgan Fox
Lacking composure on the ball, frequently beaten by the opposition winger and at fault for numerous goals, there was a general feeling at the turn of the year that Fox, for all his effort, was simply not good enough for Championship football. But the Welshman’s progress since February has been incredible, improving with every game to the point that his place in the side is deserved regardless of Rhoys Wiggins returning from injury.
- Frederic Bulot
Whatever they fed him while he was in Equatorial Guinea, I’d quite like some myself. The Standard Liege loanee struggled before his trip to the Africa Cup of Nations, but has been a revelation thereafter and so crucial to Charlton’s run of seven wins from nine.
- Guy Luzon
From “you don’t know what you’re doing” to an entire away end standing for him at Cardiff, Luzon’s work to impressively turnaround Charlton’s fortunes was commendable. A simplified and organised approach tightened the Addicks up at the back and gave freedom to their attacking players on the break, resulting in a number of fantastic performances that lifted them well clear of trouble. The drop in effort after the defeat to Millwall has been disappointing, but takes little away from the displays during the run of seven wins from nine.
- Simon Churchinho
As a fully paid up member of the Simon Church Fan Club, I’ve always believed the level of criticism Church received was incredibly harsh. Goal-shy, yes, but effort and endeavour never lacking. So it was good to see praise for the Welshman from almost every Addick after he made a match-winning contribution against Cardiff before scoring against Blackpool and Reading.
- The pitch
Few things frustrate me more than using the pitch as symbolism for Duchatelet’s ownership at Charlton being flawless – a pitch paid for by the sale of Yann Kermorgant, apparently – but that isn’t to say it isn’t fantastic to see it in such a healthy state even as the season came to its close. Doncaster players with pitchforks nowhere to be seen…
Winner: Frederic Bulot
Part Two will be released on Monday.
The gulf in class between the two sides competing at The Valley was almost as large as the space Yann Kermorgant was constantly afforded.
In fact, it would be wrong to say two sides were competing. The only real competition was between both sets of supporters as they attempted to have their appreciation for the French striker heard the loudest.
For Charlton were decimated. A performance of perfect organisation, high energy and skilled execution was required to spoil Bournemouth’s promotion celebrations, but their tired efforts only contributed to the Cherries securing the Championship title that they deserved.
Little resistance was offered as the champions elect cut through Charlton’s tame defensive efforts, and on few occasions were Bournemouth’s backline made to seriously work.
You could even suggest that for the hosts to punished on just three occasions was a little generous. There were fears for a more embarrassing beating after Matt Ritchie, a stunning finish, and Harry Arter, capitalising after dispossessing Yoni Buyens, gave Bournemouth a two goal lead with 12 gone.
But it took countless attacks and a further 73 minutes for Ritchie to add a third; a goal scored almost simultaneously with Sheffield Wednesday’s equaliser at Watford that confirmed top spot for Eddie Howe’s men.
The only solace that could be taken for the home supporters was that they could take some enjoyment from witnessing such an exciting and devastating brand of football. Anger at the tame Charlton effort replaced by applause for Bournemouth’s brilliant moves, and further appreciation for the Cherries as they celebrated their title win.
But it was an indication of just how far off the Addicks are from a day like that. It was only natural to feel envious, and not just because they had Kermorgant, who applauded his former fans on several occasions, in their side.
He’s got a league winners’ medal around his neck, and will be in the Premier League next season. We’re someway behind.
There was an expectation that Charlton would be in for a tough afternoon prior to kick-off, and the team news only increased that feeling.
The partnership of Roger Johnson and Tal Ben Haim seemed the wrong way to go against the pace of Callum Wilson and the creativity of Kermorgant, while the absence of the injured Jordan Cousins, replaced by Alou Diarra, seemed huge against such a quality Bournemouth midfield.
Straight from the off, it was clear the Cherries would have no trouble in dominating the contest. After the free-kick that Kermorgant won and took was defended well enough by the Addicks, a clever move from the resulting corner saw the Frenchman blast an effort over the bar.
His strike partner was also providing concern for the Charlton defence. Johnson misjudging a header, with only a desperate block from Diarra preventing Wilson from scoring.
With Bournemouth, backed by a barmy away end and 1,400 further supporters in the Upper West, relentlessly pressing forward and the Addicks unable to do much about it, it was only going to be a matter of time before the visitors went ahead.
And the goal that gave them the lead with ten minutes played was as fantastic as any seen at The Valley this season. A flowing move eventually resulted in Kermorgant being picked out with his back to goal, and the striker unselfishly sat the ball back for Ritchie to perfectly place a side-footed effort in off the post.
But if Charlton were largely faultless for conceding such a fantastic goal after a brilliant Bournemouth move, they only had themselves to blame for allowing their deficit to be doubled two minutes later.
Buyens dithered on the ball on the edge of the box, and was easily dispossessed by a fired up Arter, playing against the club who released him as a youngster. The Irishman composed himself superbly to tuck past his countryman Stephen Henderson in the Charlton goal, before celebrating in a manner that suggested he was rather pleased to be inflicting misery on the club that let him go.
Bournemouth supporters delirious; Charlton’s disillusioned by their side’s efforts.
It meant that instead of jokingly hoping for the 19-0 win that was required for the Cherries to throw away promotion, the home fans were beginning to worry that it would be their side who would be on the end of such a hammering.
Tony Watt, having left Charlie Daniels for dead out wide, at least attempted to inspire the crowd into believing that the Addicks were capable of a comeback, with his resulting drive across the face of goal just missing the out-stretched boot of Igor Vetokele, but they remained a complete mess at the back.
Far too much space was being given to Wilson, with each member of Charlton’s defensive unit seemingly afraid to get close to him, and the former Coventry man jinked his way past three men in red before seeing his shot superbly blocked by Johnson.
And Johnson was required to block another Wilson effort moments later, with the forward left in an alarming amount of space. To his credit, his movement was outstanding, but the Addicks were far too slow in reacting to him.
So were they too slow to close down Simon Francis. Half-heartedly booed by a flat crowd, the Charlton flop came a whisker away from silencing them as his drive from distant just flashed past the post.
You could also argue that Luzon was too slow to change his system. Despite the unrelenting pressure that was being applied to them, and the minimal control they had in midfield, the Israeli persisted the same set-up and personnel. A weak effort from Frederic Bulot, comfortably held by Arthur Boruc, the only reward for such perseverance.
In fact, their first noticeable change came on the stroke of half-time. Vetokele hobbling off the pitch after falling awkwardly, and replaced by Simon Church for what would probably be his final appearance in Charlton red.
But, after Kermorgant had teed up Andrew Surman to loop narrowly over the bar as the final action of the first half, there was certainly a change in the attitude of the Addicks at the start of the second half.
Helped by considerably by the effort and energy of Church, there was suddenly some intent from the hosts. Blocked crosses and shots may have been all that they produced, but such encouragement finally got the Covered End into song.
Alas, the rather optimistic positivity was misguided. Bournemouth, having done superbly to stamp out the brief sign of threat from the Addicks, soon got back into their impressive stride, meaning the home supporters quickly lost the lust for chanting.
Instead, they were busy praying for mercy. The Cherries were getting plenty of joy down their right-hand side, with Morgan Fox struggling to cope, and only the post’s width prevented Ritchie from taking advantage. The winger’s deflected strike hitting the woodwork while Henderson stood motionless.
Maybe the home supporters should have been praying in the direction of Church. You couldn’t fault his tenacity, and the Welshman did well to turn Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s shot goalward to win a corner, but that a stopped strike felt like a small achievement sums up Charlton’s afternoon.
For stopped strikes were a regular occurrence for Bournemouth. So were clear cut opportunities, and one more would have been created had Arter passed to Marc Pugh instead of horribly slicing wide.
Nonetheless, there was no let-up from the Cherries. Their supporters still having a party, and their players still striving for more despite the fact that no amount of goals would prevent a victorious Watford from winning the league. Daniels flashing an effort across the face of goal just after substitute Joe Gomez had knocked a few million off his price tag with a horribly wayward strike.
But introducing Gomez, who came on alongside Chris Eagles in place of Diarra and Bulot, proved a little costly. For just five minutes later, Watt’s legs finally gave way. The striker, who had worked tirelessly in testing circumstances, could do more and Charlton were left with ten men for the final 15 minutes. A scary prospect against a still rampant Bournemouth.
At least Howe did the honourable thing and withdrew his side’s focal point, saving heartbreak in the process. Instead, the entire ground stood and sung for Kermorgant as he left the pitch. The Frenchman as happy to applaud his current supporters as he was those he cherished for two and a half years. A cult figure and a bloody brilliant bloke to boot.
Those getting misty eyed, however, were soon furious. There was still a third goal left in the Cherries, with Ritchie once again finishing in tidy fashion to compound Charlton’s misery and round off a brilliant performance from his side.
But it did not round off their day, nor their season. For as the Addicks, displaying the sort of body language I did for days after Kermorgant was sold, prepared to kick-off again, celebrations resumed in the away end. Wednesday had equalised at Watford and, arguably deservedly so, Bournemouth were now in possession of the top spot.
Henderson was called upon to deny Wilson and prevent the ongoing party in the away end becoming a full-on rave, while Boruc’s fingertips kept Gudmundsson’s effort out and denied the Addicks a small amount of pride, but it was largely immaterial.
For the home supporters were applauding the Cherries, while their substitutes and staff were waiting to invade the pitch. The title was theirs, and only the full-time whistle was stopping that from being confirmed.
And you couldn’t fault their celebratory efforts once the game’s conclusion was confirmed. Carnage in the stands and a bundle on the pitch; you wanted to join in but soon remembered the side you supported had just been torn apart by the one who deserved every ounce of enjoyment from such a moment.
Instead, the home supporters were left to show their appreciation to Kermorgant. The Frenchman classy enough to not only take time out of his side’s celebrations to hug friends and family in the West Stand, but also to once again acknowledge the Addicks. The decision to sell him remains as disgraceful as it ever was.
It, along with the players come to give their thanks after a up and down season, was a nice note to end on. And probably needed after the majority of the afternoon provided few moments of positivity.
For the Addicks were both outclassed and abysmal. In truth, they could not have stopped such a frightening attacking force under any circumstance, and I’m very happy that Bournemouth have achieved a deserved title win, but Charlton’s efforts, regardless of the game meaning little to them, were very disappointing.
The most frustrating thing was that, against a side where effort and energy was desperately needed, the Addicks were half-hearted and lacklustre. Passes misplaced and defensive errors constantly giving Bournemouth the ammunition to attack, while the Cherries were constantly left in space, both with and without the ball.
Arter was able to walk through the middle time and time again, Kermorgant constantly dropping off with no one picking up, while Wilson and Ritchie effectively did whatever they fancied. A class above, yes, but they were given far too much freedom.
I had hoped that we might be able to compete with the Cherries, and a suggestion be provided that maybe we’re not too far off challenging for promotion ourselves. But, while Johnson is constantly caught out at the back, Buyens provides absolutely nothing in the middle and Vetokele continues to struggle up top, we’re nowhere near.
Bournemouth, however, show that it can be done. With some ambition and investment that focuses primarily on winning games of football, replicating such an achievement is not impossible.
And, after that performance, it’s apparent a lot of improvement is needed in the summer. Keeping onto our key men alone won’t be enough.
I’m off for a three month long lie down.
I’m lying, of course. Part One of my annual awards blog will be online tomorrow.